FPL: GW3 Draft Retrospect

Out of curiosity, I jumped into the public league for the roll out of FPL Draft. I entered the season with no expectations, after spending 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I have gotten quite bored with the snake style draft and use of the waiver wire and free agency. I also felt that 8 teams wasn’t enough for a competitive league. Looking at it, 10 could potentially be too many. So I reserve judgment until the end of the season on just how successful this fantasy game would be. Now onto my GW3 retrospect.

I entered GW3 in third place on 80 points (56 pts & 24 pts), but finished the week on 35 points. With a total of 115 points, I lost one spot, now sitting in fourth. Expectations were high, as I had made 5 transactions heading into the game week. The only non-starter of the bunch was Jonas Lössl, who actually outscored Ederson. Other transfers for the weekend include Miguel Britos, Jesé, Ahmed Hegazi and Javier Hernandez. None of these “hot players” fared well, totaling 5 pojnts, including a -2 points from Britos, who was red carded.

Thankfully it was Azpilicueta, aka “Dave” to the rescue with 9 points on an assist, CS and bonus point, while Yoshida picked up a late assist and bonus point for 6 points. The midfield struggles continued, thankfully Alli picked up the slack, as Kane remains goalless in August, with a goal and 2 bonus points. Pedro, now fit started over Tadic, but the decision was a wash, as both midfielders finished on 3 points.

On paper I like my forwards, led by Aguero. We saw the displeasure on his face as he started on the bench away to Bournemouth. He did make a cameo and get 24 minutes of action. Chicharito, coming off 2 goals against So’ton played the full 90 minutes but picked up a yellow for just a single point. The decision was made to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench, but his 1 point was no better than the starters.

It’s my belief that the struggle is real based on the fact I am without a second round selection, as Phillipe Countinho continues to feign injury, looking for that exit before the transfer window closes. No points through 3 weeks and the real fact that he could be on his way out doesn’t leave much available that can replace a player of that caliber. The newly acquired Swansea man, Renato Sanches might be an option, but hasn’t had a good year. Other options include Klaassen, Zaha and Lanzini, all three I have already owned and dropped. Redmond is available, but the lack of So’ton offensive is worrisome. In fact none of the “budget” type midfielder (although there is not budget in Draft) aren’t impressive, which has me lining up my starting XI in a 5-3-2 formation.

While we wait for the transfer window to close and the EPL restart after the international break, I am a team with needs. The uncertainty at City, which we knew was coming from Pep has be concerned about Aguero’s pitch time. West Ham United being a complete shambles has me wondering if Hernandez will be a viable two or three option up front. With all the shit I talk regarding the traditional FPL, I went against my better judgment and picked up too many hot players; Hegazi, Britos, Jesé and Chicharito. None of which followed up their GW2 performance to provide me much confidence.

I do believe the season will hinge on Coutinho, if he does indeed move, I will struggle the rest of the way, relying on rotating midfield to carry my #5mandefence. With any luck, as the strength of schedule changes, Rooney will be reintroduced as a weekly starter (GW6). Hernandez appears to have good fixtures through GW13, minus fixtures hoem to Spurs and home to Liverpool.

FPL: Threeview

Now that the international break has officially began, what are fantasy managers supposed to do? First, get up. Back away from the keyboard and take a break. It’s been a volatile start to the 2017/18 season, after many managers thought they had things worked out with great GW1 results, only to be bitch-slapped back to reality with the struggles in GW3.

Unless you are chasing price rises over the break, more on that later, I would take a few days to forget about fantasy football and direct your energy elsewhere. All those lingering questions can be put on hold, return a few days later with a clear head, which could provide you a fresh view of your lineup dilemma.

While I don’t consider it a luxury, I did go into the international break on a high, scoring 63 points in GW3, without facing many glaring questions that need to be answered. The biggest concerns I have are:

  1. The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation.
  2. Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI
  3. Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats.

Realistically, I could end the piece here and go into GW4 feeling confident with my current starting XI. Entering the break with a single FT, I will hold it until all international matches are complete. If we are fortunate, players will return to their club team, injury free and ready to resume league play.

