Here’s regular contributor Stephen Toumi continuing his fantasy premier league think differently series with an article on his “backwards planning strategy”
fantasy premier league – Stephen Toumi with his backwards planning strategy
While many fantasy managers have activated their second wild card after Gameweek 31, giving themselves two weeks to prepare for DGW34, it was a week away from the flurry of activity and wild card preview teams on Twitter. Feeling a bit rejuvenated from my “international break” I set out to navigate the “business end” of the season, where we see two double gameweeks and a blank gameweek. The importance of chips can’t be stressed enough, however, already activating my Free Hit Chip in Gameweek 9 and my second wild card in Gameweek 23, leaves me at a disadvantage, but feel confident in my planning to get my squad through this turbulent period.
Coming out of Gameweek 31, it was a season high 101 overall points, as my overall ranking continued to climb 102k (380k improvement sinceGW28) on back of my third green arrow in as many weeks. This is my best overall rank since Gameweek 15, which culminated with the end of my sea of green run, with 8 out of 9 green arrows.
Tuning into a plethora of podcasts and discussion on Twitter, there was not one answer to fit all situations. Much of the discussion as centred around the wild card and when to use the Free Hit chip. But what is a fantasy manager to do without the likes of these chips?
I approached the remainder of the season from a few angles, but none of them really produced the required results. Building a team geared for Gameweek 34 would leave a fantasy manager potentially thin of starters the following gameweek.
When the Gameweek 34 fixtures were announced, the picture became a bit clearer, build a squad for Gameweek 37 with the Bench Boost activated and work backwards to the current gameweek. With those criteria in mind and my current squad I began working on a plan to maximise my double gameweek players.
When I activated my second wild card, I did so with BGW31 in mind, while looking at the potential DGWs in 34 and 37. Scoring 101 points, I consider the use of my wild card a success, which provides the foundation, as I build towards the double gameweeks.
The core of my 15-man squad appears a bit attack heavy, with David de Gea and Virgil van Dijk as only premium defensive assets. Manchester United will feature in two double gameweeks, which make de Gea essential in my starting XI. Liverpool are without but have a favorable run in through Gameweek 36.
A bulk of my budget built a midfield that has been excellent recently, anchored by Mohammad Salah. Mahrez (GW28) and David Silva (GW29) were community recommendations that have paid off, helping me achieve my current good form. Can’t forget about the play of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, brought into the starting XI when he moved to Arsenal, he’s posted two 13-point returns, with great fixtures ahead.
Robert Firmino was brought in GW28 to partner with Harry Kane. An unfortunately ankle injury to Kane saw him replaced on a one-week punt by
Cenk Tosun, who hit for a brace in GW31. For Gameweek 32 I have already used my FT to drop Oumar Niasse for Pierre-Emerick Aumbameyang. These players build the core of my starting XI, as I eye some defensive upgrades to navigate the upcoming DGWs.
Looking at the fixtures, Man City will have the Premier League won before reaching DGW37, but potential fixtures against HUD/BHA appear to be a great opportunity for back-to-back clean sheets. While de Gea is implanted as my starter, I look towards Ederson as a potential goalkeeper able to deliver 12 points. Expensive but both worthy of the investment. Manchester United will feature away to BHA/WHM.
The back line will get a boost as Eric Bailly and Marcos Alonso make a cameo appearance in my squad to anchor the defence for DGW37. Overall, fixtures are favourable as Chelsea are home to LIV/HUD, while Manchester United are away to BHA/WHM. Relying on clean sheets is how I started the season and it appears I return to that way of thinking to end the season with these two premium defenders.
Matt Lowton, brought in on a -4 point hit for the double in GW34, home to LEI/CHE. More importantly Burnley are away to Stoke City the following week to remain in the starting lineup. Leicester City’s Wes Morgan acts as an enabler, however I have little confidence in the Foxes ability to keep clean sheets. The final defender, Paul Dummett, as Newcastle double in GW37, but also feature in BGW35, away to Everton.
With Salah, Mahrez and Mkhitaryan already in place, the competition is fierce for the final two spots, one of which will be a budget midfielder. Currently, Hueng-Min Son gets the nods as Spurs play away to WBA and home to Newcastle in GW37. Rumours of Kane returning by GW34 could force a move away from Son and in the direction of Chelsea’s, Willian or a punt on Manchester United’s, Marcus Rashford. Kenedy becomes the budget midfielder with the double in GW37, away to Watford and Spurs, but will keep a keen eye on Ashley Young, as United have better fixtures.
With little interest in Romelu Lukaku, as he is cost prohibitive and no plans to include Kane, the front line will be led by Aubameyang. Arsenal are home to Burnley and away to Leicester City in GW37. This will also be the gameweek I double up on the Foxes, adding Jamie Vardy to the attack, home to West Ham and Arsenal.
The final spot I will take a punt on Charlie Austin to the be Southampton’s saviour this season to keep the Saints from relegation. Mark Hughes is keen to get him on the pitch, “He’s clearly a goalscorer and one of our problems has been our ability to score consistently in games.” Barring any further setback to his fitness, he will start as my third forward in GW37 away to Everton and Swansea.
While DGW37 is still weeks away, this planning has set me up for the rest of the season and locks in me with transfers to make 12-14 double gameweek players a reality. It’s also locked in the Bench Boost Chip, which will help maximise my overall score.
Working backwards, with no Free Hit Chip, Gameweek 35 would allow me a full starting XI, as de Gea, Bailly, Mahrez and Son would each have a blank gameweek. As previously mention, Kane is the lynchpin, if he’s fit for GW34, I will move in a different direction, which won’t include Son in my plans.
While there is no one grand plan to fit every situation, this planning is the best I could develop to fit my situation. Working from DGW37 backwards has allowed me to maximise my transfers, in hopes of minimising any additional hits. However, it will cost me potentially 8-12 points between now and Gameweek 37, but these are calculated risks I will willing to take.
Continuing backwards we arrive at Gameweek 34. The players outlined in orange will feature twice during the gameweek. A total of just 6 players will put me at a disadvantage over fantasy managers who have activated their wild card or will ahead of this gameweek.
While I feel confident with my starting XI, Gameweek 34 also carries the potential of activating the Triple Captain chip on Salah, as Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield. In the reverse fixture, Liverpool posted a 4-0 victory, with Salah netting just once. Salah will remain a TC option of mine the following 2 weeks; wba/STO. If patience gets the better of me GW38, Liverpool host Brighton to finish the season.
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