Premier League: What next?

As we approach Gameweek 10, I feel my squad is in complete disarray. Off the activation of my Free Hit Chip last weekend, I feel as I was the one who got hit, resulting in a season low, 36 points. In hindsight, I should have held the chip and rode out the mixed fixtures with the starting XI I had in place. It doesn’t help that Kane posted a season high, 16 points, a player I had been tossing the armband to on a regular basis. Add to that, the fact Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling started on the bench only made the weekend worse. Somewhere in there must be a silver lining. But where?

The backbone of many fantasy teams, the midfield. Opting for a 5-2-3 formation has limited my midfield selections to date. Christian Eriksen has been the mainstay for the last 7 gameweeks, averaging 5.6/PPG. To date, Eriksen has been one of the most consistent performers in the EPL this season, sitting second with 58 points among all midfielders.
Pascal Groß was brought in for Gameweek 8, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan made way due to his lack of involvement after injuries to Pogba and Fellaini. Back to back 6 point returns for Groß with favorable fixtures; SOU/swa/STO, has played his way into my starting XI.

Heading into GW10 I have £1.2m ITB, unfortunately it’s £0.6m short to secure the services of Watford’s starlet, Richarlison. Returns in the last 4 games has many fantasy managers eying the Brasilian through GW13; STO/eve/WHM/new. This would require a change in my defensive philosophy, shifting away from the premium wing back to a bargain or mid-priced defender, the options are plenty! Currently my 5-man defence consists of:

Priced at £30.1m, I didn’t skip out on going big to complement my big 3-man forward line. Kyle Walker is the only defender who is currently returning points. Ben Davies appears to have gone from “hero to zero” with the return to fitness of Danny Rose. Marcos Alonso is currently being outplayed by his defensive partner, Caesar Azpilicueta. Sead Kolasinac isn’t getting the marauding runs into the opponents box like we saw when Alexis Sanchez wasn’t starting for the Gunners. Aaron Cresswell, has returned just one CS in his last 4 games and was sidelined in GW9 due to a gametime illness. A fixture against Palace SHOULD be favorable for the Hammers defense. Should. Yet this season, things haven’t actually fallen into place as expected.

Up front Harry Kane anchors the forward line, now consider essential in my book, will be the default captain the remainder of the season. Gabriel Jesus continues to occupy the number two spot, but at £10.5m with Pep managing playing time, I might have to look elsewhere. Lastly, Jamie Vardy, who’s fill in role since GW6 has yielded just 9 points.

By all appearance the “power three” forward line is losing momentum and fantasy managers are looking at a 4 or 5-man midfield, especially with budget players now performing. We can’t overlook the return of Alexis Sanchez (2.3 TSB%), who bagged his first double digit return and a now fit, in form Eden Hazard (4.9 TSB%). Both carry a pricey premium, £10.6m and £11.8m respectively, but could be major differentials, considering they were template players last season.

For my squad, I am not ready to take a -4 point hit to bring in new talent, least of all a defender. With £1.2m ITB a single move for a new midfielder is going to be limited. Richarlison currently tops the list, but come up £0.6m short. That means I need to drip into the defense to free up the necessary budget. The single move option I h include, Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.4m) and Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting (£5.7m).

Given I only have one FT for the week, it would be wiser to move Kolasinac or Alonso in order to free up necessary budget for future moves. With a poor run of fixtures upcoming, Kolasinac could make way for £5.4m (or less defender). If it weren’t for the next two fixtures; TOT/che, Phil Jones would top the list. Elsewhere Kiko Femenia (£4.5m) and a Duffy/Dunk (£4.5m) are the other considerations based on upcoming fixtures. Maya Yoshida continues to prove good value, not at £5.1m and So’ton still has bha/BUR in the next 2 fixtures. He’s been a BPS magnet this season, totaling 6 points, as well a goal/assist and 4 clean sheets.

Finally, I need to look at the formation, which I still back but looking at where points are coming from, I am lacking quality returns from the high priced wing back. Could I continue to practice patience? Or does it demand a shift in formation to a 5-3-2, reducing the wing back options or moving to a 4-3-3 one of the more conventional formations, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Regardless of the direction I select, it will be a 3-4 week process to put the pieces in place.

Premier League: GW9 Draft Retrospect

Unlike the traditional FPL game, many of the moves I have made in FPL Draft have worked to my advantage. On the week I finished with 54 points, which took my up to second place, just 32 off the top spot. Prior to GW9 I claimed John Stones, Wilfried Zaha and Tammy Abraham, all of whom took their place in my starting XI.

There has been no set formation for my draft squad, this week I ran out a 3-5-2 with the addition of Zaha and Abraham. Initially Aaron Cresswell got the nod, but illness sidelined up and Alderweireld took up the third defender spot for the weekend. Defensively, my squad fared well, led by Azpilicueta and his second goal of the season (7 points). I’ve doubled up with Man City, John Stones and Ederson recorded the clean sheet, combining for 12 points. It was the Spurs leaky defense at Wembley against Liverpool that saw Alderweireld with no return. Overall, I am pleased with my defense. If Chelsea can turn things around I will double up with David Luiz.

On paper, my 5-man midfield looks solid. Although Dele Alli has been under performing, but this year has mirrored last year in terms of performance. Maybe this 9 point return is what he needed to kick start his run of returns. Still pleased to have Coutinho back, but he played uninspired football in their Sunday loss, but still expect solid numbers to come. Last week’s transfers, Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting combined for 10 points, while newcomer, Zaha finished with 3 points. Not great, but really need Coutinho to up the offensive game.

