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A Trip Around the League or: Hey Mkhi!

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Just three games into the season, we have no real basis for jumping to conclusions - let’s jump anyway!

Manchester United v Sampdoria - International Champions Cup
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the unlikely best player in Togga a full three matches into the season.
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

As the philosopher nonpareil Tyler Durden once cautioned his starry-eyed disciple Edward Norton, “The things you own end up owning you.” And so it is with the fantasy assets we’ve chosen to make our own.

Three games into the season, many of us are ready to significantly alter the compositions of our teams. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we can easily surmise that Kevin De Bruyne is playing too deep a midfield to be relevant in the goals and assists categories. We have also come to the bulletproof realization that no one can score on Huddersfield Town, so we should all rush to invest in the likes of Jonas Lossl, Christopher Schindler and Zanka. I bet many of us had no clue that “Zanka” is not Brazilian or Ivorian, but rather a center back from Denmark named Mathias Jorgensen! [Editor’s Note: I thought he was an instant coffee mogul.] These are the thoughts that cloud the mind three weeks into the season.

And in the cold light of day, as we progress along the season, much of what we believe today will be shown to be completely wrong. Three games is 100 percent of the season so far, but it is such a very small sample size that we can draw no credible conclusions. But we’ll leave that to minds more rational than ours, because, we fantasy owners are such an incredibly irrational species, more manic day traders rather than Warren Buffett-like patient, long-term investors.

If you are a KDB owner and catch yourself thinking about his relative lack of production, if you’re calculating your fantasy team’s next best move instead of actively engaging with the person you’re supposed to be having a serious conversation with, then just remember Tyler Durden’s sage advice.

Without further ado, let’s take a trip around the league. As we visit each team, I’ll make some quick observations while focusing on a player who is now owning our thoughts.

Elite Squads

Manchester United: There is no happier manager than the one who gambled on Henrik Mkhitaryan before the season. He has been unbelievable. And I mean unbelievable, as in nearly every key pass he’s made has resulted in an assist. I love Mkhi, I drafted him very early in last season’s Togga draft, and though he was a bust, I held on to him all year, dutifully keeping him rostered through every DNP and every listless performance. This year, he was drafted by another and I am learning to deal with the pains of unrequited love.

Liverpool: I always make the same mistake: Before every Togga draft I am convinced I’ll take a Sadio Mane or a Roberto Firmino, but I never do. I talk myself into believing that this is the year that Liverpool rotate, or that the one Liverpool attacker I invest in will be the wrong one, so why bother?. And every year I end up trading for a Liverpool attacker three months into the season at the cost of both my arm and my leg. Needless to say, the one I acquire is usually the wrong one.

Huddersfield Town: I can’t believe Huddersfield rates as an elite squad. But three games into the season, that’s what the table says. I drafted Steve Mounie in the hope that he would be the new Troy Deeney. So far, that’s been his perfect comp - a forward who doesn’t need to score goals to pick up a healthy 10+ point return in Togga. If there is one player that I own that now owns me, Steve Mounie is his name.

Manchester City: So much rotation! I don’t think there is any Man City player that managers have fallen in love with this year. However, it’s a mighty long list that managers have fallen out of love with. Take a bow KDB, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva...I can do this all day long...Kyle Walker, Ederson, John Stones...told ya...Raheem Sterling, Vincent Kompany...

West Bromwich Albion: With seven points earned so far, we are just 33 points shy of Tony Pulis instructing his team to shut down for the year and start packing for the beach. But in the interim, we can all start carving Ahmed Hegazy’s likeness in a fictional Mt. Rushmore of The Most Famous Heroes of Modern Britain, next to the likes of James Bond, John Lennon and Winston Churchill.

The Wannabe Elites

Chelsea: C’mon, we all know they’re elite! But they looked awful in the opening match against Burnley. You know the stench of burnt toast that lingers in your kitchen days after the incident? That’s how persistently the Burnley loss sticks in my mind. Having said that, Alvaro Morata has looked the real deal. He’s the anti-Diego Costa: a little more than Thor, and less than Hulk.

Watford: With every passing match we see more clearly that Marco Silva is very talented at managing professional football teams. Before I started the Official Christian Eriksen Fantasy Football Fan Club, I started the Official Troy Deeney Fantasy Football Fan Club in my Togga league. But with Silva not rating Deeney this campaign, and with Deeney seemingly enjoying far too many bacon double cheeseburgers to do much running out there anyway, I’ve abandoned the player. I am strongly considering replacing him with Richarlison as my go-to Watford pick, and conveniently he is listed as a forward in Togga.

Southampton: I am very surprised to see them sitting eighth in the table. They have not looked right all year. Fraser Forster, though still worth owning in Togga, continues his real life fall from grace — so much so that he was not called up to the latest Three Lions squad. Gareth Southgate rated, argh, Joe Hart, argh, ahead of him, argh. But the man dominating my thoughts is my defensive hero Virgil van Dijk. Come back VvD, we miss ya!

The Rest

Tottenham: Except for Christian Eriksen, it has been a wasteland. Harry Kane can’t score goals in August, Kieran Trippier can’t earn a Togga point to save his life, Hugo Lloris has forgotten he’s supposed to be good at professional goalkeeping. So sad!

Burnley: I only care about two players on Burnley: Tom Heaton and Robbie Brady. Both are who we thought they were.

Stoke City: Another team that is what we thought, mid-table and not very inspiring. Stoke is very strong defensively, and rosters lots of interesting famous names like Kurt Zouma, Bruno Martins Indi, and Xherdan Shaqiri that have through-the-roof “potential” ratings on FIFA 2014.

Everton: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t understand the roster construction. There is a shocking lack of pace. Also, shiny new toy Sandro Ramirez has been a catastrophe for fantasy owners. He’s done something I’ve never seen in Togga before: two starts, both collecting 0 points. Ugh!

Swansea City: They’ve been better than I thought! They’re clearly well managed and sturdy defensively. I keep waiting for Tom Carroll to show me he’s the new Gylfi Sigurdsson so I can sneak in a cheeky waiver wire claim. I expect to rinse and repeat all season as he fails to deliver every single week.

Newcastle United: I’m a Newcastle supporter. I’m happy ESPN has started broadcasting Championship League games in the US. I’ll be watching so much ESPN next season! In fantasy, I continue to await the return of DeAndre Yedlin.

Leicester City: I think they’ll be a solid mid-table team, just outside of the Europa League spots. At the beginning of the season I expected Jamie Vardy to have a good year. I think he’s inspired and energized as he seeks to confirm his seat on the England plane to Russia. But I’m a little worried about Wilfred Ndidi. For no apparent reason, his Togga value is half what it was last season. Am I disappointed? Yes Ndidi!

Arsenal: Covfefe.

Relegation Candidates

The less said about Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, West Ham United, and Brighton and Hove Albion the better. To be fair, Palace and Hammers should be making managerial changes soon, and some of their assets bear monitoring... except, argh, Joe Hart, argh.

What is your state of mind as we break for the World Cup Qualifiers? Are any players dominating your thoughts? Is three weeks enough sample size for you to jettison “busts” like Alexandre Lacazette, or do you believe they’ll come good? Tell us in the comments!