Am I excited for the start of the Premier League season? Not really. Excited that FPL is back, not as much as I have been in the past. The decision was made during the brief off season not to bin to the Pitch & Pint Podcast, so there is still interest in the game. Twitter has been nothing short of a shit show, slander, “experts” giving their advice, professional FPL managers? What the hell is that? Betting and gambling sponsors. Sorry there are more important matters in life to deal with than a fantasy game. Now with that rant out of the way I will give you one man’s opinion in how I am setting up the first game week.
This is the first week time has been invested in tinkering with my 15-man squad. While last year is nothing but an asterisk season for me after such a long layoff, I didn’t finish well and look to kick off the season with some strong, early season scores. That has been my downfall the last few season, which caused earlier than anticipated wild card activiation.
This season, the key metric, VAPM has played into many of my personnel decisions. If you missed my 6-part series, Think Different you can read up on how this metric has me reevaluating players, in an attempt to key many premiums all season long. Will it work? Not sure, time will tell but patience is a key factor and many of get that itchy transfer finger or see another player performing well, which gets us thinking. For planning purposes, I am looking at a four week period. This year is unique, as four teams start on a bye (MCI/MUN/AVL/BUR). Some valuable players missing or benched from the outset.
Making the decision early to run with a budget keeper all season, as Alex McCarty (SOU/£4.5) will feature early on because of their fixtures and possibility of a few cleans in the first four weeks. His backup, Angus Gunn does concern me, but feel it will be McCarthy’s job to lose, much like Gunn did last season. Back up David Button (WBA/£4.0) could be a potential starter, as he’s made the move to the newly promoted Baggies, but don’t intend on using him.
Defensively I am going anchor my squad with Virgil Van Dyjk (LIV/£6.5) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV/£7.5). Initial plans were to use Andrew Robertson, but as many FPL managers experience, I came up £0.5 short but am confident van Dijk can duplicate his numbers from the last few seasons. TAA will be considered massive value if he only improves, playing virtually as a winger down the right side. This pair, or any pair at Liverpool could combine for nearly 400 points again this season!
In order to build an attacking side, Wily Boly (WOL/£5.5) cracked the starting XI recently in place of Matt Doherty, who’s move to Spurs does have me a little concerned. Boly is a BPS magnet and the heart of the Wolves defense. Coming off a disappointing, injury plagued season, I feel he could be good value. He is another player I would expect to hold all season. While his minutes fell short of the 2000 minimum I was using for VAPM, he’s finished last season with a 0.47 in 1979 minutes!
Rounding out the back five, Charlie Taylor (BUR/£4.5) and Kyle Walker-Peters (SOU/£4.5), two budget selections. Taylor, much like Boly finished with good numbers and a favorable VAPM (0.35) but only played 1945 minutes. Burnley held onto Nick pope, so figure 13-15 clean sheets is in order, as long as Taylor can lock down one of those starting spots. Really didn’t have much intention to consider So’ton. Not a team that really impresses me, but KWP is a starter and can get forward. Hopefully he can gain some assists with Danny Ings and Che Adams in the middle. Very limited playing time (10 games last season), but will start this season.
This position has been the most volatile in my planning. There are so many great options (on paper) and we all play with the thought of, “you can’t own them all.” That said, I have decided to go big in the middle starting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS/£12.0), Mo Salah (LIV/£12.0) and starting in GW2, Kevin De Bruyne (MCI/£11.5). Since City misses the opening frame I’ve not yet decided who will start for KDB or if I will hold the City midfielder and roll a free transfer in GW2. Always favorable to have that second transfer available, as opposed to burning four points on a transfer.
Some will argue its not viable to run with all three premiums because you can only captain one of them. While I agree, owning all three will allow me flexibility to move to anyone in the game due to unseen reasons. Aubameyang probably has been biggest upside, being reclassified as a midfielder from forward, one of the reasons I’ve decided to start with him this season. Much like my defenders, I would love to hold all three, all season, but I feel that is unrealistic and will have a bridge to cross when the time comes.
Joining this premium three Allan Saint-Maximin (NEW/£5.5) and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (FUL/£4.5). The fourth midfield spot could be a swing position, as there are some good options at £5.5. Newcastle gets two games before I move ASM but the addition of Callum Wilson could make things interesting for the midfielder, as there is a viable, healthy target in the middle. As for Anguissa, he’s bench fodder but does have the possibility to be a regular starter at Fulham. No intentions of using him, but have called my shot that he picks up a goal in the opening fixture against Arsenal.
Another interesting group of players that has seen some tough decisions ahead of the opening weekend. While I don’t intend to start with any premium forwards, I’ve limited investment up top. The way I see it there are some excellent options at £7.0 and under, which is where I started. While I didn’t start with this two forwards, this is where I have landed after much tinkering, starting with Dominick Calvert-Lewin (EVE/£7.0). He is coming off his best season and I feel he can still improve, especially with all upgrade at midfield for the Toffees! Comparing the statistics of DCL to Richarlison, it’s no comparison, the Brazilian is favored but also a million more.
Since Burnley isn’t playing, I’ve decided to bring in Aleksandar Mitrović (FUL/£6.0) for one reason. Mitro contributed to 26% of all scoring by Fulham in the EFL last season and rest assured, if the Cottagers want to remain in the Premier League, he will be the main scoring threat again this season. The next closest scoring was Tom Cairney with 8 goals and 3 assists. Some good early fixtures for Fulham could help them get off to a fast start. Speaking of Burnley, Chris Wood (£6.5) is one I am watching closely. With Ashley Barnes injured, not sure how long I will wait to put Wood up.
Rounding out my forward, Keinan Davis (AVL/£4.5), a little playing forward, who I had no intention of using, especially with the new signing of Ollie Watkins from Brentford, who scored 25 goals the EFL in last season.
This season I start GW1 in a 4-4-2. KDB is showing as a starter, but as of this article, I’ve not made the decision who will fill that starting position. Right now, I am leaning Chelsea but I might sneak one final peek at Heung-min Son. As for my expectations to start the season, I do favor some of the match ups and looking for 80-85 points to start the season. Good luck to the start of a new season!