FPL: Cha-Cha-Changes

It’s never too early to look at potential changes in your FPL lineup. Right now, I am confident with my starting XI, which allows me a multitude of possibilities when it comes shifting players. However, I attempted to get a few new players in using a hypothetical wildcard and I came up £0.1m short. While I have already activated my FT for GW2, bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Wilfried Zaha, out due to injury, I am looking forward to next week.

After some consideration, discussion on Twitter and fantasy football websites, it appears I could be headed for a very early wild card. Prior to GW1, I was hoping to hold my WC until the second international break, GW7. Last 2 years I have activate my WC after GW4 with great success (in the short term). While my initial plans were set in motion for GW1, I reassured myself that my formation, FTs and WC needed to remain flexible. While I favor a 5-2-3 formation to start the 2017/18 EPL season, if the situation warrants I will shift to a more viable offense in order to chase points.

The current 5-2-3 featuring Firmino, Kane and Jesus up front provides a great feeling of confidence before the start of GW2. Underlying stats were strong for all 3 players, while Firmino was the only one who returned (12 pts.) Yet running without “Big Rom” Lukaku just doesn’t sit well. Much like tempting fate last year without Kane, especially those managers who went without when he came up BIG in the final games of the season. As pointed out by FPL Avenger (@FPLAvenger) regarding Lukaku, “He fires and you lose ground on 50% of managers. He blanks and you gain on 50% of managers.” Feels a bit like playing Russian, or in this case Belgian Roulette.

Introducing Lukaku was set in motion a series of transfer requiring an early wild card. At £11.6, in order to make the necessary room for Lukaku, I would give Firmino and Jesus their walking papers. My third forward would then role to the non-playing £4.5, Ollie McBurnie. This would shift my formation into a 5-3-2, requiring me to drop a budget midfielder and pick up a £5.5-£6.0 starter.

The introduction of Mkhitaryan for GW2 at £8.0 decreased my budget ITB to £0.5. With De Bruyne (£10.0) as my other starting midfielder, an attempt will be made to introduce Christian Eriksen (£9.5) for either Mkhitaryan or De Bruyne based on their GW2 performance. Knee jerk? Quite possibly but I don’t want to dig myself out of a very deep hole so early in the season. With very little data to go on, these moves aren’t risky based on how these players performed last season and appear to have started this season where they left off.

These moves are also contingent on Lukaku NOT rising in price after his GW2 performance. Away to Swansea, United could net a few goals, based on the number of big chances they gave up in GW1. It would also require my team value to increase by £0.1 by weekend’s end to cover the budget required. All these rising and falling prices could be irrelevant if I moved KDB, which would free up an addition £1.0.

For GW2, the knee jerk reaction isn’t great enough to cause me to activate the wild card because of Lukaku’s opening week brace. I still feel the personnel I have in my starting XI have great fixtures and based on their statistics from GW1 could return big points for the upcoming game week.

FPL: Justification

A final score of 58 points for GW1 resulted in an “average” start to the fantasy season, much like last season, where I score 59 points. The overall ranking saw me start the season at 1.9m, compared to 303k in 2016/17. However, I have mixed feelings on how I have started. Obviously, the time and energy put in during the pre-season paid off in some respect. First, I am not unhappy scoring the weekly average after GW1. Second, I am pleased with how I built my team, running out a 5-2-3 formation, albeit a bit untested, since this was a last minute Friday change to a more stable 5-3-2. Finally, it’s the first game week, you can’t judge the entire season on what happened in GW1.

As I have said from the onset, averaging 60 points a week is one of my goals. At season’s end, that would give you a final score of 2280, before adding in captaincy and bonus points. This would also be my best season, if I were to score 2280, as 2015/16 I finished on 2170 and a 75k overall ranking, my best to date. If I were to based my season on GW1, then I am on track for the season. Maybe this is looking for that silver lining in an otherwise poor, when compared to the high scores of GW1, performance.

Maybe I point my finger as Firetog, community supporter and contributor at Fantasy Football Scout, who led me down that path less traveled, when I considered my 5-defender set. His piece, In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation, had me in complete agreement with his assessment when considering formations for the upcoming FPL season. While the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 will reign supreme when it comes to formation, lining up 7 attacking players, the 5-3-2 (5-2-3) appeared a viable alternate based on player prices and lack of “quality” buys in the midfield. After GW1 we do know a bit more who could be the potential Etienne Capoue for this season. Spending £28.0m was considerably more than a majority of managers, considering most would fill their backline with budget players at £4.5, looking for that £4.0 (Rangel, 19.7 TSB%) to free up another £0.5.

When considering formation for the upcoming FPL season, I leaned on his Firetog’s statistical information. While I considered all other formations including the popular 3-4-3 and 3-5-2, I concentrated my efforts on a 5-3-2 over most of the off season. There were 6 variations with different players, strategies and plans through GW7. During the off season every lineup featured two things in common, Lukaku and Kane up front and a defensive spending in excess of £28.0. Going big on defense meant the only real decisions I had to make were in the midfield.

Unfortunately, as the off season rolled into the pre-season with friendlies through out the world, Countinho (£9.0), my selection to lead my 3-man midfield was hampered with injury and linked to a Barca move when Neymar departed for PSG. Coutinho anchored two plans for the first 7 game weeks. First was Coutinho/Tadic and 3 – £6.0m midfielders. The other plan was Coutinho/Pogba and 3 – £6.0m midfielders. Both rotations featured similar names that would rotate weekly based on strength of schedule and home fixture; Tadic, Phillips, Ritchie, Ince, Knockaert, Groß and Carroll. Including Pogba, would mean losing one of the higher price defenders, something I wasn’t too keen on, but it was a possibility.

