Here’s Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) with his fantasy premier league March review. Rob covers a number of hot topics from the month including giving the player and donkey of the month awards and the team to watch segment. He also talks about the doubles and blanks and shows a high performing managers team from one of his mini leagues. Rob finished with a rank of 22k last season 4,701 in 2015/16 and 7,810 in 2014/15
Rob Reid (the FPL Vet) with his fantasy premier league March review
See also Rob’s contribution to the what to do about Kane article
Hi everyone and welcome to the seventh of my monthly reviews for 2017-18 FPL season. Regular visitors to the site will remember that I ran this monthly series of articles last year and I’m pleased to report I’ll be doing the same this season. With me also doing weekly ‘Player Picks’ and showing my team along with some of my fellow contributors each week, I’ve slightly changed the format to this season’s review articles.
I’ll still continue my series of observations reflecting on the previous month’s action and also looking forward to the next month. These observations are made on some basic stats analysis combined with some personal opinion derived from watching EPL action. I’ll be doing monthly awards again. Player of the Month and Donkey of the Month return but I won’t be doing One to Watch this season as it crosses over a little with my Player Picks article. Instead I’ll be doing a Team to Watch award – the EPL team who I think could provide some strong and possibly unexpected returns over the next month, with a look at their prospects and their players.
Finally, I’ll take a look at some of the high-performing teams from the mini-leagues I’m entered in this year. This month I’m looking at a consistent high performer who’s made some interesting choices on their GW32 Wildcard.
March was all about blank GW31. Careful planning could have taken some managers to the holy grail of 11 players playing from four fixtures while some chose to ignore the gameweek and either use their Free Hit chip to negotiate or simply rely on the players they had available. Whatever you did, you simply had to captain Mo Salah! 4 goals and assist meant a green arrow for many of those who did, while those who rolled the dice on someone else were left cursing a hefty red. Moving forward, it’s all about Double Gameweeks, Bench Boosts, Triple Captains and Free Hits!
Would you like some chips with your Gameweek?
We’re entering the business end of the season and many managers have saved their chips for the upcoming double and blank gameweeks. The most popular strategy still seems to be a tactical Wildcard 1 or 2 weeks before the first double, Bench Boost in the first double and Triple Captain in the second. This is a tried and tested method that has worked in the last 2 seasons and is certainly the safest way to proceed if you’re still holding your chips. However…..
This season has been slightly different. First up, the fixtures have thrown up a second large blank gameweek in between the 2 doubles. Great if you’ve still got your Free Hit, a nightmare if you don’t. To add to this, the EPL then decided to flip most of the fixtures making GW37 the bigger double this season. This has Ied to furious debate in The Community with several different chip strategies now being deployed. Which is best? Who knows – I guess we’ll find out by GW38!
When rather than if
Man City have been simply immense this season and the same can be said for a number of their players regarding FPL. It’s now just a case of when they’ll win the league but the knock-on effect is that we could see an even more exaggerated Pep Rotation Roulette. Is it wise to keep faith with the likes of Sterling and Otamendi especially with a tasty double in GW37? Or will the likes of Foden, Zinchenko and former FPL favourite Yaya Toure be the ones heading the turf in the final few weeks of the season? Their UCL first leg result offers hope for those sticking with the tried and tested favourites.
‘When rather than if’ can also sadly be applied to managerless West Brom, 10 points adrift going into GW33. Who will be joining them? Southampton and Stoke both have new managers but are in dire straits and Huddersfield haven’t scored in the league for a month. It’s certainly a real scrap to avoid those last 2 places, but there’s usually someone who comes into form and also provides us managers with some unlikely late season points.
Premium Double Double Options
Man United, Spurs and Chelsea all have 2 double gameweeks to come so will be high on our radars. Spurs are certainly in great form and United continue to produce results (and clean sheets) albeit in a very unflattering Mourinho style. Chelsea are the worry. 5 defeats in the last 7, a leaky defence and misfiring in attack. Are we best to ignore the flailing Blues and spend our money elsewhere? And I’ve not even mentioned Harry Kane – more on that in a different article!
