FPL: GW3 Draft Retrospect

Out of curiosity, I jumped into the public league for the roll out of FPL Draft. I entered the season with no expectations, after spending 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I have gotten quite bored with the snake style draft and use of the waiver wire and free agency. I also felt that 8 teams wasn’t enough for a competitive league. Looking at it, 10 could potentially be too many. So I reserve judgment until the end of the season on just how successful this fantasy game would be. Now onto my GW3 retrospect.

I entered GW3 in third place on 80 points (56 pts & 24 pts), but finished the week on 35 points. With a total of 115 points, I lost one spot, now sitting in fourth. Expectations were high, as I had made 5 transactions heading into the game week. The only non-starter of the bunch was Jonas Lössl, who actually outscored Ederson. Other transfers for the weekend include Miguel Britos, Jesé, Ahmed Hegazi and Javier Hernandez. None of these “hot players” fared well, totaling 5 pojnts, including a -2 points from Britos, who was red carded.

Thankfully it was Azpilicueta, aka “Dave” to the rescue with 9 points on an assist, CS and bonus point, while Yoshida picked up a late assist and bonus point for 6 points. The midfield struggles continued, thankfully Alli picked up the slack, as Kane remains goalless in August, with a goal and 2 bonus points. Pedro, now fit started over Tadic, but the decision was a wash, as both midfielders finished on 3 points.

On paper I like my forwards, led by Aguero. We saw the displeasure on his face as he started on the bench away to Bournemouth. He did make a cameo and get 24 minutes of action. Chicharito, coming off 2 goals against So’ton played the full 90 minutes but picked up a yellow for just a single point. The decision was made to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench, but his 1 point was no better than the starters.

It’s my belief that the struggle is real based on the fact I am without a second round selection, as Phillipe Countinho continues to feign injury, looking for that exit before the transfer window closes. No points through 3 weeks and the real fact that he could be on his way out doesn’t leave much available that can replace a player of that caliber. The newly acquired Swansea man, Renato Sanches might be an option, but hasn’t had a good year. Other options include Klaassen, Zaha and Lanzini, all three I have already owned and dropped. Redmond is available, but the lack of So’ton offensive is worrisome. In fact none of the “budget” type midfielder (although there is not budget in Draft) aren’t impressive, which has me lining up my starting XI in a 5-3-2 formation.

While we wait for the transfer window to close and the EPL restart after the international break, I am a team with needs. The uncertainty at City, which we knew was coming from Pep has be concerned about Aguero’s pitch time. West Ham United being a complete shambles has me wondering if Hernandez will be a viable two or three option up front. With all the shit I talk regarding the traditional FPL, I went against my better judgment and picked up too many hot players; Hegazi, Britos, Jesé and Chicharito. None of which followed up their GW2 performance to provide me much confidence.

I do believe the season will hinge on Coutinho, if he does indeed move, I will struggle the rest of the way, relying on rotating midfield to carry my #5mandefence. With any luck, as the strength of schedule changes, Rooney will be reintroduced as a weekly starter (GW6). Hernandez appears to have good fixtures through GW13, minus fixtures hoem to Spurs and home to Liverpool.

Premier League: GW3 Starting XI

Figured being Friday, with nothing to do this evening I would add a new weekly feature to T6F called the Starting XI. Original, huh? This will be an overview of my traditional FPL squad, as well as the draft squad before the start of each week. Much of the discussion leading up to kickoff deals with transfer information, as well as a retrospect on what happened the previous week. Sometimes I talk through me team, as I did this week. With Twitter taking over where forums left off, I figure I have some more FPL to offer would be managers.

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

This week begins where last week left off, so to speak. The formation remains a non-standard 5-2-3, while I am not taking advantage in the attacking department, GW1 provided a glimpse of what COULD be if my defenders perform; 6 clean sheets, 1 assist and 3 bonus points for 38 points! Unfortunately GW2 was an indication of what WOULD happen if my So’ton treble give up, not one but 2 goals! They totaled 7 points, Kompany failed me at home for another single digit return but Foster and Valencia came through.

Heading into GW3, I had wrote about midweek options, not completely sold on activating my wild card, I had considered the Free Hit Chip, as well as a point hit. After some debate, research and discussion now was not the time to hit. In fact, I was probably a bit premature in pulling the trigger to move KDB in favor of Eriksen, as City are away to Bournemouth (15 goals and 1 against in the last 4 matches against the Cherries). Yet, Eriksen is a hot commodity and I wanted to get in on the price increase, so I finalized the transfer on Monday night.

