Steve Rothgeb

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Fuzzy's FPL Favorites - GW1

Thursday, August 9, 2018


The FPL season is hours away from returning and your pal Fuzzy is back for another season of FPL insight, brought to you every week in an attempt to make the best decisions for your squad. I am very happy to begin my sixth season with the Rotoworld team and while formats have come and gone over that period of time, the classic game that got me hooked for life is the original FPL game.

 

I would mention the "offseason", but did we really have one? It seemed the day the PL season ended, I was tinkering with a fantasy World Cup squad and before that tournament completed, the 2018/2019 version of FPL went live and we have all been spending the last several weeks assembling the best possible combination of 15 players that fit our budget. Of course, many picks have already been tossed aside as we begin to understand who is favored for starts in the league, who is at risk of a deadline transfer out of the league, and which new players will have an instant impact, because there are always a couple that do every single season, and they usually exceed what you would expect from their price, making them coveted assets that you want to get your hands on before the masses do.

 

Last season, I used this opening round article to break down the squad I selected, and the reason for doing so, player by player. I have had the idea this time around to not focus simply on who I ended up picking, but to look at the options in all price ranges and offer my top choices for each. That way, in theory, it should provide assistance to any manager out there, no matter what shape their team is - i.e., whether they plan to go with a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3 to begin their season.

 

Some general advice before we get to the meat of this sandwich:

 

1) Yes, World Cup fatigue is a factor for some players, but not as many as one might think. To that end, I am not opposed to using one spot on your team to house a player you really like that is not going to play in Week 1, especially in defense. For example, you will see below that I am a big backer of Trent Alexander-Arnold. While i am aware that he is a risk to be behind Nathaniel Clyne in Week 1, I believe in his potential for the season and would rather depend on a DEF4 or DEF5 to come in to replace him, then see the weekend he takes the job and spend a transfer to get him in. Which leads to...

2) Try to set a defense you can live with for 6-8 weeks. You do not want to spend your transfers in the early weeks on this position if you can help it, because the major bandwagons usually fall on attacking players. You will want to get the "must-haves" in attack early. It is important in two ways, it can help boost team value early while simultaneously prevent you from having to pay inflated prices. To be fair, some defender is going to have a 16 point round in Week 1, and he will be sought after as well. But, most attacking returns from defenders come weeks apart. People buying a player like that after a big week are usually chasing points.

3) Target the players you think have been underpriced. Again, a player like Trent Alexander-Arnold is an example of this. The only reason he is as cheap as he is, is due to uncertainty of starts. But in my mind, when he does play, he has the credentials of a defender that would go for 6m. Richarlison, had he stayed at Watford, would probably be fairly priced at 6.5m, but with the switch to Everton, I think he would have been listed at 7m if the game launched after his move.

4) Avoid players who may be very talented, but simply aren't guaranteed starts. In particular, I am speaking of attacking options for Manchester City, but it applies across the league. Now, I am not saying that one of Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling or Bernardo Silva won't become an essential figure in your squad at some point, but I prefer to wait until one's form is so sizzling hot, Pep cannot help but keep them starting and you cannot help but add them to your side.

5) Do not panic if Week 1 is a dud. This can happen to the best of us. While one cannot dismiss what occurs in the opening weekend entirely, one cannot focus too much on it either. Remember, we have a wildcard that must be used in the first half of the season. Consider it like anti-anxiety medication. Enjoy putting your squad together, and go with your gut. If it turn out your gut stinks, at least when it comes to Week 1, give it another week. If after 2 or 3 weeks, it isn't getting any better, wildcard.

 

Right then, let's get after it and look at the options for your initial Week 1 side:

 

 

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Goalkeepers


6m - David de Gea - The best stands alone in this price bracket, and you get what you pay for. Odds are, DdG will be at or very near the top scoring keeper this season, assuming he stays healthy, but is he worth that extra cash? He scored only 14 more points than Ederson last season, who costs .5m less, and only 15 more than Lukasz Fabianski, who is a cheap 4.5m. Spread over the season, DdG is giving you about one extra point every three weeks.

