Sucking or Conserving

Appreciate those friends and co-workers who can relate to the increase in PG&E prices over the course of the last few months. Last week I wrote, PG&E Thieves: Energy Costs, showcasing my struggles over the last few months with my PG&E bill. I just can’t justify the numbers in my mind. I am guilty of running the gas fireplace during December and January, but I don’t knock it off to “combat the cold, damp weather this winter” as PG&E spokesman, Donald Cutler says in a SF Chronicle article. Instead of heating unnecessary rooms downstairs I made the assumption it would be more cost efficient to heat the living room and kitchen with the fireplace. Unfortunately that decision cost me $67.51 in December and $78.52 in January. Prior to those two month, the gas portion of my bill averaged less than $10/month.

The numbers aren’t justified, as I have been a tight ass when it comes to our electricity consumption over the 7 days and the results haven’t equated to the sort of savings I expected. January and February were the highest energy use months since August, 2016. The 1265 kWh in August was attributed to the air conditioning running on a regular basis. I accept those totals, although still very hard to swallow. The first two months of the year were 1255 kWh and 1228 kWh, which were both an increase of nearly 25% over December and 41% over November!

The aver kWh per day averaged 41.8 kWh from January 13 to February 13. Over the past 7 days we have used 242 kWh or an average of 26.8 kWh/day. A sharp decrease when compared to the last billing cycle. As it stands right now, our energy allowance is 358 kWh/month, which leaves 116 kWh before we see the Tier 1 price increase to Tier 2 and we pay $0.24/kWh, an increase of $0.6/kWh.

“Cutler encouraged customers to go online to take advantage of the tools the utility provider offers to help customers better understand and manage their electricity and gas usage.” Let me say, I have been to the web site more in the last week than in the last 14 years I have lived in NoCal. I have used some of their tools, but many are “common sense” items to help save a certain dollar amount over the course of the year. It’s quite possible I have “vampire devices” sucking the life out of my electric bill. I invested in a Kill-A-Watt Meter to help provide estimates for electrical items around the house.

One item I can do without, the 1100 watt microwave. What an evil device, not only for electricity but potential health issues. As I have been monitoring my meter each day, I took a picture of my hourly usage at 2.953, while the microwave was on! I turned it off and the meter read a more reasonable 1.505 kWh. It comes as no surprise the microwave increases the daily bill. Thankfully it’s only used in short spurts.

I am still chasing down unknown spikes in the bill from last Friday and Saturday, between 10:00PM and 10:50PM and 1100PM and 1159PM on successive days. What caused these spikes, I still don’t know. My best bet is a pump of some sort clicking on the freezer in the garage or the refrigerator. Without connecting an energy monitor up to the electrical panel, I probably will never know the root cause of these spikes. A Sense Labs, Inc energy meter is on my list to add to the home in order to decrease usage even further. Not sure if that’s even possible but will continue to make the effort.

Premier League: Blanks & DGW

Advanced planning goes a long way when it comes to covering blanks and making the most of you DGWs or ‘double game weeks’. To date, I have not managed either very well. Coming out of GW20 I built a spreadsheet to help navigate the remain 18 weeks of the EPL season. It was built on current form, known schedules and FDR or ‘fixture difficultly rating’. It provided me an overview of starters, key match ups and potential starters. What it couldn’t account for were injuries and the knee injury to Danny Rose set in motion the domino tumbling.

While one injury shouldn’t cause the amount of havok it has, it’s completely put me off the last 6 weeks. It’s been a string of below average returns, 41, 32 , 43 and 40 points in the last 4 game weeks, finally moving Rose for Chris Brunt in GW24. During that time I have referenced my spreadsheet, but have relied more on pundits I follow online. Surprisingly, I have made moves or have the same key players as they speak of, yet my returns tend to fall short of the weekly average, which seems me continuing in a free fall…since GW6!

For GW21 I activated my second wild card, based on pundits, I was planning on holding it until the DGWs were announced. But on the back of only one green arrow out of 6 weeks, I felt it was necessary to retool my squad for GW21. All appeared well, returned 67 points for the week, best score since GW10, things were looking up, or so I thought. However I was still lacking one key EPL players, Alexis Sanchez.

Through the current period, I have owned Sanchez twice; transferring him in GW7 until GW12 and again from GW15 to GW20…for Lallana! *ugh* Yet, over the course of the season Sanchez has been the most explosive players, a cornerstone for well over 33% of fantasy managers. Yet the period I owned him were probably his lowest scoring on the season, 27 points and 31 points over both periods. Not great returns, but I found myself defaulting to him as captain, since the other options weren’t as strong. This was frustrating, as all but GW10 was a single digit return. I felt there were better options out there in the midfield.

