Premier League: GW26 Retrospect

I’ve started waving the white flag on the 2016-2017 EPL season at the conclusion of GW25. It appears that no matter what decision is made ends up costing me points and seeing my global ranking drop. After this week I found myself sitting at 1.6m with a weekly score of 55 points, 10 points over the average of 45 points. Not the first week I have found myself in this position, as the season continues to frustrate. Currently I am on a run of five red arrows that have seen my drop nearly 500k spots. Oddly enough, I’ve had just a single green in the last 8 week and it coincided with activating my WC in GW21.

What does a fantasy manager do at this point? It’s a very fine line, as the Fantasy Football Geek wrote this past week, “So during the season I’ve been taking a tale of defences, captains and 1 or 2 player differences making a huge difference.  Here is a great example of the latter.  6 of the 11 starters are the same, same captain and only 3 points difference in defence.  However 29 points difference in 2 players.  Kane 20 pts vs Benteke 2 pts and Eriksen 11 points vs Phillips 0 pts.  Now this is a bit of an exceptional case as the low scoring team has Ibra on the bench so the value comparison of the players isn’t fair but still.  2 players 29 points difference.” This is a great example, one in which I end up on the wrong end of the bench wondering where I went wrong.

Based on FFG’s ownership of players over 50% by top FPL managers he follows, I have 6 out of the 7 players; Lukaku, Sigurdsson, Phillips, Mane, Coleman, Brunt and Alonso. The only difference, I selected Eriksen (40% ownership) over Alli (80% ownership). While I am making some correct decisions, it’s the role of captain and the differential players that have cost me dearly over the course of 25 weeks. Just last week in Blanks & DGW I mentioned the turning point in the season was GW10 when I transferred out Sanchez. Oddly enough, GW10 was my last good and highest scoring week of 78 points.

I entered GW26 with a -8, making 2 transfers after muffing up my FT by selecting Gabbiadini with a blank for the week. Mane and Snodgrass were the other players to help cover the next 3 weeks due to blanks. Both players unimpressive got me a total of 4 points. All the talk about Mane being in form after a brace in GW25 and he comes out shooting blanks. Tired of relying on Liverpool midfielders, I still by an earlier comment, their midfield play has been very inconsistent all year long! I am already planning his transfer away in GW29 for Sanchez.

Phillips has been injured and I was hoping he might see the pitch, but ended up taking a zero. With very tough fixtures upcoming, he will be transferred out this week in favor of a midfielder to cover the next 2 weeks and to be used as a fifth starter, due to the addition of Gabbiadini and going back to a 3-4-3 formation. Mistakenly I kept the captain’s armband on Sigurdsson versus Chelsea, but he came through with an assist and 10 points. Eriksen had 2 assist, nearly a third and scored 11 points.

Up front it was difficult to watch Harry Kane net a hat trick and add an assist, while Costa and Lukaku each netted one goal, a total of 12 points. With Sigurdsson captained, I lost out on just 2 points. I am keeping hope alive that Gabbiadini will be that keystone player I have been yearning for in order to turn my season around and string together some green arrows, something I haven’t seen since GW4-GW6.

Defensively I am pleased with Coleman, 12 points on an assist and clean sheet. Alonso and Chelsea have been close the last 4 game weeks, giving up just a single goal each week, like Coleman, he’s a cornerstone on my defense. Brunt is short-lived, returning just 2 points this week, he will be sacrificed by GW29, like Phillips, he’s got a nasty run of schedules after GW29. Yoshida is my current 5th defender, had no game in GW26 and on a blank for GW28. Friend has been carrying a knock since GW23 and has not seen any playing time. At 4.3m I had hoped to have him as an option but it appears he will be moved for Alfie Mawson shortly.

Heaton and Jakupovic man the goal and I have run with Heaton since I picked him up with my WC in GW21. He’s played well against some of the bigger clubs, as managers rely on the save points as a budget goalkeeper. However with Liverpool and Spurs in GW28 and GW30, Jakupovic could see his first start home to Swansea and West Ham. The new look Tigers have played much better recently under Marco Silva and Jakupovic has been a key player for them.

Again, we point at the differentials; Yoshida, Friend, Gabbiadini, Snodgrass, Jakupovic and Eriksen. It’s been a challenging year in which the incorrect decision has usually come at a bit cost.

Premier League: GW25 Retrospect

Not that this fact will provide any comfort this season, but I have identified the turning point of this season for my squad. For GW7 I brought in Sanchez for De Bruyne, who was injured, in an attempt to capture points from a star midfield player. From GW7 until GW12, Sanchez scored 27 points, just 4.5 pts/week recording a double digit return (13) in a 4-1 rout of Sunderland. This was quite possibly his worst run of the season through 25 weeks. However, being the intelligent (?) manager I am, the decision was made to reacquire Sanchez just 3 weeks later in GW15, holding him for a 5 week stretch, scoring 33 points or 6.6 pts/week.

For GW21 I activated my second WC and my infinite wisdom saw Sanchez sold in favor of…this hurts too…Adam Lallana, who had returned 3 goals in his last 6 games before I settled on Ozil as the direct replacement when the game week began. Needless to say, that move didn’t work out to my advantage. So why am I running without the league’s top scorer and cornerstone, with a TSB of 35.0%? I liken it to being ask a question by my wife and I answer, “I don’t know.” It baffles me to look back and wonder just what I was thinking. I would have been much better hold Sanchez though that tough spell during GW7 and GW12, as he is nothing short of a world-class talent.