5.5m - Ederson - I want the title-winning option at this price. The nice thing about Ederson is that he does not cause rotation worry like many of the defenders do, for at the same price or cheaper.

5m - Jordan Pickford - I am hesitant to back the Toffee defense, but Pickford proved last year that he can get points in unorthodox ways. That combined with a long run of kind fixtures to start the season, he makes sense for those who plan on wildcarding inside the first 10 weeks or so.

4.5m - Rui Patricio - You are probably going to see a ton of Wolves in this list, because their players are priced like you would expect options from a promoted side to be...but this is not your typical promoted side. Patricio's experience will come in handy, and he will play closer to a 5m option.

4m - No starters here...yet - If your GK1's backup in among the seven listed at this price, go ahead and stash their backup in case of injury. Otherwise, I would take Maarten Stekelenburg, who is the clear backup if anything should happen to Pickford.

 

 

Defenders

 

6.5m - None for me, thanks - Only a few options here. You have Alonso and Azpilicueta from Chelsea. I would wait and see before investing, between the possible abandonment of the wingback system and the unknown effectiveness of brand-new keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Valencia is already ruled out Week 1 and I'd rather have de Gea for clean sheet coverage at .5m less. Walker could start enough to warrant his price, but too much uncertainty week to week for me with City options here, Otamendi included.

6m - Andy Robertson - Pretty much the entire FPL community over the summer have been in agreement that Robertson looks poised to be a beast at his position this season, provided he keeps his place. Plenty of known attacking ability and now, with the addition of Allison, a defense that might earn a few more cleanies than we are accustomed to with the attack-minded Reds.

5.5m - Patrick van Aanholt - All hail PvA, who has decided to become the ambassador for the FPL game among the actual players in the league. His attacking clout is no mystery by now, we have seen it since his days with Sunderland. Palace have a nice early schedule and remember, they were one of the hottest clubs in the second half of last season.

5m - Trent Alexander-Arnold - Hard to believe it, but I am backing TWO Liverpool defender options. Like Robertson though, its more about the attacking prospects. TA-A comes with inherent risk - Nathaniel Clyne may very well start GW1, possibly a bit beyond that. But I feel, rather than using a transfer to get him in, build a side with bench options that can come in for him in weeks he does not start. I am promising you, on a points per game basis, TA-A will make a mockery of his 5m price tag.

4.5m - Loads of options - It really is a personal preference at this price. I would make my determination based on how fixtures align with your other defenders, and take an option here that has a good matchup in weeks where one of your other defenders has a nightmare opponent. I am looking at options from Wolves, like Boly and Jonny, Issa Diop from West Ham, Jagielka from Everton, and popular picks like Charlie Daniels and James Tomkins.

4m - Aaron Wan-Bissaka - Honestly, Wan-Bisakka should be the highest owned player in the game, with Salah being the only exception. He has done everything in preseason to lead all of us to believe he is the man at right back for Palace. He is not just a space-filling DEF5, he can pass as your DEF4. If you want him in that spot and another 4m option as a DEF5, I would opt for Lee Peltier of Cardiff. He looks to at least begin the campaign as a starter, but I see very little more beyond appearance points and -1's for every two goals conceded. But, he plays for now and can round out the back for you if you like to spend you cash in attack like I do.

 

 

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

 

Midfielders

 

13m - Mo Salah - Pay for him. End of.

10m+ - Kevin de Bruyne - Very surprised to see Raheem Sterling going for 1m more than KdB, so he is out of my thinking. Man United's attack is something I want to see thrive before paying up for Alexis. It looks like Hazard will stay but does he start straight away? Too expensive to have any uncertainty. That leaves KdB as the de facto choice. Truth is - I would not take any of these options. Why? Well cash for Salah is needed and you have comparable options in the next bracket.

8.5m-9.5m - Christian Eriksen - Watching the Great Dane for years now, he is so darn consistent. One of the first names in my initial squad and he has not budged. I have an excuse to avoid Harry Kane in August (we all know about that), but I still think Spurs will have their attack working so Eriksen gives me the coverage I want. Many City options that can explode in a given week are available in this bracket, but my preference is to go with consistency both in production and in starting.

