Premier League: GW8 Draft Retrospect

It was a very off week for the draft team, much aligned with how the overall gameweek went for many in the traditional game. A overall score of 26 didn’t help my case, as I dropped down to third place, now 52 points off the top spot and just 5 points out of second place. All is not well with my squad, as I have been struggling to find offensive points with Aguero still sidelined due to injury. Thankfully I do feel I have strengthened my squad through transactions.

Defensively, Alderweireld was the only player to show up and return 7 points, on the back of a CS and a single bonus point. Chelsea losing to Palace saw Azpilicueta and Luiz combine for zero points, giving up an own goal and Luiz picking up a knock headed into GW9. Between the sticks, I thought City would keep it clean against Stoke, but Ederson gave up two goals, while Fabianski (bench) recorded his 4th CS of the season.

With the recent acquisitions of Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting, I look to play a 5-4-1 or a 4-5-1 to take advantage of some good midfielders. Richarlison was my top midfielder, picking up the assist. Alli and Coutinho each picked up a point for a CS and Pedro still not got on track with just a goal and assist on the season.

Up front, I moved Hernandez, but retained Carroll, even though he picked up a red last week. Thankfully he wasn’t starting as he took a -2. Aguero still injured resided on the bench with no intentions of dropping him. So it was Joselu making his second appearance in my squad. Great underlying statistics, but still came up with no attacking returns.

This week I have claims in for 3 new players in Tammy Abraham, John Stones and Wilfried Zaha, all of whom could make a start this week. Luiz is currently flagged with a calf injury, but going 4 at the back would not be a problem, given the players I will hopefully get when waivers is run.

It’s still early in the season and my squad if performing. The top squad is living off the likes of Lukakau, Mhkitaryan and Jones from United, as well as Eriksen. However this team is getting Morata back, which could only strengthen the hold on the top spot.

Premier League: GW8 Retrospect

Now 8 weeks into the FPL season and it continues to be unpredictable. From Man City scoring 29 goals through 8 weeks, including 19 goals in the last 4 games to Harry Kane’s feast or famine approach as his struggles continue at Wembley. Nothing has come easy this season for fantasy managers. However at the conclusion of yesterday’s match I will consider myself fortunate that I finished the week on 50 overall points, which was 9 points more than the weekly average. On the season, I am now at 634k, my highest overall rank to date, riding back to back green arrows.

Much like Harry Kane, I am feast or famine when it comes to defense, setup in a 5-2-3 formation. If my defense doesn’t provide clean sheet points I am going to struggle. Gameweek 8 was one of those week, save Fabianski shutting out Huddersfield 2-0 to record 6 points. Before kickoff I was already sporting zero from Ben Davies, who missed out due to illness. My remaining 4 defenders; Alonso, Cresswell, Kolasinac and Walker totaled 6 points. Was riding high on Walker, transferring him in for GW8 as he provided an assist, which was quickly nullified due to an own goal and City giving up 2 goals.

Davies is now a concern with Danny Rose coming back into fitness, the ECL match could be the final straw for him, as he has performed very well from the start of the season. The concerns don’t end there, as Kolasinac was unimpressive against Watford in their 2-1 loss, while Marcos Alonso, who’s still getting forward and shots on goals has just 1 clean sheets since GW3. Change is on the way defensively, something I didn’t want to do, but Davies is now short listed, pending the Spurs ECL match midweek.

The midfield duo of Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen both returned in GW8. Groß picked up an assist in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Everton. Their fixtures look good through GW12. At this point I am still considering keeping him, but their lack of offensive returns is a bit concerning. Eriksen, not the top midfielder continues to provide at a consistent rate. Finishing the gameweek on 11 points on the back of a goal, now 3 on the season and a CS, he secured 3 bonus points. However, the lack of returns from Kane, home at Wembley is a big concern, as is the Spurs upcoming fixtures; LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. While Palace is highly tempting based on their poor start to the season, I don’t see many goals in the other 3 fixtures. There is some thought to ship the Dane for greener… make that sky bluer patches with a Man City midfielder.

Up front it’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde with Harry Kane, performing like a Ballon d’ Or footballer one week, followed by a League 2, has been the next. Owning him has been nothing short of frustrating. As I described in the beginning, it’s feast or famine and captaining him on a famine week has left many fantasy managers starving for points.