Up front I introduced Abraham to partner with Aguero, who got off the mark with a successful spot kick and bonus point. Depending on fixtures, I could see Abraham moved to the bench in favor of a 4 man defense as part of a 4-5-1 formation.

On the week I have already put in a claim for Rooney, not sure he will remain part of my squad for any length of time, but in the short term Everton appear to have some good fixtures; lei/WAT/cry. Will have to wait and see if a new manager can reverse the poor start Everton has had this season.

Premier League: GW9 Retrospect

Preach patience. Don’t knee jerk. Save your chips. None of this sage advice was followed hours before the Friday kickoff of West Ham hosting Brighton. All the Man City talk, the return of Morata and big attacking returns had me seeing points pouring in Gameweek 9. Unfortunately, Pep struck, defenders didn’t deliver and not surprisingly, Harry Kane delivered a season high at home. It all equated to my worst point total of the season and knocked me 600k down the overall rankings.

On the back of two successive green arrows, I should have used my own advice and practiced patience. In fact hours before Friday’s fixture I was inclined to roll the transfer and double dip ahead of GW10. Twitter and pundits I follow got the better of me and in a moment of madness I activated the Free Hit Chip.

All the talk leading up the the gameweek had centered on the play of Man City, the attack (without Aguero) had been lethal. The play of Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Otamendi and to a lesser extent, Walker had been posting great points in the past 6 weeks. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting Pep’s penchant for rotation, because it hit big for Gameweek 9 as Jesus and Sterling were both left out of the starting XI.

Put bluntly, the Free Hit Chip failed. UP front, I went with the popular Twitter selections of Jesus, Lukaku and Morata, all who had good match ups. As mentioned, Jesus failed to see the pitch, Morata was pulled in favor of Batshuayi after 60 minutes and Lukaku blanked for his second game in a row. I will be thankful he picked up an assist, coupled with the armband he scored 10 points. Well off the pace of Kane’s 16 points.

With Sterling not starting or featuring, Tom Carroll was substituted and he was no better than my other two starters, Zaha and Eriksen who netted 5 points. Both players were coming off spectacular games the previous weeks, but failed to produce this gameweek.

Defensively, my week was foreshadowed by Joe Hart failing to keep his previous 4-week form, conceding 3 goals to Brighton. Doubling up on Jones, who exited after 22 minutes and Smalling, didn’t help as Man United failed to keep a CS, only the second time in the last 7 games. One bright spot was Maya Yoshida with a CS and 2 bonus points, he continues to post solid numbers for the So’ton defense. Kyle Walker kept it clean as well for another 6 points.

At weekend’s end, it was just 36 points, on a week that averaged 50 points. I lose nearly 600k spots, falling to 1.1m on 476 overall points. Thankfully my team has reverted back to  my GW8 lineup and while I continue to have some problems with my squad I will be looking to make some changes. If I would have heeded my own advice, I would have scored 58 points, on the back of Kane and his 16 point performance (most likely captained).

One thing is for certain, Harry Kane will be locked every weekend and captained from this gameweek out. His performance against Liverpool should have been expected based on previous performances at Wembley, the fact his underlying numbers have been very strong, but no returns to Burnley, Swansea and Bournemouth had me questioning the star forward. Those thoughts are now erased and he’s now a template starter for me.

While I didn’t use my GW9 advice, I am not going to make any rage transfers before Friday. Ben Davies is my biggest concern at the moment, for the second week in a row, he missed out on a fixture. Other concerns with my 5-man defense, the lack of output from 7.0M, Marcos Alonso. No returns since Chelsea’s last CS in GW5 and no goals or attacking returns since GW2, currently being outplayed by “Dave.” Kolansinac is another big wingback I was banking on for offensive returns, but the fact Alexis Sanchez plays on the left has Sead limited in his advances forward. At just 2 assists on the season, his 6.0m price tag is becoming unsustainable.

The midfield will be dependent on what I do with my 3-forward set. Vardy hasn’t been the answer, no returns in the last 4 games. Firmino had fallen out of favor for Liverpool with no returns in 6 weeks I can’t see him in my starting XI. Alvaro Morata was on my shortlist, for this week, but introduced him a week sooner. The result didn’t work out in my favor, but he’s still near the top of my list as Chelsea has great fixtures through GW21. Then there is Jesus. Jesus, what do I do with Jesus? We know Jesus and Aguero will have games in which they don’t play or feature off the bench. Are there enough points to shell out 10.5m or 11.6m for players who may not feature every game for 90 minutes? Looking like Silva and KDB are the only reliable attacking players.

Finally, my 2-man midfield, which I was high on 2 weeks ago and actually Pascal Groß is still in favor with another 6 point return in GW9. I don’t plan on moving Eriksen either, calling him “fixture proof,” this coming off a blank against Liverpool in which he featured in a deeper roll with Alli and Son playing the advanced positions. I don’t believe this will be the norm for Spurs and their attack.

As for the #5mandefence, my 5-2-3 formation might be coming to an end. As we have seen leading up to this week, the wing backs just aren’t producing, which has me looking at retaining a 5-man defense, but moving a forward to the midfield and running with a 5-3-2 with the introduction of Richarlison. Don’t want to jump the gun too early, so I will see how this week plays out before making necessary changes.

