Premier League: GW10 Retrospect

After 3 red arrows, -20 point hit and a drop of 702k it appears I have turned the proverbial corner, at least for one week. Scored 68 points this week behind an entirely new forward line. Of course I would have scored 25 if I would have left Rashford, Defoe and Aguero as my fowards, instead I was 4 points less with Costa, Austin and Lukaku. However I feel as if I have strengthened by team by moving another high priced player in Aguero in order to bulk up my midfield. Now I turn my attention to defensive needs, as I missed the Valencia injury midweek. He will be transferred out and a replacement will be brought in.

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68 points was my best overall score since GW5 and GW6 behind Aguero, Defoe and De Bruyne when I scored 69 each week. After three poor weeks I entered GW10 frustrated with the lack of production. Now I know how the Special One feels with the likes of Zlatan, Pogba, Mkhitaryan and others not producing. As has been the trend with my squad this year, I should have waited just one more week. The reality of the situation is, I didn’t. Without even reading the pundits or visiting fantasy sites I pulled the trigger and hoped for the best.

Foster is still between the sticks, averaging 3.4/game. The last 3 matches: Spurs, Liverpool and City have been difficult as he has conceded 6 in the last two games, but that could trend could be shifting starting in GW11. My concern on defense now lies with Valencia injured with no return date. His numbers haven’t been too impressive this season, so a change at the rear guard is warmly welcomed.

It finally appears that clean sheets are starting to fall, as teams recorded 7  during GW10 with Stoke vs Swansea yet to come. Holebas continues to perform for Watford as the Hornets record their third clean sheet, picking up 6 points. Everton was able to keep a clean sheet against the Hammers and Williams also picked up 1 bonus point, totaling 7 points, his best total since GW4! Still not sure which way to lean with the Toffees playing through a tough spell during this campaign. With Chelsea in GW11 and the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Leicester City and Man City, Everton will be challenged through GW21.

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On the bench sit McAuley, who is still in the mix but most likely after this week and the Baggies visit to the KP Stadium. It’s probably the wrong season to own a defender from Sunderland, but van Aanholt continues to sit and watch, returning 7 points in GW7, he’s picked up just 3 points in the last 3 games. Not fond of using a transfer for a bench player, so he will remain where he is until the wild card becomes available.

The injury to Walcott, who was in fine form only effected 18.5% TSB, which is surprised. I suspected his ownership would be higher considering the Gunners have been in fine form but now face Spurs and United in the next 2 weeks. Spurs have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 7 games conceding goal to WBA, Leicester and Boro. Not sure how confident I am in Walcott maintaining his spot in the starting XI, after strong performances by Giroud and Chamberlin in GW10, might be a matter of time before Giroud starts and Sanchez moves back to a central position relegating Walcott back to the bench. Something to watch.

Capoue still in the top five scoring midfielders, but has not put together more than 3 points since GW5. His time has come to an end, even with Watford playing very well right now, Capoue might be fielded as a fifth midfielder or find himself a bench player. However I am considering moving Capoue in favor of Pereyra, who has been on my watch list for the last few weeks. Capoue finished GW9 with just 3 points. With the Walcott injury Allen was forced into the starting lineup with Stoke’s game yet to come.

2016_leaguesIt was De Bruyne playing second fiddle, getting 23 minutes to Gündogan this past weekend capturing just 1 assist and 4 points. At 5.5m he is a bargain buy player in a high powered offense. Second week he’s played all 90 (89 mins just 3 weeks ago). The man at the center of my attack was Alexis, who captained the Go ‘Orns in GW9. He finished the game with 2 goals and picked up 2 bonus points, as well as a yellow card for 13 points or 26 points as my captain. He will continue to be a cornerstone in my lineup.

There were three new front men leading the attack in GW9, two of which I had previously; Costa and Lukaku. As for the third it was a toss up, I wanted Deeney but opted for Austin. Hell I would have been better off forgetting about setting a lineup and letting it ride from GW9, I would have scored 4 more points! That said Costa and Lukaku each tallied a goal with Lukaku picking up an assist as well, 19 points between the two in form forwards. Austin had a tough game versus Chelsea but did have a few chances, one he converted, but was flagged for offside. Going forward Southampton has some excellent fixtures through GW25!

So where do I go from here? Team value has slipped from 102.1 down to 101.8, thankfully the transfers I made saw me keep 0.8m ITB. I have serious slipped out of the top spots in both my mini leagues and have started climbing back up the global ladder, now at 732k. Concerns are Valencia, now injured with no return date and Walcott coming back from injury but not sure if he will start in GW11 against Spurs.  Moving Valencia at 5.0m I am watching Alonso, Shawcross and Van Dijk/Fonte. All fall within budget, with Southampton having the best upcoming fixtures. Going to reserve my decision for later in the week as I want to see how well Stoke plays today. Hopefully I don’t get hit with a price decrease on Valencia before Tuesday.

 

Edit: Thank you Joe Allen of Stoke for providing my squad with a needed 10 points with your two assists against Swansea. Stoke looked great today! With those assists, Allen, along with Holebas are looking to see their value increase. Total points for the week 78, best performance on the year.

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

What a disaster! Just 2 weeks ago as GW6 came to a close I was in the top 29k, following 3 green arrows and back to back 69 points. My team was averaging 59 points/week, just one off the 60 point average I am targeting for the season. Two weeks later, a poor decision on my GW7 transfer and an ineffective group of players and just when I thought I could not score worse than 24 points, I post another poor score. GW8 has me pegged with 26 points and Valencia going on Monday vs Liverpool. My team has drop 210k spots in 2 weeks down to 239k, but my value is holding steady at 102.1m.

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After spending the better part of 2 weeks playing the waiting game, while the EPL was on their international break I had time to research, read articles and decide how to use my 1 FT for GW8. With defenses playing so poorly and inconsistent, I could not bring myself to spend more defensively, only to get less. Valencia is my highest priced defender at 5.5m and his time is nearly up. Foster and the Baggies have terrible upcoming fixtures, but just like defenders and the lack of clean sheets I couldn’t see replacing him. While names such as Grant, Boruc and Vertonghen were in my find, I wanted Walcott. However, with West Ham playing Boro I decided to give Antonio one more chance at success, after starting the season so strong. As we know now a 10 point difference between the 13 points scored by Walcott and the 3 points by Antonio. My 1 FT went unused this week as I could not pull the trigger and make a decision.

Defensively, Foster was better than expected conceding one goal, making 7 saves and recording 4 points, bestgw8_leagues score since GW3! I finally put Collins on the bench in hopes Van Aanholt would help justify his start. He didn’t, left after 39 minutes for 1 point. Everton was looking strong versus City after Lukaku put them up 1-0, but that clean sheet was quickly erased and Williams put together another 1 points performance. Valencia plays Monday and with Liverpool scoring at a good clip I haven’t set my expectations very high.

