Neal Thurman

Clash Across the Pond

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Clash Across the Pond - WK1

Friday, August 11, 2017

[NOTE - the Premier League posted a shortened version of this column earlier today but you just can't stop me from taking something that could/should be 1000 words and writing 2000-3000 words about it instead.  Plus, I like this device as a way to provide some real world examples of how a draft league is working week-to-week as opposed to always speaking in generalities]


As the Premier League season gets set to start, some of the team here at the Premier League page have engaged in a Fantasy Premier League draft challenge with our counterparts across the pond at the and  As a group we don’t know each other all that well yet but with the common bond of fantasy punditry we are setting out to build some rivalry as we compete against each other in the first year of the Premier League’s draft format. 


In addition to providing some fun and competition for those in the league, this is going to be a great device for communicating on a number of topics specific to the draft format.  How are the various managers with different levels of experience in different fantasy formats adapting to this format? Who have managers started? Who have they dropped? Who are they picking up on waivers?


We’ll see how the device evolves over the course of the season and how much appetite people have for it but, for now, here are the participants in our Clash Across the Pond league and a review of the head-to-head fixtures for Week 1.


Mark - @FFScout_Mark

Team Name: Sutherns Comfort

Thrust in front of the world via TV and social media as a Fantasy Football expert last season, Mark saved face with a rank of 115th in Fantasy Premier League but he's a self-confessed newcomer to the draft format. Even so, having turned his own obsession into a full-time job via his website, he really should be able to make a fist of it. At the very least, he'll talk a good game. 


Most likely to say...Why Koscielny? Why?


Joe - @FFScout_Jonty

Team Name: Jonty’s XI 

Fantasy Football Scout’s community manager, Joe enjoyed a fine run of six top 10,000 Fantasy Premier League finishes, though that came to an end last season after he tragically put faith in Crystal Palace’s Jason Puncheon. It was a masterstroke that quite rightly prompted much ridicule from those who tune in to the Fantasy Football podcast he co-hosts each week. However, unlike Mark, Joe comes with some draft game experience as he seeks to overcome last season’s self-inflicted misery.


Most likely to say… Never again, Jason, never again.



Andy - @andy85wsm 

Team Name: Andy’s Allstars
Still wondering whether he even qualifies as a Fantasy Football “expert”, in between his role as moderator on Fantasy Football Scout, Andy managed to rank in the top 5,000 during the 2016/17 Fantasy Premier League season. Having tracked the pre-season via his live stream on his newly launched YouTube Channel, he is more prepared than most. Plus, with previous experience in draft games, he’s another of the UK quartet who heads into season with confidence. However, he fully expects his faith in Jose Mourinho and his beloved Manchester United to be his downfall.


Most likely to say... Is there a limit on United players?




Team Name: Woody Allen

Paul’s penchant for multiple FPL transfers means has a modest three top 10k finishes to point to. However, top 50 spots in other games and a quiet, pragmatic approach suggest that he might just know what he’s talking about. Senior editor at Fantasy Football Scout, Paul is hoping that the Draft format can tame his trigger-happy approach to the Fantasy market. Don’t let his David Moyes-like accent and demeanor fool you – he won’t be signing Everton rejects.


Most likely to say…I’m not happy with my team.


Jeremy - @jspitzberg

Team Name: Get on the Snake

Jeremy has been playing fantasy Premier League for all of this century, and writing about it for most of the same. After starting several blogs and communities about the sport, Jeremy is semi-retired but still displays his ignorance, 140 characters at a time.


Most likely to say... Points is points


Sean - @Sean_Sullivan_1

Team Name: Sean’s Super Subs

Having plied his trade as a columnist and fantasy expert at over the past three seasons, Sean is a product of the FPL draft "Golden Generation".  The 3-4-3 tactician has keen eye for finding undervalued talent, the focus of his weekly RotoWorld Premier League column, and a sweet tooth for attack minded fullbacks.  Sean enters the inaugural FPL Draft League campaign much like a newly promoted club, out to make a name for himself using his heart as his compass.  


Most likely to say..."(insert statement defending Andy Carroll)" 


Steve - @FuzzyWarbles

Team Name: 10 Huddersfield Lane

Over the past two decades, Steve has gained dual citizenship as an avid fantasy draft league player of MLB and NFL in the States while becoming equally passionate playing the traditional Fantasy Premier League game across the pond. Now, with the advent of the FPL Draft League merging these two love affairs together, Steve is confident there is no possible result other than success...unless everything goes wrong.


Most likely to say..."I want a screenshot of when he crossed the touchline!"


And rounding out the group, your host for this feature:

Neal - @nealjthurman

Team Name: Rotoworld_PL

The godfather (or maybe just the old man, it’s hard to tell) of Fantasy Premier League punditry and tortured Arsenal supporter.  Neal has been writing about various Fantasy Premier League game formats since the 2004-2005 season and has been playing draft fantasy sports of all types since the early 1990s when it was done via newspaper and snail mail.  Neal co-founded Never Manage Alone for Vox Media and launched’s coverage of the Premier League.

Most likely to say…Why did you draft a reserve from [insert big team here] when you need guaranteed starters?


Here’s a quick look at the Week 1 match-ups:

Sean’s Super Subs vs. Sutherns Comfort – This first intercontinental battle will hinge on the status of some pending transfers.  Sean has Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ross Barkley in his side and both have famously been held out of much of the pre-season and could hamstring Sean’s Super Subs if they’re both either gone or still in limbo.  Mark doesn’t have transfer uncertainty so much a rash of injuries that would make Arsene Wenger blush.  In the balance or definitely out for his side are Mesut Ozil, Adam Lallana, Manuel Lanzini, Laurent Koscielny, and Kieran Trippier.  That’s a lot of potential absentees to overcome.


Get on the Snake vs. Woody Allen – Our second intercontinental match of the weekend features a combination of rotation (Rashford) and injury (Ramsey, Llorente, Stanislas) questions for Jeremy while Paul has worries in midfield where Sanchez is definitely out and he has to sweat the roles that Pep Guardiola will put Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane will play.

10 Huddersfield Lane vs. Rotoworld_PL – Steve’s team looks solid as far as both injuries and transfer drama go for our Rotoworld derby.  Even the rotation concerns that he will likely experience down the road – Willian and Fabregas – are nearly certain to start this week given the health issues for Hazard and Bakayoko.  By contrast, my midfield could be a big problem with Hazard and Coutinho both out for Week 1 while Son is just back to training and could go either way. Here’s hoping that Riyad Mahrez starts amid transfer speculation or I may only have one contributing midfielder this weekend. 

Andy’s Allstars vs. Jonty’s XI – Andy’s Allstars are in relatively good shape everywhere except forward where Alvaro Morata is no guarantee to start and Troy Deeney is racing to be fit for the weekend after a pre-season riddled with injury.  The other side of this Fantasy Football Scout derby sees Joe’s team in pretty good shape with his biggest names – Lacazette, Pogba, De Gea/Lloris, Dawson, Daniels, Williams, Redmond, and Austin – all healthy and likely to figure.  This should be the match-up most likely to approximate what the two sides will look like after things have settled down. 

Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.
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