Premier League: GW6 Draft Retrospect

It was the best week on record this season for my draft squad, overall points of 59, which pushed me up the table to second place. It could take some time, as I now sit 31 points behind the leader, but we have much football to play.

The return of Coutinho to my squad has been welcomed, with 5 weeks of no returns, he got on the board with 13 points. Dele Alli returned 2 assists after going scoreless the past 3 games. New boy, Matt Ritchie was quiet and didn’t return. It was Pedro, on my bench who struck for 8 points, which could potentially push him up the ladder to start in GW7 against City.

Up front, Kun Aguero got it done with a goal and assist for 11 points. Joselu, who’s got great underlying stats, still couldn’t finish. An injury to Benteke will have been scrounging the wire for a #3 forward. My 5-2-3 is in jeopardy with injuries an lack of consistency up front.

Defensively it was Azpilicueta and Stone providing 20 points. “Dave” returned 2 assists for Chelsea, while Stones picked up a CS. Unfortunately, Mendy left after 26 minutes with a knee injury, his stats is unknown. After back to back returns, Lascelles and Newcastle was quiet.

Mendy is the main concern and I’ve already gone to the wire to replace him. I am aiming for Wesley Hoedt at So’ton, as the Saints still have some solid fixtures through GW11. Lascelles might be shortlisted as they face Liverpool, which means I would look towards Mustafi, with hosting Brighton this weekend.

Premier League: GW6 Retrospect

I have been avoiding any fantasy football sites and Twitter feeds this week. Frustrated and disgust has set in and we are just 6 weeks into the EPL season. The wild card has been more of a vex than revelation as we finalize plans for Gameweek 7. Thankfully, we can look ahead, but for now we look back at what COULD have been for GW6.

Gameweek 6 is being viewed as a failure or week that could have been. Been better. Been more productive. Jesus was started, but Pep rested him. Alonso hit with a yellow card saw just 56 minutes on the pitch. Kane hit for a brace, which was great, but I decided to captain Vardy. Speaking of Jamie, he missed a penalty. This was also the first week I reorganized the bench order and moved Dale Stephens to the second substitute, as he scored 6 points. Instead, Jack Cork came in for Jesus. *sigh*

Final score for GW6 was 51 points, 9 off the average of 60 points, which saw another red arrow, for the second consecutive week. I dropped 500k spots, now at 1.78k. The season continues with its twists and turns. I don’t believe anything is settled at this point. One thing remains consistent, I am showing more patience than I have the last few years. However, I probably should have kept Kane as my captain instead of flip flopping through my forwards, looking for an differential.

Defensively, I am pleased with my #5mandefence, but it was a rough one as Davies, Cresswell and Alonso accounted for just 2 points. I expected a low score from Cresswell, but Davies and Alonso were unexpected. Kolasinac and Jones responded well, each with a clean sheet, while Jones picked up 3 bonus points. Last week it was Fabianski’s time to shine against Spurs, but failed against Watford with just a single point.

At this point in time I don’t feel bad running out two starting midfielders, as many attacking returns are coming from the forwards. Eriksen picked up his second goal of the season, as well as 2 bonus points for 9 points. Mkhitaryan and the Red Devils could only slot one goal home against a stingy So’ton defense, unfortunately he didn’t feature any attacking returns.

Up front, the benching of Jesus was somewhat expected, but I opted to move Firmino for Vardy and with no other stong contender in the midfield, I was left with Jesus as the third starter. Kane continues to feature well on the road, hitting for his second brace in 3 games, finishing with 13 points. Vardy was brought in because of his prolific scoring the past 2 seasons against Liverpool (5 goals). The missed penalty would have been his third brace against the Reds, but it was saved. Couple that with a yellow card and his return was just 6 points with the captain’s armband.

Looking ahead, I feel my luck has to change. Every move I seem to make is counterproductive. Strangely enough I am still running the big wing backs, as well as three big forwards. The big forward line seems to be all the rage now.

I have two problems to address. Phil Jones is dinged, as well as Vardy (75% chance). While Jones has been solid for United this season, I might have to move him if he isn’t going to play. On the short list is Harry Maguire, sitting on 27 points for the season and the Foxes face Bournemouth.

