Steve Rothgeb

Weekly Picks

print article archives RSS

Fuzzy's FPL Favorites - GW1

Thursday, August 10, 2017


And we're off!

 

Welcome back friends to another highly-anticipated season of Fantasy Premier League and I could not be more ecstatic to help guide you on your way throughout the 2017/2018 campaign and achieve whatever goals you may have set for yourself. Now, I would love to be the person to help you finish ranked #1 overall in the world, but there can only be one of those and I hope my audience is at least two, so, can we work out a deal? What I can do is promise to dedicate my energy and deliver the best advice possible, week after week, to help you gain a competitive edge on your peers, your mini-league rivals, your felow countrymen, or whomever you want to claim dominance over. All you need to do is read. Everyone wins.

 

My column focuses on the traditional FPL game, a format where transfers are limited and crucial and truly define the success of a manager's season. As the season goes along, the presentation may alter somewhat in an effort to provide this most pertinent information. This opening week will be all about building the initial 15-man squad, but as the season kicks on, the column will focus as much on players to consider cutting loose as it will consider picking up. FPL is a living, breathing organism. As much as we would like to examine the stats, crunch every number and expect a result to occur, if there is one thing I have learned playing this game over the years, sometimes you just need to let the current take you where you need to go. Last year, FPL did us a big favor by splitting up the two wildcards in either half of the season, forcing us to use one in the season's first half. It takes a lot of the pressure off of trying to get everything perfect from the jump. There comes a point with this game, especially in the buildup to Week 1, where you can become the victim of over-tinkering, of over-analysis. If you build a squad of every possible combination, you are going to look back Sunday night and say "Gosh, I had the perfect team at one point". Well, of course you did. You also had a combination of players at one point that would have given you the worst round imaginable. Just relax. Football is back. Looking at the landscape, I don't think it is too difficult to build a solid squad that will at least keep you competitive as the league takes shape and you begin to make those crucial transfers that separate the legends from the mere mortals.

 

MY SQUAD-BUILDING PHILOSOPHY

 

As referenced moments ago, FPL is a ever-changing ecosystem. My philosophy tends to evolve over the seasons. Sometimes, I will revert back to an old philosophy. Other seasons, I will try something new. It is all circumstantial. Let me break down the bullet points of how I built my squad this season...

 

1) Never spend more than 8.5m on GKs - Every year, a 4.5m GK does the business and I for one am not in the interest of rotating the position. Tom Heaton was in my GW1 side last season with a 4.0m enabler. Jack Butland emerged at 4.5m the year before that. Be thrifty at this volatile position.

 

2) No money wasted on bench - The FPL bench can be a bit of a trap. Yes, ideally, it would be wonderful for a viable option to come in to replace a surprise omission from your intended XI. But, I think I can remember a bench player getting subbed in who scored more than 2 points happening maybe twice in the past three seasons. Compare that to how many times big hauls were trapped on my bench because all my players played. My thinking is, you will likely use your first half wildcard within the first month or so of the season. You should be building a squad with nailed on players with no question marks of playing time and surely no fatigue, so don't worry about your bench. Even if you get unlucky one week and have only 10 men going, you still need that sub you spent an extra .5m to have on your bench to deliver something THAT WEEK to justify the cash. Otherwise, you have to think how that .5m is already in your XI every week, turning a Raheem Sterling into a Leroy Sane or a Chris Smalling into an Antonio Valencia for example. Once you use your wildcard, you should have built a half million or so in team value if you are playing the game right, and when you create your new squad, then afford yourself that extra bench player. By then, you will know who the cheap 4.5m defender worth owning is anyway. Make sense?

 

3) Don't trust the forward options beyond the elite - This is a take that I think is new for me. Usually, I start the season with a budget third striker but I simply don't like any of the mid to low priced options taking up a starting spot in my XI. There is only one prospect I like and that is Chicharito, but West Ham has made it easy for me to avoid him early on with a heavy road schedule. Yes, this year, I think you take two big strikers among Kane, Lukaku and one of the City forwards and use that third spot as minimum-priced bench fodder.

 

4) It is OK to start Tom Carroll...for now - Carroll is shaping up to be the bargain midfielder everyone is set to start the season with and for good reason. He has had a dynamite preseason, showing glimpses of filling the role that Gylfi Sigurdsson is to leave behind, though to be fair, let's not expect anything close to Siggy's production. Last preseason, Etienne Capoue turned heads. What did he translate that into when the regular season started? Massive points that many managers watched painfully stuck on their benches. Here's the deal - my philosophy in the merit of a player is "points per pound". What are you giving back to me in relation to what I have spent on you? For 14m, does it make sense to start Sadio Mane and Carroll, or does it make sense to start Willian and Zaha? While the latter duo seems more logical, Mane is the most dynamic figure of the lot and is capable of making up ground lost by the many weeks that Carroll gives you two points. But this is what you need to learn to enjoy from 4.5m players, whether attackers or defenders. If they offer any upside other than playing time, and Carroll does, than they deserve consideration for selection, because, at worst, they are going to return the minimum investment you put into them.