As pre-season continued and results/performance started rolling  I began looking at another option in my 5-3-2. Based on the defenders I selected I could start with Coutinho, Pobga and Willian in the midfielder for GW1. On paper it looked good. Like the £6.0m midfielder rotation, I was able to organize a plan that would allow me to transfer out a midfielder, while attempting to play home fixtures against weaker EPL opponents. The only issue I had with this rotation was the fact it heavily featured Tadic in my starting XI. While his underlying stats were good, realistically he under performed for much of last season. With Coutinho looking more and more of a question mark, it was time to look at another high priced midfielder to start the season.

Pogba and Mkhitaryan both were a cause for concern, as they under performed last season for Man United. The addition of Lukaku up top gave managers some confidence to select one, but to double up on United’s attack was questionable. The FFS scoutcast prior to GW1 made the decision for me and forced my hand to change up the midfield to start the season.

Coverage from So’ton and Man United were essential to start the season, as were assets from their noisy neighbors, Man City. Defensively I wanted So’ton, Man City, Man United and Chelsea to start the season, however the Blues early fixtures were cause for concern. As I mentioned on August 8, “Alonso has a big question mark next to his name.” He was the linchpin for a series of moves prior to GW1 that caused me to shift my thinking from a 5-3-2 to a 5-2-3 just hours before the kickoff of ARS v LEI.

Through all of July and early August, Lukaku was essential for my starting XI and his TSB%, over 48% confirmed that ownership. Yet, I decided to move Lukaku in conjunction with Alonso to free up budget in order to bring in De Bruyne for second City asset. Indications were good that the Citizens would roll up big numbers in the early weeks, starting with new boys, Brighton. KDB’s inclusion as the playmaker for City was warranted, as was his £10.0m price tag, after a great 2016/17 season (6 goals/21 assists).

The second part of the Alonso/Lukaku transfer brought Firmino and Jesus into the starting XI, which suddenly changed the 5-3-2 to the current 5-2-3. Not high on any third budget option, after being burned by Gabbiadini last season, if I wanted to play 3 forwards it would cost me a bit more. Jesus at £1.0m less than Lukaku, but with HUGE potential appeared to be a wise move. Lukaku, new team, Jose a bit defensive minded last season after going up 1-0, with Jesus and City going up against BHA. It was risky, but I made it happen, yet the TSB% of Lukaku didn’t sit well but I ignored it as we approached GW1.

Defensively, the decision NOT to include Alonso was difficult to make, but at £7.0m, I could use the budget elsewhere to strength my squad. In his place I added Bertrand to my starting defense, which now featured, Valencia, Kompany, Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida. The treble coverage from So’ton, Man United and Man City, I was pleased with how this back five came together. I continued to go with Foster (WBA) in between the sticks with Elliot as his back up.

Not that I need to justify my starting XI, but it was a well thought out plan since reading Firetog’s article. Is it wrong to think this differently and go against what is consider commonplace in FPL, using a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2 formation, maximizing your attacks, while using budget defenders to make the most of your £100.0m. As I stated before, I was pleased with the underlying stats of my starting XI, shots on targets, shots in the box, unlucky decisions that could have gone my way didn’t. Not sure it warrants a true knee jerk reaction like we are seeing across the fantasy world. Managers yanking Kane in favor of Lukaku. Moving the injury Zaha for the likes of £5.5m, Xhaxa or snatching up the big Egyptian, Hegazi, based on his first goal in since 2009, when he entered professional football. As I had read in the past, the 38 week fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint. Early on I have decided to pace myself and not go out fast, only to burn out when I need to kick.

Premier League: GW2 Transfers

It’s Tuesady as we recover from the opening EPL weekend, which started off with a 7 goal stunner on Friday. But it’s not too early to start looking forward to what direction we want to take when it comes to our squad. Just finished listening to the podcast of Josh and Brandon at Always Cheating. Not sure how I missed out on their commentary and insight (since 2015) the past few years, but I enjoyed their pre-season banter so much, I decided to become a patreon support. Also beat Brandon this week in Starting Eleven on Saturday by 2.4 points.

While GW1 wasn’t all that it was cracked up for me in terms of points, just 58 to start the campaign. I am confident moving forward that I am avoiding the “knee jerk” reaction to major changes in formation or personnel. The injury to Zaha (£7.0), now confirmed out, up to 4 weeks means I must either active one of my substitutes;’ Tom Carroll or Dale Stephens or burn that first FT before Zaha’s value starts decreasing.

To be honest, with all the planning leading up to GW1, I really didn’t play out a 2-midfielder rotation with £1.5m ITB. It was my intention to run Zaha out through GW5 before looking for a replacement. That move was accelerated and I turned my attention towards the highest scoring team in GW1, Man United. It was my intention to have treble coverage from United at the start of the season, but in a flurry of activity, I transferred Lukaku and Pogba, changed formation and opted for KDB, Firmino and Jesus, saving that £1.5m ITB for future use. Something I had NEVER done before, much like playing 5 defenders at the back.

Last night, while standing in the bathroom, I checked FPL Statistics to see which players were topping the list of potential price increases. It came as no surprise to see Lukaku, with his 50.8% TSB, but just ahead of him was teammate, Mkhitaryan (£8.0). Prior to GW1, I was considering him or Pogba to start the season. Neither materialized and I went a different direction, as I felt KDB would score more in the short team based on the team offense and strength of schedule. With a few clicks, I made the change and brought in the Armenian for the injured Zaha. Didn’t want to lose value by holding Zaha, even on the off chance his knee isn’t an issue and he does indeed start GW2 against Liverpool.