Defensively I am hoping to get to the Christmas break with the same defenders and goal keeper. Foster hasn’t been bad, but the Baggies have leaked one goal the last 3 games. This can be said for quite a few defenses, right on the edge of being a superior defense and just average. As for defenders, Spurs have been posted 4 clean sheets, while I don’t want to spend the money on Walker, Vertonghen currently tops my want list. After GW8, I am also looking at adding a Southampton defender, Fonte or Van Dijk. Valencia is on the short list, but I have been considering adding an Arsenal defender, but outside of Cech at 5.5m, it’s going to cost 6.0m to get Gunner coverage in Monreal or Mustafi. One defender I am considering highly, Cresswell, as he posted 6 points on his return to the pitch in his first game this season.

A once prominent part of my squad has left me scratching my head wondering where I went wrong. I probably rode Antonio and Capoue a week too long. Both players have been hit by the law of averages and are not returning as they did a few game weeks ago. On a positive note, both recorded 3 points by virtue of keeping clean sheets. Sterling (2 pts) and Snodgrass (1 pt) were both ineffective. While I intended on holding on to Snodgrass, Sterling will be dropped in place of De Bruyne who surprisingly returned for GW8, playing 90 minutes, recording a zero, as he missed a penalty. Finally Sanchez, whom I captained only returned 10 points, but that was my best performing player of the week thanks in part to an assist. As it stands now, Sterling and Antonio will make way for KDB and Walcott for GW9. Capoue will most likely fall to being a 5th midfielder.

Up front it was a nightmare! Defoe, boom or bust took the later and couldn’t score against Stoke City. Even worse the performance of Aguero, of all players. He did not start, missed a penalty and ended up with a -1. This is the same Aguero who hit for 5 last year in 20 minutes! What the hell is happening this year? I have no intentions of adding Lukaku or Costa, both players scored this week, however I am considering Austin to replace Rashford, which was potentially a “rash decision” to bring in just to get the price increase. He is not starting on Monday for me, as I played a 3-5-2 formation.

After 6 strong weeks I am sitting on 356 points, averaging 59 points/week. Just two week later I am at 399 points with a 49.8 points/week average (81 points short of my 480 points I was hoping to have). How the mighty have fallen…and quick. Still I am in a better position than I was last year at this time, but I am not sure how to stem this downward spiral and to turn things around. GW9 will see two transfer with a possible third at a 4 point cost. Although I have a hard time taking another -4 point hit it might be warranted, although in fantasy sports, there are no guarantees.

Premier League: GW6 Retrospect

Starting the week ranked in 55k in the global league with a team value of 101.6m brought a smile to me face, then I faced the reality of the situation knowing I was going into GW6 without Aguero. I mismanaged my transfer funds and used 2 FTs I was saving to bring Aguero back leading up to this week. While my hands weren’t tied, it was going to cost me. Cost me  -8 points to accomplish the moves necessary to bring back the cornerstone of my squad. All week, I spent time reading, writing and analyzing the data on different fantasy football sites, which made the decision just more muddled. If GW5 taught me anything this early in the season was to let the team ride, lock up a FT in anticipation of future moves. It wasn’t until I read a reply from James R on Fantasy Football Geek, he confirmed what I already knew, “You need to get Aguero back, he’s going to rack up the goals.” I knew this and with a few clicks of the mouse, made it happen.

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James R offered up a few transfer scenarios, but neither worked, leaving me with a deficit of more than 2.0m. I didn’t want to lose City coverage, with Sterling and De Bruyne already on my roster, Aguero would make it three, feast or famine in terms of points. I decided to move Ibrahimovic and Cazorla in favor of Aguero and Snodgrass, which put 1.0m in the back when all was said and done. At 59% TSB (teams selected by) it was a risky move but with Man U not playing well it was a gamble I was willing to make. At some point in the near future I will bring Zlatan back, probably for Lukaku. It felt right having Aguero back in my starting XI but the cost was -8 points to my weekly total.

Unable to watch the early Saturday matches I checked the scores and wasn’t too pleased with what I was seeing. Although I cracked a smile when saw 4 games by Man U, none of which scored by Zlatan. It wasn’t until all games were final that I logged into Premier League and saw my overall score for the week of 65 points! I was thrilled to see my total and examine the break down, but one look and the -8 point to bring Aguero in had paid off. Being captained, knocking in 2 goals and receiving 3 bonus points resulted in 26 points, tops on my squad. Not to be outdone, DeBruyne and Sterling chipped in with 10 and 6 respectively for a grand total of 42 for City’s 3-1 thrashing of Swansea.

What’s happened to West Ham? They’ve conceded 14 goals in 4 matches, but they were still scoring, 2 against Watford and 2 against WBA, but nothing against Southampton. Antonio still looked dynamic on the outside, even when dropped to right defender, he was finding himself in the attacking third of the field and still appeared to an asset. This is his first blank since GW1, which I am willing to let slide as the Hammers face ‘Boro (H), Palace (A) and Sunderland (H) in the next 3 games. The potential to come away with 4 goals is still there for Antonio and with Payet orchestrating the midfield, I still think Antonio is a strong play. His 2 points today will hopefully be overlooked.

Being talked up as one of the strongest defensive teams in the league, now with Lukaku in form, I dropped Costa in favor of the big Belgian a few weeks back. While it looked great last weekend with a goal and assist, his form dipped this week resulting in just 2 points. His consistency is terrible, more so than any other big name forward in the EPL in recent years. Everton’s 1-0 lost to Bournemouth just calls into question the inclusion of Lukaku at 9.3m. Thankfully is was Defoe to the rescue bagging 2 goals and 3 bonus points for the Black Cats as they lost 3-2 vs Palace. Now on 36 points he draws even with Zlatan and trails Aguero by a single marker. Depending on the Monday match with Watford visiting Burnley, Deeney is on a very short list to replace Lukaku in the next few weeks.

gw06-standingsWhile I haven’t given up defensively, I am not going to continue chasing clean sheets. I plan on running with Foster, Valencia, McAuley and Williams as my starters, while Collins and Van Aanholt come off the bench. Yet with PVA (5.0), I should probably downgrade and save 0.5 to be used elsewhere on the pitch. The GW6 starters totaled just 8 points, another disappointing returning with each team giving up just a single marker. So close…yet so far, but with only 3 clean sheets in GW6 (to date); Arsenal, Southamption and Bournemouth, I am not the only manager looking to turn things around defensively.

With Monday’s Burley v Watford still to come, I am already looking forward to GW7. Unfortunately De Bruyne sustained a muscle injury that reported will keep him out 4 weeks. Price at 10.7m, with 3.4 ITB bringing in Sanchez would be a logic move. Arsenal face Burnley (A), Swansea (H), ‘Boro (H) and Sunderland (A). Some great looking match up for the Gunners and Sanchez! Only problem I have for GW7, I used my FT to bring in Rashford, in anticipation of a price increase at the cost of Ibrahimovic, this the 3.4 ITB at the time of this writing. Amazing what moving Zlatan does to potentially improving other positions. While no determination will be made on KDB until Tuesday, I am ready to pay the -4 hit and get Sanchez.

At the completion of Sunday I have 354 points, averaging 59 points/week, which is just 1 point off my weekly goal for the season! With just 2 points today from Antonio for a weekly total of 67points, I jumped up to 26k in the global league and maintain the top spot in both my classic leagues. Team value has increased to 101.7.