 

5) Forget defensive rotation - I am not going for it this season. Perhaps I will consider it when I play my first wildcard, but as things look to me now, I don't see a need for it. I see one premium defensive option that I want to start every week, one mid-priced option that has fantastic fixtures who will start every week and one 4.5m prospect that is an under-the-radar pick for a promoted side that has an established attacking threat. In the first 10 weeks, there is only one tough fixture for the premium pick and one tough one for the mid-priced pick. 

 

6) Play it by ear with the wildcard - This is a logical conclusion from what I've mention so far. Last season, I kind of knew I was going to wildcard early. There was a noticeable shift in fixtures and it occurred right after the transfer window/international break. This season, I'm not so sure it will need to be played so early. Then again, I could have just gotten every 50/50 call wrong and decide to wildcard early. My point is, I think it is possible to build a squad capable of taking advantage of early fixtures but not backing you into a corner where you have to play the wildcard. Try to strike a balance.



Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Galin | Nik

 

 

THE WEEK 1 SELECTION PROCESS

 

So here it is. This is my squad and how I built it. There are several great options that aren't in my squad and I will mention them in the next section.

 

Goalkeeper -Asmir Begovic/Rob Elliot - The popular budget keeper is Ben Foster and that is likely based on West Brom's fixtures, which are favorable. But, fixtures are only meaningful if the club are any good and, to me, the Baggies aren't. They are trending down after a horrific second half last season. Trending up for me is the Cherries defense. Begovic alone is an upgrade between the sticks. Nathan Ake is on board permanently and for a full season. Eddie Howe is a great mind. Elliot is a starter for now and will keep my fingers crossed I get some use out of him. Money spent at the position - 8.5m.

 

Defense - When the FPL game launched, I think Marcos Alonso was one of the first names I plugged in to the squad, mostly out of bitterness for missing out on so many points last season. But, in the past few days, I have finally come to a decision. I want a Manchester United defender. United have great fixtures, I trust their defense more than their attack and, because they have a crowd of defenders, I feel like I am at an advantage by owning the most nailed-on option, Antonio Valencia. Up next, taking advantage of fixtures and loving the up and coming defender who was a bonus point magnet when given playing time last season, I've opted for Southampton's Jack Stephens, who I feel is safer than Maya Yoshida at this point should reinforcements at center back be brought in to the south coast. Finally, starting as my 3rd defender, is Brighton & Hove's Markus Suttner. Signed from Ingolstadt, he delivered four goals and five assists in the Bundesliga. A budget defender with that kind of attacking potential, you play him regardless of fixture, because you never know when that odd return will come. Rounding out the position are two 4m enablers. i think Kevin Long is the best choice among the lot, as he is the clear replacement if anything were to happen to either Ben Mee or James Tarkowski. I then simply went Brandon Mason of Watford because of low ownership. A highly-owned 4m defender like Angel Rangel is at a greater risk of a faster price drop. Plus, I don't imagine I will want to own more than three Hornets at any time this season. Money spent at position - 24m.


Midfield - With Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez injured, the future of Gylfi Sigurdsson up in the air and a few more midfield prospects with a tough opening run of fixtures or a lack of preseason preparation, carving out a midfield to start your season with is not as much of a headache as it potentially could be. I have had a few players move in and out of this position, but two have not budged - Dele Alli and Kevin de Bruyne. My love for Alli knows no bounds. I can only hope he starts off hot or at least shares the spoils with Eriksen rather than Eriksen stealing all the glory. de Bruyne looks to be an assist machine again but I like his chances of adding significantly to his goal tally as well, based on City's attacking shape in the pre-season. Up next is Liverpool's new toy Mohamed Salah. You don't want to read too much into preseason but Salah's four goals has him looking like he is ready to fit right into the Reds attacking machine and I think he is capable of cutting a bit into Mane's production, so potentially Mane production for .5m less. My 4th midfielder is as strong as a 4th midfielder as one could expect to have - Chelsea's Willian. Here's the deal. Willian is 7m. I guarantee you, the only reason he doesn't cost 8.5-9m is pitch time. Nailed on, he is a premium midfielder, all over set pieces. Yes, many feel Chelsea will not be at their best with the lack of Hazard and the transition at striker, but come on folks, they will score goals and for 7m, I think Willian is a STEAL to start the season with. Finally, as a fifth mid, and starting, is the aforementioned Tom Carroll. I will take his two points and anything beyond that is gravy. Money spent at position - 40m.

