First up if you haven’t joined our Fantrax league yet - you really should. The games mechanics are the most full you can have in fantasy football. To join
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League Code: ucp07o1vj59kkzan
The beauty of the Fantrax games scoring mechanics means we require a different thought process when picking our players. As a general rule you are looking to return 100 fantasy points in a good game week. 80+ in a par version and 120+ in a monster.
When it comes to your selections, being ruthless is the way to get ahead. Think of it like a boxing match that goes to points. It’s not one fight but 12 separate fights that creates the winner in a boxing match. In Fantrax it’s 38 unique gameweeks where the only interest is how a player/team will do now not later.
Let’s look at the options for Fantrax game week one.
Thibaut Courtois – 8.70m
Chelsea have stuttered in preseason, and manager Antonio Conte hasn’t been happy. Despite that, Chelsea face a Burnley side who haven’t traveled well at all since rejoining the Premier League, and a home win/clean sheet double should be expected for Courtois. That returns 10 Fantasy points, which will cover his cost. Add a couple of soft saves and we have our premier keeper pick for the week.
Wayne Hennessey – 4.18m
Hennessey is expected to get the nod in the Palace goal, offering us a decent budget choice. Huddersfield have scored well during preseason, and new teams can be a little more bold being pressure free, but they are stepping up a level here. The clean sheet doesn’t seem as secure as Chelsea’s, but there should be a few more saves in this one for The Eagles shot stopper.
Fraser Forster – 6.05m
Southampton have a great opening day fixture, hosting a Swansea side that will be without Sigurdsson, Llorente and maybe without summer loan signing Tammy Abraham. The Saints have their own dramas to deal with but must believe they are playing Swansea at the right time.
Jack Stephens – 5.54m
The young central defender is getting some rave reviews (“the next Rio”) typical of the English press and is now looking certain to start for the Saints. Full of promise and progress, as a player he’s cheap, with clean sheet potential in game week 1.
John Stones – 5.84m
We are assuming Pep starts with a back 3, and Stones played well in preseason. Stones will be the player who steped into midfield and scored twice in those bright preseason performances. City may be questionable in defense, but Brighton will hardly have the ball, and I think a City clean sheet is a likely outcome.
Matteo Darmian - 5.69m
West Ham come here with some talented players but an unconvincing preseason. Jose Mourinho sides are famous for winning games while adding clean sheets, and even with the United rearguard in a development stage, that could happen here. Darmian still has looked little like the player we saw in Serie A, but I think will likely start the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 1m
If Liverpool right back Nathaniel Clyne does fail in his fitness bid, raw but talented TAA will take his spot. Liverpool have kept 4 game clean sheets on the spin, also winning 4 in a row away from home. Watford do have a new manager with a reputation for making his sides very strong in home games, so a clean sheet will be hard won. With prices so high elsewhere, you may like him just as a filler.
Patrick Van Aanholt – 8.94m
You all know I like PVA, and this game offers him a chance to do what he does best: bully weaker opposition. There is the risk that he doesn’t hold onto his left wingback role, but I think he will after a bright couple of performances. Looking to impress under a new manager, he can start the season fast and rack up the phantom points. Remember: in Fantrax rules, he will be viewed as a midfield choice, but then he virtually plays as one!
Cesc Fabregas – 7.51m or Willian 8.41m
Chelsea didn’t have their best game against Arsenal in the Community Shield. After their performance, Conte could make changes for the visit of Burnley. You would think Cesc starts against such defensive opposition. We saw at the end of 2016/17 that there is still quality in his play. The alternative is Willian, who does offer safer starting status and was flying in preseason. Both players are playing for their starting spots in the weeks ahead, so they should be hungry.
Granit Xhaka – 6.89m or Alex Iwobi 5.49m
At no point last season did Arsenal’s Swiss midfield man ever get close to my player picks. In 2017/18, Xhaka gets a nod in week 1. Man of the match in the Community shield, he requires a sitting midfield player alongside, allowing him to play to his strengths. With Ramsey likely out, Xhaka now has that setup. Given a role to get forward, his final ball has improved as he has settled, and he has a bullet of a shot. With no Ozil, he should also hold set pieces in his locker. He is one of those risky picks, always a second away from a card, but his price is balanced to the risk.
Iwobi meanwhile looked sharp in recent games, another young player who is improving. He is above Theo Walcott in the pecking order and will play the Sanchez role. The opposition won’t be easy, but Iwobi can possibly return double his value.
James Ward-Prowse - 8.31m
JWP seems likely to start (fill us in please 1998) and has excellent set piece delivery. I think he played well during the summer, growing as a player. In time, I think he will become a strong point scorer under Fantrax rules. He could have a big opening day against Swansea.
Davy Klaassen – 7.59m
I liked Klaasen whenever I saw him playing for Ajax, and I think he is a player perfectly suited to both the Premier League and the Fantrax system. I think Everton will start with a win, and he will be heavily involved.
