We’re a week into August already, which means the first games of the new fantasy season are only days away. Time to start putting that team together!
Among the various fantasy platforms, my favorite is Fantrax. Because the Official game limits transfers, managers must take a long view toward player selection. But with Fantrax’s unlimited transfers, you generally don’t need to look much beyond the upcoming week’s fixtures when making decisions about player selection. It’s tactics instead of strategy, checkers instead of chess. I like the simplicity.
Unlimited transfers also allow fantasy managers the flexibility to react to team news such as injuries, suspensions, and rotation. Fantrax therefore promotes active management, and this suits my inclination to constantly tinker with my lineups. I can’t say that my habitual tweaking always results in improved squads, but hey—it sure is fun!
So with the Game Week 1 deadline looming, what does the working draft of my team look like? Well, right now it looks like this:
Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster (6.05)
Defenders: Aaron Cresswell (4.03), Matteo Darmian (5.69), Matt Targett (1.46)
Midfielders: Luka Milivojevic (3.48), Aaron Mooy (5.55), Willian (8.41), Wilfried Zaha (12.12)
Forwards: Gabriel Jesus (14.74), Romelu Lukaku (18.94), Harry Kane (19.52),
Southampton kept 14 clean sheets last year, and Forster makes saves. They should have little to fear from Saturday’s visit of 15th-place finishers Swansea. Like the price tags on my budget-friendly defenders and middies, Forster’s low cost favors return on investment, and frees cash to spend on premium options elsewhere.
21 year-old Targett has impressed in preseason friendlies, notching two assists on July 29th against St. Etienne, and the left back has been duly rewarded with a new 5-year contract. He should start against Swansea, he’s cheap, and his talents going forward offer the possibility of points even if Virgil Van Dijk’s likely absence helps the Swans breech Forster’s goal line.
West Ham United’s Cresswell is another defender who offers attacking returns. His starting status should be secure, and his price is right, even if the chances of a clean sheet against this year’s Manchester United squad seem slim.
I’m not 100% certain that Darmian will start, but for now I’m willing to take the gamble. Like my two other backs, he is good going forward and should find some joy if Jose gives him the nod at home against West Ham. Nonetheless, I’ll be monitoring team news and may switch him out if someone in his price range begins to look like a better option.
Set-piece and penalty taker Mooy made the 2016/’17 PFA Championship Team of the Year as Huddersfield Town’s standout star. I’m banking on a handsome return from my 5.55 investment when he visits Crystal Palace.
On the other side of the ball in Mooy’s fixture will be Zaha. His trickery and skill will be difficult for EPL new-boys Huddersfield to contain. I expect him to terrorize his mark and either score or assist, or both.
With Hazard injured, Willian seems assured of a place in the Chelsea squad that will host Burnley on Saturday. We’ve seen his capabilities both from open play and from set pieces. At home for the visit of last year’s 16th place finishers, his price is right.
At 3.48, central midfielder Milivojevic is terrific value for money. He will start and is expected to take pens and set pieces when Palace host the leaky Terriers. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t at least double his price in points.
Jesus was heavenly last season (see what I did there?), and will continue to be Pep Guardiola’s favored forward. With or without Sergio Aguero, he should lead Manchester City’s potent attack against newly-promoted Brighton. Although the Seagulls were a tight unit in the Championship, I expect the Citizens to overwhelm them.
As Everton’s target man, Lukaku was the runner-up for the ‘16/’17 Golden Boot. Now wearing Mancunian red, he’ll be expecting improved service and should therefore contend for that honor once again. His fantasy returns can be explosive, and he is widely-owned, so go without him at your own risk.
Finally, Kane is the defending Golden Boot king and will once again be on the pointy end of the Tottenham Hotspur attack. Like Lukaku, he can blow up for huge returns. St. James Park should provide fertile ground for his talents. Miss out, and you will start the season in your rivals’ dust. Indeed, as long as he’s healthy, you can safely set and forget.
So, pending team news, those names are my provisional 11, and that’s my thinking behind them. Now it’s your turn to tell me what you think. Go ahead—rate my team!