Premier League: GW5 Retrospect

GW5 didn’t start off well, as I had four games streaming on NBC, only to see my players doing nothing on the pitch, thought there would be more 2 point performances. Thankfully I got called away, which was probably a blessing in disguise, as my players seemed to turn things around. Why is it? This seems to happen to us when we don’t watch our fantasy players? In 35+ years of playing fantasy (NFL) football and now 4 years of fantasy (EPL) football, my team ALWAYS does better when I don’t watch. Regardless, after I saw the final scores and ran down the scorers I decided to fire up the Premier League see just how poorly I did. To my amazement I had scored 52 points during a week the average was 26 points. I was quite pleased with the shift my team had put in for GW5. Sunday I still had three players remaining (2 from Man U and one from Watford), which would hopefully add to my total and put me further over the weekly average and another green arrow.

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Prior to GW5 I was dead set against a transfer, but the more I read and researched, the more I wanted to offload Costa, more for his piss poor attitude on the pitch (can’t knock his talent) than his performance and replace him with Lukaku because of Everton’s upcoming fixtures. Doing so would cost me in the weeks to come, as I would not be able to get Aguero back without taking a point hit. Instead of playing for the “later” I played for the “now” and made the transfer. It didn’t look good when Costa scored in the early game on Saturday, but Lukaku did not disappoint, as I gave him the armband! A goal, an assist and 3 bonus points for 24 points set things right. The move paid off, even more so as his value increased by 0.2!

With the Aguero transfer on hold for GW6 I changed my formation for GW5, going with a 3-5-2 and giving Capoue his first start since I picked him up for GW4, when I used my WC. Defoe (7.2) found himself the third forward, out of the starting XI. This move paid off as Capoue found the back of the net for the 4th time, beating DeGea, as Watford finished off Manchester United 3-1, ending a horrid week for Jose, 0-3 in all competitions. Antonio remained a “must have” with a goal in the 61st minute, assist from Payet, who remains on my watch list for now. Sterling also remained in great form, matching KDB (received 3 bonus points) with a goal and an assist, clean sheet and 2 bonus points. Both players are in the sort of form you can’t ignore but can you afford to have both AND Aguero? City has a good run of fixtures through GW13, outside the tilt with Spurs in 2 weeks. Push me for a decision now and I say De Bruyne stays and Sterling gets sold, at least that is my plan in a few weeks to get Aguero back as my top forward.

Defensively my team, as well as many managers have been frustrating with the lack of clean sheets. Tteams and match ups you figure are a guarantee end up resulting in that 1 goal that kicks chaos into your defense. That is where my defense is about now. When I used my WC  I brought in Collins, Williams, McAuley and Van Aanholt, with Valencia as the sole survivor. Did I give up too soon on Stones and Morgan? I don’t believe I did, as Stones still hadn’t done anything to validate his position on my squad. He didn’t start in GW5 and I could not see having a 5.0 defender on the bench. The Foxes weren’t winning and while Morgan is the stalwart of that defense, I was not happy with their upcoming fixtures. While I am fine with my defense, Collins and the West Ham defense has given up 8 goals in 2 weeks, Slaven Bilic has to gthinking of a defensive change, Collins might be on the way out (for Ogbonna), there goes a starting 4.6 budget defender. Thankfully Amat is still around and 0.5 cheaper, starting and jsuust 6 points off the 15 points Collins put up through GW5. Valencia, while dynamic for Man U, isn’t getting any offensive points and has only registered 2 clean sheets. His spot on my squad, at 5.5, might be in jeopardy to a more lucrative defender from Spurs or Everton, with 0.5 ITB, I might have a few better options.

Forwards haven’t been returning as anticipated, Zlatan scored his 4th last week, but missed some very good chances to add to his tally. This week it appeared to me that 11 individuals took the pitch for the Red Devils, but they failed to play as a cohesive unit. No better example than the collision in the box between DeGea and Smalling. That defined the day for Jose. Zlatan, was not Zlatan, he was flat, his play, unimpressive. His 61.9 TSB%  tells you many managers still believe in him and it’s better to fail with him than be without when he goes off for a big return. He is still the top forward (34 points) but a case could be made to transfer him in favor of Aguero, while retaining the services of Lukaku and Defoe. Next up for the Red Devils, Leicester, who have kept but one clean sheet on the year. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs could frustrate Zlatan owners through GW15.

If I plan to run a 3-5-2 formation, then I cannot warrant Defoe being benched at 7.2 and feel the need to free up some money to improve the team defensively. As I mentioned, Spurs and Everton have a good run of games and it might be time to offload the Man U coverage. Budget forwards under 6.4 are plentiful, but none have been scoring reguarly; Wilson, Gray, Hernandez, Llorente and Austin are all possibilities that would allow me to free up money.

As for Aguero I might run without him through GW8. After a GW6 match up versus Swansea he faces Spurs (A) and Everton (H), the two best defenses in the league. Can they slow down Pep’s offensive machine? Sure I would give up a favorable game this week (as City plays Swansea twice) but the 9.2 on Lukaku and addition of DeBruyne might be a stronger combination than moving for Aguero.

To reacquire Aguero I would need to free up 12.4, as I have 0.5 ITB. Moving Zlatan (11.7) or more likely Lukaku (9.2) would still require a second move, either Sterling (8.3) or Defoe (7.2) and a budget forward or midfielder to replace them. Lukaku and Sterling free up 18.0 (including the 0.5 ITB). Moving Lukaku and Defore totals 16.9. This puts me in a bind to bring even a budget player in at either position. Snodgrass is 5.7, which means I am short 0.6 to bring back Aguero. The same plan fails if I attempt to transfer Diomande (4.6) in as my budget forward. While my team value has increased to 101.6 the budget won’t allow me the necessary moves to bring Aguero back for GW6. Moving Zlatan and Sterling would would get me Aguero and Snodgrass, which isn’t a better combination but still leave me 0.8 short if I wanted to reacquire Zlatan when their fixtures are more favorable.

With my GW6 move already completed last night, bringing in De Bruyne in order to get the price increase I will run out Zlatan and Lukaku for a second week in a 3-5-2 formation. Defensively Collins will be benched in favor of McAuley vs Stoke City. Valencia’s start is still questionable with van Aanholt and Collins as my remaining options.

Premier League: GW4 Retrospect Update

The scoreline will reflect a 3-0 victory for Everton over Sunderland with 3 goals in the span of 11 minutes for Lukaku. For me, starting and captaining Defoe, it was a risk that didn’t pay off. However he got me 4 points as a captain, which is 3 more points than I would of had with Hazard. How’s that for a positive spin on a bad situation?

The thought, although a fleeting one was to find that difference maker at captain, Lukaku was a great example of this in GW4. However with just 3 points through 3 weeks, I could not justify introducing him to my starting XI, especially over Costa and how well he had been playing. I was hoping for a goal from Defoe, but the chance never materialized and I missed out on by goal of 70 points, finishing GW4 with 56 points, which was still 17 points above the average.

