GW-30 was an unusual one for Never Manage Alone. In addition to bringing us blanks for the majority of the teams in the EPL, it was also Round-4 of our Fantrax NMA-11 Cup.
Below I’ll outline how things worked out for my squads across all three of our fantasy platforms. I hope you’ll share your results as well.
I’ll start with my results from GW-29, as that was the starting point for my GW-30 team.
This squad earned 86 points, significantly better than the week’s average of 72, so I was pretty satisfied.
But unfortunately, as I turned my attention to GW-30, I faced a conundrum. Eleven of my players had blanks, so would I activate a chip or field a squad riddled with holes? Although I had my 2nd-half wildcard and one free hit remaining, in the end I chose to absorb a -8 double-hit to add three presumed starters to the four I thought I already had.
Why? Well, mainly because I feared that in a game-week with only eight teams to choose from, loading up on likely starters would leave me with too many of my attackers squaring off against too many of my defenders. Better to just take some zeroes and save the chips for the upcoming DGWs.
So I dropped Dennis, Mo Salah, and the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold to pick up Harvey Barnes, Harry Kane, and Kieran Tierney.
Here’s how that worked out:
Raphinha’s unexpected absence was a blow, as were Alexandre Lacazette and Dejan Kulusevski who played but failed to produce. At least those weren’t players on whom I spent transfers. My four other assets who played all came good, the Arsenal duo banking clean sheets while Barnes and Kane registered attacking returns. I got my armband decision right too, doubling Kane’s 13 point haul to 26.
My 48 point total dropped me from 185,823rd place to 217,853rd. But given that the average score was 28 and the high score was 106, I feel like my decision to preserve my chips was validated (presuming I use them wisely in the future, of course).
Plus, even without transfers I’m already set up pretty well for GW-31:
Although the upcoming game-week offers a mini-double for Burnley and Everton, I’m tepid on their assets. I don’t really want to spend transfers to buy them only to immediately spend transfers to move them back out. I’d rather bring in a quality single-gamer as a long-term hold, or just sit tight and roll my free transfer. With £6.4 in the bank, I’ve got plenty of flexibility.
I suffered a mid-season slump after a white-hot start to the Fantrax campaign, and I’ve been on a slow road to recovery ever since. But this week, in addition to my ongoing efforts to return to the NMA-11 leader-board’s top 10, I also had the additional challenge of being paired against Fantrax legend Stall in Round 4 of the NMA-11 Cup (gulp). That resulted in the kind of dread that a team like Midtjylland might feel if they were to draw a team like Manchester City in the Champions League.
Anyway, despite my attempts to bribe Cup organizer Guy and blog editor Jeff to change the matchups before they were published (just kidding, mostly), in the end there was no getting out of it (what is it with those guys putting principles above money?). Here’s the army I marched into battle, like Spartans at Thermopylae:
Raphinha was a no-show and my GK Martin suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of Leicester. And four fouls each from Matty Cash and Ivan Toney plus a yellow card for Dejan Kulusevski offset anything good those three did. But Kane and Son both hauled, and out of nowhere my dollar-boy Jonny showed up with a goal and 20.5 points.
After the dust settled I ended on 80.5 points for the week, placing me 34th for the round and essentially unchanged at 16th overall. That result was clearly nothing to write home about, but crucially it was six points better than Stall’s, his two absentees (Eriksen and Pereira) fatally hobbling a squad that otherwise would probably have beaten mine.
Although I know Stall will be disappointed to crash out of the NMA-11 Cup, he can take solace in the knowledge that he’s still six places and nearly 100 points ahead of me in the overall standings.
(Note: look for Guy’s article on Round 4 results and Round 5 draw to publish in the next couple of days.)
I had no cup competition to worry about in our 17-man Fantrax format, but I am trying to maintain (and hopefully even improve) my top 10 standing on NMA’s leaderboard. Consequently I loaded up on players from the eight clubs with matches, carrying only a few discounts for zeroes.
Dubravka, TAA, Kevin De Bruyne, and Kamara were the players I decided to hold at discount though their blanks, the 17-man format allowing us to do this at reduced risk of punishment. Wolves suffered a shock loss to Leeds, Raúl Jimenez drawing a straight red in the process. Eriksen and Martinelli were surprise no-shows, plus Lacazette and Toney did nothing.
In fact, except for Son and Kane, most of my returns were ho-hum at best. I ended on a decidedly unimpressive score of 67.5 for the week — even lower than my NMA-11 score! Fortunately, I didn’t lose any ground in the overall standings, holding steady in 8th place on 4221.5 points.
But I’m still nearly 70 points behind 7th-place Omonoia FC, and only 4.5 points ahead of 9th-place Hakuna Juan Mata. Going forward it will be hard to gain places, but easy to lose them!
We now head into an international break with league play not set to resume until April 2, but here are the top-10 lists across our blog mini-leagues after 30 rounds of play.
You’ll note that GREEK SUNSEEKER, EPL GALACTICO’S, and The Motley Crewe (that’s Guy) appear in both of the Fantrax top-10 lists. Great job guys!
Congrats to all of our mini-league leaders, as well as to all of our managers who made it through to Round 5 of the NMA Cup (again, look for Guy’s article very soon). If you are one of these folks, let us hear from you! And if you aren’t, please post anyway! Either way we want to know how you approached blank GW-30, and whether your strategies paid dividends. How did you do?