We’ve assembled another panel of Fantasy Football Scout users to give you their thoughts on the most-debated issues of Gameweek 11.
As usual, we were inundated with FPL Question Time requests and we have cherry-picked some of the recurring topics for our Fantasy Premier League veterans to address in the article below.
There are issues surrounding Jamie Vardy (£9.3m), Nicolas Otamendi (£5.5m), Sergio Aguero (£12.1m), Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m) and Callum Wilson (£8.0m) for our panel to consider, as well as questions over double Liverpool defence and Brighton’s attacking assets.
WHO’S ON THE PANEL THIS WEEK?
Epic Fail – A seasoned manager who has been playing Fantasy football for over 20 years and who has been involved in FPL since it started. He boasts a massively impressive history with seven top 10k overall ranks, including a 247th-place finish.
Will / TopMarx – A top FPL writer, producer of our weekly round-ups and a well-documented lover of VAR, TopMarx claims his record of winning at least one mini-league in each of the last three seasons has left him as the best FPL manager in the history of the game. Whilst the jury remains out on that one, a career-best finish of 4k is excellent.
Maximus Bonimus Pointimus – Long-time FFS member, currently seeking an elusive fifth top 10k finish. With a personal best season of 958th, the highs and lows of 12 FPL campaigns have left him completely desensitised to seeing good players get bad scores in good fixtures (and vice-versa!).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
MikeBravo: Is Jamie Vardy likely to score away against Crystal Palace, given that the Eagles have been fairly tight at home, or is it worth being patient for one more week rather than taking a hit to get him in for, in my case, Callum Wilson? Wilson’s on my bench this week, anyway, as I opt for a triple Brighton attacking threat.
Will: Vardy definitely can score away to Palace given the form Leicester are in but I wouldn’t expect another hat-trick.
I am waiting to get Vardy until Gameweek 12 because the switch from Agüero makes more sense then, with Man City away to Liverpool and Leicester facing Arsenal’s leaky defence.
Like you, I’ve got Aaron Connolly starting this week, and I think if you bench Wilson and get Vardy in Gameweek 12 for free, that’s a good plan. Best of luck with your Brighton attacking triple-up: Trossard, Maupay, and Connolly could all be delivering lovely points at the weekend!
HeineKane: Having missed the Vardy Party last weekend, should I be following the crowd to the next one? Or is there more to gain from taking a risk on other strikers (Lacazette, Rashford, an ‘out-of-position’ Martial)?
Epic Fail: After a relatively decent start to the season, I too missed out on the Vardy Party and saw my rank tumbling down. Now whether you should follow the crowd or not depends on what sort of FPL player you are. Are you a risk-taker or do you like to play it safe? Bringing in Vardy gives you safety in numbers and if he starts another party you will be invited.
Now me personally, I almost entirely ignore what the masses are doing. I make a plan and I stick to it. Before Leicester smashed Southampton, my plan for the next few weeks did not involve bringing in Vardy (or any other Leicester player) and I am sticking with it. I’m not scrapping my plans because of one freak result. If you have any ambitions to push yourself to the upper echelons of rank and reach that state of Nirvana, then following the masses is not going to help you achieve that.
This type of play does come with a warning, though. Seeing as it is the popular template move, then if Vardy scores well you can be left behind fast. Over the last ten years or so I have had one relatively horrible finish – and that one horrible finish just so happened to be the same season that Leicester won the Premier League. That year I stuck with my plans and was punished by Leicester’s value players. Could history be repeating itself? Possibly so, but I need to see more than one freak result to convince me to change my plans.
None of this is to say that Vardy isn’t a great option. He is a great option, especially with Leicester’s run of fixtures coming up. Just don’t base your decisions solely on a result that is highly unlikely to be repeated any time soon.
Ajax Hamsterdam: Shall we give Nicolas Otamendi one more week?
Maximus: It appears the writing may, unfortunately, be on the wall for ‘Ota’ but if we’re being totally honest, and using the superpower of 20:20 hindsight, was that writing there all along given his manager’s historical, almost pathological, avoidance of pairing him with John Stones?