Instead of supporting the Chilean, I thought I could spread what I would have invested in Sanchez through the rest of my squad. Yet for much of the season my midfield has struggled, seeing more ‘no returns’ that expected. Players who topped their position last year, like Mahrez became disposable. Tadic, Barkley and Antonio had been hot and cold. Stars the likes of De Bruyne and Hazard weren’t template players early on. Conversely, Capoue and Fer started the season very well, but have fallen off their torrid start. Decision making on my part has been poor and cost me my season high ranking of 26k.

Along with the activation of the second wild card in GW21 came a change in formation from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2. It appeared the number average and budget priced midfielders outweighed the price of a third forward, at least in my book. Diomande, Carroll, Iheanacho, Defoe, Rashford, Gray and Austin have spent time in the third forward spot. Austin won the starting role at So’ton and scored 6 goals in 9 games before succumbing to a shoulder injury against Palace in GW14. Defoe has been the best of the bunch with 138 points on the season he sits a point off Costa and just 7 off the pace of Ibrahimovic. Not bad for the Sunderland forward, who’s team sits in last place. Yet his consistency was a question on a squad that has scored only 24 goals on the season (that’s 3rd worst ahead of Hull City and Middlesbrough), Defoe has accounted for 12 of them and assisted on 3 others.

Since shifting to a 3-5-2, I said goodbye to the Zlatan/Costa partnership and his 11.5m allowed me to bulk up the midfield and splurge on the defense with a few premium defenders. It was becoming apparent that clean sheets were more of a regularity than at the start of the season. Chelsea was in the midst of a big CS run Spurs were playing well and Everton appeared to be hitting stride while lesser teams such as Burnley and Boro were tough to play against at home.

Yet like many of the moves I made this season it appeared I was a game week late, such as bringing in the “dynamic duo” of Alli/Eriksen and tripling up with Rose on defense. This was short lived due to the injury of Rose, followed by the lack of form of Alli, opting to keep Eriksen in the starting lineup because of spot kick responsibilities. Looking for that differential, I picked up Mesut Ozil, while not assisting as he did last year, I felt it was a worthwhile investment with just a 6.4% TSB. Yet since I added him in GW21, he returned just 19 points, 12 of which were scored in successive weeks (GW12 and GW13). At 9.4m he wasn’t playing up to his price or potential.

While I had hoped to resolve the midfield issues, I continued to struggle for consistency. GW21 was undoubtedly my best return, coming off my wild card with 36 points for my 5 starting midfielders (Eriksne, Alli, Ozil, Stanislas and Rodriguez). But those returns quickly dried up and it back to back to a string of no returns for Stanislas, who would go on to lose his starting spot, Phillips, who was transferred in for GW22 in the midst of poor form, but good fixtures, Eriksen, Ozil who would go into hibernation for the winter months and very little out of my “dynamic duo.”

Defensively, I was anchored by Azpilicueta not Alonso, which was a last minute decision during the activation of my wild card. Rumors of injury and the return of Nathan Ake to Chelsea saw my a bit gun shy on picking up Alonso. That too was the incorrect decision, as Alsonso dropped 21 points against Leicester in GW21 with returns of 6 and 8 points over the next few periods. I brought in Seamus Coleman and Chris Brunt, playing OOP for West Brom and finally added Marcus Alonso for GW25. Maya Yoshida was my fourth defender with George Friend injured. The potential for 4 clean sheets was there, but since GW21 I haven’t been rewarded as such.

Between the pipes I have stuck with Heaton since GW21, prior to that is Courtois for GW15 through GW19 and Foster to start the season to GW18. Heaton for his price has played amazing! Save points, bonus points and the occasional clean sheet, he has been an outstanding pick up this season, albeit a bit late for me. Backing him up I continue to support Jakupovic, who is the sole survivor since GW1. After losing his starting spot, he has made his way back into favor with Marco Silva coming aboard at Hull City and has started every game since GW21 in the new look Tigers earning 26 points in 5 games for just 4.1m.