Starting XI for Gameweek 2 is set, with the addition of Mkhitaryan to my squad. Continuing to have faith in the strong So’ton backline, I start with the treble again, looking for more offensive returns from any of my defenders. The midfield contains two maestros, KDB and Mkhitaryan, who could feature prominently this weekend. Up front I run with the same three forwards, opting NOT to bring in Lukaku on a “knee jerk” and a -4 hit. Some questions could surround Firmino after their midweek UCL fixture against Hoffenheim, still I feel he will start for the Reds ahead of the again healthy, Sturridge.

My bench is still a concern. although Carroll is a starting for Swansea but will only be fielded when the Swans feature at home against weak opposition. Stephens, like Carroll, features in GW1 and played all 90 minutes, couldn’t ask for more. Truthfully neither will feature as I will put my budget and faith in the starting XI on the pitch.

Premier League: Expectations

So we are just 3 minutes into the Arsenal vs. Leicester City fixture and Lacazette has already scored to give the Gunners the lead. While I decided against Lacazette to start the season, I have made other drastic changes to my lineup within the last 90 minutes before they were locked for the week. However, it’s not to late to show my GW1 squad and post, some goals for he upcoming season.

It’s been a month of research and tinkering, shuffling players in and out and deciding what formation I would favor to start the season. While I did put together a comprehensive article on rotating 3 budget defenders, based off Peter Blake and his excellent work at Mathematically Safe. However after FPL Towers announced prices, I decided to change my strategy this year after doing an article on alternative formations.

Oddly enough I never brought up the idea of running out a 5-3-2 or a 5-2-3 until I read Firetog’s article, In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. In some strange, Etienne Capoue start to last season, way I thought his article made sense and I concentrated my efforts on running out a 5 defender set, taking advantage of the good early schedules of teams like So’ton and Man United. I took Firetog’s article and did a series of posts on this uncommon formation.

Just today, about 2 hours prior to kickoff, I got a wild hair up my ass after listening to the latest shoutcast on FFS. While driving to work, I agreed with some of what the guys spoke about, but two things stood out. First, going with three So’ton defenders, based purely on their strength of schedule to start the season (SWA/WHM/hud/WAT/cry). I believe it was Luke who commented on this strategy.

The other comment that changed my mind and saw me transfer out Lukaku, was a comment from Andy and how Jose could potentially set up show defensively if Man United jumps out to a 1-0 lead over Swansea City. While he is a Man U supporter, the comment seemed to ring true, based on how the Red Devils played last season, posting many shutouts, but also many low scoring games. With that in mind, I moved Lukaku and Fabregas (or Willian) out of my squad in favor of Jesus (10.5) and Firmino (8.5) up front, while dropping my 5th midfielder to a non-playing 4.5 in Jack Colback. This provided me with this 15-man squad:

The formation, while unconventional feels good as we head into GW1. Maybe it’s the plan in place through GW7 that provides that (false) sense of security, knowing that one poor performance or injury could derail a month’s worth of effort and planning. But, that’s the life of a fantasy manager.

After finishing in the top 75k 2 seasons ago, I set that as my goal last season. While I failed miserably, after a poor 20 week run, in which I saw 15 red arrows, I did rebound, albeit too late to make a real change. However, I feel the experience I gained was invaluable in how I approached this season.

Read further posts and blogs, I enjoyed Rob Reid and his thoughts as we approached GW1 at Fantasy Football Geek. While it wasn’t the first time I had read one of his columns, I did note his goals and decided to use this as a “standard” as we are underway with GW1. With that said, here’s what I want to accomplish to consider this season successful.

 

  1. Top 10k finish in the Overall Rankings
  2. Average 60.0 points/week
  3. Survive 4 rounds in the cup
  4. Win my private H2H league

Not sure any of these are out of the realm of possibility. The top 10k OR will be the tough as my last 4 years finishes haven’t been impressive: 877k, 537k, 75k and 446k last season. So, while still new to the FPL, it feels different heading into GW1. Hopefully that translates into success to start the season.

Premier League: 5-3-2 Update

It’s been 7 days since I actually looked at my squad, as I inadvertently took advice seen on a fantasy since and stopped shuffling players in an attempt to build the “perfect team.” However, the time away from my squad didn’t clarify any transfers or secure any starters. I did get a chance to view the Community Shield, result aside the performances, or lack thereof only continued to muddle the current situation, as we are just 3 days away from the Friday opener.

As I jumped back in with two feet yesterday, I have continued to work around the players in a 5-3-2 formation. While not conventional, as say the 3-4-3 or the 3-5-2, I have faith this formation could prove worthwhile to start the season. Lots have been made of the lack of clean sheets to start past season and while that could potentially happen, I feel confident in how I am setting up the start of the 2017/18 EPL season.

Since my last article, 5-3-2 Midfield Rotation, a few weeks backs, I really haven’t made any extreme changes to my squad, but there are questions that have gone unanswered and potential transfers to make before GW1 begins. Since the backbone of my squad is defense, I will start at the back. Here’s the current starting 5 defenders:

Alonso (£7.0m) still anchors my squad, as I have decided to double up on Man City starting Kompany (£6.0) and new boy, Danilo (£5.5). He was brought in after Trippier suffered an ankle injury and could be sidelined for a period of time. City has good fixtures to start the season and Danilo will see starting time with Mendy not quite ready to play. Yoshida (£5.0)has replaced Cédric (£5.0), as he has just rejoined the squad after the Confederations Cup and there is some question as to him starting. Yoshida provided good value last season, scoring goals, recording CS and gaining much needed bonus points. My final defender, Valencia (£6.5), who was upgraded from Bailly (£6.0), as he doesn’t provide much offensive threat, but is probably the strongest of the defenders for United not to be rotated.