Jesus was the star of the show for the week, hitting for a brace and securing 3 bonus points, he finished on 13 points. I never considered him to don the captain’s armband, but with how easily City is scoring, he might be a candidate if Kane is playing home, at Wembley. The situation with Jesus is muddled further by the impending return of Aguero to the starting XI. Depending on home/away fixture, I would be willing to partner Jesus with Aguero. We have seen Jesus play the full 90 minutes just once. We will wait and see what the ECL match brings today for City.

My third forward, Jaime Vardy failed on Monday, to the point that Craig Shakespeare was fired. Just what that means for Leicester City is yet to be seen. The Foxes responded positively last season when he took the helm replacing Claudio Ranieri. I am considering holding Vardy with swa/EVE/sto to come. At 8.5m, Firmino is the only option I would consider, but have already walked that road earlier in the season and not sure I want to return to it until Sadio Mane is back in the starting XI for Liverpool.

The other option, which might be consider a stronger move would be the watch the fitness of Alvaro Morata and insert him into the squad. It will take a bit more of a shoehorn to fit him in, which would require dropping the consistent, Eriksen for the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting or Richarlison, both of whom were on my short list. Can’t forget Philippe Coutinho, who’s returned 28 points in the last 4 games since his return.

The other option to consider, move from a 5-2-3 formation to a 5-3-2, which is what I had planned to start the season with until a late change saw to go with 3 big forwards instead of two. While not a supporter of Tammy Abraham, as Swansea has a difficult time scoring, his price of 5.7m is hard to ignore and as a third off the bench could be worth it.

With a shortened week and ECL games midweek, it will be interesting to see the rotation of players from teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Man City. Having already missed the price rise this week, I am inclined to hold out until Thursday before making any changes, but I might end up with a -4 or -8 point hit, IF it can be justified. I do believe any Man City players will cover that hit, while providing a return.

FPL: Shell Shocked

It’s Monday morning in the states and I am looking forward to the Leicester City fixture, as I have a vested interested in the match since introducing Janie Vardy to my starting XI. Figured I would hold off one more day before providing my retrospect commentary, but it was weekend that shell shocked MANY fantasy managers. Aside from the failure of “Captain Kane” to deliver, as well as Blankaku, Palace impressed in their 2-1 victory home against Chelsea, while the juggernaut that is Man City rolled to a 7-2 win over Stoke City. The oddity that is the 2017/18 EPL season continues, we it’s not too early to look at what potential moves to make.

This is the first week I am considering taking a -4 point hit to make an additional transfer. It was my intention to limit taking point hits, but I do believe the form that City is in, that -4 could be made up very quickly, as nearly every offensive player is currently in form. Since Saturday I am have considering my options, as I have a plan in place. Eden Hazard blanking in his first full 90 minutes since returning has me concerned, especially with cheaper midfielder options at Man City. It’s just a matter of time before Hazard becomes a mainstay in fantasy squads, but that could hinge on the return of Alvaro Morata to the Blues starting XI. In fact, I was targeting him before I entertained thoughts of starting Hazard.

Of all the positions, midfield has many questions marks. Current starters in my 5-2-3 include Christian Eriksen, who is in form and Pascal Groß, who was brought in this week (in place of Mkhitaryan) as the first of a series of moves. Thankfully be returned 6 points and Huddersfield has a favorable schedule through GW11. However his stay could be short lived with the likes of Wilfried Zaha starting OOP as the lone forward for Palace. His play against Chelsea was crisp and dynamic and left the Blues defense standing still. Palace has new/WHU in their next two fixtures, before an away fixture to Spurs, followed by a nice run of games through GW19.

Eriksen’s status is up in the air, as Spurs continue to look dismay at Wembley (home) against BUR/SWA/BOU, just 3 goals in those games. Spurs hit a challenging group of fixtures, LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. Based on what we have seen from Spurs at home, I don’t expect big returns. Scoreless draws against Liverpool and United, a goal against Palace and another, no return or single goal against the Gunners. Not the best run, even with an in form Eriksen. The Palace game looks tempting, but overall their home form doesn’t warrant keeping him for this 4-game run. I suspect I will still move Eriksen heading into GW9.

