Premier League: GW11 Draft Retrospect

It was a mixed performance for the draft squad this week as we continue to look up at the top spot in the 8-team league. A final score of 53 points saw my move 19 points close to the top spot, now trailing by 49 overall points, I feel confident I have a good squad to make that ground up. As for Gameweek 11, we enter the break in form and will look to make a few transfers to shore up a questionable defense. I might have to look at swapping out my bench, as I got caught with 2 players who didn’t start this weekend, but only one available off the bench.

The waiver wire was very kind to me this weekend, as I picked up Nick Pope, Charlie Daniels and Kiko Femenia, all of whom started. Pope has been playing very well for Burnley and posted a season high 9 points on a CS, 3 saves and a bonus point. It was a good time to bring Daniels in, as Bournemouth kept their second CS of the season. Femenia was in and out of the BPS ranking much of the game, but 3 unanswered goals from Everton and he ended up with a single point. On the day, 15 points from three new players helped key my squad to their overall total.

The midfield continues to struggle. Dele Alli didn’t start, Philippe Coutinho is still nursing a groin injury, but due back for GW12. Wilfried Zaha struggled, as I knew he would, against Spurs this weekend but Palace looks great through GW19. Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting returned another assists, giving him 3 on the season. Richarlison scored a goal, but was robbed of an assist as Cleverly couldn’t convert. A total of 14 points, modest return for my 4 midfielders.

Up front, Sergio Aguero scored his 179th goal for City and returned 2 bonus points for 8 points. This week I partnered him with Tammy Abraham, who failed to return for the second time in 3 weeks.

I still point to the midfield for my current struggles. Alli with just a single return in 5 weeks, as well as being injured for GW12 coupled with Coutinho out with the groin, it’s been tough going. Thankfully the defenders and forwards have help offset some of the pain. Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting have helped settle the midfield, but will be looking at Zaha with a run of good fixtures upcoming.

Some question of David Luiz falling out of favor with Conte, but he failed to start in GW11. This brought Femenia into the starting XI. My final bench slot is filled by Ibrahimovic, who isn’t fit to play…yet. However it’s my plan to get him in early to take advantage of his potential. Not sure if I will retain the injured star or sacrifice him for a third, healthy bench player. With the international break upon on, I will take a most of the 2 weeks before I figure out who to draft into my squad.

Premier League: GW11 Retrospect

From a fantasy manager’s  viewpoint, Saturday wasn’t supposed to generate many points. The top EPL teams were poised to play Sunday with Spurs hosting Palace, while Arsenal visited City and Jose returned to The Bridge to face Chelsea. However, Saturday did set the tone for the weekend and points were tough to come by. Much like GW10, I made the decision to take another -4 point hit, as I am in the process of moving to a 5-man midfield with premiums Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Mohammad Salad. Risking the potential of a big return, I did not captain Harry Kane, which turned out to be a good move. I finished the game week with a green arrow on 57 points and moved up 188k to 766k in the overall rankings.

Starting the week, I mentioned that Harry Kane, “was becoming essential in the starting XI” in the article, Captain’s Armband: GW1-10. After his lackluster, 77 minute performance on Sunday against hapless, Crystal Palace his position in the starting XI isn’t essential. His home performances, outside of the 16 point return against Liverpool in GW9 has been terrible. A total of 8 points at home to: Burnley, Swansea City, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace doesn’t illicit confidence at Wembley. At £12.6 his price just doesn’t justify his returns. Sergio Aguero (67 points), at £11.8, has matched Kane’s (65 points) goal output with 8 to go along with 3 assists (2 more than Kane). Romelu Lukaku sits a point behind Kane on 7 goals and 3 assists, but has gone goalless in his last 7 games (all competitions). Recently, there is no clear cut answer as to which player has the advantage up front.

Based on Kane’s poor home showing (outside of Liverpool) I made the decision midweek not tap him with the captain’s armband, instead giving Richarlison a chance at redemption. It was a week that was clear cut for captain duties, Kane against Crystal Palace seemed tailor made for a big return. It bombed, Kane didn’t return. Mohammad Salah was another option against a struggling West Ham, he returned 2 goals, thanks in part to the return of Sadio Mane (2 assists). However, Richarlison’s away from has been star studded and I decided to give the Watford man the shot at glory. He didn’t fail, just 2 minutes out of half time and Richarlison struck to give the Hornets a 1-0. He lost out on an assist after being taken down in the penalty box, 10 minutes into extra time. Unfortunately Tom Cleverly missed. Richarlison still finished the day on 14 points and didn’t disappoint.