As we head toward Friday, Alonso has a big question mark next to his name. Not because of his £7.0m price tag, but because of the poor defensive showing Chelsea has shown during pre-season. As a side note, it’s interesting that I seem to put more emphasis on poor performances during these early friendlies. Yet just like good performances, both can come back to bite you in the ass. The Chelsea defense is virtually unchanged, the addition of Rüdiger from Roma appears to strengthen the defense, starters on Sunday were unchanged.

Downgrading Alonso to a £6.0m or even a £5.5m would free up budget to potentially resolve a bigger problem in the midfield. Defensively, dropping Alonso from the starting XI would not give me any Chelsea defenders, not that it’s entirely a bad situation, as their early run of fixtures aren’t great (BUR, tot, EVE, lei, ARS, sto, MCI), playing 4 of the top 7 teams from last season. Replacements could include Kolasinac (£6.0m) or Bertrand (£5.5m), leaning toward the late based on So’ton outstanding early fixtures, but would also be doubling up on another set of defenders. Arsenal have a good opening 10 games, having to face LIV (A) in GW3 and  CHE (A) in GW5.

Saving as little as £1.0m would allow me to look for another option for the injured and potentially, off to Barca, Coutinho (£9.0m). Neymar moving to PSG could start a domino effect and the next one to fall could be Coutinho departing the Reds, leaving their squad without a rudder to guild them this season. This would put my squad in a bind as I don’t believe in Liverpool’s other £9.0m option, Salah, who makes his return to the the EPL, still unproven in the league. Sure, his numbers were solid in Serie A, but this is England and competition is more fierce and his Chelsea days were exactly productive for any number of reasons. None of the cheaper options look inviting to anchor the midfield.

With budget saved on the defense, I would look at a £9.5m-£10.0m in the midfield. I did have fleeting thoughts to double up on Spurs, selecting Eriksen over Alli. Both players are priced at £9.5m but do face CHE (H) and EVE (A) in GW2 and GW4. The other £9.5m option is Mané of L’pool. He would fill Coutinho’s spot nicely, but I don’t see him as the playmaker type but has the potential to put up solid numbers. Instead I am looking at City and De Bruyne (£10.0m). Probably the safest bet in the midfield, he commands a hefty price tag, but could be worth the investment considering the players he has around him. Not to mention he hit the goal post 9 times last season to along with his 6 goals and 21 assists.

Currently Pogba (£8.0), Willian or Fabergas (£7.0m) and two £4.5m, non-playing midfielders round out this position. As explained before, I plan on a rotating these midfielders in the early game weeks based on strength of schedule and home fixtures. The current rotation plan is through GW6:

Much of this is pure speculation and conjecture at this point, but I feel more confident going into GW1 with a plan of action, in an attempt to maximize points based on fixtures. Lots can change between GW1 and GW4 and I could be activating my WC by this period if the 5-3-2 formation is failing. However, if it’s rewarding me weekly and I’m climbing in the overall rankings (OR), I should see a rise in my overall team value (TV). By GW6 I am anticipating a TV of £101.6, based on last year’s data. However with this plan in place, I can’t chase those hot players weekly who’s price may be on the rise.

The ‘5 at the back‘ option is still alive and kicking and I feel very confident starting the season with it. It’s different but still conforms to some template players but the defenders will the differential as to how I start the season. The budget breakdown is as follows:

The budget breakdown is balanced and allows to move players in and out almost at will. There is enough allocated at each position that a simple 1 for 1 transfer could occur. The move for KDB over Coutinho, would allows 4 further moves, moving up the £10.0m price bracket. Currently, I don’t plan on moving Kane or Lukaku outside of injury. Alonso though, is the key. Do I keep him and run out Coutinho? Or move Alonso in favor of a cheaper So’ton option in the rear guard and start KDB. Questions still abound and Friday is quickly approaching.

Premier League: 1st FPL Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League: 5-3-2 Midfield Rotation

With spare time at work, I have been working on FPL strategy and formation for the past week, while delving into conversation with other fantasy managers. With many “rate my team” (RMT) posts coming forward, I have spent more time on maximizing my squad based on a 5-3-2 formation. Not the preferred formation for FPL to the 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, it could warrant consideration, which I have given it this pre-season.

Based on a comment from Alex, a top 5k player, “never worried about this stuff. Play your best hand accordingly. Keep it simple and never overcomplicate.” Over complicate. Is that what all this preparation has been? Have I been over complicating the strategy and formation when I should be standing tried and true behind what works? Honestly, in the last 4 seasons the best I have finished has been 75k and struggling with a nasty run of red arrows that took the wind out of my sails after GW6.

This is the first season I have actively participated during the off season, joined the legions on Twitter (@w6onv) and been actively discussing players, formations and strategy on numerous post threads. It has the situation anything but clear, only adding to the confusion and questions that arise before the start of the 2017/18 EPL.

My strategy to start the season is to run out a 5-3-2 formation, with £30m spent on defenders and another £35.5 on forwards. This leaves me £33m to spend on the midfield. Can it be done? I know many will question the amount budgeted for defenders and provide alternatives to save £1.0 here or £0.5m there, in order to improve the midfield.