Prior to Aymeric Laporte’s signing, Guardiola only paired the two in 22 of a potential 62 opportunities. And from Laporte’s signing up to the point of his injury, they were only paired on three occasions out of a potential maximum of 56 games – a not-too-subtle indication of where Pep Guardiola’s thoughts lie with regards Otamendi and Stones’ viability as an elite centre-back pairing.
Whilst Otamendi did initially appear to have an awful lot going for him when the news of Laporte’s absence broke (his talent for goalscoring, a seemingly secure start as the club’s only fit centre-back at that time, a £5.4m price tag, hugely favourable fixtures), as the weeks have passed, many of the traditional criteria for a transfer out are seemingly being fulfilled – poor form, poor fitness, uncertainty of starting position, a deteriorating fixture list starting directly after Gameweek 11 and, perhaps most importantly, the 180 Premier League minutes without a goal conceded that his team managed to accumulate in his absence.
All things considered, it really does begin to look a question of when rather than if owners should ship Mr Otamendi.
With that said, similar to the majority of FPL decisions, managers should assess this one with eyes wide open to the fact that an Otamendi sale directly pre-Southampton home has the potential to go horribly wrong and we should be under no illusions that there is a chance (however slight, considering both Fernandinho and Stones’ expected availability and their respective lack of midweek minutes) that Otamendi not only starts the game but also nicks a clean sheet and poaches an attacking return – as happened in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
Even if that admittedly unlikely Otamendi haul scenario doesn’t materialise, the danger also exists that one’s covering bench player suddenly decides that Gameweek 11 would be the perfect time to contribute a similarly unexpected points return, a points return that Otamendi’s chosen transfer replacement might fail to match/exceed. With many teams carrying a certain Sheffield United central midfielder who is masquerading as a budget FPL defender, and with a reasonable home fixture against Burnley into the bargain, this particular ‘opportunity cost’ scenario is entirely possible.
If, or when, managers eventually do decide to go down the route of replacing Otamendi though, a free transfer to the premium options of Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) or even Matt Doherty (£6.0m) may actually have quite a large potential upside given those particular fullbacks’ incendiary scoring ability.
If the premium defenders shelf is too much of a stretch, many other suitors are stepping forward in the same price bracket. Joao Cancelo’s (£5.3m) versatility in multiple positions on both flanks will surely be a huge string to his FPL bow as the season progresses, while Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) is buoyed from doing his best Gareth Bale impression and achieving a monstrous 19-point haul courtesy of the admittedly depleted but unquestionably shambolic Southampton side.
A little further down the price list, the alternatives include Daryl Janmaat, who is in positively explosive form and carrying a comically low price tag of £4.3m.
Jamaal Lascelles (£4.4m), fresh from notching his first goal of the season at the weekend, can be rotated with John Lundstram and Diego Rico to give a run of BUR, BOU, WOL, wol, NEW, SOU, AVL, BUR, WAT.
The £4.4m-rated Romain Saiss (BUR, AVL, WOL, SHU, NEW, nor, AVL, BUR, WAT in rotation with Lundstram/Rico) may also be worth considering, with Willy Boly having suffered an unfortunately serious injury that may inadvertently pave the way for Saiss’s starting berth for the foreseeable future. Although Wolves’ Europa league commitments and Boly’s injury may yet place doubts over the FPL prospects of both Saiss and Doherty, their superb fixture list (AVL, bou, SHU, WHU, bha) may be just enough to answer those doubts.
In summary, the answer to the question is likely to be situational. Broadly speaking, if your team has any sort of bench strength (which it probably should!), and/or you are any way constrained on free transfer availability, Otamendi certainly may be worth giving the one-more-week treatment – especially taking into consideration factors such as his immediate fixture, Lundstram’s next fixture (if he’s on your books) and the oft-cited FPL cliché that hits for defenders are rarely worthwhile.
But it may be approaching a maximum of a one-week stay of execution from where we are currently sitting and with the information we currently have to hand on his form/fitness/fixtures.
It’s equally important to acknowledge that for many managers with a shallower bench and/or a free transfer burning a hole in their pocket, even that will be one week too many.
Ibe Wisdom: Now that Joel Matip is ruled out for one to two months, should we reconsider double Liverpool defence in the upcoming green patch?
Will: It’s undoubtedly a blow but I wouldn’t let it dissuade you too much. That second centre-back spot was up for grabs at the start of the season anyway and there’s an opportunity now for someone else to lay claim to it.