While I hadn’t really considered Morata, he does have one thing going for him. He has no competition up front, unlike Jesus. That would be the sole reason to make the move to the Chelsea front man, as own Jesus and seeing him benched (like Kun was in GW3) with no appearance is cause for concern. With Chelsea facing City this weekend, I can’t see bringing him in before the international break.

Premier League: GW6 Starting XI

It’s Friday morning in the U.S. and as of now, my fantasy lineup continues unchanged, as I have not used my FT for the upcoming game week. This after 534k managers have opted to bring Kun Aguero in bless him with the captain’s armband after a hat trick against Watford last week. Honestly, it’s been a fleeting thought to follow the herd, but I am against turning on Kane. Sure, he has returned in only 1 of the first 5 game weeks, but the underlying numbers are just to strong. So for now, I will continue to keep him in my starting XI and most likely give him the armband…again!

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

Continuing up front, with Kane a mainstay in my attack, the forward line is unchanged, with Firmino and Jesus rounding out my front three. The option for the FT, which I have been considering is bringing in Jamie Vardy for Robert Firmino. Missing Sadio Mane, as meant that Firmino was playing out wide and at times deeper to help create. Liverpool face Leicester this weekend and Vardy was a “super sub” for me last in, when Lukaku was failing to score on the road.

This week it could be Super Jamie to the rescue again, as he has posted some good numbers against Liverpool the past few seasons. Since 2016, in three games against ‘Pool Vardy has netted 5 times! Indications are strong he could continue this trend, as 4 of 5 goals were home fixtures. If his services are required, he would earn the captain’s armband without hesitation. Kane has continued to be a frustrating selection. At 10.8 % TSB, Vardy could be considered a differential to forwards that include Kane, Lukaku and Aguero.

The midfielder continue to feature Christian Eriksen and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Eriksen tasted his second no return weekend, last week, as Swansea frustrated Spurs, but he’s still the midfielder in form when compared to Alli. With Paul Pogba still sidelined due to injury, Mkhitaryan should feature as the attacking midfielder. He posted 9 points last week on 1 goal/1 assist. Against So’ton, I expect Man United to score early, then sit back and put the Saints away late, which has been a reoccurring theme this season.

After last weekend’s wild card activation, I look to build on a strong #5mandefence built around Alonso, Kolasinac and Davies. Many mangers lost out on Davies last week after his 14 point haul in GW4, as he failed to play last weekend. Against West Ham, he could see returns from both ends of the pitch. Speaking of West Ham, I was glad to welcome back Aaron Cresswell to the fold, as he was mainstay in my defense in 2015/2016 and 2014/2015. Tough fixture against Spurs, so something will have to give. Finally, the only hold over not to be given the axe, Phil Jones. United should have no problem defensively against So’ton, who can’t seem to muster a goal.

Between the pipes, I lost points last week after bring Lukasz Fabianski in, but no one could have predicted him to outperform Rob Elliot or Ben Foster, who I dropped. This week I turn to the Swansea stopper again, home to Watford.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

Unlike the traditional team, the draft team has continually undergone change since GW1, averaging 4 transactions a week! This week I look to maintain a similar strategy, running a 5-3-2 formation out, with 4 City players in the starting XI. For the week I brought in Matt Ritchie and John Stones to strengthen the 15-man squad.

Defensively, I could be set up for 5 clean sheets between Azpilicueta, Alderweireld, Lascelles and the City duo of Stones and Mendy. How these guys were still available was beyond me. Ederson gets the call in goal over Fabianski, which means I could be out a few bonus or save points, but City has the better chance at a CS.

Starting in the midfield, Alli and Coutinho, along with new boy Ritchie. Newcastle faces Brighton and Ritchie has been a hot commodity the past few weeks, so his prospects look promising. Pedro and Jese fill the bench.

Up front, I lucked out with Aguero, captializing on his big points hail last week. This week Joselu is introducded in favor of Hernandez. Much like Kane, Joslu tops that “goal imminent” table. hopefully this is the week he adds to his tally.

The 15-man squad is coming together nicely, but need a big haul in order to climb the table in front of me. While I don’t want to look ahead too far, I am already planning moves for next week.

FPL: Captain Conundrum

As Gameweek 6 comes into view, I take a look back at what has transpired the first 5 weeks in the EPL. For me, it’s been a strong start to the FPL season, while my overall score doesn’t tell the entire story, I carry a confident feeling into this weekend’s action. It was decided early in pre-season I was going to play an unconventional formation, after reading Firetog’s article, In Search Of The Best Fantasy Football Formation. This was the point in time I decided I was going to start a 5-man defense to begin the season.

