GW7 – Catching up……

Blog Team, Posts

Apologies for missing a few weeks guys. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes work (and life in general) just gets in the way of fantasy football.

Anyway, this will hopefully just be a quick catch up post to fill you in on how the blog team has been doing these past few weeks.

GW5 – Wildcard Success

Readers who also follow me on twitter will know that I deliberated long and hard over the FPL overhaul team during the international break, and was aware that many of you were doing the same. Therefore, I hope my last post managed to address some of the relevant issues and maybe provided some help along the way.

In respect of the wildcard team itself -and following on from that post – I ditched my premium goalkeeper in Ederson, bought into the left-back revolution by getting Alonso, and held on to Mo Salah. I backed the watchlist heavily by bringing in Patrico, Hazard, David Silva and Callum Wilson into the starting eleven, while also tidying up the bench.

Now, I realise that part of this whole SkyFF strategy was to ignore the bench, as that format doesn’t have one at all. However, one of the first points I noted when starting out on this experiment was that minimal funds would be spent on the bench, in order to allocate the maximum funds available to the starting eleven. Therefore, with the emergence of another playing £4.0m defender in Ryan Bennett, along with the value lost by Hojbjerg in the opening weeks, it meant it was possible to get another £0.6m onto the field. As far as I’m concerned, it would have been remiss of me to use the wildcard and not take that opportunity.

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A score of 83 was an ideal start for the new lineup. With the average being only 47 for the GW5, that saw the team leap a considerable 70k back up the rankings to sit around 23k overall, and correct its recent slide between GW3 and GW4.

While Eden Hazard blew Cardiff away with a hat-trick and Sky MoM performance, almost everyone else pitched in with at least some sort of return. The unlikely trio of Alonso, Robertson and Salah were the only ones who struggled, but I’ll admit that I did get somewhat fortunate with Bennett coming in for Mendy. There had been no reports or suggestions of an injury to the City left-back at that point, otherwise he would have been ditched on the wildcard, so to still get a clean sheet in his place just goes to highlight the strengths of a fully playing bench…………regardless of whether you aim to use it.

GW6 – Consolidation

After the highs of GW5, I was happy to see the team just about manage to consolidate the gains by finishing just 8 points above the gameweek average.

 

 

Transfers Remaining: 36/40

Maintaining that rank would once again come at a cost though. Frustratingly, it seems like I’m making a transfer every week just to cover some sort of injury or suspension, and that curse struck again as the Mendy situation rumbled on. Was it his knee, his ankle, his 5th metatarsal? Only Pep knew and he wasn’t telling, so at the very last-minute, Trippier was drafted in from the watchlist for his games against Brighton, Huddersfield, and Cardiff. It would have been a perfect move too had Spurs kept their heads deep into injury time. Still, I’ll take the assist points thank you very much.

It’s becoming repetitive now, but the defence continues to pull me back from the brink on a weekly basis. However, it’s not the ‘Big 3’ that have impressed me the most, although they’ve undoubtedly played a big part. No, it’s young Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Palace that’s stolen the show ahead of his premium counterparts. GW6 saw him register his 3rd clean sheet and maximum bonus, as well as a 3rd tackle and 2nd MoM bonus in Sky. In fact, he’s currently averaging 5.6 points per appearance and that includes a sending off – amazing value for a player that started the season at just £4.0m.

As for the captaincy, the Salah/Aguero rotation continues to reap rewards. It was a close call between the two (as is always the case), but the team is yet to come out on the wrong side of that choice with Aguero not quite as prolific away from the Etihad. Given that so many people took the ‘No Salah’ option on their wildcard, I’m actually a little disappointed that he didn’t further punish those that lost the faith in the Egyptian, especially having seen the opportunities that came his way.

Watchlist

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. Many of these players came into the side on the wildcard so it’s taking some time to re-form, especially as I was away last weekend and didn’t see any football. For anyone that’s interested, the previous list can be found here.

