Fantasy Premier League managers are making final adjustments to their squads ahead of the Gameweek 1 deadline and we’re here to help.
With the price structure making it increasingly harder to shoe-horn in premium options each year, we’ve asked our panel of Fantasy managers what their plan is.
We also wanted to get their thoughts on Everton, budget defensive options and other pre-season strategies…
Who’s on the panel this week?
FPL General – Contributor to the Scout site who has three finishes inside the top 400 in the last five seasons and who has a huge following on Twitter. General – aka Mark – also appeared on the official FPL Show last season.
Who Got the Assist? – Tom and Nick run one of Twitter’s most active Fantasy accounts and run their very own blog, also producing an excellent regular podcast.
FPL Family – Lee and Sam run the popular Fantasy podcast and Twitter account. They were guests on the FPL Show last season.
Ted / Rotation’s Alter Ego – Moderator and the site’s recently appointed Assistant Community Manager. Ted finished 633rd in the world last season.
James / HamezMace – A long-term member of and frequent poster to the Fantasy Football Scout site.
Tom / avfc82 – A long-term member of and frequent poster to the Fantasy Football Scout site. Tom has a remarkable five top 1,000 finishes to his name in ten years of playing FPL.
Michael: Which premium attackers are you going without and why?
Ted / Rotation: “Right now I’m fairly confident I’ll start with Salah and Sterling, but I’ll have to see if KDB also joins in as well.
“I don’t like the structure or balance of my team when I try fitting in three top-end premiums but two and KDB might work.
“Kane has had a very tempting price drop, but I won’t be buying him until I see him on the form of the “Old Kane” from seasons like 2016/17.
“On too many occasions last season I saw him sat far too deep for my liking.
“I really, really want Aubameyang – his pre-season form has been scintillating – but I can’t warrant dropping Salah or Sterling from my team.
“Aguero was up against Sterling in my thinking and Sterling won out due to a variety of reasons, including Aguero’s late return from the Copa America and Jesus’ presence.
“Mané won’t be included due to his late return from international duty and I prefer Salah for £1.0m more regardless.
“The £9.5m midfielder bracket has some serious potential with Pépé, Son and KDB in it, but right now I’m only looking at De Bruyne.
“Son is obviously suspended, and I tend to avoid new premium signings as it’s best to see how they settle into the league instead of taking the risk and jumping on immediately – hence no Pépé.
“In reality, it’s less to do with who I don’t with and more to do with who I do.
“Between Salah’s FPL history and his fixtures, he’s pretty nailed in my team.
“It feels like I’m asking for trouble if I go without a Man City attacker, and I much prefer the Sterling/Salah captaincy rotation to the Aubameyang/Salah captaincy rotation.”
HamezMace: “This has been the issue I have wrestled with the most since the game came out.
“Can you fit Kane, Sterling, and Salah into the same team, whilst maintaining some important balance/exit plans for the fringe players?
“I have ruled out Aguero, mostly due to his late return from the Copa America, and rumours he won’t start Gameweek 1.
“I have also ruled out Aubameyang, although this wasn’t easy to do, because I prefer Kane at the same price point.
“I debated the plan to start with Aubameyang and switch to Kane in Gameweek 3, but planned transfers never seem to work out how you plan them – or at least how I plan them!
“So I’m down to Salah, Sterling and Kane.
“Currently, I have all three in my team, and I think if I were to lose one of them it would probably be Sterling.
“I could probably justify it with the following points:
“1. I could have KdB as an alternative to Sterling. Firmino, and Moura don’t have the same appeal as cheaper respective alternatives.
“2. Captaincy, if I had all three of them, I probably wouldn’t captain Sterling ahead of either of the other two in the first few game weeks.
“That’s just me though. I think all of the premium options will do well this season, and I’ll probably have had all of them at some point by Gameweek 38.
“My advice to start the season is to have at least two to rotate the captaincy with and go with your gut feeling.”