In the midfield it was Mohammad Salah that impressed. The return of Mane to the starting XI for the Reds means his attacking returns could be returning to prominence as Liverpool have a sea of green through the end of December minus Chelsea in GW13 and Arsenal in GW19. Salah finished the day with 2 goals, to give him 7 on the season and 3 bonus points for 15 points. He, along with Richarlison carried my squad with 29 points, as Pascal Groß and Christian Eriksen failed to return. For Eriksen, this is his third game in a row with no returns but fixtures are strong through Gameweek 24! With just Arsenal out of the international break and a visit to Man City in GW18, there should be many opportunities for big returns. Should be!

Defensively, I opted for a 3-man defense, benching Aaron Cresswell and Sead Kolasinac. The Gunner’s wingback looked dangerous in the first half, but finished on just a single point, while Cresswell failed to return. City’s defense still appears suspect, giving up a strike to Alexandre Lacazette to lose the clean sheet. Kyle Walker was in fine form with a number of good crosses, but none that resulted in an attacking return. At £6.5 he’s essential for Man City and as an anchor in my defense.

Hopefully the 1-0 Chelsea win over United was a turning point for the Blues as they have continued to struggle defensively. On the season Marcos Alonso recorded just his 4th clean sheet, two in the last two but still hasn’t put together attack points since GW2. Priced at £6.9, he’s £0.3 more than partner, Caesar Azpilicueta, who’s got a goal scored and 5 assists for 67 overall points, compared to 46 for Alonso. Even with Chelsea’s impending run of good fixtures (thru GW21), Alonso is already tagged to be moved to fund my midfield.

Burnley’s Stephen Ward was well worth the investment last week as he picked up his second CS in as many games. His 12 points sets up nicely for a potential third CS as the Clarets host Swansea City out of the international break. I do intend on retaining Ward as Arsenal visit in GW14, as Burnley has bou/lei/WAT/STO/bha through mid-December.

If there was any way to play a 4-6-0 formation, I would. Forwards have been nothing but a constant headache all season. Early on it appeared Lukaku was essential, top owned player in the FPL, returned 7 goals in the first 7 games. Since then, he’s gone goalless in the last 6 games (all competitions). Harry Kane broke duck in September, after a dismal August and the “woodoo voodoo” that saw him post great stats but not convert. Now, he’s clicking…away from Wembley, but struggling at home against weaker opponents. As for Aguero, he was my “man crush” and thought of him as a “must have” in season’s past. This year, he’s being platooned with Jesus and has finished just 4 games (injured for 2 games). At £11.8, I have a hard time with a player who won’t play 90 minutes week in, week out.

By all appearances, Gameweek 11 was the final week starting 3 forwards; Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Tammy Abraham. None of them returned, totaling just 6 points. Thankfully, I stuck to my guns and didn’t captain Kane, which was a swing of 12 points and the difference between a green and red arrow this weekend. Vardy, like the aforementioned Alonso is on the way out to bolster my midfield. Abraham was brought in last week as a budget option, but I don’t expect him to feature in many games, but should help through the holiday period.

With the international break upon on, I go in with just a single FT and based on my planning it appears I will take another -4 point hit in order to reallocate funds, to finish building a starting 5-man midfielder by GW14. However potential injuries could derail during international duties could derail my advanced planning.

Premier League: GW11 Starting XI

With Friday in full swing, it’s time to take a look at the starting XI for Gameweek 11 before heading into the international break. For my squad, it’s been a series of highs and lows through 10 weeks.  Currently riding a green arrow (3 out of the last 4 weeks)l, I finally crept back inside 954k. Earlier in the week I put together a plan to get me through the holiday madness. This is the second week of that plan shifting my formation to include 5 midfielders.

On the week, with just a FT, I took a -4 point hit in order to introduce Mohammad Salah. This on the heels of Gabriel Jesus (and Dale Stephens) out, in favor of Tammy Abraham. Both players will start in Gameweek 11. However injuries to Aaron Cresswell and Sead Kolasinac will see the tried and true, 5-2-3 fall by the wayside this week in favor of a more conventional, 3-4-3.


The squad and formation “feel right” as we look ahead to the start of GW11. The midfield is now anchored by two premium players, Christian Eriksen and Mo Salah, but you can’t discount the play of Pascal Groß or Richarlison to this point. Both “budget” midfielders have been top contributors on their teams when it comes to offensive points. All midfielders have favorable fixtures as well. Could prove to be a good attacking return in GW11.

