Wood Badge: Part 1

This past Friday I started down a path, on a journey to discovery. Entering my four year in scouting, after serving as Quartermaster and Den Leader for Pack 1155, Brentwood I took an active role as an adult leader when Zachary crossed over to Boy Scouts last year. While I probably led Zachary to Troop 93, I was excited at the leadership with Dr. Val Tompkins and Justin Aldridge, both from Pack 1155. Val served a dual role of Committee Chair and Den Leader, while Justin served as Assistant Cubmaster and Den Leader. It was their personal qualities, leadership style and enthusiasm, which brought us to join Troop 93 and for me to become involved as an Assistant Scoutmaster.

The initial experience and transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts was eye opening and I was caught off guard unexpectedly. I was lost when it comes to the structure of the troop, even though I knew the boys were the leaders, as the adults acted in a supervisory/mentoring capacity. While my transition was bumpy, there were lots of questions asked. I was constantly on the the PC, looking for information to add to my limited scouting knowledge, in order to enhance myself as a competent leader. Little did I know there would be training to come.

“Wood Badge is an advanced, national leadership course open only to Scouting volunteers and professionals,” as decribed on Scouting.org. It’s a training course I have had my eye on for a few years, but felt I didn’t have enough scouting experience, spending just 3 years with the Cubs. While my Boy Scout experience consists of just 7 months, the time was right to develop myself personally:

  • Listening
  • Managing conflict
  • Leading change
  • Stages of team development
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Leadership for different stages
  • Servant leadership
  • Project planning

The Wood Badge course consists of 6 days of training, divided up between two 3-day weekends. Camp Herms, located in El Cerrito was the setting for Wood Badge W3-23-17. That’s: W for Western Region, 3 for Area 3, 23 for Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council’s number, 23 for the year 2017. Steve Laren would act as the Scoutmaster for Wood Badge.

Bobwhite Patrol, early on Day 1, coming together.

It was with much anticipation I arrived a minutes past 7:30AM, Friday morning arriving at Camp Herms and directed towards “The Quarry” for parking. Every aspect at Wood Badge is organized and well structured; signage, stations numbers and a friendly, welcoming staff (I was greeted by Linda as I pulled up) broke some of the anxiety and anticipation I was feeling. As I made my way to the registration table and presented my name, I scanned to see if I knew anyone from the Brentwood troops. While I did spot a few familiar troops and packs, I knew no one a this training session. That…would be short lived as all participated placed into patrols for Wood Badge.

Of all the patrols, I feel very fortunate to be called a Bobwhite. That is our “critter” for Wood Badge, so we will be known as the Bobwhite Patrol for the duration of the training. A bobwhite is a “ground-dwelling bird native to the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean…is shy and elusive. When threatened, it will crouch and freeze, relying on camouflage to stay undetected, but will flush into low flight if closely disturbed. It is generally solitary or paired early in the year, but family groups are common in the late summer.

One thing our patrol was not, was shy and elusive, as 5 individuals with varying background came together and formed the Bobwhite Patrol. One characteristic I noticed was the outgoing, positive attitudes of my teammates; Lisa Immel, Praveen Nori, Matt Schroder and Mike Oravec. We came together quickly to embrace our critter as the first day progressed.

With the help of Google, we came up with some yells and songs for our patrol. Our first yell, which was a team effort consisted of:

Bobwhites! Bobwhites! SHOTGUN! BOOM! <team members duck>

Catching and funny, it brought laughter throughout the troop, which helped break the ice, as patrols were introduced, friendships made. It wasn’t long after we started putting together more yells and our first song, sung to the tune, Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys. The morning session moved quickly as listening to learn took centerstage. The activity featured each cub working on making their first woggle. The group started out as Cub Scouts and by lunch time we were feasting our success at the Blue & Gold Banquet as we crossed over to Boy Scouts.

Praveen Nori, Kudu in handle signaling the end of the training session.

After learning how to listen in the morning session, we started to apply what we were learning to the afternoon discussions. The aims and methods of the BSA were introduced, as we were welcomed to Troop 1 by our Scoutmaster. With patrols already formed, it was time for patrol leader elections. Praveen Nori was our inaugural leader with Matt Schroder taking the assistant role. Lisa Immel’s calling was devine, fulfilling the role of chaplains aid for the entirety, while Stephen Toumi took quill in had as the patrol scribe. Mike Oravec was our scout without a dedicated role in the Bobwhites, but each patrol member had an integral part to play for troop success.

After a great dinner put together by the troop quartermaster staff, there was a bit of free time before the night’s campfire. As the last light faded over the horizon, scouts gathered in the quarry for song, skit, camaraderie and a night full of activity and information.

