Here’s our fantasy premier league teams article with FFGeek Contributor Andrew Whitfield’s latest draft FPL team and detailed commentary. Andrew has 3 top 0.5% finishes in the last 4 seasons
Fantasy Premier League Teams – Andrew Whitfields Latest Draft
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Hi everyone !!
It’s great to be back here writing about FPL !!
I took the decision to have a breather after last season, to recharge the batteries and just enjoy the Euros with no fantasy football or article writing commitments and as a result, I certainly feel refreshed and ready for the new season.
The Season ahead with fans back
After a surreal season, played mostly with no fans, it’s going to be a welcome sight to see those crowds back. What a difference in atmosphere we saw when we got a glimpse of the fans at the end of last season and in the Euros. It will feel so strange setting foot back in my beloved Oakwell in August after 17 months away !!
It will also mean the return of multiple games at 3pm on Saturdays. Personally I loved seeing every game live on tv spread throughout the gameweek. So we go back to an instant Saturday whammy on your rank and Gameweek, rather than death by a thousand scratches !!
With Covid restrictions being lifted in the midst of a third wave, I don’t think we can assume “normal football “ is to follow. Unless players revert to the bubble conditions of last season, it seems likely, even inevitable, that squads and potentially games will be further disrupted. Those strong benches might still be the prudent play !!
There are lots of factors still at play that will shape the season. All eyes will be on the transfer market between now and GW1. Will the likes of Kane and Grealish get the high profile moves that will be pivotal to us building our squads. Which new players will join the league ?
The hot topic now is whether the players who went deep into the latter stages of the Euros and Copa America be ready to play in the first game ? The England players are on an extended holiday which will disrupt pre season training and potentially impact their availability. Definitely one to keep a close eye on and to have your “plan B” ready.
A quick word about the Euros:
What a fantastic tournament it turned out to be, with England going so close. Full credit to Italy who deserved the trophy. I quite enjoyed not stressing over clean sheets and daily captains and derived just as much fun from a family and friends prediction competition on each game, which I eventually won on the final match.
A big shout out to Kev from Canada and Stephen Troop who impressively led the way in the Euro game amongst the Geek contributors, to Geek for the comprehensive coverage of the tournament and a special mention to Rob Reid for his brilliantly written and lengthy tournament articles !!
If someone had offered me a final rank of 34k, I would have grabbed it with both hands. That meant I finished above 99.5% of FPL managers and it was my 3rd top 0.5% finish in the last four years. Enough to be invited back !! It was a bizarre season where I stood at 1.6M after GW6, then went on a run of 20/23 green arrows to hit 13k with nine gameweeks to go, before hitting a few reds just when a good season looked like being a great one.
It’s getting harder each season with the number of players increasing and the plethora of information and content around, but I am ready to move those little shirts around the screen again and attack another season. Let’s see where we end up in May !!
What does my current draft look like ?
Remarkably, it’s changed very little since the draft I put together when the game first launched, which is both surprising and probably a good thing. No doubt it will change completely by the time GW1 arrives.
I am currently on a “442 set up”. I have always been a 343 advocate but I see a lot of solid reliable options amongst defenders. I fully expect to “push money forward” as the season progresses but I like the structure and balance of bigger at the back to start with. I don’t see the team as having four at the back. I see it as having a goal keeper and TEN attackers !! My defenders are all attacking full backs who can all contribute big points at both ends of the pitch.
My focus is very much on eleven “tried and tested” FPL players, who play 90 minutes, trying to initially avoid new or promoted players. Look at Werner last season. I also want to cover the highly owned template players. You can’t win FPL in the first few weeks but you can sure as hell lose it. I want solid reliable players to get a foot hold !!
Here is my current draft with a few supporting words on each player below, as well as a few thoughts on other alternative players who are under consideration, and a few closing thoughts too, so I hope you find it useful in your own pre season planning.
I don’t like spending too much on keepers, as the points differences are not usually significant, and I also favour one set and forget keeper over the frustration of rotating keepers, where invariably the big hauls come from the one with the toughest fixture.
