Midfield is proving a difficult position to maintain for Fantasy Premier League managers this season, so we spoke to the Scout Network to see what they have to say.
There are certainly plenty of options to choose from, with Mohamed Salah (12.4m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (11.7m), Bruno Fernandes (10.5m) and the Manchester City double of Kevin De Bruyne (11.5m) and Raheem Sterling (11.6m) each receiving plenty of attention in pre-season.
Since the start of the campaign, Son Heung-Min (9.5m), Wilfried Zaha (7.2m), Jack Grealish (£7.2m) and James Rodríguez (8.0m) have joined the conversation, but we would be lying if we said all of these options have been reliable from one week to the next.
The Scout Network shared how they are managing this problem, which premiums they are investing in and which midfielders they currently trust the most for FPL points.
Midfielders: Who to pick and how to spread the budget
Ted Talks FPL top five Midfielder graphic
FPL is a long-term prediction game. We should only worry about a player blanking when it’s over a sustained period, such as four to six Gameweeks, as this gives the player sufficient time to convert underlying statistics into goals and assists without battling the volatility of individual games.
Therefore, blanks for Salah, Fernandes and Sterling don’t overly concern me. They may have let their owners down in Gameweek 6 but they were either afforded or created clear cut chances. These opportunities are likely to be converted next time round.
In fact, one very effective way of picking players is to bring in those who have had the best underlying statistics, rather than looking at the most recent points tallies.
We want to predict what might happen in the future, not in the past, so picking the players who get in the best positions and show the most intent is a good start for predicting FPL points.
With this in mind, the graphic above shows the top five midfielders with the best statistics, along with their next six fixtures. Note that there are three premiums and two mid-priced players. Unless you are making sacrifices elsewhere in your team, it is unlikely that most if us can afford this midfield.
I would suggest going with two premiums and two mid-priced players, maybe with a budget enabler depending on your preferred formation.
It is worth noting that the players who occupy sixth through tenth on this list include Zaha, Leandro Trossard (£6.0m), Sadio Mané (£12.0m), De Bruyne and Sterling so there are plenty of options to choose from.
When determining whether we can trust a player to convert chances, it is worth considering the difficulty of his fixtures and team form. If he is playing against weaker opposition and the team is full of confidence, it is likely he will continue to have plenty of chances to score or assist.Ted Talks FPL
We believe two big hitters (since Son is considered one) is the minimum number of premium midfielders for a successful team, irrespective of structure. Then depending on the funds spent up front, it can go up to three.
Salah and Son are the only premium midfielders that have shown the consistency to be considered nailed in most of FPL teams, and Gameweeks like the most recent are not the ones to justify massive team ‘surgeries’.
Salah hit the post in a rare one-on-one miss, and Bruno was involved in a match so tight and conservative, that you cannot learn many long-term lessons from. Sterling also missed a one-on-one while his team is ravaged by injuries and is still looking to find some form.
Thus, in low scoring Gameweek like this one, it is a good time to sit back and analyse the bigger picture behind key underlying statistics, and run a new long-term plan without dwelling too much on the recent blanks. Banking a transfer will also give flexibility when a bandwagon or a new pattern is formed in the next Gameweek.FLP Greece
The Transfer Algorithm – GW 7 – Top 15 Midfielders
The Transfer Algorithm is designed to solve problems exactly like this. The formula imports all relevant underlying data, analyses it, and fits it into a money limiting vector field to find the optimal combination of players to go ahead with.
As of Monday afternoon, the Transfer Algorithm rated Son and Salah as distinguished from the rest as the optimal players – as can be shown in the BCV (budget constrained value) sorting below.
A blank like Salah managed in Gameweek 6 has not worried the Algorithm at all. His underlying statistics for the Sheffield United match were amazing, it just wasn’t his day. After all, even the best players blank about half of the time anyway, and long-term data holds substantially more value than the short-term noise.
Mikkel Tokvam – Transfer Algorithm
Below Son and Salah there are a wealth of decent midfield options to fill up with which hold about the same value, making it difficult to form a clear template midfield. Peeking at the forwards rankings, it seems budget also has to be allocated for Kane still – which mean Grealish, Phil Foden (6.6m), Ross Barkley (6.0m) and Zaha seem excellent fillers. From next week, Jarrod Bowen (6.3m) will say hello too.
Marcus Rashford playing for Manchester United
The movement of Aubameyang and Marcus Rashford (9.5m) in to the midfield category at the start of the season fundamentally changed the way that many FPL Managers looked at these slots.
During Project Restart it was all about De Bruyne, Salah/Mané, Bruno Fernandes and maybe an out there chance on Son however it seemed acceptable to fill the rest of the midfield slots with cheaper options.
Fast forward to the start of the 2020/21 season and suddenly we are trying to squeeze an extra premium midfielder in to our starting line-ups. As the first six Gameweeks have shown though, there are not as many set-and-forget options as we had hoped. Salah and Son have been the most consistent to return, although even they have had four Gameweeks between them where they haven’t returned.
For me, this season is all about staying loyal to the premium assets you choose and moving around with the cheaper options to ensure that you hit good fixture runs and purple patches as they arrive.
Tomas Soucek (£4.9m) has been unlucky so far this season and his expected goals (xG) data suggests a haul is incoming. With West Ham’s fixtures due to change for the better in Gameweek 9, he is both a helpful enabler as well as being a potential points gold mine if his team can keep up their form once the fixture shift happens.FPL Family – Sam
Whats been happening in the Scout Network?
If you are interested in becoming part of the Scout Network get in touch!
After a successful 80-point Wildcard in Gameweek 5, Ted’s team is on the up – and so is the level of his content creating. Ted is posting charts, tables and animations three times each day on Twitter to support the FPL community in their decision-making process.
This week, Ted will be adding a Chance Diagram graphic, alongside another for high defensive lines. He is also now producing one weekly YouTube video and last week he joined the FPL Wildcats on their live stream Q&A.
This week Lee appeared on the Official FPL Podcast with James Richardson to discuss all things Gameweek 6. Both Lee and Sam had successful Gameweeks off the back of their Wildcards in Gameweek 5 but Gameweek 6 could not have been more different.
Their Sunday night live stream over on their YouTube channel provided some light hearted entertainment on the back of a tough weekend.
This week you can catch Sam on the Official FPL podcast as well as both halves of the FPLFamily on the FPL Show with Jules and James.
El Statto had a quieter week this week but Academy member FPL Talking Points penned his second article in his The Overcoming FPL series, where he analyses how mental shortcuts and cognitive biases affect our FPL decisions, and what up-and-coming managers can do to change their behaviour.
Last week Fantasy Chat launched their first videos to cover UEFA Champions League Fantasy. Karam was joined by Ebraheem who finished 900th overall last season to go through the groups team by team and look out at the best assets from each of groups – Groups 1-4 and Groups 5-8. There have been three videos are released so far.
Karam has also been busy creating more content for the Arabic language section of the Fantasy Football Scout website.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM FPL GAMEWEEK 6
- Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds United
- West Ham United 1-1 Manchester City
- Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea
- Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United
- Southampton 2-0 Everton
- Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United
- Arsenal 0-1 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
- Burnley 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur