It should have been so easy. With only 10 teams playing, last week’s fantasy production should have been concentrated among a small pool of studs. Huge points totals seemed assured, since the limited availability of good options would naturally steer us toward the marquee players who would be the week’s biggest performers. Fewer options means we can fill our teams with virtually all the promising names, right?
That’s what I thought, anyway. And that was certainly the logic that guided my team selection for GW-31.
This was my FPL squad after GW 30:
Thanks largely to Salomón Rondón, I finished that week on 50 points — a pretty solid outing. But of the 15 players in my squad, only 11 were scheduled for matches in GW 31, and I wasn’t in love with every one of those 11 either. Despite what Rondón had just done for me, I didn’t feel good about him on the road against Bournemouth... likewise Martin Dubravka. And Fabian Schär had just collected his 10th yellow card, earning himself a two-week suspension.
So even though I had two transfers available, I decided to pull the trigger on my Free Hit chip. I liked Lukasz Fabianski’s match-up and was certain he would start, so to free up cash, I bought him in place of Alisson and replaced Dubravka with Will Norris. I shed Schár, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Willy Boly and brought in David Luiz, with cut-rate defenders Jan Goren Stankovic and Jack Simpson coming in as bench fodder. The sale of Paul Pogba piled additional funds into my spending account. And although Burnley and Newcastle were included on the weekend’s slate of fixtures, Dwight McNeil hadn’t done anything in weeks, and I wasn’t high on Rondón, so I got rid of them too.
With all the cash those transactions generated, I was able to assemble a team of GW-31 all-stars. In fact, I had a team that looked good enough to score well in any week. Here’s what it looked like:
Yet despite all the big-name players, my week ended in disappointment. Fabianski not only failed to keep a clean sheet, but he conceded 3 goals against just 2 saves. Not one of my defenders was able to keep a clean sheet either. And only one of my marquee attackers was able to manage more than 2 points. (Well, that’s not completely true. James Maddison scored 9, but I stranded him on my bench). In the end, I blew my Free Hit chip on a team that earned me just 32 points.
That’s pretty bad, but apparently things were pretty bad for a lot of us. The 32 points I scored in GW 31 put me in 1,875,437th place for the week. In contrast, I scored 50 points the week prior but ranked 2,749,296th. So it seems a lot of us managed to pick around the points over the weekend, despite the smaller selection of fantasy stars on offer. Misery loves company.
But not everyone did poorly. The week’s top managers in the FPL NMA Beat the Bloggers league were Des-champs and It’s Lit, each putting up 65 points. Interestingly, neither chose to use the Free Hit chip. Des-champs (Mark Campbell) took a 4-point deduction to field 11 players. He got nice returns from Maddison, Rondón and Chicharito, and he captained Sadio Mané to double the Liverpool ace’s 13 natural points. Here’s what his squad looked like:
It’s Lit (King Sav) exercised just his one free transfer and was content to field 10 players. Like Des-champs, he also played Maddison and Rondón, and captained Sadio Mané. That and solid returns from Lucas Digne and Felipe Anderson propelled him into first place in the league, with a total of 1946 points. Here is the side that carried him to the top:
Fantrax NMA League
I fared much better in the regular Fantrax NMA league, where I cleaned house to field 11 names having matches during the game-week — even ditching some deep discounts. The result was a score of 96, good enough for joint-6th for the week (and 34th overall, on 2824 points). Here’s how my score broke down:
I was happy with that result, but But NMA’s top dogs for the week were Team Shabusen with 112 pts, Ninja_AFC with 108 points, and Team Stijnen with 105. Here’s what Team Shabusen’s week-winning team looked like:
Interestingly, NMA’s overall leader (and Fantrax wizard), Stall Express, held on to discounts on David De Gea and Paul Pogba, and his 9 remaining players combined for just 49 points. Taking deliberate zeroes on the two Manchester United players cost him in the short term, but the trade-off is that Stall is now well-positioned for a Red Devils’ double in an upcoming game week .
[Note: Fantrax puts April 2nd’s Wolves v ManU match into GW-33, not as a DGW in GW-32].
Fantrax NMA + Bench
I did fairly well in the 17-man NMA league as well, my 102 points placing me 12th for the week. Lucas Digne, Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini, Eden Hazard and (of course) Sadio Mane all hit double-digits for me, but three players I expected to do well were ultimately dropped by the scoring algorithm because of their poor performances: Nathaniel Clyne, Youri Tielemans, and Callum Wilson. I also expected Alisson to do the business for me and therefore chose not to spend money on a second GK. That was a mistake, as the Brazilian failed to keep a clean sheet and made only one save. Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy were also disappointing, but Miguel Almiron continued his streak of good Fantrax performances with a return of a solid +7. Here’s how my GW-31 squad broke down (note that I kept Paul Pogba at deep discount):
Third-place in the 17-man league went to Arsenal Canons with 121 points, and JARED’S TOPPLETHEKING SAINTS was runner-up with 123. Grand prize for the week went to Stats&Luck with a league-best 125. His winning squad is below:
On the season I sit in 15th place with 3602 points, just 4 points behind the ever-popular blog member (and target) Ken M. Both of us are way off the pace however, with Team c444si leading the pack with 3949 points. Sir Boy United FC is in hot pursuit with 3933; slightly farther behind is OAKIES with 3798. Stats&Luck and The Motley Crewe are each on 3768, and yewy has the 5th best score with 3759.
[Note: There are about ten teams in this league whose season-to-date scores do not include any credit for their keepers — That’s right, they’re missing 200-300 points apiece due to a programming glitch. Fantrax is investigating, and we think it’s related to having no keeper minutes in GW-1. Be assured that those team scores will be fixed before the end of the season, even if the commish has to type in corrections by hand!]
How did you stack up against the blog’s best? Did you use your FPL Free Hit chip this week? If you did, how did it work out for you? Did you carry deadweight discounts in Fantrax, or did you go all-in on players with GW-31 matches? Please weigh in and tell us how you did in the comments below.