The word of the week has been “wildcard” for many FPL managers. Before you hit that button, consider the sage advice of Nick (@NickTriggerlips) at Transfer Hub, in his article, Why did you wildcard?The problem is there are very few real patterns that have formed…Most of the wildcard  Rate my teams that I am seeing look like a who’s who of last weeks point scorers.” Wise words, from a wise manager, the article is well worth a read.

I have continued to read articles at Fantasy Football Scout, Fantasy Football Geek, tune in the podcasts from Nick and Tom (@WGTA_FPL) at Who Got the Assist as well as, Josh and Brandon (@hailcheaters) at Always Cheating. One key piece this season has been the use of Twitter (@W6ONV) to promote discussion and decisions. This was something I missed out on the previous 4 seasons participating in FPL. This outlet has allowed more flowing discussion than some forum threads I have been involved in, which I feel have provided me with a more positive return when it comes to decision-making.

At the end of last season, one of my strategies this year would be to actively chase price increases. We have watched the ups and downs, while it appears more volatile than last season, the numbers really haven’t backed that statement. Based on price rises last year, I am still on track, gaining £0.1m/week through GW3. It has allowed me to maintain £1.0m ITB. At this point, with the “few real patterns” and uncertainty, I have decided to forego chasing and exercise patience with my starting XI.

Prior to the start of the season, I mapped out a plan for the first 7 weeks of action. While I didn’t plan to remain intact, it did give me some solace in knowing that a downturn in performance wouldn’t necessarily put me in a precarious position requiring the use of an extra hit or the use of my wildcard. From GW1, it’s been my intention to use the WC during the second international break, GW7.

This plan is still contingent on how players perform when action kicks off after this first break. Holding my head high, I feel confident that I can ride out these early season trends, one-week wonders and volatility until things calm. However, this thinking doesn’t solve my three problems areas that need to be addressed.

The ineffectiveness of the Man City attack and Pep’s rotation

My expectation on the City attack were high heading into the season with fixtures against new boys Brighton (A) and Bournemouth (H). Yet a 2-0 and 2-1 victories in those matches hasn’t provided much confidence in owning City attackers or defenders. I started the season with Kompany, De Bruyne and Jesus in my starting XI. Just 2 weeks in and let KDB go in favor of Christian Eriksen, due to his deep lying play and lack of creativity in the attacking third.

Up front, I didn’t go with “Big Rom” figuring I could score more points with a 3-man front spearheaded by the dynamic Gabriel Jesus (and Roberto Firmino). While Jesus has yet to play a full 90-minutes, he has netted a goal and has the potential to be Pep’s “go to forward.” But in the back of my mind lurks that uncertainty that says, “move him in favor of Alvaro Morata.” The “Aguero Factor” will always be in play with Pep, does he play up front with a single forward or run both Jesus and Aguero out? I don’t believe we will see a clear cut answer to this question. With Kun ended up benched against the Cherries, we could possibly see a reversal with a dejected Jesus on the bench when GW4 commences home to Liverpool. Bottom line, we don’t know.

Finally, Vincent Kompany, who’s been riddled with injuries the last few years, but is the heart of The Sky Blues defense. His clean sheet record tells you the story; 23. 30, 21, 22, 32 clean sheets between 2010-2015 with 8 goals over the period. His selection meant I would hedge my bet and not start with Marcos Alonso, as Chelsea had a mixture schedule to start the 2017/18 season. To date, City has disappointed at both ends of the pitch and Kompany is now playing on borrowed time.

Marcos Alonso not in my starting XI

In the preparation leading up to GW1, I had fully intended to include Marcos Alonso and Romelu Lukaku in my starting XI. Last minute information and a change of heart saw both players not included, After GW1, it appeared a wise move, as Chelsea underperformed and lost, 3-2, home to Burnley. However, our faith in the £7.0m wing back was restored the following with, as he hit for a brace, in a 2-1 away win against Spurs. Last week, it was  Chelsea’s first CS of the season. Indications are Alonso is back on track, justify his current price, £7.1m as a top defender in the EPL.