 

Forward - By far, the highest-owned player heading into Week 1 is Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku. It makes one feel they are risking too much NOT to own him. Well, consider me a risky fella. Will I own Lukaku at some point this season? Surely. Could it be as soon as Sunday night when he bags a brace while I have egg on my face? Naturally. But here's my stance - I will trust in spending large sums of cash in United attacking players when they force me to do so, not because they "should" deliver. Last year Mourinho comes in, brings in all world striker Zlatan, brings in transfer record smashing Pogba, brings in Bundesliga POY in Mkhitaryan, and what was the result? Certainly not a juggernaut attack. How many times did a match at Old Trafford head into halftime 0-0? Look, I am sure Lukaku will hit twenty goals this season if he stays healthy, but I think Gabriel Jesus is capable of at least coming close to keeping up with the Belgian, close enough to warrant the 1m discount in price. So my big hitting forward pair are Jesus and Harry Kane, rounded out by bench enabler Oliver McBurnieMoney spent at position - 27.5m.


In general, I feel comfortable doubling up on Tottenham's attack, because they are stable and young, there is no reason to expect dropoff in production. I feel comfortable doubling up on City's attack, but specifically de Bruyne and Jesus. Other prospects in the attack can present rotation headaches more frequently. I think one Liverpool attacker is a must. I think Willian is the best way into Chelsea at the moment. I think it is more important to focus on United's defense than their attack. I think you can avoid Arsenal for a while, though I can't blame you for having Kolasinac in defense.



Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Galin | Nik



OTHERS TO CONSIDER OR AVOID


Consider: Southampton - great fixtures and finished the preseason with a strong showing. I had pegged James Ward-Prowse to take his game to the next level this season and could see the hype train building over the summer, but alas, he didn't make the final cut of my team. I think he is a fine choice though and will be happy to downgrade a midfielder to get him. 

 

Crystal Palace- Opening at home to Huddersfield and home again in Week 3 to Swansea offers plenty of potential for the Eagles to do damage, and not having a Wilfried Zaha or a Patrick van Aanholt does worry me. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been starting regularly and is another minimum-priced midfielder to consider if Tom Carroll doesn't interest. 

 

Bournemouth - I've decided to go for the safest cheapest route into the Cherries defense with Begovic but there stands to be plenty of value in both Charlie Daniels and Nathan Ake, particularly the latter, who was a beast when you consider the production he gave in the time on the pitch. In terms of points per games played last season, the only players better than Ake were Marcos Alonso, Vincent Kompany, Seamus Coleman, Gary Cahill and Danny Rose.

 

Avoid: Arsenal - Injuries, three of the first five away including trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge...you normally can't get coverage from all the "big cubs" at the same time in your FPL team so if you need to sacrifice one at the moment, the Gunners appear to be the best bet. Lacazette is a lot of money to spend before we see the business and there is uncertainty of job security at several other positions. Best to leave it alone.

 

West Brom - There, I said it. Fixtures be gosh darned. As that deep sea fish-headed character from Star Wars once said (Admiral Akbar, right?), "It's a trap". I am not buying Jay Rodriguez. i can see a brace followed by two months of zilch. The defense is getting older. The "Pulis System" seems to be cracking. 

 

Everton - Great opening fixture but absolute horror show after that for several weeks. Avoid like the plague.

 

West Ham United - This could change quickly. There is a ton of boom or bust potential with this West Ham side. With a scheduling fiasco, they open the season with a heavy set of road fixtures, so I figure its a chance to watch now and invest later when the fixtures turn.

  

FINALLY

 

So there you have it folks. Plenty to digest ahead of the opening weekend. Please always bear in mind to leave your transfers to the last possible moment but when it comes to setting your Week 1 team, do not get too cute and wait last minute. Remember, we have the Friday night kickoff to lock in our lineups extra early and keep your eyes and ears open for news that could come from press conferences between the release of my column and the weekly deadlines. This is the only week where my signature sign-off does not make much sense to say, but it is my signature sign off, so I will say it anyway...

 

Good luck, and may your arrows be green.



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Jesse: NFL Must Haves

    Jesse: NFL Must Haves
  •  
    Hribar: All About Balance

    Hribar: All About Balance
  •  
    Norris: Avoid Handcuffs

    Norris: Avoid Handcuffs
  •  
    Hribar: NFL Must Haves

    Hribar: NFL Must Haves
  •  
    Summerlin: Draft Strategy

    Summerlin: Draft Strategy
  •  
    Norris: NFL Must Haves

    Norris: NFL Must Haves
  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Boyer: Hot Hitters

    Boyer: Hot Hitters