GW7 – Transfers

Going back to Pep and City, they provided yet another source of frustration last weekend by leaving David Silva’s magic touch on the bench in a game where they duly ran riot over Cardiff. The fact that he was deemed surplus to requirements in a game that they were expected to win big is a now a worry, especially as his replacements cleaned up in his absence. With a must win game in the Champions League on Wednesday, and a trip to Anfield to follow, will Pep even bother to risk him against Brighton in GW7? Another week, another City based headache!!!!

With the wildcard played, and a transfer already used on Mendy since, I had hoped to preserve my transfer count over the coming weeks. Strictly speaking, I should be holding onto Silva against lower league opposition as there’s every chance that if he plays, he scores well. That’s the smart play, but that nagging feeling of doubt is there and I can’t seem to shake it.

The other problem I have, is that his likely replacements have their own good fixtures this week, ramping up the pressure to the move earlier than anticipated. Richarlison returned from his ban against Arsenal and looked impressive, taking 4 shots with 2 being on target. In GW7 he comes up against a Fulham side that have allowed a league high of 43 shots on target, and only Cardiff & Huddersfield have conceded more than their 13 goals. With Marco Silva talking up his potential to play as a striker, he’s definitely a huge draw this week.

The other player catching my eye is Heung Min Son. He returned to the Spurs starting line-up last week after his exertions with South Korea, and I expect him to keep his place with Eriksen having been ruled out through injury (note: reports since are suggesting Dele Alli will also miss out). He had 3 attempts on goal versus Brighton, and comes up against Both Huddersfield and Cardiff in the next two. As stated above, they have conceded the most goals in the league so Son couldn’t ask for a better run to get his season underway. The only problem with Son is the competition he faces for starts from the likes of Lucas Moura and the fit again Erik Lamela. In a limited transfer game, that makes him far from an ideal target, but could those immediate fixtures offset that?

As of yet, I’m yet to make either move as I stubbornly debate the merits of holding onto David Silva. That steadily reducing transfer number is really putting me off, but should I make any moves then I will post this on twitter nearer to the deadline. Another week going to the wire!!!!

Captaincy

Another straight-forward decision on the captaincy this week. No player has taken more than Sergio Aguero’s 31 shots and his record at home is unrivalled. In his last 10 starts at the Etihad, Aguero has registered 14 goals and 3 assists, and comes up against a Brighton team without a win in their last 16 away games. With my other captaincy options facing each other this weekend in Hazard and Salah, Aguero is the obvious choice to improve on his 4 goals so far this season.

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Transfers Remaining: 36/40

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Wildcard Conundrums

Opinions

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With the coming of international break boredom, so begins Sky Fantasy Football’s first overhaul period. It’s a welcome opportunity to revamp the team; ditching your duds without a semblance of remorse, and more importantly, without your transfer count taking a single hit. If that sounds familiar to the FPL players among you, it’s essentially the wildcard, but without having the choice of when to play it.

Now, for those that have been following the journey so far, you will be aware that the whole point of this blog is to see if I can play FPL successfully using a Sky based method. That includes adopting its transfer limits and game structure, so guess what people – the blog team’s first wildcard is………..

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been organising notes, scouring the stats, listening to podcasts, and for what? To rip up two teams that have actually started the season pretty well – top 1k in Sky and top 100k in FPL! I’m gutted it’s come around so quickly to be honest, but I suppose it’s better than having to chase down a bad start.

So, as I sit here awaiting the manager press conferences before pondering those final few decisions, I thought I would address some of the dilemmas that managers like myself might be currently facing.

Premium Goalkeepers

My starting strategy was to get a premium set and forget option, and I’ve been on Ederson since day 1. A sure-fire way to avoid Pep’s defensive rotation and £0.5m cheaper than De Gea, that was a no-brainer right?!

Apparently not. Despite getting an assist in GW2, he sits only 6th for GK’s with a single clean sheet and 5 saves across four gameweeks. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that he’ll be up there come the end of the season, but when the likes of McCarthy (2nd) and Hart (4th) cost £1m less, have more clean sheets, and have picked up an extra 6 points each for 20+ saves alone, then that £5.5m price tag is becoming harder and harder to justify.