While many managers have gone with a budget 3-defender set in their 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations, I have spent big, knowing I could swap defenders without having budget constraints. Yet these premium defenders need to justify their inclusion to the starting XI with attacking returns, as well as the potential of CS.

Alonso heads my list of wants when it comes to transfers. While I want to maintain United coverage based on their fixtures out of the break, I look towards Kompany being the fall man in order to transfer Alonso in. The hesitation lies in the Chelsea’s fixtures out of the international break; lei/ARS/sto/MCI/cry/WAT. Based on the Gunners poor performance against Liverpool in GW3, the home fixture to Arsenal doesn’t concern me as much as the Battle of Manchester. Keep in mind some of Alonso’s statistics:

  • 56 touches in the final third
  • 34 passes received – final third
  • 84.4% pass completion rate
  • 23 passes – final third completion
  • 12 touches – penalty area
  • 135 minutes per goal
  • 8 attempts on goal
  • 3 shots inside box
  • 4 shots on goal
  • 33.8 minutes per chance

These figures rival midfielders in and above his price range. So his inclusion in my starting XI is becoming detrimental. This opinion also based on the fact I only start a 2-man midfield.

Harry Kane with 3 blanks, backed by massive underlying stats

We should have seen this coming, right? Harry Kane can’t score in August, so we were forewarned. Still with that lingering in the back of my mind I made the decision to purchase the £12.5 forward to lead my squad. As we all know, there were better options, but his underlying stats (a word I continue to abuse) are outstanding!

  • 26 touches in penalty box
  • 24 attempts on goal
  • 18 shots inside the box
  • 3 big chances
  • 11.3 minutes per chance
  • 25% shot accuracy

The above statistics highlight the success Kane has seen. Unfortunately the real fact remains, Lukaku has scored 3 goals, Kane zero. Of the figures above, Kane betters Lukaku in every category except, big chances (Lukaku has 4). While the August voodoo hoodoo continues to Harry I am backing him out of the international break.

Kane put August behind him and start firing on all cylinders with eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU taking us to mid-October. Looking over the last 3 years in which Kane has scored 29, 25 and 21 goals, he has just 3 goals in September combined. Not impressive, but remember he picked up the malleolar injury last season and didn’t feature in the squad 2 years ago, until later in the season.

All indications are the back-to-back Golden Boot winner will return to form that saw him bag 8 goals in the final 3 games of the 2016/17 season. While I continue to read and hear banter about none of the top managers owning Kane, I am keeping the faith instead of introducing Lukaku to my squad out of the international break.

As you can see, I don’t have issues that require a restructuring of my team. With a strong showing going into the international break, I plan on looking forward and stringing a run of green arrows together in order to rise up the OR and the mini-leagues I participate in. Even on the outside (ranked 1.0m) looking in at the top 10k, I feel confident I have the proper pieces in place to challenge the next 4 weeks of the EPL season.

Premier League: GW3 Retrospect

Depending on what side of the ball you were own, your squad felt like the victorious Liverpool or more likely, Arsenal on the butt end of a 4-0 thumping. For me, I came through GW3 shining, as we head into the international break. I finished the week on 63 points, that’s 20 points better than the weekly average, but well of the high of 109 points (played bench boost).

When Saturday’actions came to a close, I had gained nearly 1.4m spots up to 828k and was sitting on 42 points from 7 players (avg. of 6 pts/player). This was well over the 17 point average, as Lukaku turned into Blankaku with 1.7m handing him the armband (this included the top 50 managers in the world). Thankfully, I could breath easy knowing I had Kane on Sunday to finish the game week.

Saturday was a good fantasy day, as I continue to live dangerously with a treble of So’ton defenders. Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida combined for 18 points, that’s now 2 out of 3 game weeks in which the Saints have recorded a clean sheet. Out of the break they play WAT/cry, with the potential of 2 more CS. Valencia and United recorded their third CS of the season, while providing no attacking return, he did bank 3 bonus points for 9 points on the week and 20 points on the season.