This banter leads into GW25, one in which I felt my starting XI were playing in lead lined boots on the pitch. It was another week none of my starters returned a goal, thankfully Sigurdsson (captain) provided the lone assist. Taking an -8 point hit didn’t help introducing Lukaku, off his 4 goal game. Let down by him once again, yeah I know it was Boro at home. The other hit was Alonso for the injured Daniels. Chelsea flubbed this match up, giving up 1 to newly signed Robbie Brady. With Stanislas on the bench and no points expected today, I finished the week with the current average, 40 points as the free fall continues down the global rankings, now 1.5m.

I am still in search of consistency from my starting XI, who have shown glimpse of being above average, but more often than not, well below that mark. Just 7 out of 25 weeks has my squad scored over 60 points, with 3 of those coming in the first 5 weeks of the season. What I wouldn’t give to back to back green arrows, another rarity when I had 3 in a row from GW4-GW6. It’s been a very challenging season, looking for that spark to ignite my team.

Starting defensively this week, the injury to Rose a few weeks back, saw my defensive plans altered. While I didn’t want to rely on Yoshida, he has been in the starting lineup the past few weeks. This week taking a -8, including the introduction of Alonso to my squad, So’ton returned a CS, Yoshida with 6 points. Looking ahead clashes with Man U and Spurs might be a cause for concern, as well as missing GW26. Coleman was the defensive star with 7 points with the Toffee’s CS against Boro, along with a bonus point. Alonso, as well as Chelsea as a team was a let down away to Burnley in a 1-1 draw. The second time in three weeks Alonso didn’t have a return. I was hopefully Brunt’s run of form would continue, but a 2-2 draw against WHU saw his return fall to zero.

Between the sticks it was a toss up, Heaton home to Chelsea or Jakupovic away to Arsenal. I decided to stick with Heaton, who gave up 1 goal but salvaged a point on saves. Some great matches coming up for both keepers, might see a rotation over the next few weeks in order to maximize points. Hell, might not hurt to captain a keeper the way my season is playing out.

Oh where, oh where did the Spurs offense go? Doubling up on Eriksen and Alli came to an end, when I took a hit to move Alli and introduce Sigurdsson for the second time this season. This move paid off as I captained Siggy, who recorded a nice assist, finishing on 12 points. Of course he was out captained by Mane or Sanchez. Phillips, Eriksen and Ozil had nada…nothing, zero…zilch! Okay, Ozil got a single marker for a CS.

Up front saw Lukaku make a return to my starting XI, partnered with Costa. Expectations were high, even with Chelsea away to Burnley and Everton visiting Boro. Both defenses need to be given some credit, as they shut down both players. No returns for Costa or Lukaku but I will continue to hold and start both players.

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t practice what I preach when giving out advice on players to start or transfer. In my Premier League: GW23 Retrospect I noted the addition of Gabbiadini to So’ton, “I am also high on Manolo Gabbiadini, who transfers to So’tom from Napoli in Serie A…hopefully Gabbiadini makes an impact.” He has, 3 goals in 2 games has seen 52k managers (top forward) transfer him in this week, without So’ton playing a GW26 match. I still have woes facing me in the upcoming game week. With 3.4m ITB, Stanislas (possibly) out of favor, Phillips not in form and Ozil with just 2 assists in the last 7 games I am in search of another starter.

In a fit of rage, with my head in the fog I made my GW26 FT without thinking, bringing in Gabbiadini, while forgetting he didn’t have a fixture in the upcoming week. While I can’t take that mistake back, I will looking to take a -4 point hit and bring in the only player that makes sense at this time, Alexis Sanchez for Ozil, leaving me 1.1m in the bank. Before that move is made we need to see the results of the 5th round of the FA Cup, to be played this weekend. These results could dictate future transfers with teams blanking and being handed DGWs.

Premier League: GW24 Retrospect

It’s Saturday morning in the US and we are at half time of the early matches, but it only taken 13 minutes into the Chelsea vs Arsenal match to have the head shaking and questioning to begin. Why? I formulated a plan for the rest of the season, but at the first sign of adversity I didn’t follow through with it? That is my question to myself. Things have not gone according to plan the past two weeks, but the match ups for GW24 told another story. An unfortunate injury to Danny Rose, caused a change in defense, which used my FT for the week. With about 30 minutes remaining in the early games, I had to turn all by the Hull vs Liverpool match off. Go Tigers!

Sitting here Monday reflecting on GW23 I can’t seebeing anything but disappointed. Finished the week on just 43 points, seven short of the 51 point average. I can play the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” game all I want but if I had stuck to my plan, I would have taken a -4 point hit and introduced Alonso and Lukaku into the line for GW23. That didn’t happen for two reasons. First, I didn’t like the Chelsea match up against Arsenal. Felt WBA had a better chance at a CS and more points, so I picked up Brunt in place of Alonso. This move was a net +1 as Brunt scored 9 points, while Alonso scored 8 points. The move I didn’t make that cost me 21 points was not bringing in Lukaku for Ibrahimovic, a difference of 15 points, as Lukaku went for 4 goals and 3 BPS. Much like the Brunt decision, I felt Ibrahimovic had good underlying stats leading up to the match, although they drew against Hull and Stoke with no returns, Leicester away was a good chance for Zlatan to get back on track. I didn’t figure Lukaku going for 4 goals but do have plans for him in my starting XI, as Zlatan has a blank GW26.

