Simple Guide to the Opening Fixtures

The 2014/15 Fantasy Premier League season is just around the corner. The opening games are important – some say crucial – to your fantasy fortunes. In this article we’ll give a simple overview of the first 6 gameweeks plus a GW1 FPL team with potential to get you out the blocks.

We’ve given each team an Attack Ranking based on last season’s goals scored. For reference Man City have the highest ranking, then Liverpool. After these are Arsenal, United and Chelsea (all equal). Further down we have teams like Everton, Spurs, Newcastle and Swansea. 

These rankings are fairly generic – we have not at this point split hairs between Team A scoring 1.41 goals and Team B scoring 1.39 goals – both of these teams would simply be given the ‘average ranking’. An added sophistication comes in the split between home and away rankings.

We’ve done the same thing for each team’s Home and Away Defence. Chelsea rule here, then Arsenal, Everton, City, United & Spurs. Again this based on last season’s clean sheet and goals conceded totals. 

The final step is to throw these rankings at the opening 3 and 6 games of the season and determine what is essentially a ‘predicted goals scored’ metric. Here are the results, sorted by the GW 1-6 ranking. We’ll talk about them some more below:

Team GW1-3 GW1-6
CHE 0.81
 
1.00
 
MAN 0.75
 
1.00
 
LIV 0.62
 
0.96
 
ARS 0.75
 
0.89
 
MCI 1.00
 
0.89
 
SOU 0.62
 
0.82
 
TOT 0.70
 
0.73
 
EVE 0.62
 
0.71
 
SWA 0.70
 
0.67
 
NEW 0.51
 
0.62
 
STO 0.38
 
0.62
 
WBA 0.51
 
0.60
 
AST 0.70
 
0.56
 
HUL 0.57
 
0.56
 
QPR 0.43
 
0.44
 
SUN 0.38
 
0.44
 
CRY 0.19
 
0.40
 
LEI 0.38
 
0.40
 
WHM 0.38
 
0.33
 
BUR 0.13
 
0.22
 

First Out The Blocks (GW1-3)

If you wanted to make the best possible start to the new fantasy season and GW1-3 you’d load up on Chelsea players – Costa and Hazard would be our choice but of course Fabregas is proving tempting. You should also not overlook Man City. Their overall 6GW ranking is behind the other elite clubs but their 3GW ranking is the best – games against Newcastle (away) and Stoke (home) being the highlights. A potential blockbuster against Liverpool in GW2 could prove problematic, but our rankings remember Liverpool were pretty shoddy defensively last season.

Building Up Speed (GW1-6)

Turning our attention to the 6GW ranking it’s evident Chelsea should remain squarely in our thoughts. Next up are Man United, the team everyone is thinking about for their starting GW1 fantasy team. There is of course a LVG hype factor at work here, but our rankings are not based on hype - rather last season’s data.  United are ranked as a top attacking team of course, but we don’t have them in the class of Man City or Liverpool – yet. This is all doubly reasserting that, along with Chelsea, United have the best set of 6 opening fixtures of the top teams. 

Liverpool’s 6GW ranking also picks up after a relatively low 3GW score.  A home game with Aston Villa in GW4 bumps their outlook significantly. The rankings also assume last season’s Luis Suarez inspired team turns up- a lack of confidence in the Reds being quite so prolific again this season without the Uruguayan would be understandable. 

City’s drop down from 1st after 3GW to 5th in the rankings after 6GW is indicative of two very challenging games in GW4 & 5 – against Arsenal (away) and Chelsea (home). Last season Pellegrini’s team scored just 1 goal across these two games. 

Arsenal appear to have a mixed set of games through to GW6 but, as one of the top attacking teams, they should have a consistent start. 

Affordable Players

Moving down the teams and to those with more affordable fantasy assets, Southampton stand out. We are particularly interested in looking further ahead in the fixtures for this price-bracket of players. You’ll want to reserve your initial free transfers for picking up any of the big player bandwagons. It's best to give the midpriced options more time to settle down, and to see what’s what. Southampton, then, have a good start and are certainly worth an opening gambit. There’s obviously a tonne of uncertainty around the team right now and it has to be said the FPL pricing has been unkind on otherwise attractive players like Dusan Tadic (£7.5M midfielder). Graziano Pelle (£7.5M striker) would fit into your team a little easier and allow you to feature 2 elite forwards like Costa and Rooney.

Tottenham and Everton’s ‘2nd tier’ attacking pedigree also sees them in the upper-midtable of our rankings but again their FPL pricing is a bit restrictive for what is only a so-so start.  Players like Eriksen (£8M) and Lukaku (£9M) may well prove great buys over the course of the season but for a big GW1 blast-off they are not so tempting. 

Looking further down, and in order to seek out real budget options, we arrive at Swansea, Newcastle and Stoke, and after you are settled on your elite players, this is where the action is. At Swansea Sigurdsson (£6M) is one of our top picks for GW1 and is currently immovable in the InsideFPL team. Newcastle’s De Jong (£7M MID) and Riviere (£7M FWD) are also very tempting, but it’s Stoke’s Arnautovic (£6.5M MID) who were are flirting with as a possible midpriced option in our team alongside Siggy. 

A 'Fast Start' Team

Here’s what a team would look like if we wanted to front-end it all on the first 3-6GWs. It is not our real team. It’s a no-nonsense ‘top-down’ team that we put together based on the best attacking potential in the opening fixtures. We started by doubling up on the best Man Utd and Chelsea players we could, simply becsue we expect them to have scored the most goals by GW6. We then stuck an Arsenal and City player in there. Finally we rounded out the team the best we can. The defence is compromised but it’s okay. Also - sad faces all round that there’s no room for Siggy or Arnie but, as mentioned, this is not intended as an optimal team for a long season, more gunning for a sprint-start. The loose transfer strategy (based on fixtures) would involve seeing how Liverpool fare with an eye to replacing Silva in GW4. 

 

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