Tom from WGTA: “Sterling and Salah are my premium picks, meaning Harry Kane and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang miss out.
“This is by no means a case of being comfortable without them. I’m particularly worried about not owning Kane against Villa.
“However, as the manager of my team, my judgement is that the City and Liverpool midfielders are two who will end up being the highest-scoring players that I ideally will own all season, with the all-important captaincy armband passing between them.
“You can’t have them all and have a balanced side.
“Good luck with who you pick, it’ll be a case of adjusting to how the situation develops.”
Sam from Family: “It’s impossible to fit all the premium assets into your fantasy team – I’ve tried!
“From the forwards, going without Aubameyang and Aguero worries me.
“Arsenal have great fixtures in the early part of the season, in fact there are only three that flash up as red on the Fixture Difficulty ranking between Gameweeks 1 and 16.
“Aubameyang shared last season’s Golden Boot award and was top for expected goals in the Premier League last season, so not to have him feels a little wrong.
“He scored 22 goals in total, but also missed 23 ‘big chances’, the most in the league, so with a bit of composure, would’ve blown Salah and Mané out the water.
“The additions of Pépé and Ceballos to the Arsenal squad makes the Gunner’s attack – including Aubameyang – look even more attractive in FPL.
“I will also be lacking FPL royalty, in Sergio Aguero – often considered a cardinal sin in seasons past.
“This is in part thanks to his busy summer at the Copa América and subsequent late return to Manchester City.
“It also, however, feels very much that in terms of budget, it’s hard to pick Aguero AND one of the City midfielders without making major premium option sacrifices from the other major clubs.
“So, in midfield, I’m stuck choosing between Kevin De Bruyne or Raheem Sterling.
“De Bruyne’s 18/19 season was injury-ravaged, but he, of course, has pedigree.
“KDB was in the FFScout team of the season in 17/18 scoring 209 points and making him the third-highest scoring midfielder that season.
“Budget-balancing will mean that either KDB or Sterling will miss out in my FPL squad and right now it looks like it’s Sterling, so I’m keeping that early Wildcard very much front of mind, should the Englishman find early, explosive form.”
Siddhant: For the General, to KDB or not to KDB? At £9.5m he could be great value…
General: “This is one of the biggest dilemmas I’m having myself this week.
“De Bruyne broke my heart towards the end of last season when I brought him in and gave him the armband only for him to go down clutching his leg in the first half.
“But it is a new season and a clean slate for all players and the £9.5m price tag is too hard to ignore.
“He’s in my latest draft and there’s a good chance he’ll still be there at 7.00pm on Friday.
“f he can avoid injury this season, he will make a mockery of that price tag.
Doderlein: How many premium defenders is it advisable to own? And if you go for 3 or 4 premium defenders, should you go for a cheaper goalkeeper who saves a lot instead?
HamezMace: “For me, the value in premium defenders is potentially greater than ever, if Liverpool and Manchester City can replicate their solid defensive returns from last season.
“Coupled with the attacking returns their formations allow, with the full-backs bombing forward then their respective defensive assets could again prove to be golden in FPL.
“Although personally, I don’t see the same value in the premium goalkeepers, as they don’t offer the attacking returns the defenders can, and rarely get bonus or save points, compared to the budget keepers at least.
“As always it’s about balance. Having four premium defenders will impact your squad elsewhere.
“The best FPL advice I was ever given was to ensure your Gameweek 1 squad has flexibility, so you can move on any bandwagons or premium players who come flying out the blocks.
“Going so heavy in one area of the team could cause you problems in another department, try and spread the funds around going into GW1 as best as possible.
“In short, I would want at least two premium defenders, but I don’t think more than three are required (unless you’re going five at the back).
General: “I would say three is advisable but I could end up with four £6.0m+ defenders.
“I considered going with five premium defenders but I feel it’s quite restrictive for future transfers so it will be a maximum of four for me.