This 5-3-2 was the latest update to a defensive minded strategy. I splurged on Alonso and Valencia and opted for City’s captain, Vincent Kompany to anchor the defense. Cédric wasn’t without injury last year and wasn’t nailed on to start. This year with So’ton’s kind start to the season, he too could be a great option defensively. Trippier is my only concern, at £5.5 there are other potential options, but many fantasy managers figure he is nailed on as a starter since Kyle Walker has moved to City and Spurs haven’t added depth to this position. Up front, Lukaku and Kane, the two highest TSB% players in the game.

It’s the midfield, which can be called into question based on the remain budget to round out my starting XI. If you have followed the team building the past few days, I was excited to follow Firetog’s strategy from his article,  In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. While I initially planned on a rotation of £6.0 midfielders to line up next to Coutinho, I have opted to go a different route in order to put a stronger starting XI on the pitch.

As the adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In order to remain competitive to start the FPL season, the midfield will be a rotation of 3 players totaling £24.0m, as £9.0 is wrapped in two, bench players  who won’t see the pitch. This strategy doesn’t take into account the rise/fall of prices based on TSB% and performance and it capped at the starting budget of £100.0m. The only drawback this rotation, in the planning phase is Tadic GW6 when he’s home against Man United. Overall, out of 21 fixtures, 12 are home matches (57%).

The other caveat, just how will players like Tadic and Pogba perform? The underlying stats and supporting players are there for United and So’ton, but will they equate to fantasy points? One could interchange Henrik Mkhitaryan for Paul Pogba as both priced at £8.0m. Placing Coutinho, Alli and Willian in my starting XI doesn’t carry the same concern, all are proven EPL players, who are dynamic on the pitch and can provide big returns.

Planning and preparation are great, but this, like any strategy could fail. What I don’t want to be doing is chasing the hot bandwagon player after GW1 or GW2. With any luck I will be able to hold the activation of my wild card until GW7 and the second international break. Last year, like the top 500 managers in the world, I activated it for GW4. In the short term is yielded a positive return through GW8, seeing my overall rank climb to 29k before the wheels fell off. Regardless, I feel good about the plan and the starting XI that will take the pitch…at least today. We still have nearly 3 weeks before the season kick offs.

Premier League: Five at the Back GW 7-16

Just a week after initial prices were released for FPL, many managers are preparing their squads and dropping countless ‘RMT’ threads on different websites I visit. To date, I have yet to have anyone rate my team because with 3 weeks to go, rest assured my 15-player squad will change before the GW1 deadline. However I am still very supportive of a 5-3-2, based on the information from Firetog, titled In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. I wrote about him making the case to start 5-3-2, but more important than the formation, “success is more dependent on player selection and timing, transferring in players as they are about to hit form, getting lucky with captaincy and the making good bench rotation decisions.

While my starting XI isn’t set in stone, I feel I have a good defensive line to build around. While not the traditional 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, I center my squad around 2 premium defenders and a cast of medium priced defenders. Spearheading my attack, two premium priced forwards. It will be the midfield that ends up rotating with four players, each priced at £6.0, supporting a single premium midfielder. Risky? Sure, but the reward could be worth it.


Based on the £100.0 budget, here’s my starting XI. Currently, Milner and Walker about both question marks, as the transfer window is still open, both Liverpool and City are looking to add depth to the defensive positions which could see both of these options changed.

The key to success using this formation (outside of luck), are the available players rotating in the midfield. I have tentatively set up the first 16 weeks of the EPL based on strength of schedule (SoS), with an emphasis on HOME games and the fact each midfielder is priced at £6.0. What I haven’t taken into account at this point, team value (TV). Through GW7, I continue to use players priced at £6.0. We know prices will rise and fall depending on TSB% and the form players start the season with.

Currently I plan on activating my WC after GW7 to coincide with the second international break. With any luck I will hope to have a TV of £102.0m in order to allow for further player options. Barring injury or poor form, I don’t plan on move Lukaku or Kane, but there are many options available when you draft two of the highest priced forwards in the FPL game.

The midfield rotation depends on the success of Dusan Tadic (£6.5), who is featured predominately over the first 11 gameweeks. Underlying statistics identify him as an undervalued player, but his success is contingent on So’ton starting an in form forward; Austing, Gabbiadini or Long. This 9 week period featured a Chelsea midfielder in 7 of the 9 weeks. Priced at £7.0, Willian could be slotted into this rotation, but expectations are Eden Hazard will be back to his starting role, which calls into question just how much pitch Willian sees.

Junior Stanislas (£6.0) is another budget option who’s SoS improves starting GW8. Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.0) is another player who could end up seeing time in the midfield. Dynamic and on set pieces Stoke City’s schedule turns more favorable in GW7. Based on last season, I hope my TV is pushing £102.5m.

Even the above graphic isn’t complete, no reason to plan past the first gameweeks, as there are just too many variable that could change. Player form, value and injury are just a few factors that could derail this plan or having me looking elsewhere for starting talent.

As mentioned yesterday, having premium defenders and forwards allow for excellent options. My rotating midfielder could be reduce to three, if I decide to start a premium midfielder and a £7.0 option, such as Willian, Wilfried Zaha or Manuel Lanzini to start the season. With Harry Kane known to start August slow, a quick £1.0 could be saved start Sergio Agüero and £2.0 if I go with Alexandre Lacazette.

With 3 weeks to go before the start of the 2017/18 EPL season, jury is still out if I have the cajones to actually run with this idea to start the season. Based on the popularity of wing backs and premium defenders matching or outscoring medium priced midfielders, the potential of this formation and rotation is exciting. Be curious to hear your thoughts and comments.

