Enough International Break – Back To Business: Optimization Time

YAWN, is it over yet?

Nearly, thank god. I’d rather attend a masterclass in defending set pieces from Liverpool’s back four than watch another second of England’s turgid, why-go-forward-when-we-can-pass-it-sideways ‘brand’ of football limping to another one-goal win over countries whose entire population would fit neatly into just one of our major cities.

Clearly though, a large amount of the FPL Nation managed to stay awake over the international break or there wouldn’t have been such absurd price change activity as Alvaro Morata being dumped before the extent of his injury had even been confirmed (and before England romped to that memorable, tournament place-clinching victory over Slovenia), and a second Lemming-rush of the week to acquire Manchester United’s new midfield hero, Marouane Fellaini.

How were the Lemmings rewarded? Twitter-users frantically refreshing Ben Dinnery’s feed for Morata news were hilariously blindsided as the player himself took to Instagram to proclaim he was targeting an immediate return, which made some sense seeing as, you know, he had two weeks off for the international break.

As of writing this, it seems the Palace game will come a few days too soon for the Spanish hitman, but he is being readied for action in the Champions League in midweek. So anyone who panic-bought Michy Batshuayi will need to plan to get him straight back out again, essentially wasting two transfers. That’s assuming these people ever have some kind of plan, other than just chasing whoever gets the most points every week.

Now; onto the real tragic news for Lemmings this week, you knew it was coming…

Fellaini_2017-03-09

Yes, Marouane Fellaini (transferred in by over 70,000 in standard FPL) injured his knee on international duty and will miss at least a couple of weeks.

😂

Draft managers who had picked up Fellaini (I doubt any were daft enough to drop Morata), meanwhile calmly and hit-free kicked him to the kerb for the likes of Pascal Groß, Steven Davis or Eric Choupo-Moting who are floating around on waivers in a lot of leagues. No drama.

But what else should draft managers have been doing over the deathly dull IB?

Two weeks ‘off’ means valuable time to get your squad optimized. Ignore all the big names, we aren’t playing Scrabble here.

Points are all that matter, and when you rank all players at a position by that metric and see that Cesc Fabregas (19 points in Draft Fantasy) is being comfortably outscored by the likes of Mario Lemina on 24 points (who’s only played about 2/3 games, surely?!), Moussa Sissoko and Gareth Barry (each on 20 points), it’s time to cut the cord.

Flame Fabregas, or if you are like me, try and trade him to an unsuspecting owner for an under-the-radar stud like Watford’s Doucoure who has amassed 49 points already and would be about to raise his bat to the crowd if he was playing cricket.

Sadly, I’m yet to receive a response to that trade 5 days later, the guy must really be mulling it over.

Who else is under-performing in Draft Fantasy that you need to get over?

Goalkeepers

pickford

Time to roll this guy out of your team

Last season’s wonderboy Jordan Pickford has been a shadow of his former point-machine self since donning Tim Howard’s old jersey at Goodison Park. Currently on a measly 20 points and with only one clean sheet all season, you can do far better.

Recommended pickups: Huddersfield’s Lossl (34 points) if your opponents have all been asleep; Rob Elliot from Newcastle is under-owned in draft games due to not being the only viable £4.0m keeper as he is in standard FPL (26 points); and the injured Tom Heaton’s replacement Nick Pope has already overtaken Pickford with 21 points and two clean sheets in only 4 games, also averaging 4.25 saves per game.

Defenders

This one might surprise some – Pickford’s colleague Leighton Baines has had a truly awful start to the season, not only collecting that single solitary clean sheet but he has also failed to hit the back of the net or deliver even one of the assists he is famous for in FPL. On a measly 19 points (0 bonus) he is averaging only 3.2 per game and seems a shadow of his former self.

I don’t need to tell you what to do with Baines, although with his name value you might be able to sneak a trade for the likes of Harry Maguire (47 points) or Kyle Naughton (42 points) from an unsuspecting owner.

A very unsuspecting owner. Tell them Ronald Koeman is about to turn it around and Baines will be the key, or something like that.

Pickups: Burnley’s Stephen Ward is currently the 5th ranked defender in Draft Fantasy on 50 points, aided by 3 clean sheets, a goal and assist, 8 bonus points and another 8 Kante/TIR points. If the rest of your league hasn’t noticed, stop reading this and go get him now! Kyle Walker is also surprisingly under-owned (I just nabbed him in my league for Hegazi) and has 42 points to his name so far, and standard FPL value picks Jamaal Lascelles (39 points) and Kiko Femenia (also 39 points) will be sitting on many waiver wires as lazy owners persist with sub-par performers from ‘bigger’ teams.

Midfield

Aside from the aforementioned Fabregas, another big FPL name is under-performing big-time. Southampton’s Dusan Tadic is flattering to deceive yet again, only delivering a paltry 26 point return and one goal despite featuring in every game. The likes of Romeu, Mata, Gueye and Matt Ritchie have all grabbed over 30 points so far and seem more consistent, long-term bets than Tadic.

Again, he does have some name value so worth dangling a sly trade before you dump him.

Forwards

Olivier_Giroud_2015

Look at this guy. Just get rid

Two names jump out here – Jermain Defoe and Olivier Giroud. The diminutive Defoe was a hot pick at the start of the season, a verified ‘goal machine’ who even managed to net a few times in a Sunderland side that was one of the most abject to ever feature in the Premier League. Surely ‘back home’ at Bournemouth he would flourish?

Erm, no. He’s scored the same number of goals as drop target Dusan Tadic and with his ‘do nothing then get a goal from nowhere’ style of play he is never a candidate for many bonus points either. Considering where you probably drafted him, 18 points is an awful return.

When he returns from suspension, Brighton’s Tomer Hemed is a far better prospect with 2 goals, an assist, 5 bonus points and 28 in total. If you’re lucky, Watford’s 44-point stud Richarlison may be available like he was in my league; if so grab him ASAP.

As for Giroud, he was over-drafted before the league got under way and given he has only played 133 minutes all season and is firmly rooted to Arsenal’s bench, you really should have dumped him already. 11 points? Richarlison scored more than that in his last game alone!

Hopefully this has made you see how much you can improve your squad simply by staying on top of them. The best draft managers are always wheeling and dealing, searching for better value on the waiver wire or a trade they can dangle. Unlike in standard FPL, too, you can have far greater long-term impact on your performance if you hoover up all the top point-getters, laughing evilly to yourself at the knowledge that they are all yours and no-one else can just copy your squad.

Now go and get rid of your loose ends, The Don said so.

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FPL Draft Transfer Tactics: Trades

In Fantasy Football hard work works.

Transfers / Waivers

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