7m-8m - Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Pogba is the only 8m option, so much potential if he can play that CAM role but who knows what the future has for him. Avoid for now, but keep an eye on him. Gylfi Sigurdsson is a pretty good pick, but I like two Everton options going for 1m less. Plenty of options from big clubs but who are not nailed-on starters. Naby Keita could surprise here at 7.5m, but Salah and a Red defender is enough coverage for my taste. The standout here is Mkhitaryan, who has the potential to play like a 9m-9.5m mid. Slight concerns about guaranteed starts, it depends on how Emery wants to line up, but definitely worth investing from the jump. Felipe Anderson is the other option in this bracket I am monitoring.

6m-6.5m - Richarlison - This is the bracket with the most intriguing option at any position. Lots of new, unproven in the PL-talent, including Diogo Jota, Ryan Sessegnon and James Maddison. Richarlison is the one that everyone seems to like. I feel more inclined to go with him for fear of what happens if I don't and he explodes. To be honest, I am very near preferring his teammate, Theo Walcott. Not as sexy a pick, understood, but his FPL history cannot be ignored. When he starts, he has been one of the highest points-per-game midfielders for over a decade now. So I have no problem going Wally instead. Pedro is another option worth considering. (perhaps you are looking for two mids in this price range) While his long-term prospects are a mystery, he looks to be a starter out of the gate and if I am going to take a punt on one spot, a Chelsea winger for 6.5m seems worth the risk.

5m-5.5m - Demarai Gray - Someone from this bracket will have us all rushing to transfer him in after Week 1. It is always someone. With the departure of Riyad Mahrez and a bit more experience under his belt, this could be the breakout season for Gray, who can be a handful for defenders with his pace.

4.5m - Callum Hudson-Odoi/Nathaniel Chalobah - If you are looking for potential lightning in a bottle in the first couple of weeks, then give Chelsea teenager Hudson-Odoi a spot. I am not sure if it is the wisest move though. You could be seeing him on your bench and then by the time you may need him, the likes of Hazard and Willian will push him out. For a long term option, admittedly much less exciting, is Watford's Chalobah. Let's not forget what a defensive midfielder can do in a Watford XI. Two years ago, we all were amazed by the early production of Capoue. Last season, it was Doucoure. Chalobah may very well be the 2018/2019 version.

 

Forwards

 

10.5m-12.5m - Sergio Aguero/Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, or both - Even with the August curse that Harry Kane has suffered every season, I cannot blame anyone for selecting him. For me though, I think Aguero and Aubameyang can match or surpass that production in the opening weeks for 1.5m less. If you can put together this duo and Salah in attack, and round out the rest of your side with options from this list, you may not start red hot but you should be safe from starting ice cold.

8m-9.5m - Roberto Firmino - While I may not want to load up with another Red like Keita, I would be willing to roll with Firmino from the jump as my FWD2. He should get his share of the production, but it appears he has lost his penalty-taking duties this summer, which is why I eventually switched him out. Jamie Vardy will be a good option in this bracket, but he is already ruled out of Week 1, so wait on him.

6.5m-7.5m - Marko Arnautovic/Wilfried Zaha/Josh King - Ok, I admit I am riding the fence on this one. For the entirety of the season, I think Zaha is the cream of this crop. But, while preseason is not the be-all, end-all indicator for when things get real, no one has scored more this summer than Arnie, so he makes a fine choice if form is your #1 criteria. Someone who has a mixture of form and fixture, and going for a bit cheaper, is Josh King. He ended a nice preseason with a brace and opens up with a home game against Cardiff. You may want to go for that first week potential explosion, it could help your team value quickly as others kneejerk him in after GW1.

 

TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES

 

1) Mo Salah

2) Sergio Aguero

3) Harry Kane

4) Roberto Firmino

5) Josh King

 

 

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 Friday night. 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...starting in Week 2, of course.



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





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