Premier League: Five at the Back

By no means do I consider myself a world class FPL manager. Even if I happen to finish inside the top 10k this season I would consider it a fluke. Last season, I started strong, moving inside the top 29k after GW6, but that would be my best OR of the season. In an unfortunate turn of events, I went on a red arrow rampage the next 25 weeks recording just 5 green arrows. I have attempted to explain the reasons and why my team didn’t perform in previous articles. Reasons included form or lack of it, incorrect players (not owning Sanchez) and captain’s armband.

With prices released last week, FPL managers have been relentless with RMT posts as pre-season friendlies have just kicked off. Needless to say Willian already driving the bandwagon after a hat trick the other day. I have spent too much time at work building different squads, from the favored 3-4-3 and 3-5-2, in order to get a feel for the prices and which attackers could be in a starting XI.

Leading up to the start of the FPL season, I heavily favored a 4-3-3, allocating more of my budget in defenders, while reducing the attacking number by one player. The case has been made by some, take James Milner and his move from midfielder to defender. His 139 points last year, if he played as a midfielder would have been on par with Phillipe Coutinho! Wing backs are suddenly all the rage in the EPL, after Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso had a banner season with 177 points!

So why would I want to move away from the favored 3-4-3 or 3-5-2? Reading Community Submissions at Fantasy Football Scout, I ran across an article from Firetog titled In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. I highly recommend reading, even if you don’t draw similar conclusions. Bottom line he thinks that,

“formation is a key differentiator, success is more dependent on player selection and timing, transferring in players as they are about to hit form, getting lucky with captaincy and the making good bench rotation decisions.”

There were some intelligent comments from different members providing their thoughts and opinions when a 5-3-2 formation was promoted as the top formation…potentially. Again, I reference what Firetog said about “success is more dependent on player selection and timing.” With that in mind, I opened up Excel and started building a team that revolves around elite defenders, elite forwards and just a single elite midfielder.

As seen above, this table outlines Firetog’s 5-3-2 formation. With this table in mind I built my first 5-3-2 formation taking into consideration the midfield rotation. I started building the defense around James Milner (£6.5) and Kyle Walker (£6.5). Based on SoS, I selected Eric Bailly (£6.0) and doubled up on So’ton defensive pairing; Ryan Bertrand (£5.5) and Cédric Soares (£5.0).

While Firetog featured a £10.5 elite midfielder, I selected Phillipe Coutinho (£9.0) in order to save £1.5 in my budget to use on my forwards. I also saved £0.5 on defense to start, which allows for an addition 7 midfielders to select from starting at £6.5. Based on potential I selected Dusan Tadic (£6.5) but could also use Nathan Redmond at the same cost index. The initial cost of £6.0 midfielders include, Matt Phillips, Matt Ritchie and Paul Ince to start the season.

Up front, I opted to spend a combined £24.0 for Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane with Ashley Fletcher the only budget buy at £4.5. With no expectations to use 3 forwards, Fletcher is nothing more than bench fodder until price rises occur.

As seen in the midfield, options are plentiful, especially owning Kane and Lukaku, the two most expensive forwards in the game. This allows great flexibility and could potentially allow you to budget further funds towards the midfield or defense. Moving for Sergio Agüero (£11.5) and Alexandre Lacazette (£10.5) will save you £2.0! Yet based on TSB% of 34.9 do you really want to be without Harry Kane? Lukuku currently sits at a TSB% of 45.5! Hard to ignore either player to start the season.

A key component to this formation is the weekly midfielder rotation based on fixtures with a cost index of £6.0. There is a current pool of 15 players at this cost index that can be part of your 15-man squad. Based on Phillipe Coutinho at £9.0 as the elite midfield, here is one example of rotation for the first 6 game weeks using Matt Ritchie (NEW), Matt Phillips (WBA), Junior Stanislas (BOU) and James Ward Prowse (SOU). Each midfielder priced at £6.0, with the exception of Ward Prowse at £5.5.

Taking this idea a step further,I worked in weekly transfers and pushed to get as many HOME fixtures for the two rotation midfield positions. As seen above 5 away games out of 24 means 80% of those games are played at home with 3 of the 5 games against lower table teams in WAT, CRY and SWA. Continuing with this line of thinking here’s my midfield rotation for GW1 through GW6 if I start with a 5-3-2.

Going into GW1 the plan is to hold the WC until after the second international break and activate it after GW7. I bumped up a £6.0 midfielder by £0.5 with plans to start Tadic and Phillips in GW1. All players listed through the first 7 game week play HOME fixtures. GW6 is contingent on Everton having a starting midfielder at £6.0 or less, which includes: Aaron Lennon, Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman each priced at £5.5.

This formation and strategy isn’t without risk. If those midfield players at £6.0 don’t perform, I must be prepared to WC as early as GW4, potentially changing formations. Conversely, this formation could lead to great points, particularly from the defense a few CS, maybe a goal or two with an assist, add in smattering of bonus points and before you know you, 50 points!

To date, I have partially worked through GW16, but still contingent on Dusan Tadic returning points and doesn’t take into account budget increase/decrease. GW12 I plan on introducing Junior Stanislas, as BOU have a run of good fixtures. Ritchie and Knockaert will make a few appearances, while I will still be looking for coverage from Swansea City, Crystal Palace or Burnley. None of which really create much excite at the £6.0 price point. A possible exception could be Ruben Loftus Cheek, who recent moved from Chelsea at £4.5, but we’ve yet to learn if DeBoer will start him as the #10.