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In fact, apart from Alisson (who has just shown he has the odd howler in him), none of the premium options are proving their worth. Of the top 10 GKs, 6 started the season at a budget friendly £4.5m, and only 3 come from the usual ‘top 6’ teams. Plus, it just so happens that those 3 teams are Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea – arguably the most attacking in the league – and owning a GK from one of them prevents us from getting a third attacker should they be required.

There is definite value to be found elsewhere in that GK bracket, so Ederson just has to go for me.

The Left-back Revolution

A glance at the overall standings is enough for anyone to notice that there’s some sort of revolution happening. Of the current top 5 scorers in the game, four are defenders who apparently apply their trade at left-back, although I’d argue that their heat-maps tell us otherwise.

Alonso, Mendy, Robertson and Holebas are playing like wingers and are currently averaging between 8-11 points per game through a combination of both defensive and attacking returns. That’s a ridiculous level of scoring, and aside from Holebas, I just can’t see the others regressing all that much given how their respective teams have shaped up in these early stages.

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For anyone on a Wildcard, I would strongly recommend trying to squeeze in at least two of these flying wing-backs, if not all three. Luckily for me, I’ve had Robertson in from the start, and I spent a precious transfer on getting Mendy in GW2 just to curtail the damage. However, with limiting my use of transfers until now, I’ve had to watch from afar as Alonso has demolished everything in front of him. His 1 goal, 5 assists, 2 clean sheets and 9 bonus points have been a real rank killer, as he’s blitzed his way to the being the top scorer in the game.

Spoiler alert……..he’s one that is definitely coming in on my wildcard!

Mo Salah or No Salah?

The biggest dilemma facing those on a Wildcard is can we go without Mo Salah? That £13.0m is a big chunk of the budget, and with Liverpool entering a pretty rough stretch of fixtures that includes Spurs, Chelsea and City in three of the next four league games (not to mention a few European ties with PSG and Napoli), is it really that unthinkable?

The waters are muddied even further when you look at the performances of his Senegalese strike partner. After Alonso, Sadie Mane currently sits 2nd in the overall standings courtesy of his 4 goals and 8 bonus points, and has outscored last years top scorer by 39 points to 27. For a £3.0m saving at the time of writing, its easy to see why many in the community believe he could provide adequate Liverpool attacking cover over that difficult stretch.

Having looked at a wildcard draft without Salah in it, I must admit I’m tempted. That £3.0m difference could mean a Mane and David Silva, as opposed to a Salah and Neves, and the squad unequivocally looks far more balanced for it. However, my problem is this – we are talking about forgoing a man who broke all sorts of records last season, and despite being outscored by Mane so far, has still registered 2 goals and 2 assists.

However, once we delve further into the underlying stats, it becomes clear that Salah abandoners may be acting a little hastily.  He dominates in every category, having had more big chances (5), more shots in the box (12), more shots on target (7), and more attempted assists (13) than any of his midfield counterparts. Even those difficult league fixtures shouldn’t be too off-putting given that Salah scored 7 goals in eight matches against them in all competitions last season.

I can’t help but feel that had the Egyptian taken one or two more of those big chances, then we wouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of life without him. Put simply, going without Salah would be a huge decision at this early stage of the season and it’s one I’m not prepared to make just yet. Everything seems to point to a huge score being just around the corner, and I for one want to have him in my team when it happens.

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GW4 – A Quick Review

Blog Team

I must say, it was very much another average gameweek to take the team into the seemingly endless and dull international break. Thankfully, the Sky game is now in its first overhaul period, which means for this FPL team it’s also Wildcard time!

