And we're off!
Fantasy football is in full swing and it did not take long for everyone that follows the Premier League to be reminded of why they love it so much. Rule One of the Premier League: expect the unexpected. That was exactly the case in the first match of the season when Hull City, an organization in chaos and lacking any positive momentum to start their campaign, defeated the reigning champions Leicester City to everyone's surprise. Who needs Jamie Vardy for 10m when you can have Adama Diomande for 4.5m, right? Then there was the curious case of the Arsenal v Liverpool match. If you were a Alexis Sanchez or Roberto Firmino owner and were told before the round began that the two sides would tally seven goals, you would be filled with joy at all the points that would be sure to roll your way. And yet, neither saw the slightest piece of the action. Week 1 also did very little for managers who invested for premium options in defense. The vast majority of us feel it almost criminal to start the season without at least two defenders from the big clubs - Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham. And yet, not a single clean sheet to be found among any of them. However, if you shelled out the bare minimum of 4.0m for the likes of Jordi Amat or Stephen Kingsley, you reaped a lovely reward. It is only one week folks. It will take time for the landscape to balance, but it goes to show that in any given week, nothing is a safe bet. That is, of course, if you exclude one example. When Zlatan makes a debut, Zlatan scores. That much we know to be true.
Last week, I presented a blueprint for a team to start with and I have to say it was a rousing success if you followed it. I did make a last minute switch. I decided to go for a United defender instead of a Chelsea defender, saving .5 in the process. I then used that money to upgrade George Friend to Ashley Williams, who I knew would not start but, once his move to Everton was confirmed, I felt I could put a defense together with my budget options and stash the former Swans captain. By going this direction, I swapped out the 4.0 Bradley Smith for the likewise-priced Steven Kingsley and put the latter into my Starting XI because I was certain he would start. That move proved very lucrative. I also wavered last Friday on bringing in Yannick Bolasie instead of Gaston Ramirez for a few hours on Friday but, after reading that he was likely to feature from the bench for Palace, I decided that even though it could be a nice weapon to have going forward with his likely move to Everton, it was better to play it safe. If only I had started my fifth midfielder Etienne Capoue instead!
In all, I ended on a 13k overall ranking with the following squad that totalled 75 points...
Fuzzy's XI: Foster; Shaw, Stones, Kingsley; Ramirez, Tadic, Mahrez, Hazard; Gray, Ibrahimovic, Aguero (C)
Bench: Jakupovic; Amat, Capoue, Ashley Wiliams
You cannot win FPL in one week but you can certainly put yourself behind the eight ball with a bad opening round and I feel lucky to have dodged a bullet by playing without any Arsenal or Liverpool attackers in a match that featured seven goals. If you recall from my column last week, I felt it was in my best interest to build a team that I felt would be very strong for the first three weeks because playing a wildcard ahead of Week 4 looked like a logical time to use it. I also made a point that this strategy could end up in a situation where I find myself happy enough with my squad and can then keep hold of the wildcard. So far, so good. I have come out of Week 1 feeling like there is no individual player I want to kick myself for not having started the season with. Even in the case of Southampton, where I could wish I had gone with Nathan Redmond over Dusan Tadic, I am not too disappointed. Tadic led the league in chances created in Week 1, he was just unlucky to not hit paydirt. The stats would lead one to believe though, that points are sure to come, though a trip to Old Trafford may not be the best situation to expect hauls from Tadic or Redmond.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
While my Week 1 feature kept its focus on building an entire team, it is now time to shift the presentation in a new direction. There are four categories of players which I feel are worth mentioning week to week when making decisions about transfers....
1) Players to buy
2) Players to sell
3) Players to hold onto
4) Players to avoid buying
Originally, I thought that I would incorporate a rankings system, and I may at some point decide that is indeed the best method to present the information to you. But the more I thought about it, the more I feel rankings for a particular week does not make much sense for the FPL format. When you make a transfer in, in most cases, you should be thinking about a purchase that you will be happy with for several weeks. So while Player Example A might be a slam dunk weapon for the week at hand (home to Watford, let's say), that player's next four matches might look something like this: @Tottenham, Manchester City, @Stoke City, @Chelsea. That would mean over a five-week stretch, Player Example A plays the majority of the matches on the road, two of them very tough, and one of the home games is not too attractive either. This is not to say that fixtures are the primary gauge in which to measure a player's value, but it should always be weighed in with form to some degree. Long story short, when I am talking about players to buy or sell, I am looking at a period of the next four to five weeks.
Please keep in mind that the players to sell section will be limited in the early going. The season has just begun. We cannot measure the true strengths and weaknesses of a club or individual players without seeing them in action for at least two or three games. But, if I see a player with a currently-high ownership % and a short term future that does not bode well, he will be mentioned here.
