In our latest Pro Pundits article, Lateriser12 – who has overall ranks of 77th and 189th to his name – looks ahead to a busy December for Fantasy managers.
We’re 12 weeks into this Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season: that’s roughly a third of it done already.
But there isn’t time to breathe. Winter is coming. It’s time to strap yourself in and get ready for a brutal six weeks. Nine Gameweeks packed into 40 days. That is an average of a Gameweek every 4.44 days. We’re about to enter one of the most crucial periods of the Fantasy Football season and this article is all about the frenetic six weeks or so ahead.
A lot of FPL managers are currently struggling. But, I get the feeling that in the last three or four weeks, people are finding some rhythm and respectability, and crawling (or shooting) their way up the ranks. While some might see this start of the season as frustrating, I think it’s extremely normal.
I’ve traditionally been a slow starter (except in this season, where I am currently sitting at 45k after a delicious 83 in Gameweek 12). In fact, that is how the name ‘Lateriser’ actually came up. Because, much like Fergie’s teams, I have always have a very strong second half of the season.
For some of you that have given up hope, I have a nice little story. In my best season to date, I was ranked 1.8 million exactly halfway through the season. I finished the season at an overall rank of 77.
Enough trumpet-blowing for now. Let’s get down to business.
I thought it would be a good idea to scan the Fantasy eco-system just before we enter this crucial period. A lot of ground can be gained in this period by just reading in between the lines.
I’ve primarily broken down this article into four categories:
- Christmas Darlings – A brief look at the Christmas period in the last two seasons.
- Fixture Frisk – The good and the bad over this clutch nine-Gameweek period.
- Cup Saturation – Which teams have cup competition games that matter and which teams don’t.
- The Elephant in the Room – Gameweek 18 (there’s more to it than the Liverpool blank).
First off, a big thank you to Ziro for providing me with some crucial data over the past few seasons.
I was wondering if there were any FPL assets that were fans of the festive season so I decided to dig deeper, and a couple of surprising names sprung up.
Before we look into this data, it is worth noting that that 2017/18 season had ten Gameweeks (900 minutes) in this winter period while 2018/19 had nine Gameweeks (810 minutes).
The tables I have included below are for all players with a minimum of two goals in the winter period, sorted by how many times they have found the back of the net. There is some interesting data otherwise as well for you to analyse, if you feel like.
Looking at the data for the previous two seasons, we can see that a certain Harry Edward Kane (£10.8m) absolutely loves the winter period and top-scored in both seasons over the timeframe studied.
A very noteworthy stat is that in 2017/18, Kane scored 35% of his goals in this winter period and in 2018/19, he scored a staggering 47% of his goals over this timeframe, where he was also matched by Son Heung-min (£9.6m).
The South Korea international indeed scored more than 50% of his FPL points in this period last year.
Kane has become a story of the past these days but it’s worth noting that Tottenham Hotspur sits fifth on the Season Ticker over the period studied (we’ll dig deeper later).
Other names that show up in both tables are Mohamed Salah (£12.3m), Roberto Firmino (£9.4m) and Son, all of whom were in the top seven for both of the previous seasons.
It is worth noting that the Liverpool player stats were just before the Liverpool formation change happened which led to Sadio Mane (£12.1m) finding another gear and destroying Salah since January. With the Egyptian having a dodgy ankle, I wonder if good old Firmino is worth some festive fun?
There are some other noteworthy observations.
Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) had a strong 2017/18 with seven goals and two assists but a (relatively) quiet 2018/19 with three goals and two assists.
Current favourite Jamie Vardy (£9.6m) scored three and four goals respectively in both seasons. That said, Leicester are different gravy nowadays.
A special mention to Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m) who features in both tables with three and four goals respectively. Is it Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m) penalty-winning season this Christmas? I mention this because Palace sit right on top of the Season Ticker during this period.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) had a very strong 2018/19 with seven goals and two assists in the winter period.
Marcus Rashford (£8.6m) and Paul Pogba (£8.4m) both had a noteworthy winter period last year as the new manager bounce was in full flow: Rashford had nine attacking returns while Pogba had seven. I wonder if Pogba replaces Andreas Pereira (£5.0m) in the number 10 role once he’s back from injury with Fred (£5.3m) and Scott McTominay (£5.1m) finding some Chemistry in the middle of the park? Before you jump, I’m only taking a note. One must have an open mind in FPL.
A quick fixture frisk tells us that there might be some value in looking at Zaha for this busy winter period. The Ivory Coast international has a run of strong fixtures and should be as nailed as they come with little or no rotation expected for him.
I wasn’t going to mention him, but just to please my good friend AppleBonkers, I’ll also say it’s worth looking at Bonus Points King Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) during this period, especially if you are looking at the 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 formation.
Aston Villa also have a juicy run of games after Gameweek 15 and dynamic duo Jack Grealish (£5.9m) and John McGinn (£5.8m) have to be considered.
