Welcome to the Fantasy Premier League Preview. This will be a regular section every Friday before a game week where I will lament how awful my previous game week has been before turning, with blind optimism, to the next one.
Game week 32 might seem an odd time to start writing about fantasy football, but bear with me. Most of the FPL community is discussing their chips and when to use them to maximum benefit. Going into game week 32 I have already activated my wildcard, so I’ve been non-stop tinkering for the past two weeks. This is because I didn’t play my free hit chip in game week 31, and I couldn’t bear to look at the likes of Martina or Benteke in my squad anymore. Throw in a Kane injury and the logic for wildcarding gets stronger.
An active wildcard gives me no excuse to not look at the whole field, and pick the strongest 15 players I can think of, going into the upcoming double game weeks in 34 and 37.
So, here we go…
Goalkeeper is not somewhere I want to make any more transfers this year, so I’m only looking at season keepers here.
For me, it’s hard to look past David De Gea (£5.9m). 15 clean sheets, 97 saves and 10 bonus points make him the highest scoring keeper in Fantasy Premier League. Man United only have two difficult games in the next eight, and two double game weeks coming up. I’m backing Mou to play boring football and keep getting me those cleans.
If you can’t afford the price tag, then you have other options. Ederson (£5.6m), the second-highest scoring goalkeeper in the game, only has one double game week but still has a double game week coming (most likely in 37). Fabianski (£4.7m) also has only one double game week, but the Swans have hit some form under Carvalhal and Lukasz is racking up save points.
In terms of GK’s to avoid, I’m steering well clear of Matt Ryan (£4.5m). His ownership is going up as people get excited about his two double game weeks, but when you consider that Brighton have to play Leicester, Spurs, Man United, Liverpool and Man City in their next eight games, he is an absolute no-go for me. I’m also avoiding Pope (£4.9m). Burnley have only got two clean sheets in the last ten games and seem to have dropped off since ensuring safety.
United and City are clear favourites to keep clean sheets against Swansea and Everton respectively. Owning any of their starting defenders will give you a strong chance of getting 6 points.
For United, I think the best value is in a fit again Bailly (£6.0m). Valencia (£6.9m) has a high ceiling because of his ability to get goals and assists, but his price tag is just too steep. Smalling (£5.4m) is just bad at football, and will probably get rotated out when Jones (£5.5m) comes back next week. If you have Smalling, hold him; if not, avoid him. As you’re probably aware, Young (£4.9m) is considered a midfielder in the game, so only gets 1 point per clean sheet – avoid him.
For City, I would only look at the two nailed-on defenders – Otamendi (£6.4m) and Walker (£6.6m). Ota is outscoring Kyle for the season, but Kyle has a higher ceiling. Even if you have Ederson or De Gea, I like doubling up this week.
In terms of who to avoid, it’s anyone at Swansea and Stoke, who play United and Arsenal respectively. In case you haven’t heard anyone say it this year, Lukaku only scores against the bottom four clubs, so don’t buy Swans. Stoke are just awful in defence and Arsenal are good going forward.
If you are looking for value defenders with a chance of keeping a clean this week, I would turn to Burnley. I know, I know, I criticised the choice of Pope as a GK, but Burnley play West Brom this week, and Burnley as a fourth or fifth choice defender is not a bad long term hold.
I’m gonna start this section every week with this: if you don’t have Salah (£10.7m), buy him. I don’t care that he doesn’t have double game weeks, he is easily the most reliable asset in FPL.
The problem with covering the midfield this season is that there are so many options, and this is therefore where the real value lies this year. I can’t cover everything, but here we go.
Despite Everton’s boring defensive football, I am backing Man City to break them down. I still think the best option is Raheem Sterling (£8.6m), but Sane (£8.6m) or Silva (£8.1m) are still good options. De Bruyne (£10.4m) is just too expensive for me, but he is a good long term hold as far as I’m concerned.
