Premier League: GW3 Retrospect

High expectations coming off a very successful GW2, but met with a catastrophic fail going into the international break. As I mentioned from GW1, my goal is to average 60 points a week, which could put be at 2280 by season’s end resulting in a top finish out of some 3 million managers. GW3 was a step backwards, which many experienced managers will take. Being only my 4th year I am still wet behind the ears and learning the ins and outs of fantasy football.

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It was not until Friday afternoon that I finally decided to use my FT (free transfer) for the week. I had been looking at a few players, which would yield a few different lineups, going as far as a 3-5-2. After copious amounts of reading and referencing players and reading some more I decided to make, what was considered a quality transfer transferring out Payet, who had played just 24 minutes through the first 2 weeks and brought in Barkley from Everton, who had seen 90 minutes through each of the first two games, adding a goal and an assist. Seemed a solid transfer heading into a tilt with Butland-less Potters.

Like last year I toyed with the idea of playing my WC, but figured I would run into complications after the international break if any of my players came back with an injury, something I wanted to avoid this season, as opposed to last. I continued to hold my WC and made the decision that prior to GW4, depending on the health of my squad I would conceivably play it. Still only 3 weeks into a 38 week season could seem to be a hasty move. Consider I made up most of my ground to get me into the top 75k last year during the second half the season. So transfer now or wait?

Watching the early games disappointed, as Gray was shutout out by Chelsea, which we all knew would happen, but Barkley was nearly invisible versus Stoke City as I started the week in poor form, just 4 points. It didn’t get much better as Mahrez was held in check against the Swans thanks in part of a penalty miss. Only a brighter note, Morgan shined against defensively leading Leicester to a shut out and 8 points. Valencia continued that tend in the later game scoring 9 points against Hull behind a shutout and 3 bonus points. Stones, disappointed again, conceding a goal vs West Ham and being pulled after just 58 minutes with an injury. Not a good start to his City career considering through 5 games last season City did not concede a goal. Then again, City is still without Kompany.

Rounding out the midfield it was Tadic 3 points versus Sunderland and Ramirez 2 points versus a stingy West Brom defense. Both players were pulled before 90 minutes. As I witnessed the first two weeks my midfield continues to struggle. None of the big named or big price tagged players have stepped up. At least not those on my squad, which is part of the reason I am considering the WC before GW4.

Up front was a dismal abyss. The “dynamic duo” of Ibra and Kun tallied just 4 points between them, for those of us, like me, who captained Aguero, we finished the day on 6 points. Nothing seemed to go to plan in GW3, then again maybe that’s why we play this damn game because of the twists and turns and chances we take through out the season. Never did I consider captaining another player prior to handing Kun the armband for the third week in a row.

In goal Foster shined again! 6 points, his second shut out in three games, as the Baggies continue to have a solid defensive form. Going forward it could get tricky starting with GW8, but until that time I have the utmost confidence in Tony Pulis and the West Brom defense. Next question, do I double up?

The international break is on the horizon before GW4, so it’s nearly 2 weeks to sit and consider what moves to make going forward. How do I consistently break through that 60 point threshold I am looking to achieve. Do I go 3-5-2 or stay with 3-4-3? Who will shine in the next 3-6 weeks? Big names such as Hazard, Sanchez and Costa are on my radar. Costly, all of them. So I sit, reflect and wait to see what I do with my WC.

Premier League: GW2 Retrospect

Bring on the green arrow, as I improved my overall position to 182k, jumping some 119k spots with 72 points this weekend. Yet, all is not as it appears to be, as I am struggling to generate points from the midfield. Last week Mahrez went for 8 points, thanks in part to a goal from the spot, but this week wasn’t to be versus the Gunners. Payet nursing a knock didn’t even make the bench for West Ham and Fletcher was substituted in after the fact. Tadic has looked dynamic, but yet to provide, Ramirez from ‘Boro is my budget buy and has played well, but the frustration is building.

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I started GW2 off with transferring Kante out and introducing Fletcher, in hindsight it probably should have been Capoue, who scored in GW1 and again this week, but also picked up calf injury. I debated even using the FT since I knew whoever I picked up wasn’t going to be in the starting XI. Now with the price changes, I am sitting in a more precarious position, as I wanted to bring in Hazard, but with the 0.1 bump to 10.1 I can’t make a one for one transfer with Mahrez or Payet. Back to the drawing board for GW3.

Up front I am glad I am a team with Ibra, as opposed to without Ibra. Three games in to Premier League games, he is off and running in fine fashion. Not to be left behing, Aguero has been matching him goal for goal, as both have tallied 3 through two games. Aguero has been captained the last 2 weeks as well. I did hold Gray from Burnley and was rewarded with a goal and bonus point in GW2. A total of 59 points was a great way to start the week.

At the back Everton got the best of the Baggies and Foster finished with just 2 points. I honestly thought it would have been a solid play this week, but the Toffees seem to have upped their game under Koeman. There was no consideration to start Jakupovic versus Swansea, who recorded his first clean sheet of the year. He will remain the back up going forward.

The defenders improved on their lackluster performance last week. Clean sheets from Leicester and Man U meant 6 points for Valencia and Morgan, which was something I missed in GW1. But the question mark is Stones and what’s going through Pep’s mind starting Caballero over Hart in goal. Through 2 weeks, “Slick Willy” has let a goal a piece in resulting in frustration for Stones owners. He remains a great buy for managers with 35.5% ownership. Can you afford NOT to be without him at this point? I do believe City will tighten things up at the back and reverse this trend. Their upcoming matches feature West Ham (H), the Manchester Derby (A) and Spurs (A) in GW7. So clean sheets might be at a premium over the next 5 game weeks.