Vincent Kompany, as well as the entire Man City team have disappointed. Last week I transferred KDB in favor of Eriksen. The clean sheet from Kompany away to Bournemouth, was shattered by a rock from Charlie Daniels, arguably the best goal on the season. City’s fixtures are mixed out of the break; LIV/wat/CRY/che, which now puts Kompany on the short list to be transferred. My only target, Marcos Alonso.

There are no illusions, Foster is my shot stopper and never had any inkling to start Rob Elliot. Newcastle has looked shaky at best on defense. Yet they did play West Ham, who seems to be the laugh stock of the EPL this season. Elliot tossed up 7 points on the bench, while WBA gave up a 77′ header to Crouch to spoil the clean sheet. Still high on the Baggies defense with bha/WHM out of the break before facing Arsenal.

Gameweek 3 was the first week for Eriksen in my starting XI. Again, expectations were high for Spurs against lowly Burnley at Wembley. Unfortunately, the Spurs lacked creativity and spark against the Clarets and Eriksen didn’t return any offensive points. Still, I feel good about this moving as the fixtures are solid through GW8; eve/SWA/whm/hud/BOU.

It’s been a pleasure to watch United playing such beautiful, flowing football with Pogba and my man, Mkhitaryan seemingly all over the pitch. It was a 5th assist for Mkhitaryan over 3 games, as he continues to be an enabler in the midfield. Still a bit light on the shooting stats, but if he continues to produce assists, he’s well worth his £8.1m price tag.

Seeing Aguero start on the bench in favor of Jesus, as the lone forward was awesome! His 21′ goal sparked further excitement of big returns, but it was not to be. He did however record 3 bonus points, finishing on 9 points for the game. Sunday it was Firmino, on a goal/assist and 3 bonus points who powered Liverpool to a 4-0 ass whooping of Arsenal!

The remainder of the weekend relied on Harry Kane. Captained again, he failed to return, but much like the previous two weeks, he had solid underlying stats. Not sure how much longer I can continue to promote this point and have with him in my starting XI. To date, I have scored just 6 points from my captain selections. I would of had better chances at captaining one of my 5 defenders to return! Even an average return on my captain selection would see me 20-30 points higher than where I currently sit with 159 total points.

With the international break upon us, we now have 2 weeks to prepare and make decision as it relates to our squad. Ask me today, I don’t plan on activating my WC. I don’t feel I have pressing issues that need to be addressed. Sure, Kane isn’t scoring, but his stats are there and we will be out of August in a few days. Defensively, I don’t plan on shifting my formation from a 5-man defense. However I might shift from a 5-2-3 to a 5-3-2, capitalizing on a plethora of midfielders who continue to return.

None of my league standings are overly impressive, however I do have green arrows all around, which is more than many other managers can say, headed into the break. I am just 11 points off my 2016/17 total to this point in the EPL season. Not stellar by any means, but considering the total scores of many managers this weekend I will continue to have a positive outlook.

The only negative I have to point to, outside of Kane not scoring, the fact I have only gained £0.2m to start the season. Prices have appeared more volatile to start the season, but historically, that statement doesn’t really stand up. Colback and Jesus have each lost £0.1, while only picked up £0.1m from Mkhitaryan. I do expect some price increases this week; Firmino, Mkhitaryan and potentially Foster.

Look for numerous updates as the international break starts. I have lots of thoughts on a variety of subjects. Also thanks to those on Twitter, as I feel I have received some better information and updates than from some of the forums I frequent.

Premier League: GW3 Starting XI

Figured being Friday, with nothing to do this evening I would add a new weekly feature to T6F called the Starting XI. Original, huh? This will be an overview of my traditional FPL squad, as well as the draft squad before the start of each week. Much of the discussion leading up to kickoff deals with transfer information, as well as a retrospect on what happened the previous week. Sometimes I talk through me team, as I did this week. With Twitter taking over where forums left off, I figure I have some more FPL to offer would be managers.