Another green arrow and I am now in the top 135k with a value of 101.2! Currently first place in both the mini leagues I am, but well down the rankings in the Fantasy Football First league (363) and the Fantasy Football Geek (1269). Based off last year, this is a much improved start to the season.

With my WC already played, it’s time to figure my plan to reintroduce Aguero to the squad when his suspension is over. Reading some articles, one manager decided Aguero isn’t needed, captaining the likes of Ibra and Hazard over the course of the season, while spending elsewhere that 13.0 you would tie up in Aguero. The logic, while sound is something I won’t consider for my team. As long as Aguero remains healthy he is a “must start” and his ownership (like that of Ibra) reflect it.

The original plan to return Aguero to the lineup seems to have gone awry. The original plan was to drop Costa and Defoe for Aguero and Diamonde but I am now coming up 0.3 short, which means I might have to keep Defoe an additional week and drop Sterling to free up enough money. Shipping Sterling doesn’t bother me but could result in a -4 hit if I can’t find an acceptable plan before Aguero’s return. A bit surprise not to see Aguero’s price drop by 0.1 or 0.2. It might still happen, which would be helpful.

Premier League: GW4 Retrospect

With the international break, managers and players alike had an extra week to rest, relax before making their next moves for GW4. My intention before I found out Aguero would face a suspension due to an elbow to Reid in GW3 was to use exchange my WC for unlimited transfers for GW4. Much like last year, when Aguero returned from international duty injured I was forced to WC sooner than I liked. I am off to the best start in the 4 years I’ve been playing fantasy football with my weekly goal being to score 60 points a gameweek, which breaks down to just 5.45 points per player, 2 of which you get if you start and play a majority of the game. As I’ve mentioned in earlier articles scoring 60 points a week would result in 2280, which would put you in the top of the top out of some 3.8 million managers. Not too shabby. Heading into Monday as Everton visits the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland I am sitting with just 46 points, 14 off my goal but 10 points better than the weekly average. Does that tell you just how bad the weekend was for many? Fortunately I have Defoe (captained) and Williams playing.

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It was a very busy WC week, as I waited until Friday before I confirmed my use of the WC, missing out on a few player price increases earlier in the week. Money that could be well spent as I team is a bit behind at just 100.6. At this point I had hoped to surpassed 101.0 to allow some more player movement, but I am pleased with the current progress. Out of 15 players on my squad I transferred 11 out retaining only Foster and Zlatan in the starting XI.

I retooled my defense, opting to sit Valencia in GW4 due to the Manchester Derby, appeared to be a valid move until I saw results from the rest of my defenders. Starting defenders included McAuley, Collins and Williams. Foster and McAuley lost their clean sheet late in the 79th minute. I think the Hammers are still wondering what the hell got into Watford, giving up 4 goals after going up 2-0 in the 33rd minute only to walk off the pitch at halftime at 2-2. A combined 5 points with Williams going today.

The basis for the WC move was the lack of production from my midfield, at a time when my defenders were putting up clean sheets and forwards were scoring, my overall points were taking a hit with many low, single digit returns. Mahrez, Tadic, Barkley (owned just 1 week), Ramirez and Fletcher all saw the door. There was some thought in keeping Mahrez based on the GW5 match up with Burnley, but a nasty run upcoming sealed his fate.

I made a valiant attempt to secure the services of Sanchez in my starting XI along side Hazard, Sterling, Antonio but my budget wouldn’t allow the 11.0 midfielder. After reading Arsene might sit him, I moved in another direction and brought in Cazorla instead. A move that paid off, as he found the back of the net from the spot to beat Southampton. The final piece of puzzle was the red hot Capoue, who continued an amazing start finding the back of the net recording 13 points! I had not planned on starting him because of my 3-4-3 formation.

Hazard and Sterling disappointed in their matches, especially for those managers who overwhelmingly supported Hazard with the captain’s armband and a total of 2 points. Sterling equaled Hazard with a single point, being pulled after 59 minutes. Two players in very good form who came back to bite many mangers in GW3. Cazorla and Antonio on the other hand excelled! Antonio on the back of two goals and a bonus point scored 13, while Cazorla rescued the Gunners and his performance taking all 3 bonus points for a total of 9, second week in a row!

Up front many scrambled to find a valid replacement for Aguero. I made the decision to replace him, but wanted to figure out how I was going to Aguero back in my starting XI before transferring him out and burning all the additional money I suddenly had. After reading articles on some of my preferred fantasy sites and comments in different thread I decided to bring in Costa and Defoe in the interim to replace the missing Argentine.

Costa worried me, already on 2 yellows in the first 3 games, the likelihood for another yellow was possible, but in the end it didn’t discourage me from starting him. At 9.7 it was a solid decision, 2 goals and 3 bonus points, picking up 12 points and his third yellow on the season. He is just a fill in and regardless of what he does won’t have a starting position when Kun returns to the City line up. I understand a player like Costa is someone you want on your team and not going against your team. He’s a talent on the pitch, but I don’t like how he plays the game, the dives, the calls, the “hotheadedness” he brings turns a fantastic player into a schmuck at times.

With the money I had remaining, I decided to take a chance on Defoe for Sunderland, the man who continues to get it done for the Black Cats up front with 2 goals on the season. With 2 goals vs Everton in his last three meetings, I just have a gut feeling the 33 year old will get it done and bring home a goal or two. Defoe is also wearing the captain’s armband, so I could feast on points or come up very short. One thing I do know, he can’t do any worse than what Hazard returned with nothing to lose today I am pushing to get to 70 points on the week.

Update on Tuesday!

Premier League: GW3 Retrospect

High expectations coming off a very successful GW2, but met with a catastrophic fail going into the international break. As I mentioned from GW1, my goal is to average 60 points a week, which could put be at 2280 by season’s end resulting in a top finish out of some 3 million managers. GW3 was a step backwards, which many experienced managers will take. Being only my 4th year I am still wet behind the ears and learning the ins and outs of fantasy football.

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It was not until Friday afternoon that I finally decided to use my FT (free transfer) for the week. I had been looking at a few players, which would yield a few different lineups, going as far as a 3-5-2. After copious amounts of reading and referencing players and reading some more I decided to make, what was considered a quality transfer transferring out Payet, who had played just 24 minutes through the first 2 weeks and brought in Barkley from Everton, who had seen 90 minutes through each of the first two games, adding a goal and an assist. Seemed a solid transfer heading into a tilt with Butland-less Potters.

Like last year I toyed with the idea of playing my WC, but figured I would run into complications after the international break if any of my players came back with an injury, something I wanted to avoid this season, as opposed to last. I continued to hold my WC and made the decision that prior to GW4, depending on the health of my squad I would conceivably play it. Still only 3 weeks into a 38 week season could seem to be a hasty move. Consider I made up most of my ground to get me into the top 75k last year during the second half the season. So transfer now or wait?

Watching the early games disappointed, as Gray was shutout out by Chelsea, which we all knew would happen, but Barkley was nearly invisible versus Stoke City as I started the week in poor form, just 4 points. It didn’t get much better as Mahrez was held in check against the Swans thanks in part of a penalty miss. Only a brighter note, Morgan shined against defensively leading Leicester to a shut out and 8 points. Valencia continued that tend in the later game scoring 9 points against Hull behind a shutout and 3 bonus points. Stones, disappointed again, conceding a goal vs West Ham and being pulled after just 58 minutes with an injury. Not a good start to his City career considering through 5 games last season City did not concede a goal. Then again, City is still without Kompany.