Premier League: GW9 Starting XI

In my last article for FantasyFootballGeek, I preach “patience,” a quality I feel I have employed since Gameweek 1. Approaching GW9, I have attempted to look ahead and plan future moves in order to take advantage of a lucrative schedules for players I’ve had my eye on. With kick off just a few hours away, I have not come up with any solution for my current squad. There are some good match ups this week; Chelsea home to Watford, Man United away to Huddersfield and Man City hosting Burnley. Spurs hosting Liverpool has question marks all over it and running with Davies, Eriksen and Kane was a bit concerning, as their home form hasn’t been up to snuff.

FPL TRADITIONAL STARTING XI

For the week, I have decided to activate my Free Hit Chip to bring in, what I feel are a solid group of fantasy options that should hopefully provide a strong return for the gameweek. While activating chips early, in the past, have been a cause for concern, this is a new chip and we have yet to see how or when it is best to use this chip. I’ve been it used with a positive return in the past few weeks. I thought there were some good match ups, so the chip is on the table and here is what I did with it.

Since this week is about “going bigger” up top, let’s look at the changes to the 3-man forward line. I retained the services of Jesus against Burnley, even with some questions mark surrounding the return of Aguero, I figure Jesus will feature for at least 60 minutes. We have seen what we can do in that time frame. Kane has been nothing but frustrating this year at Wembley, while I still back up, I decided to move him in favor of Morata, who’s home fixture against Watford looks promising. Finally “Big Rom” makes his debut on my squad against a downtrodden Huddersfield.

With Kane temporarily out of my starting XI, the decision was made to keep Eriksen as my premium midfielder, he’s provided more consistent returns for Spurs, both home and away. I went with a FPL community favorite this week in Raheem Sterling, who’s inclusion is a bit concerning for me, as I have never been a big fan for club or country. You can’t deny the success he has had this season, so I push my allegiance aside and give him a start. Finally, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha will make up my 3-man midfield. Playing OOP as a forward, proved a viable differential last week in their 3-2 victory over Chelsea. We should see him retain that advanced role away to Newcastle.

Defensively, I have doubled up on Man United with Jones and Smalling, as you can’t deny the bus that Mourinho has parked at the back of the United defense. Planning on a CS from the Red Devils this weekend. Walker was the only current defender who made the Free Hit cut and gives me an attacking defensive option, after last weekend’s assist was nullified by an own goal. The 4-man defense is rounded out with Maya Yoshida against WBA, who continues to struggle to find the back of the net.

While this activation of my first chip doesn’t fall in line with my “patience” line of thinking, I feel it’s the right time to play it. My squad has some short term issues that need to be addressed and I wasn’t happy with the options I was presented. At best, it would have been to hold the FT for GW10 and make two changes next week. We will see just what GW9 has in store for us.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

My draft squad saw further change this week as I brought in three new players to help bolster my attack. Thankfully I should have Aguero back this week, who is looking to become the all-time Man City scorer and Pep wants that to happen at home. Could this be the weekend?

For GW9 I brought in Zaha, Chuopo-Moting and Abraham to my squad, all of whom will gain their first start for my fantasy team. This will also be the first time I start a 3-5-2 formation, dropping Alderweireld and Luiz to the bench.

Starting defensive for GW9 will include Cresswell home to Brighton, Stones gets the nod home to Burnley, while Azpilicueta will face Watford at home. All three of these starters have great potential to record a clean sheet.

On paper, the midfield looks solid; Alli, Coutinho, Zaha, Richarlison and Choupo-Moting. Unfortunately Alli has been lackluster to date, while Coutinho is still getting his shooting boots and form back. Richarlison and Choupo-Moting are both the “hot” budget type midfielders that fantasy owners have been yearning for. While Watford’s match up doesn’t bode well against Chelsea, I like him for the long term. Finally, Zaha, playing OOP as a forward against newcastle. He looked great in his first game back against Chelsea, so it’s my hope his form continues.

We will see just what transpires this weekend, as kickoff is quickly approaching.

Premier League: GW8 Draft Retrospect

It was a very off week for the draft team, much aligned with how the overall gameweek went for many in the traditional game. A overall score of 26 didn’t help my case, as I dropped down to third place, now 52 points off the top spot and just 5 points out of second place. All is not well with my squad, as I have been struggling to find offensive points with Aguero still sidelined due to injury. Thankfully I do feel I have strengthened my squad through transactions.

Defensively, Alderweireld was the only player to show up and return 7 points, on the back of a CS and a single bonus point. Chelsea losing to Palace saw Azpilicueta and Luiz combine for zero points, giving up an own goal and Luiz picking up a knock headed into GW9. Between the sticks, I thought City would keep it clean against Stoke, but Ederson gave up two goals, while Fabianski (bench) recorded his 4th CS of the season.

With the recent acquisitions of Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting, I look to play a 5-4-1 or a 4-5-1 to take advantage of some good midfielders. Richarlison was my top midfielder, picking up the assist. Alli and Coutinho each picked up a point for a CS and Pedro still not got on track with just a goal and assist on the season.

Up front, I moved Hernandez, but retained Carroll, even though he picked up a red last week. Thankfully he wasn’t starting as he took a -2. Aguero still injured resided on the bench with no intentions of dropping him. So it was Joselu making his second appearance in my squad. Great underlying statistics, but still came up with no attacking returns.