Focusing on the upcoming 3 weeks (GW26-GW28), the FA Cup could throw us for a bit of a loop if Man City wins their replay against Huddersfield Town, they will be a DGW in GW27, something not many pundits expected. As for GW26, I am sitting with a full starting XI, not without taking -8 point hit, partly due to the fact I brought in Manolo Gabbiadini forgetting he had no GW26 match. In order to cover the late fitness check for George Friend I decided to run with 3 defenders’ Coleman, Alonso and Brunt. In the midfield I finally dropped Stanislas in favor of Snodgrass, as WHU has matches the next 3 weeks. In a surprise move I talked myself, well was convinced to pick up Mane, as Liverpool now has games in each of the 3 weeks as well. I dropped Ozil in place of him, which was my intended target in order to bring Sanchez in come GW29.

Not to get too far ahead of myself, the Mane move could pay off, coming off a brace and playing away to whipping boys, Leicester City and 2 weeks later against Burnley at home. In between those matches a home affair with the Gunners. So Mane is just a short term fix, unless of course he shines as Liverpool have good fixtures the rest of the way after GW29.

The other target for transfer could be Eriksen, who blanks in GW28, bringing about a DGW potentially in GW34 or GW37. Looking at GW28 I will be down 6 players; Alonso, Costa, Yoshida, Gabbiadini, Friend and Eriksen. That wasted FT on Gabbiadini appears it going to come back and bite me in the ass…twice, in GW26 and GW28. Considering I will have 2 FT before GW28 I should be able to cover upcoming holes defensive and up front.

Defensively, it won’t be difficult to fix, as I can move Friend or Yoshida, neither have great upcoming fixtures and at this point it would probably be Friend, just because of his fitness. Potential GW28 replacements include Alfie Lawson at Swansea, 4.5m, 3 goals in his last 6 games. Harry Maguire and Andre Robertson of Hull City make the short list with a match up against Swansea in GW28. Ramiro Funes Mori for Everton could be a short term replacement for GW28 against WBA and Hull the following week. John Stones at 4.7m could also get a look but City face a 3-week run of tough games; Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea starting in GW29, lets not forget about the potential GW27 DGW.

Trying to set myself after GW28, I want to move on a player I can use as a 4th defender if needed. All the above options are viable, based on match up. I have played a 4-5-1 and a 4-4-2 at times this season, so that 4th defender it vital to my squad. Trying to balance the short term blanks with the upcoming DGWs is challenging, especially with no WC remaining. However I still have all three chips to use. I am still expecting to turn my season around and string together a few green arrows. At this point I believe the top 75k is out of the question unless I have a few great weeks to stop this free fall.

PG&E Thieves: Energy Costs

What he hell is happening to our energy costs? Expectations when I purchased a new home were to experience decreased energy costs thanks in part to energy efficiency built into the home. April, 2016 was our first full month in a new #dontbuydenova home, located in the Emerson Ranch development in Oakley, California. Prior to our new home purchase we had been renting for three years in an older section of Oakley. The rental unit was a two-story, 2190 sq. feet, built in 1990. Not energy efficient by any means and our utility bill reflected that. Trying to cool the upstairs master bedroom was a task that made the downstairs uncomfortably cold and $400+ energy bills were all too common.

Our first home, located less than half a mile away was a two-story, 1419 sq. feet built in 1989. No energy efficient upgrades were added to the home at the time of purchase in 2003. The dual pane windows had been compromised, door seals were leaking, insulation was insufficient and the HVAC was over 20 years old. Much like the rent, it was a task to cool the master bedroom, located upstairs on the west side of the home. Starting about 2pm until the sun went down, the sun would cook the master bedroom. Air conditioning was a necessary evil. The addition of a whole house fan helped, but didn’t cool the home as expected.

March, 2016 was exciting, as we were finally moving into a new home. My expectations were to see decreased energy bills thanks in part to the dual zone central heat and air conditioning, dual pane vinyl windows and energy efficient insulation. The first few months, I saw a great improvement in our energy bills. The 27-day billing cycle from March 19 to April 14 was $336.37. Still, by my standards energy usage was high.

The following cycle was more of what I expected. Based on a 30-day billing cycle, April 15 to May 14, we used 1027 kWh. This was the final billing cycle based on a 4-tier usage system. The first two weeks were billed at  $0.18-$0.19/kWh, The next 10 days were billed at tier 2 and tier 3 prices ($0.22-$0.25/kWh). It wasn’t until June 8, just 7 days from the end of our billing cycle, when we hit tier 4, $0.39-$0.40/kWh. For the billing cycle I paid $254.95; $6.95 for gas and $248 for electric. It came as no surprise when the summer months hit, as the air conditioner was running regularly. June and July saw bills of $320 and $340 for electric. The highest to date.

