FPL 2019/20 Initial Thoughts

After some ridiculous price drops on Wednesday by FPL, the game went live early Thursday morning. This about a week earlier then last year, when the entire price list was leaked and FPL had no option but to open the game early. Driving to work, I had to quickly put together an auto draft team, just to get something on paper, as I have FPL ID #8204. However, a closer inspection of prices and players seems to leave a lot to be desired this season.

VAR isn’t needed

It’s bad enough VAR is bring introduced to the Premier League this season, a new feature I am not in support of after it ruined the 2018 World Cup for me, increased penalty opportunities and decreased the “watchability” and enjoyment of the beautiful game for me. We saw the “agony of defeat” at the hands of VAR again in the Champions League, when Manchester City lost a 90″+4 winner over Spurs, only to have it reversed minutes later. Does the technology work? In some cases. Is it ready for the best league in the world?No, not in my opinion, but someone is getting a shit load of money for bringing this to the game and unfortunately, in the end it seems that is all that matters, not the game itself.

BPS bullshit

As for FPL, let’s start with what hasn’t changed. Many FPL managers, who’ve played the game for a few seasons know the Bonus Points System (BPS) is broken, yet FPL won’t acknowledge this fact and review it, potentially fixing how these points are added, based on performance. The word itself “bonus” implies “reward for good performance” yet players are penalized in this “bonus” system. Much like VAR, I call bullshit. Either fix the BPS or scrap the entire system. I am all for scraping it and not having ANY added points for performance.

Chips unchanged

There was no off season discussion of chips either, so we are stuck with the same tired chips in the FPL game for the upcoming season. FPL managers claim there will be strategies to use them. However based off last year, it really didn’t play out that way. Not sure I will follow the herd mentality this season, as any accepted strategy late in the season for the doubles and blank game weeks failed. Much like the BPS, I could do without chips. The wild cards are most useful, thankfully we still get one each half of the season.

Change positions

It seems when there are other areas to review and possibly change, FPL decides to reclassify players based on where they played last season. Let’s start with my team, Watford. Gerard Deulofeu is not a forward. Never has been a forward at Everton or Barcelona, but Javi Gracia played him out of position as a forward last season. Boom, FPS in their infinite wisdom suddenly make him a forward. The same can be said for Diogo Jota. Both are midfielders, based on their club websites. Seem would make sense if these two midfielders were reclassified, then Mo Salah should have been too. Yet, he comes in as £12.5 midfielder. Why?

Wilfried Zaha, who was the ONLY forward for much of the season at Crystal Palace magically drops back to a midfield position? WTF? How and why? We don’t know since FPL won’t give us any reasons for this reclassification. He was a budget forward last season, now is an over priced midfielder on par in price at £7.0 with Luca Milivojevic.  A midfielder who lost his position was Newcastle’s, Matt Ritchie, now listed as a defender. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s now over priced at £5.5. Way to go FPL! Another gem to start the season. No Rafa, no bueno for Ritchie.

Another head scratcher at Newcastle, who put together an excellent season, Ayoze Perez. He goes from the forward line, much like Zaha back to a midfield position. Again, who the hell is making these decisions? His season was on par with his strike partner, Salomon Rondon, but a midfielder? Nope, got another one wrong FPL.

One player I feel FPL did reclassify correctly, Oleksandr Zinchenko, who dropped from midfield, back to defender. However, based on last season’s performance is over priced at £5.5. Could he beat out Ben Mendy, if he remains at Man City for the left back position? It’s possible, but at £0.5 less there are other full time playing options out there.

There were a few others, who don’t hold much FPL value in my eyes. Jeffrey Schlupp is now a midfielder, compared to defender last, while a few West Ham boys, Declan Rice, now a midfielder and Arthur Masuaku, a defender.

Price points

At what point does FPL start pricing managers out? How many years can we continue to see prices rise without ruining the game? Maybe they consider the game “too easy” and increasing prices will make the game more competitive and possible avoid those “templates” that ALWAYS form over the course of the season. It’s trying to level the playing field, something that won’t work. I’ve tried to do it in another fantasy game for 36 years and the playing field is NEVER level.

My thinking is, there will be many mangers who will own either Salah or his teammate, Sadio Mane, but not both, now separated by just £1.0. I am sure this debate will rage through much of the season. Many players I’ve looked at seem to be £0.5 too expensive, some I mentioned in the players section above.  There was lots of talk about the Liverpool defenders and where they would come in. Somewhat surprised, but pleased to see Andrew Robertson at £7.0, while Virgil van Dijk is £0.5 less. However after just a single good season, Trent Alexander-Arnold is also £7.0. Guess FPL is banking on his assist threat again this season. My thoughts, I will go with VVD and Robertson again, like I did last season. The real winner could be whoever partners with van Dijk, I am betting on Joe Gomez (£5.5).

Jordan Pickford is now £5.5! Really? Everton isn’t a top six club and somewhat surprising, Marco Silva found out how to play defense, but even after a good run to end the season for the Toffees, I can’t see giving the Englishman a look at that price. I would much rather draft Hugo Lloris. Again, MANY goalkeepers priced £0.5 too much; Dubravka, Foster, Patricio, Guaita and Fabianski. Guess its time to pick up either Alisson or Ederson for the long haul and not worry about this overpriced group at £5.0.

The midfielder is a muddled mess, as Heung-min Son sees a £1.0 increase to £9.5! Wow, just priced me out of the South Korean. Looking at Man City, I feel it’s a mixed bag, as I am willing to give Kevin De Bruyne a look at £9.5, but feel Bernardo Silva is too expensive at £8.0. Leroy Sane, £9.5? Really, the same at KDB? Based off what? Richarlison pulled his milk carton routine last season, but finished stronger, which was surprising. At £8.0, I just don’t see him on the same level at Bernardo Silva or teammate, Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Ryan Fraser got a crazy bump of £2.0 after one good season for Bournemouth, not sure that’s justified. Surprised FPL didn’t reclassify him too! He was to be one of the first players in my team, but not at £7.5, which led me to his teammate, David Brooks. A part time players last season, his first with the club and he increases £1.5 million, now £6.5! This when players like James Maddison, Milivojevic and Zaha are priced at £7.0. No justice this season for overpriced Cherries this season.

At £8.5, Dele Alli could be the midfielder to own at Spurs, depending on what happens with Christian Eriksen. Alli dropped by £0.5, starting at £8.5, coming off his worst season at Spurs. His midfielder partner, who potentially should have been reclassified, Lucas Moura bump up £0.5 to £7.5. Justified, but should he not be a forward, he’s no different then a few other midfielders now up top.

Conclusion

We could play this £0.5 game all day, but I don’t feel FPL got it right, again. However that seems to be the trend these days, unless of course your name is Lukaku or Sanchez. Not that either have much value any more in FPL. It will be curious to see where FPL managers go, not necessarily for premiums, but value players. Those players we slot in a certain price points with the best potential. We know who the premiums are and can usually bank on their production over the course of the season.

I’ve put together my first draft, but honestly it gets very tiring to see all these RMTs the day or even few weeks after the game releases, so I won’t bother any of your with multiple versions of my team, but hold until the opening weekend. Let me finish by saying good luck building your team and as we move forward toward the kick off of this season.

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