This week I have claims in for 3 new players in Tammy Abraham, John Stones and Wilfried Zaha, all of whom could make a start this week. Luiz is currently flagged with a calf injury, but going 4 at the back would not be a problem, given the players I will hopefully get when waivers is run.

It’s still early in the season and my squad if performing. The top squad is living off the likes of Lukakau, Mhkitaryan and Jones from United, as well as Eriksen. However this team is getting Morata back, which could only strengthen the hold on the top spot.

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

Now 8 weeks into the FPL season and it continues to be unpredictable. From Man City scoring 29 goals through 8 weeks, including 19 goals in the last 4 games to Harry Kane’s feast or famine approach as his struggles continue at Wembley. Nothing has come easy this season for fantasy managers. However at the conclusion of yesterday’s match I will consider myself fortunate that I finished the week on 50 overall points, which was 9 points more than the weekly average. On the season, I am now at 634k, my highest overall rank to date, riding back to back green arrows.

Much like Harry Kane, I am feast or famine when it comes to defense, setup in a 5-2-3 formation. If my defense doesn’t provide clean sheet points I am going to struggle. Gameweek 8 was one of those week, save Fabianski shutting out Huddersfield 2-0 to record 6 points. Before kickoff I was already sporting zero from Ben Davies, who missed out due to illness. My remaining 4 defenders; Alonso, Cresswell, Kolasinac and Walker totaled 6 points. Was riding high on Walker, transferring him in for GW8 as he provided an assist, which was quickly nullified due to an own goal and City giving up 2 goals.

Davies is now a concern with Danny Rose coming back into fitness, the ECL match could be the final straw for him, as he has performed very well from the start of the season. The concerns don’t end there, as Kolasinac was unimpressive against Watford in their 2-1 loss, while Marcos Alonso, who’s still getting forward and shots on goals has just 1 clean sheets since GW3. Change is on the way defensively, something I didn’t want to do, but Davies is now short listed, pending the Spurs ECL match midweek.

The midfield duo of Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen both returned in GW8. Groß picked up an assist in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Everton. Their fixtures look good through GW12. At this point I am still considering keeping him, but their lack of offensive returns is a bit concerning. Eriksen, not the top midfielder continues to provide at a consistent rate. Finishing the gameweek on 11 points on the back of a goal, now 3 on the season and a CS, he secured 3 bonus points. However, the lack of returns from Kane, home at Wembley is a big concern, as is the Spurs upcoming fixtures; LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. While Palace is highly tempting based on their poor start to the season, I don’t see many goals in the other 3 fixtures. There is some thought to ship the Dane for greener… make that sky bluer patches with a Man City midfielder.

Up front it’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde with Harry Kane, performing like a Ballon d’ Or footballer one week, followed by a League 2, has been the next. Owning him has been nothing short of frustrating. As I described in the beginning, it’s feast or famine and captaining him on a famine week has left many fantasy managers starving for points.

Jesus was the star of the show for the week, hitting for a brace and securing 3 bonus points, he finished on 13 points. I never considered him to don the captain’s armband, but with how easily City is scoring, he might be a candidate if Kane is playing home, at Wembley. The situation with Jesus is muddled further by the impending return of Aguero to the starting XI. Depending on home/away fixture, I would be willing to partner Jesus with Aguero. We have seen Jesus play the full 90 minutes just once. We will wait and see what the ECL match brings today for City.

My third forward, Jaime Vardy failed on Monday, to the point that Craig Shakespeare was fired. Just what that means for Leicester City is yet to be seen. The Foxes responded positively last season when he took the helm replacing Claudio Ranieri. I am considering holding Vardy with swa/EVE/sto to come. At 8.5m, Firmino is the only option I would consider, but have already walked that road earlier in the season and not sure I want to return to it until Sadio Mane is back in the starting XI for Liverpool.

The other option, which might be consider a stronger move would be the watch the fitness of Alvaro Morata and insert him into the squad. It will take a bit more of a shoehorn to fit him in, which would require dropping the consistent, Eriksen for the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Richarlison, both of whom were on my short list. Can’t forget Philippe Coutinho, who’s returned 28 points in the last 4 games since his return.

The other option to consider, move from a 5-2-3 formation to a 5-3-2, which is what I had planned to start the season with until a late change saw to go with 3 big forwards instead of two. While not a supporter of Tammy Abraham, as Swansea has a difficult time scoring, his price of 5.7m is hard to ignore and as a third off the bench could be worth it.

With a shortened week and ECL games midweek, it will be interesting to see the rotation of players from teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Man City. Having already missed the price rise this week, I am inclined to hold out until Thursday before making any changes, but I might end up with a -4 or -8 point hit, IF it can be justified. I do believe any Man City players will cover that hit, while providing a return.

FPL: Shell Shocked

It’s Monday morning in the states and I am looking forward to the Leicester City fixture, as I have a vested interested in the match since introducing Janie Vardy to my starting XI. Figured I would hold off one more day before providing my retrospect commentary, but it was weekend that shell shocked MANY fantasy managers. Aside from the failure of “Captain Kane” to deliver, as well as Blankaku, Palace impressed in their 2-1 victory home against Chelsea, while the juggernaut that is Man City rolled to a 7-2 win over Stoke City. The oddity that is the 2017/18 EPL season continues, we it’s not too early to look at what potential moves to make.

