Fantasy Premier League managers should exercise patience, even after a difficult Gameweek 1 for some.
It can be easy to make rash transfer decisions after one round of matches, but, if I do transfer anyone out, I will be doing it after much consideration in the cold light of day, and ensuring the change is made after upcoming midweek matches.
The gap between the first two Gameweeks is one of my favourite times of an FPL season. Blank Gameweek clubs aside, we now have a full set of data from the first round of fixtures, as well as a first look at the teamsheets for each club.
That has given us more information to rely on in terms of owning the right £4.0m defenders and £4.5m midfielders, as well as the right premium assets.
At this stage, it would be very easy to panic. There are several big decisions to be made, even after just one Gameweek in the history books.
As I write this, Mohamed Salah (£12.0m) is owned by 33.9% managers worldwide, 66% of them are perhaps wondering how to fit the Egyptian King into their squads, or how to hold their nerve for one more week – and there is the return of both Manchester clubs to contend with.
Meanwhile, there were many in the Fantasy community planning to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m) ahead of Gameweek 3, but his goal and Arsenal’s performance at Fulham could make such a move harder than some might have imagined. Up next, the Gunners face a West Ham side that looked off-colour against Newcastle, so Aubameyang could conceivably be heading into Gameweek 3 on the back of two decent scores.
With so many of the dilemmas featuring the most expensive players in the game, Aubameyang, Salah and the Manchester assets, I am expecting chaotic FPL transfers this week, with plenty of price changes.
Ahead of Gameweek 2, the market comes into its own as managers make early moves to bring in players and avoid price rises.
On Saturday, 10,000 brave souls sold Salah before he had even kicked a ball against Leeds. A further 1,000 of them jettisoned him during the game itself, an outing in which he scored a hat-trick and registered a 20-point haul.
By half-time at Craven Cottage, Aubameyang was the sixth-most transferred-in, as well as being the third-most transferred-out player. Elsewhere, Son Heung-min (£9.0m) had suffered the loss of 3,000 managers by the time Crystal Palace hosted Southampton Saturday, despite not playing until the following afternoon.
A lot of this early chopping and changing of other managers does make it hard to stick to your strategy. In such circumstances, it is easy to second-guess yourself constantly, worried about being priced out of your must-have transfer.
There is no way to win FPL, or indeed lose it, during the opening couple of Gameweeks… but you can destroy your strategy by panicking and overthinking.
The whole of pre-season was spent formulating a team that we believed would be the right one for the beginning of the campaign, not just for Gameweek 1.
Players such as Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), Sadio Mané (£12.0m) and Danny Ings (£8.5m) are not, all of a sudden, bad options because they blanked in Gameweek 1. These are the sort of players who showed last season that they can often return points.
Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) is a prime example of how luck can play a part in Fantasy. He managed just three penalty box touches at West Bromwich Albion, two of which were spot-kicks, which he converted. The Leicester man did not pass the eye test at all, yet he ended up as one of the highest-scoring forwards of the Gameweek. Sometimes the luck is with you, as was the case with Vardy owners in Gameweek 1, and sometimes it’s not. This trend will continue to oscillate throughout the course of the season, so do not be too easily disheartened. Premium assets are expensive for a reason and luck can turn in a heartbeat.
As for myself, owning Salah and Aubameyang for this opening weekend was a good decision; the rest of my players were complete let-downs.
Like many of you, I am tempted to remove some players who failed to deliver in Gameweek 1. I could switch Che Adams (£6.0m) to Patrick Bamford (£5.5m) or Saint-Maximin to Daniel Podence (£5.5m), for example. However, these sorts of rash transfer decisions, based only on frustration and data from just one match, nearly always do more harm than good in the long-term.
During the build-up to Gameweek 1, I had a plan for my transfers and I intend to stay true to it. My FPL management style is the opposite of an upside-chaser. I am loyal to my FPL assets, I like to hold and roll transfers and give myself as much thinking time and data as possible to make my decisions with.
Between now and the Gameweek 2 deadline, we have EFL Cup matches for Newcastle, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham, Southampton, Leeds, Everton, Sheffield United, Wolves and Brighton – and Spurs are in Europea League action too.
As far as I am concerned, each of these is another chance to evaluate a team and the busy schedule is another reason to wait until Thursday or Friday before making my transfers.
These midweek fixtures could all throw up potential injuries that could force FPL managers into another transfer, or even an unwanted points-hit if moves have already been made. I hate doing this, so I will remain as patient as possible.
But just because I want to take this approach with transfers, does not mean I won’t be making any at all. At this stage, I am not ruling out changes for Gameweek 2.
I planned to start the season with a Manchester United asset on my bench so that I was ready for their Gameweek 2 match against Crystal Palace. However, in the build-up to the Gameweek 1 deadline, there were doubts around Marcus Rashford’s (£9.5m) fitness, Bruno Fernandes‘ (£10.5m) potential need for quarantine, as well as uncertainty surrounding Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) in light of an ongoing Jadon Sancho transfer saga, and the youngster’s antics while on international duty with England. The number of unknowns surrounding Manchester United assets meant I did not feel comfortable deciding who to own a whole week ahead of their opening game of the campaign.
Coupling this dilemma with the high ownership of other similarly-priced assets convinced me to go with Son for a home meeting with Everton. This was a decision which, on paper, felt like the right one. Spurs had not lost a Premier League match against Everton since December 2012. Well, now the Toffees’ last victory against them came as recently as… last weekend. Even though Son has previously represented a viable investment, his wider role in Jose Mourinho’s team continues to disappoint the South Korean’s Fantasy owners, just as it did during Project Restart.
That said, Son was always in my team as something of a cash-cow, ready and waiting to be upgraded to a Manchester United asset at some point. Is Gameweek 2 too early to pull the trigger on such a move? This was something I was happy to consider before kick-off on opening day, on reflection, I am even happier to do now. But with so many players failing to impress in Gameweek 1, the difficulty comes in deciding who my priority transfers are.
Crystal Palace surprised me in their 1-0 win over Southampton. They were stronger defensively than we saw at the end of last season, Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) is playing up-front as an out-of-position FPL midfielder and new signing Eberechi Eze (£6.0m) impressed me when he came on for a nine-minute cameo.
But I am making sure I remember this: all of my potential moves will be on hold until after midweek action. The last thing I want is to use a transfer, only to see someone else in my squad injured in the EFL Cup or Europa League.
Best players by position:
- Goalkeepers: Budget
- Goalkeepers: Premium
- Defenders: Budget
- Defenders: Mid-Price and Premium
- Midfielders: Budget
- Midfielders: Mid-Price
- Midfielders: Premium
- Forwards: Budget
- Forwards: Mid-Price
- Forwards: Premium
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