Playing a 3-5-2 again this week with Costa and Ibrahimovic up front, which paid off, 8 points for Costa and 6 points for Ibrahimovic. Not bad returns but neither had the captain’s armband, which hurt my return. Last week I noted Manolo Gabbiadini for So’ton, who made his mark with his first EPL goal. At 6.5m I feel he is a real bargain and just what the Saints need up top without Austin available. The youngster, Jesus has sparkled! At 9.2m he doesn’t come cheap, but it appears he has dethroned the Argentine, Aguero as the go to forward for Pep. But let’s remember, it is Pep, there is still a risk of rotation with cup play and CL coming soon. Grab Jesus soon, as 101k managers have already done so and has seen his price increase 0.2m in 2 weeks.

With 5 playing across the midfielder, I am looking to shake things up in the next 2 weeks. Ozil is shortlisted to be move next week, I like the home match against Hull, but lay caution to the wind, Hull is playing some very good football right now and an upset wouldn’t be all that surprising. This is NOT the same Hull team that was playing for Mike Phelan. I watched this game and the movement and set piece responsibilities of Kamil Grosicki, at 5.5m, he looks to be a possible replacement for Snodgrass. Speaking of Snoddy, at 5.7m his stock is on the rise. Didn’t like where he was playing, but did chip in with an assist and 5 points. He’s got some good targets in Carroll and Valencia to aim for.

Elsewhere in my midfield, I still doubled up on Spurs with Alli and Eriksen. Alli got the armband, but returned a single marker for the CS, a total of 6 points, while Eriksen was on 3 points. I am still on the fence about carrying both players. Their upcoming fixtures look outstanding, facing a struggling Liverpool in GW25, their only tough matches will be Arsenal (H) in GW35 and Man U (H) in GW37 (cup play pending). I could be inclined to keep both assets and roll with them through the end of the season. I’ve had fleeting through of bringing back Sigurdsson and De Bruyne, but both have disappointed in their past stints on my squad. Could Hazard be hitting his stride again? Scored this week against the Gunners and took home 11 points.  With 4.2m ITB, I have room to make a few moves to improve my squad.

Phillips and Stanislas round out the midfield. Took a zero from Stanislas, as he didn’t see the pitch with the return of King to the starting lineup. Might be time for a change if Stanislas doesn’t play in GW25. Phillips I have planned through GW28 and Everton, but will look to find more favorable schedule after that point as WBA catches all the top teams through GW37. Obviously blanks and DGWs will play into potential starters, but feel safe with both Baggies  in the short term.

Plagued by injuries to Daniels, Friend and Rose, who I dropped for Brunt saw him team with Coleman and Yoshida as my starting defenders. Brunt carried the defense for 9 points, playing OOP down the left side. His tenure will be short term as the Baggies schedule goes south after GW28, but will give me coverage for what could potentially be a week of very few points. So’ton has frustrated….again and I got sucked in with the low price for Yoshida, matches with Burnley, Leicester, Swansea and West ham netted me just 9 points and 1 CS over that stretch. At the time of purchase he was a starter and a budget buy, with 4.2 ITB after moving Zlatan, I am inclined to bring in another premium defender, possibly doubling up on Chelsea or Everton or introducing Walker of Spurs. Coleman rounded out my starters as Everton gave up 3 goals, thankfully in the 6-3 dismantling of Bournemouth he bagged me an assist for 4 points. Jakupovic remains my bench keeper, but has turned in two CS performances against Man U and Liverpool in the last 2 games. Can he do it again away to Arsenal?

What is a fantasy manager in decline do? I have dropped another 200k now sitting at 1.4m! Not where I expected to be this deep into the season. Still well off last year’s point total with just 1152. It’s all but hopeless in the two mini leagues as I have held my ranking at 5th and 8th in both. Planning for GW25 I intended to bring in Alonso and Lukaku, not only for coverage but price increase, but missed the window. I have already taken a -4 point hit for GW25 as I brought both players in for the upcoming week. My squad value is just 102.6m, down nearly 1.0m from my high after GW17, like my rank it too continues to fall. Moving Zlatan has allowed me 4.2m in the bank, but if I start upgrading defenders and midfielders I must be honest and know I won’t get him back for the rest of the season. Possible replacements, Jesus (9.2m), Carroll (6.3m, carrying a knock), Defoe (7.8m) and Gabbiadini (6.5m).

Premier League: GW23 Retrospect

I’ve read comments on a regular basis about how challenging of a fantasy season it’s been to date, I cite a figure from FantasyFootballGeek and a manager he follows, “At present he has a 22k overall rank, an improvement in rank of 4k from the last gameweek of 26k. His total points are 1,286 after a good score of 40 this gameweek. Just to give you a bit of context his last 3 years overall rankings have been 1,450, 277 and 90.” Based on simple calculations, I am well off my pace of 2015-2016, a season I finished in the top 75k with a total score of 2170 points. Current score is 1109, which means I would need to average just over 70 points to hit that total again.

