Today I breathe a sigh of relief (along with all New Yorkers collectively) as we embrace a much-needed respite after three consecutive days of sweltering heat clocking north of 100 degrees F (38 C). Oh the ills of summer! Nevertheless, for us FPL enthusiasts, in the midst of this pain, we take solace in the oasis of preseason fantasy team tinkering.
I took my first dive today by selecting my initial platoon of FPL glory hunters. I feel good about what materialized in these 60 minutes. However, please note that this is just a first draft, so my picks may change before the August 9 deadline comes around. Let us now examine this group of players who came into my plans...
Alisson (Liverpool, £6.0)
Going away from my usual strategy of rotating two £4.5 goalkeepers. For now, I’ve opted this season to spend £6.0 on the Liverpool stopper and play him every week. I will have a £4.0 place-holder on my bench.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, £6.5)
There is no messing about this season, straight away I buy a second Liverpool asset. Clean sheets are expected from the European champions, and I decided to have a solid foundation at the back. VVD may not be in my team long term, or even to start the season (more on this later) but he is a sure starter in my initial thoughts.
Ben Davies (Tottenham, £5.5)
Two seasons ago, the Welshman was raiding down the left flank and firing crosses in. He finished the season with seven assists to go along with twelve clean sheets. Rumors have Danny Rose on the way out, so the Spurs’ left back spot looks (at long last) to be secure for Davies.
Seamus Coleman (Everton, £5.5)
Lucas Digne is a popular pick thanks to an excellent debut season, but I’ve opted for the man on the other flank. His cheaper price and my belief that he can match the French player this season have convinced me.
Mo Salah (Liverpool, £12.5)
The top FPL points scorer for two seasons running, with a home fixture against newly promoted (does it matter?) Norwich. Salah was a guarantee to be in my squad long before I started the selection process.
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth, £7.5)
Honestly folks, I have my doubts that Fraser can reproduce his brilliant returns of last season. He is currently in 21% of teams however, which has me scared of leaving him out to begin.
Richarlison (Everton, £8.0)
Teammate Gylfi Sigurdsson is possibly a more consistent player. The Brazilian is a noted fast starter though, and his lower ownership of 10% compared to the 16% owned Icelandic player should be a differential.
Roberto Pereyra (Watford, £6.0)
Watford doesn’t face a big six team until week five, and we have a cheap starter for the opening before then who can chip in some points. There are several options at this price.
Harry Kane (Tottenham, £11.0)
Google the goal against Juventus in the preseason (must-see video!), then notice that his week-one fixture is at home to Aston Villa. Case closed!
Joshua King (Bournemouth, £6.5)
The opening two fixtures for Bournemouth are both against promoted teams which tempted me into selecting a second cherries player.
Billy Sharp (Sheffield United, £6.0)
This is a name that has been around for a very long time, the veteran got 23 goals last season (including seven is his four games against Norwich and Aston Villa). He has loads of pedigree in the lower leagues and I’m taking a gamble that he can reproduce some of it in the Premier League.
Michael McGovern (Norwich, £4.0)
Just a £4.0 goalkeeper, nothing to see here.
Lewis Dunk (Brighton, £4.5)
17 clean sheets in the past two seasons, a solid if not spectacular signing for defensive rotation.
Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa, £5.5)
Bench midfielder who can chip in, had five goals and six assists in the championship last season.
Matt Targett (Aston Villa, £4.5)
A second Villa bench signing, should slot straight into the left back role and provide crosses from the wing.
Firstly, I feel really good about my defense. Having double Liverpool plus Davies and Coleman make me feel very strong at the back. Dunk and Targett will provide great cover along with the ability to play four at the back at times.
Secondly, I have 0.5 left in the bank which allows me numerous options. I can upgrade VVD to Robertson, Coleman to Digne, or Sharp to Jota. These upgrades will be available without taking a points hit.
Thirdly, I become a little worried that I picked a team that does not include a single Manchester City player. The Champions! How did I manage to select an entire squad doing that? I’m off to sit in a quiet place and ponder about this. Thankfully, I can make a Richarlison to Silva (Bernardo or David) transfer smoothly.
What are your thoughts on my first draft? What changes if any do you think are necessary? Make sure to post your own team in the comments so we can discuss.