With the transfer out of the way, I was pleased with the look and feel of my 5-2-3. While I am still positive, 96 points and a 2.2m overall ranking don’t sit very well, but I wasn’t the only manager to struggle in GW2. Again, it was a lack of attacking returns that caused despair.

Heading into GW3, with a Spurs double (Eriksen & Kane) home to Burnley, I feel confident big returns are possible from Wembley. I am also doubled up on Man United, yet I am still without Lukaku, as I figured I could see bigger returns from the duo of Firmino and Jesus than “Big Rom.” So far, it hasn’t really paid off.

After going down to 10-men, Jesus was “unfairly” substituted and KDB played more defensive, which could account for the lack of attacking returns. I don’t expect a lack of points this week from Jesus and expect Pep to play him 75+ minutes! Mkhitaryan is my sole attacking options from United, unless you consider Valencia in the mix, unfortunately his average positioning hasn’t been as attack as I would like to see. Thanks to Jose playing 4 at the back, he has been limited in his journeys forward.

Valencia and Kompany are the back end, doubling up on United and City. While I am a big Kompany fan, his matches could be numbered in favor of Alonso. As for Valencia, with £1.0m ITB, this could be a potential FT in the upcoming game weeks. However, uncertainty surrounds the treble So’ton defense. On paper the fixtures looks great; hud/WAT/cry/MNU/sto/NEW/WBA/bha/BUR. Outside of United, these all look to be great options for clean sheets. Realistically, we know that won’t happen. Just look back at GW2 and conceding 2 goals to a 10-man West Ham! Frustration!

While we can quote stats and speculate all we want, we don’t know how it will play out. I do believe my team is good for 80+ points this weekend. The defenders have the possibility to reproduce their GW1 magic with 6 CS, while all the attacking options should return.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

With the inaugural FPL Draft season underway, I am not impressed with the format. It reminds me too much of fantasy (NFL) football, a game I have spent 37 years playing and I am just tired of the format. Yet, being new and staying open-minded I jumped in a community league and was present for the draft. With half the managers on ‘auto draft’ I feel I made out with a strong 15-man squad.

While I won’t bore you with details from the first two game weeks, I scored 56 points and 24 points respectively. A total score of 80 puts me solidly in 3rd place, 15 points off 2nd place and 29 points from the top. This without my 2nd round selection, Coutinho. His Liverpool future is still up in the air, but after management turned down a huge Barca offer, it could be remaining at The Kop.

This week I look to rebound from a poor GW2, with the 5th best weekly score in the league it was time to hit the free agency trail. This week I made 5 transfers, three of which were waiver claims and two FA acquisitions this morning.

Looking to shore up a questionable attack, I was surprised the Chicharito was still available, facing a struggling Newcastle away could mean good things for the Mexican. It cost me Defoe, but the Cherries are struggling. With Pedro now fit, playing last week, I inserted him into the starting XI, pushed Tadic to the bench. The bench is where Rooney resides as well, not a fan, away to Chelsea, but I am finding it difficult to drop him, if I want to play a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 in the future.

The other offensive player that was still a FA, Jese. With just a single match under his belt for Stoke and a goal, I snatched him up for Brady (BUR). Jese, once match fit should be well worth the acquisition.

Defensively I made three changes this week introducing Lössl for Begovic, Hegazi for Danilo and Britos for Daniels. Danilo was a question mark with a favorable fixture away to Bournemouth, but with Mendy nearly fit, rotation could begin. Hegazi has been the surprise defender for WBA this season on the back of a goal and 2 CS. Britos was a bit of a punt this week, but Marco Silva has the Hornets in 4th, playing some good footy. While he won’t be an every week player, I look for a good, solid return in GW3.

Core players I started the season with defensively include Azpilicueta and Alderweireld, as Yoshida was introduced for GW2. Ederson for City remains my main shot stopper but the addition of Lössl could see a rotation based on fixture and SoS.

Joining Jese and Pedro in the midfield this week is Alli. Drafted in the third round, Alli could be in contention for the top scoring midfielder this season, based on his statistics from last season. While I would love to couple him with Coutinho, we must play the waiting game until the window closes on transfers, however I could see him returning to the Liverpool starting XI in September.

