GW 4 – Reds……Good and Bad!

Blog Team

The first below par week of the season for the blog team but instead of being downbeat, I’m still maintaining a positive outlook.

 

Transfers Remaining: 38/40

Gameweek 3 Summary

In complete contrast to the first two gameweeks, the team really struggled to make par for the course in GW3. 46 points and yet another red card wasn’t exactly the result I had expected from a week where the fixtures had looked fairly promising, but I still can’t help but feel quite optimistic about the team and its prospects.

All in all, it’s difficult to be unhappy with how the team has performed as despite its low score this week, the reasoning for the player picks continue to hold true. Mo Salah vindicated the decision to give him the armband, notching his second goal of the season and taking his goal involvement for the season to four in just three games. Being the most expensive player in the game there will always be that nagging feeling of being able to get more value elsewhere, but that sort of sheer consistency is why the blog team were happy to pay the 13.0m for him. A points per game average of 8.33 means he’ll always be a captain option!!

Unfortunately, there were actually very few attacking returns to speak of for the rest of the team. Zaha dusted himself off from some dubious challenges from Watford to pick up his second goal of the season. For someone who is considered inconsistent, that’s now 7 goals in his last nine league games for the Palace talisman. However, after his hat-trick heroics of last week, Aguero hit the woodwork twice but failed to get on the scoresheet against a Wolves team that would have surprised many with their performance against the Champions.

As for the defence, although it could only manage only a single clean sheet from Robertson (that’s now 3 in 3 for Liverpool), as a collective it still racked up a total of 6 bonus points. Robertson, Mendy and Sakho are all now averaging at least a bonus point per game which just goes to highlight their overall involvement and importance for their respective teams. The pleasing thing about this is that at the start of the season, I highlighted the need to seek out those players who regularly attract bonus points (for FPL and Sky) and it has certainly paid dividends for the team. In a poor week, it has boosted my average defender score to 4.5 points per player which is probably something I would take most weeks, let alone in a week with only one shut-out.

Now, I realise that all this positivity may sound a bit strange coming off the back of a below average score, especially seeing as the first two weeks have generated scores of 80+ points. However, in my experience, consistent high scoring weeks like that tend to be the exception rather the norm. In isolation, finishing the week below the average is a little disappointing, but it only takes a quick look around the mini-leagues to notice that it was a fairly average week for everyone else too. Prior to the season starting, if someone had offered me a gameweek average of 75 points for the first 3 weeks then I would have bitten their hand off, so a drop of 27k in overall rank is nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things.

Watchlist

For the past few weeks I’ve been maintaining a watchlist of players based upon the stats I gather, as well as those who pass the eye-test from the games I get to watch. Anyone who follows me on twitter will have seen the updates I made after last weekend, but for anyone who missed it, the updated list can be found here.

GW4 – Transfers

So another week and another red card (sigh!). Richarlison’s “headbutt” has made it two in two for the blog team, which is about as inconvenient as it comes when working with limited transfers, and just goes to show that trying to plan anything in fantasy football can often be a fool’s errand.

All plans I had of getting Alonso before the wildcard were put to bed early with Wan-Bissaka’s red card last week. Fast forward a week and Alonso resides at the top of the scoring charts after another 11 point haul, whereas my two transfers managed a measly 6 between them. Suffice to say I’m gutted…….thanks Aaron!!

With two transfers already made, I had hoped to preserve my transfer count this week considering I will be overhauling my team (see what I did there Sky users?) with the wildcard during the upcoming international break. But, as Adam Smith hit the ground following the Brazilian’s perceived forward head motion (I suspect my feelings were hurt more than Smith’s head), I once again heard the FPL gods shouting “folly” at my planning.

As I pointed out last week with Wan-Bissaka, had this been the Sky game then Richarlison would have sat in my starting eleven, staring up at me from the screen while awaiting his inevitable chop on the overhaul next week. Instead, as you no doubt noticed from the images above, another precious transfer has had to be spent. Anyone who read the blog last week will know my views and difficulties with the price rises, so this week I’ve not taken any chances. After watching Match of the Day, Theo Walcott was added to the watchlist on Monday, and then to the blog team on Tuesday.

As fantasy players we tend to over think things – it’s part of our DNA – yet it’s often the obvious moves that turn out to be the best. I had seen the arguments for replacements such as Pedro, Moura, Pereyra, Fraser etc., but in truth it didn’t come any more obvious than Theo for me this week. He might not have the underlying stats of the above quartet (or his Brazilian counterpart for that matter), but after his Sky MoM performance against Bournemouth last time out, Everton will be looking to him to fill the void during Richarlison’s suspension.

Despite the stats, Walcott himself has racked up 2 goals, an assist and 3 bonus so far, and the link up play between Theo, Siggy and Tosun has been exciting to watch at times.  So at the end of the day, it’s a player from the same team, with the same good fixtures, and his similar price allows the team to maintain its core structure……..this game can be easy when you let it.

