I’ve read comments on a regular basis about how challenging of a fantasy season it’s been to date, I cite a figure from FantasyFootballGeek and a manager he follows, “At present he has a 22k overall rank, an improvement in rank of 4k from the last gameweek of 26k. His total points are 1,286 after a good score of 40 this gameweek. Just to give you a bit of context his last 3 years overall rankings have been 1,450, 277 and 90.” Based on simple calculations, I am well off my pace of 2015-2016, a season I finished in the top 75k with a total score of 2170 points. Current score is 1109, which means I would need to average just over 70 points to hit that total again.
What have been missing (outside of consistency) is a run of good luck, in which I have scores that are above average, which yields green arrows. I had a great run just after the new year last year, which allowed me to jump up the rankings near 100k, thus making my goal to get inside the top 75k, which I accomplished. This season it’s been a 3-week run of green arrows from GW4 to GW6, which saw me in the top 29k and feeling confident about strategy and decision making. Since then, it’s been a season of frustration in an attempt to right the wrongs and score some points.
GW21 saw me activate my WC and retool my team based on current form and upcoming fixtures. Not that this is a new strategy, but I built a Excel spreadsheet in which to rank and follow players through the remainder of the season, which would allow me to see players I was watching for potential transfers. Decision making the last 3 weeks has been on par with what pundits have been saying, but the scoring has not been there. Let’s take a look at GW23 (if we must).
Since GW21 I have changed my formation, running a 3-5-2, since I was not able to get any consistency from a third forward. The mainstays up front have Costa and Ibrahimovic. Both players have been in form recently and Ibrahimovic was tasked with the captain’s armband for the weekend tilt against Hull City. Let’s just say, this isn’t the same Hull City that Mike Phelan had, even without Snodgrass and now Jakupovic in between the sticks, Hull has played differently and very well the past 2 weeks. They were able to befuddle Man U and my captain played out to a no return, just 4 points for Zlatan. If that wasn’t bad enough, Costa brough in no points, thanks in part to a missed penalty. Just when you think it can’t get worse…it does. Diomande might be on the chopping list, as minutes are declining, the potential transfer would be Crouch, at 4.9m is in form!
On paper (which the game isn’t play on), the midfielder play looks great. In GW21 I doubled up on Spurs with Eriksen and Alli/. In the past 2 weeks Eriksen has returned just 5 points and I am considering moving him and possibly shaking up my forwards to bring in Kane. More on that in a minute. Eriksen is the 4th highest scoring midfielder, so he still warrants selection as Spurs have a great run of games (outside of Liverpool in GW25) through GW34! Alli has returned goals in the last 2 out of 3 games, but was held goalless against Sunderland, but got that all important 1 point for the CS *sarcasm*.
I have been toying with moving Ozil and replacing him with Sanchez, which means I would need to downgrade a defender. Knowing the teams as we do now, an argument could be made to run a 4-4-2 or a 5-4-1! While I don’t have data to back it up, it appears that defenders are scoring on a more regular basis than their midfielder or forward counterparts. That is my justification for possibly experimenting in the upcoming weeks. It’s bad that Arsenal got beat but Ozil didn’t return against Watford. My budget midfielders, Stanislas and Phillips didn’t return either, totaling 4 points. Stanilas’ days are numbered, had planned on replacing his in GW25 but the DGW and blanks game weeks will plan into upcoming plans.
Defensively, bringing in Coleman (for Azpilicueta) paid off with 5 points, this coming off double digit returns the previous 2 weeks. Honestly I expected a bit more from Everton against the Potters. Everton assets still look to be a good buy through GW29 (facing Spurs in GW27). A knee injury now see Rose out through the end of February, which has me looking to pick up Alonso a week early. I had planned on holding out Chelsea defenders until after the match with Arsenal. Then again, I didn’t expect a CS vs Liverpool either. My third defender was Yoshida but he failed on his bid for 6 points, as So’ton gave up a goal to Swansea. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief. Great match ups and just 7 points from my defenders.
Between the sticks, I have been very pleased with Heaton and his continued excellence! With no real intent to bench him, I do have Jakupovic, who put in an 11 point performance against Man U! He might see some playing time in the upcoming weeks. Heaton kept a CS, picked up a save point and 2 BPS for a total of 9 points. Not bad for a day’s work. Goalkeeper is the only position I don’t plan on changing the rest of the season.
My total of 32 points was 3 point fewer than the average of 35 points, which saw me tumble down to 1.2m in the global standings. This was the lowest point total since GW7 and I seem to have more questions than answers.
What is a fantasy manager to do? Frustrated as I am, must look forward and hope for a streak of luck. Thanks in part to the transfer window, I have a few newcomers to the EPL. First is Kamil Grosicki at Hull City, hopefully picking up where Snodgrass left off, as he departed for West Ham. Grosicki has better numbers than Snodgrass while playing with Rennes. As Maarco Silva continues to rework Hull City, Grosicki could play a major roll, at just 5.5m could be a bargain selection.
I am also high on Manolo Gabbiadini, who transfers to So’tom from Napoli in Serie A. Now maybe I am just remember his play on FIFA 17, but this gets So’ton a legitimate forward to replace Austin, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury. While numbers aren’t there to support this player, I think he is one to watch moving forward. It’s a mixed bag the Saints going forwards with many big clashes with top teams, defensively I think they are sound, but missing Austin up front, Long isn’t the answer, hopefully Gabbiadini makes an impact.
Finally Snodgass and his move to West Ham to replace the departure of Payet back to France is interesting. Playing for a struggling squad at Hull, Snodgrass put up 99 points, including 4 double digit hauls, was on dead balls and spot kicks, a true asset that made the Tigers go. Now he’s playing a similar role for the Hammers with better talent around him. His 27 minutes in a 4-0 loss to City he played in a holding roll alongside Noble with Antonio slotted as the false 9 behind Carroll. Going to give it a few games to see how West Ham and Snodgrass do.
So where do I go from here? I continue to scour the Internet, listening to pundits and other like-minded managers in an attempt to field the best starting XI possible. Confidence is now sliding south, as performance can only be described as sub-par with blank games weeks and DGW on the horizon, one can only hope for a change in luck to try and make gains.