Day 2 arrived early, as patrol members made their way down the hills to the lodge for breakfast and to share thoughts and ideas. The morning was crisp and the weather rock told us there was no rain in sight, so it was our time to shine. The Bobwhite Patrol was selected (Gilwell Order) to be the Program Patrol, passed on from the Beavers.

If you ask any Bobwhite B-Dubber, we took the program to the next level and set a very high bar for those patrols to follow. We got started with song early in the morning, as leadership wanted pictures of all the patrol and staff. Together we combined for about 8 songs within the 90 minutes of the morning. Mike Oravec received the Kudu and blew the horn to start the days activities. Praveen Nori patched Matt Schroder as Patrol Leader for the day.

The morning session taught us about leveraging diversity through inclusiveness. We started with a Zulu Toss game, in which individuals worked together as a team in an attempt to keep 6 tennis balls moving through the group. The Bobwhites achieved 5 balls in the air, but just missed out on that 6th ball.

After discussing the Scout Oath and Scout Law, how we should live by and promote these principles in our own lives, as well as those scout we lead, we moved on to another morning activity. Each member had the opportunity to set up and light a portable stove. After some equipment checks, those who had not set up a stove before were able to do. After a short discussion, it was back to lodge to see what we were most afraid of.

It really came as no surprise that the top fear, as a nation was speaking in front of a group. Many patrols recognized this as a fear, myself included. It’s interesting to note that I have been willing to step up more, leading in song and yell, as part of our responsibility of the Program Patrol. In order to take advantage of the training, you must shed your fears and hesitation and fully participate as a member of the patrol and the troop, a quality that is bound to make a good, confident leader.

It was back to another game called Front End Alignment, where are Matt, our patrol leader attempted to derail the troop. There was a 15′ piece of blue plastic with a bucket at the end. The object for 3 members of the patrol to throw, three pieces of candy into a but from varying length. While the rules weren’t fully clear, we interpreted the rules the Bobwhite way and someone picked up the bucket in order to catch the candy. Matt however, was dead set on re-reading the rules in an attempt to deter us from our plan. His type ‘B’ management style (dictatorship) failed, as he couldn’t impose his will on us as a group. In the big picture, those 4 patrols with type ‘A’ patrol leaders outscored and fared better than our group.

After lunch there was a quick discussion on our project and how to plan for the second weekend, when we implement what we had learned. Our patrol discussed a few ideas, but we seemed to agree upon a project that centered about Leave No Trace. While not a BSA sponsored program (BSA moving to Outdoor Ethics), they have adopted it as part of the training curriculum. As a patrol we wrote up a proposal, which would be submitted to the Scoutmaster for approval.

Bobwhite Patrol prior to lift off of the S.S. Roberto Blanco!

The afternoon project was build and launching water propelled bottle rockets into the bright, blue sky. Patrols were giving 60 minutes to design and build their rocket using varying art supplies. The Bobwhite Patrol decided to pay homage to the ground bound bird that brought us together, the bobwhite. Dubbed the S.S. Roberto Blanco, we walked to the launch site, rocket in hand.

In Gilwell Order, we were the second patrol to launch our rocket. The rocket performed admirably, as Lisa Immel was tasked as the launch director, filling the rocket with propellant (and glitter) and then lighting the fuse or in this case pulling the pin. The rocket performed magnificent as the launch went off without a hitch, as Roberto Blanco rose in the afternoon sun. We figure it achieved a height of 50′-60′ feet before turning back for its decent back to Earth. Our patrol was overjoyed and celebrated success with our rocket, while the staff, dressed in pirate garb scored us in the mid 7 to 8 range, out of 10. When awards were handed out, we received the Scour Spirit award and felt it was fitting, as we had been keeping up song and yells as the Program Patrol.

The evening activity was interesting with back to back games featuring the Wood Badge Game Show, formed around the popular TV game show, Jeopardy. This was followed by a special guest and a game called The Game of Life (aka Win All YOU Can). These two game seemed to highlight where each patrol and the troop was overall. The leaders of Troop 1 continued to talk about patrol competition, reminding us that we were attempting to act as a troop. Stressing putting aside individual patrol achievements for the sake of the patrol. Not sure the message was completely received.

The Wood Badge Game Show was great fun with 8 different patrols attempting to answer scouting related questions. In the end, it mattered not who won, but that each patrol was supported by the others when answers questions right or wrong. We continue to talk about maintaining Scout Spirit. This was evidenced as the Eagles ended the game show on a -2100! But they were making attempts, unlike some other patrols who were more alert to their scores and appeared to be “in it to win it.”