Captaincy

In my opinion, it’s a straight-forward decision on the captaincy this week. 14 goals and 3 assists in eleven games against Newcastle make Aguero the standout option, especially at the Etihad where he’s fired in 8 goals in the last two against them. Newcastle look to be in serious turmoil at the moment with Lejeune injured and Lascelles falling out with Rafa, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable for Sergio to repeat some semblance of his 5 goal haul in this fixture from a few years ago.

He already has a hat-trick this season so is in decent form, and that certainly doesn’t bode well for the Toon. The bookies back that up by having Aguero as the clear favourite to score at anytime this weekend at 1.40, so I just hope that he avoids Pep’s wrath after that shisha video from earlier in the week!

1446ADB9-FCFC-4583-A21D-FAE8C5A5ECF7Transfers Remaining: 37/40

 

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GW3 – The Fallout from Guardian-Gate

Blog Team

So another good weekend for the blog team to build on its positive start in GW1. However, it wasn’t without incident and may have come at a cost in terms of my early planning.

Transfers Remaining: 40/40

Gameweek 2 Summary

It was pretty much a case of ‘as you were’ for the team as many of the same players returned for a second week in a row, racking up 83 points to follow up the 97 it picked up in GW1. This was always going to be the toughest of the first 4 weeks for the team given that Liverpool we’re going to Palace in a game where I had six participants, including two Palace defenders. Expectations were fairly low, so to come out of it relatively unscathed is extremely encouraging. A slight drop in rank but that’s unimportant at this stage.

From only 4 shots across the first 2 games, Richarlison notched his 3rd goal for Everton to maintain a level of efficiency that nobody would have imagined possible given his tribulations last season. He didn’t quite get the 3 bonus that Sky clearly thought he deserved by giving him the MoM, but the 2 he did receive has already seen him topple last seasons bonus total. It represents quite a shift for the young Brazilian, and I for one am hoping that it continues for a while yet considering his upcoming fixtures.

As I alluded to earlier, the Crystal Palace v Liverpool game was always going to be an issue for the team – two Palace defenders against that lethal Liverpool attack?? Understandably, I received a few inquisitions on this going into the gameweek, but it had been a decision I had made prior to the season and one that I was willing to ride out as it served the initial strategy. I figured that if I came out of it with a positive score then I’d be happy, and although it took until late on, the Liverpool trio duly obliged by doing what they do best. I’m particularly pleased with Robertson who has now picked up consecutive bonuses of all kinds across both the FPL and Sky formats. Captaincy aside, I would argue that he will be a far more valuable pick in the long-term than both of his esteemed attacking colleagues.

As for Man City, I guess I should address the main talking point of the weekend and that’s ‘Guardian-gate’! After I had published the blog on Friday afternoon with my reasons for an Aguero captaincy, along came a chap from the Guardian newspaper to cause mass panic. The headline read “Pep Guardiola considers dropping Sergio Aguero” and despite not having any direct quotes from Pep himself, it sent the FPL community into complete meltdown! A simple retweet from a City ITK meant that the article was dissected over and over, with opinions ranging from “no-smoke without fire” to “it’s nothing but click-bait”, and managers flip-flopped between captaincy options as a result.

I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t create some element of doubt for the blog team, but come Saturday morning I had made the decision to stick with Aguero. Whether substantiated or not, the article was not telling us anything new. We know that Pep considers dropping all of his players on a weekly basis, so selecting any of their players comes with a risk – just ask owners of Sterling, Sane, Mahrez and Walker. The simple fact of the matter is that City are an attacking machine, and this was a plumb fixture. Sergio was the standout pick before the article, it’s why we paid 11.0m for him, so why should that change?!

Don’t get me wrong, it was a nervous wait until Sunday (the vice captaincy was firmly planted on Salah just in case), and seeing his name pop up on the teamsheet at 12:30pm was a huge relief. All fears had been alleviated, and from the moment Ederson set him up via a long ball for his first goal (yes, City are even getting attacking returns from their GK now!!), the decision to stick with the Argentine had been vindicated. A total of 40 points courtesy of a hat-trick, assist, and a MoM performance just shows how deadly he can be on his day.

Now, I’ll admit it felt great to come down on the right side of such a big call. In my opinion, it’s these instances that are the reason why we have such a love/hate relationship with the fantasy game. However, it’s important to note that these decisions will not shape your entire season. Many managers, some who have far better records in this game than myself, have freely admitted to being swayed by the Guardian article. Yet, they are good at the game because they realise it ‘s just one of many to decisions come.  The actual reality is that by taking the less risky option of captaining Salah over Aguero, those managers came out of it only 11 points down. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things and can easily be made up over the next 36 weeks!

GW3 – Transfers

Coming from Sky, the biggest bug-bear I have in FPL is the price changes. I understand it’s a fundamental part of the game, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The smallest change of 0.1 in either direction means an entire strategy can become worthless overnight. In contrast, the Sky game allows you to plot and plan your way through the season with only form, fixtures and injuries being of concern, so it’s a difficult scenario to comprehend.

