The end to another season is nigh. My word, it has been another year filled with amazing storylines, some that would inspire you, some that would drive you crazy, but always, always entertaining.
I have always been honest in my picks. For all the good calls I made that were flying under everyone's radar, there would be at least one pick a week that would blow up in my face like I am a coyote chasing a sadistic roadrunner. Unfortunately, for me, I seemed to get trapped using my transfer on the bad call and missed out on the good ones. It happened over and over and a terrible captaincy success rate has resulted in my worst FPL rank in a decade of play. No matter what happens on Sunday, even in the best case, I will finish with a rank three to four times larger than my previous worse rank. But hey, what do you expect when you go most of the season without Andrew Robertson or Raheem Sterling in your team?
However, despite little to brag about after this season wraps up, I do feel like this FPL campaign has humbled me for sure. I was used to always finishing top 100k, it was just a matter of whether I would get top 10k. Last season was a bit of a hiccup I thought, but after two straight years of a final rank drop, I think I have learned some lessons. I got too comfortable in my strategy, which had been so useful for years, that I failed to recognize the changing landscape, the biggest change I can see being that forwards are not as valuable as they once were while defenders, particularly attacking fullbacks have risen up in value. The old days of a cheap defense trying to exploit fixtures through rotation is now obsolete. I had always gone with the 3-4-3 formation unless injury, suspension or some other thing got in the way. Usually only investing in one "premium" defender. That will change next season. I just need to figure out why I am on such a bad armband streak.
But hey, what means more to me than my own rank, is being a positive influence on the readers out there and helping their teams. Sincerely, this would have been a much worse season if I were given negative feedback on my advice on even a once-in-a-blue-moon basis. I am sure I steered some wrong once or twice and they look to me as being responsible and I accept that responsibility. But the truth is, I have received many kind notes over the season about being so helpful and having managers, playing just their first season or two, showing me their excellent round scores and rankings and thanking me for guidance. It means the world to me, honestly. I touch on a lot of names and I know I cannot get it right every time. Sometimes your transfer plan is forced by your funds, a suspended player, or any number of factors that can lock you into a series of unfortunate pickups.
You may recall seeing me say on more than one occasion here that I love fantasy sports so much because it offers a chance to enjoy the game when your reality team isn't doing so hot. Well, my Spurs are in the Champions League final BABY!!! So it all works out for me in the end. I hope your season has been a wild, fun ride.
Listen up, I kind of went crazy with this last column. Apologies for it being a bit late, but we have until Sunday, don't we? I went with an unconventional layout this week. Wanted to focus on the clubs you are likely to pull your transfers from, that being the current Top 8. But, other players from the lower tiers get mentioned as well when there is relevance.
Thank you so very much for joining me in another season of FPL wackiness. Let's dive in to the final gameweek of the season...
This is not where you want to spend your last transfer or two of the season, is it? I should hope not. Well, let's look at what's what. First, Angus Gunn owners might have thought a switch was needed when Fraser Forster came in (remember him?) last week. But, Saints boss Ralph Hasenhüttl has already confirmed Gunn will be between the sticks. The only other glaring switch we know for sure is Southampton's opponent, Huddersfield, who have gone on record to say Joel Coleman will get his chance on the final day. Priced at only 4m, perhaps he can help downgrade a keeper for you while funding an upgrade elsewhere but I am not banking on a clean sheet from the Terriers. Remember though, this is FPL. Expect the unexpected. Mark Travers, anyone? Speaking of, if there is a 4m keeper to roll the dice on, he is your man. A teenage man, but a man nonetheless. I would not make this move though. Artur Boruc is out of contract, there seems no plan to renew, and it may be a career-ender this weekend, while Travers can potentially spend the summer feeding off the confidence gained in his debut rather than have the lad end on a bad performance. He is clearly the future at the position, after all. I think he would surely start in just about any other scenario, but last game of season, option two is set to possibly retire and the result has little impact, other than perhaps one spot higher or lower in the table than their current 12th position.
Possible Dangers: As odd as it is to say, very little for a Pep-led side. It has been the same back four for the last three league games and they are looking to finish out the title with the same cast I would think.
Possible Outcome: Vincent Kompany gets another start, clean sheet, max bonus and lifts the trophy.
Possible Outcome: Advantage Lovren. He ended last summer playing a World Cup final, this will be one more game to prep him for a Champions League final.