“Investing heavily in the premium defenders almost forces you to opt for a cheaper goalkeeper.
“The likes of Pope, Heaton and Ryan are all viable options who should rack up the save points.”
caboose: Who would form the best 4.5m keeper rotation in your opinion?
Ted / Rotation: For me, it’s Heaton and Pope.
When I’m picking my goalkeepers, I tend to look long-term because there’s nothing more that I hate than wasting free transfers sorting out this position.
However, at this early stage, you can look a lot shorter term because you will likely Wildcard early anyways.
If I’m looking for a pairing that will rotate well, all I look at is the fixture difficulty.
A recent community article by “A Fat Spanish Waiter” highlighted how mathematically, if you do decide to rotate keepers, there are likely more points in rotating via fixture difficulty than looking at a Home / Away rotation.
From my experience, that’s certainly the case too.
Looking at the fixture swings, I’d guess I’m most likely to Wildcard around Gameweek 7, 8 or 9 so I’m looking for a pairing that will last me at least nine weeks.
However, I would also like at least one of my goalkeepers to develop into the kind of option that will become a set and forget type, so I can start building value now and not worry about paying extra for them when I Wildcard.
Of the 4.5m options, three stand out as having the save and clean sheet potential to do this – Heaton, Pope and Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson.
Of those, one of Heaton or Pope is my favourite – both excellent FPL pedigree, playing in a team that should allow them to pick up saves but won’t place so much pressure on them to produce that they’ll occasionally concede buckets (See Pickford at Sunderland).
Using the members Season Ticker over Gameweeks 1 to 9 with just teams with nailed 4.5m options included, which will find me a rotation based on fixture difficulty, Heaton best rotates with Pope, Henderson best rotates with Heaton and Pope best rotates with Heaton.
Nothing but Heaton, so he comes in, as does his best rotating partner, Pope, who just so happens to my other preferred 4.5 goalkeeper. Perfect.
The only slight caveat that I’ll include is that I quite like the look of right-back Frederic Guilbert but wouldn’t want to double up.
However, if this did move my favourite from Heaton, it would drop straight to Pope who’s the other keeper already.
Oli Fitz: Who’s worth having from Everton at the start of the season with their sweet fixtures?
HamezMace: “Unfortunately, we’ve not seen Richarlison in pre-season as he was someone I initially had my eye on after the price release.
“He always seems to start the season with a bang, but he might be too much of a risk now.
“I’ve also noticed Sigurdsson slowly disappearing from the RMT requests over the last couple of weeks.
“I assume this is because Everton haven’t really caught the eye during their summer friendlies, but I think if you’re looking for an attacker he is still the man to have from Everton.
“Personally, I can’t look past Lucas Digne as my Everton pick. His potential for attacking returns is frightening.”
Lee: “My thoughts on Everton have been really up and down this pre-season.
“Initially, I saw the fixtures and immediately drafted in Digne and Sigurdsson.
“Then, I saw a couple of their pre-season results and the sale of Idrissa Gueye, at which point I switched Digne to a 4.5 defender and used the extra money to upgrade Sigurdsson to Kevin De Bruyne.
“And there I stayed, with no Everton in my team – until the announcement of Moise Kean.
“The addition of a quality striker at Everton has once again changed my thoughts about including their FPL assets.
“The chances that Sigurdsson and in particular, Digne created last season, largely went to waste, as Marco Silva’s Blues lacked that cutting edge in front of goal.
“Experiments with Tosun, Calvert-Lewin and an out-of-position Richarlison all largely failed, so it’s no wonder Everton’s owners have put their hands in their pockets for one of Europe’s hottest talents.
“At 19-years old and at a reasonably budget-friendly 7.0m in FPL, he’s worthy of consideration in our Gameweek 1 drafts.
“Despite Everton’s less-than-inspiring pre-season form this summer, the Premier League opening fixtures mean the Toffees have a good chance of hitting the ground running.