Defensively, it’s the first time I will feature three defenders, opting for a 5-man defense through the first 10 weeks of the EPL season. With Aaron Cresswell and Sead Kolasinac questionable, along with poor fixtures away to Man City and home to Liverpool respectively. A near fit Kolasinac, coming off a 14 point performance in GW10 faces a difficult test as the Sky Blues have posted 19 goals in the last 5 but Arsenal haven’t kept a CS in the last 3 weeks.

Starting this week is Marcos Alonso, as Chelsea looked in poor form in their 3-1 loss to AS Roma this week in the capital city. With Jose parking the bus for Man United, we can only hope it goes the distance as a 0-0 draw. An out of form Lukaku with a struggling United midfield could mean Chelsea post just their second CS in the last 6 weeks. Stephen Ward gets his second call in the starting XI as Burnley face So’ton, just 5 goals in their last 5 games. It could be another close affair, but I am pushing for another lackluster offensive showing from both clubs in another 0-0 bore fest. Finally, Kyle Walker, priced at £6.5, he’s £0.6 more expensive the the popular choice, Nicolás Otamendi, walking the suspension tightrope with 4 yellow cards. He;s contributed 4 assists and 5 CS in his last 7 games. Between the pipes, it’s a toss up, as both Fabianski (home BOU) and Elliot (home BHA) have favorable fixtures.

Up front will feature another first this weekend, starting 3 forwards; Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and new boy, Tammy Abraham. Losing faith in Jesus, due to Pep’s rotation, has me reallocating funds to the midfield. I will be hoping the “Vardy Party” continues against a struggling Stoke City, off his first goal in the last 4 games. Abraham gets a spot start this week, but against Brighton, it could prove with a be a worthy challenge, although if he doesn’t return I won’t be surprised.


While I am not having much fun playing the draft fantasy game, I continue to support my squad. Now up to 44 transfers in just 10 gameweeks, I continue to look for ways to improve my starting XI and strengthen my bench. I did make a few questions moves, picking up Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in order to play him later this season for United. He occupies a bench spot currently. Unfortunately, Philippe Coutinho still isn’t fit and is out for GW10. Toby Alderweireld also picked up a knock this week and the tough decision, what do I do with him?

On the brink of the international break, I felt I needed one healthy body on the bench, just in case. I moved Alderweireld in favor of Kiko Fermenia and plan on starting him this weekend in my 5-man defense.

I sent Fabianski on his way, introducing Nick Pope, who has played very well for Burnley in the absence of Tom Heaton. He’s got another favorable fixture away to So’ton this weekend.

Defensively I could be burned, as I continue to start two Chelsea defenders, Caesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz. With any luck Chelsea play United to a 0-0 draw this weekend. We know Jose will park the bus, but United is struggling offensively, even in their 1-0 victory last week over Spurs. Arsenal have won 4 out of 5 with 2 CS against Brighton and WBA as they visit John Stones and Man City. Twelve goes in their last 5 games, Arsenal bring a strong attack to the Eithad, but feel confident City will prevail, not sure we see a CS this weekend. This week I brought in Charlie Daniels, as Bournemouth have a sea of green through GW16. While the Cherries attack has been struggling, Daniels appears to be primed for big potential. With no faith in Palace this week, I enlist new boy Kiko Femenia against a downtrodden Toffees team that is rudderless in the EPL.

The injury to Coutinho means Dele Alli anchors the midfield against a struggling Palace team at Wembley. Off a brace midweek against Real Madrid, he could feature in this fixture. Richarlison, away to Everton has a great fixture, as he has been lights out away from Vicarage Road. The final piece of the 3-man midfielder is Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting, playing in an advanced role, he faces a revitalized Leicester City.

Up front, Kun Aguero gets a new strike partner in Tammy Abraham. While I am not sold on Abraham, he appears to be he best value at that price. I had considered Glenn Murray, but the return of Tomer Hemed could cut into Murray’s time. Abraham faces Brighton at home this weekend.

It’s a good mix of players making up my starting XI. The return of Coutinho, hopefully after the break can only strengthen my squad, which is still chasing the top spot in the 8-team league.

Captain’s Armband: GW1-10

Last season through 27 gameweeks I posted an article titled, Captain’s Armband, which highlighted my failures to tap the correct player. Last year, by appearances I was always off a week when handing the captaincy to Alexis Sanchez. While he wasn’t the sole reason I struggled over the 38-week season, it was a contributing factor to my demise.

