Premier League: GW5 Retrospect

Someone please tell me what the hell happened this weekend? Away at adult leadership training (Wood Badge), I did not have an opportunity to watch a snippet of football this weekend, but it can be summed up with one name. Harry Kane. *shakes head* The frustration continues this season as Harry fired yet ANOTHER blank against bottom dwellers, Swansea City, who ended with a 0-0 draw at Wembley. I am beginning to this stadium is NOT a favorable home for Spurs.

With wildcard activated late during the week, I transformed my defense into 4 wing backs, while doubling up on Manchester United. It felt as if my luck with a So’ton treble defensively was running dry and the addition of Hoedt and fit Van Dijk worried me. While I continue to hold faith in Man United, four new defenders were brought in.

We talk about the “knee jerk reaction” in fantasy football as it relates to managers pulling the trigger on a hot player, in order to gain a price rise or activating their wild card because their squad is under performing. In hindsight, the activate of my wild card was the epitome of “knee jerk” as I should have stayed the course, which would have resulted in 21 additional points! While not unhappy with my defenders, I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling about So’ton, even though their strength of schedule said otherwise.

Defensively my new prospects were exciting; Marcos Alonso, Adam Cresswell, Sead Kolasinac and Ben Davies. These defenders partnered with Phil Jones, the only player I retained due to budget constraints. The biggest loser of the weekend, after seeing an early price rise was Ben Davies, who missed out on the Wembley fixture against Swansea. I am sure the managers who transferred him were left empty and disappointed by his omission. This would be the second time, a defender was removed from my 5-2-3 and the end result was a 4-3-3.

While I have no complaints defensively as Alonso (6 pts.), Cresswell (9 pts.), Kolasinac (5 pts.) and Jones (6 pts) combined for 26 points, each recording a CS. Couldn’t ask for me. Unfortunately the 3 So’ton defenders and Valencia accounted for an additional 21 points! Davies coming off his 14 points explosion in GW4 found him benched for zero points. So the wild card failed me immediately, but still feel good about the defenders I am starting.

A silver lining, I did pick up Lukasz Fabianski with little intention on playing him vs Spurs, to which he responded with 11 points, outperforming Rob Elliot’s 3 point performance. Last 3 weeks, my bench keeper has outscored my start 26-7!

With Davies benched, Dale Stephens slotted in at midfield along side Eriksen and Mkhitaryan. Stephens returned an expected 2 points, while Eriksen just 3 points, in the 0-0 draw. It was Mkhitaryan, who scored and assisted for 9 points in the 4-0 United victory over Everton. No concerns are on my mind, as I like my midfield duo. Three more favorable fixtures for Spurs, with GW6 and GW7 away from Wembley.

Up front I continue to see Kane striking nothing! Nada! Coming off a brace against Everton, it appeared he was one of the best selections in GW5 facing a weak Swans side that had conceded big chances. Unfortunately fantasy managers were frustrated and foiled against by Kane. Now I contemplate what the next move with Kane is.

It’s becoming hit and miss with the forwards this season. One game you feel you have the right combination, the next week it appears all wrong. Kane wasn’t the only one to blank, Firmino did too! Jesus saw just 64 minutes, but was able to bag one goal (to that of Aguero’s hat trick) in a 6-0 drubbing of Watford.

On the day I finished 3 points off the weekend average of 58, scoring 55 points and receiving all red arrows, as I dropped 300k down to 1.2m in the overall rankings. The only green arrow I recorded was in the Always Cheating Patreon H2H League, where I move to 4-0-1 on the season, good for second (13th overall) place behind two 5-0-0 teams.

So where do I go from here? Captaincy points continue to he my Achilles heal, as I’ve record just 18 points over 5 weeks, a lowly average of 3.6 points from the armband. Kane doesn’t appear to be doing it at home, but has just a single away fixture (13 points) to make me believe he is still “in form” as a viable captain. Lukaku is still off my radar, but has returned a goal in 4 out of 5 games to start the season. Reminds me of the consistency of Diego Costa last season.

Firmino has 2 weeks to further prove himself, as I plan on moving him when Liverpool plays United and Spurs starting GW8. Jesus has been the most consistent of my forwards, 4 goals in the last 3 games, but with Aguero doing the hat this past weekend, puts some speculation that Pep could look to the Argentine in the near future as a lone forward.

Fixtures are turning for Chelsea after their 0-0 draw against the Gunners, they will face sto/MCI/cry/WAT/bou in the next 5 fixtures, as Morata now comes into the radar. With Kane’s price tag, the consistency of Lukaku would be welcomed, the only concern when Kane goes off, just how big will he go? Like last year, would you rather run with or without Sanchez, knowing his explosiveness? Kane is a loaded gun ready to go off, but when will he start hitting?

It will be a few days, but I honestly have no idea what to do with my forwards. I’ll think on it and read a few pundits and FPL Twitter feeds before I make any sort of change.

Premier League: Wild Card Revelation

The last 2 seasons I have burned my wild card early, after the first international break. While I did see an immediate return last year, the end result was devastating, recording red arrows the next 15 of 20 game weeks. By GW27, when the bleed stopped and I turned my season around, it was too late. I was unable to recover from a 1.5m overall ranking and salvage an acceptable season. However, it was a learning experience and I would like to believe the perseverance paid off and has made me a better manager moving forward.

This season I have made it a week further than I have the last 2 years as I now contemplate activating the first of two wildcards. Before GW1, the plan was to hold the transfer until after the second international break. I believe fantasy managers must remain flexible to all conditions and factors as we plan our strategies. For me, I currently have a plan in place through GW11. I don’t expect to hold true to the plan, but it gives me an idea as to what I would like to do.