This is the first week I am considering taking a -4 point hit to make an additional transfer. It was my intention to limit taking point hits, but I do believe the form that City is in, that -4 could be made up very quickly, as nearly every offensive player is currently in form. Since Saturday I am have considering my options, as I have a plan in place. Eden Hazard blanking in his first full 90 minutes since returning has me concerned, especially with cheaper midfielder options at Man City. It’s just a matter of time before Hazard becomes a mainstay in fantasy squads, but that could hinge on the return of Alvaro Morata to the Blues starting XI. In fact, I was targeting him before I entertained thoughts of starting Hazard.

Of all the positions, midfield has many questions marks. Current starters in my 5-2-3 include Christian Eriksen, who is in form and Pascal Groß, who was brought in this week (in place of Mkhitaryan) as the first of a series of moves. Thankfully be returned 6 points and Huddersfield has a favorable schedule through GW11. However his stay could be short lived with the likes of Wilfried Zaha starting OOP as the lone forward for Palace. His play against Chelsea was crisp and dynamic and left the Blues defense standing still. Palace has new/WHU in their next two fixtures, before an away fixture to Spurs, followed by a nice run of games through GW19.

Eriksen’s status is up in the air, as Spurs continue to look dismay at Wembley (home) against BUR/SWA/BOU, just 3 goals in those games. Spurs hit a challenging group of fixtures, LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. Based on what we have seen from Spurs at home, I don’t expect big returns. Scoreless draws against Liverpool and United, a goal against Palace and another, no return or single goal against the Gunners. Not the best run, even with an in form Eriksen. The Palace game looks tempting, but overall their home form doesn’t warrant keeping him for this 4-game run. I suspect I will still move Eriksen heading into GW9.

Currently I have two Man City players in my starting XI, Kyle Walker, who was transferred in for GW8 and Jesus, who has been my third forward since the start of the year. Walker contributed with an assist against Stoke, but also gave up an own goal, which negated a return. His place in my starting XI is not in jeopardy at this time, but Jesus even hitting a brace on Saturday could be. Sergio Aguero impending return will send one player to the bench, its yet to be seen how Pep will play all these fantasy producing players. Many fantasy owners already brought in Raheem Sterling (15 points) before the price rise, but a strong case can also be made for Leroy Sane (10 points), David Silva (7 points) and Kevin De Bruyne (9 points). A strong run of fixtures and an unrelenting offense means tripling up on City could be a must!

My starting XI for GW9 weighs in the balance, with Jamie Vardy yet to play. At 8.5m he’s returned 5 goals on the season and 3 out of the last 4 games. With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, Vardy’s spot could be up for grabs. With no rotation risk, Morata probably edges out Aguero, as it would be very risky to start both Jesus and Aguero, but it’s not out of the question. Continuing to back Harry Kane has been rewarding, but only when away from Wembley, his numbers at home have been terrible, 7 points in 4 games. These next 4 games could be critical, as I continue to keep the faith that Kane will deliver, home and away, especially when captained, but I have started looking at other options IF the decision to move Kane for 4 weeks becomes reality.

Defensively there are two concerns; Ben Davies and Sead Kolsanic. With Danny Rose nearly fitness, it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Davies, who’s been a very productive fantasy asset with 49 points on the season, bested only by Antonio Valencia (53 points). If it were not for CHE/tot in the next 2 of 3 for United, I would be boasting defensive coverage, but I recently move Phil Jones because of Liverpool and the upcoming unfavorable fixtures. A budget option could be in the works, but with more viable midfielders providing offensive returns, a change in formation could be warranted. I am more inclined to stick with Kolasinac, who didn’t have a great offensive game and really didn’t feature much in the box.

On the week I have a green arrow and hope that is strengthens my GW8 performance as we wait for Leicester hosting WBA later today. Vardy is the piece that could dictate my upcoming moves.

Premier League: 8 Week Plan

This was supposed to have been the week I activated my wildcard. That happened 2 weeks ago and heading into this break, I am pleased with my squad’s performance. Riding high on 78 points, I have started formulating a plan to cover the next 8 weeks. While injuries play a big role, I have a contingency plan in place if players like Phil Jones or Alvaro Morata are not fully fit.

The best part of the international break was holding my GW7 transfer, giving me 2 FT moving forward. Thankfully I stuck it out with Phil Jones and was rewarded with a 6 point performance. However, as fixtures are turning for Manchester United, it appears Jones could be on the short list. He would be one of two moves in order to strengthen an already strong defense. In the eyes of some, overpriced.

Even the best laid plans, often go awry and fantasy is one of those with so many intricate variables, requiring 11 players to work together for success, but still rely on individual skill. While this 8-week plan is nothing more than a guideline, the only thing that has remained constant has been my penchant to use a 5-2-3 formation since GW1.

As I have stated in past articles on my site, as well as those posted at Fantasy Football Geek, the 5-2-3 has not been the weak link in my overall points of 390 and overall rank of 792k. The failure has occurred at my captaincy selections, seeing my best return last week, 26 points from Harry Kane. The prior 6 week were all single returns; 2, 1, 4, 4, 2, 6 for 19 points.

Through the early part of the season, we are reading and seeing more fantasy mangers moving away from a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-3, considering a 4-3-3. The wing back has been predominate, to start the season, as clean sheets have increased over this time last year. Defenders are seeing double digit returns and returning some good offensive points.