Currently I have two Man City players in my starting XI, Kyle Walker, who was transferred in for GW8 and Jesus, who has been my third forward since the start of the year. Walker contributed with an assist against Stoke, but also gave up an own goal, which negated a return. His place in my starting XI is not in jeopardy at this time, but Jesus even hitting a brace on Saturday could be. Sergio Aguero impending return will send one player to the bench, its yet to be seen how Pep will play all these fantasy producing players. Many fantasy owners already brought in Raheem Sterling (15 points) before the price rise, but a strong case can also be made for Leroy Sane (10 points), David Silva (7 points) and Kevin De Bruyne (9 points). A strong run of fixtures and an unrelenting offense means tripling up on City could be a must!

My starting XI for GW9 weighs in the balance, with Jamie Vardy yet to play. At 8.5m he’s returned 5 goals on the season and 3 out of the last 4 games. With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, Vardy’s spot could be up for grabs. With no rotation risk, Morata probably edges out Aguero, as it would be very risky to start both Jesus and Aguero, but it’s not out of the question. Continuing to back Harry Kane has been rewarding, but only when away from Wembley, his numbers at home have been terrible, 7 points in 4 games. These next 4 games could be critical, as I continue to keep the faith that Kane will deliver, home and away, especially when captained, but I have started looking at other options IF the decision to move Kane for 4 weeks becomes reality.

Defensively there are two concerns; Ben Davies and Sead Kolsanic. With Danny Rose nearly fitness, it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Davies, who’s been a very productive fantasy asset with 49 points on the season, bested only by Antonio Valencia (53 points). If it were not for CHE/tot in the next 2 of 3 for United, I would be boasting defensive coverage, but I recently move Phil Jones because of Liverpool and the upcoming unfavorable fixtures. A budget option could be in the works, but with more viable midfielders providing offensive returns, a change in formation could be warranted. I am more inclined to stick with Kolasinac, who didn’t have a great offensive game and really didn’t feature much in the box.

On the week I have a green arrow and hope that is strengthens my GW8 performance as we wait for Leicester hosting WBA later today. Vardy is the piece that could dictate my upcoming moves.

Premier League: GW8 Starting XI

So the international break is over and we look to the horizon for Gameweek 8 with the thrill and excitement it will bring. Coming off a successful GW7, scoring 78 overall points I look to keep the ball rolling, so to speak to improve my position in mini leagues and my overall rank. Heading into the break I had 2 FTs to use, originally I had not planned on burning both of them this week, but after “thinking different” I decided on an alternate plan to what I had been planning during the break.

With questions still surrounding Alvaro Morata, I won’t be able to count on him until we see him hit and back on the pitch. Chelsea needs him as well, thankfully Eden Hazard is ready to play the full 90 minutes and could be leading the attack against a helpless Palace squad. Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget to get a Chelsea asset in this week, so I will miss out on a BIG differential IF Hazard goes off.

Running off a “master plan” I made two moves this week and shipped out Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as United’s fixtures turn, but they still continue to post big numbers with 11 goals in their last 4 games. However the next 3 of 4 games United face tough competition away against liv, hud, TOT, che. In their place I introduce the final piece to my 5-man defense, Kyle Walker. He cost 1.4m more than Jones, which sees Brighton’s Pascal Groß join Eriksen in my 2-man midfielder of a 5-2-3 formation.

Risky? Yes, it is, but I am banking on a slate of clean sheets and potential Walker carries offensively. These two players the first move in a 4 week stretch that will introduce Hazard next week, in order to take advantage of very favorable fixtures. Still Morata’s fitness is key and depending on how Hazard plays will dictate what direction I will go.

With any luck, if things play out to my advantage I will have 2 FTs for GW11. As we know, there are no guarantees in football. Luck plays a key factor, even if we have quality players in our starting XI. I feel a certain confidence in my squad and with the lack of midfielders posting big scores I am fine running a 2-man midfield.

Coming tomorrow FPL Draft Team, after I see if my waiver claims come through.

Premier League: 8 Week Plan

This was supposed to have been the week I activated my wildcard. That happened 2 weeks ago and heading into this break, I am pleased with my squad’s performance. Riding high on 78 points, I have started formulating a plan to cover the next 8 weeks. While injuries play a big role, I have a contingency plan in place if players like Phil Jones or Alvaro Morata are not fully fit.