As I stated in my first post, I had intended to totally ignore the price variations, but by Monday it was already becoming a problem for me. Those of you who have been following my watchlist will know that Alonso has been sitting on there since GW1. So after he continued his attacking display against Arsenal, I had intended to upgrade Luiz using the 1.0m ITB to do so……..happy days. However, it seems that plenty of managers don’t share my notion that waiting for the gameweek to finish is a good idea when making transfers. I had already been priced out of a move before the Liverpool game had even kicked off! Is it only me that finds this crazy???

No matter how much I wanted Alonso, I suppose the patient approach actually worked out in a way. That Monday game came at a significant cost to the blog team with Wan-Bissaka getting red carded for a professional foul to deny Salah a goal. His bargain price was an essential part of the strategy going forward and a 1 game ban is far from helpful. There is nobody else at his price point worth a precious transfer, so had this been in the Sky game then I would have just left him in the team and suffered his zero points for the week. He’s not a captaincy option so no problem.

However, instead of letting the bench pick up the slack (it’s not an option in Sky so I’m not allowing it here), I have decided to use this as an opportunity to resolve a few issues that I had hoped could wait until the intended Wildcard after GW4. Firstly, Mahrez has become a problem. He came off before the hour in GW1, and didn’t even start in GW2. I really would have liked to give him more time as I still believe he will score well in that City attack, but that brings me to a second issue that I highlighted last week – I don’t have Benjamin Mendy! As opposed to the to the City midfield who all seem interchangeable, he seems to be a lock at left-back, and I’m not sure I can watch him boss yet another City game without him in my team. My three City slots were taken so I’m sorry Mahrez, but room has to be made.

Lastly, there is now a distinctive fixture swing coming for both Arsenal and Chelsea that I definitely want some part of. Alonso was meant to be the man to take care of that until his price rise, so in order to accommodate Mendy, I turn to the midfield instead. Both Pedro (2 goals in 2 games) and Mkhitaryan (1 goal and assist in GW2) have impressed in recent weeks, and only just missed out on the watchlist due to having a potential rotation threat looming. However, given that Mkhitaryan leads the league for key passes with 7, and actually matches Aubameyang for attempts at goal, then I’m willing to throw my hat in with the Armenian. Arsenal’s fixture list is excellent, and with none of last seasons top 6 until GW11, I’m backing him to start racking up the points fairly quickly.

Watchlist

Last week I started a watchlist of players based upon the stats I gather from the games, as well as those who pass the eye-test. Anyone who follows me on twitter will have seen the updates I have made over the weekend, but for anyone who missed it, the updated list can be found here.

Captaincy

It’s a tough decision on the captaincy again this week with both Salah and Aguero having reasonable fixtures versus Brighton (h) and Wolves (a) respectively. Both teams have conceded 4 goals across the first two games, although Wolves seem to have been the unluckiest of the two considering they lead the league for the lowest number of shots conceded.

I think the simple fact that Liverpool are playing at home actually sways it for me this week as both are more than capable of big scores. The corresponding fixture last season finished 4-0 with Salah picking up a goal and assist, so there is a history there too. The bookies have him at 1.44 to score anytime, compared with 1.60 for Aguero, so it’s Salah’s turn to take the armband for GW3. Would another hat-trick be asking too much?

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Transfers Remaining: 38/40

 

GW2 – And We’re Off!

Blog Team

So after all the planning and deliberation post-world Cup, the first gameweek couldn’t have gone much better for the blog team. It’s my best ever start to FPL and has provided some much-needed optimism for the season ahead.

Transfers Remaining: 40/40

Gameweek 1 Summary

The team got off to an absolute flyer in gameweek 1, racking up 97 points – well above the average of 53. Almost every player picked up significant returns, with only Aguero and Mahrez failing to produce. Theres no complaints though, as I always felt that Arsenal at the Emirates could be a tough opener.

(Note:- Coincidentally, this was the same opening score as my Sky team which included 6 of the same starting 11 above)

Looking at the team itself, I was particularly pleased with the Crystal Palace contingent given how strongly I backed them in my previous post. Wan-Bissaka certainly looked capable of holding down the right-back slot as he gave the lightning quick Ryan Sessegnon the run-around at Fulham. For a meagre 4.0m outlay, I expected to get the benefit of the odd clean-sheet, but with assists and MoM potential now in his locker too, he’s definitely shaping up to be this years gift from FPL Headquarters. Barring injury, he could be a season keeper for the blog team as I look to minimise transfers in defence.

As for Sakho, you may remember that I referred to him as a ‘beast for bonus’ and this week he proved it once again, earning yet another bonus point for his performance despite the likes of Wan-Bissaka, Van Aanholt, and Zaha all producing attacking returns around him. If he can stay fit this season, I predict that he could challenge the elite in that defenders bracket and prove to be a bargain at only 5.0m.

