Premier League: GW9 Starting XI

In my last article for FantasyFootballGeek, I preach “patience,” a quality I feel I have employed since Gameweek 1. Approaching GW9, I have attempted to look ahead and plan future moves in order to take advantage of a lucrative schedules for players I’ve had my eye on. With kick off just a few hours away, I have not come up with any solution for my current squad. There are some good match ups this week; Chelsea home to Watford, Man United away to Huddersfield and Man City hosting Burnley. Spurs hosting Liverpool has question marks all over it and running with Davies, Eriksen and Kane was a bit concerning, as their home form hasn’t been up to snuff.

FPL TRADITIONAL STARTING XI

For the week, I have decided to activate my Free Hit Chip to bring in, what I feel are a solid group of fantasy options that should hopefully provide a strong return for the gameweek. While activating chips early, in the past, have been a cause for concern, this is a new chip and we have yet to see how or when it is best to use this chip. I’ve been it used with a positive return in the past few weeks. I thought there were some good match ups, so the chip is on the table and here is what I did with it.

Since this week is about “going bigger” up top, let’s look at the changes to the 3-man forward line. I retained the services of Jesus against Burnley, even with some questions mark surrounding the return of Aguero, I figure Jesus will feature for at least 60 minutes. We have seen what we can do in that time frame. Kane has been nothing but frustrating this year at Wembley, while I still back up, I decided to move him in favor of Morata, who’s home fixture against Watford looks promising. Finally “Big Rom” makes his debut on my squad against a downtrodden Huddersfield.

With Kane temporarily out of my starting XI, the decision was made to keep Eriksen as my premium midfielder, he’s provided more consistent returns for Spurs, both home and away. I went with a FPL community favorite this week in Raheem Sterling, who’s inclusion is a bit concerning for me, as I have never been a big fan for club or country. You can’t deny the success he has had this season, so I push my allegiance aside and give him a start. Finally, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha will make up my 3-man midfield. Playing OOP as a forward, proved a viable differential last week in their 3-2 victory over Chelsea. We should see him retain that advanced role away to Newcastle.

Defensively, I have doubled up on Man United with Jones and Smalling, as you can’t deny the bus that Mourinho has parked at the back of the United defense. Planning on a CS from the Red Devils this weekend. Walker was the only current defender who made the Free Hit cut and gives me an attacking defensive option, after last weekend’s assist was nullified by an own goal. The 4-man defense is rounded out with Maya Yoshida against WBA, who continues to struggle to find the back of the net.

While this activation of my first chip doesn’t fall in line with my “patience” line of thinking, I feel it’s the right time to play it. My squad has some short term issues that need to be addressed and I wasn’t happy with the options I was presented. At best, it would have been to hold the FT for GW10 and make two changes next week. We will see just what GW9 has in store for us.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

My draft squad saw further change this week as I brought in three new players to help bolster my attack. Thankfully I should have Aguero back this week, who is looking to become the all-time Man City scorer and Pep wants that to happen at home. Could this be the weekend?

For GW9 I brought in Zaha, Chuopo-Moting and Abraham to my squad, all of whom will gain their first start for my fantasy team. This will also be the first time I start a 3-5-2 formation, dropping Alderweireld and Luiz to the bench.

Starting defensive for GW9 will include Cresswell home to Brighton, Stones gets the nod home to Burnley, while Azpilicueta will face Watford at home. All three of these starters have great potential to record a clean sheet.

On paper, the midfield looks solid; Alli, Coutinho, Zaha, Richarlison and Choupo-Moting. Unfortunately Alli has been lackluster to date, while Coutinho is still getting his shooting boots and form back. Richarlison and Choupo-Moting are both the “hot” budget type midfielders that fantasy owners have been yearning for. While Watford’s match up doesn’t bode well against Chelsea, I like him for the long term. Finally, Zaha, playing OOP as a forward against newcastle. He looked great in his first game back against Chelsea, so it’s my hope his form continues.

We will see just what transpires this weekend, as kickoff is quickly approaching.