“A gamble on Kean is certainly something I wouldn’t sniff at – and the ‘safer’ selections of the proven Digne or Sigurdsson are now back in my thoughts.
“Honourable mentions should also go to Seamus Coleman if you want to save 0.5m in defence and Richarlison, who in season’s past, has shown that he is capable of making a good start to a campaign.”
Declan Rynne: Who is the best £4.5m defender for Gameweeks 1 to 4?
avfc82: “Despite looking at Frédéric Guilbert (Aston Villa) and Jack O’Connell (Sheffield United) in recent weeks, La Masia graduate Martín Montoya is my pick of the £4.5m options, and currently in my squad.
“Pre-season suggests Brighton will set up in an adventurous 3-4-3 system, with Montoya utilised on the right flank as a wing-back.
“His attacking threat is key to his appeal – consistently one of the most accurate crossers in the league, he also hit the bar in the recent 4-0 friendly win over Birmingham City.
“There isn’t currently any real competition for his place in the team either, with Bruno retiring.
“Whilst I understand concerns around Brighton’s defensive resolve, and the fact a more attack-minded manager in Graham Potter has been appointed, having more of the ball and not sitting back quite so much may actually be a good thing and result in fewer goals conceded.
“With Watford, West Ham United and Southampton in the opening three Gameweeks, Montoya could be a good early season differential, whilst quickly adding to his 0.3% ownership… and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an attacking wing-back?”
Andy: Hi panel, how many of the promoted teams players would you have in your team maximum, if any?
Tom from WGTA: “Assets from promoted teams? Zero.
“Maybe a personal quirk as I’ve had lots of bad experiences through backing the likes of Tom Cairney in the past, but I tend to find watching and waiting for these instances is beneficial.
“The ownership levels tend to be low enough that it won’t hurt you to just exercise caution, so I’d prefer to wait and see how they adapt to the step up.”
FPL Snooper: What is the optimum number of ‘differentials’ for Gameweek 1?
Ted / Rotation: “The optimum depends on so many things, most importantly your playstyle, but for me, I’ll look at two or three differentials in all likelihood.
“If you talk to a top manager that struggled last season, there’s a fair chance that they will mention having a poor start and never really recovering.
“If you want a top 10k finish, don’t leave yourself with a mountain of work after the first five weeks – start slow and gradually improve your overall rank.
“In terms of FPL, that means being dull in the opening weeks and picking tried and tested point scorers, or people that you know will play and have good fixtures.
“Some will say that now is the time to take risks whilst you have the safety of a wildcard to fall back on but I don’t really agree, though I can see the thought process behind it.
“The other side of the coin is, of course, looking for those players that will build you value over a season, which means leaving the safety of TSB %.
“Finding that balance is key, but I wouldn’t worry about looking for an exact number. If you look at your team and count four or five players that are maybe unproven, rotation risks, injury-prone or just punts, consider dropping one for a more proven FPL asset.
Jack: Who is the best Leicester midfield option?
avfc82: “It’s hard to look past Ayoze Pérez for me.
“Reclassified as a midfielder, Pérez scored 12 Premier League goals whilst at Newcastle last season.
“Now playing in a better team, you’d expect him to profit from Rodgers attacking approach and up that output.
“In pre-season, we’ve seen glimpses of what’s to come.
“Against Atalanta, he looked sharp, created the best chance of the game for Jamie Vardy, scored a goal himself and should have added a second.
“He works for the team, is able to press and force opponents into mistakes and is versatile enough to fit in anywhere across Leicester’s forward line.
“Whether he plays as a second striker in a diamond, or, as I suspect, drifting in from a wider position in a 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3, I’m backing Pérez to outperform team-mates Youri Tielemans, who’s underlying stats suggest last season’s returns may not be sustainable, and James Maddison.
“I’d also like to mention Harvey Barnes, a player who put up strong numbers last season. He has real goal-scoring potential but with questions marks over his starting spot and accuracy. He’s one for the watchlist.”
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