What have been missing (outside of consistency) is a run of good luck, in which I have scores that are above average, which yields green arrows. I had a great run just after the new year last year, which allowed me to jump up the rankings near 100k, thus making my goal to get inside the top 75k, which I accomplished. This season it’s been a 3-week run of green arrows from GW4 to GW6, which saw me in the top 29k and feeling confident about strategy and decision making. Since then, it’s been a season of frustration in an attempt to right the wrongs and score some points.

GW21 saw me activate my WC and retool my team based on current form and upcoming fixtures. Not that this is a new strategy, but I built a Excel spreadsheet in which to rank and follow players through the remainder of the season, which would allow me to see players I was watching for potential transfers. Decision making the last 3 weeks has been on par with what pundits have been saying, but the scoring has not been there. Let’s take a look at GW23 (if we must).

Since GW21 I have changed my formation, running a 3-5-2, since I was not able to get any consistency from a third forward. The mainstays up front have Costa and Ibrahimovic. Both players have been in form recently and Ibrahimovic was tasked with the captain’s armband for the weekend tilt against Hull City. Let’s just say, this isn’t the same Hull City that Mike Phelan had, even without Snodgrass and now Jakupovic in between the sticks, Hull has played differently and very well the past 2 weeks. They were able to befuddle Man U and my captain played out to a no return, just 4 points for Zlatan. If that wasn’t bad enough, Costa  brough in no points, thanks in part to a missed penalty. Just when you think it can’t get worse…it does. Diomande might be on the chopping list, as minutes are declining, the potential transfer would be Crouch, at 4.9m is in form!

On paper (which the game isn’t play on), the midfielder play looks great. In GW21 I doubled up on Spurs with Eriksen and Alli/. In the past 2 weeks Eriksen has returned just 5 points and I am considering moving him and possibly shaking up my forwards to bring in Kane. More on that in a minute. Eriksen is the 4th highest scoring midfielder, so he still warrants selection as Spurs have a great run of games (outside of Liverpool in GW25) through GW34! Alli has returned goals in the last 2 out of 3 games, but was held goalless against Sunderland, but got that all important 1 point for the CS *sarcasm*.

I have been toying with moving Ozil and replacing him with Sanchez, which means I would need to downgrade a defender. Knowing the teams as we do now, an argument could be made to run a 4-4-2 or a 5-4-1! While I don’t have data to back it up, it appears that defenders are scoring on a more regular basis than their midfielder or forward counterparts. That is my justification for possibly experimenting in the upcoming weeks. It’s bad that Arsenal got beat but Ozil didn’t return against Watford. My budget midfielders, Stanislas and Phillips didn’t return either, totaling 4 points. Stanilas’ days are numbered, had planned on replacing his in GW25 but the DGW and blanks game weeks will plan into upcoming plans.

Defensively, bringing in Coleman (for Azpilicueta) paid off with 5 points, this coming off double digit returns the previous 2 weeks. Honestly I expected a bit more from Everton against the Potters. Everton assets still look to be a good buy through GW29 (facing Spurs in GW27). A knee injury now see Rose out through the end of February, which has me looking to pick up Alonso a week early. I had planned on holding out Chelsea defenders until after the match with Arsenal. Then again, I didn’t expect a CS vs Liverpool either. My third defender was Yoshida but he failed on his bid for 6 points, as So’ton gave up a goal to Swansea. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief. Great match ups and just 7 points from my defenders.

Between the sticks, I have been very pleased with Heaton and his continued excellence! With no real intent to bench him, I do have Jakupovic, who put in an 11 point performance against Man U! He might see some playing time in the upcoming weeks. Heaton kept a CS, picked up a save point and 2 BPS for a total of 9 points. Not bad for a day’s work. Goalkeeper is the only position I don’t plan on changing the rest of the season.

My total of 32 points was 3 point fewer than the average of 35 points, which saw me tumble down to 1.2m in the global standings. This was the lowest point total since GW7 and I seem to have more questions than answers.

What is a fantasy manager to do? Frustrated as I am, must look forward and hope for a streak of luck. Thanks in part to the transfer window, I have a few newcomers to the EPL. First is Kamil Grosicki at Hull City, hopefully picking up where Snodgrass left off, as he departed for West Ham. Grosicki has better numbers than Snodgrass while playing with Rennes. As Maarco Silva continues to rework Hull City, Grosicki could play a major roll, at just 5.5m could be a bargain selection.

I am also high on Manolo Gabbiadini, who transfers to So’tom from Napoli in Serie A. Now maybe I am just remember his play on FIFA 17, but this gets So’ton a legitimate forward to replace Austin, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury. While numbers aren’t there to support this player, I think he is one to watch moving forward. It’s a mixed bag the Saints going forwards with many big clashes with top teams, defensively I think they are sound, but missing Austin up front, Long isn’t the answer, hopefully Gabbiadini makes an impact.

Finally Snodgass and his move to West Ham to replace the departure of Payet back to France is interesting. Playing for a struggling squad at Hull, Snodgrass put up 99 points, including 4 double digit hauls, was on dead balls and spot kicks, a true asset that made the Tigers go. Now he’s playing a similar role for the Hammers with better talent around him. His 27 minutes in a 4-0 loss to City he played in a holding roll alongside Noble with Antonio slotted as the false 9 behind Carroll. Going to give it a few games to see how West Ham and Snodgrass do.

