The founding father of Fantasy Football Scout, nine-time top 10k finisher, with three all-time top 500 ranks, Mark Sutherns reveals his tips and team for Gameweek 1 of the new FPL season.
Maybe it’s the quick turnaround. Maybe it’s been my newfound awareness of the noisy Fantasy Football community. Or maybe it’s just my diminishing ability to balance an obsession and the minimum requirements of a functioning 48-year-old adult. Whatever the reason, settling on an initial squad has been more agonising than ever.
In truth, it’s the absence of the two Manchester clubs from the Gameweek 1 fixtures that’s probably to blame for all the handwringing. My FPL muscle memory has failed to compute how to build for the opener without two such attacking heavyweights.
Until the early hours of this morning, I was obsessed with plans to accommodate a United asset for their Gameweek 2. I’ve flipped flopped between Anthony Martial (£9.0m) and Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) and whipped myself into a frenzy about reserving funds to accommodate them ahead of the Crystal Palace’s Old Trafford visit.
But now I’m prepared to go without. Because while I’m likely correct to assume that United will be a force, I was ignoring the fact that Chelsea – bloated by an array of new attacking talent – could be superior and offer stronger value.
This may not transpire just yet, but I’m comfortable that within a few rounds of fixtures, we’ll start to witness Chelsea’s potential to overshadow all but Liverpool and City for attacking output.
So I’m getting on early. I’ve remained a passenger Tim Werner-wagon, but with the caveat that, if I have any early doubts after Monday night’s display, I can alight at Martial ahead of Gameweek 2. That’s because Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) will be in place as my weapon of choice from Frank Lampard’s impressive armoury.
Pulisic may not start at Brighton, but I feel he’ll get enough pitch time to trouble the Seagulls defence and offer reassurance that he could threaten to break into the top tier of midfielders.
I’ve also gambled on his team-mate Reece James (£5.0m). If he figures at the Amex Stadium, James is far from assured to follow it up with a string of appearances to come. However, as a Gameweek 1 dice roll, he can offer an upside second only to Liverpool’s full-backs that sandwich him in my three-man defence, bristling with promise.
With Ruben Vinagre (£4.5m) in reserve and Luke Ayling (£4.5m) to come in for Gameweeks 2 and 3, I might just have contingency before I’m forced to make “wasted” transfers in defence.
Elsewhere, the team-sheet is unashamedly template with Che Adams’ (£6.0m) inclusion another gamble.
The Saint may only get an hour against Palace and perhaps less against Spurs the week after. However, having seen Fulham in the Championship, I’m willing to offer odds that Adams will get as many opportunities in 60 minutes as the coveted Aleksandar Mitrović (£6.0m) is fed in 90.
He may just have to live off scraps and errors against Arsenal and Leeds, though following that I might be forced to look to the Serbian should Adams falter.
That’s purely speculation. Just a single set of images snipped from the visions of the early Gameweeks that have played on repeat in my head. I’ve no idea how close those imagined highlights will be to the events to come, I’m just glad that I can finally eject the tape and settle down to watch the real thing unfold.
The pre-season has been painful for me, but it would have been more agonising had I not found a place – a new start – in the Fantasy Football community. I’ve been amazed at the content produced in the past six weeks and I’m delighted to be playing my part. Thanks for welcoming me back and see you on the other side of Gameweek 1.
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