Possible Dangers: Jan Vertonghen is out, as is Davinson Sánchez and Jan Vertonghen. Juan Foyth is suspended. Danny Rose is a doubt while Kieran Trippier has logged more minutes than usual in recent days.
Possible Outcome: Toby Alderweireld and Ben Davies look nailed on to start. Kyle-Walker Peters and Serge Aurier are full back options, I trust KWP way more to get a start than the long-term absentee Aurier.
Possible Outcome: In the Europa tie, Davide Zappacosta came in to replace Christensen, taking over at right back with César Azpilicueta shifting into a central role. This could be the case again this weekend, though if there was ever a chance to see Gary Cahill (remember him?) play again, this would be the circumstance.
Possible Dangers: Sead Kolasinac is carrying a knock and is certainly doubt having just played Thursday night.
Possible Outcome: Unai Emery says "forget the wingback" approach if Kolasinac isn't fit. Nacho Monreal likely to start on the outside of a back four in that case.
Possible Dangers: Rumors of "youth" showing up in the final game, but, perhaps more interestingly, Antonio Valencia is aiming to feature in some capacity, which is a danger for the likes of Ashley Young.
Possible Outcome: Four in a row without a win for United, no way they want to see it end with a 5-match winless streak. I think OGS names as strong a side as he can. That said, Victor Lindelof looks safest for investment. The other CB could be a coin flip between Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Luke Shaw "should" get the start on the left, but Diogo Dalot and Young can play on either side.
Possible Dangers: Virtually none. Wolves are about as set a club as you can get and rotation funny business is long gone now. That said, they are sealed in 7th position. Now is the time to test a kid down the depth charts.
Possible Outcome: It will be another strong side. If they were playing a midtable or lower club, maybe a surprise inclusion, but they can have an impact on the title as they play the Reds.
Possible Dangers: Seamus Coleman picked up a knock. The Toffees have a couple of veterans in Baines and Jagielka who could threaten for a final Everton appearance.
Possible Outcome: The Toffee defense has been on point so if I am the boss, then I am rolling with what has been working - Coleman, Keane, Zouma and Digne in the back four.
And the rest...
I've thrown the rest into one space because 1) I am realizing now how massive this column is getting and 2) there aren't really any good clean sheet shouts from the bottom 12, save for Southampton and, as crazy as it sounds, Fulham. I like Patrick Van Aanholt as an outside-the-box pick. Clean sheets against the Cherries are not too common but if there are to be goals going around, he can still get in the points.
Possible Dangers: Isn't everything a possible danger in Pep's midfield? The only ones I would say are "not" are Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling. Much may hinge of the availability of Kevin De Bruyne.
Possible Outcome: Leroy Sané gets a start for a change and steals the show, outscoring Sterling. But, you buy Sterling anyway.
Possible Dangers: Jordan Henderson picked up a knock midweek but reports are looking positive.
Possible Outcome: I'd say the midfield three looks pretty certain, with Fabinho at the anchor along with Henderson and "brace off the bench" Georginio Wijnaldum. James Milner will push to find a spot somewhere though.
Possible Dangers: Heung-Min Son owners already have their transfer priority in order. The more attacking roles look pretty set, with Mousa Sissoko, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli all looking safe, along with the out-of-position Lucas Moura. The only grey area may be at the central defensive midfield spot, with Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama in a battle. Neither are prospects for fantasy, so don't worry about it.
Possible Outcome: I think Erik Lamela finds a start in here somehow, but it is not enough to want to get him for FPL purposes. Eriksen, Alli and Moura are your targets but they are likely winded and playing a tough Everton defense.
Possible Dangers: Loads. Particularly for those that started in Europa League play on Thursday night, and that includes Eden Hazard, who went the distance.
Possible Outcome: There could be some nice final picks among the Blues. Pedro and Ross Barkley, both who did not start midweek, should make the XI and I think carry great value for their price when you are certain they are going to play.
Possible Dangers: Between shapes and inconsistent form from several players, there are dangers here all over the place. Neither Henrikh Mkhitaryan nor Alex Iwobi started the Europa League match, so they are good bets to challenge for a start. Ashley Maitland-Niles could also come back in if Emery goes with the wingback formation.