Rounding out the midfield it was Tadic 3 points versus Sunderland and Ramirez 2 points versus a stingy West Brom defense. Both players were pulled before 90 minutes. As I witnessed the first two weeks my midfield continues to struggle. None of the big named or big price tagged players have stepped up. At least not those on my squad, which is part of the reason I am considering the WC before GW4.

Up front was a dismal abyss. The “dynamic duo” of Ibra and Kun tallied just 4 points between them, for those of us, like me, who captained Aguero, we finished the day on 6 points. Nothing seemed to go to plan in GW3, then again maybe that’s why we play this damn game because of the twists and turns and chances we take through out the season. Never did I consider captaining another player prior to handing Kun the armband for the third week in a row.

In goal Foster shined again! 6 points, his second shut out in three games, as the Baggies continue to have a solid defensive form. Going forward it could get tricky starting with GW8, but until that time I have the utmost confidence in Tony Pulis and the West Brom defense. Next question, do I double up?

The international break is on the horizon before GW4, so it’s nearly 2 weeks to sit and consider what moves to make going forward. How do I consistently break through that 60 point threshold I am looking to achieve. Do I go 3-5-2 or stay with 3-4-3? Who will shine in the next 3-6 weeks? Big names such as Hazard, Sanchez and Costa are on my radar. Costly, all of them. So I sit, reflect and wait to see what I do with my WC.

Premier League: GW2 Retrospect

Bring on the green arrow, as I improved my overall position to 182k, jumping some 119k spots with 72 points this weekend. Yet, all is not as it appears to be, as I am struggling to generate points from the midfield. Last week Mahrez went for 8 points, thanks in part to a goal from the spot, but this week wasn’t to be versus the Gunners. Payet nursing a knock didn’t even make the bench for West Ham and Fletcher was substituted in after the fact. Tadic has looked dynamic, but yet to provide, Ramirez from ‘Boro is my budget buy and has played well, but the frustration is building.

2016_gw2

I started GW2 off with transferring Kante out and introducing Fletcher, in hindsight it probably should have been Capoue, who scored in GW1 and again this week, but also picked up calf injury. I debated even using the FT since I knew whoever I picked up wasn’t going to be in the starting XI. Now with the price changes, I am sitting in a more precarious position, as I wanted to bring in Hazard, but with the 0.1 bump to 10.1 I can’t make a one for one transfer with Mahrez or Payet. Back to the drawing board for GW3.

Up front I am glad I am a team with Ibra, as opposed to without Ibra. Three games in to Premier League games, he is off and running in fine fashion. Not to be left behing, Aguero has been matching him goal for goal, as both have tallied 3 through two games. Aguero has been captained the last 2 weeks as well. I did hold Gray from Burnley and was rewarded with a goal and bonus point in GW2. A total of 59 points was a great way to start the week.

At the back Everton got the best of the Baggies and Foster finished with just 2 points. I honestly thought it would have been a solid play this week, but the Toffees seem to have upped their game under Koeman. There was no consideration to start Jakupovic versus Swansea, who recorded his first clean sheet of the year. He will remain the back up going forward.

The defenders improved on their lackluster performance last week. Clean sheets from Leicester and Man U meant 6 points for Valencia and Morgan, which was something I missed in GW1. But the question mark is Stones and what’s going through Pep’s mind starting Caballero over Hart in goal. Through 2 weeks, “Slick Willy” has let a goal a piece in resulting in frustration for Stones owners. He remains a great buy for managers with 35.5% ownership. Can you afford NOT to be without him at this point? I do believe City will tighten things up at the back and reverse this trend. Their upcoming matches feature West Ham (H), the Manchester Derby (A) and Spurs (A) in GW7. So clean sheets might be at a premium over the next 5 game weeks.

With just one more week before the international break, I am trying like hell not to use my wild card. This time last year I was struggling to score points and I completely overhauled my squad. Not sure I want to follow that template this year. The intended plan was to introduce Hazard, but the 0.1 increase has taken me over budget for straight swap with Mahrez or Payet. Leicester face some favorable games, Swansea (H), Liverpool (A) and Burley (H) over their next 3 and I look for them to have a few multiple goal games.

That puts Payet’s status on my squad in question. Coutinho at 32.9% is the highest owned, but feel his play is too inconsistent, 15 points in GW1 and just 2 points in GW2. Which Philippe shows up versus Spurs in GW4? Barkley and Martial are the other immediate options with the schedule favoring Everton through GW7.

My other line of thinking, hold Payet in hopes he returns in GW3, away to Man City. Based on their lackluster performance in GW2, they need his talent in the midfield to set the tempo and provide a better transition game. This would make Tadic expendable and could be a straight swap for Barkley leaving me 0.3 ITB. Again, the schedule favors the Toffees but the return of Lakaku up front will drop Delofeu back to the midfield, while the addition of Bolasie could continue to shake up the center of the pitch. With all that said, I believe Barkley’s position is not in jeopardy; 90 minutes in each of the first two games with a goal.

My last option, don’t rush to judgment, leave the squad and save the FT for after the international break. One reason I am not thrilled to use the WC before the break, injuries. We saw it last year with Aguero. He started off hot but came back injured and struggled. How many times did you captain Kun against a weak opponent only to be let down? I would like to keep 1 FT in my back pocket, “just in case.” We will see how things play out next Monday.

Premier League: GW1 Retrospect

GW1 of the Premier League is finally in the book after the 2-1 Chelsea victory over West Ham last night. As with every fantasy football (soccer for the Americans) season, there were some surprises, Hull defeating last year’s champions, Leicester City, 2-1 as well as some impressive individual performances, Philippe Coutinho, 2 goals and 3 bonus points. Yet when Monday morning comes, league managers are always quick to pull the trigger to improve their team. The international break comes after GW3 and I would like to hold onto my wild card (WC) until after the break. I would also like to carry over a transfer, giving me 2 transfers to use prior to GW4.

2016-gw01

I had high expectations to start this fantasy season stronger than last year, while 59 points isn’t anything to write home about, it’s 15 points higher than the league average, but well off the high score of 104. Overall, I am still pleased with my starting XI, but second guessing on Friday night cost me quite a few points I could of had.

Yet, we cannot play fantasy football on “woulda, coulda, shoulda” that fact is I didn’t play any of these players, transferring them all out after reading some late articles that convinced me, to doubt my first choice selections. At one point Friday I had McAuley, Snodgrass, Lamela and Redmond in my starting XI. I didn’t feel comfortable with two WBA defensive players, even though their first 6 games are all winnable.

I did however like the fact that Redmond made the move from Norwich City to Southampton but didn’t want to double up on midfielders since I was already running Tadic out on the pitch. Intending to start Sigurdsson, I dropped him at the last might, opting for Lamela, but couldn’t pull the trigger with him and wanted Eriksen instead. Finally Snodgrass, sorta the engine that makes Hull City go, down that right side. That equals 36 points I missed out on. Of which I would of had 27.