Best of the Rest
Leicester also have a double double and some appealing players to boot. Vardy and Mahrez are the obvious ones, but their budget defensive options make great fillers as Chilwell’s 11 points last weekend highlighted. Southampton and Brighton also have double doubles but are less enticing. Brighton have a horrible run-in and as mentioned above The Saints are in dire form, though Charlie Austin’s return might provide a chink of light. As for the teams on single doubles, Man City have a fantastic GW37 and Swansea might be nice for some budget GW37 options. (I’ve also missed an obvious one out here, but more in that in my Team to Watch.)
Player of the Month – Mo Salah
A further 6 goals and an assist for the month of March including a massive 29 point haul in blank GW31. Is there anything the Egyptian magician can’t do? He deserves all the plaudits he gets and provided the injury he picked up in the UCL isn’t too serious, he’ll surely become the first player to hit 300 FPL points. Pure Fantasy Football gold.
Donkey of the Month – Callum Wilson
This award is a bit of personal one and doesn’t refer to a particular incident. I just feel thoroughly let down by him! The evidence? I’ve owned Wilson for a grand total of 6 gameweeks this season and he’s returned me a grand total of 12 points in this period! He failed to even register a shot in the last 2 of those performances, needless to say he was the first player I clicked transfer out on when I played my Wildcard this week. More fool me for being duped into picking him after his 12 points in GW25 – maybe I should award myself a Golden Carrot for that alone!
Team to Watch – Burnley
Burnley may play a slightly unfashionable style, but there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s been effective this season and Sean Dyche and his players deserve a lot of credit for this. The very fact that they are in with a shout of hunting Arsenal down in 6th place speaks for itself for a club with a very limited budget and buying potential.
They are a nice option over the next few weeks, whether you have chips in the bank or not. They have double gameweek in GW34, and are the only team in this bracket that follow this up with a fixture in GW35 – perfect if you’ve already used your Free Hit chip. These GWs are book-ended by away fixtures against Watford and Stoke; not the easiest on paper but Burnley have put their away fixture malaise of previous seasons to bed somewhat this year and boast enough firepower to trouble any team on the road. Add to this the fact that their opponents in these 2 fixtures are 2 of the worst defences in the league and I think there could be some points in this one for FPL managers.
Defence has been where Burnley earned a lot of praise early in the season and they boast 11 clean sheets so far. Stand-in goalkeeper Pope has been a revelation, though first choice Tom Heaton is fit again and will be pushing for a starting berth. The better options therefore maybe lie in defence where Matthew Lowton and recent England call-up James Tarkowski represent great value of money.
Midfield options are a bit lighter, though £5.1m priced Johann Gudmundsson has 2 goals and 7 assists this season with a good share of set piece responsibility. £4.5m Jack Cork does get 90 minutes every week but with only 1 goal and 1 assist this season, I wouldn’t bank on much more than 2 points a week from him. A differential pick might be Aaron Lennon who has assists in his last 2 matches, but it might be better to invest the £5.4m elsewhere.
There are some nice attacking options up front though. Ashley Barnes is only £5.4m and has 4 goals in his last 4 games, including a stunner last week against West Brom. He’s started every game since GW20 so looks good for gametime security. For another £0.9m you can get Chris Wood – he’s managed a tidy 8 goals in an injury hit season where he’s missed 10 gameweeks. He has 4 goals and an assist in his last 3 games, 2 of which were off the bench. He looks a great option now he’s fit again.
It’s back to one of my Twitter Leagues this week and I’ve picked a team steadily on the rise over the last couple of months and now knocking on the door of the Top 1k. This team also has an impressive history, an amazing 2 finishes inside the top 400 in the last 3 seasons. This manager played their Wildcard last week, but has no Free Hit chip intact so I thought would be an interesting one to look at for this reason as well.
With this in mind, they’ve gone for 3 Burnley players and a second keeper with a GW35 fixture rather going for 2 with fixtures in GW34. They’ve also retained triple Liverpool coverage and gone for the differential pick of Arnautovic (who fared very well last week) with a nod to GW35 and later GW37 in Arnie’s case. Only one Arsenal player though, perhaps points to a lack of faith in Arsene Wenger’s team selection.
I’ll be honest, I have my doubts as to whether they’ll get a top 1k place on the basis of not having a Free Hit to use in GW35, but they also still have their Triple Captain chip which could be the balancer. I certainly wouldn’t write this manager off – they’ve been right in many of their decisions this season. We’ll follow with interest!
That’s it from me on the fantasy premier league March review, but keep an eye on my regular Player Picks articles for more advice and opinions over the next few weeks!
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