On the drive into work today I caught the tail end of the FFScoutCast Ep 232, which I had started yesterday. As expected, the banter was top shelf with Mark continuing to get a rubbing from Granville, using his wild card on some questionable players. Take a listen if you haven’t. What caught my interest was some comments from AZ regarding, considering going 5 defenders instead of spending on budget midfielders who aren’t producing. Names he brought up; Alonso, Kolasinac, Davies and Mendy.

This comment has me reconsidering moving the wild card up and playing it this week to bring in more wing back options in to further my attack. While So’ton still have strong fixtures, their fantasy assets are a mess. I’ve been lucky in 2 weeks to get the triple CS from Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida. While I haven’t been disappointed with Valencia (3 CS), his attacking returns haven’t really materialized to date. Last week Jones was brought in for the injured Kompany, but his tenure may be short lived.

So just what I am considering? It seems all the rage is being able to go big up front with 3 premium priced forwards. This is how it feels, as fantasy managers attempt to get a combination of Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Jesus, Morata, Lacazette, Morata and Firmino up front, while remaining strong in the midfield, but knowing you will run budget midfielders who need to start, as well as budget defenders, potentially in a rotational capacity.

Starting the season with Kane, Jesus and Firmino, I feel confident these forwards will return on a regular basis. These three forward account for £31.3m. Based on my starting two midfielders, many will say I lack a potent attack with Eriksen and Mkhitaryan starting in my 5-2-3. However both are healthy and both have started the season very well. The other three midfielders  (Carroll, Stephens, Chalobah) are starters, but I don’t plan on using them if injury should occur.

The activation of the wild card will be tailored to my defensive needs, as this is where I have allocated nearly £29.0m! While the So’ton treble has been rewarding and their fixtures appear worthwhile, it’s time to move away and provide more attacking opportunities.

Current defensive set up feature So’ton and Man United, but So’ton has the better fixtures moving forward, as they play each other at Old Trafford in GW6. The addition of Wesley Hoedt and resigning of Virgil Van Dijk adds a question mark on the playing time of Yoshida, while Bertrand and Cedric should continue to be nailed on as starters. Yet, the Saints offensive threat has been terrible through 4 weeks. Conversely, United have scored 12 goals, while conceding 2 goals, but Valencia has failed to see attacking returns. With their fixtures getting a bit challenging, it’s time to look elsewhere.

If I do activate my wild card ahead of GW5, it will be focus around upgrading the defenders to wing backs. Alonso and Kolasinac were in my pre-season plans, but both were left out of the 15-man squad for GW1. Davies has been the hottest commodity defensively since Alonso’s brace in GW2 but priced much more favorably at £5.7m. Kolasinac would be brought in for his attacking prowess and possibly a few clean sheets if they can get their starting XI squared away. The final 2 spots could be a number of offensive players; Maguire, Jones, Cresswell, Dawson, McAuley, Cedric, Daniels. My plans will include Cresswell, as fixtures turn for West Ham, as I retain Jones for at least 2 more weeks before I look to move him for someone like Maguire.

So my starting XI if I wild card by Thursday would look like this:

Thoughts on this newly revised 5-2-3 formation? I feel it takes advantage of the strong forwards, as well as strong defenders, while being able to fit in a few premium options in the midfield. While I can’t own all those high priced players, this feels right.

Premier League: GW4 Draft Retrospect

The FPL Draft game just isn’t doing it for me. Chalk it up to 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, but I find this version of the game boring. No other way to explain it. After 4 weeks I am 4th in my league on 145 points overall. For GW4 is was a score of just 30 points, which meant I didn’t lose my current ranking, but 5th place is creeping close, now just 6 points back.

Prior to the start of the weekend games, I made two waiver moves in order to better my starting XI. In hindsight, the moves only accounted for 3 points. With Britos on a red card, I picked up Phil Jones. Unfortunately United couldn’t keep a CS and drew with Stoke City, 2-2. The other move was dropping Dusan Tadic in favor of Aaron Mooy, who didn’t return away to West Ham.

Defensively I was led by “Dave” aka Azpilicueta, backed by his second assist scored 7 points to lead all defensive players. Hegazi, Jones and Lössl accounted for an additional 2 points. Needless to say, Hegazi is now on a short list to move out. Why I didn’t play Alderweireld against Everton, I am not quite sure.

Still holding onto Coutinho, who should see his first EPL start in GW5. Midfield is where I am struggling, as it’s been a rotation of players through to find someone who may hit, based on fixtures. Jesé, Pedro and the aforementioned Mooy accounted for 6 points, with none of them returning. Alli gets a small bump as Spurs kept a clean sheet. Of the 5 midfielders, he is the one I expect to perform on a regular basis.

Up front, it’s been a challenge with Agüero, Hernandez and Rooney. A pair of goals for the later two, but they haven’t done anything lately. Currently, I am on the verge of moving Rooney, but Everton does trail to Old Trafford, as Wayne faces his old team. Revenge factor? Hernandez hasn’t looked good, then again neither have the Hammers. But who in the free agency pool is better? Not much, but I’ve been considering a move.

That leaves Kun Agüero to pull his weight, scoring 9 points on the back of a goal and assist. However those are his first points since GW1. It also appears Pep favors Jesus as well. I still expect good numbers from Kun the rest of the season, so he will remain a starter.

For the week I have already submitted 5 waiver claims in order to strengthen my team and potentially take a shot at 3rd place this weekend.

