We've optimised the above team using our 'Team Solver', an excel spreadsheet that programatically picks a team based on our input criteria. You can read more about how the Team Solver works here. The team was optimised with a budget of £80M for the first XI, leaving a generous £20M for subs. Four £4.5M substitutes would leave you with £2M left over. Note also the team has been optimised using today’s prices and not GW1 prices.
This team would have got you to 2nd place in Fantasy Premier League right now on 566 points and with Costa as the default captain. Allowing 2 auto-sub points for Costa in GW8 and with Pelle as VC the team would be 8 points clear at the top.
Looking at the team as a whole you’d have to say it’s stocked with players who are all pretty well known by now, but how realistic would this team have been for Gameweek 1? Let’s be honest, not very. We can use our Pre-Season Guide as a reference point; Baines, Ivanovic, Sterling, Sigurdsson and Costa were all recommended as GW1 buys with Tadic and Pelle listed as potential breakout players. We liked Spurs as a defensive team this season and looked at one of either Rose or Davies, but focused on a cheaper option overlooked Lloris. Chadli and Berahino were completely off the radar.
Southampton’s incredible season so far is obviously a key factor for the success of this optimised team with 3 Saints players on board. Again, being realistic, not many fantasy managers would have wanted to max out on 3 players from one team at the start of the season, especially a team surrounded with as much uncertainty as Southampton were. We looked at the performances and underlying numbers behind their success so far earlier this week and they certainly look like a team who can do very well this year. We’d imagine Koeman’s side can replicate Everton’s success of last season. That is, they’ll challenge for a Top 4 spot for long stretch of the season, although ultimately we’d expect them to fall short of Champion’s League qualification once Liverpool and Arsenal get their act together. Still, from a fantasy football perspective this is very good and continued investment in Southampton’s top players looks a very worthwhile one.
Note the absence of any of the elite midfielders except for Sterling, who is the cheapest of the lot. Elite mids are extremely popular with FPL managers; you’ll find many a team with the midfield trio of Di Maria, Fabregas and Sterling. The fact is though, so far at least, there are much cheaper midfielders who have scored the same amount of points as their more expensive peers*.This only reinforces one of the cornerstones of success for any fantasy football team – it’s all about value for money. In fact, with the exception of one or two players that will be your regular captain picks, your whole team should be based on value for money. Berahino’s unlikely success and his inclusion in the team underlines this factor. At just £5.7M in FPL he’s the best value for money player in the game so far along with Ryan Bertrand.
The inclusion of value for money players over the more obviously “elite” allows this team to pack in Baines and Ivanovic at the back. These guys are of course very expensive for defenders but considering their potential going forward are actually quite cheap when compared instead to midfielders. It is, however, always a little bit of a risk signing expensive defenders, if they fail to score they can be an enormous drag on your team. Relying on goals and/or assists from defenders requires you to stick with them through long stretches of the season and be very patient until they pop up with the goods. They’re only likely to score half a dozen or so goals a season and thus the real worthwhile points won’t come around very often. Both Baines and Ivanovic look in great form this season however and it’s not too late to add either or both players to your team.
The big question surrounding this team and the players is how well they'll do from this point on. We'll take a closer look at this in a post next week but first thoughts are that it should do very well. Costa's injury is obvioulsy an issue right now but recall that there's at least £2M remaining budget to play with and a move for Aguero would be possible. The continued form of Berahino in particular as well as Siggy, Chadli and Tadic (versus Di Maria, Fab, Ramsey, etc.) would also have to be questioned but so far the underlying stats for all these players look terrific and suggest further success should be on the cards.
* - we should point out here we know Di Maria missed 2 games this season and may make the team if we did this on points per game (PPG) instead of total points. We'll look to optimise a team by PPG next week.