PREMIER LEAGUE: GW5 STARTING XI

Gameweek 5 is on the horizon and I have just activated my wild card. Offensively, my starting XI is strong with the likes of Eriksen and Mkhitaryan in the midfield and the “triple threat” up front with Kane, Jesus and Firmino. Defensively it’s been a change since the decision was made to start the season with a #5mandefence in a 5-2-3 formation. Through 4 weeks it’s been a good start, now to figure out how this damn captaincy thing works.

There were also some big changes made to the draft squad this week, attempting to capitalize on good underlying statistics and players who were yet to be picked up off the waiver wire or free agency. Mendy, really still available?

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

With the wild card activated I overhauled my 5 man defense. The big changes were dropping all 3 So’ton and 2 Man United defenders, opting to go with prominent wing backs in order to maximize my attack. My defense is now led my Marcos Alonso, who suddenly anchors the back five. However, it’s been the play of Ben Davies that has seen him rise in price as manager scrabble to bring him into their squads.

Elsewhere in my defense, I was planning on Sead Kolasinac, but with a tough fixture against Chelsea this week, I decided to bring Ben Mendy into my sqaud instead. At £0.5m more, I somewhat limited myself. After the addition of Aaron Cresswell, it was a punt on Liverpool youngster, Trent Alexander-Arnold at £4.5m.  I am hoping to get 2 games out of TAA before I turn for Harry Maguire at £5.0 to replace him. Longer term plans have Kolasinac slotting in.

The midfield and forward line remain unchanged. With Paul Pogba now injured, it’s up to Henrikh Mkhitaryan to run the Red Devil’s offense. Hopefully he can capitalize on a misguided Everton defense that hasn’t looked all that impressive through 4 weeks. Eriksen’s up against Swansea City at Wembley. No concerns with these two. One change that won’t effect my starters, I dropped Jack Colback in favor of Jack Cork, possibly with a £0.1m rise in his future.

Up front, I am very happy to see all this Twitter and pod talk about going big up front, which I have done since GW1. My triple threat features Harry Kane, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus. To think where I would be if I had gone with the majority and started Lukaku in place of Kane, known for his August hoodoo voodoo. Moving forward I think these three starters and don’t have much interest in bringing in Lukaku or Morata at this time.

I have gone with my head this week, not talking myself into Firmino again and have captained Harry Kane this week against Swansea. We will see how this starting XI pay off. I am expecting big returns from the defense. Hopefully the activation of the wild card will pay dividends.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

The draft team replace status quo last weekend in the 4th spot, but it was a poor week and needed some freshening up. I put in 6 waiver claims and was rewarded with 6 new players, of which 5 will feature in the starting XI this weekend.

Up front I had seen enough of Wayne Rooney and opted to bring in Christian Benteke. This move on the heels of Palace bringing in Roy Hodgson, hopefully it kick starts their offense. To partner with him up front, I added Joselu of Newcastle. His underlying stats, while probably unsustainable are strong and home to Stoke City could give him prime chance to pick up some good points. Aguero was pulled at the hour mark in their Thursday ECL match, so he could feature away to Watford this weekend. Might be a bit tougher than anticipated, as Marco Silva has the Hornets playing some good defense at home.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the red card to Sadio Mane last weekend will give Philippe Coutinho his first start of the season. Drafted #2 overall, I have been struggling in the midfield, but now he’s got a chance to shine home to Burnley. He is partnered with Dele Alli home to Swansea this weekend.

Defensively Azpilicueta and Alderweireld are the only starters to retain their positions, yet last week Toby didn’t feature in my starting XI, but reappears for the GW5 match home to Swansea. Charlie Daniels reappears since his first departure after GW2. Bournemouth still not fairing well, but Daniels is attack minded and the Cherries are home to Brighton. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Mendy both make their debut in the starting XI and both have favorable fixtures, home to Burnley and away to Watford respectively. Alexander-Arnold might not be a full time starter and if he doesn’t start I have Pedro lined up to replace him. This would mean I will be looking for another defender, possibly in the direction of Newcastle.

Hopefully these major changes in both fantasy squads pay off this weekend. I like the make up and feel of them, but would much rather all the luck in this word to put together a smashing weekend. Best of luck to all fantasy managers!

Premier League: GW4 Draft Retrospect

The FPL Draft game just isn’t doing it for me. Chalk it up to 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, but I find this version of the game boring. No other way to explain it. After 4 weeks I am 4th in my league on 145 points overall. For GW4 is was a score of just 30 points, which meant I didn’t lose my current ranking, but 5th place is creeping close, now just 6 points back.

Prior to the start of the weekend games, I made two waiver moves in order to better my starting XI. In hindsight, the moves only accounted for 3 points. With Britos on a red card, I picked up Phil Jones. Unfortunately United couldn’t keep a CS and drew with Stoke City, 2-2. The other move was dropping Dusan Tadic in favor of Aaron Mooy, who didn’t return away to West Ham.

Defensively I was led by “Dave” aka Azpilicueta, backed by his second assist scored 7 points to lead all defensive players. Hegazi, Jones and Lössl accounted for an additional 2 points. Needless to say, Hegazi is now on a short list to move out. Why I didn’t play Alderweireld against Everton, I am not quite sure.

Still holding onto Coutinho, who should see his first EPL start in GW5. Midfield is where I am struggling, as it’s been a rotation of players through to find someone who may hit, based on fixtures. Jesé, Pedro and the aforementioned Mooy accounted for 6 points, with none of them returning. Alli gets a small bump as Spurs kept a clean sheet. Of the 5 midfielders, he is the one I expect to perform on a regular basis.