Liverpool certainly seem to have picked up where they left off last season. The triple up of Salah, Mane, and Robertson looked absolute dynamite as they combined for 3 goals, an assist, a clean sheet, and 5 bonus for a total of 43 points. It was a 50/50 call with both Van Dijk and Firmino also under consideration, so I’m delighted to have come out on the right side of that one. The only disappointment is that you can’t have more than three players from one team in FPL.

The riskiest pick of the lot was Richarlison, but it seems Marco Silva definitely has the magic touch when it comes to the young Brazilian. He’s already reached 40% of his goal tally from last season, and if he can remain as clinical with his finishing (two shots, two goals), then he should far exceed the measly 4 bonus points that he attained across the whole of 2017/18. He’s already amassed 3 for his MoM display, and even picked up tier 1 tackling for those of you also playing Sky. Given his style, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him playing as an auxiliary striker as the season progresses, so at 6.6m at the time of writing, he’s one to keep an eye on if you don’t already own him.

Oddly, my only regret in gameweek 1 comes from Manchester City. However, this isn’t down to Aguero missing when through one on one, or Mahrez getting hooked on 59 minutes, as both looked good during various periods throughout the game. Mahrez’s domination of set-pieces was rather pleasing in fact. No, the regret is that I didn’t give Benjamin Mendy more of a consideration. The City left back played the majority of the match as a secondary winger, and his link up with Sterling caused all sorts of problems for Hector Bellerin and the Arsenal defence. I can only hope that having Ederson in goal will be enough to cover the majority of his points prior to the wildcard.

Transfers

Given the self-imposed transfer limit and the success that the team had in GW1, I shouldn’t really be considering a transfer for GW2. However, those of you that caught my GW1 post will know that I held back 1.0m for the sole purpose of upgrading Mahrez to Kevin De Bruyne once it was obvious that he was available. His appearance from the bench had all but guaranteed his place in the team this week until news of a serious knee injury ended any hope of that.

That being said, I don’t really have anything planned now in terms of transfers. Already owning three City players means that a move for Mendy is out, so I’ll likely save unless there’s any other unexpected news to follow. My only real concern going into GW2 is my double Palace defence up against the deadly Liverpool strike-force. If I didn’t have a transfer limit to consider, I might have switched Sakho for someone like Mee or Tarkowski, who have a better fixture. However, I knew this game was an issue when selecting the team so I’m willing to ride it out.

Watchlist

To help me with transfers in the future, I have started to compile a watchlist of players based upon the stats I gather from the games, as well as some who pass the eye-test when I manage to catch them on tv. I will update it as the season progresses, but can be found here for anyone interested.

Captaincy

It’s a tough decision on the captaincy this week. 15 Goals in 18 home league games last season suggests that Aguero at home to Huddersfield should essentially be a no-brainer. If he starts then the ceiling for points could be huge! Therein lies the problem though; he plays for Pep Guardiola in a City team that has so many options its frightening.

Conversely, despite having an awkward fixture away at a more resolute Crystal Palace, Mo Salah is the epitome of consistency. He’s a nailed on option who, although he didn’t exactly pull up any trees against West Ham, still left there with his name on the score sheet and was only inches away from getting more. It’s a continuation of what we saw last season in that he delivers points whenever he plays.

However, the team’s start good start in GW1 means I can afford to take a slight risk, so unless there’s bad news from the press conferences, then I’m currently leaning towards Aguero. The bookies have him at 1.40 to score anytime (compared with 1.73 for Salah) so put simply, if you can’t stick the armband on Sergio against Huddersfield at home, then when can you?!

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The Blog Team – GW1

Blog Team

So it’s finally here. After weeks of planning, drafting, tinkering, and tinkering again, gameweek 1 is now only a matter of hours away. I’m more or less there with my team and will discuss my choices below.

Twitter Poll

Before I get into that though, I recently ran a twitter poll to help me decide on a transfer strategy for the season. I was unsure whether to allow bonus transfers for formation changes, or to stick with the 40 limit as with Sky. Thank you to everyone that voted and the result ended with 67% of you choosing to stick with the 40 limit.

I’ll be honest, I had secretly hoped it would go the other way, but the people have spoken so that’s what I’ll be working with. It will no doubt be restrictive as the season progresses, but as good friend of mine kindly pointed out – “You don’t get the benefit of the chips in Sky” – so I guess it’s only fair.

The Strategy

As explained in the previous post, Sky’s Overhaul kicks in during the international break after gameweek 4 so I’ll be aiming to using the Wildcard at the same point. It just makes sense with all the uncertainty surrounding the World Cup players, and the bedding in of any new transfers sealed before yesterday’s transfer deadline. Plus, the two weeks thinking time will come in handy in order to regroup after a manic few weeks.

