The numbers were crunched, the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed. On the eve of the season, my ideal team was all mapped out with technical precision. Then, of course, the games started and blew everything to the moon. Everybody knows what they say about best laid plans, and as much as they’re right, I really, really despise those people right now.
The Early Disaster Zone
My team for GW3 was:
GK: F. Forster (SOU, £5.0)
DEF: M. Alonso (CHE, £7.0) / J. Milner (LIV, £6.5) / B. Davies (TOT, £5.6)
MID: K. De Bruyne (MCI, £10.0) / D. Alli (TOT, £9.5) / C. Eriksen (TOT, £9.5) / A. Ayew (WHU, £7.0)
STR: J. Defoe (BOU, £8.0) / Chicharito (WHU, £7.0) / S. Vokes (BUR, £6.0)
BENCH: J. Hart (WHU, £4.5) / C. Daniels (BOU, £5.0) / M. Holgate (EVE, £4.4) / R. Loftus-Cheek (CRY, £4.5)
(The only differences from my GW1 line-up were Andre Ayew in for an injured Wilfried Zaha and Ben Davies in for an uninspiring Leighton Baines.)
I’ve been absolutely cursed by big fat nothing burgers from my captain’s choice: KDB (3 points in GW1), Vokes (2 in GW2) and Eriksen (3 in GW3). On top of that, I’ve left some action on the bench: Vokes’ 13 points in GW1 and Daniels’ 7 points in GW3. That helps explain my pathetic weekly totals of 46, 57 and 44 points, but even if I’d avoided those issues, it still would have done little more than paper over my slew of line-up holes:
- Sam Vokes had a big first game but has done nothing since, and his starting spot has come under threat from Burnley newcomer Chris Wood. Even if they both start, Burnley’s offense should be better, but I’m lowering expectations on Vokes’ individual production.
- Charlie Daniels had an unexpectedly nice third game, but Bournemouth’s upcoming schedule looks fairly imposing; I’m not expecting a wonder goal every week to compensate for the likely lack of clean sheets.
- James Milner had a clean sheet in the game he started for Liverpool, but in the other two he’s played a total of 14 minutes. Clearly he’s been reduced to a spot starter, not a regular starting fixture and PK taker as expected.
- Jermain Defoe has looked like a total waste of space, scoring a total of four points in his three games for anemic Bournemouth.
- Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has retreated into a more defensive role than expected, failing to notch a goal or assist thus far.
- Andre Ayew, as part of hapless West Ham United, also has failed to get on the score sheet.
- Joe Hart has been absolutely shelled to the tune of 10 goals in three games behind the Hammers’ ramshackle defense.
- Mason Holgate would be a great bargain as a cheap way into Everton’s defense if he were a regular starter at wing back as hoped. He has started two of three games, and Everton has been dealing with a number of injuries and has brought in an awful lot of players over the summer transfer window. So when things shake out, it’s definitely a huge doubt that he’ll be a part of the preferred S11.
That’s eight of my 15 players giving me severe gut ache! I simply have to blow things up. I don’t feel too bad, though. I know I’ve got a lot of company. Maybe even you! After all, in my recent “When are You Using Your Unlimited Transfer Wildcard?” post, half of all poll respondents said they already had used it (12%) or were planning on using it before GW4 (38%). Another 21% said they were planning on using theirs in GW5 or 6. Fantasy is a cruel mistress, making it tough to wait as long as you’d like.
The Post-Destruction Concoction
GK: B. Foster (WBA, £4.5)
DEF: M. Alonso (CHE, £7.0), B. Davies (TOT, £5.6), P. Jones (MUN, £5.1)
MID: E. Hazard (CHE, £10.5), D. Alli (TOT, £9.5), C. Eriksen (TOT, £9.5), H. Mkhitaryan (MUN, £8.3)
STR: R. Firmino (LIV, £8.5), Chicharito (WHU, £7.0), T. Abraham (SWA, £5.5)
BENCH: J. Lossl (HUD, £4.5), Cedric Soares (SOU, £5.0), Zanka (HUD, £4.6), R. Loftus-Cheek (CRY, £4.5)
What was the thought process in gutting my team all too soon, dumping over half the squad for an early makeover?
- My original blueprint — no premium strikers, with KDB serving as my most expensive player at 10.0 and allowing me to spread my money around — had the fourth midfielder priced at 7.0 and projected to deliver 150-170 points. I thought Zaha and/or Andre Ayew could turn the trick, but absent any signs of fairy dust being sprinkled on dreadful Crystal Palace and West Ham, I have soured on that premise. I’m not sold on the similarly-priced Juan Mata or Michail Antonio. Instead, I’ll pay more for Henrikh Mkhitaryan (in a tough choice between Mkhi, Paul Pogba, Riyad Mahrez and Gylfi Sigurdsson).
- I can pay for that midfield upgrade because Version 1.0 also called for spending £6.5 on Milner and £6.0 on Baines, each of whom I had projected to score 150+ points. I don’t see either of them doing so, so I’m paying less for defenders Davies, Phil Jones and Cedric Soares and hoping to get 130-150 points out of each. If any of them get injured or put to the bench, I can switch to someone like Daniels when his schedule turns more favorable.
- Jones and Mkhi give me Manchester United cover. It was a serious mistake to neither start out with any Red Devils nor add any in sooner. D’oh!
- I am dropping KDB in favor of Chelsea’s imperious Eden Hazard. Hopefully he is fit enough to start this weekend, but if not he should at least come in for a cameo and then start in GW5.
- I have Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen replacing Holgate; even though it has started out brilliantly, Huddersfield’s defense will probably not be as reliable as Everton’s in the long term, but Zanka should be a much more reliable starter than Holgate.
- I feel good about my first two strikers, especially after upgrading from the out-of-sorts Defoe to in-form Roberto Firmino. But my third striker turns to a work in progress after dropping Vokes. I think Swansea’s Wilfried Bony (also £6.0) should be a good play, but indications are that he will need to get into game shape before cracking the S11. I considered teammates Tammy Abraham (£5.5) and Jordan Ayew (£5.0) and will go with the loan from Chelsea at the moment. If nobody looks good at £6.0 or below in the coming weeks, I might have to clear some money and go up to £6.5 (with someone such as Wood).
- I don’t mind paying for keepers to a point (up to £5.0 for the starter and £4.5 for the back-up), but I felt I should drop from paying £9.5 combined down to £9.0 for the duo in order to free up a little extra elsewhere. (After all, I had to pay £0.5 extra each in switching from Defoe to Firmino and from KDB to Hazard, as well as losing £0.7 combined from price jumps by players bought and a price drop from a player sold.) My two choices: stay with Fraser Forster at £5.0 and pick up Newcastle’s Robert Elliot for £4.0, or pick up West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster and Huddersfield’s Jonas Lossl for £4.5 each. I went with the latter. It’s nice to be able to rotate keepers based on the fixture, and I’d rather not have to rely on Elliot too often.
Here’s hoping that three weeks from now I’ll still love my team the way I do right now!
What do you think of my team? If you’ve also lit the dynamite stick, how does your team look by comparison? If you’re sitting pretty and holding pat, what comparatively minor changes are you looking to make in the near future? Let us know in the comments!