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.

 

Premier League: GW5 Retrospect

Someone please tell me what the hell happened this weekend? Away at adult leadership training (Wood Badge), I did not have an opportunity to watch a snippet of football this weekend, but it can be summed up with one name. Harry Kane. *shakes head* The frustration continues this season as Harry fired yet ANOTHER blank against bottom dwellers, Swansea City, who ended with a 0-0 draw at Wembley. I am beginning to this stadium is NOT a favorable home for Spurs.

With wildcard activated late during the week, I transformed my defense into 4 wing backs, while doubling up on Manchester United. It felt as if my luck with a So’ton treble defensively was running dry and the addition of Hoedt and fit Van Dijk worried me. While I continue to hold faith in Man United, four new defenders were brought in.

We talk about the “knee jerk reaction” in fantasy football as it relates to managers pulling the trigger on a hot player, in order to gain a price rise or activating their wild card because their squad is under performing. In hindsight, the activate of my wild card was the epitome of “knee jerk” as I should have stayed the course, which would have resulted in 21 additional points! While not unhappy with my defenders, I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling about So’ton, even though their strength of schedule said otherwise.

Defensively my new prospects were exciting; Marcos Alonso, Adam Cresswell, Sead Kolasinac and Ben Davies. These defenders partnered with Phil Jones, the only player I retained due to budget constraints. The biggest loser of the weekend, after seeing an early price rise was Ben Davies, who missed out on the Wembley fixture against Swansea. I am sure the managers who transferred him were left empty and disappointed by his omission. This would be the second time, a defender was removed from my 5-2-3 and the end result was a 4-3-3.

While I have no complaints defensively as Alonso (6 pts.), Cresswell (9 pts.), Kolasinac (5 pts.) and Jones (6 pts) combined for 26 points, each recording a CS. Couldn’t ask for me. Unfortunately the 3 So’ton defenders and Valencia accounted for an additional 21 points! Davies coming off his 14 points explosion in GW4 found him benched for zero points. So the wild card failed me immediately, but still feel good about the defenders I am starting.

A silver lining, I did pick up Lukasz Fabianski with little intention on playing him vs Spurs, to which he responded with 11 points, outperforming Rob Elliot’s 3 point performance. Last 3 weeks, my bench keeper has outscored my start 26-7!

With Davies benched, Dale Stephens slotted in at midfield along side Eriksen and Mkhitaryan. Stephens returned an expected 2 points, while Eriksen just 3 points, in the 0-0 draw. It was Mkhitaryan, who scored and assisted for 9 points in the 4-0 United victory over Everton. No concerns are on my mind, as I like my midfield duo. Three more favorable fixtures for Spurs, with GW6 and GW7 away from Wembley.

Up front I continue to see Kane striking nothing! Nada! Coming off a brace against Everton, it appeared he was one of the best selections in GW5 facing a weak Swans side that had conceded big chances. Unfortunately fantasy managers were frustrated and foiled against by Kane. Now I contemplate what the next move with Kane is.

It’s becoming hit and miss with the forwards this season. One game you feel you have the right combination, the next week it appears all wrong. Kane wasn’t the only one to blank, Firmino did too! Jesus saw just 64 minutes, but was able to bag one goal (to that of Aguero’s hat trick) in a 6-0 drubbing of Watford.

On the day I finished 3 points off the weekend average of 58, scoring 55 points and receiving all red arrows, as I dropped 300k down to 1.2m in the overall rankings. The only green arrow I recorded was in the Always Cheating Patreon H2H League, where I move to 4-0-1 on the season, good for second (13th overall) place behind two 5-0-0 teams.

So where do I go from here? Captaincy points continue to he my Achilles heal, as I’ve record just 18 points over 5 weeks, a lowly average of 3.6 points from the armband. Kane doesn’t appear to be doing it at home, but has just a single away fixture (13 points) to make me believe he is still “in form” as a viable captain. Lukaku is still off my radar, but has returned a goal in 4 out of 5 games to start the season. Reminds me of the consistency of Diego Costa last season.

Firmino has 2 weeks to further prove himself, as I plan on moving him when Liverpool plays United and Spurs starting GW8. Jesus has been the most consistent of my forwards, 4 goals in the last 3 games, but with Aguero doing the hat this past weekend, puts some speculation that Pep could look to the Argentine in the near future as a lone forward.