Playing it this way also means I only need to focus on the first 4 weeks, so focussing on the fixtures is absolutely key. I highlighted Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Burnley, & Everton as having a relatively good start in that respect and most of my initial thoughts have not strayed too far away from that.

The Team

So here we go………..The blog team.

Goalkeeper

I had wanted to start the season with a Burnley goalkeeper. Whoever it is, they always seem to offer the right blend of clean sheet potential, saves, and bonus. I can’t count how many times Nick Pope chipped in with a Man of the Match performance to boost by Sky scores last year, and that seems to translate to FPL too. However, Pope and Heaton’s pre-season injury woes, as well as the arrival of Joe Hart, has clouded judgement there. I’ll be watching keenly to see who gets that spot, but for now I’ve had to look elsewhere.

De Gea was the obvious first stop. He was the top scoring keeper last season, but his price 6.0m price tag proved to be a little prohibitive. Had this been Sky, I would have been looking at him for tonight’s captaincy, but not for FPL. Instead, I’ve switched over to the other side of Manchester with Ederson for a 0.5m saving. He wasn’t that far behind De Gea in the points table and offers a sure-fire way into a City defence that could see huge rotation from Pep this year.

Defenders

The blog team is going to start the season with 4 at the back, following on from some of the excellent ‘value’ articles produced by the community during pre-season. The security of starts (and hopefully clean sheets) means that its worth that little extra outlay, and in a limited transfer game, should reduce the number required in these positions.

Andy Robertson was the first defender name on my team sheet for this season due to his ability to pick up passing and tackling bonuses, which should relate well in FPL’s bonus system too. Once he earned that first team spot last season, he never looked back and generated stats to rival even the mighty Alonso. Van Dijk was another consideration given Liverpool’s great fixtures early on, but the young Scot’s attacking ability just sways it for me.

Next up is David Luiz. This is a bit of a punt given there was very little stats to go off last season, but Sarri has been talking him up and he seems to have forced his was back into the starting 11 after his problems with Antonio Conte. Many of you might ask why not Azpilicueta or Alonso, but they come with premium price tags and the shift to a back 4 seems likely to hinder their output of season’s past. Apart from Arsenal in GW2, Chelsea have some decent fixtures to start so Luiz at a 1.0m saving seems like a risk worth taking, especially if he can take a few trademark free-kicks.

Then comes  Mamadou Sakho.Now, he’s not one that I’ve heard much talk about in pre-season but his influence in the Crystal Palace defence is huge and he’s always a goal threat at set-pieces. At 5.0m, there are plenty of others that might be worthy of selection, but that brings me to the main reason for his selection – the guy is an absolute beast for bonus point collection!! The Sky game has shown me that this is always something to consider, and to give you an idea of just how good he is, he finished 4th overall for defenders. And, that’s having played less than half the minutes of the likes of Azpilicueta and Otamendi due to injury – that’s impressive!!

Now, I brought it up in my previous post that the benefits of an ‘uber-cheap’ starter cannot be overlooked in Sky. If one presents themselves, they will be hunted out to allow for more budget to be pushed up the field. This generally tends to get overlooked in FPL due to the bench, but not by me…..not this season. During pre-season, Aaron Wan-Bissaka seems to have nailed down the Crystal Palace right-back slot ahead of Joel Ward, and from what I’ve seen of him he’s looked decent. Listening to some of their fans, he arguably should have got this position last season so at just 4.0, he could be a bargain.

 Midfielders

These were the hardest positions to select from a Sky perspective. The likes of Kante and Matic, who are huge in Sky for their passing and tackling stats, just don’t seem to translate well to FPL – ridiculous really given their performances and importance to their teams. Therefore, I’ve had to look to the attacking spectrum for the guys who get the goals and assists, as these will be the players that should also get the bonus in this format.

It was an easy choice to start with however – Mo Salah! This man needs no introduction from me after his record-breaking exploits last season, as we all know what he can do. His goalscoring record was exceptional and even earned him a re-classification as a forward in Sky. He remains a midfielder in FPL though, and as far as I’m concerned, he could have priced at 14.0m and I still would have picked him. He’s a captaincy option each and every week and therefore worth every penny!

Second on this list should have been should and would have been Kevin De Bruyne. Wherever he plays in that City team, he’s at the heart of everything that they do. He’s brilliant in every sense of the word and ticks all the point scoring boxes across all fantasy formats – goals, assists, passing, tackling – and is always a Man of the Match Contender. This was underlined by the fact he was second overall in Sky last season, only falling behind Salah.

The only problem with this is that he took Belgium to 3rd place at the World Cup and only returned to training this week, so there’s a chance he might be eased back and doesn’t start GW1. That risk is enough for me to switch focus to his City’s big summer signing in Rihad Mahrez. Being City’s record signing, that should at least see him guaranteed a starting spot while the likes of KdB, Sterling and David Silva are eased back after their World Cup exploits. His qualities are undoubted after what he has been able to do for Leicester (12 goals, 13 assists and 19 bonus points in 2017/18), and a move to such an attacking side as City should see him excel. I have every faith that he will do well, but KdB will be coming in at the first sign of a regular return and have kept 1.0m in the bank to facilitate it.