So where do I go from here? I continue to scour the Internet, listening to pundits and other like-minded managers in an attempt to field the best starting XI possible. Confidence is now sliding south, as performance can only be described as sub-par with blank games weeks and DGW on the horizon, one can only hope for a change in luck to try and make gains.

Premier League: GW14 Retrospect

GW14 finishes up today with Hull City visiting Boro with no players involved, it’s time to look over the week that was. My squad finished the week with 61 points, my best point total since GW10 (78 points) but only the second time in 8 weeks I have been above that 60 point average I was hoping for. I held onto my FT until Friday afternoon, when I finally played it, moving Coutinho, due to injury in favor of the in form Sigurdsson. Not the wisest of moves and I knew that before making the transfer as the match up against Spurs was going to be a challenge. He didn’t let me down, scoring 2 points. Yet another transfer that didn’t pay off. To compound the pain I took a -4 point hit to also bring in Cedric for S’hampton, who got thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace, this on the back of consecutive clean sheets.

2016_gw14

Forward continue to play very well as I have finally settled on Costa, Austin and Kane. This week Kane grabbed the arm band and rewarded me with 26 total points on the back of a brace. Costa continue “en fugeo” bagging a goal and assist for 12 points. Both players picked up 3 BPS to strengthen their position as in form going into GW15. Austin wasn’t as fortunate this week, with returns in the last 3, Palace shutout Austin and the Saints in a game I thought would be one sided for them. Defoe continues to sparkle, now with 83 points for the season, a player once owned, dropped GW10 in favor of Austin. This decision after 3 weeks of no returns but has really been in form since. At 7.7m I can’t afford him right now, even with the 0.8m ITB.

Without consistent returns, I shipped Aguero out for GW10, favoring De Bruyne as my Man City coverage. With assists in GW11 and GW12 KDB looked to be regaining his form, but missed the start in GW13 and didn’t return versus Chelsea in City’s 3-1 loss to Chelsea this week. Me and 165k other owners made an early decision to pick up Sanchez after his hat trick performance against Stoke. In order to bring him in I dropped KDB him for the second time. Not sure what to make of City, but if Sanchez continues in form, I see no reason to chase midfield coverage from City, especially adding Toure and Gundogan to the mix, which could represent rest for KDB and Silva.

Hazard was my top midfielder this week with 9 points, grabbing a goal and CS along with 2 BPS. Chelsea has some outstanding fixtures through the end of December, which could result in big returns for Hazard and Costa. Still looking to triple up on Chelsea, but feel I missed out on Alsonso before his recent price increases. Elsewhere the in form Sigurdsson failed in his bid to keep his returns going for a fifth straight match. Spurs shut him down and shut Swansea out. I knew this before I picked him up, but honestly wasn’t excited about the prospects of picking up Walcott (returned 3 points in GW14). There was some consideration for Firmino, but again I went against that “gut feel” I had before I picked up Coutinho. I don’t feel a Liverpool midfielder is necessary. Looking through the end of the year, Swansea has some great fixtures as well, starting with Sunderland next week. No reason that Sigurdsson returns to form.

My fourth midfielder was a toss up, Allen or Capoue. Recently, it’s been Capoue in better form, but Watford has been struggling to create goals. I started Capoue for 2 points, but might be looking elsewhere for change. Phillips of WBA has been outstanding for the Baggies recently, at 5.4m, he is a great addition as a 4th or 5th midfielder. Only drawback, their upcoming fixtures feature Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal and Southampton through the end of 2016.

Defensively, I continue to struggle. This single point is the difference between returns of 8 points versus that of 18 or 24 points. Like weeks prior, this was another week in which late, single goals cost me points. WBA gave up a 60 minute goal to Watford, while an 89th minute PK robbed Valencia from 6 points and Man U, the victory. But it’s been that sort of season, many mangers have struggled defensively. Chelsea is one of the few teams that have been returning clean sheets on a regular basis. With team value on the rise, I am considering investing more in the rear guard.

Valencia has been on the transfer list nearly all season, but I can’t bring myself to2016_league_gw14 pull the trigger on his departure. He only has 3 returns of 6 or greater, no assists and no goals. At 5.4m he has become a liability, especially with Man U not playing well. With 0.8m ITB, it might be time to invest in a Chelsea defender. Azpilicueta, Cahill and Alonso are all 6.2m but the cheaper route would be Courtois at 5.6m. Cedric was brought in with a -4 point hit for GW14, figuring I would record a CS vs Crystal Palace. That moved cost me, as S’hampton gave up 3 goals, Cedric returning just 1 point. Moving forward, Cedric looks like a solid play until early February, the only match drawing concern against Spurs in GW18.

McAuley has 3 goals on the season, but it could be his teammate Brunt to draw more looks. Playing as a midfielder (much like Kante last year), he is poised to bring good returns, as he returns from a knee injury. Yet, as mentioned WBA doesn’t have a favorable schedule into January, but 4.9m might be a good budget buy with offensive potential. Holebas WAS a starter, but with Watford giving up goals he has been relegated to the bench along with van Aanholt, who is a spot starter. The Watford defender has -1 point in his last 4 games, while van Aanholt returned 10 points in GW12 has been quiet the last 2 weeks.

I already used my FT for GW15 bringing in Sanchez for KDB, in order to capture the price increase. My team value increased from 102.5m to 103.1 overnight! A nice little bump that shows me with 0.8 in the back to improve my squad. Global ranking saw an improvement of nearly 80k up to 762k. Still looking for that one big week, which has only come in my dreams. Team is still averaging 49 points a week, which is well off my goal.

