Here’s regular commenter and contributor to the site Stephen Toumi with his 10th fantasy premier league thinking differently article. Stephen talks about his 2nd wildcard which was activated before GW23
FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE – STEPHEN TOUMI AND HIS PRE GW23 WILDCARD
Prior to the start of the FPL season, I discussed a few strategies I was looking at employing this year, in hopes of putting together my finest FPL season in 5 years of playing. To date, things aren’t going according to plan. In my Premier League: GWTF 2 Retrospect, I wrote, “Unlike last season I am attempting to practice more patience with my starting XI than I had last year at this time.” Not that my decision to activate my second wild card ahead of Gameweek 23 followed that virtue. Holding 2 FTs ahead of the gameweek, I had 4 players flagged, which should have been resolved without the wild card, but the excitement and anticipation of the new squad was just too much.
Reviewing my DGW22 squad, I was not a happy fantasy owner, missing the Monday morning deadline, which denied me Harry Kane and a replacement for Eden Hazard. In hindsight, missing the deadline worked to my advantage, as Kane didn’t pan out and Hazard recorded 20 points wearing the captain’s armband. All appeared to be going well ahead of GW23, scoring 66 points, recording a green arrow and moving up, 148k to 409k in the overall ranking, best position since GW16.
Ahead of the wild card activation, I tweeted for recommendations on what to do with the 2 FTs. Most responses referenced moving Hazard and Austin for Kane and budget midfielder. One FPL rule I was unaware of was, activating the wild card resets my FT back to nil. If I would have known that ahead of confirming activation, I would have held off and reconsidering the wild in an upcoming week, as I planned future moves with 2 FTs banked.
Outside of the resurgence of Liverpool and their 16 goals in the last 5 games, 54 goals on the season, second to Man City (67), the only forward I was considering was Harry Kane. No surprise I worked my second wild card around the Spurs front man. After missing out on his points for 8 weeks, barring injury I don’t expect to drop Kane…again. There was brief considering for Roberto Firmino, who I owned earlier in the year, but he seemed to be a “flash in the pan,” recording 2 goals, 2 assists in his first 3 games before failing to show up until GW10. His most recent run, 7 goals in 9 games makes me wonder just how long it will last. Liverpool looked excellent against Man City, so his inclusion is warranted, however remaining budget prevented his inclusion to my wild card squad.
Investing £12.9m meant looking for budget potential from the other forward positions. I retained the services of Callum Wilson, brought in after his GW12 hat trick, he’s posted 3 goals in his last 4 fixtures and appears to be nailed on for the Cherries up front. At 3.2% ownership, he’s playing as a differential, as Bournemouth have some favourable fixtures through GW28, which also includes a trip to The Bridge against Chelsea in GW25.
Heading in to the BGWs and DGWs, having a 3-man bench that plays is imperative. I went against that, speculating that Everton’s, Oumar Niasse will go out on loan during the January transfer window. At £4.7 he was a budget enabler for my midfield and defensive players. Stoke City under Paul Lambert could see Peter Crouch starting on a regular basis, if that’s the case, finding £0.2m to include him for Niasse (should he remain at Everton), shouldn’t be difficult.
While there was a shake up in the midfield, the core players remained unchanged, Mohammad Salah, Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling were tabbed as essential on my 15-man squad, which left 2 open positions to be filled. Decisions might have been a bit shortsighted, as I took Jesse Lingard and Marc Albrighton, both players in form, without much consideration for what GW28 and GW31 bring. Leicester City have good form and a great run to the end of the season (and have games in GW28 and possibly GW31), since I couldn’t afford Riyah Mahrez, Albrighton appeared to hold more potential than other similarly priced midfielder. One of those possible players was Watford midfielder, Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.3m) with 6 goals and 1 assist on the season, he’s been a consistent performer for the struggling Hornets, more so than teammate, Richarlison.
Lingard, priced at £6.4m doesn’t allow for many options. Brought in on the back of his “Messi-esque” performances leading up to GW23, blanked against Stoke City, which is a cause for concern moving forward. With just £0.1 ITB, transitioning to Lanzini or Arnautovic isn’t a possibility. The Sanchez rumours to United could see Lingard pushed to the bench. The Red Devils travel to Burnley in GW24, a team that’s conceded just 8 goals in 11 at Turf Moor, behind just Man United (5), Chelsea (7) and Liverpool (7).
Defensively, as was noted on Twitter by many fantasy mangers, the £10.8 spent on David de Gea and Jordan Pickford is excessive. While unconventional, I have been very defensive minded all season, starting with a 5-man defence at the beginning of the year. I still believe there are many points to be gained in the defensive end of the pitch. This week I came up a bit short with Andres Christensen missing out, but making a 57-minute cameo after Gary Cahill pulled up lame with an injury. Still feel confident doubling up with Marcos Alonso through Gameweek 27.
New boy, Virgil Van Dijk announced his arrival at Liverpool during the FA Cup and the Reds 2-1 victory over Everton with an 84th minute goal. Expectations are high that VVD can improve the Reds defense, which has been excellent at Anfield, but conceded 21 goals in 11 games on the road. He was also brought in for his attacking threat in the high-powered Liverpool offense. Flagged with the hamstring injury with a ‘75% chance of playing’ his situation will need to be closely monitored as the Reds travel to Swansea City and Huddersfield in the next 2 weeks.
It was a case of bad luck introducing Nicolás Otamendi this week as Man City conceded a season high, 4 goals, as Otamendi picked up a yellow card (now on 7) and recorded a season low, -1 point. No doubt he will come good in the next 4 fixtures; NEW/WBA/bur/lei. If John Stones starts to pick up offensive returns, his £5.4m price is appealing as an alternative to Otamendi, especially if you look to move Lingard to a West Ham midfielder (Lanzini or Arnautovic).
The differential at the back sees Paul Dummett joining my squad, owned by just 0.2%, Newcastle has only kept 5 CS on the season. However, I feel there is value but fantasy managers will need to pick their spots as the Toons have a tough run, but do have fixtures with clean sheet potential; cry/bou/SOU/HUD. Looking a bit longer term, come GW31 Dummett could make way for a Crystal Palace defender as the Eagles have a sea of green to finish the season and will feature in BGW31. Need to keep an eye out on their defensive unit , as injuries to Sakho, Schlupp, Dann and Ward have Palace stretching for coverage with the likes of James Tompkins (£4.3) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£4.4).
Continuing to “think differently” I still back a 4-5-1 formation, since Harry Kane is the only forward worth owning at this point. One can make a valid case for Bobby Firmino, but having “been there, done that” I don’t feel is necessary to get involved again. The next fixtures will be contingent on the availability of Van Dijk, if he’s injured for GW24, my squad will lineup in a 3-5-2 with Alonso, Christensen and Otamendi at the back with Kane and Wilson up front. Regardless of formation, all 5 midfielders will play an active role to climb the overall ranking.
With the second wild card burned and double gameweeks to come, what is my plan? I’ve been asked this a few times on Twitter and it’s going to be challenging to navigate. Heading into GW24 I have my Bench Boost and Triple Captain chips remaining, to be used during the DGW34 and DGW37. That gives me 10 free transfers between now and the start of GW34. That’s enough time to shift players around and bring in those who will feature. It could be the BGW that are more of a concern. That picture will become clearer as replays and semifinals are played.
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