Since we don’t play fantasy like that, we must look at what we did achieve with our 59 points and look forward to the remainder for the schedule. The positives, Foster in goal for WBA dropping 10 points. Looked strong and should run off 4-5 shutouts to start the season, which would see his value increase. Very disappointed in my three starting defenders, all of which had the chance to notch shutouts; Morgan, Stones and Valencia combined for a dismal 5 points, which Leicester losing 2-1 against the newly promoted Hull City. I don’t believe we will see many shutouts until Huth returns and partners with Morgan.

I mentioned Snodgrass, upon his transfer out, I brought in Ramirez from ‘Boro who provided an assist for 4 points, while Mahrez hit from the penalty spot and grabbed a bonus point for a total of 8. Still the catalyst for the team, I think it’s crazy to consider his transfer fodder after a single game. Remaining starters, Tadic and Payet combined for 3, with Payet entering the game versus Chelsea in the second half, but not producing any magic to start the season.

The bench players were just as poor Parades and Fry didn’t play, not that I expected them to and Kante picked up a yellow, recording a single marker in GW1. Honestly, the only reason I selected Kante was the price tag of 5.0 but any hope of him rising anytime soon probably won’t come, putting him on the transfer block.

Up front, I was impressed with new boy, Ibrahimovic, his 30 yard strike just reconfirmed by I didn’t blink at his 11.5 price tag, as he looked sharp nearly the who game. He finished the day with 9 points. Aguero grabbed a goal and all 3 bonus points, as well as being captained and finished the day on 18 points. Gray of Burnley, after an amazing Championship season last year didn’t get off the blocks after a hot preseason with just 2 points. Another who might be on the transfer block, yet any scoring from Burnley will come from him.

Averaging 60 points a week, 10 points a player will yield 2280 during the 38 week season. That score puts you into the upper 1& of nearly 3 million managers playing fantasy football. In that respect, I am right where I want to be, just a single tally off that 60 point start, knowing I was on the right track with my initial selections.

While I am holding tight early in the week to see what prices do, I am considering one transfer this week either at the defensive end of the pitch, moving Morgan for McAuley or up front with Gray making way for another 6.5 forward. The Morgan/McAuley move would save me 0.5, allowing me to upgrade Kante to Snodgrass.

2015/2016 Premier League Fantasy Result

Not that I have a big following when it comes to the “beautiful game” but even less of an interest when you bring the fantasy aspect to the forefront. Talking fantasy fútbol , which ended this past Tuesday for the English Premier League thus concluding my third season participating. I admit, it was my best showing to date scoring 2,170 points (winner scored 2,458 points), which was up 119 points from last season giving me a final ranking of 75,025 (out of 3,734,001)! Inside the top 100k was my goal this year and I achieved it. I ended on a streak of three green arrows and five out of the last six week I improved my overall position, undoubtedly my best run of the year, when it’s needed most.

When you start breaking down the numbers on a weekly basis, that 288 point difference between my final standing and the winner ends up as a difference of 7.57 points a week. That’s not many points. Drop in 4 points for a clean sheet and number decreases even more! Looking over the season, I am still on the upswing of the learning curve. However, I did get in on some of the “template” players earlier than later in during the season. It took only 3 game weeks and I had used my first wild card introducing Hart, Williams, Ward, Mahrez, Sanchez, Ayew, Silva, Aguero and Gomis. Picked up an early injury on Calum Wilson, who was added prior to game week 2. I did benefit from the use of the early WC, seeing my ranking and team value rise over the next 4 week, climbing to 536k and £102.6m respectively. Unfortunately I left 50 points on the bench during game week 3 and 4.

The triple captain chip was dropped into play for game week 4 on Kun Aguero vs Watford resulting in 6 points, as City won 2-0 and Aguero was held scoreless. Not how I planned on seeing this potential bonus going down, as I had paid heavily for the striker’s services, which meant he won the captain’s arm band often. Game week paid off nicely as Aguero scored 5 goals vs Newcastle scoring 50 points and lead my team to best (non DGW) score of 103. It also vaulted my team to the top 65k my best overall ranking in 3 years. Unfortunately the international break arrived, Aguero got injured and this started a run of red arrows through game week 14 dropping my overall rank to 582k.

Game week 9 saw my all out attack chip played starting Cresswell and Francis as my sole defenders, Chadli, Ayew, Sanchez, DeBruyne and Mahrez in the midfield and Pelle, martial and Ighalo up front. I finished this week with just 43 points, my 5th lowest score of the year and another red arrow following by best score, the week before. I was frustrated, as my decisions were not paying off, weeks of 43, 53, 48, 42, 44 and now 56 capped off my worst run of the year.

Week 15 I made two transfer, which cost me 4 points, the third time this early in the season I had done so. Five weeks prior I had jumped on the Vardy bandwagon, but that was after his 11 game goal scoring streak had ended, yet Jamie was still scoring and Leicester was still winning. Lukaku and Alderweireld made an instant impact on the transfer in, scoring 16 and 6 respectively. Mahrez also hit for 21 points, things were looking up!

What I learned this year, as this was the first year for the three chips, I should of held this chips for the DGW or double game weeks that appeared during the later part of the season. I got antsy and attempted to play catch up by using the chips early in the year, which through 14 weeks had scored my only an additional 4 points! Not how I saw my chips playing out this season.

For the next 8 weeks it was a mix of red and green arrows, never really establishing a consistency on the pitch. Even a good week of 72 points in game week 17 saw a red arrow when the average points scored was just 59. Yet the season started to turn around during game week 23, when my team put up 88 points behind top performances of Alli, Firmino, Ighalo and Aguero. This total propelled my team 324k spots in the ranking to 279k, my best ranking since game week 11.

The next 3 game weeks, scores of 61, 63 and 60 saw just average returns but two green arrows the final two weeks. Looking forward we were starting to get an idea of DGWs and teams with no games because of cup action. The final 13 games weeks saw 9 green arrows and only 4 red arrows, as I chipped away moving closer to 100k.

Week 29, a score of 90 points with 6 players on the dream team pushed me inside 200k, jumping my team 103k for the week. Behind just a single transfer of Schmeichel, for the week, he was key in 28 points for my defensive players with Mahrez, Payet and Aguero scoring 11, 13 and 22 respectively.

One notable issue I need to address next season, the number of transfers that take a point hit in the mini-leagues. I recorded 9 weeks of -4 points and a single week of -20 points (game week 37). Speaking of mini-league action, I started the season 6-0, suffering my first loss, 58-41 in game week 7. The next 8 weeks I would go 2-6, losing 2 game weeks (14, 15) by a total of 3 points. Toss in a draw during week 16 and my team would not recover falling from the top of the table. I did win my final 3 matches, but never moved higher than 5th for the rest of the season. Go ‘Orns finished the season 20-1-15 scoring 2,170 points, outscoring the next closest team by 231 points.

