Take Me To Your Leader

The current leader of the insideFPL minileague and one of our regular bloggers, Dan Bright, brings you up to speed with his latest thoughts on his fantasy team and progress in Fantasy Premier League this season.

A few weeks ago you may have seen my post ‘How my Fantasy Team got to 11th in the World’. Since then I’ve moved up to 2nd, down to 22nd, back up to 4th, and now down to my current position of 132nd globally. With an overall points total of 442 I’ve managed to maintain a decent ranking in all of my minileagues as well as overall and although slightly disappointed with my most recent drop of 110 places I will be hoping – like all of us – to see more green arrows than red in the next few gameweeks. You can see my progress in the chart below taken from our Manager Centre (currenlty exclusively available to pre-season members). In this article I run you through my thought process for the coming weeks and the decisions that I need to make in regards to transfers.

Issue 1 – Ángel Di María

By the end of the last gameweek Ángel Di María had single-handedly pushed me from 4th on the Saturday night to 132nd on Sunday. I now have a decision to make: is he worth it? I estimate that around 80-90% of teams in and around the top will have Di María in their squads by now which makes it very dangerous for me to leave him out. Last season I didn’t have Sturridge in my squad because I refused to have two Liverpool strikers at the same time. Every game he played I was hoping he wouldn’t achieve anything spectacular. When he did, my ranking went down. When he didn’t, my ranking went up. I can see the same situation occurring with Di María if I don’t bring him in where the only time I will rise in the rankings is when he has an average game. With so many rivals owning him I won’t gain anything by bringing him in except security against when he does well but that comes at a cost.

In order to bring Di María in now I will need to take a 4 point hit. Liverpool’s inability to keep clean sheets combined with Lovren’s minor injury gives me the perfect excuse to let him be the fall-man if I wish to bring the Argentine into my squad. Lovren was brought in on the back of an impressive clean sheet away to Spurs with a decent set of upcoming fixtures including home games with Villa and WBA. Throughout the four gameweeks he’s been in my squad he’s picked up 7 points, no clean sheets and an injury. It’s time to move on. 

The question is will he maintain his form or has he already hit his peak? We looked at Di María’s start to life in the Premier League here where we compared him to Yaya Toure and Mesut Ozil of last year. To bring in Di María I will need to transfer out either Fábregas or Silva. Fábregas has obviously performed well so far this season but his lack of goal threat means he is always replaceable, especially as Di María already has three goals to his name. Silva is yet to hit top form but there are signs that he may do soon with some favourable fixtures coming up and a goal for Spain in mid-week. 

Below I outline what I think the pros and cons are for me as I consider brining Di María in this week.

Pros

Cons

Obvious goal and assist threat

Some would say he’s been ‘lucky’ to pick up the attacking points he has so far

Acts as a ‘blocker’ which stops rivals gaining ground

Is yet to prove himself against stronger opponents

Extra two days to recover from international break

Has been to Hong Kong and back during the international break

Provides the Man Utd cover I’ve been lacking since transferring out Rooney

Has a tough run of fixtures coming up (wba, CHE, mci, CRY, ars)

Offers another captain option each week

Depletes funds for elsewhere in the squad

I’m still undecided on what to do about Di María right now as I’m not convinced he’ll keep up his excellent form yet it’s very costly for my team if he does. Price changes obviously affect the decision too and it’s the sort of decision that makes fantasy football so addictive! 

Issue 2 – Defence

The knock on effect of bringing Di María in would be the lack of quality in defence. I’m already thin on the ground with Clyne as the only defender of real quality in the squad. The alternative route would be to sacrifice an assist-getting midfielder (again, Fábregas or Silva) and use the extra cash to upgrade the defence. It’s likely that Stoke's Marc Wilson will come in if I deem Di María necessary with the plan including upgrading Chester to Chambers next week to make the most of the under-valued Arsenal full-back and their good run of fixtures. Ideally a Chelsea defender would be included as I expect them to keep more clean sheets than anyone else over the course of the season but with Man Utd and Liverpool both away in their next four games I am happy to wait for the inevitable Aguero / Costa injury that will force the squad reshuffle.

Away from Chelsea and Southampton (check out our thoughts on the excellent Southampton defence here...) clean sheets seem difficult to predict so I think I’ll wait until things settle a little more before making wholesale changes at the back. However, with QPR, Burnle , Newcastle (the current bottom 3), West Brom, and Hull representatives in my backline, I expect the majority of my points will have to come from my front seven if I want to maintain any sort of position in the overall rankings.

Any Other Business

I’m pleased with the form of Pellè and am happy to stick with him over Welbeck at this time. I expect they’ll both perform well over the next few weeks but Southampton’s next five games look like the ideal opportunity for the Italian to showcase his talents before the fixture list takes a turn for the worst for the seaside club at GW13. Sterling’s tiredness is something we’re all concerned about and will continue to monitor over the coming weeks but I’m happy to keep the explosive teenager in the ranks and see how the situation develops. The arrival of Sadio Mané has well and truly dislodged Jack Cork from the Southampton starting line-up where he is only making short substitute appearances (if at all) which will need addressing when there are less pressing issues. Ideally I’d like to change at least one of my goalkeepers too since they don’t rotate well again until GW14.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully seeing my thought process will help you to work out a short to mid-term strategy for your FPL squad, especially if you are having similar issues. Planning ahead is always part of the fun but expect things to change when injuries or suspensions hit or players drop drastically out of form. You’ll have to wait until lunchtime on Saturday to find out which decisions I make for GW8 and whether or not this team can maintain top-spot in the InsideFPL minileague (join up with our minileauge here). But, for now – enjoy GW8!

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