Premier League: GW13 Retrospect

If I were a Premier League manager, I would have been fired after just 14 games. It’s been that sort of year and we still have 24 games remaining in the 2016-2017 season. To date, I have only had 2 green arrows in the last 7 weeks, seeing my global ranking fall 799k! That’s what will happen when your weekly average dips from 60.6 points to 42.1 points. Challenged and frustrated doesn’t begin to describe how I have been feeling since seeing red. Literally every move I make seems to be counter-productive, either costing me points, resulting in injury or loss of form. Case in point, the addition of Coutinho for GW11 scores 11 points, but follows up the next 2 weeks with a total of 3 points and now is injured with no return date. Hazard, picked up for GW12, coming off back to back double digit returns only to follow up with 6 points the next weeks. Most recently, Kane picked up for GW13 after returns of 8 and 13 the last 2 weeks to score just 2 points.

2016_gw13

On paper my team has appeared strong from GW1, yet just 2 players remain since the start of the season, Valencia and Foster. Still player selection hasn’t been bad, Mahrez, Payet, Ibrahimovic and Aguero were just four names to start the season for me. Things looked grand by GW6, I had tripled up on Man City with KDB, Sterling and Aguero resulting in 42 points! Defoe went for the double, but there was still concerns to address in the midfield and more importantly, defensively.

Player selection between the sticks and on defense has been very difficult this year. Even the pundits talk about the lack of clean sheets. Although after 13 weeks, we have begun to see some trends, such as Chelsea running off 6 in a row. But they have been the exception, but the standard this season. Last week was my best defensive showing to date, 24 points, Foster/McAuley 12 points, van Aanholt 12 points and Williams 2 points. Again, this has been the exception, not the standard when it comes to defense returns. Many teams have shown up for 60-70 minutes only to leak in a single goal in the dying minutes. Man City for example has conceded 1 goal in 9 games this season. West Brom and Man U have conceded a single goal in 6 games over the same time frame. So the clean sheets have been close, resulting in a possible 6 points to just 2 points. Through it all, I have stuck with Foster and Valencia, picking up Willams and McAuley for GW4 to represent my defense. Although in a spot start, van Aanholt picked up 10 in GW12.

The recent addition of Cholebas (GW9) hasn’t quite paid off with just 12 points returned, follwoed by -2 points and then a suspension, returning zero in GW13 vs Stoke playing just 55 minutes and picking up a yellow card. While the budget defender has been popular this year there is still something to be said about paying a premium price for a top defender. No surprise to see 3 of the top  5 defenders (Cahill, Azpilicueta and Alonso) from Chelsea, yet all start at 6.2m. Arsenal have been strong defensively with Koscielny (6.6m) and Bellerin (6.5m) rounding out the top 5 defenders. I have taken the budget option, with Valencia at 5.4 being my highest priced defender but have considered adding a higher priced defender to the mix when the next WC becomes available. Williams is now on the short list to be replaced, as Everton can’t seem to keep anyone out of the net, conceding 7 in their last 3 games. Valencia has 3 CS this year, no assists or goals and has been on the short list for some time but haven’t really found another player with his potential to replace him with. I have however started looking at adding a Southampton defender; Fonte  or van Dijk.

Midfielders has been the most volatile position all season. Early returns from Capoue and Fer made them “must have players” early on, while some of the higher priced players; Payet, Hazard and Sanchez didn’t pay off. Ever week I think I have found the best combination at the position, only to end up with 2 point returns from the starting 4 players. De Bruyne has been the only mainstay since GW7. Sterling, Walcott, Sanchez, Rashford, Snodgrass and Antonio have all come and gone, at a price, since that time. Without Aguero up front, I still believe Man City coverage is warranted, thus KDB won’t be going anywhere this season. Although we have seen some good games from Gundogan and Toure, who might be back in the mix in the City midfield.

I have read a few articles on Hazard vs Sanchez, priced at 10.2 and 11.3 separated by a single point (88 vs 87). Can you have both in your starting midfield? Is one better to have than the other? Can you do without either? So many questions, but based on their performance and history it appears one of the two should be starting. Originally it was Hazard, picked up for GW4, which unfortunately started his run of no returns through GW7. He was dropped in GW6 in favor of De Bruyne, who lasted just a week being replaced by Sanchez. The midfield has been a revolving door! Things aren’t as they appear, missing out on many big performances from different midfielders, probably taking a bigger point hit than in returns. It was my hope to this season to bag a transfer or two and roll with the same starting XI for a few weeks, but that hasn’t happened to date. I don’t believe the current players; Capoue, Hazard, De Bruyne, Coutinho and Allen are the right combination.

The ankle injury to Coutinho could be long term, currently ‘No Return Date’ is showing at Physioroom.com and running without an 8.6m midfielder in the starting XI doesn’t work to my advantage. The logical transfer would be Firmino for Coutinho for GW14. Firmino did pick up a knock, but shows a December 4 return date, chances are good he starts versus Bournemouth. No other premium midfielder really jumps out. Walcott picked up a late goal on Sunday but it was his first return since GW8. Sigurdsson has been in great form the last 4 weeks, 2 goals and 3 assists. After a tilit with Spurs in GW14, Swansea have a great run of fixtures. It might be the time to buy the Icelander.

