Former Fantasy Premier League world champion and four-time finisher in the top 7k Simon March gives us the lowdown on his thinking for the new campaign.
I am told that there are some important things going on in the world right now; a Brexit here, an election there, some protests, some riots, the odd wildfire and a global pandemic to name but a few. Unfortunately, I have little time for all that right now as the new Fantasy Premier League season and, as us Fantasy managers know, this is no time to get distracted.
Since nobody can realistically be expected to talk or think about anything else right now, I thought I’d use this article to take you through my thinking for my Gameweek 1 squad and my approach in general when it comes to kicking off this new FPL season.
Planning for a Unique Season
Every new season has its challenges but this one has more than most. Firstly, there’s the issue that a huge chunk of FPL’s best players won’t even play their opening match until Gameweek 2.
Then there’s the fixture intensity that the players will face, particularly those competing in Europe, and then there’s the aforementioned pandemic with the potential to decimate our options at any given moment through illness and quarantine.
It probably goes without saying that having a decent bench will be useful this season but having flexibility in your team may be even more important.
That means having players at a range of prices, across the pitch, who can be swapped out easily should the need arise.
It also means not over-investing in a single area of the squad or, more important, under-investing in others, leaving you with a dearth of replacement options when you need them.
A Balanced Squad
If I do have any sort of overarching philosophy when it comes to FPL, it would go something like this; ‘I like to have a squad with lots of players who can each score in lots of different ways.’
So, in practice, that means that I like a good spread of different teams (ideally ones that attack and/or defend well) and at least nine starting players who have the potential to score consistently, in more than one way. That could be a midfielder on set-pieces, a forward on penalties or a defender with attacking threat.
When I’ve stuck to that plan, I’ve tended to do alright. When I’ve not done so well, it’s usually because I’ve tried, instead, to fit in too many premium options at the expense of a more balanced squad.
The effect of this is to put too much pressure on just a handful of players to deliver each Gameweek. Think, for example, a few seasons back when we were trying to fit in two 12.0 forwards in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sergio Aguero (£10.5m). It was great for a while, and then, as soon as they stopped scoring regularly, it wasn’t.
I also think that this is a good way in general to approach the unique challenges of this season. Circumstances are such, I believe, that too much reliance on too few players has the potential to backfire heavily whereas a broader spread of points makes us less susceptible to unforeseeable events.
Players Missing Gameweek 1
Regarding the players missing Gameweek 1, most notably those playing for Manchester United and Manchester City, my well-deliberated plan is, essentially, to ignore it.
While, were they to be playing, the likes of Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m) would probably be among the first names on my Gameweek 1 team sheet, I’m not approaching the season with any specific plan to bring them in in Gameweek 2.
Partly, this is because I think there are good alternatives to them (though I’ll no doubt want either or both at some point) but, also, I don’t think there will be as much of a rush to get these players in for Gameweek 2 as we might be currently anticipating.
Inevitably, at least one Gameweek 1 player will unexpectedly bag a brace or a hat-trick and, naturally, this player will become the priority bandwagon for Gameweek 2. As the saying goes; ‘If you want to make the FPL gods laugh, show them your transfer plans.’
My Gameweek 1 Squad
Without further ado, here is my squad for Gameweek 1. Of course, there will almost certainly be changes between now and the deadline, but this is the direction in which I’m currently heading.
“Everybody’s Gangsta the Week Before the Deadline”
Having now justified my team in writing, I can see I’m taking a few more risks than I normally might. I certainly wouldn’t rule out some last-minute changes. But I also have a feeling that this season might be the season to take some risks so I’m pretty happy with what I have for now. Roll on Saturday.
Simon is a former FPL world champion, claiming the coveted price in the 2014/15. But there is more to this man than one season of good fortune. Since 2009, Simon has finished in the top 7k four times, only ending up outside the world’s top 60k once in an 11-campaign career.
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