Sadio Mane fills the third slot in my midfield at 9.5m. Again, this could have been a number of players at that price point. It came down to a toss-up between Mane and Eriksen, and post-Wildcard, I think Eriksen may still take this spot due to his overall scoring and bonus potential. However, while there seems to have been some uncertainty over who Spurs have available for the early gameweeks, Liverpool have the fixtures to come out of the blocks all guns blazing. Mane has explosive potential and has been slotting away penalties in pre-season too, so he’s in.

I’ll explain the reason for going with a 4-4-2 formation, instead of the aforementioned 4-5-1, below. However, the final midfielder in my lineup is Richarlison at 6.5m. He tailed off massively last season after the departure of Marco Silva from Watford, but in the early stages he was registering big chances at a rate comparable to the likes of Salah and was a must own at his price in Sky. Only Kane, Eriksen and Salah himself finished the season with more shots than the young Brazilian. Therefore, with Silva again there to guide him, I think Richarlison could kick-on for what could be an impressive season. Everton certainly have some potentially excellent fixtures to get him started if they can pull it together after a few dicey performances in pre-season.

Strikers

I alluded above to the fact that I have switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation. The reason being Wilf Zaha. He’s had a re-classification from FPL this year, and seems to be a different animal since Roy Hodgson shifted him into more of a forward role. He was exceptional at the back-end of last season and seems to have hit the ground running in pre-season too with pretty much a goal a game. He’s a Man of the Match bonus hog in Sky, and at 7.0m in FPL I think he’ll provide far better returns than the comparatively priced midfielders.

As for my premium forward, I debated this for while in pre-season. Harry Kane was the obvious go to, but despite notching the golden boot at the world cup, he’s just not looked right since coming back from injury towards the end of last season. Also, we’re all aware of his issues in August by now and with the birth of his baby this week, there’s every chance he may miss the start of the season anyway.

There’s just too many issues there, so that left Sergio Aguero and Aubameyang as my big hitter considerations (I already have 3 Liverpool and United don’t score enough goals). Neither need discussion really, they will both get bucket-loads of goals this season. Aubameyang hit the ground running at Arsenal and his  record at Dortmund speaks for itself. His first two fixtures aren’t, great coming up against City and Chelsea, but I would still think he could get something in both those games. In the end though, the Community Shield made the decision for me……………..it just has to be Agueeeeeerrrroooooooo!

Bench

As stated in my ‘Sky FF Approach’ post, I will be writing off the bench in order to focus on the starting 11. I’ve not given any thought to it at all but as FPL require you to fill it, in come Kamara at Fulham (4.5m), Stephens at Brighton (4.5m), Peltier of Cardiff (4.0m), and Stekelenburg of Everton (4.0m).

So there it is, my Sky Player in FPL team:

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I don’t see this changing before the deadline, but if there’s any last minute injury news that forces my hand, then I’ll highlight it on my twitter feed.

My Captain

At this point, I’m so glad FPL don’t require daily captain changes like Sky do. For the first 4 gameweeks, it allows me to just move between Salah and Aguero depending on who has the better fixture. Salah will take the armband for GW1.

Comments

By all means hit me up on twitter with any comments or thoughts you have on the Sky Player In FPL team, especially if you have any last-minute suggestions. Plus, if you want to follow the progress of the team, there are links to the blog team (and my personal team for anyone interested) listed in the links section.

Hope you all have a great opening gameweek folks and I’ll be back next week for gameweek 2.

Team Selection

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Welcome back guys. The season is almost here (just under 3 days and counting) so its time to get down to the nitty-gritty of picking out a team. Today I’ll be running through the underlying process before eventually revealing my selections – hopefully on Friday once any post transfer deadline day adjustments have been made.

Formations

The fluidity in which you can move between formations in Sky means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy to start the season with. If a 4-4-2 isn’t working, a single transfer of a defender to a forward instantly transforms your team to a more attacking 3-4-3. However, as I discussed in the previous post, the problem with FPL is that it is a far more rigid system, and the exact same change would require at least two transfers; a downgrade in one area to upgrade another. I’m still deciding how to combat this with the self-imposed transfer limit, so there’s currently a poll on twitter for the community to get involved.

In the meantime though, it may be better to pick a formation and run with it for a while. One that worked particularly well for me (and I’m sure many others) last season was 4-5-1, as it gave a lot of flexibility in switching between the premium options in midfield and up front. Plus, it is also one that is seemingly supported by many of the ‘value’ based articles we are currently seeing in the community, with midfielders and especially defenders giving the most value for money, while forwards surprisingly provide the least.

Considering its Sky success last season, I think I will stick by this and base my initial starting 11 on this 4-5-1 formation. However, with changes to this looking difficult, I haven’t totally ruled out opting for a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 if it appears to improve the level of flexibility.