City is coming into form with some good fixtures. While I don’t expect much defensively from Pep’s boys, I will be looking for offensive returns from Mendy. Daniels would make his second appearance in my squad, as I had him from through GW3, opting for Britos that week. Mooy or Groß? Call this a knee jerk reaction to his 18 point haul in GW4. Brighton does have some favorable games. Ederson’s injury is a concern, but it will be Lössl making way (the graphic isn’t correct).

 

Premier League: GW4 Retrospect

Let me preface this week’s retrospect with the fact I have been very disappointed with the decision making related to the captaincy. All other factors being equal, the captain’s armband has eluded me  to date, causing me to lose approximately 58 points. Captain points have contributed to just 6.29% of my overall score.

With that being said, the 5-3-2 formation has been productive to date, with 2 out of the last 3 weeks being green arrows, as I have improved about 1.0m spots in the overall rankings, now to 980k. While I can’t definitively say the 5-2-3 can be competitive yet, I am considering not changing formation when I activate my wild card.

Due to a camping trip to Pinnacles National Park, I had no mobile service and finalized my lineup Friday evening (US time) and didn’t have a chance to check scores until Sunday afternoon. It was met with mixed emotions, I was above the weekly average with a small green arrow, but I didn’t captain Harry Kane, opting for Roberto Firmino. It’s my belief I talked myself into giving him the armband on Twitter all week long.

Play a #5mandefence with three So’ton defenders has been a risk I’ve been willing to take all season. Knowing just a single goal could rob me of 12 valuable points, I was willing to run with the Saint’s easy schedule to start the season. This week Watford, which appeared to be favorable match up for So’ton, finished 2-0, as Bertrand and Cedric each recorded a single point, while Yoshida didn’t feature.

The transfer of Phil Jones to my 5 man defense meant I was doubled up on United with Antonio Valencia. It amazes me while I still run out Valencia when he hasn’t provided much at all this season. While he does have 13 touches inside the penalty box, he’s generate just 3 shots, one of which has been on goal. He fall well behind the leader, Marcos Alonso with 10 attempts. United didn’t fair well away to Stoke, finishing 2-2. Much like GW2, no clean sheets, meant it was going to be a struggle this week.

Yoshida on the bench meant I lost my 5-2-3 when Tom Carroll was automatically substituted in at the conclusion of the game week. His 2 points didn’t go far, but it also changed my formation to a 4-3-3. On the season the 5-2-3 formation was averaging 53 points/week.

Ben Foster could be on his last leg as well, not that I am all that unhappy with West Brom, but looking ahead to fixtures the Baggies are going to hit a buzz saw starting GW10. Options are to start Rob Elliot, as the Toons have a solid run trough GW11. If I look to ship Foster when I activate my wild card, Lukasz Fabianski could be my new starting 4.5 keeper.

Mkhitaryan and Eriksen are my only starting midfielders in the 5-2-3 formation. Eriksen has been with me since the start and has paid dividends. This week it was a goal and CS (8 points), on the back of a strong international showing. Mkhitaryan, who had been leading the league with 5 assists was quiet, not returnin but got pushed out wide by Mourinho, which seemed to take him out of his game. Still moving forward I favor him through GW7.

However…I will watch the progress of Eden Hazard, returning from injury, as he might place in my squad. I could take a -4 point hit at any time or wait until I activate the wild card. His inclusion would require me to downgrade Valencia (to Bailly) and Mkhitaryan in order to give the the £10.5m price tag.

Currently I have £1.9m ITB and the weekly FT. As mentioned in the defenders section, Yoshida will make way for Davies this week, as Spurs are home to Swansea City. Currently ranked 980k, I am just 11 points off being in the top 500k and 36 points from 50k. Again, still pleased with the look and feel of this squad. GW6 may or many not yield the activation of of the wild card.

Wild Card Urgency

Remember when you were a kid and you had $5 burning a hole in your pocket? That’s how I’m feeling,  continuing to hold my wild card after many were activated last weekend. Looking forward, the tentative plan is to activate for GW6, but that could be postponed. Currently, I am just 22 (204 vs 226) points off where I was this point last season, but 600k lower in the overall rankings. Unlike last year, I don’t feel an urgency to make massive changes. There are some players, looking ahead that I want to move, while a few others are on my watch list to make the 15-man squad.

The 5-2-3 (#5mandefence) formation has been solid this season, so no complaints about not having a 4th or 5th midfielder or a consistent third forward. While I do need to address my defense, it’s not all that urgent.  Maya Yoshida relegated to bench could bring the “So’ton 3” to an end. While they have returned a CS in just two of the first four fixtures, it was a risk I was willing to take. I might even keep three So’ton defenders through GW11, their fixtures are THAT good. Now if they could only score a goal.

Yoshida could lose his place in my starting XI this week, as the FT will go towards replacing him. With the signing of Hoedt and Van Dijk, making an appearance with the U-23’s, his days and those of Jack Stephens could be numbered. Who do we replace him with?

Currently I have £1.9m ITB and a squad value of £100.2 (£0.2m lower than where I expected to be). There is just a short list of replacements for Yoshida. Marcos Alonso had been heading that list (2 goals/1 assist, 1 CS) for a few weeks, Chelsea’s fixtures are improving but still have ARS/MCI/MNU/liv through GW18. Ben Davies has matched Alonso with two, 14 point returns on the back of 1 goal, 2 assists and 2 CS. A staggering £1.4m difference in price and better immediate fixtures could mean holding Alonso for just a bit longer.