Possible Outcome: The form is at forward, where Lacazette and Aubameyang are your best attacking options. I'd leave Mesut Özil and the rest of the midfield out of my plans.
Possible Dangers: Again, rumors of "youth" showing up in the final game, so there could be another McTominay-type to debut in midfield
Possible Outcome: If you have Paul Pogba, you should be alright. Otherwise, there are uncertainties to be sure. Juan Mata looks safe enough as a final-game punt at midfield if you wish, home to Cardiff. Not too bad for 6.1m.
Possible Dangers/Outcome: I would not expect much from Wolves attack away to Anfield given the scenario, but owners of Diogo Jota can at least feel comfort in knowing he has to start.
Possible Dangers: Great form and a desire to finish strong should see the usual cast of characters though Richarlison is out of the mix for sure.
Possible Outcome: Theo Walcott could come in for Richarlison if seniority counts for something. But, if it's about giving the youth a look, then Ademola Lookman is pushing for a start. Good form, but tough fixture, I am holding the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson if I had him, but not going out to transfer him in if I didn't.
And the rest...
Want to mention Southampton here again because 1) they have the most attractive fixture among the lower-tier sides and 2) we have some clarity from Ralph Hasenhüttl that the "regulars" will return to the XI that missed out last week, so good news for Ward-Prowse or Redmond owners. Luka Milivojevic is my answer to those who looking for a mid this week. At home, against a side who likes to play open and are prone to conceding, one more spot kick for the spot kick king. I would be worried in general for regulars among the rest like a Felipe Anderson or a Ryan Fraser. Luka, meanwhile, has played every single minute and surely wants the accolade of playing every second of the season. Safe buy, with a good shot at a return.
Possible Dangers/Outcome: No danger. Just Aguero starting...and hopefully scoring.
Possible Danger/Outcome: Roberto Firmino will miss the final league game so it is either Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge for the striker role. Despite carrying a knock, advantage Origi. Mo Salah has a knock as well, with Xherdan Shaqiri on standby, but we all know Mo is gonna lace up his boots for this one.
Possible DangersOutcome: Well, Harry Kane may find his way back for the CL Final but he is done for the regular season, leaving only Fernando Llorente as a classified "forward". Do not buy. I am not convinced he starts and, even if he does, I am not sure what he can do against the Toffees.
Possible Danger/Outcome: Olivier Giroud got the start up top in the Europa League tie midweek, so it stands to reason that you can expect Gonzalo Higuaín in the Chelsea XI. COMBINED, they have barely eclipsed 100 fantasy points on the season. The Blues will be looking to bring in a big name this summer surely.
Possible Dangers/Outcome: While both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette put in full shifts midweek, I would be shocked to see either of them kept out of the XI this weekend, save for an unknown injury.
Possible Danger/Outcome: Romelu Lukaku is all but ruled out so Marcus Rashford, who would be likely to start regardless, certainly looks as safe as it gets now. Midfielders Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard may push for inclusion with a lone striker but Mason Greenwood is one of those young names that appears poised for a start.
Possible Danger/Outcome: No danger here. Raúl Jiménez will start. The problem is what to expect in terms of returns at Anfield. I currently have him as sub #1 for my fantasy team, if that is any indication of my confidence.
Possible Danger/Outcome: Dominic Calvert-Lewin is out of contention for Everton's last game, so odds are Cenk Tosun will get his name called. Tosun has been fantasy poison. Stay away. If you come in contact, immediately consult a doctor.
And the rest...
Again, I am bullish on Crystal Palace among the rest of the bunch, so a punt on Wifried Zaha this week could work. I would rather have him than Jimenez for this one week. Aleksandar Mitrovic looks like a nice sneaky play. Fulham have the form, a decent fixture, he is due and it seems unlikely for him to be dropped. Callum Wilson and Jamie Vardy are fine weapons to own heading into the weekend. Shane Long probably gets the start this weekend and I go with the optimism if I brought him in already, but I wouldn't buy him now unless you had a double move in mind. Troy Deeney should get the start over Andre Gray and, along with Gerard Deulofeu in midfield gives you some Watford options to consider. Marko Arnautovic is coming off a brace. Feel free to try and ride the hot hand but I personally do not trust him for fantasy.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
3) Mo Salah
4) Sadio Mane
That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline on Sunday morning. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.
Good luck, and may your arrows be green one more time.