The most important event of the evening was The Game of Life, as taught to us by a special guest from San Diego, a long time friend of Scoutmaster, Steve Laren. His energy was outstanding! The game was simple, with simple instructions and just 2 cards; beads and a log. Teams were required to hold of the two cards up. Many were mystified as to the scores in the first 3 rounds, but at the start of the 4th round, patrol leaders were called together in order to work as a team. Returning to patrols, we attempted to implement our plan. Unfortunately, the Foxes didn’t completely follow directions, which was met with a sigh from the other three patrols.

By the end of round 7, patrols understood the game, but there was much frustration throughout both sides of the room (4 patrols made up 1 team). Some were frustrated to the point of looking upset and calling out the offending patrols. In the end, the scores were irrelevant, as the the object of the game wasn’t “win all you can.” After discussion lead by our special guest, the title of the game could be changed to “you all can win!” In order to make this happen, which it did as teams scored 5000 and 4000 points respectively. The rules and idea of how the game was played changed midway through as teams realized how to work together in order to achieve for their patrol and team, eventually the entire troop.

The final day of the first weekend was short, as we were planning on departing by 5PM. After breakfast, thanks again to the great quartermaster staff, we assembled at Gilwell Field for flags and morning announcements. The Bobwhite Patrol gave one last blow of the Kudu as we passed on the responsibility to the Fox Patrol. We pinned Mike Oravec as Patrol Leader, while Stephen Toumi became the assistant. Praveen Nori took over scribe duties..

Morning lecture too place at the fire pit in the way of an instructional interfaith worship service. Lecture, prayer, song dotted the morning as we, as leader learned how to run a successful service on Sundays. At the conclusion of the service it was back to the lodge for a troop meeting, where we learned about the Learning EDGE and the Teaching EDGE, which built on the stages of team development.

The day was half over when lunch time arrived, things were about to get busier. After lunch the patol leaders had their daily PLC meeting, while the chaplin’s aides met as well, leaving the remaining scouters in their patrols, where they were left to work on their mission and vision statements in preparation for their 5 tickets items.

For me, I turned to Rand Mahoney, our Troop Guide, as I found how he chaired the JOTA/JOTI event for the MDSC at Pacificon in October. This amateur radio event is to introduce scouts to the wonders that are amateur radio, communicating with scouts locally and worldwide. It was mentioned that helping to setup and run the event in 2017 and potentially lead the event next year would fulfill a ticket.

I also began brainstorming leadership ideas to take back to Troop 93 in Brentwood. Being named as the Merit Bade Coordinator, I am hoping to slide by with an “easier” ticket, as the merit bade counselors need to be updated in order to provide leaders to train our boys. Other leadership ideas included some form of transition training for leaders crossing over with their sons from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Taking it from personal experience, I was left with many questions and not many immediate answers.

With October quickly approaching, our SPL of Troop 93 put a call out for letters in from those boys interested to be the next SPL. Unfortunately, no one responded, which leaves the boys without an incoming leader and the adults left to decide the next move. What I would like to see is some sort of parallel training moving forward, where you could have an extra boy (or two) attend some SPL meetings to see what takes place in order to prepare these boys for their time as SPL or any other leadership position.

L to R: Rand Mahoney, Mike Oravec, Stephen Toumi, Matt Schroder, Praveen Nori, Lisa Immel. Bobwhites before the closing flag ceremony.

The same can be said for the adult leadership. We have a great Assistant Scoutmaster in Justin Aldridge. While I applaud him for his military service in the U.S. Coast Guard, his posting could be up inside of 2 years and he and his boys will be moving on. While this wouldn’t necessarily leave us without an assistant (we have 4 others, including myself), he is a wealth of information and experience, as well as a confident leader. His words of wisdom to the troop would be missed.

Other ideas include giving back as a part of the staff at LEAD, NYLT or Wood Badge. Guess my name could end up on a few lists at the completion of our course. However, at this time I could not see myself in that high profile of a leader position. Maybe I am selling myself short and I could do, we will see how my 5 ticket items come together in the next few weeks after I meet with Rand Mahoney.

The staff presented the conservation project we, the scouters will be working on when we return to Camp Herms. We heard from Sean, the park ranger at the camp, as he discussed what we will be doing in order to clean up parts of the camp, as the scouts are the one to maintain the facility.

The remainder of the afternoon consisted of watching the film October Sky, based off the book, Rocket Boys. “This movie is based on the first memoir in a series of three, by Homer Hickam, Jr. It is a story of growing up in a mining town, and a boy’s pursuit of amateur rocketry in a coal mining town.” More than a great story, its a chance to watch and examine how people apply skills of leadership, as seen from Homer, as well as his father, John. Both individuals have aspirations and dreams and their visions evolve and change as the movie progresses.

Aside from being a touching movie, it echoed with many things we had learned over this first weekend. More important, as highlight by SPL, Craig Mizutani as I began to reflect on the training personally, by observing traits in others, it is easier to improve traits in ourselves. That means change CAN happen on ALL levels; being a better person, a better leader, better friend, better spouse. I am not to afraid to admit I was a bit teary eyed at the end of this discussion and for the first time felt empowered to make change in my life on many levels.