The problem with Spurs has been playing at Wembley Stadium, where they have conceded 1 goal in each of their home matches, while remaining perfect on the road with 2 clean sheets. Facing the likes of SWA and BOU at home should provide great CS potential. Away, HUD is ranked 15th, while WHU is ranked 20th in attack based on Sqwaka statistics. Could be a great time to invest in Spurs defense!

So the short term is resolved, Yoshida out, Davies in, which now gives me Kane/Eriksen/Davies as the treble moves from So’ton to Spurs, to go along with Man United. Based on the team comparison above, I will be tempted to bring in Alonso after GW7 against MCI.

I don’t believe you can discount So’ton at this point. Outside of GW6, home against Man United, their schedule is still very favorable; cry/MUN/stk/NEW/WBA/bha/BUR. Not sure if Newcastle is for real or not, but they have 2 CS in their last 2 fixtures with good looking run forthcoming, only LIV to challenge in GW7.

Unless I feel a need to change formation, I have no problems with my 5 attackers. The 2-man midfield of Eriksen and Mkhitaryan have been solid, so has the play of Firmino, Jesus and Kane up front. Although, 3 blanks by Kane to start the season has been tough to swallow, he’s now just 2 goals back of Lukaku.

I would like to add Eden Hazard to my starting XI, but I believe it could come at a cost of either Eriksen or Jesus. Right now, I am not keen on moving either player. A change in formation would also necessitate the addition of a third premium midfielder. Consideration has been made moving forward to move to a 4-4-3. But realistically with no glaring problems, I have an issues changing from my 5-2-3.

 

Premier League: GW4 Starting XI

It’s been an extra week off for fantasy manager as we head towards GW4 and a return of the EPL! International matches are now in the books and there were some gutty performances throughout the world. This break has provided time to reflect and strategize the coming game weeks. My current plan is to activate the wildcard for GW6, giving me 2 more weeks to run with a 5-2-3, potentially banking 2 FT and hoping for a £0.2, team value increase.

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

Opting not to activate my wildcard, I had one FT available for any changes to my 15-man squad. Initially I had planned on introducing Marcos Alonso, but failure to see any price increases over the break has me stuck £0.1m short of his £7.1m price tag. It’s my belief that Alonso is “essential” to fantasy squads, yet many mangers are balking at his high price.

While Newcastle and Brighton seemingly have better defensive schedules than Man United, the fact United has yet to concede through 3 games, saw me bring in Phil Jones. His inclusion this week is merely temporary as we play out the next few weeks, in anticipation of my wildcard. United will face sto/EVE/sou and partner with Valencia, as I double up. It also means I maintain 3 So’ton defenders (home to Watford), in search of a third CS in the first 4 games. Foster will earn his 4th start, away to BHA. I feel confident with this group of defenders the next 2 weeks.

Mhkitaryan transferred in GW2, while Eriksen was introduced for GW3. This will be the first week I have maintained the same 2-man midfield for consecutive games. Eriksen was absolutely nasty during the international break, 2 goals/3 assists over two games. This bodes well as Spurs are away to Everton and with September here, means Kane should benefit from Eriksen’s blistering form.

With 10 goals on the season to start the season, Man United has been the hottest team on the pitch, thanks in part to 5 assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He and the Red Devils will look to continue their torrid pace away to Stoke City. Based on the Sqwaka data, Mkhitaryan bests teammate, Paul Pogba in assists (1.67/gm), key passes (3/gm) and chances created (4.67/gm). Yet, it’s Pogba who’s got the better shooting statistics.

Entering GW4 I have some concern up front, while I still have faith in Firmino, Jesus and most notably Kane, the first two players are flying back late from international duty in South America. As hot as Firmino has been, I don’t see Klopp starting Sturrdge in his place. As for Pep, who the hell knows, as both Jesus and Aguero have long trips in order to represent City this weekend against Liverpool.

Kane appears to have the August “Hoodoo Voodoo” behind him and will look to get on track to his third Golden Boot this weekend, away to Everton. Backed by ungodly statistics, I continue to have faith in Kane putting up big numbers. To date, it’s been a string of no returns and 2 yellow cards, but can’t deny the 22 attempts he’s had in 3 weeks.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

Moving to the draft game, I still spend very little time and maintain little interest in this style of fantasy game for football. Currently I head into GW4 with an unchanged 15-man squad. I have put a waiver wire claims in for Serge Aurier and Phil Jones, who would replace Miguel Britos. The squad still appears to be finding their feet as their combined performances hasn’t been overly impressive to date. Teams like West Ham and Everton will see their fixtures improve, while there could be some competition defensively for So’ton and WBA assets.

I change the formation for GW4 from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3. Britos currently suspended is on the bench giving me a back four comprised of Azpilicueta, Alderweireld, Yoshida and Hegazi. All have favorable fixturs with So’ton and WBA carrying he best chance at clean sheets. As poor as West Ham has been, I tap Lossl to keep a CS and record some save bonus points for Huddersfield.

With Stoke City home to United, I make a questionable decision to bench Jese in favor of going with 3 forwards for the game week. Jese is still trying to find his fitness, but more importantly United hasn’t conceded to date. This leaves me with Tadic, Alli (middle finger and all) and Pedro to be the creative influence in the middle of the pitch. Still considering a play for Mooy in place of Tadic, even with So’ton in a great run of fixtures, Mooy appears to be more instrumental, carrying better form into GW4.

The wildcard I still have is Phillipe Coutinho. Just what will he do for Liverpool is anyone’s guess. Rumor has it he doesn’t want to feature in the ECL for the Reds as he looks ahead to possible inclusion for another team if he leaves in the January transfer window. The Liverpool midfield is already crowded, but they could benefit from his inclusion in the starting XI. He’s listed at a ‘75% chance of playing – lack of fitness’ but featured for Brazil during the break. Go figure! Currently, he’s on the bench for the 4th consecutive week.