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

This week begins where last week left off, so to speak. The formation remains a non-standard 5-2-3, while I am not taking advantage in the attacking department, GW1 provided a glimpse of what COULD be if my defenders perform; 6 clean sheets, 1 assist and 3 bonus points for 38 points! Unfortunately GW2 was an indication of what WOULD happen if my So’ton treble give up, not one but 2 goals! They totaled 7 points, Kompany failed me at home for another single digit return but Foster and Valencia came through.

Heading into GW3, I had wrote about midweek options, not completely sold on activating my wild card, I had considered the Free Hit Chip, as well as a point hit. After some debate, research and discussion now was not the time to hit. In fact, I was probably a bit premature in pulling the trigger to move KDB in favor of Eriksen, as City are away to Bournemouth (15 goals and 1 against in the last 4 matches against the Cherries). Yet, Eriksen is a hot commodity and I wanted to get in on the price increase, so I finalized the transfer on Monday night.

With the transfer out of the way, I was pleased with the look and feel of my 5-2-3. While I am still positive, 96 points and a 2.2m overall ranking don’t sit very well, but I wasn’t the only manager to struggle in GW2. Again, it was a lack of attacking returns that caused despair.

Heading into GW3, with a Spurs double (Eriksen & Kane) home to Burnley, I feel confident big returns are possible from Wembley. I am also doubled up on Man United, yet I am still without Lukaku, as I figured I could see bigger returns from the duo of Firmino and Jesus than “Big Rom.” So far, it hasn’t really paid off.

After going down to 10-men, Jesus was “unfairly” substituted and KDB played more defensive, which could account for the lack of attacking returns. I don’t expect a lack of points this week from Jesus and expect Pep to play him 75+ minutes! Mkhitaryan is my sole attacking options from United, unless you consider Valencia in the mix, unfortunately his average positioning hasn’t been as attack as I would like to see. Thanks to Jose playing 4 at the back, he has been limited in his journeys forward.

Valencia and Kompany are the back end, doubling up on United and City. While I am a big Kompany fan, his matches could be numbered in favor of Alonso. As for Valencia, with £1.0m ITB, this could be a potential FT in the upcoming game weeks. However, uncertainty surrounds the treble So’ton defense. On paper the fixtures looks great; hud/WAT/cry/MNU/sto/NEW/WBA/bha/BUR. Outside of United, these all look to be great options for clean sheets. Realistically, we know that won’t happen. Just look back at GW2 and conceding 2 goals to a 10-man West Ham! Frustration!

While we can quote stats and speculate all we want, we don’t know how it will play out. I do believe my team is good for 80+ points this weekend. The defenders have the possibility to reproduce their GW1 magic with 6 CS, while all the attacking options should return.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

With the inaugural FPL Draft season underway, I am not impressed with the format. It reminds me too much of fantasy (NFL) football, a game I have spent 37 years playing and I am just tired of the format. Yet, being new and staying open-minded I jumped in a community league and was present for the draft. With half the managers on ‘auto draft’ I feel I made out with a strong 15-man squad.

While I won’t bore you with details from the first two game weeks, I scored 56 points and 24 points respectively. A total score of 80 puts me solidly in 3rd place, 15 points off 2nd place and 29 points from the top. This without my 2nd round selection, Coutinho. His Liverpool future is still up in the air, but after management turned down a huge Barca offer, it could be remaining at The Kop.

This week I look to rebound from a poor GW2, with the 5th best weekly score in the league it was time to hit the free agency trail. This week I made 5 transfers, three of which were waiver claims and two FA acquisitions this morning.

Looking to shore up a questionable attack, I was surprised the Chicharito was still available, facing a struggling Newcastle away could mean good things for the Mexican. It cost me Defoe, but the Cherries are struggling. With Pedro now fit, playing last week, I inserted him into the starting XI, pushed Tadic to the bench. The bench is where Rooney resides as well, not a fan, away to Chelsea, but I am finding it difficult to drop him, if I want to play a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 in the future.

The other offensive player that was still a FA, Jese. With just a single match under his belt for Stoke and a goal, I snatched him up for Brady (BUR). Jese, once match fit should be well worth the acquisition.