DGW 34 put me in a great position to finish the season, 139 points (avg. 72) powered by Sanchez (25 pts) and Aguero (52), who wore the captain’s armband pushed me inside 108k, my best position since game week 8. After the first games, I was thrilled to see just how well my team and expected bigger points for the second games teams were playing, yet I set my expectations too high and some of the bigger names disappointed.

As the season was winding down, it was one more toss of the dice in game week 37, I took a -20 point hit and made big changes to my squad in hopes of improving my final standing. Introducing Van Aanholt to my defense and giving Hazard the armband accounted for 41 of my 97 points, Payet and Sanchez continued to pay dividends, while Defoe scored another goal. The season closed with a final week of 56 points thanks to a shutout from Bellerin and Monreal as well as a flier on Mane, which resulted in 13 points.

Looking back on the season, I realize I must listen to my head more than I listen to some pundits or polls. Many of us can relate, talking yourself out of a starting certain players or changing the captain’s armband just before the lineups are locked. The bonus points for the three chips absolutely killed me this season, planning on a big reward, which yielded a single digit total. These will be held much longer next season.

The final factor is challenging, starting the season with players who end up on the “template” for much of the season. This year, Vardy and Marhez impressed much of the season. Kane, didn’t hit early on but came back very strong. Ozil was a consistent assist machine for the Gunners. All were template players, but it would those 2-3 players outside the template who hopefully made a positive difference in your team.

After 3 years of playing I set personal records for most points, 2,170 and rank, 75,024. Last year’s score of 1,912 saw a finish of 531k, while my inaugural year was 2,041, finishing 877k. This year was a huge step forward and a cornerstone on which to build for next Premier League season.

Fantasy EPL – DGW 37

This post will fall mainly on deaf ears since football (aka soccer) is not taken seriously in the United States. Sure, we have the MSL, USL and NASL but none of them compare to the game that’s played abroad, but I am not here to drag my soapbox out about the inferior play and leagues in America. This is about the fantasy aspect of football, which is big business, especially in the Barclay’s Premier League. Just like the NFL and countless leagues that pop up when the season rolls around, football in England takes center stage for a 38 week season.

Outside of hockey and basketball I have played fantasy sports since 1983, when I started my own fantasy football (NFL) league with 5 friends. So while my expertise flourished with stats, players and strategy, interest in the NFL has waned the past 10 years and while I still participate I do out of friendship for the guys I play with. It’s the EPL that has taken center stage for me, played on a very large scale with 3.7 million players taking part in the Fantasy Premier League. This is just the third season I have participated, but after 36 weeks I will post my best score to date based on a very hard to predict EPL season.

Compared to my past NFL expertise, I am a 3 year “newbie” to the fantasy world, sometimes learning the ropes, “the hard way.” Each year is a new experience, a new piece of the puzzle to implement in hopes or fielding the best 11 players on the pitch. Yet 2015-2016 has already seen the league turned upside down with Leicester City, a 5000-1 long shot winning the league. Past performances of top players have been questionable at best sometimes, but subscribing to “form over fixture” seems to hold true more often than not. In the past it was “the law of fantasy football averages” as it related to the NFL (read The Ogletree Factor). “This is a law that dictates there are only so many yards and TD’s to go around and mediocre guys who have really good weeks will have to have really bad weeks later on to average their stats out. It also works in reverse for good and/or great players. Those who have really bad weeks will have to have some really good ones to again, average it out by seasons end.”

Form over fixture is important, as hot players can quickly go cold, so being able to predict “who” will move is based purely on speculation. When it goes in your favor, you are genius! Sometimes a few weeks can make your break you entire fantasy season. For me, my season broke in week 9, on the heels of a 109 point week. thanks in part to Kun Aguero dropping a 5 goal performance on Newcastle which netted me 50 points! These two weeks were separated by the international break, which saw an injury to Aguero. I took a -2 hit point restructured my team transferring Aguero out and bringing in Graziano Pellè and Kevin De Bruyne, a move that accounted for just 4 points in week 9 and started a run of red arrows the next 5 out of 6 weeks.

At the end of week 8 I was ranked 65k, my highest ever ranking. After week 14 I sat at 583k, a drop of some 520k positions. I thought I turned the corner after consecutive green arrows in weeks 15 and 16 (66 & 69 points), but 72 points in week 17 saw another down arrow. Continuing to read the fantasy sites, take advice and participate in weekly polls, it was tough to see much change. The dynamics of my team continued to shift, I did however maintain a 3-5-2 formation, but hurt myself by playing my chips too early in the season. It makes great sense to hold these gems (all out attack, triple captain and bench booster) until the DGWs or double game weeks begain.

Entering week 34, the first DGW I was ranked 161k, coming off a solid 76 point performance, 20 points above the average. By this time, Aguero was back on the front line and Alexis Sanchez was transferred in. When the DGW ended I was score 139 (-4 points for 2 transfers), 60 points above the average. You can play the “what if…” game every week in fantasy sports. “What if I would have held my triple captain chip?” “What if I played my bench boost?” You can drive yourself to a white, padded room thinking about the “what if…” scenarios. I saw a green arrow and my highest rank, now 107k since week 9.

Since week 1 the team has changed considerable. In this game getting in on “the template” is imperative. The template are those players that many of the top 10k players own. What make one team flourish and the other flounder are those “differentials” you have on  your team, any given week that score to make a difference in finishing with a red, down arrow or a green, up arrow. Week 3 saw me burn my first wildcard (WC) in order to bring my team close to those players on the template but passed on Leicester City’s, Jamie Vardy for weeks on end during his 11-goal scoring streak. The use of that WC helped me gain 520k spots in just 4 weeks.

Now we stand on the edge of week 37, another DGW. Many owners have held onto some of their chips or even a WC and are preparing to make that final push to close out this strange year in the EPL. Entering this week with 2041 points, I have matched my best point total from 2013/2014 but 300 points off the overall leader. That equates to less than a 9 point/week difference. That’s a defender gaining a shutout or a midfielder being awarded 3 bonus point. Even easier points, holding the chips until the DGWs. Regardless of how the year ends up, I will end the year on a positive note, even if I happen to go tits up with two red arrows.

week37dgwAs for this week I am hoping for BIG things, taking a -20 point hit to field a team of 10 starters all playing in the DGW. It’s a big gamble, but 140-160 is a distinct possibility given the form of the players I transferred in. Like the end of any season, it becomes a crap shoot as manager rotate players or rest players depending on European matches left to play. However, confidence is high in this starting IX, just don’t like seeing Harry Kane on the bench, based purely on his potential. Then again I have been playing Kun Aguero nearly all year because of his explosive potential.

Chalk this year crazy year up to another learning experience, ending the year knowing more now than when I started the year. Using a few fantasy sites to my advantage, while going with gut instead of with the pundits. Ending in the top 100k will be an achievement but it will require a big leap forward to break into the top 10k next year, which is a more coveted position come the end of the year.

Fantasy Premier League 2015-2016

eplThe 2015-2016 Barclay’s English Premier League is upon us! Time for “football” fans to rejoice as the chase for the cup begins. There have been some big moves in the EPL this year, not surprisingly coming from the top teams; Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. Yet we can’t forget the middle of the pack teams who make up a bulk of the action, as well as the newly promoted clubs; newcomers, AFC Bournemouth, Norwich City and Watford!