Up front, Aguero is tapped to start, going back to a 3-man front line with Hernandez and Rooney. Vokes and Okazaki present two interesting options, but fixture for both Everton and West Ham are improving, which has me holding both players. Rooney and Hernandez have both found the net twice and could feature this weekend as well.

Sitting in 4th, 32 points from the leader and a red arrow from last week, I will look to turn things around before we look to make further changes in the starting lineup.

FPL: …now for something completely different

For fantasy managers, the international break has been met with mixed emotions. Knowing there will be no EPL matches for 2 weeks makes the break even longer, but we can watch our players represent their nation and more importantly, remain fit. Unlike a majority of managers, I rode into the international break on a high, scoring 63 points, with areas I need to address.

While I haven’t put much time into FPL the past week, I have been dabbling on Twitter, while providing a second article for Fantasy Football Geek called, Thinking Differently in FPL. It explores the idea of running from the herd with a 5-2-3 formation. You can catch up with the first article, Thinking Differently: 5-3-2. With some time to kill and a wildcard still in my pocket, I have 1 FT to use this week as I ponder the next 4 weeks of action.

The current plan is to active the wildcard during the second international break in preparation for GW8. Looking forward at the strength of schedule, player statistics and having just 3 weeks of data to go on, one must remain open to adjustments. An idea I am considering is altering my 5-2-3 to a 4-5-1, to take advantage of the midfielders who appear to be stepping up and scoring the points.

Currently, I own Kane, Firmino and Jesus up front, but it’s not without concern. Coming out of the break I could see both Firmino and Jesus on the bench for GW4 because of the trips back to Europe from South America. Aguero would also be hit with a long flight, so who starts up from for City is anyone’s guess. I’m sure Pep doesn’t even know.

Looking at the next 13 weeks is a bit daunting, as so much can change in the span of just a few weeks. However, I believe it warrants a look to help in your long term planning, depending on how your plan and strategy are doing. With an total score of 159 points and an Overall Rank of 1.0m, I am not tearing up the league, conversely, I am in a better place than many other managers who entered the international break on a sour note.

I have a big concern over Gabriel Jesus and his starting status among the city XI. We have no idea what Pep is going to do. Based on the first 3 game weeks, Jesus has retained his starting position, while Aguero was relegated to the bench in GW3. City hasn’t been a lethal offensively as expected, just 5 goals to start the season. Both Jesus and Aguero have netted once. You can read more about expected goals (xG) from Nick at Transfer Hub. Great article on who should be returning and who is returning. While City isn’t listed in the article, I think we all agree they should have netted a bit more through 3 games.

The return of Coutinho to Liverpool, having failed to move during the transfer window will make that midfield even busier, which could equate to more rotation. Daniel Sturridge is currently healthy, potentially giving Firmino a run for his money as the lone forward. Firmino has 2 goals / 2assists in 3 games, to the 76 minutes and 1 goal of Sturridge. With both squads involved in ECL, rotation is a must. Will we see Jesus and Firmino remain viable options up front, safe from rotation?

Another option in order to minimize the rotation, a change in formation. Looking forward to GW7 and the activation of my wildcard I am putting together a 4-5-1 option. This formation would resolve a few problem areas.

First, I could rid myself of possibly two So’ton defenders. The re-signing of Virgil Van Dijk and the signing of Wesley Hoedt could mean the run out of Yoshida and Stephens are nearing an end. In the meantime, I would keep Bertrand and/or Cedric or introduce Hoedt to the back line. Based on fixtures, So’ton defense has a very good run of fixtures through GW11, with Man United their toughest opposition in GW6.

As I spoke about in previous articles, Vincent Kompany is on the short list to be moved. A single CS in 3 matches has caused a bit of frustration, but the next 5 out of 7 matches could provide some CS oppotunities outside of GW4 home to Liverpool and GW7 away to Chelsea. However he needs to be moved in order to free up budget to build our 5-man midfield.

Finally, Antonio Valencia. While I am not displeased with him, returning 20 points with 3 CS and 3 bonus points, his days could be numbered as well. After GW7 United will face a tough run of fixtures; liv/hud/TOT/che. In order to free up 0.5, I might swap Valencia for Bailly, which would help me introduce new defenders.

Defensively I am looking at teams who appear to have favorable matches and players who have put together a good start to their season. For the upcoming period, beginning GW7, four teams top the list based on the RMT tool at Fantasy Football Scout.

With So’ton already represented in my back line, it would require 4 additional defenders. Everton, Leicester City and Swansea City appear to have good fixtures, the could provide some defensive magic. Of these four, there are only 2 fixtures against a top opponent (ARS) out of 20 fixtures.

In order to field 5 midfielders I would introduce the following defenders to my starting XI; Harry Maguire, Kyle Naughton, Phil Jagiekla and Marcos Alonso. On paper, it appears to be a very good move to shore up some questionable fixtures if I maintained my 5-2-3 formation.

Between the posts, Elliot would remain as the alternate, but Ben Foster would lose his starting spot in favor of Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea. Through 3 games, Fabianski has recorded more saves (9 to 3) than Foster. Both have 2 CS to their name, but it’s been Foster conceding 1 goal to that of Fabianski’s 4 goals. There is a one-point difference between the two player, which favors Foster, but the schedule is the difference maker, which means a change in goalkeepers.

