Fantasy Premier League managers have plenty of big decisions to make ahead of Gameweek 4, with the first international break of 2019/20 looming after its completion.
We’ve put together another panel of top Fantasy managers to help you with any dilemmas you may have.
We were inundated with questions again this week but there were several recurring topics, particularly Manchester City’s attack, Teemu Pukki, Chelsea assets, the Ashley Barnes bandwagon, Anthony Martial replacements – and Wildcards.
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 appears regularly on the official FPL Show.
Ben Crabtree – A former FPL winner, who claimed the title in 2016/17 without using a single Liverpool player.
Ted/Rotation’s Alter Ego – Moderator and the site’s recently appointed Assistant Community Manager. Ted finished 633rd in the world last season.
Bowstring the Carp – Two top 1k finishes (126 and 754) and one of our best community article writers. Recently wrote some excellent pieces on Pep Guardiola and his tactics.
Senor Lesfab: Is it worth having Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero going forward?
FPL General: Owning all three would eat up around a third of your overall budget, it just feels like too much. I would rather spread the funds around the rest of my squad for more balance rather than going all-in on the City attackers. Aguero looks great for Brighton at home in Gameweek 4, but he’s likely to share game-time with Gabriel Jesus again after the break. It’s De Bruyne and Sterling for me, with no space for Aguero.
Bowstring the Carp: Tough one. Yes, since they have an easy set of games in their next four fixtures. There are two drawbacks though. So much money concentrated into three players of the same side could weaken the overall team structure. Also, you will not be able to cover their defence – Man City have the highest odds of keeping clean sheets over the next few weeks. So that’s something to consider.
Farmerfat: Is taking a few early hits to get your team right better than an early Wildcard?
Rotation’s Alter Ego: Usually, my criteria for a Wildcard is multiple small changes that clean out the deadwood plus a big premium player switch or a formation change. The Wildcard is the most powerful chip in my opinion, so there’s no chance I’ll be rushing into using it unless I really think it’s needed, though I am a particularly dull manager.
If you’re just weighing up a -8 so you can get like Mason Mount and Teemu Pukki in, I wouldn’t bother with a Wildcard. If you need a -8 to get someone like Pukki and Mohamed Salah in, plus five to eight smaller changes around the sides, then go for it.
It’s hard to call it outside of a team-by-team basis, but my general rule would be to take the hits if it will fix your team and save the Wildcard for when you really need it. If you really feel like you need it, use it – but you shouldn’t let anyone (myself included) decide that for you; it’s your team and your decision.
Ben Crabtree: I’ve mixed my usage of a Wildcard each season and prefer to play the situation rather than plan it in before the season starts. Early in the season it can become very tempting to use it if you don’t have many of the players who have flown out the blocks but I would use caution and consider that each week, new players that haven’t returned yet will score points. Sebastien Haller is a great example, and next week there will be another.
It is difficult to recommend a certain choice of use or not use without seeing your team but I think a -8 is ok to take if there really are transfers that need to be made. If you’re looking at a -12, I think Wildcarding would be better and you’d likely sort out a few lower priority moves too.
However, the main consideration is whether these hits or Wildcard are needed at all. Is it just chasing points? Hypothetically, if you Wildcarded after Gameweek 1, then again after Gameweek 2, then again now, how different would your teams be? If every week the ideal Wildcard team changes then it’s worth holding for now, to wait for more information on player and team form and also letting the international break pass by.
Superkitten: Short and sweet, is Teemu Pukki essential?
FPL General: No player is essential but if I didn’t own Pukki he’d be my number one priority this week ahead of that West Ham fixture. The party is only getting started.
Bowstring the Carp: “Essential” is a strong term, but with his high ownership he will certainly do a lot of damage if you don’t have him. It’s nearly an insurance policy at this rate if you’ve missed his hauls, as opposed to a way of making ground up in the rankings. Better safe than sorry even if you don’t think he’ll keep it up.
MichaelJajo: Is it worth joining the Ashley Barnes bandwagon now or should I get him after the Liverpool game?
Rotation’s Alter Ego: I jumped fully on last week, but admittedly it was mainly because I couldn’t afford entry to the Pukki Party. However, I’m pretty happy with my situation – which isn’t easy after missing out on 35 points and £0.4m.
Liverpool haven’t been the same unparalleled defensive unit that they were last season: they’re mid-table for shots in the box conceded and with Adrian in goal, they look far less secure at the back. Can Barnes capitalise on some shaky defending? Possibly. No team has made more defensive errors this season than Liverpool, so it’s definitely not the same daunting fixture that it was last term.