Up front, many premium forwards have been scoring good points; Lukaku, Morata, Kane, just to name a few. The question posed, “how do I fit in 3 heavy hitters up front?” During the preseason I consider two 5-2-3 formations that included Lukaku, Kane and Aguero as my starters with Trippier, Cedric, Bailly, Daniels and Alonso as my starting 5 defenders. Obviously with 35.5m in forwards and another 30.0m in defenders, it was budget midfielders in the starting XI; Willian and Zaha.

This fact alone was a cause for concern, as the team was out of balance and didn’t want to struggle in the midfield. While Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfried Zaha started GW1, their tenure was short lived. City struggled to score in the first few weeks and Zaha went off injured after GW1. Unlike many other personnel decisions this season, I wasted no time bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan in GW2. De Bruyne gave way a week later for Christian Eriksen. Now with both United and Spurs facing a tougher spell, both midfielders appear to be giving way to “budget options: while beefing up defensively and taking a stronger stand on the front line.

With GW8 on the horizon there are dueling thoughts on how to move forward. First idea is to use two budget midfielders, add a fifth big wing back and a third premium forward. The other thought is to spend 1.0m less on the defender, while upgrading to another marauding wing back and run with one premium and one budget midfielder.

Before my weekend leadership camping trip, I spent time working out both strategies. In fact I have put into place an 8-week plan to take my squad through GW16. While I don’t expect to see this plan out, it does give me a guideline to follow of which plans I am currently looking to invest in. Eden Hazard returning to fitness will be interesting to watch, but I would prefer Alvaro Morata, who’s fitness level doesn’t see him ready to return (listed at 50% chance to play). Still owned by 21%, we could see Morata slip another 0.1m before he’s ready for the starting XI.

Defensively, I am looking at strengthening an already strong presence by adding Kyle Walker, as Man City has a nice run of fixtures in the next 3 weeks and 7 out of the next 8 games. However each premium player comes at a cost, which for me is in the midfield. While many fantasy manager continue to promote the tried and true, 3-4-3, some have opted for a 4-3-3, sacrificing that fourth (budget?) midfielder for a stronger defense.

Continuing to promote and use a 5-2-3 formation, my midfield is considerably weaker than those of my fantasy counterparts, but overall I am pleased with how my formation has performed. Unfortunately to free up the necessary budget required to add a Morata/Hazard and Walker (or possibly Otamendi), I would have to sacrifice both Mkhitaryan and Eriksen. This, obviously doesn’t come without risk. Moving both current midfielders could leave me with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Richarlison by GW10 if this decision is finalized.

Eriksen and Spurs have a tough run of games after they GW8 home clash against the Cherries. Dropping Eriksen temporary doesn’t really bother me, as there are other options out there, however I would love to get him back for the home fixture against Palace.

Overall, I have been very patient with my starting XI, as my bench players are all at 4.5. The only one to score more than 2 points all season was Dale Stephens of Brighton, when he picked up an assist and bonus point, so I don’t expect to make any changes in my bench fodder.

 

Premier League: GW7 Draft Retrospect

We are not 7 weeks into the EPL season and FPL Draft isn’t holding the sort of thrill and excitement I thought it would. Initially, I felt there could be some interesting aspects to the game. Considering I come from a fantasy (NFL) football background of 38 years, this draft game did show some early promise. To date, I am just not impressed. Maybe my thoughts would be different if the 8-team league I play in were local friends and not some unknown Internet alias.

That said, I climbed into 2nd place in my draft league after a strong-ish showing this past weekend scoring 44 points, which was second highest in the league. After 7 weeks I have scored 305 points, which is now 36 points off the top, which I expect to take in the coming weeks after the international break.

Its interesting to not as we get further along in the season, the more transactions I am taking through the week. I stated the week with 3 waiver claims; Hoedt, Chicharito, Mustafi. I ended up getting all three of the on Thursday and dropped Mendy (inj), Benteke (inj) and Lascelles. But that wasn’t enough, the merry-go-round continued into Friday, adding Niasse, Richarlison, A. Carroll, Cresswell and Choupo-Moting. In the end Richarlison and Niasse, along with Stones, Jese and Joselu were dropped.

On the week I started Fabianski in goal over Ederson because of the match up. Only a late goal by West Ham denied Fabianski his 4th clean sheet on the season, but he did scoop up a bonus point. Defensively, my squad is sound, as I started a 5-4-1, tripling up on West Ham. Mustafi, Cresswell, Alderweireld and Azpilicueta combined for 20 points, with only “Dave” not keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 loss to Man City. My fifth starter was Hoedt, who was benched in favor of Van Dijk, which mean Pedro was slotted in.

The midfield looks good on paper, but Alli continues to struggle, posting another no return, while Coutinho continues to look good in the Liverpool midfield with another goal and 10 points. The new boy, Choupo-Moting (5 points) was a late add over Richarlison, but he secured an assist, his first of the season. Pedro was the first player on the bench and I had no intention of starting him against Man City but felt he had a better chance than Ritchie to gain points. I was wrong, Ritchie scored 2, Pedro, just 1 point.

With Aguero now sidelined and down a bench player, I moved both my struggling forwards and doubled up on West Ham; Hernandez and Carroll. That move failed to pay off as they combined for just 3 points. The Hammers still have some favorable fixtures; bur/BHA/cry out of the break, but I am not sure if they will retain their starting spots or not.