It’s the midfield that would see a considerable bump from a 2-man midfield to five starters. I would double up on Man United adding Paul Pogba to complement Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Considering I am not starting Romelu Lukaku, I figure I can gain more points from this duo than a streaky Lukaku.

To make up for dropping Roberto Firmino, I would add Mohammed Salah. While I haven’t been a very big supporter of Salah, you can’t deny his statistics through 3 games. Yet, he could be a rotation risk, as he played 29 minutes in GW2. The addition of Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal and Coutinho remaining on board only makes that midfield more crowded, providing Klopp many options.

The final midfield spot would go to Gylfi Sigurdsson, now at Everton he looks as if he could provide a much needed spark for the Toffees. I believe he has stronger players around him at Everton than he did at Swansea, which could produce some better numbers. Again, his schedule looks very good to provide some good returns.

Up front I continue to back Harry Kane. Blame it on the curse or just poor luck but the underlying figures were amazing! He’s started September strong scoring in the England vs Malta fixture. He would represent my only starting forward, with Collin Quaner (HUD) and Freddie Ladapo (CRY) as 4.5 budget forwards. Ladapo could be the next in line, if Benteke were to be injured.

Starting GW8, this would be my 15-man squad as seen above. Much like the 5-2-3 I am currently fielding, feels strong. It does add a 6th attacker to the mix, going from 3 forwards and 2 midfielders to 5 midfielders and 1 forward.

Risky? Yup, very much so, but unlike a single goal ruining a CS for 3 So’ton defenders, I feel there are good potential returns from this midfield group. Kane would end up bring the main captaincy selection for this selected time frame. With 4 weeks to go before my planned WC, there are many things that could happen, but a plan is in place. This is also contingent on maintaining or exceeding a squad value of 100.3m.

Thoughts?

FPL: GW3 Draft Retrospect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FPL: Threeview

Now that the international break has officially began, what are fantasy managers supposed to do? First, get up. Back away from the keyboard and take a break. It’s been a volatile start to the 2017/18 season, after many managers thought they had things worked out with great GW1 results, only to be bitch-slapped back to reality with the struggles in GW3.

Unless you are chasing price rises over the break, more on that later, I would take a few days to forget about fantasy football and direct your energy elsewhere. All those lingering questions can be put on hold, return a few days later with a clear head, which could provide you a fresh view of your lineup dilemma.

While I don’t consider it a luxury, I did go into the international break on a high, scoring 63 points in GW3, without facing many glaring questions that need to be answered. The biggest concerns I have are:

  1. The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation.
  2. Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI
  3. Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats.

Realistically, I could end the piece here and go into GW4 feeling confident with my current starting XI. Entering the break with a single FT, I will hold it until all international matches are complete. If we are fortunate, players will return to their club team, injury free and ready to resume league play.

The word of the week has been “wildcard” for many FPL managers. Before you hit that button, consider the sage advice of Nick (@NickTriggerlips) at Transfer Hub, in his article, Why did you wildcard?The problem is there are very few real patterns that have formed…Most of the wildcard  Rate my teams that I am seeing look like a who’s who of last weeks point scorers.” Wise words, from a wise manager, the article is well worth a read.

I have continued to read articles at Fantasy Football Scout, Fantasy Football Geek, tune in the podcasts from Nick and Tom (@WGTA_FPL) at Who Got the Assist as well as, Josh and Brandon (@hailcheaters) at Always Cheating. One key piece this season has been the use of Twitter (@W6ONV) to promote discussion and decisions. This was something I missed out on the previous 4 seasons participating in FPL. This outlet has allowed more flowing discussion than some forum threads I have been involved in, which I feel have provided me with a more positive return when it comes to decision-making.

At the end of last season, one of my strategies this year would be to actively chase price increases. We have watched the ups and downs, while it appears more volatile than last season, the numbers really haven’t backed that statement. Based on price rises last year, I am still on track, gaining £0.1m/week through GW3. It has allowed me to maintain £1.0m ITB. At this point, with the “few real patterns” and uncertainty, I have decided to forego chasing and exercise patience with my starting XI.

Prior to the start of the season, I mapped out a plan for the first 7 weeks of action. While I didn’t plan to remain intact, it did give me some solace in knowing that a downturn in performance wouldn’t necessarily put me in a precarious position requiring the use of an extra hit or the use of my wildcard. From GW1, it’s been my intention to use the WC during the second international break, GW7.

This plan is still contingent on how players perform when action kicks off after this first break. Holding my head high, I feel confident that I can ride out these early season trends, one-week wonders and volatility until things calm. However, this thinking doesn’t solve my three problems areas that need to be addressed.

The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation

My expectation on the City attack were high heading into the season with fixtures against new boys Brighton (A) and Bournemouth (H). Yet a 2-0 and 2-1 victories in those matches hasn’t provided much confidence in owning City attackers or defenders. I started the season with Kompany, De Bruyne and Jesus in my starting XI. Just 2 weeks in and let KDB go in favor of Christian Eriksen, due to his deep lying play and lack of creativity in the attacking third.

Up front, I didn’t go with “Big Rom” figuring I could score more points with a 3-man front spearheaded by the dynamic Gabriel Jesus (and Roberto Firmino). While Jesus has yet to play a full 90-minutes, he has netted a goal and has the potential to be Pep’s “go to forward.” But in the back of my mind lurks that uncertainty that says, “move him in favor of Alvaro Morata.” The “Aguero Factor” will always be in play with Pep, does he play up front with a single forward or run both Jesus and Aguero out? I don’t believe we will see a clear cut answer to this question. With Kun ended up benched against the Cherries, we could possibly see a reversal with a dejected Jesus on the bench when GW4 commences home to Liverpool. Bottom line, we don’t know.