Amongst the budget keepers, Brighton had great defensive stats last season and have a very favourable first 8 fixtures, which coincides with my intended first wildcard during the second international break, when there are significant fixture swings. Sanchez can build on his strong end to last season. I did have the security of a 4M non playing Brighton keeper, Steele, to play when Sanchez doesn’t but they have just signed a 6 feet 8 keeper who will probably now push Steele out of the picture.
If he is more than 4M, I will probably put Foster in as one of the more likely non playing cheapies to get a game. I could go both Watford keepers for 4.5M and 4M and cover the Sanchez clean sheet with a Brighton defender instead, but I wouldn’t start him every week and Sanchez will be heavily owned and be a rank threat if Brighton get the “cleanies”
Martinez is very popular after top scoring, but is surely over valued, as he is almost at Ederson and Mendy pricing, as was Pope after his heroics the season before. If Henderson can see off De Gea as number one, he is a tempter at 5M.
Trent Alexander Arnold if fit from his injury that kept him out of the Euros, is an obvious pick. His attacking threat and assist potential is huge. Liverpool also have great early fixtures. Robertson is 0.5M cheaper as an interesting alternative but that Trent ownership is dangerous. Having both Liverpool full backs might be a great differential !!
Luke Shaw was the stand out performer in the latter stages of last season. He also excelled at the Euros. Man Utd have some of the best early fixtures. It’s possible he could be a doubt for GW1 if he gets an extended summer rest. But I will probably still go with him anyway as surely he misses one game at most. I don’t want to start booking in future transfers. I have solid fixture cover in defence in GW1.
Lucas Digne has certainly been frustrating to own at times. But there is no doubting his attacking threat and his heat map confirms how much time he spends in the opposition half. Rapha Benitez should improve Everton defensively so provided that doesn’t impact his attacking edge, he is a great pick. Good early fixtures again
My 4th defender in a 442 set up is Coufal, which continues the theme of adventurous full backs who can supplement clean sheets with attacking returns too. I loved watching Coufal last season who is always a threat with his endless crosses in to the box. What a coup it was West Ham picking up both him and fellow countryman Soucek. There is a question mark about the effects of a long Europa League campaign this season but David Moyes really transformed the Hammers last season.
I currently have Fofana providing a rotation option with Coufal. I want one solid bench option at least amongst my otherwise budget bench. Fofana could just as easily be Lamptey or Ayling. The Brighton defensive double up is just too rich for me. Lamptey is popular but was injury prone and was a classic promises loads but delivered little last season. Ayling just didn’t deliver the points he should have done, but I do like his hair. It remains to be seen how Leicester set up this season. A switch to just two centre backs would surely impact Fofana. Ben White is another 4.5M option but early fixtures are tough and he might need time to blend in at Arsenal.
Mo Salah is the first name on my team sheet and needs no explanation. He is also rested from all competition during the summer and Liverpool have great fixtures. A strong captain option. We can rely on you Mo !!
It’s going to be hard to squeeze three “premiums” in this season so the 2nd one probably comes down to Bruno Fernandes or Harry Kane. If Kane joins Man City, that could push out Bruno and force a complete re jig of my squad, possibly looking instead to Sancho to fly the United flag. Will Sancho be eased in gradually ? But Bruno is in right now. There was a clear drop off in his performance in the last quarter of the season but fixtures are as good as they get. United will still get lots of penalties right ?
I am currently on Grealish if he is ready for GW1. Those first three fixtures are delicious. He is a talisman at Villa. We saw the negative impact on Villa during his long absence last season. If Grealish was to move to Man City and lose that talisman role, I would likely avoid.
Raphinha and Harrison are both value options at Leeds and we know how fixture proof Leeds are. Raphinha is involved in most of Leeds attacks and would have scored far more points if he had featured all season. I think he is under valued. He is my 4th mid.
My 5th mid could be Brownhill or Gilmour but is currently on Bissouma if he plays pre season. A reliable 2 point bench option to keep the value firmly in my starting eleven.