When it comes to players I would avoid buying, I would not waste time mentioning a player that does not look like a prospect to begin with. There is no point to say "Avoid buying Charlie Adam" right now. This section is for those players who may have come off of a productive week but I am not convinced that they will gain further returns in the near future. The reverse logic is true when I mention players to hold onto. These are prospects that many managers have who did not return a haul in the previous round, but, there is promise of that player coming good, so it is best to keep with them for at least another week.
Right, so let's dive in...
Player to buy: Ben Foster - he should take his 10 point Week 1 haul on the road and add to it with three of the next four at home for the Baggies.
Player to sell: Petr Cech - Arsenal should improve defensively with Koscielny returning this week and perhaps a new signing in time for Week 3, but it is still three out of the next four on the road for the Gunners and I don't feel good about their chances this week in Leicester's home opener.
Player to hold: David de Gea - Chris Smalling looks set to return and that should improve United's clean sheet chances. I am still amazed at how over 46% of FPL managers own him. He will get his hauls in the coming weeks.
Player to avoid: Simon Mignolet - 3rd best score in Week 1 at his position but that was due to the always-unpredictable penalty save. The Reds still have questions in defense, mainly at left back, and three of their next four on the road with the home match against Spurs.
Player to buy: Leighton Baines - Everton have the kindest fixtures over the next six weeks of any club, so I think it is worth investing that little bit extra in Baines versus one of his cheaper teammates. That schedule - wba, STK, sun, MID, bou, CPL.
Player to sell: Wes Morgan - Maybe I am reacting too quickly but the sale of N'Golo Kante is going to be felt by the foxes this season. After giving up two to Hull on opening day, a player like Morgan, currently at over 25% ownership, seems overpriced.
Player to hold: Branislav Ivanovic - Chelsea will be better defensively this season and Ivanovic had the highest ICT score in Week 1 for a defender who did not score or assist. ICT, a measure of a player's combined Influence, Creativity and Threat, is a new stat added to the FPL game this season and managers should be paying attention to it.
Player to avoid: Adam Smith - The Cherries were a mess defensively last season and the addition of Marc Wilson may help but will not solve their problems. Smith got a top 3 score courtesy of a consolation goal but those will be few and far between as will be clean sheets for Bournemouth.
Player to buy: Santi Cazorla - With injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi, as well as a promising cameo in which he provided two assists, Cazorla looks to be a great method to having Arsenal attacking coverage going forward.
Player to sell: Cesc Fabregas - Managers are selling already as the Spaniard has dropped .1 in price. If you have him, you cannot afford to see him not play and continue to fall in price.
Player to hold: Dusan Tadic - As mentioned earlier, Tadic led the league in chances created last week and stuffed several stats for fantasy leagues that reward play beyond goals and assists. If you have him, despite a tough match at Old Trafford next, you will want to keep him because two of the next three after that are home games against Sunderland and Swansea.
Player to avoid: Adam Lallana - Picking the right Liverpool attacking player throughout this season may feel like Russian roulette, but I am not buying Adam Lallana outproducing the likes of Firmino, Coutinho, Mane and Wijnaldum.
Player to buy: Salomon Rondon - The FPL game is seeing many managers buying Alvaro Negredo this week but I think for the same price, Rondon is the better bet. He had an outstanding ICT score this week and the Baggies have three of their next four at home while Middlesbrough play three of four away. The only thing that can throw a wrench into this pickup is the rumor of Barcelona buying the Venezuelan, but I think the chances of him moving are slim.
Player to sell: Shane Long - Don't get me wrong, I always thought Long was a bit undervalued as a striker. But the new shape of the Saints seems to be rewarding midfielders and there is a chance Long gives way to Charlie Austin soon, partnering Nathan Redmond up top. Aguero, Ibrahimovic, Vardy, Kane and now, with the transfers in this week, Negredo are the only strikers with higher ownership %. There are better options to try.
Player to hold: Harry Kane - Kane and Vardy were the two premium strikers to come up empty last week. I trust Kane more to come good going forward than I do Vardy. Spurs have three of their next four at home and he is the player I am most scared about not currently owning in my own team.
Player to avoid: Wayne Rooney - Rooney will score some goals this season, but he is not going to return to the Rooney of old. It was encouraging to see the Red Devils score three times but it was against perhaps the poorest defense in the league. You can only have three forwards. If one is going to be from United, it has to be Zlatan.
That's it from me this week folks I hope you are excited as I am about the first of the Friday Night matches we have this season. Be sure to check in here at Rotoworld to prepare for the early deadline.
Good luck, and may your arrows be green.