The day concluded with the lowering of the flags at Gilwell Field, as the axe was removed from the log until next session. Staff leadership was on hand as we received positive feedback from Scoutmaster, Steve Laren as he closed the ceremony with one final song, “Is there a beaver in the house?”

 

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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.

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PREMIER LEAGUE: GW5 STARTING XI

Gameweek 5 is on the horizon and I have just activated my wild card. Offensively, my starting XI is strong with the likes of Eriksen and Mkhitaryan in the midfield and the “triple threat” up front with Kane, Jesus and Firmino. Defensively it’s been a change since the decision was made to start the season with a #5mandefence in a 5-2-3 formation. Through 4 weeks it’s been a good start, now to figure out how this damn captaincy thing works.

There were also some big changes made to the draft squad this week, attempting to capitalize on good underlying statistics and players who were yet to be picked up off the waiver wire or free agency. Mendy, really still available?

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

With the wild card activated I overhauled my 5 man defense. The big changes were dropping all 3 So’ton and 2 Man United defenders, opting to go with prominent wing backs in order to maximize my attack. My defense is now led my Marcos Alonso, who suddenly anchors the back five. However, it’s been the play of Ben Davies that has seen him rise in price as manager scrabble to bring him into their squads.

Elsewhere in my defense, I was planning on Sead Kolasinac, but with a tough fixture against Chelsea this week, I decided to bring Ben Mendy into my sqaud instead. At £0.5m more, I somewhat limited myself. After the addition of Aaron Cresswell, it was a punt on Liverpool youngster, Trent Alexander-Arnold at £4.5m.  I am hoping to get 2 games out of TAA before I turn for Harry Maguire at £5.0 to replace him. Longer term plans have Kolasinac slotting in.

The midfield and forward line remain unchanged. With Paul Pogba now injured, it’s up to Henrikh Mkhitaryan to run the Red Devil’s offense. Hopefully he can capitalize on a misguided Everton defense that hasn’t looked all that impressive through 4 weeks. Eriksen’s up against Swansea City at Wembley. No concerns with these two. One change that won’t effect my starters, I dropped Jack Colback in favor of Jack Cork, possibly with a £0.1m rise in his future.

Up front, I am very happy to see all this Twitter and pod talk about going big up front, which I have done since GW1. My triple threat features Harry Kane, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus. To think where I would be if I had gone with the majority and started Lukaku in place of Kane, known for his August hoodoo voodoo. Moving forward I think these three starters and don’t have much interest in bringing in Lukaku or Morata at this time.

I have gone with my head this week, not talking myself into Firmino again and have captained Harry Kane this week against Swansea. We will see how this starting XI pay off. I am expecting big returns from the defense. Hopefully the activation of the wild card will pay dividends.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

The draft team replace status quo last weekend in the 4th spot, but it was a poor week and needed some freshening up. I put in 6 waiver claims and was rewarded with 6 new players, of which 5 will feature in the starting XI this weekend.

Up front I had seen enough of Wayne Rooney and opted to bring in Christian Benteke. This move on the heels of Palace bringing in Roy Hodgson, hopefully it kick starts their offense. To partner with him up front, I added Joselu of Newcastle. His underlying stats, while probably unsustainable are strong and home to Stoke City could give him prime chance to pick up some good points. Aguero was pulled at the hour mark in their Thursday ECL match, so he could feature away to Watford this weekend. Might be a bit tougher than anticipated, as Marco Silva has the Hornets playing some good defense at home.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the red card to Sadio Mane last weekend will give Philippe Coutinho his first start of the season. Drafted #2 overall, I have been struggling in the midfield, but now he’s got a chance to shine home to Burnley. He is partnered with Dele Alli home to Swansea this weekend.

Defensively Azpilicueta and Alderweireld are the only starters to retain their positions, yet last week Toby didn’t feature in my starting XI, but reappears for the GW5 match home to Swansea. Charlie Daniels reappears since his first departure after GW2. Bournemouth still not fairing well, but Daniels is attack minded and the Cherries are home to Brighton. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Mendy both make their debut in the starting XI and both have favorable fixtures, home to Burnley and away to Watford respectively. Alexander-Arnold might not be a full time starter and if he doesn’t start I have Pedro lined up to replace him. This would mean I will be looking for another defender, possibly in the direction of Newcastle.

Hopefully these major changes in both fantasy squads pay off this weekend. I like the make up and feel of them, but would much rather all the luck in this word to put together a smashing weekend. Best of luck to all fantasy managers!

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Premier League: Wildcard 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.

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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).

 

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