Up front with Defoe now gone and the “Little Pea” plays second fiddle to Kun Aguero but feel I have a well rounded starting XI that should challenge for the top spot in my 8-team league. Expectations this weekend are high, as they were with my traditional squad. Defensively, I have the possibility of running the table with clean sheets, but feel Chelsea might concede one to Everton. On the attacking end of the pitch, 36 points isn’t a stretch based on the fixtures this weekend. At any rate I just hope to make up ground and move up in the overall standings.

Premier League: 1st FPL Draft

Let’s get this out of the way, I won’t be adding a second draft team to my resume this EPL season. In fact, I was having reservations to even participate in yesterday’s draft, as the game is losing a bit of its luster and reminding me too much of fantasy (American) football, which features the same snake style draft in order to build your unique team.

As I watched the time count down to the start the of draft I waited to see my draft position and was pleased to be listed as #2. This meant I was ensured of adding a premium forward to build around. It wasn’t long after selecting Kun Aguero with the second pick overall, bypass the likes of Sanchez and Lukaku that I tabbed to another window on the PC to wait my second pick.

When I tabbed back to the draft it should me to be “away” and suddenly it was the 4th round! I had missed two rounds but hadn’t been away for more than about 60 seconds. Thankfully I saw this as a blessing in disguise, as I ended up with Dele Alli and Phillipe Coutinho in those rounds. Not sure I could have asked for anything better. Right?

With a good core built around these three players I watched the draft progress and concluded there were only 3 managers who were participating, thus the quick down and back in the draft where I was picking nearly back to back in quick succession.  Round 4 came down to either Defore or Benteke. Quickly weighing the different factors I selected the journeyman, Defoe as my second forward before returning in round 5 with Pedro. My team was coming together nicely and honestly better than I had hoped.

The decision was made prior to the draft not to select keepers or defenders until the final 7 selections of the draft. While it might mean I wouldn’t get the likes of Alonso, it didn’t really concern me knowing my defense would be rather stout and potentially have a good rotation between the pipes.

The next two rounds  saw Wayne Rooney and new boy, Davy Klassen join my squad. While neither will see much action after GW1, I felt both were some of the best talent remaining on the board as we hit the mid rounds. Speaking of Alonso, he was selected two picks after Klassen as the 49th player taken. Ahead of players such as Lanzini, Willian, Zaha, Ramsey and Fabergas. Lots of £7.0 midfielders, be curious to see how this works out in the draft game, as well as the traditional game.

With Aguero, Defoe and Rooney, my front line was set and I was looking to round out my final midfield position when the draft came back to me for the 54 selection in the draft. I turned to West Ham, and their talented midfield coming down to Lanzini and Arnautovic. While I like what Arnautovic brings to the Hammers from Stoke City, I felt more comfortable with Lanzini to have a break out year running that offense.

The midfield now complete, I looked at who would anchor my 5-man defense and turned to last year’s champions, Chelsea. While Cahill was top on my list, he was drafted prior to my selection of Azpilicueta. Kyle Walker was the other option, but I had some reservation of rotation, so passed for the Chelsea man. However the following round I picked up a former teammate of Walker’s in Alderweireld, which strengthened the defense that would start the season for me.

In reality, I wanted Vincent Kompany but failed to see him just down the list from Alderweireld. In retrospect, Kompany has struggled for fitness over the years, but as healthy Kompany will provide big returns, but can he stay healthy? With Spurs playing at Wembley this year, one can only hope they can repeat the season with 17 clean sheets, a feat I fear they won’t accomplish.

Continuing with defense I contemplated picking up the man without a team, so to speak, in van Dijk but his uncertainty didn’t sit well with me, as I know he won’t pull on a So’ton jersey this season and didn’t want that in my potential third starter. Other options I considered were Stones, who was a potential rotation risk and didn’t shine last season with City, Alderweireld’s partner, Trippier and Mustafi of Liverpool. Looking a few rounds ahead, I was hoping to secure the services of Ederson, so I bypassed Stones and took the Arsenal man, in hopes he’s cemented in a starting role for the Gunners. He played 26 games last season but also caught 11 yellow cards.