Up front there was a lot of speculation that Aguero and Ibrahimovic were “must have players” at the start of the season. Early on it appeared that was as both players returned 3 goals in 2 weeks. Then both players seemed lost their form and returns were spotty. Aguero picked things up starting in GW10, recording 5 goals over 4 games, while Zlatan picked up 4 goals in the next 10 weeks. Oddly enough it was Aguero who made way first when I used my WC for GW4, replacing him with Zaza and Defoe. I ran with Zlatan for 6 weeks (36 points) before picking Aguero back up. Neither player were very consistent and I tired with Man City not scoring and shipped off Aguero a second time in favor of the inconsistent, Lukaku, which came back to bite my in the ass. Just this last week Lukaku made way for Kane. Kane now partners with Costa (picked up GW10) and Austin up front. After picking up 4 yellow cards, I held off considering Costa, but his goal scoring has been the most consistent this season and too hard to avoid not starting, thus I grabbed him GW10 for Defoe. Returns of 5 and 9 for Costa and Austin, were a bit lower than expected, but with only 37 points this week I will take points wherever I can get them.

GW13 was a forgettable one, much like GW3, 7, 8 and 9, as mentioned, just 37 points and another 222k drop to 828k. The injury to Coutinho after just 33 minutes, while being captain hurt my point total. De Bruyne not starting was a bit unexpected, after a midweek CL match, while Hazard and Capoue were just ineffective. Defensively I expected 24 points this week, with Foster/McAuley, Valencia and Cholebas all recording shut outs. Each leaked a single goal in their matches and that 24 dropped to 14 points. Thankfully McAuley scored his second goal of the season and picked up 3 BPS. Up front, Kane didn’t score, while Costa added an assist (5 points) and Austin scored just 42 seconds into the game.

Premier League: GW12 Retrospect

If you had asked me on Saturday how I did, I would have been very disappointed and frustrated,only 28 points, thankfully we still had Sunday and Monday. I brought Hazard in very late for GW12, after wavering through out the week on what to do with my FT. While I really didn’t want to deal Sanchez, Arsenal’s record in November is terrible and with Chelsea being on excellent form, it was a worthwhile move to bring in the Belgian. Unfortunately the move didn’t pay off, as Hazard settled for only 4 points, coming off back to back double digit performances. Thankfully I didn’t captain him, yet the would be captain only got me 4 points. Overall I finished the week with 53 points, 13 points better than the average and saw a green arrow, my second in the last 6 weeks. I am still trying to recover from weeks of 24, 33 and 26 that dropped me 720k spots in the global standing. The current team value is low at 102.0 and the transfer for GW13 has already been played.

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Saturday saw a dismal performance as Lukaku and Austin returned a big, fat zero! I had captained Lukaku, so his performance was worth 4 points, but it wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully on Sunday, Costa continued his fine run bagging a goal and picking up 3 BPS versus ‘Boro, which helped salvage the weekend. Lukaku has been very inconsistent again this year. Starting the year scoreless through 3 weeks, followed by double digit returns in GW4 and GW5.  Three goals in the next 4 weeks and Everton was poised to be in fine form, but zeros the past 2 weeks and some tough fixtures upcoming; Southampton, Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Watford and Leicester. He has been on the short list to replace since I picked him up, never have been a huge fan of his or that of Everton, but his play dictated I pick him up a second time this season.

2016_gw12_leaguesThe change for GW12 came at the expense of Sanchez. I am a huge Alexis fan, but Arsenal’s record in November has been a bit dismal, while Hazard had been in great form the past 4 weeks. This on the back of 4 terrible weeks, so he hasn’t been a model of consistency this season, but continues to show flashes of brilliance! So in comes Hazard, as I keep my fingers crossed, as I double up with Costa up front. Unfortunately in GW12 Hazard didn’t return, as ‘Boro’s defense played Chelsea tough and it doesn’t get any easier the next 2 weeks; Spurs and man City.

De Bruyne came out of the international break and spotted me 7 points, on the back of an assist, and 2 BPS. He has been one of the better midfielders all season long and without Aguero up front, I will look to keep a hand in man City with him. Upcoming fixtures are a mixed bag with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the next 6 weeks. Coutinho was picked up for GW11, returning 11 points against Watford. Yet against Southampton he couldn’t find any niche during the game. I have been on the fence all season long with Livepool’s midfield. There hasn’t been much consistency all season long, but they all continue to score, it’s somewhat of a crap shoot when it comes to the question of, “Who do I pick up?” Right now, I lean Coutinho, but Firmino isn’t far behind. Allen picked up his fifth yellow card and is now suspended, but had only returned in one of the last 3 weeks. Only 1 point versus West ham and Bournemouth respectively. Not sure what direction I am going to go with Allen. I like the supporting cast around him more than those around Snodgrass of Hull City. Can’t say I am completely sold on Phillips, who’s returned 13 and 14 points the last 2 weeks for the Baggies. There is always Capoue (bench), McArthur, Fer and Matic in the same price bracket.