With just one more week before the international break, I am trying like hell not to use my wild card. This time last year I was struggling to score points and I completely overhauled my squad. Not sure I want to follow that template this year. The intended plan was to introduce Hazard, but the 0.1 increase has taken me over budget for straight swap with Mahrez or Payet. Leicester face some favorable games, Swansea (H), Liverpool (A) and Burley (H) over their next 3 and I look for them to have a few multiple goal games.

That puts Payet’s status on my squad in question. Coutinho at 32.9% is the highest owned, but feel his play is too inconsistent, 15 points in GW1 and just 2 points in GW2. Which Philippe shows up versus Spurs in GW4? Barkley and Martial are the other immediate options with the schedule favoring Everton through GW7.

My other line of thinking, hold Payet in hopes he returns in GW3, away to Man City. Based on their lackluster performance in GW2, they need his talent in the midfield to set the tempo and provide a better transition game. This would make Tadic expendable and could be a straight swap for Barkley leaving me 0.3 ITB. Again, the schedule favors the Toffees but the return of Lakaku up front will drop Delofeu back to the midfield, while the addition of Bolasie could continue to shake up the center of the pitch. With all that said, I believe Barkley’s position is not in jeopardy; 90 minutes in each of the first two games with a goal.

My last option, don’t rush to judgment, leave the squad and save the FT for after the international break. One reason I am not thrilled to use the WC before the break, injuries. We saw it last year with Aguero. He started off hot but came back injured and struggled. How many times did you captain Kun against a weak opponent only to be let down? I would like to keep 1 FT in my back pocket, “just in case.” We will see how things play out next Monday.

Premier League: GW1 Retrospect

GW1 of the Premier League is finally in the book after the 2-1 Chelsea victory over West Ham last night. As with every fantasy football (soccer for the Americans) season, there were some surprises, Hull defeating last year’s champions, Leicester City, 2-1 as well as some impressive individual performances, Philippe Coutinho, 2 goals and 3 bonus points. Yet when Monday morning comes, league managers are always quick to pull the trigger to improve their team. The international break comes after GW3 and I would like to hold onto my wild card (WC) until after the break. I would also like to carry over a transfer, giving me 2 transfers to use prior to GW4.

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I had high expectations to start this fantasy season stronger than last year, while 59 points isn’t anything to write home about, it’s 15 points higher than the league average, but well off the high score of 104. Overall, I am still pleased with my starting XI, but second guessing on Friday night cost me quite a few points I could of had.

Yet, we cannot play fantasy football on “woulda, coulda, shoulda” that fact is I didn’t play any of these players, transferring them all out after reading some late articles that convinced me, to doubt my first choice selections. At one point Friday I had McAuley, Snodgrass, Lamela and Redmond in my starting XI. I didn’t feel comfortable with two WBA defensive players, even though their first 6 games are all winnable.

I did however like the fact that Redmond made the move from Norwich City to Southampton but didn’t want to double up on midfielders since I was already running Tadic out on the pitch. Intending to start Sigurdsson, I dropped him at the last might, opting for Lamela, but couldn’t pull the trigger with him and wanted Eriksen instead. Finally Snodgrass, sorta the engine that makes Hull City go, down that right side. That equals 36 points I missed out on. Of which I would of had 27.

Since we don’t play fantasy like that, we must look at what we did achieve with our 59 points and look forward to the remainder for the schedule. The positives, Foster in goal for WBA dropping 10 points. Looked strong and should run off 4-5 shutouts to start the season, which would see his value increase. Very disappointed in my three starting defenders, all of which had the chance to notch shutouts; Morgan, Stones and Valencia combined for a dismal 5 points, which Leicester losing 2-1 against the newly promoted Hull City. I don’t believe we will see many shutouts until Huth returns and partners with Morgan.

I mentioned Snodgrass, upon his transfer out, I brought in Ramirez from ‘Boro who provided an assist for 4 points, while Mahrez hit from the penalty spot and grabbed a bonus point for a total of 8. Still the catalyst for the team, I think it’s crazy to consider his transfer fodder after a single game. Remaining starters, Tadic and Payet combined for 3, with Payet entering the game versus Chelsea in the second half, but not producing any magic to start the season.

The bench players were just as poor Parades and Fry didn’t play, not that I expected them to and Kante picked up a yellow, recording a single marker in GW1. Honestly, the only reason I selected Kante was the price tag of 5.0 but any hope of him rising anytime soon probably won’t come, putting him on the transfer block.

Up front, I was impressed with new boy, Ibrahimovic, his 30 yard strike just reconfirmed by I didn’t blink at his 11.5 price tag, as he looked sharp nearly the who game. He finished the day with 9 points. Aguero grabbed a goal and all 3 bonus points, as well as being captained and finished the day on 18 points. Gray of Burnley, after an amazing Championship season last year didn’t get off the blocks after a hot preseason with just 2 points. Another who might be on the transfer block, yet any scoring from Burnley will come from him.

Averaging 60 points a week, 10 points a player will yield 2280 during the 38 week season. That score puts you into the upper 1& of nearly 3 million managers playing fantasy football. In that respect, I am right where I want to be, just a single tally off that 60 point start, knowing I was on the right track with my initial selections.

While I am holding tight early in the week to see what prices do, I am considering one transfer this week either at the defensive end of the pitch, moving Morgan for McAuley or up front with Gray making way for another 6.5 forward. The Morgan/McAuley move would save me 0.5, allowing me to upgrade Kante to Snodgrass.