Paul Pogba – 13.49m or Henrikh Mkhitaryan 8.95m
United were completely outclassed against Real Madrid in the Super Cup. However, stepping down a few levels, they should beat West Ham on Sunday. In doing so, they should create plenty of chances. Both Pogba and Mickie will be involved and looking to start the season strongly.
Tom Carroll – 4.03m
If you aren’t believing in the Saints or just need a cheap mid-filler (who should be on corners etc) then Carroll is your man.
Wilfried Zaha – 12.12m
The winger is getting better each season, and his combination of dribbling skill and direct play should cause Huddersfield plenty of problems. During his time in the Championship, he bullied at that level, and Huddersfield still are very much a Championship side. Expect a double digit haul.
KDB – 17.68m
Believed to be the only certain City midfield starter, he has been electric in the preseason. Brighton will sit deep, and if they can hold out for the first half, become frustrating to break down. Whether that happens or instead we see a wipe-out, KDB will be heavily involved. Reservations: He doesn’t offer enough goals for his ability, and his price is at the top end of the scale.
Mohamed Salah – 10.20m
Losing Lallana to injury and possibly Coutinho to Barcelona is a massive blow to Klopp’s and Liverpool’s title dreams. Salah has linked brilliantly with Coutinho preseason and is a decent price for week one if the team news reveals Coutinho will start. If the Brazilian misses out, Salah’s value drops a little.
Harry Kane - 19.52m
Kane is very expensive but is the most explosive player playing in the league. At such a high price, the team news is big for me. Spurs were a nightmare to play against last season because they didn’t simply attack in one way. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker/Kieran Trippier provided very effective width, stretching opposition defenses, which in turn created space for midfield playmakers Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. Their movement and clever play then created more space for Kane.
The problem here is that with Rose out, Walker sold, and Trippier injured, the width will now need to come from Sissoko and Davies. Neither is a bad player, but they are neither as fluid nor as dangerous as the players they replace. Spurs attacks may become more center-focused and slightly easier for Newcastle to cope with. That’s my theory, and yet I’m still experimenting with ways to get Kane into my Fantrax side. I know it will be a great atmosphere, and I know Rafa will have a gameplan, but I’m just not sure the Magpies are good enough to deal with the brilliance that Spurs’ hotshots can bring.
Manolo Gabbiadini 7.82m
After joining the Saints, Gabbi was white hot one minute and ice cold the next, so who knows what we may get? It’s a great fixture for him, and he did assist and score in his final preseason friendly. His price just about makes him worth the gamble.
Sergio Arguero – 16.22m or Gabriel Jesus 14.74m
Poor old Kun has been dropped by many a fantasy manager without much thought. Jesus is the pretty new toy to play with in 2017/18. I’m guessing both start, and I’m making the prediction that Kun outscores Jesus in week 1. The question for me is whether I go with both of them.
Romelu Lukaku - 18.94m or Marcus Rashford - 8.31m
Lukaku has scored in 7 of his 8 games against West Ham, and he has scored well enough in preseason. He is a lot of money in a points system that he doesn’t always do well in. With his style and price, he may need a brace or a goal and an assist to return his value, but he seems sure to get the chances to do so.
If you want to cover the likely home goal or two and cannot afford/do not like Lukaku, you could try Rashford. Against Madrid, the young player again showed that his finishing needs work. However, after playing just 45 minutes, he should start on Sunday. At under half of Lukaku’s price, his is the value pick of the united front line in gameweek 1.
Kelechi Iheanacho – 3.27m
Nacho faces a depleted Arsenal side: Mertersaker, Ramsey, Ozil are all doubts, Sanchez is ruled out, and Lacazette has yet to find his feet. Even on the back of winning the community shield this is the right time to play Arsenal.
Nacho trained, so he should be fit, but he may not play more than 70 minutes. The foxes love playing on the counter, and Nacho pretty much needs just 1 SOT to return value.
Alvaro Morata – 11.50m
It may take Morata time to settle into the champion’s side, but at least for the opening week, he faces an opponent who can help him start well. I think he may score, but his price and lack of form will see few fantasy players selecting him.
Wayne Rooney - 8.61m
The “old man” that isn’t that old is going to get a tremendous reception at Goodison. To me, Stoke look a side ready to struggle, and Rooney may roll back the years in this one. He’s at a beautiful price for a one-week shot at bringing back all those warm memories. Rooney will return over his value.
I think that Huddersfield will concede, and will do so 2 or 3 times. Benteke is a frustrating Fantrax player at times, but he’s great value this week.
IMPORTANT! DON’T FORGET IT’S A FRIDAY DEADLINE THIS WEEK!
So what’s your thinking? Do any of you have news on starting elevens? Let us know in the comments!