Liverpool are a fiercely competitive side and in Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, they possess defenders capable of attacking returns as well as clean sheets. I think they will both prove value for money over the upcoming green patch.
Nolberto Solano: Is a Leicester full-back essential in the coming weeks?
Epic Fail: I’ve always hated the use of the word ‘essential’, though that is probably down to me being pedantic. There are many ways to skin a cat, meaning no single player is ever essential.
However, is a Leicester full-back a good option over the coming weeks? The answer is of course: yes. Brendan Rodgers’ side has arguably the best fixtures of any club over the next seven Gameweeks. In five out of those seven matches, Leicester face a team currently in the bottom seven.
The other two tougher fixtures are Crystal Palace away and Arsenal at home and it wouldn’t be too much of a shock to see Leicester come away with something from those tests; even without a clean sheet in those games, there is a realistic chance of attacking returns from the Foxes’ full-backs.
So while I wouldn’t be going out of my way to bring in a Leicester full-back, if I were looking to bring in a medium-priced defender any time soon I would be considering their assets over any other team.
Fuhrers Bunker: Is this the demise of Callum Wilson? He doesn’t look convincing enough. Who is his best replacement in the mid-to-low price bracket?
Maximus: In many ways, Callum Wilson as an FPL asset has been a classic victim of his own success. In the season just past, and in tandem with his partner-in-crime Ryan Fraser, he contributed a quite frankly phenomenal 26 attacking returns in just 29 starts. Given his extremely generous starting price of just £6.0m in 2018/19, many in the FPL world sat up and took note of his achievements.
FPL Towers duly obliged with the summer relaunch, slapping Wilson with a whopping £2.0m/33% price increase – which looked a fast path to increased scrutiny in the event of the inevitable lean spells that almost every Fantasy forward must navigate.
Wilson is certainly going through one such lean spell at present and that scrutiny has certainly arrived: not only has he personally went through 270 goalless minutes but so have his entire team, with Bournemouth’s standard operational mode of ‘sharp up front/blunt at the back’ experiencing a particularly peculiar polarity shift in the last couple of Gameweeks.
Similar to Otamendi, there are many willing suitors who would gladly step forward for a slot in Wilson’s stead, with another Wolves asset in Raul Jiminez and his superb fixtures perhaps providing the logical replacement, Europa League commitments notwithstanding.
Similarly, any Wilson owners still without Tammy Abraham may also see this as an opportune moment to bridge that particular gap. The more kindly priced but statistically impressive Neil Maupay, meanwhile, offers a cut-price alternative, albeit he looks to be about to start dealing with fixture issues of his own.
Further up the pricing ladder, Jamie Vardy has been in a rich vein of form and for less than £1.5m extra has been offering tremendous consistency against sides outside of last season’s top six since pretty much the moment Brendan Rodgers took the reigns back in late-February of this year (Vardy has an eye-watering 18 goals and three assists in Rodgers’ 20 games, despite his continual insistence on making a mockery of pretty much every underlying statistic in the book).
Aaron Connolly also currently sits on the very bottom rung of the pricing ladder, yet does quite well when using the Members Area comparison tool to measure against Wilson over the last two Gameweeks. That sort of price differential (a whopping £3.4m) can be a real red flag in relation to Wilson’s ability to deliver equivalent or ideally, better value.
Equally, with the plethora of attractively priced and positioned midfielders that seem to have emerged in the last few Gameweeks, other managers (myself included) may also see this as a good time to transition to an old Fantasy favourite 3-5-2 formation. There are no less than four in-form offerings currently being presented from Leicester’s midfield for less budget than Wilson, while a rejuvenated David Silva is also worth considering. Anthony Martial may also be about to start properly benefiting from the inheritance of the famous number nine shirt at Manchester United, as the sleeping giant attempts to maintain and build on the semblance of form that has crept in over their last two league fixtures.
The move to 3-5-2 also appears to reconcile well with Connolly’s timely emergence and simultaneously deals with what appears to be the ongoing decline of Todd Cantwell as an FPL asset, which looks to have been accelerated by the goalscoring return last weekend of his direct competitor in midfield, Onel Hernandez.
Statistically speaking, Wilson is also coming up against the defence with the lowest XGc in the league next (some managers will place more weight on this than others).