Fixtures are turning for Chelsea after their 0-0 draw against the Gunners, they will face sto/MCI/cry/WAT/bou in the next 5 fixtures, as Morata now comes into the radar. With Kane’s price tag, the consistency of Lukaku would be welcomed, the only concern when Kane goes off, just how big will he go? Like last year, would you rather run with or without Sanchez, knowing his explosiveness? Kane is a loaded gun ready to go off, but when will he start hitting?

It will be a few days, but I honestly have no idea what to do with my forwards. I’ll think on it and read a few pundits and FPL Twitter feeds before I make any sort of change.

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: Wildcard Revelation

The last 2 seasons I have burned my wild card early, after the first international break. While I did see an immediate return last year, the end result was devastating, recording red arrows the next 15 of 20 game weeks. By GW27, when the bleed stopped and I turned my season around, it was too late. I was unable to recover from a 1.5m overall ranking and salvage an acceptable season. However, it was a learning experience and I would like to believe the perseverance paid off and has made me a better manager moving forward.

This season I have made it a week further than I have the last 2 years as I now contemplate activating the first of two wildcards. Before GW1, the plan was to hold the transfer until after the second international break. I believe fantasy managers must remain flexible to all conditions and factors as we plan our strategies. For me, I currently have a plan in place through GW11. I don’t expect to hold true to the plan, but it gives me an idea as to what I would like to do.

On the drive into work today I caught the tail end of the FFScoutCast Ep 232, which I had started yesterday. As expected, the banter was top shelf with Mark continuing to get a rubbing from Granville, using his wild card on some questionable players. Take a listen if you haven’t. What caught my interest was some comments from AZ regarding, considering going 5 defenders instead of spending on budget midfielders who aren’t producing. Names he brought up; Alonso, Kolasinac, Davies and Mendy.

This comment has me reconsidering moving the wild card up and playing it this week to bring in more wing back options in to further my attack. While So’ton still have strong fixtures, their fantasy assets are a mess. I’ve been lucky in 2 weeks to get the triple CS from Bertrand, Cedric and Yoshida. While I haven’t been disappointed with Valencia (3 CS), his attacking returns haven’t really materialized to date. Last week Jones was brought in for the injured Kompany, but his tenure may be short lived.

So just what I am considering? It seems all the rage is being able to go big up front with 3 premium priced forwards. This is how it feels, as fantasy managers attempt to get a combination of Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Jesus, Morata, Lacazette, Morata and Firmino up front, while remaining strong in the midfield, but knowing you will run budget midfielders who need to start, as well as budget defenders, potentially in a rotational capacity.

Starting the season with Kane, Jesus and Firmino, I feel confident these forwards will return on a regular basis. These three forward account for £31.3m. Based on my starting two midfielders, many will say I lack a potent attack with Eriksen and Mkhitaryan starting in my 5-2-3. However both are healthy and both have started the season very well. The other three midfielders  (Carroll, Stephens, Chalobah) are starters, but I don’t plan on using them if injury should occur.

The activation of the wild card will be tailored to my defensive needs, as this is where I have allocated nearly £29.0m! While the So’ton treble has been rewarding and their fixtures appear worthwhile, it’s time to move away and provide more attacking opportunities.

Current defensive set up feature So’ton and Man United, but So’ton has the better fixtures moving forward, as they play each other at Old Trafford in GW6. The addition of Wesley Hoedt and resigning of Virgil Van Dijk adds a question mark on the playing time of Yoshida, while Bertrand and Cedric should continue to be nailed on as starters. Yet, the Saints offensive threat has been terrible through 4 weeks. Conversely, United have scored 12 goals, while conceding 2 goals, but Valencia has failed to see attacking returns. With their fixtures getting a bit challenging, it’s time to look elsewhere.

If I do activate my wild card ahead of GW5, it will be focus around upgrading the defenders to wing backs. Alonso and Kolasinac were in my pre-season plans, but both were left out of the 15-man squad for GW1. Davies has been the hottest commodity defensively since Alonso’s brace in GW2 but priced much more favorably at £5.7m. Kolasinac would be brought in for his attacking prowess and possibly a few clean sheets if they can get their starting XI squared away. The final 2 spots could be a number of offensive players; Maguire, Jones, Cresswell, Dawson, McAuley, Cedric, Daniels. My plans will include Cresswell, as fixtures turn for West Ham, as I retain Jones for at least 2 more weeks before I look to move him for someone like Maguire.

So my starting XI if I wild card by Thursday would look like this:

Thoughts on this newly revised 5-2-3 formation? I feel it takes advantage of the strong forwards, as well as strong defenders, while being able to fit in a few premium options in the midfield. While I can’t own all those high priced players, this feels right.

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).