This is 4th year I have participated in Fantasy Premier League. While I haven’t done well in the past, it’s been a real learning experience. Much like jumping into fantasy football that is played in the US, following the NFL, it takes times, lots of studying in order to “get it right” the first time. Now I won’t say I have a got anything right when it comes to spending my £100 on 15 players that will make up my squad, Go’Orns (which is short for Go Hornets, the nick for Watford).

I have spent more time this year than I have the previous 4 years learning, studying and tinkering with my squad. Every time I finish a new article I find myself shuffling players in and out. Unlike NFL fantasy football, where you a waiver wire, you only get a single transfer (not including your wild cards) per week playing the EPL.. So getting your team correct starting gameweek 1 is very important. My confidence is running very high, as it usually does before the start of any fantasy league.

Injuries and fatigue from summer play have impacted a few notable players on the eve of kickoff. This has seen players like Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa, all questionable, all of whom were top scorers last season. I don’t know how many times I have shuffled my lineup with all three them on the pitch at one time or another the last month. Yet, as we look towards Man. U v Spurs, I think I have finally secured my lineup for the start of the season.

Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, ARS / Wayne Hennessy, CRY
There were two schools of thought for the man between the sticks, go cheap and rotate keepers on lower teams based on their strength of schedule. Initially this is how I was set up, but after further thought and consideration I decided I wanted a goalkeeper I could start and forget. The man to fill that position, Petr Cech, Arsenal, newly acquired from rival Chelsea. After relegation to a back up roll at Chelsea last season, Arsenal might have the final piece of the puzzle to challenge for a league title. No doubt Cech will take that defense to the next level with the likes of  Per “BFG” Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny anchoring the defense. Cech alone is with a 5-10 wins during the year and will increase the number of of shutouts Arsenal records this year. At £5.5 he didn’t come cheap, but I feel the extra money is well spent. Backup goalkeeper is Wayne Hennessy of Crystal Palace, I don’t expect to use him, but at £4.0 he will see some starts as Julian Speroni is injured to start the year.

Defenders: Laurent Koscielny, ARS / Nathaniel Clyne LIV, Aaron Cresswell, WHU / Robert Huth, LEI / Matt Targett SOU

Defenders, much like goalkeepers can be had cheap and with a good rotation could benefit you based on their weekly match ups. It comes as no surprise that Chelsea has the top three defenders based on price (Ivanovic, Terry and Cahill). At one point I decided to anchor my defense with Ivanovic, but soon realized that would leave me a few million pounds short through the midfield and up front. For much of the month I had Caesar Azpilicueta slotted as my route into the Chelsea defense, a rock solid performer who will undoubtedly see improvement this year from last. Yet it was just a few days ago I opted for Laurent Koscielny to anchor my defense. The reason why, falls to the man between the sticks, Petr Cech. Koscielny can perform on both ends of the pitch. He is prone to yellow cards, but 3 goals and 11 shutouts last year could potentially increase by the end of the season. Nathaniel Clyne moved to Liverpool and will control the right side, with ability to get up and down the field, he scored twice last year and added two assists with 13 clean sheets. At £5.5 he isn’t cheap, but could be worth every pound spent on his return. Aaron Cresswell rounds out my starting three, he played every minute of every game last year and recorded 129 points. With some questions in the Hammers midfield, Cresswell could improve on his 4 assists last year. Robert Huth and Aaron Targett round out my 5 defenders and currently I don’t plan on playing either of them unless there is an emergency.

Midfielders: Eden Hazard, CHE / Santi Cazorla, ARS / Victor Wanyama, SOU / Raheem Sterling, MCI / Jordan Henderson LIV

As expected the bulk of my £100 went into the midfield position, spending £40.5! If I were to adjust my forwards and save £1.5 to £2.0 I could conceivably be starting 5 midfielders. The thought has crossed my mind numerous times, but only realistically started looking at that option last night. Not sure I want to tinker too much with the lineup at this point. No surprised to see Hazard leading the group, high scorer last year and I don’t see him slowing down this year. He is a “must have” on your fantasy team. In a surprise move I decided to add Raheem Sterling, after his move to City, playing with a group of talented midfielders, Sterling could shine in his first season. It’s money well spent and he comes in £1.0 less than David Silva (another midfielder I had slotted a few times). I fully expect to sell Sterling when Aguero is healthy to strengthen my forwards, which means I will trade down for a second tier midfielder such as Yannick Bolasie from Palace or Matt Richie, Bournemouth. For a few weeks it was Mesut Özil in my starting five, finally playing in the 10 spot for the Gunners, but after further consideration I swapped him out and added Santi Cazorla, who is favored from the spot and free kicks. Behind Sanchez, he was the second highest scoring Gunner last year. I could see him clipping 200 points this year with the addition of a few more assists and an increase in shutouts, thanks to Cech. Since Liverpool didn’t keep Steven Gerrard, the armband was passed to Jordan Henderson, 162 last year topped the team. With new boys Firmino, Milner and Ibe, I do see Henderson being a 90 minute player. The addition of Benteke and Ings up front with a healthy (whenever that it) Sturridge and Henderson could come into his own this season for L’pool.  Victor Wanyama was my budget buy coming in at £4.5, while playing near 2400 minutes last year with 3 goals and 1 assist. Hopefully Wanyama won’t get lost with Tadic and Mané prowling the midfield for Southampton.

Forwards: Wayne Rooney MUN / Christian Benteke LIV / Callum Wilson BOU

This group has undergone many changes and might see one more revision before I finalize my starters for the weekend. Rooney was actually my third choice for a starting forward. Initially Agüero was penciled in as my starter, but after fatigue from Copa America this summer and the possibility of missing gameweek 1 I pulled him for Diego Costa (CHE), who’s start is in question because of a hamstring. So, Rooney it is. Playing back up top with a good complement of midfielders, Rooney could flourish this season, coming off a disappointing campaign last year. I will plan on selling Rooney when Agüero returns (along with Sterling). At one point it was Danny Ings slotted to start, but after Benteke made the move to Anfield, Ings fell by the wayside. But it was Romelu Lukaku who was going to partner with Rooney, but a hamstring injury might slow him. Benteke is a monster, who, when on is really on, but when off, can be a complete disaster. He’s got the midfield to feed him up front, so I will take a chance with Benteke as my #2. Third forward has been flip flopping between Troy Deeney of Watford and Callum Wilson of Bournemouth, both play for the newly promoted teams and while I favor Deeney because I am a Watford fan, I penciled in Wilson. Why? Wilson is the point of the attack for Bournemouth, while Deeney has Ighalo and Vydra in the mix. Still 3 years with 20+ goal season is how to deny, yet it was the lower league, but for now, Wilson gets the now. Hopefully one of these two bargain players end up being the new Charlie Austin.

I plan on a 3-4-3 lineup to start the season and have no money in the back. With any luck I will be able to hold on to my wildcard until Agüero returns. I don’t plan on rotating any players right now, but the rotation will show up in the defense first. Hopefully I can improve on my finish last year, but confidence is running very high, although there are still many unanswered questions.