Defensively I made three changes this week introducing Lössl for Begovic, Hegazi for Danilo and Britos for Daniels. Danilo was a question mark with a favorable fixture away to Bournemouth, but with Mendy nearly fit, rotation could begin. Hegazi has been the surprise defender for WBA this season on the back of a goal and 2 CS. Britos was a bit of a punt this week, but Marco Silva has the Hornets in 4th, playing some good footy. While he won’t be an every week player, I look for a good, solid return in GW3.

Core players I started the season with defensively include Azpilicueta and Alderweireld, as Yoshida was introduced for GW2. Ederson for City remains my main shot stopper but the addition of Lössl could see a rotation based on fixture and SoS.

Joining Jese and Pedro in the midfield this week is Alli. Drafted in the third round, Alli could be in contention for the top scoring midfielder this season, based on his statistics from last season. While I would love to couple him with Coutinho, we must play the waiting game until the window closes on transfers, however I could see him returning to the Liverpool starting XI in September.

Up front with Defoe now gone and the “Little Pea” plays second fiddle to Kun Aguero but feel I have a well rounded starting XI that should challenge for the top spot in my 8-team league. Expectations this weekend are high, as they were with my traditional squad. Defensively, I have the possibility of running the table with clean sheets, but feel Chelsea might concede one to Everton. On the attacking end of the pitch, 36 points isn’t a stretch based on the fixtures this weekend. At any rate I just hope to make up ground and move up in the overall standings.

FPL: Time to Hit

I believe I have seen the forest through the trees this morning, sitting here contemplating any further moves for GW3. Yesterday I wrote about midweek options, concluding the best option was to stand pat. Overnight, I reconsidered taking a -4 point hit, but it wasn’t until this morning I started interpolating the data.

Using the RMT tool at Fantasy Football Scout, I entered my 15-man squad based on my team ID. The results for the next 6 weeks weren’t overly surprising. Gameweek 3 and Gameweek 8 were the highest anticipated scores; 60.89 and 60.14, adding 342.99 points to my overall score, currently 96 points. This would be a weekly average of 54.87 points, well under my goal of 60 points/week.

Having already moved KDB in favor of Christian Eriksen, is there a -4 point hit that would make sense heading into the international break? Left with just two options, wanting to post just a -4 point hit, Antonio Valencia and Vincent Kompany top the list. Is it really wise to part with either defender so early in the season?

Using the Season Ticker, we can see the next 6 weeks for my defenders. Chelsea is also included, as Marcos Alonso would be the next player I introduce. So’ton and Man United both have strong fixtures through Gameweek 8. So’ton does face Man United in Gameweek 6, while United visits Liverpool in Gameweek 8. Man City has under performed to start this term at both ends of the pitch. At £6.0m Kompany would face Liverpool and Chelsea after the international break.

Valencia tops the group but more surprising, Alonso is third best with 22.18 points. Bertrand positioned second has the best schedule in the next 3 weeks, which could account for the high potential of clean sheets. Chelsea could face a stout match against Everton this weekend, but as attacking as Alonso has been, it could be another good weekend for the wing back.

Having already jettisoned KDB on Monday, in order to keep the point hit to -4, Kompany would have to give way. This would also be the fixture that Pep & Co. right the ship and fire on all cylinders and thump Bournemouth away. I feel the attacking returns, are higher with Alonso, especially being on free kicks, while the CS could lie with Kompany and City on the road.

Chelsea’s schedule doesn’t really improve until Gameweek 8, away to Palace. Can we count on attacking returns against the likes of Arsenal and Man City before the Blues schedule looks a bit kinder. There are currently no midfielders at £7.0 I desire in my starting XI. There are some good, short term, budget options that have started well, but not proven the likes of Alonso.

Keeping with my 5-2-3 formation, Alonso would transfer in, becoming a cornerstone in my defense. Kompany would be the defender giving way, which would leave me with Jesus as the only City asset remaining in my squad.

This point hit would leave me with a zero budget ahead of the international break, with a possibility of activating the wild card for GW4. In order to make this move worthwhile, an attacking return would be needed from Alonso, especially if both teams keep a clean sheet.

Thankfully we have one more day to mull over the option of “hitting it early!”