My last two defenders I felt were stronger attacking assets than the first three defenders I selected and was pleasantly surprised to see them in the later part of the draft. Charlie Daniels took up the fourth spot, as one of the top returning defenders last season with 134 points! Lastly, I went back to a favorite from 2 years ago from West Ham, Aaron Cresswell, who put up 133 points on 2 goals/4 assists and 11 clean sheets in 2015/16. Like how the Hammers are looking and feel he is real valued added to this squad.

In between the posts I was able to secure the services of the new boy, Ederson for City, a player I was considering when drafting defenders in the earlier rounds. I feel City could put up 18-20 clean sheets this season and Ederson will be a big part of that defensive success. Finally pick to finish out my 15-man squad was for Chelsea keeper, now at Bournemouth, Asmir Begovic. Much like Cresswell, he has been very successful in previous EPL season 144 and 136 points in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.

Pleased with my draft, I feel I have a very competitive team. I have not looked at the other 7 squads in my league, but feel I will be at or near the top all season long with quality and talent; Aguero, Alli, Coutinho, Alderweireld down the center of the pitch.

Here is the full team and how I anticipate I will run them out for GW1. With a solid bench, I will have many good options available. What I don’t like about the draft, the fact there are still playing coming and going in the EPL. Morata and Danilo are still not available in the game. That could potentially be crucial, the same could be said if someone of Sanchez of Countinho quality transferred out of the EPL, could potentially damage a team.

Currently, I cannot put a claim in for either player, but rest assured I would not hesitate to add that quality to an already strong draft team. Not sure how closely I will follow the draft game, as I feel I have the superior team in the league. We will see how I fair and I will follow it weekly with a retrospect, much like I do with the traditional game.

Premier League: Draft Q&A

Today fantasy managers receive some answers to their burning questions as it relates to the newly announced FPL Draft. As the name says, fantasy managers will now draft their squad of 15 players, using a snake style draft, seen used in fantasy (American) football. League size, draft date and draft order will be set by the league admin. The big difference between FPL Draft and the traditional game is “Each Premier League player can only be in one league squad” as described in the FPL Draft – What you need to know.

This style of fantasy play is what I have experienced the last 37 years, as a league admin for NFL fantasy football. Unlike the traditional game, much more preparation is key to solid draft. With that said, as I highlighted yesterday, the player pool is much smaller than that of it’s American counterpart. Depending on the number of teams in your league, you could ride your top few draft picks all season long.

The recommended league size per the FPL is eight teams, which totals 120 players out of approximately 500 players (number based on a 25 man squad) in the EPL:

GK: 16 players
DEF: 40 players
MID: 40 players
FOR: 24 players

This league size provides a sizable free agency pool in which to acquire players from. “There are no direct transfers between managers.” Dan Bright, ordinary guy and Palace fan says

“This one line here will see fail. Absolutely crucial to making a league work. Shame really.

I disagree. Here’s why. First the opportunity is there for cheating. If you own multiple teams in your league, transferring your better players between teams will give you an unfair advantage. Even with 8 teams, premium players are few and far between. As mentioned last season there were only 6 players in excess of 200 points. Chances are no one will be willing to trade their top talent away.

Second, in my experience, again coming from fantasy NFL football, with the advent of a waiver wire and free agency pool, very few managers propose trades. With the squad size limited to 15 players, an 2-for-1 type trades will require one manager to drop a player in order to see a trade approved. I don’t think this one feature will see draft fail. But it’s surely something to monitor once the season is under way.

Unlike the traditional game, players do not carry a value and there is no budget to remain under. All players selections are based on draft. The question asked,” Do I gain an advantage by picking first?” Scout says, “No, not at all. You might get your top priority player in the first round but, when you come to pick again – last in round 2 – you may find that your other main targets have been selected.

Experiencing tells me otherwise. Your draft cheat sheet can be broken down into tiers based on points from last season. Your top tier of forward would be:

Kane
Lukaku
Costa
Aguero

Moving down to the midfield position, the top tier would be:

Sanchez
Alli
Hazard
Eriksen

Using the players listed over that’s the top 8 players from last season. While the talent level will still be borderline “premium” based on scoring players outside of this top eight will be a lower tier. So even in an 8-team league having the overall #1 draft pick is very important. It will get you a top EPL player to build your squad around.