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Premier League: GW8 Draft Retrospect

It was a very off week for the draft team, much aligned with how the overall gameweek went for many in the traditional game. A overall score of 26 didn’t help my case, as I dropped down to third place, now 52 points off the top spot and just 5 points out of second place. All is not well with my squad, as I have been struggling to find offensive points with Aguero still sidelined due to injury. Thankfully I do feel I have strengthened my squad through transactions.

Defensively, Alderweireld was the only player to show up and return 7 points, on the back of a CS and a single bonus point. Chelsea losing to Palace saw Azpilicueta and Luiz combine for zero points, giving up an own goal and Luiz picking up a knock headed into GW9. Between the sticks, I thought City would keep it clean against Stoke, but Ederson gave up two goals, while Fabianski (bench) recorded his 4th CS of the season.

With the recent acquisitions of Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting, I look to play a 5-4-1 or a 4-5-1 to take advantage of some good midfielders. Richarlison was my top midfielder, picking up the assist. Alli and Coutinho each picked up a point for a CS and Pedro still not got on track with just a goal and assist on the season.

Up front, I moved Hernandez, but retained Carroll, even though he picked up a red last week. Thankfully he wasn’t starting as he took a -2. Aguero still injured resided on the bench with no intentions of dropping him. So it was Joselu making his second appearance in my squad. Great underlying statistics, but still came up with no attacking returns.

This week I have claims in for 3 new players in Tammy Abraham, John Stones and Wilfried Zaha, all of whom could make a start this week. Luiz is currently flagged with a calf injury, but going 4 at the back would not be a problem, given the players I will hopefully get when waivers is run.

It’s still early in the season and my squad if performing. The top squad is living off the likes of Lukakau, Mhkitaryan and Jones from United, as well as Eriksen. However this team is getting Morata back, which could only strengthen the hold on the top spot.

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Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

Now 8 weeks into the FPL season and it continues to be unpredictable. From Man City scoring 29 goals through 8 weeks, including 19 goals in the last 4 games to Harry Kane’s feast or famine approach as his struggles continue at Wembley. Nothing has come easy this season for fantasy managers. However at the conclusion of yesterday’s match I will consider myself fortunate that I finished the week on 50 overall points, which was 9 points more than the weekly average. On the season, I am now at 634k, my highest overall rank to date, riding back to back green arrows.

Much like Harry Kane, I am feast or famine when it comes to defense, setup in a 5-2-3 formation. If my defense doesn’t provide clean sheet points I am going to struggle. Gameweek 8 was one of those week, save Fabianski shutting out Huddersfield 2-0 to record 6 points. Before kickoff I was already sporting zero from Ben Davies, who missed out due to illness. My remaining 4 defenders; Alonso, Cresswell, Kolasinac and Walker totaled 6 points. Was riding high on Walker, transferring him in for GW8 as he provided an assist, which was quickly nullified due to an own goal and City giving up 2 goals.

Davies is now a concern with Danny Rose coming back into fitness, the ECL match could be the final straw for him, as he has performed very well from the start of the season. The concerns don’t end there, as Kolasinac was unimpressive against Watford in their 2-1 loss, while Marcos Alonso, who’s still getting forward and shots on goals has just 1 clean sheets since GW3. Change is on the way defensively, something I didn’t want to do, but Davies is now short listed, pending the Spurs ECL match midweek.

The midfield duo of Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen both returned in GW8. Groß picked up an assist in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Everton. Their fixtures look good through GW12. At this point I am still considering keeping him, but their lack of offensive returns is a bit concerning. Eriksen, not the top midfielder continues to provide at a consistent rate. Finishing the gameweek on 11 points on the back of a goal, now 3 on the season and a CS, he secured 3 bonus points. However, the lack of returns from Kane, home at Wembley is a big concern, as is the Spurs upcoming fixtures; LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. While Palace is highly tempting based on their poor start to the season, I don’t see many goals in the other 3 fixtures. There is some thought to ship the Dane for greener… make that sky bluer patches with a Man City midfielder.

Up front it’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde with Harry Kane, performing like a Ballon d’ Or footballer one week, followed by a League 2, has been the next. Owning him has been nothing short of frustrating. As I described in the beginning, it’s feast or famine and captaining him on a famine week has left many fantasy managers starving for points.