The other option at GW7 is to change to a 4-4-2 and spend a bit more on another elite midfielder in the £8.0-£9.0 price range. The nice thing about the 5-3-2, you have many options with the forwards and defenders, but some luck is needed in order to find that rotation for those budget midfielders.

Next update will provide further strategy into the 5-3-2 as I focus on the planned rotation from GW7.

Premier League: Alternative Formations

With the price list released by the FPL this week, it’s time to start crunching numbers and building your squad for the upcoming EPL 2017/2018 season. During this off season, more than the previous 4 season I have participated, I have remained active researching players, building defensive rotations and making assumptions on where players for my starting XI will come in. In between, I have run across some new websites and Twitter feeds to follow in order to help me this season.

That said, I, like many managers this week have spent time building my 15-man squad, while staying within the £100m budget. Based on last year’s team data, the 3-4-3 (22) and 3-5-2 (8) were the most used (30) formations I started with. However, I am looking at potentially bucking the system and starting with a more conventional 4-4-2, maybe a 4-3-3 or possibly…a 4-5-1? Call me crazy!?!

The one caveat I have before reading about alternative formations, these 15-man squads are based on GW1-6 only. I plan on activating my first WC between GW4 and GW6. Possibly holding out a game week later during the second international break. From GW6/7 on, I plan on reevaluating my squad, team value and overall ranking before making a commitment to the next period in the 2017/18 season.

Each formation listed below spends just £8.5 on two goalkeepers. Initial penciled in are WBA’s, Ben Foster (£4.5) and Newcastle’s Rob Elliot (£4.0). Some talk of Elliot starting for the Toons if Benitez does not buy another keeper during the transfer period. These two players represent a great rotation to start the season: BOU/hud/STO/bha/STO/bha.

Formation 4-4-2

Overall: Four in the back is not typical, based on many managers using a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Further up the pitch you lose one offensive player; midfielder or forward depending how you set your starting XI. With increase in prices throughout the 460 player list, defenders appear to have a bit more appeal and could potentially end up with a higher PPM (Points returned per £ Million spent). Having spent too many hours this week shuffling players in and out of my line ups, I don’t believe you can rule out any formation at the start of the season.

Defenders: Victor Lindelöf (£5.5), Cédric Soares (£5.0), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5), Brent Mee (£4.5), James Tomkins (£4.5)

The core of the defense is made up of budget players of £4.5. These players were selected for the 3-way budget rotation that can cover all 6 game weeks, playing at home, as based off Peter Blake’s 3-way budget strategy at Mathematically Safe.

United’s new boy, Victor Lindelöf heads the defense, based off their lucrative schedule to start the EPL season, as the Red Devils do not face a top 7 team with home games against West Ham, Leicester, Everton (and Crystal Palace in GW7). With 4 defenders at the back I was priced out of including Antonio Valencia (£6.5) and to some degree, Eric Bailly (£6.0), but have been able to fit him in other 4 defender sets I have drafted. Cédric Soares was injured for a portion of last season (£5.0), but gets the nod over Ryan Bertrand (£5.5). So’ton has a very favorable start, much in the vein of United, having two home fixtures to start the season (SWA & WHU) and a visit from Watford in GW4. GW6 could be challenging as the Saints face Man United.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0), Philippe Coutinho (£9.0), Paul Pogba (£8.0), Wilfred Zaha (£7.0), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£4.5)

Lots of leeway in the midfield knowing your 5th will be a £4.5. In my 4-4-2, Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets the nod by virtue of his move to Crystal Palace and the potential to start as the #10. That would be an added bonus, as his playing time was going to be nil through GW6. I feel KDB is under priced by £0.5 and should be good for 20+ assists this season, feeding very hungry forwards in Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Agüero. KDB did hit the woodwork 8 times last year, still scored 7 goals. Good fixtures with a home fixture against L’pool in GW4. Coutinho was selected being the complete midfielder for Liverpool, scores, creates, assists. Feel the best is yet to come for him, building off the 8 goal/8 assist season last year. Tricky fixures in GW3/4, home to ARS and away to MCI. Pogba some with the caveat of Man United introducing a new defensive midfielder. However I think he will be more productive feeding Lukakyu, who finished balls stronger than Zlatan did last year. Zaha had a solid season 7 goals and 11 assists. Another year together with Benteke, he’s a big threat player who can create down the side.

Forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5), Romelu Lukaku (£11.5), Ashley Fletcher (£4.5)

Going big up front with a very popular pair from last season in Kane and Lukaku. Hopefully Kane can shake the “slow start” and get off to a bang away to NEW in GW1. Three 20+ goal seasons, expecting great things from Harry again this season. Lukaku’s move to United should see his goal tally increase, as I believe he’s got strong supporting players around him creating. Options are available if these two forward don’t work for £23.0. Could potentially save £1.0 that could be spent on upgrading a midfielder.

Formation 4-3-3

Overall: This is probably the strongest of the three formations based solely on the starting upgraded defenders since your squad will only field 6 attacking players. By virtue of the wingback becoming more of a standard throughout the EPL, expectations for points come from both ends of the pitch. These players appear to provide a better point per value than a comparable midfielder at a similar price (Alonso vs Ramsey/Willian/Zaha). The £4.5 players aren’t expected to play through GW6.

Defenders: Eric Bailly (£6.0), Ryan Bertrand (£5.5), Vincent Kompany (£6.0), Gareth McAuley (£5.0), Brent Mee (£4.5)

With just 3 starting midfielders, a manager can add more attacking options to the defense that are good PPM value. Bailly, Bertrand and McAuley could finish in the top 5 for value. Kompany, if he can stay healthy. Man United, So’ton and WBA all have strong fixtures to start the season, thus their inclusion in the starting back line. If the age of McAuley is a concern, Craig Dawson is your other WBA option, with 4 goals last season.