Contemplating Team Structure

The ability to switch formations back and forth with ease means that any initial starting 11s will inevitably vary in Sky. Yet, if you were to look around at the majority of Sky RMTs of seasons past and present, you will start to notice some familiarities in terms of structure:

Budget

The value argument is beginning to change the perspective here, but generally the majority of the budget will have been spent on premium assets in midfield and up front, as these are perceived to gain the most points and will be essential for the captaincy.

Goalkeepers

They pose the same dilemma in Sky as they do in FPL – do you go premium for the greater chance of clean sheets, or take a budget option who will get you saves? I would tend to go more budget in Sky due to the Man of the Match bonus potential (Burnley keepers have been magnets for them), but it’s a personal preference and one I’ll be leaving until the last depending on the budget I have remaining.

Defenders

Defenders can be a source of frustration in Sky as they, along with goalkeepers, are the only positions where you can accumulate negative scores with somewhat regularity if you get it wrong. Plus, the limited transfers format means it’s unlikely that you’ll want to risk too many changes on this area. This has led to much debate in the community regarding the benefits of filling the team with set and forget premium options, and there’s no denying that this strategy has much merit.

In my experience though (and much like FPL), the top players will always tend to look to find a combination across the various price points; hunting out the regular bonus earners, providing flexibility, and saving money where viable. In particular, they are always on the look out for that elusive ‘uber’ cheap starter who, despite a lack of significant points returns, will be essential in releasing funds further up the pitch (thanks for last season Jonjoe!).

By comparison, it’s a rare sight to see a 4.0m defender perceived as anything other than bench fodder in FPL, but should that always be the case if such an option presents itself?

Midfielders

This is where the cash leagues are won and lost in Sky! With the top 2 (and 5 of the top 10) scorers in the game coming from this area of the team, it would make sense to pack the team with as many star names as your budget will allow. Players who offer goals, assists, and bonus MoM performances are essential, as they present excellent captain opportunities. FPL is certainly no different in that respect.

However, it’s the ability to identify the under-priced options (see Salah, circa 2017/18), or the cheaper defensive midfielders that keep the team ticking over with a regular stream of tackle and passing bonuses, that make all the difference in Sky.

This is a task made all the more difficult for an FPL player, as these types of player often go unrewarded for their craft. Many of you who have played both games may have already anticipated the big differences when in comes to the bonus points allocation. I’ll cover this when making my eventual picks, but the basic idea will be to try to identify the players who might overlap.

Strikers

Not much to say on the Strikers as generally they are the most straight forward position in the team to choose. Whether it’s from goals (Kane), or their all around attacking play (Firmino), they’ll be a heavy hitter capable of double-digit scores and huge captain hauls on any given day.

FPL does trump Sky for flexibility of price points in this area though. Obviously you have the elite guys like Kane (approaching 13.0m in both formats), but then you also have the opportunity to compliment that with a Firmino (9.5m in FPL), or a Marko Arnautovic (7.0m). Those two would set you back 12.2m and 10.1m respectively in Sky, which represents the vast points potential differences between the two games.

I will certainly be looking to exploit this if I need to change from the suggested 4-5-1 formation above.

Initial Strategy

As noted in the previous post, Sky’s first overhaul period will correspond with the first international break of the season, which takes place after gameweek 4.

Many managers have deduced that all the players affected by late returns from the World Cup should be fully available at this point, if not before. We should also have a better idea of who is likely to play regularly and be on form, so I will be looking to utilise my first Wildcard at that stage to get some key players in and set me up for the long haul.

That being said, there seems little point in creating a team to last beyond the first 4 gameweeks. I will mainly target players with seemingly good fixtures during that timeframe, so expect to see plenty from the likes of Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Burnley, & Everton in the final team.

Future Posts

I hope the above has provided a bit of an insight into what I’ll be looking for when creating the team from a Sky perspective.

I must admit, I’ll be glad to see the season get underway now. The build-up is always so time consuming with research, friendlies, multiple teams to draft etc., that I’m just looking forward to watching some actual football.

I’ll be back on Friday with the blog team reveal for gw1 and to explain my selections. But after that, I’ll be looking to provide more of a weekly post as I consider the teams development and document its performance.

Thankfully, the team is almost there now. We just have the small matter of the transfer window closing on Thursday to navigate first…….

 

The Sky FF Approach

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Firstly, let me just say thanks to everyone who has shown great support for the blog already. It just goes to show how great the SkyFF and FPL communities really are, and I can’t encourage people enough to get involved with some of the amazing accounts out there.

As many of you have already seen, in my first post I made the statement that I would be playing FPL the Sky way. In the short time since it was published, I’ve recieved a few comments asking what exactly that means, and how it’s possible given the games obvious differences?