Jesus was the star of the show for the week, hitting for a brace and securing 3 bonus points, he finished on 13 points. I never considered him to don the captain’s armband, but with how easily City is scoring, he might be a candidate if Kane is playing home, at Wembley. The situation with Jesus is muddled further by the impending return of Aguero to the starting XI. Depending on home/away fixture, I would be willing to partner Jesus with Aguero. We have seen Jesus play the full 90 minutes just once. We will wait and see what the ECL match brings today for City.

My third forward, Jaime Vardy failed on Monday, to the point that Craig Shakespeare was fired. Just what that means for Leicester City is yet to be seen. The Foxes responded positively last season when he took the helm replacing Claudio Ranieri. I am considering holding Vardy with swa/EVE/sto to come. At 8.5m, Firmino is the only option I would consider, but have already walked that road earlier in the season and not sure I want to return to it until Sadio Mane is back in the starting XI for Liverpool.

The other option, which might be consider a stronger move would be the watch the fitness of Alvaro Morata and insert him into the squad. It will take a bit more of a shoehorn to fit him in, which would require dropping the consistent, Eriksen for the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Richarlison, both of whom were on my short list. Can’t forget Philippe Coutinho, who’s returned 28 points in the last 4 games since his return.

The other option to consider, move from a 5-2-3 formation to a 5-3-2, which is what I had planned to start the season with until a late change saw to go with 3 big forwards instead of two. While not a supporter of Tammy Abraham, as Swansea has a difficult time scoring, his price of 5.7m is hard to ignore and as a third off the bench could be worth it.

With a shortened week and ECL games midweek, it will be interesting to see the rotation of players from teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Man City. Having already missed the price rise this week, I am inclined to hold out until Thursday before making any changes, but I might end up with a -4 or -8 point hit, IF it can be justified. I do believe any Man City players will cover that hit, while providing a return.

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FPL: Shell Shocked

It’s Monday morning in the states and I am looking forward to the Leicester City fixture, as I have a vested interested in the match since introducing Janie Vardy to my starting XI. Figured I would hold off one more day before providing my retrospect commentary, but it was weekend that shell shocked MANY fantasy managers. Aside from the failure of “Captain Kane” to deliver, as well as Blankaku, Palace impressed in their 2-1 victory home against Chelsea, while the juggernaut that is Man City rolled to a 7-2 win over Stoke City. The oddity that is the 2017/18 EPL season continues, we it’s not too early to look at what potential moves to make.

This is the first week I am considering taking a -4 point hit to make an additional transfer. It was my intention to limit taking point hits, but I do believe the form that City is in, that -4 could be made up very quickly, as nearly every offensive player is currently in form. Since Saturday I am have considering my options, as I have a plan in place. Eden Hazard blanking in his first full 90 minutes since returning has me concerned, especially with cheaper midfielder options at Man City. It’s just a matter of time before Hazard becomes a mainstay in fantasy squads, but that could hinge on the return of Alvaro Morata to the Blues starting XI. In fact, I was targeting him before I entertained thoughts of starting Hazard.

Of all the positions, midfield has many questions marks. Current starters in my 5-2-3 include Christian Eriksen, who is in form and Pascal Groß, who was brought in this week (in place of Mkhitaryan) as the first of a series of moves. Thankfully be returned 6 points and Huddersfield has a favorable schedule through GW11. However his stay could be short lived with the likes of Wilfried Zaha starting OOP as the lone forward for Palace. His play against Chelsea was crisp and dynamic and left the Blues defense standing still. Palace has new/WHU in their next two fixtures, before an away fixture to Spurs, followed by a nice run of games through GW19.

Eriksen’s status is up in the air, as Spurs continue to look dismay at Wembley (home) against BUR/SWA/BOU, just 3 goals in those games. Spurs hit a challenging group of fixtures, LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. Based on what we have seen from Spurs at home, I don’t expect big returns. Scoreless draws against Liverpool and United, a goal against Palace and another, no return or single goal against the Gunners. Not the best run, even with an in form Eriksen. The Palace game looks tempting, but overall their home form doesn’t warrant keeping him for this 4-game run. I suspect I will still move Eriksen heading into GW9.