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (£8.0), Sadio Mané (£9.5), Dele Alli (£9.5), Oriel Romeu (£4.5), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£4,5)

Dele Alli and Sadio Mané anchor the starting XI in the midfield with Paul Pogba as the “cheaper” of the premium options. Some questions still surround his inclusion after a very lackluster first season for United; 5 goals/4 assists. His 20.7% TSB is third best for midfielders behind Coutinho and the aforementioned Alli. While Alli had a very strong season for Spurs, questions will be asked of him and his teammates while they play the upcoming season at Wembley, their “home” away from home. Alli plays very forward in the attack (20 goals) but has the ability to create, as witnessed by his 16 assists. With £27.0

Forwards: Alexandre Lacazette (£10.5), Romelu Lukaku (£11.5), Troy Deeney (£6.5)

Three forwards who should head the attack for their respective teams. New boy Lacazette could draw some questions, but you can’t deny his 28 goals in Ligue 1 last season. He’s a finishing monster, with Özil creating, could see a 20+ goal season. Some question still surrounds the status of Alexis Sanchez and where he will end up. Lukaku will be strong up front coming off a 25 goal season, hopefully he is more consistent on the road. We saw him disappear on the road during the later part of the season. Tory Deeney under Marco Silva could mean more consistency for the big man. Coming off three 10+ goal seasons, Deeney has proven his worth for Watford. At times frustrating to own, but options at the £6.5 price point are questionable: Dwight Gayle, Charlie Austin, Andre Gray, Salomón Rondón.

Formation 4-5-1

Overall: This formation was used just once last year, by virtue of Diego Costa not playing and the first sub being a midfielder. Could you benefit from this formation? Possibly, the lure of 5 premium midfielders is choice, but would it be enough to cover having just one premium forward? The shape of the defense would be similar in nature to the other two formations, with a rotation of 3 budget defenders rotation depending on their home fixture to provide the best CS potential. With 6 forwards priced at £10.0 or more it would probably be more beneficial to run any combination of two out in your starting XI, knowing you will be required to downgrade two midfielders.

Defenders: Victor Lindelöf (£5.5), Cédric Soares (£5.0), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5), Brent Mee (£4.5), James Tomkins (£4.5)

The core of the defense is made up of budget players of £4.5. These players were selected for the 3-way budget rotation that can cover all 6 game weeks, playing at home, as based off Peter Blake’s 3-way budget strategy at Mathematically Safe.

United’s new boy, Victor Lindelöf heads the defense, based off their lucrative schedule to start the EPL season, as the Red Devils do not face a top 7 team with home games against West Ham, Leicester, Everton (and Crystal Palace in GW7). With 4 defenders at the back I was priced out of including Antonio Valencia (£6.5) and to some degree, Eric Bailly (£6.0), but have been able to fit him in other 4 defender sets I have drafted. Cédric Soares was injured for a portion of last season (£5.0), but gets the nod over Ryan Bertrand (£5.5). So’ton has a very favorable start, much in the vein of United, having two home fixtures to start the season (SWA & WHU) and a visit from Watford in GW4. GW6 could be challenging as the Saints face Man United.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0), Mesut Özil (£9.5), Christian Eriksen (£9.5), Philippe Coutinho (£9.0), Paul Pogba (£8.0)

The lure of 5 premium is great! The best part is, if Özil or Eriksen don’t excite you enough, transfer in Sadio Mane (£9.5) and Dele Alli (£9.5). Moving KDB will free up an extra £o.5. With the 5 midfielders I’ve included it runs £46.0. Pogba could be seen as the question mark, unless United bring in a defensive midfielder. Other £8.0 options include Pedro and Leroy Sané. I have included Özil based on the fact he could benefit from having Lacazette up front, who was deadly inside the box for Lyon last term. Many see Özil has overpriced by £o.5, but has the potential to pocket 20+ assists if Lacazette gets off to a good start. We also have the potential of Sanchez leaving the Gunners but Mahrez possibly transferring in. Again, many options with this formation.

Forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5), Collin Quaner (£4.5), Ashley Fletcher (£4.5)

It could be seen as taking a big risk up front with just a single forward. When it’s Harry Kane, some of that risk is greatly reduce. Past history does appear show Kane starting slow, include the move to Wembley for Spurs home games and this formation doesn’t come without risk. Still, I feel the reward could outweigh the risk based on the 5 premium midfielders getting the nod in the starting XI. Obvious with little budget to work with, the other two forwards are £4.5 bench fodder with little starting chances for their teams slim. Kane’s finished with 21, 25 and 29 goals the past 3 season, taking the Golden Boot in the last years. Two questionable fixtures that might cause concern; GW2 home to Chelsea and GW4 away to Everton. But the “home” games are causing some hesitation, but can you run without Kane?

Conclusion

While these formations are not typical, I believe each carries potential and value to FPL. Not sure I have the cajones to actually start a 4-5-1, but if conditions present themselves or forwards aren’t striking, anything could be possible. For the start of the season I am still planning a 4-3-3 but with 4 weeks before the start of the EPL season we will wait and see what transfers are made. The new Free Hit Chip could also allow for unique formation based on fixtures for one week. As always, manager must remain flexible when it comes to the fantasy game.

Premier League: Draft Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kane
Lukaku
Costa
Aguero

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

Sanchez
Alli
Hazard
Eriksen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League: FPL Draft Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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