With 2 weeks to plan and make moves, the waiver wire is open until Friday, October 13, which means we have a lot of waiting to do. I have put in a claim for Fellaini, even though they face Liverpool out of the break, followed by Huddersfield. The other wire claim I put in is for David Luiz, somewhat surprised he is out there, as it SHOULD be a Chelsea CS when they come out of the break against Palace.

Premier League: GW7 Retrospect

Rebounding from a disappointing 51 points in GW6, Harry Kane’s clinical finishing powered my squad to a season high, 78 points this week. While everything has been smell roses, its comforting to head into the break on a green arrow that sees me at with 390 overall points ranked 792k. This after two red arrows in the previous weeks, but all isn’t well and this international break could prove interesting.

One constant this season has been my patience. There has been an effort not to “knee jerk” players because of a single bad performance. However, I still feel I was a week early on my wild card, but amazingly 2 weeks later all seems forgotten. This week I was toiling around Phil Jones and Jamie Vardy, both carrying knocks into Friday and there was some question about them starting. Jones was still a concern when I went to bed Friday evening, but I decided to role with him. Thankfully both started.

Defensively, the #5mandefence has been solid all season long. Now that the treble So’ton experiment is over, I had one of my best returns from the back five this week, with Ben Davies leading the way with 16 points (goal/assist/CS/BP). His 49 points puts him top of the league for defenders, ahead of the heavily priced, Marcos Alonso (32 points). Most managers knew it would be a tough fixture against City but his 2-goal performance in GW2 is nearly a fleeting thought, on the back of just 2 clean sheets this season. The good news, Chelsea has a favorable run in the next 3 fixures; cry/WAT/bou. Just MNU/liv stand in their way for a great run through GW21! It’s yet to be seen if Alonso will make it out of the international break. Based on fixtures, it’s hard to bet against the Spaniard.

Sead Kolasinac, Phil Jones and Aaron Cresswell all came up with clean sheets, a total of 18 points. Of the group, Kolasinac has the best short term fixtures; wat/eve/SWA, while Cresswell faces bur/BHA/cry. United and Spurs hit some tough fixtures through GW11 but the way both are playing, their inclusion could remain a constant in my 5-man defense. Still looking to introduce a Man City defender. Nicolas Otamendi doesn’t really pique my interest due to his penchant for yellow cards, which put John Stones at the top of the list, due in part to my budget. Currently priced at 5.6m, puts me 0.4m short without retooling my defenders, which could mean moving Alonso for teammate Caesar Azpilicueta, freeing up 0.4m.

It was a cruel late goal for West Ham that saw Lukasz Fabianski lose his 4th clean sheet of the season. He continues to rack up save points, earning another one in Sunday’s match. He will continue between the sticks out of the international break, HUD/LEI/ars, but could lose out in subsequent weeks to Rob Elliot who face CRY/bur/BOU.

The midfield duo of Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan struggled both failed to return this week. For Eriksen is was his second no return in 3 weeks, while Mkhitaryan seen just one return in his last 4 weeks. Both Spurs (BOU/liv/mnu/CRY/ars) and United (liv/hud/TOT/che) face a tough run of games the next 4-5 gameweeks. Mkhitaryan (15 pts) has been outplayed by Mata (16 pts) and Fellaini (22 pts) in the last 3 games. He’s also been hooked in the last 3 games; 87 mins, 74 mins, 65 mins, while Fellaini has seen the full 90 minutes in Paul Pogba’s absence. One the whole, midfielders are struggling league wide.

If unproductive midfielders aren’t enough, the forwards seem to have gone from feast to famine in the blink of an eye. Behind Harry Kane’s brace, to go along with the armband, he finished on 26 points, but it could have been much more if Spurs kept pushing through 90 minutes. Kane was clinical in his approach and netted his third 13 point return of the season (3 out of the last 4 games). All of which have also been away from Wembley.

With Sergio Aguero now injured and out for 4 weeks, Alvaro Morata sidelined with a muscle injury, it’s Gabriel Jesus as the only pure forward left for Pep. His starting spot should be secure. Jesus picked up the only assist of the game, finishing with 5 points on the day. City’s fixtures now turn for the better; STO/BUT/wba. For GW6 moved Firmino in favor of Vardy, but he’s failed to return. However, he is carrying a hip injury, which could be cause for concern, but still better than Firmino not making the starting XI yesterday. Vardy stares at WBA/swa/EVE/sto in the next 4 games. This was the period I purchased him for, with an eye on bringing Firmino back in starting GW10.

While Romelu Lukaku has been the most consistent forward, much like Diego Costa last season, he’s form isn’t sparkling. While he has lasted every minute of every game, returning all but one game and doubling up in GW1, 60.3% of fantasy managers still own him. Yet his days as the de facto captain could be called into question. Still in fantasy football, consistency is a good thing, but right now I don’t plan on bringing the Belgian into my starting XI.

Comparing this season to last, I’m currently on 390 points, which is an increase of 14 points. Yet, looking at the overall rank, there is a huge disparity, as I currently sit at 792k this season, but 376 points last season saw me at 168k. To break the top 50k requires another 47 points and 38 points to get into the top 100k. Team value is currently 101.0m, which is ahead of where I was planning, but it’s down 0.9m from last season.

