What an opening gameweek!
We’ve had yet another belter of a GW1 to kickstart the season. Crammed full of goals, clean sheets and a high point average, there’ll be plenty of managers absolutely ecstatic with how their fantasy teams performed. As far as the results went this weekend, it seemed like there were only two options for teams to choose from: thrashing their opponent or getting thrashed themselves. When there are dominating wins, there’s hype, so I’ll be checking out some of the more talked about teams, pointing out their decent fixture runs and which players looked good during their opening game. As always, I’ll also be taking a look at which teams to avoid based on their fixtures, which sadly means I can’t warn you away from Chelsea, even though I probably should…
Let’s get into it!
(All fixture difficulties are assessed using this fixture tracker)
Teams to look into
After such a spectacular run-out, we should expect United players to start shooting up in price due to the overwhelming amount of Red Devil fans who play FPL. But can we blame them? Marcus Rashford (8.5m) and Paul Pogba (8.5m) managed 2 goals and 2 assists between them, whilst Wan-Bissaka (5.5m) kept a clean sheet and grabbed himself 2 bonus points. Event Anthony Martial (7.5m) had a good run out in the number 9 role. As much as we’d like to, I’m sure it’s probably not the best idea to start knee-jerking right at the start of the season, so let’s have a look at their fixtures from GW3 onwards. Man Utd are up against CRY (H), SOU (A), LEI (H) and WHU (A) in those 4 gameweeks. According to our fixture tracker, that puts them in 5th place for best fixtures between GW3-6. For those with a keen eye, though, you’ll have spotted that none of the upcoming teams scored any goals in GW1! That bodes well for the defense options, who were very effective at taking the bite out of Chelsea’s attack on Sunday. Looking at their fixtures between GW3-10, the results are very similar. Still 5th place on the fixture tracker, Man Utd’s two difficult fixtures, ARS and LIV, are both at home, while the rest of the opposition are all bottom half teams. So Rashford, Pogba and Martial, if he can keep his place in the starting XI, are all very tasty prospects indeed.
It’s funny how despite losing 3-1 to a top side, the twitterverse just can’t stop talking about Villa and how impressive they looked! It was definitely a night to remember for John McGinn (5.5m), who managed to wipe that smug ‘I knew Kyle Walker Peters was going to start’ smile off of a lot of managers’ faces. I know they didn’t do too well at the back, but Tyrone Mings (4.5m) not only assisted the only Villains goal, but he was genuinely great defensively as well. Tottenham could easily have scored a few more if it weren’t for Mings and his blocking/positioning. He deservedly received 2 bonus points for his efforts, despite conceding 3 goals. One to watch! Looking at GW3-9, Aston Villa actually have the 2nd best fixture run in the league, playing just one Top 6 side in 7 gameweeks. I do want to make clear that we’ve definitely not seen enough of these players to assess who we should be jumping on, but at least we now know who to keep our eyes on going into the next game.
Although the line-up was a bit unpredictable, one man stood out as a contender for our consideration. Harry Kane (11.0m) took his chances, scored his 2 goals, and validated every manager who couldn’t start the season without him. Last week I wrote that we should be wary of Spurs based on the Fixtures, Suspensions and Injuries. This week, looking from GW3 onwards, we can safely take ‘Fixtures’ out of that list. After the difficult Man City game in GW2, Tottenham are 4th on our fixture tracker between GW3-9 for best fixture-run, which is great for Kane owners, and horrible for non-Kane owners. After GW9, though, it gets a bit messy, and in GW3 we will probably have a completely different attacking midfield playing behind the English captain. So we may need to wait before looking into any other Spurs players. So in conclusion, if you have Kane you’re laughing. If not, now is the time to start planning and/or praying.
Well done to everyone who risked a jump aboard the Pre-Season Ashley Barnes (6.5m) train. What a great start to the season for Burnley; a complete 360 to their start last season. The Clarets surely benefited from from having Nick Pope (4.5m) between the sticks again, securing the clean sheet with a stunning defensive display. This smells like the Pre-Burnley we were all hoping for. The Burnley we could count on for those budget clean sheets and consistent Barnes returns. From GW 3-7, they’ve got the 4th best fixtures, and from GW3-10 they only drop down to 7th best. If they impress against Arsenal, the nostalgia hit may be too much for some managers and we’ll be seeing a lot more Burnley players in the RMT threads. Very impressed!
Teams to be wary of
You have to admire Emery’s consistency for screwing up the team selection week after week. For those who thought this year would be different, I am truly sorry, but there’s no stopping this man on his quest to play every combination of players that he has at his disposal. Exactly none of the new signings started the game against Newcastle, and the lack of attacking threat was a direct result. For FPL, we have to take note at the away cleansheet, which for whatever reason the Gunners struggled in getting last season. With Kieran Teirney (5.5m) and David Luiz (6.0m) still to make the XI, we can only assume that these defensive displays will continue, but we have to remember that Newcastle aren’t the rooting-tooting, Rondon-Shooting team we’re used to seeing. So let’s wait before looking into Arsenal’s backline any further. As for their attack, the fan’s disappointment for that midfield was palpable, and it really was a miracle that Aubameyang (11.0m) was fed a decent opportunity to score. Arsenal have the 3rd worst fixture run from GW3-GW7, so we’ll reassess how they’re getting on for GW8 onwards.
Those who were unfortunately forced to play Martin Kelly (4.0m) in GW1 will feel slightly…well, fortunate. Everton were unlucky not to score against the Eagles, and all it takes is a quick look at the fixtures to see that the Crystal Palace Defence isn’t something we should be investing in right now. They win the award for the ‘Worst 10 Fixtures in the Prem’ from GW3 onwards, facing not one, not two, but FIVE top 6 teams. If you own any serious assets, like Patrick van Aanholt (5.5), Wilfred Zaha or Luka Milivojevic (both 7.0m), you might want to start looking for alternatives soon.
There’s probably not too many managers considering Blades assets, but I have noticed some murmerings about Dean Henderson (4.5m) and John Lundstram (4.0m) looking promising. While the latter is playing out of position and did pick up a bonus points for his efforts, I’d still stay well clear unless you already own him. As one of the few playing 4.0m Defenders, there’s no need to get rid of him, but just in case there are managers thinking about using one of their precious Free Transfers on any Sheffield United players, I’d like to draw your attention to their upcoming fixtures. Between GW3-12 Sheffield is sitting uncomfortably at 3rd worst in our fixture tracker, playing just 2 bottom half teams out of 10. If that doesn’t deter you from transferring in their players, then nothing will. It’s still early days, of course, but we go on the info we have. And the info we have says “no”.
And that’s a Wrap!
We looked at the fixtures from GW3 onwards because unless you have a fire to put out in your team, like Allison for example, there’s probably no real reason you should be making transfers before GW2. If you just can’t help yourself, then good luck! You’re a braver manager than me. Remember to keep an eye on your price change tracker of choice if you’ve got specific players in mind for transfers, but no knee-jerking! Have a good one. See you next monday.