Draft day is typically the best day of the season, just like the launch of FPL, which commences the week of July 10th this year. Over the years our fantasy drafts usually consisted of all 10 managers getting together in one spot and drafting. More recently that hasn’t been the case, so an ‘auto draft’ sequence is initiated by the manager and players are selected from a pre-determined list they set. FPL Draft will use a watch list feature, which will represent “top targets for each position.” Any period in which you are absent from the draft players from your draft list will be selected.

Transfers and free agency is where you will win your mini-league this year. This is usually the case, since adding a waiver wire/free agency pool in our fantasy NFL league, manager use this feature weekly, where as trades are much less common than they used to be.

A “wavier request” is submitted to add a player from the available player pool. Multiple managers can put a request in for a specific player, but only manager will be awarded that player. The manager with the lowest standing will claim the player. There is only one waiver period per week.

Free agency will open after waiver wire request have been processed and “24 hours prior to the Gameweek deadline.” This is where a bulk of the transfer activity will take place. Managers filing claims to bring in the latest bandwagon player or transfer out an injured player. This is where you team is built, as there will be good talent waiting to impact your team.

Looking over the Q&A from The Scout, there are many similarities to that of fantasy NFL football, which I am experienced in. It will be very challenging to put together a winning squad and not all strategies used in the traditional game will necessarily apply in the draft game.

As mentioned before the most important part of this game is the draft. While free agency plays an role in the game and eventually outcome, how players are ranked, either by position or overall for the upcoming draft will be key to your success. We have just the final point totals of last year to work off. New players have transferred in to the EPL, such as Alexandre Lacazette. Does he immediately become a top tier forward, the likes of Aguero? Diego Costa could be on his way out from Chelsea as well. Lots of research to do before draft day.

Premier League: FPL Draft Initial Thoughts

Dubbed as an, “exciting new format” Fantasy Premier League Draft will run simultaneously with the traditional game for this upcoming EPL season. Without fanfare or ma ny details, lots of questions beg to be answered about this new format. Having spent the past 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I am somewhat torn in with this news. The 2017/18 EPL season will represent just my 5th year participating in fantasy football, as I learn, grow and experience the beautiful game as a fantasy manager.

Details didn’t provide the full scope of the draft game, but I feel some assumptions can be made based on the announcement. Managers can expect to participate in a live snake style draft, in which managers unique players for their 15-man squad. League size appears to be flexible from 2 to 16 team mini-league. All this in a new game, while remaining with in the £100m budget. Let us not forget this will also introduce some form of free agency/waiver wire to the game in order to transfer players.

The most difficult part of this style of game will be the draft. No more deciding who to partner with Kane and Lukaku, as they will be owned by different managers. Even the best prepared manager must be willing to compromise and plan out their draft strategy in order to be successful. The draft game will really be dependent on the size of the league you are involved in. In my fantasy NFL football experience, the more teams involved, the more difficult it becomes to field a strong starting team.

With 32 NFL teams, there is an offensive player pool of approximately 640 players. In the fantasy draft game, with just 20 teams, the player pool shrinks to approximately 500 players. In the NFL game, it’s not uncommon to draft backup players at certain positions, something that isn’t often done in the traditional game. We do occasionally see it with goalkeepers, such as Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill.

Based off last season’s statistics, only 6 players eclipsed the 200 point mark. Of that number, just two were forwards; Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. If you happen to be in a 10-team league, your potential top forward at the #10 spot would be Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente or Troy Deeney. Doesn’t instill much confidence, does it? This is where you draft strategy comes into play and the decisions you make will shape your squad.

With the #1 overall pick, do you draft Sanchez or Kane? If you draft Kane with this pick, you will get the top forward in the game and be able to partner him with another lower priced forward in a possible 3-5-2. Draft Sanchez and you start building a solid midfield, but won’t see a forward for another 19 picks, which means many of the top 10 midfielders will be gone.

With a 10-team league, that’s 50 midfielders and 30 forwards selected. Quality players will be at a premium, You will be relying on your top draft picks to carry your squad over 38 weeks. It could be that a 4-4-2 becomes the formation of choice, based solely on the lack of quality forwards. There is considerably more depth at midfielder and defense. Regardless of strategy don’t expect the sort of weekly point totals you see in the traditional game.

Even the best laid plans can go astray, as luck will always play a roll in our fantasy game. We will wait and see to make further evaluations on the FPL draft game as it rolls out the week of July 10th.