The question is, where are you coming from? If it’s someone like Diogo Jota, I’d be making the switch. If someone with a better fixture, I’d be happy to hold a week – you shouldn’t miss out on too much. If on a Wildcard – I wouldn’t bother booking in a transfer down the line and would jump on now. After all, no striker has had more goal attempts than Mr Ashley Barnes…
Owen Hughes: Which Chelsea assets are worth a punt?
Ben Crabtree: Before the season it looked likely that some Chelsea assets would emerge given the inexpensive prices across their whole squad. After three Gameweeks, Mason Mount stands out as the best option given his returns in two games and also a few shots he had in the Super Cup which showed his eye for goal. Before the season started it looked like it could be a close call between him and Ross Barkley but Barkley’s minutes have been mixed and he doesn’t come close to Mount when it comes to a desire to get goals.
Elsewhere, I’m not really sold on Tammy Abraham as I think he will rotate with Olivier Giroud. Pedro has looked sharp but has a vulnerability with little injuries and costs £0.8m more than Mount without showing enough to feel he’s worth the extra.
Chelsea’s defence could offer great value or could flatter to decieve all season. Kurt Zouma at £5.0m could be great alongside Antonio Rudiger but I want to see some clean sheet potential first which still looks a way off. For this reason, Emerson’s viability also takes a hit. At £0.5m more you get a lot more attacking output so it’d be worth the investment given that he seems to have won the left-back spot. Again, the lack of clean sheet promise keeps him glued to the watchlist at the moment.
With Sheffield United at home up next, this could be a time to get on a Chelsea defender early, but unless a defensive transfer is urgent it may be best to monitor the potential until a run of playing low-scoring teams starts in Gameweek 7.
Rotation’s Alter Ego: The simple, short answer is Mason Mount. Larger punts are Tammy Abraham and Emerson Palmieri.
Mount is looking to be a fantastic pick at his price bracket. At just £6.2m, Mount has played every minute of the first three weeks despite the threat of rotation from Ross Barkley and not only played, but thrived. Out of all Chelsea players, he’s had the most crosses, the most chances created and the most goal attempts. It extends to a broader scale too – out of all midfielders, he again has had the highest goal attempts, level with Raheem Sterling. Furthermore, he doesn’t fair too poorly in the other categories mentioned either when looking at all midfielders – he’s sixth and joint-eighth for crosses and chances created respectively.
He’s certainly passed the eye test too. Chelsea fans have fallen in love with his attack-minded movement and impressive work rate that has seen him frequently picking up the ball in dangerous areas and due to this he’s taken his goal tally up to two already – though it must be said that one was from some sleepy defending and the other against a leaky defence. With Barkley seemingly second choice (third when Ruben Loftus-Cheek returns), he could be a great little punt.
The other two options that interest me are Abraham and Emerson.
I’ve talked frequently about Abraham’s finishing not being clinical enough, but that certainly wasn’t the case against Norwich. Two superbly taken goals should see him take the forward role with a little more security after the more clinical and powerful Olivier Giroud was preferred versus Leicester and Liverpool. Question is, was his improved finishing a one-off? If so, we could see Abraham return to being a team player, in a less selfish role that Lampard loved to see in preseason. If not though, he could be an excellent top six forward at a kind price.
Emerson is a player that I’m really, really interested in. Typically, we’ve said that Marcos Alonso is the attack-minded left-back and Emerson the more defensive one, but it seems Emerson has set out to completely disprove this. Whilst still doing his defensive duty, Emerson has racked up six goal attempts (one being a big chance), ten dribbles and 12 crosses. Granted he’s picked up no bonuses, but with Chelsea’s highest baseline bps he could be looking at some down the line. Alonso is the major threat, who may take some of the easier games away from him (though Emerson played versus Sheffield United), but Emerson is comfortably first choice otherwise. If Chelsea tighten up at the back and start getting some clean sheets, he’ll be high on my watchlist.
St Stephen: Who is the best replacement for Anthony Martial if he is out for several weeks?
Bowstring the Carp: I think Mason Mount is the standout replacement – he provides great value, is in good form, has okay fixtures and frees up cash. If you feel like punting, I think Wilfried Zaha, David Silva or Dani Ceballos could also be worth the gamble. Depending on formation, you might downgrade Martial to someone like Todd Cantwell and add another striker up top like Sebastien Haller, Tammy Abraham or Teemu Pukki as an alternative.
FPL General: If Mason Mount is passed fit for the weekend, that’s where I’d go from Martial. If the Frenchman is ruled out of Gameweek 4 it doesn’t mean you have to sell him though, you could just bench him and hope that he recovers in time for Gameweek 5. Transfers are precious.
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