Transfers Remaining: 37/40

Gameweek 4 Summary

A promising start which exceeded all expectations seems to have really hit the buffers in GW3 and GW4. An uninspiring 47, for another fall in rank of around 24k, wasn’t quite the way I had hoped to bounce back from last weeks below par effort. I know these sorts of weeks often happen, and have been playing fantasy football long enough to know that generally everyone suffers when they do, but it almost feels like the FPL gods are trying to redress the balance after allowing us to set off with a bang.

Since those red cards for Wan-Bissaka and Richarlison in gameweeks 2 and 3 (thanks guys….sigh!!), the team has really suffered a drop off in form that not even a few transfers have been able to abate. Of the three changes made, only Mendy has produced a score more than 2; a record that is radically in need of changing if this experiment is going to succeed.

Last weeks transfer of Mkhitaryan produced nothing more than a one minute cameo, and this weeks ‘obvious’ move for Walcott ended in tears as he hobbled from the field before reaching that magic 60 minute mark. In fact, when it comes to old Theo, history tells us that nothing is ever obvious apart from his ability to pick up injuries, and I really should have listened! Plus, the surprise news of an injury to Wilf Zaha just compounded issues, as we all know that Palace are seemingly incapable of winning without him these days and they duly delivered.

All things considered, I guess I should count myself lucky that the team has managed to tread water through another difficult week, and that once again it was the defence that has kept me afloat. With an assist apiece, both Mendy and Robertson have developed a knack of picking up points even when their respective teams concede (….well-played Alisson), so having only a single clean sheet from Luiz was far from the disaster it should have been. Actually, combined with another 2 bonus points for the Chelsea man, the team continues to edge closer to an average of 5 points per defender, so it’s no wonder that people are starting to focus on the ‘left-back revolution’. Even without Alonso, that’s almost the equivalent of a clean sheet for every defender, every week, for 4 straight weeks for the blog team – that’s astonishing stuff!!

Unsurprisingly given the no-shows mentioned above, it was a fairly sub-standard showing from the team’s attackers this week. Aguero’s history versus Newcastle is why he was handed the armband, so stats of zero shots on target and a solitary assist is far below what was expected from a striker whose team finished the game with over 78% possession. Never the less, I’m happy that this obligatory attacking return against the Magpies maintained a 100% record for the captaincy picks over the first 4 weeks.

For the second time in four weeks, Sadio Mane was the star of the show. He put away the Robertson assist for his 4th goal in as many games, and gained another 3 bonus points in the process. That takes his overall bonus tally to 8, which already equals his output from the entirety of last season. Seeing as Mo has yet to register a single bonus in FPL, this goes a long way to giving the Community’s ‘No Salah’ movement further credibility. For £3m less of an outlay, can Mane really continue to outperform the ‘Egyptian King’?? Personally, I’m not so sure, but there’s definitely a decision to be made for those on a wildcard!

Gameweek 1-4 Review

Despite not hitting any great heights during the last two weeks, a total score of 273 has the team averaging just over 68 points a week. This is likely to be unsustainable given the parameters of this experiment, but given that last years FPL winner finished with an average of around 66 then I have to be happy with how things have gone so far. It’s quite difficult to assess what would constitute a successful score at this early stage, but if I can manage to keep the team somewhere around a 50 point weekly average then that should hopefully give me a decent finish.

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 the last weekend of fixtures, but for anyone who missed it, the updated list can be found here.

GW5 – Transfers

As I mentioned earlier, the Sky game is currently in its first overhaul period. That means the blog team has its wildcard active, and is in a constant state of flux. After nearly two weeks of tinkering, there are still plenty of decisions remaining unresolved and much will depend on the upcoming manager press conferences to hopefully clarify some injury situations. Because of this, I won’t detail the changes I’m looking at just yet, but suffice to say, the majority of the players will have come from the watchlist.

I will try to put out another post before the weekend to give my views on the major issues facing wildcarders, and to reveal the final team.

Note of Thanks

Since starting the blog back in August, the response from the readers and the twitter community have been amazing. In just over a month, the twitter account alone has managed over 100 new followers, so I can’t thank everyone enough for their continued support. Cheers all!

 

 

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