Leicester have a great run of fixtures themselves so the double-up/triple-up that most managers have is not going anywhere.
There is a slight bump in Gameweek 18 and 19, though, with Leicester playing Manchester City and Liverpool in successive matches.
Traditional winter kings Spurs have a great run of fixtures in this period. They play West Ham, Bournemouth, Burnley, Norwich and Southampton, all of whom are known to concede goals in droves (if we ignore Bournemouth’s recent AC Milan-ish form). I’m very intrigued to see what happens with Pochettino and if he sticks around, I’m eyeing up a punt here.
Newcastle are finding a bit of form themselves and I’m just waiting for my current favourite player in the league, Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m), to score his first goal. Lord Maximus and Jetro Willems (£4.6m) is comfortably the most entertaining left-sided attack in the league at the moment. You have no idea what is going to happen next. I mean, did you see this over the weekend? Fast forward to 1.37 and you’ll witness what is the moment of the season for me.
Manchester United have a nice run of fixtures themselves during this season and I am very happy to own my captain of last week, Anthony Martial (£7.7m), for now.
Liverpool have a great run of fixtures in my opinion while Manchester City’s matches do dry up a tad bit. That said, they can score goals against pretty much anyone. I’m personally looking to time the ‘Sterling to Salah’ move correctly when it comes to the two big hitters.
Liverpool have an extremely packed schedule in this period, with the Reds playing a game every third day. They are even splitting their squad into two so that they can take on the Carabao Cup and the Club World Cup on the same day during their Gameweek 18 blank.
That said, I don’t expect them to show any respite in the league since this is comfortably their best chance to win the title in a long time and Klopp will absolutely prioritise the Premier League.
Liverpool are sitting on top of their Champions League group, as well, which makes matters slightly more predictable.
Manchester City have a similarly packed schedule themselves and we should see a fair bit of rotation here as usual. That said, Manchester City are comfortably placed on top of their Champions League group.
Should Tottenham Hotspur win their next home game against Olympiacos, they are looking extremely comfortable in the Champions League and I can see them prioritising the league. In addition, Spurs do not have a Carabao Cup tie either.
Chelsea is where it gets extremely tricky. While the Blues are now not involved in the Carabao Cup, they have everything to fight for in their Champions League. Just after their game against Manchester City at the Etihad, they fly to Valencia for a big Champions League game. Will we see Lampard rotate here?
As someone who is looking to switch Mason Mount (£6.8m) to Christian Pulisic (£7.4m), I am treading with caution. I love Chelsea’s double-header versus West Ham and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge but I am a little concerned about the rotation. If you are on a Chelsea triple-up like me, a deep squad would be very handy.
I’m a little bit worried about Tammy Abraham (£8.0m), as well, since he will most likely be nailed-on to start those Champions League games.
The only comfort I’m finding here (rightly pointed out by my fellow pundit Zophar) is that both Tammy and Mount have played a gruelling long season in the Championship so they are used to it. It’s muddied my potential switch (which I am still inclined on making).
All the three Europa League teams (Arsenal, Wolves and Manchester United) are comfortably placed in their respective groups so there is not much worry there. United has a comfortable home game versus Colchester as their Carabao Cup fixture while the other two teams are already out of this competition.
The Elephant in the Room – Gameweek 18
I just thought that it would be a good idea to bring Gameweek 18 to your notice if you haven’t already had a look. This is what you’re in for:
As well as Liverpool blanking, Chelsea are away to Spurs and Leicester face a trip to the Etihad.
That’s about eight players in the average FPL starting squad at the very least, in my opinion.
A little planning around this can help you gain a slight advantage over “casuals”, however.
Aston Villa play Southampton at home this Gameweek and have a nice run from Gameweek 18, while Manchester United face Watford away and have a kind fixture schedule as discussed above.
Lord Lundstram plays Brighton away on that weekend, one of several favourable fixtures that Sheffield United enjoy from Gameweeks 14-19.
I’ve seen a few people talk about using the Free Hit chip but personally, I’m not feeling it. Saving a transfer in Gameweek 17 and a hit or two in Gameweek 18 can see you through this.
It is also worth noting that Manchester City has a great run from Gameweek 18.
Too much big hitter-switching you say? I urge you to read my last article here.
For what it’s worth, I followed my own advice last week and sold Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m) for Mane and Vardy – gaining 15 points as a result.
That’s it from me for now. Writing this piece has me well-prepped for the coming nine Gameweeks and I’m probably going to re-read this again before deciding my moves (or lack of moves) before the deadline next week.
FFScout user Lateriser12 has a very impressive Fantasy CV. He has registered two finishes in the top 200 (one of them equating to number one in India) and four in the top 10,000 in the last six seasons. The secret to his success has been playing non-conventionally and fearlessly, swearing by ‘upside chasing’ and not giving ownership much of a look.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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