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Rate My Fantasy Squad: Gameweek 4

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It seems like it’s been forever since Gameweek 3, but even so there’s still plenty of time for introspection in mulling over some strategy ahead of this weekend’s action.

Hull City v Manchester United - Premier League
Paul Pogba’s price and talent are a winning combo in Fantrax if not in Official BPL fantasy.
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The problem with a long break between games is that it makes the decision-making process even more agonizing, giving too much time to second guess yourself. Another unfortunate aftereffect of a long break this early in the season is that it can be difficult to remember that, if you aren’t doing too well, it’s still really early. There’s loads of time to recover. Seriously. I promise. (And yes, I’m telling myself that over and over again after a painfully unusually horrible start.) I have a penchant for starting slowly and finishing strong, but that said, I can’t help but feeling right now that even cable t.v. technician Karl Hungus from this little picture is more expert than me:

[Ed. Note: The original “I am expert” clip of Karl Hungus from The Big Lebowski was removed for prudish reasons. You can find it on YouTube if so desired.]

Simon’s already gone over some coping strategies for dealing with the suspended Sergio Aguero in his piece from Monday. As with many — or most — of you, I’m also in that Kun boat, and for now I’m dropping him like a lukewarm potato in both Fantrax and Official...after all, with Kun these inevitable absences pop up frequently but are thankfully never permanent.

OFFICIAL BPL

In Official, I only have one transfer available, and Kun’s got to go, so I’m adding the cheaper but still expensive Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (Which helps explain why I’m behind the eight ball in Official, not already having him.) I know the big Z has a tough match-up with Manchester City, but I can’t bring myself to roll with Lukaku, though admittedly Vardy was somewhat tempting.

I know I advised against Zlatan in Official in my pre-season transfer statistics piece (though I’m all in on him at a relative discount in Fantrax), but difficult times call for difficult measures. And there’s a good chance it will be temporary. After all, Kun’s suspension is brief and there’s no way to afford the trio of Kun, Kane and Zlatan up front, is there? I am leaving open the possibility of dropping Kane and keeping Ibra, of course, depending on form and match-ups. I’d like to find a way to fit in Eden Hazard (again, which helps explain my plight in the standings), so we’ll see if there’s a way to do that next week or shortly thereafter.

I’ve only played Official BPL one season before this, but one takeaway that seemed to make sense was that I’m going to wait until at least week 5 — and probably until week 6 at the earliest — before using my unlimited transfer for the first half of the season. Some last minute incoming transfers still need time to settle in (think Kevin De Bruyne and Anthony Martial last season) and you don’t want to jump the gun too soon before the shake out feels somewhat complete. With Kun suspended, and with a possible even longer suspension for Andre Gray looming, plus any inevitable injuries from the international break, you may be tempted to panic, and I wouldn’t fault you for that. However, I’m going to hold off. I think the uncertainty combined with the earliness of the season (still more than 90% to go now!) leaves it even more imperative to cool your jets rather than hit the panic button.

So here’s the Official BPL team that I’m largely stuck with for the short term:

Heaton /

Amat, Kone, McAuley /

Eriksen, Payet, Tadic, Townsend /

Gray, Ibra (C), Kane (V)

Bench: Foster, Snodgrass, Pieters, Van Dijk

Not exactly a Murderer’s Row going by results so far, and some of the match-ups are lacking, but the all-around talent is there, right? Eriksen, Payet, Tadic, Townsend and Kane have done absolutely nothing so far, but they were all big time producers last season. And sure I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind being able to make a few more changes, but that’s the built-in problem with Official. Hopefully patience is a virtue. Dropping Kun for Ibra gives me a little spending money for Game Week 5, making Hazard a possibility (say by dropping Payet), but if I then want to add Aguero back in GW6, I probably won’t be able to unless I take on negative points by going over my minimal allotment of moves. But by then, hey, maybe that will be time to use my wildcard and I’ll be able to magically fit in Kun, Hazard and either Kane or Ibra.

FANTRAX

Regarding the much more wide open Fantrax, in dropping Kun I’ve added the cheaper but still pricey Kane. Looking for his offensive teammates De Bruyne, Kelechi Iheanacho, Nolito, David Silva and/or Raheem Sterling (if you got Sterling on the barn door of course) to pick up the slack could work nicely, but at the moment I’m playing the long game with an eye to locking in an assortment of possible season-long discounts.

I honestly wasn’t even thinking about a possible/probable Kun suspension when I dropped him along with David De Gea, Erik Lamela, Robert Snodgrass and Dusan Tadic, adding Jordan Pickford (1.00 barn door, 2.41 retail), Mesut Ozil (11.14 barn door, 11.66 retail), Alexis Sanchez (12.51 barn door, 14.59 retail) and Curtis Davies (13.44 barn door, 15.19 retail).

That leaves me with a team of:

Pickford (1.00 barn door/2.41 retail) /

Amat (1.74/4.66), Bailly (5.59/7.70), Naughton (7.52/9.33), Davies (13.44/15.19) /

Pogba (5.44/5.76), Ozil (11.14/11.66), Hazard (10.35/14.51) /

Sanchez (12.51/14.59), Kane (14.57), Ibrahimovic (12.00/19.57)

I like Kane at cost, especially since he has a good match-up against the Potters and his price tag has kept dropping because of the slow start. This may be the cheapest you’ll be able to get him all season. (Or of course his price may keep plummeting.) Of the players I have at discount, Pickford, Pogba and Ozil offer the least added value, so any of them could easily be dropped. There’s absolutely no way I’m dropping Pogba, though. While he may be overpriced in Official, he’s unbelievably underpriced in Fantrax. The French import has notched 7 and 6 points in his two games, and that’s without notching a goal or assist. When he gets on the scoresheet, he’ll go for 15+ points easy. At a measly 5.44, you’ll have to pry him out of my cold dead heads.

Pickford is an injury worry and I have 4.77 in the bank, so I considered dropping him for Forster. However, Forster has a tough match-up against Arsenal and taking a 0 for a guy who costs 1.00 isn’t the worst thing in the world. Then again, there’s no shortage of cheap-ish keepers with solid match-ups. Maybe Brad Guzan, Maarten Stekelenburg or Steve Mandanda is the way to go, with Forster worth keeping an eye on for the following week, especially if the Gunners run rampant and dent his price even further.

If I decide to go for someone pricier along the lines of Petr Cech, Tom Heaton or Ben Foster, I could drop Ozil and go for a cheaper defender or midfielder with an eye to re-nabbing Ozil on the barn door again this weekend if so desired. I like Ozil at 11.14, but I sure would like him a lot more if his price had shot up to more than 11.66 after his goal in the past game. Unfortunately I dropped Cazorla and then he got the penalty kick goal. Oops? Then again, how secure are his starting spot and his PK duties?

If I felt great about Vardy, I could drop Sanchez, but I don’t feel that great about the Leicester speedster, not in Fantrax. After all, I’m not paying 12.66 for someone who put up 1 and 3 points in the first two games and then only managed 11 points when he finally got a goal in the third. Ibra (before his cost shot up) and Pogba are better values in Fantrax, whereas Vardy’s a better value in Official. If I felt great about Lukaku, well, I’d probably want a second opinion from a licensed psychological professional. Benteke’s a good cheap option, but there are only three striker spots (on top of that, Sanchez and several others are listed as strikers in Fantrax vs. midfielders in Official) so I’m not going for him until he shows he can put up some points.

So how do my teams look? How do your teams look? Do our teams look anything like each other?