Currently I have two Man City players in my starting XI, Kyle Walker, who was transferred in for GW8 and Jesus, who has been my third forward since the start of the year. Walker contributed with an assist against Stoke, but also gave up an own goal, which negated a return. His place in my starting XI is not in jeopardy at this time, but Jesus even hitting a brace on Saturday could be. Sergio Aguero impending return will send one player to the bench, its yet to be seen how Pep will play all these fantasy producing players. Many fantasy owners already brought in Raheem Sterling (15 points) before the price rise, but a strong case can also be made for Leroy Sane (10 points), David Silva (7 points) and Kevin De Bruyne (9 points). A strong run of fixtures and an unrelenting offense means tripling up on City could be a must!

My starting XI for GW9 weighs in the balance, with Jamie Vardy yet to play. At 8.5m he’s returned 5 goals on the season and 3 out of the last 4 games. With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, Vardy’s spot could be up for grabs. With no rotation risk, Morata probably edges out Aguero, as it would be very risky to start both Jesus and Aguero, but it’s not out of the question. Continuing to back Harry Kane has been rewarding, but only when away from Wembley, his numbers at home have been terrible, 7 points in 4 games. These next 4 games could be critical, as I continue to keep the faith that Kane will deliver, home and away, especially when captained, but I have started looking at other options IF the decision to move Kane for 4 weeks becomes reality.

Defensively there are two concerns; Ben Davies and Sead Kolsanic. With Danny Rose nearly fitness, it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Davies, who’s been a very productive fantasy asset with 49 points on the season, bested only by Antonio Valencia (53 points). If it were not for CHE/tot in the next 2 of 3 for United, I would be boasting defensive coverage, but I recently move Phil Jones because of Liverpool and the upcoming unfavorable fixtures. A budget option could be in the works, but with more viable midfielders providing offensive returns, a change in formation could be warranted. I am more inclined to stick with Kolasinac, who didn’t have a great offensive game and really didn’t feature much in the box.

On the week I have a green arrow and hope that is strengthens my GW8 performance as we wait for Leicester hosting WBA later today. Vardy is the piece that could dictate my upcoming moves.

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Premier League: GW8 Starting XI

So the international break is over and we look to the horizon for Gameweek 8 with the thrill and excitement it will bring. Coming off a successful GW7, scoring 78 overall points I look to keep the ball rolling, so to speak to improve my position in mini leagues and my overall rank. Heading into the break I had 2 FTs to use, originally I had not planned on burning both of them this week, but after “thinking different” I decided on an alternate plan to what I had been planning during the break.

With questions still surrounding Alvaro Morata, I won’t be able to count on him until we see him hit and back on the pitch. Chelsea needs him as well, thankfully Eden Hazard is ready to play the full 90 minutes and could be leading the attack against a helpless Palace squad. Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget to get a Chelsea asset in this week, so I will miss out on a BIG differential IF Hazard goes off.

Running off a “master plan” I made two moves this week and shipped out Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as United’s fixtures turn, but they still continue to post big numbers with 11 goals in their last 4 games. However the next 3 of 4 games United face tough competition away against liv, hud, TOT, che. In their place I introduce the final piece to my 5-man defense, Kyle Walker. He cost 1.4m more than Jones, which sees Brighton’s Pascal Groß join Eriksen in my 2-man midfielder of a 5-2-3 formation.

Risky? Yes, it is, but I am banking on a slate of clean sheets and potential Walker carries offensively. These two players the first move in a 4 week stretch that will introduce Hazard next week, in order to take advantage of very favorable fixtures. Still Morata’s fitness is key and depending on how Hazard plays will dictate what direction I will go.

With any luck, if things play out to my advantage I will have 2 FTs for GW11. As we know, there are no guarantees in football. Luck plays a key factor, even if we have quality players in our starting XI. I feel a certain confidence in my squad and with the lack of midfielders posting big scores I am fine running a 2-man midfield.

Coming tomorrow FPL Draft Team, after I see if my waiver claims come through.

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