Finally, Vincent Kompany, who’s been riddled with injuries the last few years, but is the heart of The Sky Blues defense. His clean sheet record tells you the story; 23. 30, 21, 22, 32 clean sheets between 2010-2015 with 8 goals over the period. His selection meant I would hedge my bet and not start with Marcos Alonso, as Chelsea had a mixture schedule to start the 2017/18 season. To date, City has disappointed at both ends of the pitch and Kompany is now playing on borrowed time.

Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI

In the preparation leading up to GW1, I had fully intended to include Marcos Alonso and Romelu Lukaku in my starting XI. Last minute information and a change of heart saw both players not included, After GW1, it appeared a wise move, as Chelsea underperformed and lost, 3-2, home to Burnley. However, our faith in the £7.0m wing back was restored the following with, as he hit for a brace, in a 2-1 away win against Spurs. Last week, it was  Chelsea’s first CS of the season. Indications are Alonso is back on track, justify his current price, £7.1m as a top defender in the EPL.

While many managers have gone with a budget 3-defender set in their 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations, I have spent big, knowing I could swap defenders without having budget constraints. Yet these premium defenders need to justify their inclusion to the starting XI with attacking returns, as well as the potential of CS.

Alonso heads my list of wants when it comes to transfers. While I want to maintain United coverage based on their fixtures out of the break, I look towards Kompany being the fall man in order to transfer Alonso in. The hesitation lies in the Chelsea’s fixtures out of the international break; lei/ARS/sto/MCI/cry/WAT. Based on the Gunners poor performance against Liverpool in GW3, the home fixture to Arsenal doesn’t concern me as much as the Battle of Manchester. Keep in mind some of Alonso’s statistics:

  • 56 touches in the final third
  • 34 passes received – final third
  • 84.4% pass completion rate
  • 23 passes – final third completion
  • 12 touches – penalty area
  • 135 minutes per goal
  • 8 attempts on goal
  • 3 shots inside box
  • 4 shots on goal
  • 33.8 minutes per chance

These figures rival midfielders in and above his price range. So his inclusion in my starting XI is becoming detrimental. This opinion also based on the fact I only start a 2-man midfield.

Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats

We should have seen this coming, right? Harry Kane can’t score in August, so we were forewarned. Still with that lingering in the back of my mind I made the decision to purchase the £12.5 forward to lead my squad. As we all know, there were better options, but his underlying stats (a word I continue to abuse) are outstanding!

  • 26 touches in penalty box
  • 24 attempts on goal
  • 18 shots inside the box
  • 3 big chances
  • 11.3 minutes per chance
  • 25% shot accuracy

The above statistics highlight the success Kane has seen. Unfortunately the real fact remains, Lukaku has scored 3 goals, Kane zero. Of the figures above, Kane betters Lukaku in every category except, big chances (Lukaku has 4). While the August voodoo hoodoo continues to Harry I am backing him out of the international break.

Kane put August behind him and start firing on all cylinders with eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU taking us to mid-October. Looking over the last 3 years in which Kane has scored 29, 25 and 21 goals, he has just 3 goals in September combined. Not impressive, but remember he picked up the malleolar injury last season and didn’t feature in the squad 2 years ago, until later in the season.

All indications are the back-to-back Golden Boot winner will return to form that saw him bag 8 goals in the final 3 games of the 2016/17 season. While I continue to read and hear banter about none of the top managers owning Kane, I am keeping the faith instead of introducing Lukaku to my squad out of the international break.

As you can see, I don’t have issues that require a restructuring of my team. With a strong showing going into the international break, I plan on looking forward and stringing a run of green arrows together in order to rise up the OR and the mini-leagues I participate in. Even on the outside (ranked 1.0m) looking in at the top 10k, I feel confident I have the proper pieces in place to challenge the next 4 weeks of the EPL season.

Premier League: GW3 Retrospect

Depending on what side of the ball you were own, your squad felt like the victorious Liverpool or more likely, Arsenal on the butt end of a 4-0 thumping. For me, I came through GW3 shining, as we head into the international break. I finished the week on 63 points, that’s 20 points better than the weekly average, but well of the high of 109 points (played bench boost).

When Saturday’actions came to a close, I had gained nearly 1.4m spots up to 828k and was sitting on 42 points from 7 players (avg. of 6 pts/player). This was well over the 17 point average, as Lukaku turned into Blankaku with 1.7m handing him the armband (this included the top 50 managers in the world). Thankfully, I could breath easy knowing I had Kane on Sunday to finish the game week.

Saturday was a good fantasy day, as I continue to live dangerously with a treble of So’ton defenders. Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida combined for 18 points, that’s now 2 out of 3 game weeks in which the Saints have recorded a clean sheet. Out of the break they play WAT/cry, with the potential of 2 more CS. Valencia and United recorded their third CS of the season, while providing no attacking return, he did bank 3 bonus points for 9 points on the week and 20 points on the season.

Vincent Kompany, as well as the entire Man City team have disappointed. Last week I transferred KDB in favor of Eriksen. The clean sheet from Kompany away to Bournemouth, was shattered by a rock from Charlie Daniels, arguably the best goal on the season. City’s fixtures are mixed out of the break; LIV/wat/CRY/che, which now puts Kompany on the short list to be transferred. My only target, Marcos Alonso.

There are no illusions, Foster is my shot stopper and never had any inkling to start Rob Elliot. Newcastle has looked shaky at best on defense. Yet they did play West Ham, who seems to be the laugh stock of the EPL this season. Elliot tossed up 7 points on the bench, while WBA gave up a 77′ header to Crouch to spoil the clean sheet. Still high on the Baggies defense with bha/WHM out of the break before facing Arsenal.