I like Jota as an alternative to Grealish. But you can guarantee he either gets benched or subbed off at 65 mins, for all his attacking potential. That’s not ideal when I want 90 minute performers to kick start the season.
Buendia is an interesting alternative to Grealish and certainly unlocks a few doors and funds to beef up the attack if I decide to go three strikers.
Saka and Smith Rowe are interesting if you fancy a five man midfield.
I currently have Watkins, which is dependent on Grealish staying. With Buendia also in the supply line, those fixtures look tempting, but they do turn tougher soon. So it’s about capitalising on a fast start. How many times did Watkins hit the woodwork or have goals ruled out by VAR fine margins. He was 2nd to Kane for shots and has Watford Newcastle and Brentford first up.
Calvert Lewin is my 2nd striker and another to monitor for availability after England duty, but early fixtures are good. He hit a real purple patch early last season. He is definitely a confidence player who scores in bursts. It’s just catching them. With Richarlison away at the Olympics, I can’t see Everton starting the season without Calvert-Lewin.
Davis is strictly 3rd sub material . How often do you need your 3rd sub ? Effectively it’s playing with 14 players. But that’s a consequence of a 442.
A few words about Ivan Toney
Going 442, my big omission is a third striker and the player who is going to gnaw away at me, being a template manager is Toney. He is currently up there amongst the most highly owned strikers. He destroyed the championship last season but so did Mitrovic the season before and look how we all got burned there at the start of last season. Yes Watkins and Bamford made the step up but Brentford are NOT Leeds or Villa. It’s hard to see them finishing outside the bottom three, so how many can Toney really score. I am resisting so far but that could change.
If I did succumb to the Toney bandwagon, I would have to take out two of Grealish, Digne and Coufal, all reliable FPL performers, for a promising unproven newcomer. Still resisting !!
A couple of other forwards to discuss
I like Antonio at Westham but we know he is made of glass. Bamford is a touch too expensive for me. Iheanacho I am not convinced about his minutes. Callum Wilson flatters to deceive so I usually avoid.
It’s fantastic to see Jimenez back in pre season. The Wolves fixtures from GW4 are great, so that could give us chance to see Jimenez in action first before diving in. Watkins to Jimenez in GW4 is a fixture play possibility. That gives you Watford x2, Brentford x2, and Newcastle x2, plus Southampton, by GW7. Just saying !!
The double ups:
What I do like is pairing up players who can combine in an attacking way. There is nothing more satisfying than landing both the goal and the assist !! I currently have Trent supplying Salah, Shaw supplying Bruno, Grealish assisting Watkins, and Digne popping crosses on to the head of Calvert Lewin. Coufal to Antonio is another possible. I am going hunting in pairs !!
What ? No Man City or Chelsea !!
It’s strange going in to the season without any players from arguably the best two teams in the league. Especially dangerous to see that GW2 fixture when City host Norwich !! But City do have Spurs, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool in the first seven games. Those fixtures, plus Pep roulette is enough for me to hold off initially. But I can certainly see Dias being in my team sooner rather than later. The fantastic fixtures for Liverpool and Man Utd mean it’s hard to look at De Bruyne over Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes. It lessens the appeal of Mahrez too.
I am more interested in the Chelsea defence than the Chelsea attack. They looked superb at the back in the latter part of last season. The early fixtures look tough for Chelsea so they are another candidate for the first wildcard. Just look at the Chelsea fixtures from GW7.
It’s important to stay flexible but I am currently looking to wildcard around GW7, or GW8 when the fixture swings look interesting, especially for City and Chelsea.
Remember there are bigger things at play in the world than FPL right now. I lost two friends in the summer who were younger than me and who were taken far too early. We never know what’s round the next river bend. Make time for what’s really important. That assist or clean sheet that got away will be here next week. It’s just a game, so embrace it and enjoy it. Football is our “beautiful game” we all love.
Enjoy your FPL planning. As we say in Yorkshire, “ sit thi sen darn wi thi cuppa and av a minit” . It’s going to be a long intense season so enjoy the peace while it lasts !!
Happy tinkering and good luck !!