Up front it was Costa to the rescue, as this is the second bout with him in the starting XI. I dropped him prior to GW4 in favor of Lukaku, where he returned in all but 2 games. Lukaku isn’t bad, he has returned in the half the games this season, but it’s a consistency thing with him and Everton. There schedule is about to get tough with Southampton, man U, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester in the next 6 weeks. As of this writing, I have already used my FT, dropping Lukaku for Kane. I was considering Kane for the transfer last week, but honestly couldn’t pull the trigger, then he hits a brace against the Hammers. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. I didn’t. Austin rounds out the forwards, as my budget buy. Only 1 goal in his last 4 games, but has come close in a few of them. Their schedule is favorable through GW27, so chances are high, Charlie starts.

After GW12 I have scored 594 points, which continues to average 49.5/match, about 10 points lower than where I was hoping to be. I still point to GW7-9, which saw me score only 83 in those 3 weeks that has put me in this position. I know my team is better than a 20-30 point average/week  but I have not seen the squad click for a big week to date. As for my chips, I will continue to hold them until we see the DGW appear, sometime after the new year. I am already planning my moves for the WC when January rolls around. Now sure I want to spend money to upgrade (or downgrade) my defenders at this time. Still I feel my squad is better than it’s global rank of 616k.

Premier League: GW11 Retrospect

Let the rollercoaster begin! Up one week, down the other as the last 4 out of 5 weeks have been nothing short of miserable and disappointing seeing my squad drop to a season low ranking of 820k, a loss of 97k spots at the conclusion of GW11. As we head into the break it’s 2 weeks of head shaking and contemplation, not to mention potential injuries and fatigue issue before return to EPL action. I am currently 119 points off the pace I wanted to be on through GW11, as my team is scoring an average of 49.18 points per week. This week’s total off 44 was 8 points off the 52 point average. I missed the opportunity to captain Coutinho, forgetting to give him the armband and rolled with Sanchez for the second week, a difference of 18 points.

2016_gw11

Defensively, my squad is getting better, but suffered another setback this week. Along with Everton giving up 5 resulting in zero points for Williams, Holebas and Watford gave up 6 goals, while picking up with 5th yellow card on the season for a -2. West Brom was solid through 54 minutes, up 1-0 against Leicester, but just 3 minutes after the Baggies scored, Slimani equalized. This was the fifth one goal game that Foster and McAuley had allowed. Talk about the razor’s edge, these two combined for just 4 points.

I still have van Aanholt and the injured Valencia on the bench. Valencia is on the short list to be replaced due to the arm and I have a few defenders in mind including Alonso, Fuchs and Vertonghen. Van Aanholt is probably going to remain as a bench player until the January WC, on a positive note, Sunderland does play Hull in GW12. Might do me well to start him for that match.

In the middle of the pitch is still undergoing a transformation. It’s becoming evident there are template players that are a “must have” emerging after the likes of Fer and Capoue having great starts to the season. My FT was used to bring in Coutinho for Walcott, on paper it appeared to be a strong move based on Liverpool’s schedule and the fact Walcott might be a rotation risk. IT was my intention to captain Coutinho, but I forgot and Sanchez kept the armband, which was a loss of 18 points that could have turned that red arrow to a green arrow. I now have 2 weeks to debate De Bruyne versus Hazard versus Sanchez before making a decision for GW12.

2016_leaguesHazard has quickly shot to the top of the midfield pack with returns of 8,8,14 and 19 points the last 4 weeks. It appears his 2014-2015 form has returned, as Chelsea is playing very well since moving to their 3-4-3.  Spurs and City in the next 2 out of 3 games for the Blues but neither are too much cause for concern. As for De Bruyne, he came off double digit returns in GW4-6, but a knock saw him sidelined in GW7. Since his return, his playing time was limited and has returned just 2 assists agaisnt Boro and the Baggies. Might be a cause for concern, but still feel he will return to the play we saw earlier this year. Sanchez has graced my squad twice now but feel his 11.4m price tag is worth it’s weight. While Arsenal’s record in November has been awful, the schedule appears to be in their favor with United (A) and Bournemouth (H). His continued inclusion on my squad is contingent on what Arsene could do with Giroud, up top as a starter. Sanchez, like Coutinho have a run of very good fixtures, which would have me leaning to keep both of them, sell KDB and pick up Hazard beginning in GW12.

Up top, Costa continues to find goals and stay away from that 5th yellow card, as Chelsea continues score with 13 in the last 4 EPL matches, conceding nil. As mentioned, outside of Spurs and City in the next few weeks a very favorable schedule to round out the year. Losing Aguero has hurt but still have confidence in Lukaku for at least the next 4 weeks when they play Arsenal and Liverpool back to back. Austin also picked up his 5th from the spot on Sunday and remains a good budget buy. However with back to back EPL victories, Vokes has suddenly popped up on the “watch list” with 2 goals in 2 goals, he also comes in at 6.1m, 0.5m less than Austin.

While disappointment and frustration continue, I am still on a better pace this point than I was last year. However seeing my team free fall, I wonder when it will stop. It appears every move I make ends up being the wrong move, like dropping Aguero 2 weeks ago, only to see him score 2 goals. Chances are good I will move KDB for Hazard coming out of the break, pending any major injury picked up by any of my starting XI. Another move I would like to complete is Heaton for Foster, but I’m having a hard time using a FT for a swap in goalkeepers. This too will probably become a WC move in January, unless I have a spectacular November and see the green arrows return.

Premier League: GW10 Retrospect

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

2016_gw10

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

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

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

2016_gw_history

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

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

2016_gw8

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League: GW6 Retrospect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League: GW5 Retrospect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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