Overall, whilst both Wilson and Bournemouth will undoubtedly score goals again, time is of the essence and competition for FPL slots is currently strong, all of which conspire to make Wilson a potentially difficult hold in the current environment.
Aubaaaa: Sergio Aguero – stick or twist?
Will: Stick. Selling such a proven goalscorer playing for the most attacking team in the league against a side who have just conceded nine (!) goals is not a good idea.
But the question is not how good he is (you know that already); rather, is he likely to start? The answer is – we don’t know. My personal opinion is that he will, given that last night he lined up alongside his rival for the centre-forward role, Jesus.
And ultimately, with the juicy carrot of Southampton at home in Gameweek 11, I’m willing to take the risk. This is an example of what Pro Pundit, Lateriser12, calls “upside chasing”. Hopefully, those of us who hold our nerve with Agüero will finally be rewarded.
Tom12gooner: As a one-week punt for the Norwich game, is Maupay or Connolly a better pick?
Epic Fail: Connolly has performed well recently, but there is no reason to suggest Maupay can’t at the very least match him.
I would personally edge towards Maupay. Connolly is yet to see a full 90 minutes, which of course limits the amount of time he has available to score FPL points. Maupay doesn’t have the same issue.
Maupay also has the advantage of being on penalties. I almost entirely make my choices based on the ‘eye test’ and from what I have seen, Maupay has looked the more likely to score FPL points. He has been unlucky not to pick up more attacking returns than he has lately.
For any Members who like to look at stats, I would recommend taking a look at a comparison between Maupay and Connolly. Spoiler alert: Maupay is ahead in almost all of the key areas.
Serbia: What to do with Callum Hudson-Odoi?
Maximus: The late, great Terrence McKenna once said that, “if you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan”. In the case of Callum Hudson-Odoi, we must presume his owners definitely had a plan when they chose to recruit him for FPL duties.
Personally I think we don’t yet have enough information to say now is the time to scrap that plan and owners should keep faith. At a minimum, the Wednesday EFL Cup line-ups would be required to start trying to piece together the exact impact of the Christian Pulisic hat-trick that reverberated around Turf Moor on Saturday evening.
FFS’s own Mark Sutherns was, and presumably still is, an advocate of a certain approach when it came to these selection decisions, advising on many Scoutcasts of yesteryear that it can generally be better to aim to be a week late rather than a month (or more) early with unproven Premier League talent, and whilst this ship may have sailed for Hudson-Odoi’s ownership base, the shrewdly operated European Goliaths that are Bayern Munich didn’t come knocking with a multi-million-euro offer over the summer for an unproven teenage midfielder for nothing.
Whilst it does appear that a potential attacking midfield jobshare situation is developing between Hudson-Odoi, Willian and Pulisic (with Mason Mount’s security of starts currently looking relatively solid based on his manager’s almost continual insistence on giving him 90 minutes weekly), Hudson-Odoi certainly seems to have more than enough quality to hold his own and make a significant contribution to Chelsea’s impressive attacking output for what remains of their current favourable fixture list.
Coming in the other direction is the increased competition for midfield spots, with most managers wanting at least two-to-three of those slots filled with premium options Salah, Mane, Sterling, De Bruyne and Son. As mentioned earlier, there is also plenty of mid-price competition currently being offered by an even longer list of relatively tempting options, such as Maddison, David Silva, Martial, Tielemans, Perez, Barnes, Mount and McGinn.
If you can afford to via your squad’s bench depth, it may be best to try to carry Hudson-Odoi for another two Gameweeks and re-assess over the international break – it would certainly be harsh of Lampard to drop Pulisic after that performance but Hudson-Odoi did look dangerous in his 15-minute cameo, despite exiting stage left as the pantomime villain following his ill-advised theatrics and the yellow card that duly followed.
Wednesday’s Carabao Cup line-ups (and any unpredictable events thereafter) will give more information in relation to what direction Hudson-Odoi’s FPL points output might travel in the coming Gameweeks.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 10
- Southampton 0-9 Leicester City
- Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa
- Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Everton
- Watford 0-0 Bournemouth
- West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 2-4 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 1-1 Wolves
- Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
- Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Norwich City 1-3 Manchester United
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