I also like Mkhitaryan (£7.7m), just because of the value, but he is a risk to get a… full 90 (see what I did there?). Regardless, Arsenal have a nice run in – including a double game week – and Mkhi is only owned by about 12% of managers, meaning he’s a nice differential. If you are keen to double or triple up on Liverpool, then Mane (£9.5m) is also a good shout, but I can’t bring myself to spend that much on him when I have Salah and the ‘Pool don’t have any upcoming doubles.
Leicester have the easiest run-in of all the teams, and two double game weeks. If you have the money, Mahrez (£8.9m) is a bit of a no-brainer. But, if you’re looking for a cheaper mid, then Albrighton (£5.6m) has got two assists in the last three, so appears to have hit some form.
Other cheaper mids that I like are Ibe (£4.7m) and Stanislas (£6.0m). Bournemouth haven’t looked great recently, but they play Watford who have a crappy defence, and these two have been getting goals and assists. Gross (£6.0m) at Leicester also offers some value. I don’t expect big things from Brighton against Leicester, but the Foxes’ defence has been woeful this year. Gudmundsson (£5.1m) at Burnley is who I will be going for, because of his small price tag, 1.7% ownership and two assists and one goal in the last five games.
If you’re still holding on to Walcott (£7.1m) then get rid. I know he got an assist last week and started his Everton career with 2 goals against Leicester, but he’s not worth that value. Willian (£7.1m) seems to be in a lot of wildcard teams at the moment. I think he’s great, but he doesn’t get enough minutes for me. After two big returns in game weeks 21 and 24 he got eight minutes in game week 22 and zero minutes in game week 25. I just don’t trust Conte to play him, and despite Chelsea’s two double game weeks that makes me nervous about keeping him long-term.
Forwards have been a bit dull this year. Only the expensive ones are reliable and Kane (£12.7m) has been set and forget for me all year, so I’m quite excited about his injury (sorry, Harry!). The standard this season has been one expensive striker above £10m, one slightly less expensive above £8.5m and one cheap one for around £6m. I’m sticking with that format.
For your expensive striker, Aubameyang (£10.6) looks good for this week and next, but you’ll want to move him out in game week 34 as he doesn’t have a double game week. I’m backing Auba to get a goal against Stoke. Lukaku (£11.4m) is your next best bet – with Swansea in 32 and a double in 34 – but he plays City in 33, so I will get Auba for two game weeks and then transfer him out in 34 for Kaku. I hate not being able to play Aguero (£11.7m) or Jesus (£10.0m), but when they’re both fit you just can’t guarantee them minutes.
Firmino (£9.7m) is the standard second striker. Not prolific but great in the false nine role, and has 14 goals and eight assists for the season so far. But, for double game week reasons, I’m backing Vardy (£8.8m). I recently found out he eats a bag of sweets before playing so I’m sending him some Haribo and hoping he can break down Brighton this week.
In terms of cheap assets, I would look at Glenn Murray (£6.0m) and Ashley Barnes (£5.3m). Murray is on hot form with four goals in five, and he’s also on penalty duty. Barnes is on good form too with three goals in three. I don’t want Murray because I tend to play 3-5-2 and I think he is too pricey for my third choice forward. Barnes may be subject to rotation risk with Wood (£6.2m) back, and I don’t want to use a free transfer on him.
So, rather oddly, I am holding on to Jordan Ayew (£5.3m) who is actually suspended for game week 32. I know it sounds stupid, but I don’t want to play my third forward or use a transfer on them until the end of the season. Ayew is best for me because of their double game week, which will likely fall in game week 37 when I plan to Bench Boost.
Perfect XI – Gameweek 32
Based on my current team value:
De Gea (Karius)
Otamendi, Bailly, Van Dijk (Yedlin, Lowton)
Salah, Mahrez, Mkhi, David Silva, Gudmundsson
Aubameyang, Vardy, (Barnes)
Salah almost always returns, so he is my cap. Other options you could consider are Aubameyang, Kaku and Mahrez who are all on good fixtures.