As summer rolled on, with the transfer window in full effect I began concentrating my efforts on a 5-3-2 formation, with two options. Neither of those options materialized, as 2 hours before the start of the EPL season I made a rash decision to move Lukaku out, scrap the 5-3-2 and changed my strategy with a 5-2-3, which included Kane, Firmino and Jesus up front.

While we know the outcome of not owning Lukaku and the August woes of Kane this article brings into focus the struggles with the captain’s armband. Being the highest owned player in the FPL, it was no surprise that Lukaku topped the captaincy charts weekly. While many have moved Kane in favor of more “in form” forwards, I have continued to show support for him, based on the outstanding underlying statistics.

Thanks in part to FPL Statistico, the numbers don’t lie. There is no way to play with the numbers to shed a positive light on a poor captaincy situation. I’ve tried and failed every time I look for a silver lining when I prepare to don the captain’s armband. Through 5 weeks here are the players I have captained:

  1. Harry Kane (away NEW)
  2. Kevin De Bruyne (home EVE)
  3. Harry Kane (home BUR)
  4. Roberto Firmino (away MCI)
  5. Harry Kane (home SWA)

Without knowing any other information, the only captain that seems out of place is the armband on Firmino, away to City in GW4. All the rest would appear to be quality captain selections. Based more on how players like KDB and Kane finished the 2016/2017 season, there was little to discourage fantasy managers from tapping these players not have success early this season.

I can hear many already saying, “yeah, but Harry Kane can’t score in August.” Sure, it’s been documented that Kane hasn’t performed well in August. Couple that with the fact that Spurs are playing their home fixtures at the larger, Wembley Stadium. I chose to ignore both factors and include Kane in my starting XI. That’s an 18 point difference from Lukaku (non-captained points). Mistake? Sure, but that’s and article for another time.

Captain points have been tough to come by to date. Through 5 gameweeks my selections, as well as that by many other fantasy mangers, has yielded just 18 points (that’s a paltry 3.6 points/armband) or 6.9% of my overall score. The vice-captain selections haven’t fared much better, just 2 points better. Looking at each individual gameweek doesn’t reveal much when it comes to the “better” options when deciding on the armband.

The first week of the season it came down to four options, KDB, Jesus, Firmino or Kane. In my GW1 Retrospect I wrote, “To start this season, the armband was on Lukaku before I transferred him, handing the captaincy to Kane, who was listed in many polls as the second choice option. If I would have held steady and not moved Lukaku I would have finished 25 point higher.” Yet, moving Lukaku saw me change the formation from a 5-3-2 to a 5-2-3 in order to spend bigger on defense. Spurs were facing newly promoted Newcastle, the match up appeared favorable, unfortunately Kane was yellow carded, but played 90 minutes and scored just 2 points.

The following week, I moved from Kane as Spurs were home to Chelsea and didn’t like the match up. While Man City didn’t have a very impressive 2-0 win over Brighton to open then season, the captain selection came down to a shorter list; KDB, Jesus and Firmino. Backing City, I selection KDB. GW2 Retrospect read, “Some reports of KDB playing deeper, allowing David Silva a more advanced position could shed a negative light on his potential, especially at £10.0. Returns of 3 and 4 (as I captained him in GW2) doesn’t bode well with the likes of Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Eriksen and Alli outplaying KDB at a cheaper price.” De Bruyne did not return wearing the armband and finished the game with 4 points.

Gameweek 3 had the makings of  Spurs explosion, home to Burnley, who struggled on the road last season. In the Starting XI article I wrote, “Heading into GW3, with a Spurs double (Eriksen & Kane) home to Burnley, I feel confident big returns are possible from Wembley.” At this point, even with the August struggles I continue to back Kane wearing the armband. With City not posting big scores and Liverpool home to Arsenal, I played the favorable match up. The retrospect reflected, “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.” Yet, here we are heading into Gameweek 5 and I am struggling to move away from Kane. Firmino surprisingly posted 12 points this gameweek.