The 5-2-3 formation continues to flourish, as it’s been played 4 out of 7 gameweeks, averaging 59.3 points! Non-starters have shifted the formation to a 4-3-3 twice and a 5-3-2 once, both averaging 51 points. While the numbers aren’t all that impressive, it does prove that this season a 5-man defense, while risky does carry merit with midfielders struggling.

With 2 weeks off we wait with anticipation to see how our players fair over the international break. We keep our hopes high they all return fit and without injury. It’s also time to evaluate where we are and what we play on doing to improve our squads. For me, 2 FTs does provide me a few options. Lukaku is tempting, but with unfavorable fixtures, I just don’t see it happening.

Reading the Twitter feeds, as well as a shout from #1, Matthew Barrick, his 3-4-3 has Lukaku, Morata, Kane up top. More importantly, his midfield has 3 budget starters (Carroll, Brady, Ritchie) with Salah as his higher priced player. It’s something I am now considering, downgrading one of my big midfielders to free up some budget to potentially improve defensively and go bigger up top.

Premier League: GW6 Draft Retrospect

It was the best week on record this season for my draft squad, overall points of 59, which pushed me up the table to second place. It could take some time, as I now sit 31 points behind the leader, but we have much football to play.

The return of Coutinho to my squad has been welcomed, with 5 weeks of no returns, he got on the board with 13 points. Dele Alli returned 2 assists after going scoreless the past 3 games. New boy, Matt Ritchie was quiet and didn’t return. It was Pedro, on my bench who struck for 8 points, which could potentially push him up the ladder to start in GW7 against City.

Up front, Kun Aguero got it done with a goal and assist for 11 points. Joselu, who’s got great underlying stats, still couldn’t finish. An injury to Benteke will have been scrounging the wire for a #3 forward. My 5-2-3 is in jeopardy with injuries an lack of consistency up front.

Defensively it was Azpilicueta and Stone providing 20 points. “Dave” returned 2 assists for Chelsea, while Stones picked up a CS. Unfortunately, Mendy left after 26 minutes with a knee injury, his stats is unknown. After back to back returns, Lascelles and Newcastle was quiet.

Mendy is the main concern and I’ve already gone to the wire to replace him. I am aiming for Wesley Hoedt at So’ton, as the Saints still have some solid fixtures through GW11. Lascelles might be shortlisted as they face Liverpool, which means I would look towards Mustafi, with hosting Brighton this weekend.

Premier League: GW6 Retrospect

I have been avoiding any fantasy football sites and Twitter feeds this week. Frustrated and disgust has set in and we are just 6 weeks into the EPL season. The wild card has been more of a vex than revelation as we finalize plans for Gameweek 7. Thankfully, we can look ahead, but for now we look back at what COULD have been for GW6.

Gameweek 6 is being viewed as a failure or week that could have been. Been better. Been more productive. Jesus was started, but Pep rested him. Alonso hit with a yellow card saw just 56 minutes on the pitch. Kane hit for a brace, which was great, but I decided to captain Vardy. Speaking of Jamie, he missed a penalty. This was also the first week I reorganized the bench order and moved Dale Stephens to the second substitute, as he scored 6 points. Instead, Jack Cork came in for Jesus. *sigh*

Final score for GW6 was 51 points, 9 off the average of 60 points, which saw another red arrow, for the second consecutive week. I dropped 500k spots, now at 1.78k. The season continues with its twists and turns. I don’t believe anything is settled at this point. One thing remains consistent, I am showing more patience than I have the last few years. However, I probably should have kept Kane as my captain instead of flip flopping through my forwards, looking for an differential.

Defensively, I am pleased with my #5mandefence, but it was a rough one as Davies, Cresswell and Alonso accounted for just 2 points. I expected a low score from Cresswell, but Davies and Alonso were unexpected. Kolasinac and Jones responded well, each with a clean sheet, while Jones picked up 3 bonus points. Last week it was Fabianski’s time to shine against Spurs, but failed against Watford with just a single point.

At this point in time I don’t feel bad running out two starting midfielders, as many attacking returns are coming from the forwards. Eriksen picked up his second goal of the season, as well as 2 bonus points for 9 points. Mkhitaryan and the Red Devils could only slot one goal home against a stingy So’ton defense, unfortunately he didn’t feature any attacking returns.

Up front, the benching of Jesus was somewhat expected, but I opted to move Firmino for Vardy and with no other stong contender in the midfield, I was left with Jesus as the third starter. Kane continues to feature well on the road, hitting for his second brace in 3 games, finishing with 13 points. Vardy was brought in because of his prolific scoring the past 2 seasons against Liverpool (5 goals). The missed penalty would have been his third brace against the Reds, but it was saved. Couple that with a yellow card and his return was just 6 points with the captain’s armband.

Looking ahead, I feel my luck has to change. Every move I seem to make is counterproductive. Strangely enough I am still running the big wing backs, as well as three big forwards. The big forward line seems to be all the rage now.

I have two problems to address. Phil Jones is dinged, as well as Vardy (75% chance). While Jones has been solid for United this season, I might have to move him if he isn’t going to play. On the short list is Harry Maguire, sitting on 27 points for the season and the Foxes face Bournemouth.

While I hadn’t really considered Morata, he does have one thing going for him. He has no competition up front, unlike Jesus. That would be the sole reason to make the move to the Chelsea front man, as own Jesus and seeing him benched (like Kun was in GW3) with no appearance is cause for concern. With Chelsea facing City this weekend, I can’t see bringing him in before the international break.