Four-time top 10k FPL manager Lateriser is currently sat at 26th in the world and chasing a third finish inside the world’s top 200 ahead of Gameweek 38+…
Here we are at the end of the road. This season has been one bumpy ride with road block after roadblock, unlike any other we’ve seen. But it’s about to be over.
The likes of Chris McGowan, Joshua Bull, Aleksandar Antonov and Magnus Carlsen might be vying for the number one spot in the world rankings… but have they truly won Fantasy Football?
For that, they need to pass the Eunuch Jelly test. Let me quote his conclusion in this fabulously worded article he wrote six years ago:
“If you keep your eye on the ball, you can set yourself up for hours of enjoyment at the expense of your rivals. I urge you to transcend points and find the true heart of the game, where those who take a different path can mock others for a few minutes on the weekend and be the real champions of the game.”
Unfortunately, Aaron Baker (fondly known across these parts as Eunuch Jelly) passed away this week. He was a wordsmith of the highest quality and was loved by everyone who knew him. His article captures the true essence of Fantasy Football for me and you might say that this article is a small tribute to him.
Yes, it is nice to get a really good rank and a lot of Fantasy Football points but the fun is always magnified when you are able to throw those points in the face of your opponents.
The rivalry captured between Mark and Granville on the Scoutcasts of yesteryear, that is the true essence of Fantasy Football. And the rush is even greater when you’re doing it having plucked out a differential that not many have thought of. I wrote about the nostalgia of Fantasy Football in my first article for Fantasy Football Scout and it looks like we have come full circle.
Seeing legends like Champ (he’s retiring this season, please don’t), Epic Fail, RoysCallerAnne and Christina gloat away to glory when their differentials came through (in my early Fantasy Football Scout days) immediately got my attention and their heavy influence is probably why I’ve generally always tilted towards the more maverick side of things in my style of FPL management. It’s the best way (for me) to extract fun out of this game that we are all playing and obsessed with.
But… fun is different for each and every FPL manager. For some, it is winning a mini-league and individual rivalries at any cost. For others, it might be grafting away making disciplined decisions week on week to get the best possible overall rank.
For most of us, it is meeting likeminded individuals through this truly global ‘hobby’ and making friends all over the globe. The sense of community is something I’ve loved the most about my FPL experience.
Meanwhile, some managers just love to put their absolute favourite football players in their FPL teams. Good examples include my friend Applebonkers’ affection for a certain Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) or Walsh (who hosts the FML FPL podcast) captaining Junior Stanislas (£5.8m) in Gameweek 37 just because it’s the fun thing to do. Walsh fully intends on captaining David Silva (£7.5m) on Sunday because it is the ‘right’ thing to do (and I love that).
Let us not ever forget that FPL is a game, not necessarily a way of life, and our focus should always be on having as much fun as possible.
And how will I be ensuring I take enjoyment from Gameweek 38+? Let’s find out…
How much ground can I make up with a Free Hit?
The first thing I want to say about the final weekend is that I am making sure my expectations are kept in check, and you should too, especially if you’re on a Free Hit.
There are many ways to look at and analyse Gameweek 38 but the probability of predicting the outcome of just one single Gameweek based on statistics and eye-test goes down and the degree of variance goes up.
Bacary Lasagna from Twitter summed it up with this quote: “The players you’re choosing from will only have about a 5-10% difference chance of scoring, so within any given week it’s impossible to call.”
You might hit the bulls-eye but if that doesn’t happen, don’t be too downbeat about it. It is why I’ve emphasised on the fun factor when we’re talking about one single Gameweek.
For example, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m) vs Harry Kane (£10.9m) is a huge decision for a lot of Fantasy Premier League managers this Gameweek.
However, in my view, there isn’t a huge difference between these two players. The less hurtful and more fun way to go about such 50-50 decisions is just going with your own instinct, especially since we are only talking about one Gameweek here.
In no way am I advocating going full random with your Gameweek decisions as you still need to make well informed decisions that are based on stats and the eye-test and on the correct side of probability. The point is that you have to be happy you made the right choice for your playing style, regardless of the outcome.
Where will the goals come from?
As for me, I am most excited about Manchester City’s meeting with Norwich City. This is, hands down, the best fixture for offensive potential on Sunday afternoon, so I hugely advocate having three attackers (and a captain) from Pep Guardiola’s squad.
I genuinely think we could see a minimum of five goals at the Etihad Stadium and want to be invested in as much of that as possible.
While I think they’ll keep a clean sheet, I’m not going to recommend picking Manchester City defenders because the upside of their attackers is much higher. Besides, you can find clean sheets elsewhere this Gameweek, mostly for a cheaper price than City defenders.