The upward trend reversed in August and slide to $162 and $159 for electric in September and October, the lowest since we lived in the Emerson Ranch development. Electricity usage hit a hit of 1265 kWh in July, our tier 1 allowance is 358 kWh, based on “similar homes” as PG&E claims. The image to the right explains just what comparable homes are. Aside from being single family dwellings, having natural gas heat and all within 2.2 miles, there are no more comparisons. Our house is 2298 sq. feet, we are being compared to homes that are 974 sq feet larger, yet those homes are using nearly half as much gas/electric as we are. Using December 14 to January 12, we used 1255 kWh. The comparaable home used 693 kWh. How the hell does that make sense? It doesn’t! I was under the assumption our home was “energy efficient” but “efficient similar homes” used 390 kWh. Still 32 kWh over what we are allowed, but I don’t see either of these homes as “comparable.”

Gas usage doesn’t concern me as much as the electricity. With new homes no longer having wood burning fireplaces, we must burn natural gas. Cleaner than wood burning, our gas fireplace, located in the living room, right off the kitchen can be run and warm up the downstairs nicely with the help of the ceiling fan to move the warm air through the rooms. Unfortunately, it’s probably cheaper to run the heat, as the gas bill was averaging less than $10 a month. Gas usage hit 45 therms in November, costing $67.51, December peaked at 54 therms or $78.52. This was about the time I started questioning the bill and how the hell our combined usage is costing me over $400 a month when similar homes are at half of what we pay.

I feel we do a fair job of conserving electricity. With my son at school from 8am until 3pm, my wife is the only one occupant in the home with usually just a television on. Based on this CNET article, “TV manufacturers have done a good-enough job of managing TV power that the operating cost became negligible.” No surprise when you look at the bar graphs and energy usage increases when my son and I get home. With that said, lights are turned off in rooms that are vacant, televisions aren’t left running if no one is watching. I did fall into the habit of starting the dishwasher after cleaning up dinner dishes, this is no longer the case. It’s now being run in the morning when full and cat dishes are being washed by hand to help decrease the number of times I start the dishwasher. The Simple Dollar estimates, “a dishwasher unit uses somewhere around 1.5 kWh on average to run a load of dishes, excluding the costs of the incoming water.” For me that averages between $0.27 and $0.62 per load or $1.35 to $3.10 if I do five full loads a week. Needless to say I am looking to cut back on usage.

The other appliances that could increase overall electricity use are the washer and dryer. “If you wash clothes in a top-loading machine, using hot water, a detergent that costs $0.50 per load, and dry in an electric dryer, it costs about $1.52 per load” reports Money Crashers. I know my wife and I are both guilty of running the dryer cycle twice on some loads, such as comforters or heavy clothes, like jeans. I do attempt to wash in cold water as much as possible, but typical usage should not increase my bill to the levels we are seeing currently.

As for the heat, it’s rarely on. When it is, its run for a short duration and then turned off, at which time the upstairs and easily maintain 68-70 degress and be quite comfortable. Not surprisingly, downstairs is a bit cooler from 64-66 degrees on a typical day. When the heat is run downstairs, we never set it above 68 degrees. So even though PG&E and the news media claim a colder winter, we have not increased heater usage this winter.

Starting this week I am keeping track of just what electrical devices are running between 3pm-11pm in order to pinpoint just where we this spike in usage is coming from. Based on last night, in which we made a better effort to use minimal lighting I don’t see many other areas to cut back on.  In order to start at our 358 kWh allowance, we would need to average 11.9 kWh during a 30-day billing cycle. Not sure I know too many families in a similar home that could do that. I must go back to mid-November to see days in which we used 11.57 to 12.60 kWh, 3 days out of a five day stretch. There has not been another period since we moved in where our usage had been so low. I believe this is due to the fact my wife and son were out of town as the overall usage is down for the week, except on my days off and periods between 3pm and 9pm.

I have started looking at home energy monitors, while a relatively new product there are a few potential solutions if I can’t pinpoint the excessive usage problem I currently face. Sense and Curb both installed into your electrical panel by a licensed electrician. These units then monitor electrical signatures of difference items that use electricity in the house. The data collected is then displayed on a mobile device using a Wi-Fi connection. Both units are quite pricey; Sense, $299 and Curb, $299, this price does not include installation, which for most of us isn’t DIY. Not quite sure what the answer to my power issue is, but I do know we are being robbed blind by PG&E. I plan on doing my due diligence to get to the bottom of my bill, but in the meantime I want to hear from others and their bills. I want to find comparable homes.

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).