Both very valid questions which I think require further explanation:

Team Selection

Sky’s budget is set solely for picking a playing team of 11, as opposed to a squad of 15, so I fully intend to do the same. The idea being that by essentially writing off the bench and allocating minimal funds to it, that should allow me to focus all my time, effort, and budget on getting a high scoring starting 11 each week.

It may go against the normal FPL consensus of having a fully playing squad, but you can only get points from 11 players so why not try and max them out to the fullest extent!!

Transfers

This will be the main contentious issue in this little experiment of mine, as the process behind transfers is very different between the two formats. However, with Sky being a limited transfers game, patience is an absolute must and I hope to apply the same logic here.

Let’s be honest, even the best players know how easy it is to rage transfer someone out in haste, so if I can limit myself to the same 40 transfer limit, it should in turn force a similar level of patience.

I do envisage a problem here though, in that FPL is nowhere near as flexible as Sky. A simple formation change using 1 transfer in Sky, will be completely out of the question and I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little unsure how to combat that. Can I give myself an added allowance for this without compromising what I’m trying to achieve???? If anyone has any ideas, hit me up on twitter as I’m open to suggestions.

Captains

Sky’s daily captain changes are a big part of why I love the game so much. By default, it forces a real strategic element to plotting your team selection, and gives the planners amongst us a real edge.

I am however, quite thankful that it won’t be an issue for this as I’m applying enough restrictions without having to find 3 players a week to take the armband too!!! I will attempt to include enough captaincy options to cover the main protagonists each gameweek though.

The Overhaul   

Last season, Sky introduced the concept of the ‘Overhaul’ i.e. the Wildcard in FPL terms. The difference being that they have to be used during a given week, as opposed to having a choice.

The first one this year is in week 5, which actually lends itself well to FPL this season given that many of the leagues star names will be taking extended breaks after their exertions in the World Cup.

Plus, it also happens to correspond with an international break so it will provide that extra bit of thinking time to formulate a plan to see me through to the new year.

Chips

This is probably the main difference between the two games, and something that will be extremely difficult to apply a Sky strategy to.

The Triple Captaincy and Free Hit chips will just require me to be opportunistic in their use, whereas the bench boost will prove worthless unless I can generate enough team value during the early stages of season to improve the bench at the 2nd Overhaul. Given that prices remain static in Sky though, I will be giving them little heed and makes this tactic unlikely at this stage. However, a good bench boost seems to only generate around 16-24 points so it’s not a huge loss in the overall scheme of things.

I think the above has covered the basic premise of what I’m trying to achieve with this blog, but if anyone has any suggestions then I’ll be happy to discuss them over on twitter (see the links page for details, or use the shortcut below).

Future Posts

I have our annual Fantasy Draft scheduled for this week (I can’t recommend the head-to-head draft format enough if you’re one for having bragging rights over your mates on a weekly basis!!!), but I’m hoping to get another 2 blog posts out before the big kick off. The first will note my thoughts on team structure and formation, with the second coming nearer the deadline and revealing the team I’ll be starting the season with.

Please be assured, not all my posts will be this long so a big appreciation from me if you’ve stuck with it this far. Remember, the deadline in most fantasy formats this season will be Friday so start getting your teams set and I’ll be back early next week.

An Introduction

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I’ve always been a player of FPL (since 2006/7). For a long time, it was my fantasy game of choice and last season I scored my best ever finish at 7.6k. Prior to this however, my level of success in the game has been rather inconsistent. No matter what variables they introduce, it seems that I just can’t nail down a strategy that works for me.

Like many in the community, the Sky game was much more of a recent find. I think I saw and advert for it on TV a few years ago, signed up, and I’ve never looked back since. Whether it’s the static player costs, or the increased level of planning required, the game just suits me. I’ve managed to cut my rank every single year, culminating in a 37th place finish last season which was far beyond expectation. It even won me a few quid from some cash mini-leagues……..bonus!!!

Now, this variation in results between the two games has got me to thinking – what would happen if I took the strategies that have served me so well in Sky, and applied them to FPL??

Immediately, you might be thinking that they are two separate games with completely different rules and scoring systems, and on that basis you’d be correct. In fact, there are plenty of great articles out there that go to great lengths to highlight them for anyone wanting to make the transition.

But yet in some ways, when you break them down, they are also pretty similar :

  • Squad or no, both require a team of 11 players to score as many points as possible.
  • Your captain scores double points.
  • Sky’s bonus earning actions (saves, tackles, passing) are the same actions that help contribute to the calculation of the BPS system, while the MoM awards can be indicative of who gets the 3BPS.
  • There are two ‘Overhauls’, or ‘Wildcards’ available during the season.
  • A limited 40 transfers, compared with 38 free transfers for the season in FPL.
  • A certain level of patience required.

So, with the new season just over a week away, I’m going to investigate if these similarities are enough for me to be able to create a successful FPL team, using the same principles as I use for Sky.

Over the course of the next 7 days I’ll be starting to create the team, so I’m hoping to use this blog to note my plans, ideas, thought processes and strategies before embarking on the season ahead.