Think Differently: The Premium 5

This article is part of an ongoing season series presented at Fantasy Football Geek. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it in time to present on the web site. Being somewhat time sensitive, I posted here.

Looking ahead there are decisions to be made, based on how my team has played since the start of the season. Unwilling to “think differently” to start the season, I went with a tried and true formations; 3-5-2, 4-4-2 and 3-4-3 over the first three weeks that seemed to set the tone for this season. Now, ahead of game week 13 I sit on 739 points and an overall rank of 114k. Numbers that best any of the previous five seasons. Playing boring and falling in line with the “template” has seen my team scoring an average of 61.58 points per week.

Going into game week 13, I made the decision to double up on the Liverpool defense (Robertson & van Dijk), to the tune of 19 points. The risky move was to bring in Sadio Mane, which I decided against, due to his inconsistent returns and the fact that the Liverpool defense had only conceded five goals on the season behind seven clean sheets.

While the Benjamin Mendy injury could potentially see the Man City star fall out of the favor with the 1000 managers, who will be next defender to fall into the template? Owning Marcos Alonso, Andrew Robertson puts me in good company with this group of mangers, as 60.5% own this duo. This week I decided to play conservative and transfer Mendy for Aymeric Laporte, a saving of £0.4, bumping my ITB to £0.8, with that double clean sheet potential.

While none of this out of the box thinking, I am considering a 5-man defense for the festive period. Already having the Man City double with Ederson/Laporte, as well as Robertson/van Dijk from Liverpool, I have considering partnering Alonso with David Luiz at Chelsea. Much of the season, I have struggled to find a competent second midfielder to partner with Mo Salah. With £38.5 wrapped in five defenders and two goalkeepers, there was going to be a shortfall somewhere in my starting XI. If Sergio Aguero maintains TSB% above 50, I still consider him “essential.”

Alonso and Robertson are scoring on par with some midfielders, currently best Salah when it comes to points/game. While putting a fifth premium defender into play isn’t “template,” Chelsea’s fixtures could dictate the possibility of adding that second defensive asset. Luiz has 11 penalty touches on the season, 12 goal attempts with 8 shots inside the box and 3 big chances taken. Along with his Chelsea backline teammates, he’s sixth in the league for BPS (258), but second in baseline BPS (186), trailing over Mamadou Sakho.

Chelsea after this week’s trip to face Spurs is strong through early January, as they face Man City in game week 16. The opportunity for clean sheets is plentiful with many lower league teams on the schedule, including Fulham, Newcastle and Southampton. At £5.6, Luiz is on 51 points for the season, one point ahead of his teammate, Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.3).

The cost of getting Luiz would come at the expensed of Lucas Moura, which could be a hasty call. The Spurs midfielder has produced just a single goal the last eight games and just two attacking returns in nine. Dele Alli, Christen and Heung-min Son are on the mend, while Erik Lamela has been playing very well. Could this limit Moura’s pitch time?

While not high on Spurs, I am indifferent when it comes to moving Moura. There are just two players under consideration. Both have been high talked about on Twitter. First, is the in-form, Anthony Martial for Man United, posting six goals in his last six games and the Red Devils coming into a great stretch of games. The other player, my nemesis, but a player who is too highly owned by the top 1000 managers to ignore, Richarlison. He’s been very inconsistent on the season but has a brace and assist in his last four games. Which midfielder is the right choice to fill the void left by Moura?

There are two lines of thinking IF the decision is made to pursue Luiz as a premium fifth defender. The first line has me thinking that over the remainder of the season, Richarlison will post more minutes played and potentially more goals than Martial, but Everton’s short-term fixtures include Liverpool, Man City and Spurs through game week 18. Martial and United face Arsenal, Liverpool in the short term, as well as Spurs in mid-January.

While I won’t take a hit this week to bring Martial or Richarlison in, even though both have favorable match ups, I hold that Gudmundsson COULD hit against a poor Newcastle defense. I would need two goals from either transfer on a -4 to make the hit worthwhile, a risk I am not willing to take. This is just one option. While I would love to introduce Eden Hazard that currently isn’t an option as I have too much of my budget tied up in defense, as well as Aguero up top. The festive period is fast and furious, which could make or break a season. We will see what is delivered in a few weeks times.

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