Gameweek 3 was the first week for Eriksen in my starting XI. Again, expectations were high for Spurs against lowly Burnley at Wembley. Unfortunately, the Spurs lacked creativity and spark against the Clarets and Eriksen didn’t return any offensive points. Still, I feel good about this moving as the fixtures are solid through GW8; eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU.

It’s been a pleasure to watch United playing such beautiful, flowing football with Pogba and my man, Mkhitaryan seemingly all over the pitch. It was a 5th assist for Mkhitaryan over 3 games, as he continues to be an enabler in the midfield. Still a bit light on the shooting stats, but if he continues to produce assists, he’s well worth his £8.1m price tag.

Seeing Aguero start on the bench in favor of Jesus, as the lone forward was awesome! His 21′ goal sparked further excitement of big returns, but it was not to be. He did however record 3 bonus points, finishing on 9 points for the game. Sunday it was Firmino, on a goal/assist and 3 bonus points who powered Liverpool to a 4-0 ass whooping of Arsenal!

The remainder of the weekend relied on Harry Kane. Captained again, he failed to return, but much like the previous two weeks, he had solid underlying stats. Not sure how much longer I can continue to promote this point and have with him in my starting XI. To date, I have scored just 6 points from my captain selections. I would of had better chances at captaining one of my 5 defenders to return! Even an average return on my captain selection would see me 20-30 points higher than where I currently sit with 159 total points.

With the international break upon us, we now have 2 weeks to prepare and make decision as it relates to our squad. Ask me today, I don’t plan on activating my WC. I don’t feel I have pressing issues that need to be addressed. Sure, Kane isn’t scoring, but his stats are there and we will be out of August in a few days. Defensively, I don’t plan on shifting my formation from a 5-man defense. However I might shift from a 5-2-3 to a 5-3-2, capitalizing on a plethora of midfielders who continue to return.

None of my league standings are overly impressive, however I do have green arrows all around, which is more than many other managers can say, headed into the break. I am just 11 points off my 2016/17 total to this point in the EPL season. Not stellar by any means, but considering the total scores of many managers this weekend I will continue to have a positive outlook.

The only negative I have to point to, outside of Kane not scoring, the fact I have only gained £0.2m to start the season. Prices have appeared more volatile to start the season, but historically, that statement doesn’t really stand up. Colback and Jesus have each lost £0.1, while only picked up £0.1m from Mkhitaryan. I do expect some price increases this week; Firmino, Mkhitaryan and potentially Foster.

Look for numerous updates as the international break starts. I have lots of thoughts on a variety of subjects. Also thanks to those on Twitter, as I feel I have received some better information and updates than from some of the forums I frequent.

Premier League: GW3 Starting XI

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

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FPL: Time to Hit

I believe I have seen the forest through the trees this morning, sitting here contemplating any further moves for GW3. Yesterday I wrote about midweek options, concluding the best option was to stand pat. Overnight, I reconsidered taking a -4 point hit, but it wasn’t until this morning I started interpolating the data.

Using the RMT tool at Fantasy Football Scout, I entered my 15-man squad based on my team ID. The results for the next 6 weeks weren’t overly surprising. Gameweek 3 and Gameweek 8 were the highest anticipated scores; 60.89 and 60.14, adding 342.99 points to my overall score, currently 96 points. This would be a weekly average of 54.87 points, well under my goal of 60 points/week.

Having already moved KDB in favor of Christian Eriksen, is there a -4 point hit that would make sense heading into the international break? Left with just two options, wanting to post just a -4 point hit, Antonio Valencia and Vincent Kompany top the list. Is it really wise to part with either defender so early in the season?

Using the Season Ticker, we can see the next 6 weeks for my defenders. Chelsea is also included, as Marcos Alonso would be the next player I introduce. So’ton and Man United both have strong fixtures through Gameweek 8. So’ton does face Man United in Gameweek 6, while United visits Liverpool in Gameweek 8. Man City has under performed to start this term at both ends of the pitch. At £6.0m Kompany would face Liverpool and Chelsea after the international break.

Valencia tops the group but more surprising, Alonso is third best with 22.18 points. Bertrand positioned second has the best schedule in the next 3 weeks, which could account for the high potential of clean sheets. Chelsea could face a stout match against Everton this weekend, but as attacking as Alonso has been, it could be another good weekend for the wing back.

Having already jettisoned KDB on Monday, in order to keep the point hit to -4, Kompany would have to give way. This would also be the fixture that Pep & Co. right the ship and fire on all cylinders and thump Bournemouth away. I feel the attacking returns, are higher with Alonso, especially being on free kicks, while the CS could lie with Kompany and City on the road.

Chelsea’s schedule doesn’t really improve until Gameweek 8, away to Palace. Can we count on attacking returns against the likes of Arsenal and Man City before the Blues schedule looks a bit kinder. There are currently no midfielders at £7.0 I desire in my starting XI. There are some good, short term, budget options that have started well, but not proven the likes of Alonso.

Keeping with my 5-2-3 formation, Alonso would transfer in, becoming a cornerstone in my defense. Kompany would be the defender giving way, which would leave me with Jesus as the only City asset remaining in my squad.

This point hit would leave me with a zero budget ahead of the international break, with a possibility of activating the wild card for GW4. In order to make this move worthwhile, an attacking return would be needed from Alonso, especially if both teams keep a clean sheet.

Thankfully we have one more day to mull over the option of “hitting it early!”