This year, selecting the correct captain through 10 gameweeks has been the difference of being in the top 10k or hovering around 1 million. Even the pundit sites haven’t been spot on, case in point Sergio Aguero in GW10. Tapped by two sites I follow, Aguero didn’t feature in the 3-2 victory over WBA. Yet, it’s been Harry Kane, the biggest loser when it comes to captaincy points. Voted as the best option for the captain’s armband in 3 of the first 10 weeks, Kane went on to disappoint fantasy mangers, returning in none of those games.

For me Kane has been the cause of my frustration. Unable to get the “monkey off his back” in August, I stuck with him, when Lukaku was showing promising form. His fortunes turned the following month recording 3 double digit hauls out of 4 games. Votes from the pundit sites saw Kane’s popularity slip during September, as he was handed the armband in GW5, but failed to return. However, Lukaku (twice) and Aguero both delivered during September as voted on by fantasy managers.

Kane’s underlying statistics were the talk around fantasy, but his inability to score at Wembley against lower league opponents were a cause for concern. Fixtures against Burnley, Swansea City and Bournemouth saw Spurs victorious, but Kane didn’t record any attacking points in the EPL. Champions League was another story at Wembley, recording 5 goals and an assist, further promoting him as the “in form” forward.

His home FPL form was revitalized after a 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool at Wembley, hitting for 2 goals an assist and 3 bonus points for 13 points. In fact his September form saw him record 11 goals and 1 assist during the month. At this point at £12.5 he was becoming essential in the starting XI. At that price point, it was argued that he should be leading the league in scoring, but based on current form, his dynamic performances and explosiveness, Kane’s form was nothing short of impressive.

Through 10 gameweeks my captain selections have netted only 66 points, representing just 12.5% of my overall points (589). Based on statistics at FPL Statisco, if I always captained my highest scorer I would have 617 overall points. More importantly, if I averaged just 10 points a week on my captain selections, my 954k overall rank would be nearer to 1k! Captain selection this season has been the difference to start the season.

Looking ahead Kane is going to feature as my main forward with excellent fixtures through Gameweek 24! Only testing fixtures, away to Arsenal in GW12 and away to Man City in GW18. His midweek UCL performance in a 3-1 victory over Real Madrid has Kane poised to be the unanimous captain selection moving forward. The only challenging fixtures during this run are away to Arsenal in GW12 and away to Man City in GW18. He’s poised to kick things off this week at Wembley against a struggling Crystal Palace.

Premier League: Hit Me!

It took just 10 weeks before I made the decision to take a -4 point hit last week. Looking ahead, the 5-2-3 formation is morphing into a 5-man midfielder, but it’s going to cost me a few points. Last week started the dominoes toppling, which should continue through the international break, into GW11. Ideally, this would have been a great time to activate the wild card, but that played out in GW5. By shifting players now, I feel I am setting myself up for a run through December.

As mentioned in my Think Differently series at Fantasy Football Geek, formation hasn’t been the issue, captaincy points have. Not so much poor decisions, but poor performances from premium players wearing the armband. Putting faith in my 5-man defense paid dividends through 10 weeks. The 5-2-3 formation has outproduced both 5-3-2 and 4-3-3 through 10 weeks. Due to benched players and injuries, automatically substitutions changed my intended 5-2-3.

Last week I lost faith in Ben Davies, transferring him for Stephen Ward. Burnley has a favorable schedule through GW16. While Spurs are solid through GW17, there is some risk of rotation, thus Davies was move, which helped free up my budget. The -4 hit came in the name of Richarlison, for Jack Cork. Unfortunately a 1 point return didn’t bode well but finished 4 points better than if I would have held the transfer.

This week continue the trend as I look to take another 4 point hit in conjunction with my FT. While Jesus has played well, I am done with Pep and the rotation at City. His £10.5 price and that of £4.5 of Dale Stephens allow me to introduce Mohammad Salah and Tammy Abraham with £0.3 ITB.

After the international break, I look towards GW12 and GW13 to continue the transition to a 5-4-1 (or 4-5-1).  Hazard was going to be one of the first players in, but ends up being the last piece for GW13, based on fixtures. GW12 sees Marcos Alonso giving his walking papers in favor of Charlie Daniels, while Sead Kolasinac drops out for Phil Jones due to fixtures.

These moves free up £2.4 to bring in Eden Hazard and Mame Biram Diouf to complete the change in GW13. The “Vardy Party” would be over and Tom Carroll would be sacrificed, but in return I would have a 15-man squad that all start for the holiday period, reducing the change of playing shorthanded.