Getting one of Guardiola’s midfielders or forwards is the first move I would spend my free transfer on if I didn’t have an attacking triple-up. My two preferred options are Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m). These are the relevant statistics per 90 minutes for the Manchester City attackers since restart:
Who are the best options for upside chasers?
Elsewhere, Norwich, Crystal Palace, Watford and Newcastle have all been in the bottom five defences statistically in the last few Gameweeks. That said, I personally trust the Liverpool attack more than I trust the Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal front-lines.
If Jurgen Klopp does field a strong team against Newcastle, I like that game a lot for FPL points although there are a bunch of heavy hitters from Arsenal, Tottenham as well as Liverpool who are all good attacking options for this Gameweek. Pick the ones you fancy the most.
Sadio Mané (£12.2m), Alexandre Lacazette (£9.2m) and Son Heung-Min (£9.7m) are very handy and able differentials to the more popular big hitters from these teams like Aubameyang, Kane and Mohammed Salah (£12.5m). There is a strong case for all of the six names mentioned from these three teams.
Spurs’ next opponents Crystal Palace concede a lot of goal attempts on their right-hand side where Son will be making his runs on Sunday. My friend Johnny Orphan has an interesting theory that the Eagles’ current right-back Joel Ward (£4.3m) is a liability and is responsible for the weakness on that side of the pitch. In the last couple of Gameweeks, we have seen both Marcus Rashford (£8.9m) and Jonny Otto (£5.5m) put in strong performances against him.
Meanwhile, if you’re the superstitious kind, Mané loves a rendezvous with Gameweek 38. He’s historically always done well on the last day of the season and Newcastle do like to concede a lot of headed chances.
And don’t forget, Lacazette is almost £2.0m cheaper than Aubameyang and has two more attacking returns in the last four Gameweeks compared to his colleague.
I must say, the Manchester United’s trip to Leicester is an extremely difficult fixture to call. When we are talking about skillset, the United attack should be able to take advantage of that short-staffed Foxes defence but I don’t expect Brendan Rodgers to make the same mistake of playing a high-line again, like they did against Spurs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s front-men have also started second guessing themselves in the last couple of games and are not playing as fearlessly as they did in the first few games of the Premier League restart. This is going to be a game of temperament more than skill in my opinion and the first goal is going to be very crucial in this game. That makes it very hard to assess from a Fantasy perspective too.
Where can I find clean sheets?
Burnley are an obvious source of defensive returns in Gameweek 38+, but they’re not the only ones.
I particularly like the look of Spurs’ backline, especially as they’re facing Crystal Palace, still bottom of the league for goals scored at home this season.
Meanwhile, Wolves are the only side to have conceded fewer big chances than Jose Mourinho’s men since the restart.
The Liverpool wing backs are also great options this Gameweek as you have the chance of picking up points on both ends of the pitch. Arsenal, Southampton and Aston Villa are the other teams I like for clean sheet potential.
In case you want to listen to some of my thoughts in more detail, you can listen to this FPL Surgery podcast where I appeared as a guest.
What about early team news?
In case some early team news does surface on your social media feed, I have a few tips for you:
- Make sure thirty minutes in advance that your internet connection is fine.
- Do not panic. Do not ask people questions. Focus on your own team for ten minutes.
- If on a Free Hit, build two or three teams so you know how to react to team news. I would note down a pool of attackers that I like on a piece of paper so that I can react to team news and act accordingly. Make sure your ideal team is already in place and lined up thirty minutes in advance.
- Do not just look at whether player A or player B is starting. Also try judging if the manager is playing a full strength team or not and how that might impact the game.
- Whatever you do, confirm that team at least three minutes in advance of the deadline.
I really hope you guys have enjoyed my work this season (13 articles!) and I hope to keep writing these in 2020/21 as well.
Thank you so much for reading my content and all the feedback you have given. It’s been absolute pleasure writing for you guys and I would like to thank Chris, Geoff, David and Neale for giving me this opportunity to express myself on this platform. I’d also like to say thanks to Joe, Andy and Az for all the video work this season.
I am currently sitting at 26th in the world rankings and I couldn’t be happier about it, regardless of what happens on Sunday. Before the restart, I really just wanted to finish in the top 200 (going for the hat-trick of finishes at that level) and I’m still on course.
I even have a chance of finishing as the number one in India and in the Top 100 for the second time in my Fantasy career, an achievement I would be very proud of.
I’m definitely going to have fun with my Free Hit and I highly recommend you do the same with your final Gameweek (make sure it’s on your own dime).
Good luck for the Gameweek everyone and I will see you next season! In the meantime, you can follow me on twitter @lateriser12.
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