Many fantasy managers spent the summer poring over a vast amount of statistics and projections. Some of the information that was available would have led to forecasting the early success stories of the season. There is a dark side to this of course, the best laid plans can go awry is an old saying that holds true. Today we will look at some of the major lessons the first five weeks of the season has taught us.
Defense is not what we thought
One of the most discussed topics this summer was selecting four, and in extreme cases five man defensive lineups. That went out the window early as game-week two saw a total of two clean sheets. Defending got only marginally better in game-week three which had three clean sheets.
There is not a single defender in the top ten of FPL points scorers at this juncture. It has just not worked out for fantasy managers holding players hyped in the preseason like Aymeric Laporte, Andrew Robertson, and Nathan Ake to name a few.
There have been numerous Championship players in recent years who were highly touted on entry to the Premier League but then fell flat. Whether promoted, transferred, or returning from loan, they were unable to live up to expectations. Dwight Gayle, Patrick Bamford, and David Nugent are some names that come to mind — maybe. There were many more, but they’re sooo forgetable. The homegrown success stories like Jamie Vardy stick in the mind because they’ve been so special.
This time around there are six players who have made the step up to the top division look seamless. Mason Mount, Todd Cantwell, Emiliano Buendia, Daniel James, Teemu Pukki, and Tammy Abraham have all come up and proven to be great budget signings. Who knows if this trend will hold up in future seasons, but in the first five weeks it has been fun to watch the new boys seem right at home.
Big Money Decisions
While there are several budget players who are off to exceptional starts, the majority of premium priced players have been delivering. This creates selection and captaincy headaches for managers.
A close look shows that the three midfielders priced above £10.0, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Raheem Sterling, are FPL’s three highest scoring midfielders at present. Up front, Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Harry Kane are all in the top ten forwards.
No Repeat performance
Countless articles written in preseason glorified the plentiful options available to us in the £6.5 forward line. Last season Diogo Jota, Josh King, and Gerard Deulofeu each finished above 130 points.
In the early part of this season they have a combined one goal and three assists; all have dropped in price. Wildcards have had to be employed early because of these underperforming budget forwards. It makes us wonder what will become of early season darlings Teemu Pukki and Ashley Barnes in the weeks ahead. Will the flame flicker away or will they light up the scoring charts for the entire season?
Where the Goals are
We knew games involving Manchester City would have loads of goals. But where else can we look to for high scoring matches?
Chelsea and Norwich have seen the goals follow them, and it might be wise to invest in their attacking players, as well as those of the teams they face. 22 goals have been scored in games that Chelsea have played, followed by 21 in games involving Norwich. When both teams met we had a five-goal thriller in game-week three.
We’re also learning about VAR, but I’m afraid we will need a whole separate article on that at some point because of what could be said once we get the discussion started.
Trends come and go, the only constant is change, and many other cliches tell us that what has happened so far may or may not be indicative of what is to come. A good FPL manager will monitor shifts while they are happening, I believe there will be a shift as we go along where clean sheets increase and the strikers score less.
What have you noticed in the opening weeks, and what do you expect to change as we go along?