After failing to return two of the first three weeks, I changed gears and handed Robert Firmino the armband away to City. Chalk this up to stupidity, as I talked myself into Firmino and out of Kane as the week progressed. Thanks Twitter! No Vincent Kompany meant a weaker City defense, but that wasn’t the case, as City spanked a 10-man Liverpool, 5-0. Firmino left the game on 66 minutes and didn’t return. This, the first weekend in September and Kane broke duck for the brace! Too bad he was my vice-captain, as this should have been my first big haul with him wearing the arm band. Jesus also posted a brace, but I didn’t really consider him with, as I favored Liverpool to defeat City.

Being the glutton for punishment I am, I moved back to Kane for GW5, home to Swansea. Again, statistics in favor of Harry, underlying stats excellent, he couldn’t finish and the match ended in a scoreless draw. After GW4, I wrote, “Kane appears to have the August “Hoodoo Voodoo” behind him and will look to get on track to his third Golden Boot this weekend, away to Everton. Backed by ungodly statistics, I continue to have faith in Kane putting up big numbers.” Firmino and Jesus again, were considerations but I am mesmerized by Kane. Much like last year with Sanchez, I did not want to get caught moving Kane in and out of my lineup, so I decided to hold steady and keep the armband on him. For the week, it was another no return, just 4 points.

Bad luck? Bad decision making? Probably a bit of both. Interesting to consult FPL Statistico for some data. If I always captained my vice-captain, I would have score 40 points (an improvement of 22 points). After 5 weeks I would be on 273 points if I had captained the highest scorer between the captain and vice-captain. However if I captained the player with the most points each week on my squad, I would be on 310 overall points, which would put me in the top 58k.

Luck continues to play a factor in fantasy football. Not all managers get a sniff during the season, but a bit of luck can go a long way in your fantasy football season.

Premier League GW5 Draft Retrospect

While I was unavailable all weekend, it appeared my starting XI were off to a great start on Saturday behind the foot of Sergio Aguero who fired home 3 goals against Watford. However “it got complicated” on Sunday and while I had a fair score, when compared to the other 7 teams in my league, I struggled to gain any ground on those above me. Prior to the start of GW5 I made 6 moves bringing in new talent in hopes of trying to gain an advantage to close the gap on the top three teams.

Gameweek 5 wasn’t too kind, as I introduce 6 new players to my 15-man squad, 5 of which were inserted to the starting XI. The only exceptiong being Fabianski, because of his match up away to Spurs. Little did any fantasy manager know he would shutout Spurs and gain 11 points on the day! It was my hope that bringing new players in would put me in a better situation it chip away at the leaders this week. In fact, I did gain all the three managers above me in the standing, which sees me 41 points behind the top spot.

On the day, nearly half my points came from Kun Aguero, scoring 20 points on his 3 goals/1 assist game. Unfortunately, his new strike partners failed to return, as I brought in Christian Benteke and Joselu. The Benteke move was more to prevent another manager from picking him up, while Joselu, like Kane had some great underlying stats.

In the midfielder, Philippe Coutinho made his first start on the season, lasting 78 minutes but not returning. From what I heard, his position was a bit deeper than where we saw him last season. He partnered with Dele Alli, who gained one addition point because of the clean sheet against Swans. Jese and Mooy, on the bench were both ineffective on the weekend. Pedro left at halftime, as he picked up knock, scoring just a single points. Change could be necessary in the upcoming week.

Much like my traditional FPL team I have leaned towards a #5mandefence for much of the season. This week I brought in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Charlie Daniels and Ben Mendy, all as starters. TAA was a punt against Burnley, but was left with no return as the game finished 1-1. Daniels was brought in for Yoshida (8 points in GW5) against Brighton looked promising, but the attacking defender was left with no return, leaving me in a -6 deficit. Hegazi out for Mendy in was a wash, as both finished with clean sheets (6 points). Elliot started the week between the sticks and even with a save bonus, he scored just 3 points.

Overall I have scored 202 points, with 57 for the current game week. As noted I did gain points on all the managers above me, but still have some transactions forthcoming in order to strengthen my team. As of today I have put in two waiver claims.  The first claim is to move TAA in favor of John Stones, doubling up on Man City defenders. Ritchie is still on the free agency list and has 4 assists in the last 3 games and and Brighton in GW6. If no other manager claims him, I will bring in and move Mooy out. Pascal Groß is currently the highest (32 points) midfielder on the free agency list.