Up front, it’s been a challenge with Agüero, Hernandez and Rooney. A pair of goals for the later two, but they haven’t done anything lately. Currently, I am on the verge of moving Rooney, but Everton does trail to Old Trafford, as Wayne faces his old team. Revenge factor? Hernandez hasn’t looked good, then again neither have the Hammers. But who in the free agency pool is better? Not much, but I’ve been considering a move.

That leaves Kun Agüero to pull his weight, scoring 9 points on the back of a goal and assist. However those are his first points since GW1. It also appears Pep favors Jesus as well. I still expect good numbers from Kun the rest of the season, so he will remain a starter.

For the week I have already submitted 5 waiver claims in order to strengthen my team and potentially take a shot at 3rd place this weekend.

City is coming into form with some good fixtures. While I don’t expect much defensively from Pep’s boys, I will be looking for offensive returns from Mendy. Daniels would make his second appearance in my squad, as I had him from through GW3, opting for Britos that week. Mooy or Groß? Call this a knee jerk reaction to his 18 point haul in GW4. Brighton does have some favorable games. Ederson’s injury is a concern, but it will be Lössl making way (the graphic isn’t correct).

 

PREMIER LEAGUE: GW4 STARTING XI

It’s been an extra week off for fantasy manager as we head towards GW4 and a return of the EPL! International matches are now in the books and there were some gutty performances throughout the world. This break has provided time to reflect and strategize the coming game weeks. My current plan is to activate the wildcard for GW6, giving me 2 more weeks to run with a 5-2-3, potentially banking 2 FT and hoping for a £0.2, team value increase.

TRADITIONAL FPL STARTING XI

Opting not to activate my wildcard, I had one FT available for any changes to my 15-man squad. Initially I had planned on introducing Marcos Alonso, but failure to see any price increases over the break has me stuck £0.1m short of his £7.1m price tag. It’s my belief that Alonso is “essential” to fantasy squads, yet many mangers are balking at his high price.

While Newcastle and Brighton seemingly have better defensive schedules than Man United, the fact United has yet to concede through 3 games, saw me bring in Phil Jones. His inclusion this week is merely temporary as we play out the next few weeks, in anticipation of my wildcard. United will face sto/EVE/sou and partner with Valencia, as I double up. It also means I maintain 3 So’ton defenders (home to Watford), in search of a third CS in the first 4 games. Foster will earn his 4th start, away to BHA. I feel confident with this group of defenders the next 2 weeks.

Mhkitaryan transferred in GW2, while Eriksen was introduced for GW3. This will be the first week I have maintained the same 2-man midfield for consecutive games. Eriksen was absolutely nasty during the international break, 2 goals/3 assists over two games. This bodes well as Spurs are away to Everton and with September here, means Kane should benefit from Eriksen’s blistering form.

With 10 goals on the season to start the season, Man United has been the hottest team on the pitch, thanks in part to 5 assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He and the Red Devils will look to continue their torrid pace away to Stoke City. Based on the Sqwaka data, Mkhitaryan bests teammate, Paul Pogba in assists (1.67/gm), key passes (3/gm) and chances created (4.67/gm). Yet, it’s Pogba who’s got the better shooting statistics.

Entering GW4 I have some concern up front, while I still have faith in Firmino, Jesus and most notably Kane, the first two players are flying back late from international duty in South America. As hot as Firmino has been, I don’t see Klopp starting Sturrdge in his place. As for Pep, who the hell knows, as both Jesus and Aguero have long trips in order to represent City this weekend against Liverpool.

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. To date, it’s been a string of no returns and 2 yellow cards, but can’t deny the 22 attempts he’s had in 3 weeks.

FPL DRAFT STARTING XI

Moving to the draft game, I still spend very little time and maintain little interest in this style of fantasy game for football. Currently I head into GW4 with an unchanged 15-man squad. I have put a waiver wire claims in for Serge Aurier and Phil Jones, who would replace Miguel Britos. The squad still appears to be finding their feet as their combined performances hasn’t been overly impressive to date. Teams like West Ham and Everton will see their fixtures improve, while there could be some competition defensively for So’ton and WBA assets.

I change the formation for GW4 from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3. Britos currently suspended is on the bench giving me a back four comprised of Azpilicueta, Alderweireld, Yoshida and Hegazi. All have favorable fixturs with So’ton and WBA carrying he best chance at clean sheets. As poor as West Ham has been, I tap Lossl to keep a CS and record some save bonus points for Huddersfield.

With Stoke City home to United, I make a questionable decision to bench Jese in favor of going with 3 forwards for the game week. Jese is still trying to find his fitness, but more importantly United hasn’t conceded to date. This leaves me with Tadic, Alli (middle finger and all) and Pedro to be the creative influence in the middle of the pitch. Still considering a play for Mooy in place of Tadic, even with So’ton in a great run of fixtures, Mooy appears to be more instrumental, carrying better form into GW4.

The wildcard I still have is Phillipe Coutinho. Just what will he do for Liverpool is anyone’s guess. Rumor has it he doesn’t want to feature in the ECL for the Reds as he looks ahead to possible inclusion for another team if he leaves in the January transfer window. The Liverpool midfield is already crowded, but they could benefit from his inclusion in the starting XI. He’s listed at a ‘75% chance of playing – lack of fitness’ but featured for Brazil during the break. Go figure! Currently, he’s on the bench for the 4th consecutive week.

Up front, Aguero is tapped to start, going back to a 3-man front line with Hernandez and Rooney. Vokes and Okazaki present two interesting options, but fixture for both Everton and West Ham are improving, which has me holding both players. Rooney and Hernandez have both found the net twice and could feature this weekend as well.

Sitting in 4th, 32 points from the leader and a red arrow from last week, I will look to turn things around before we look to make further changes in the starting lineup.

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.

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.