The best part of the international break was holding my GW7 transfer, giving me 2 FT moving forward. Thankfully I stuck it out with Phil Jones and was rewarded with a 6 point performance. However, as fixtures are turning for Manchester United, it appears Jones could be on the short list. He would be one of two moves in order to strengthen an already strong defense. In the eyes of some, overpriced.

Even the best laid plans, often go awry and fantasy is one of those with so many intricate variables, requiring 11 players to work together for success, but still rely on individual skill. While this 8-week plan is nothing more than a guideline, the only thing that has remained constant has been my penchant to use a 5-2-3 formation since GW1.

As I have stated in past articles on my site, as well as those posted at Fantasy Football Geek, the 5-2-3 has not been the weak link in my overall points of 390 and overall rank of 792k. The failure has occurred at my captaincy selections, seeing my best return last week, 26 points from Harry Kane. The prior 6 week were all single returns; 2, 1, 4, 4, 2, 6 for 19 points.

Through the early part of the season, we are reading and seeing more fantasy mangers moving away from a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-3, considering a 4-3-3. The wing back has been predominate, to start the season, as clean sheets have increased over this time last year. Defenders are seeing double digit returns and returning some good offensive points.

Up front, many premium forwards have been scoring good points; Lukaku, Morata, Kane, just to name a few. The question posed, “how do I fit in 3 heavy hitters up front?” During the preseason I consider two 5-2-3 formations that included Lukaku, Kane and Aguero as my starters with Trippier, Cedric, Bailly, Daniels and Alonso as my starting 5 defenders. Obviously with 35.5m in forwards and another 30.0m in defenders, it was budget midfielders in the starting XI; Willian and Zaha.

This fact alone was a cause for concern, as the team was out of balance and didn’t want to struggle in the midfield. While Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfried Zaha started GW1, their tenure was short lived. City struggled to score in the first few weeks and Zaha went off injured after GW1. Unlike many other personnel decisions this season, I wasted no time bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan in GW2. De Bruyne gave way a week later for Christian Eriksen. Now with both United and Spurs facing a tougher spell, both midfielders appear to be giving way to “budget options: while beefing up defensively and taking a stronger stand on the front line.

With GW8 on the horizon there are dueling thoughts on how to move forward. First idea is to use two budget midfielders, add a fifth big wing back and a third premium forward. The other thought is to spend 1.0m less on the defender, while upgrading to another marauding wing back and run with one premium and one budget midfielder.

Before my weekend leadership camping trip, I spent time working out both strategies. In fact I have put into place an 8-week plan to take my squad through GW16. While I don’t expect to see this plan out, it does give me a guideline to follow of which plans I am currently looking to invest in. Eden Hazard returning to fitness will be interesting to watch, but I would prefer Alvaro Morata, who’s fitness level doesn’t see him ready to return (listed at 50% chance to play). Still owned by 21%, we could see Morata slip another 0.1m before he’s ready for the starting XI.

Defensively, I am looking at strengthening an already strong presence by adding Kyle Walker, as Man City has a nice run of fixtures in the next 3 weeks and 7 out of the next 8 games. However each premium player comes at a cost, which for me is in the midfield. While many fantasy manager continue to promote the tried and true, 3-4-3, some have opted for a 4-3-3, sacrificing that fourth (budget?) midfielder for a stronger defense.

Continuing to promote and use a 5-2-3 formation, my midfield is considerably weaker than those of my fantasy counterparts, but overall I am pleased with how my formation has performed. Unfortunately to free up the necessary budget required to add a Morata/Hazard and Walker (or possibly Otamendi), I would have to sacrifice both Mkhitaryan and Eriksen. This, obviously doesn’t come without risk. Moving both current midfielders could leave me with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Richarlison by GW10 if this decision is finalized.

Eriksen and Spurs have a tough run of games after they GW8 home clash against the Cherries. Dropping Eriksen temporary doesn’t really bother me, as there are other options out there, however I would love to get him back for the home fixture against Palace.

Overall, I have been very patient with my starting XI, as my bench players are all at 4.5. The only one to score more than 2 points all season was Dale Stephens of Brighton, when he picked up an assist and bonus point, so I don’t expect to make any changes in my bench fodder.