So after 24 days, 117 drafts (1 even included Connor Wickham) and numerous attempts to convince myself I could pick a team without Sergio Aguero, we have our FPL Updates XI for week 1 of the 2016/17 season.
For some reason this pre season has seemed harder than ever to select an ideal Fantasy Premier League XI. Players late back from the Euros, uncertain starting line ups and hefty prices have given FPL gaffers headaches aplenty. It’s been fun and stressful in equal measures but with just a day left to go here is the FPL Updates XI.
This is our 3rd published draft and our boy Jack Butland is absolutely an ever present. The Stoke shot stopped was the 7th highest scoring keeper last season but played just 2790 minutes. Aside from Petr Cech he was the best minutes-to-points keeper, was one of only 3 keepers to score double digit bonus and was 3rd in saves with 102. He is one of the best shot stoppers in the league and those save points alone make him one of the better options. Eldin Jankupovic remains as back up. He wont play but his 4m price tag allows us an extra 0.5m to use outfield.
Last minute change: With our beloved Jack Butland picking up and injury, we have decided to bring in Forster.
So we have decided to use the ‘All Out Attack’ chip in week 1! This has raised eye brows when suggested by people but 1) it’s a crap chip and 2) week 1 is actually the only week you can 100% plan for it. So we have decided what the hell and called it in. So the 2 defenders we are starting with are John Stones and Luke Shaw. Stones’ move to manchester City has made him one of the most important defenders to own now. At just 5m he gives you a cheap route into a title challenging team. Maybe a little early to call this but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Pep use him in a holding mid role soon into his City career. Shaw is 0.5m more expensive but a massive favourite of mine. He was hugely impressive last season claiming 3 clean sheets in 4 games before his horror injury but there has been nothing but praise from Mourinho and the United camp this pre season. Add to that United’s early favourable fixture list he is a lock for us. Leighton Baines is another I really like this year and under Ronald Koeman (27 clean sheets in 2 seasons as Southampton boss) he could not only continue to deliver attacking returns but actually pick up some defensive points too. George Friend is a budget friendly option bench option that is guaranteed starts and the same can be said for our last defender Erik Pieters. There’s at least 10 4.5m priced defenders worth consideration but we quite like these 2.
Our midfield 5 all start then this week and we have a nice mix of pricey big names and mid range exciting options. Eden Hazard is one of the pricey options. On his day he is one of the best in the world but after 2 consecutive seasons of 200+ points he had an absolute horror year last season scoring just 104 points. FPL responded in kind by valuing him a whole million less than Alexis Sanchez. Given his impressive form at the back end of the season and then carrying that into pre season we are risking 10m of our budget on the Belgian. Also bare in mind he faces West Ham, Watford, Burnley and Swansea in is first 4. Not too shabby. Next up is Anthony Martial. With so much attention around him losing the number 9 shirt it’s gone mildly unmentioned that he has moved position. He was a tempting enough option as a striker but now he has been moved to the midfield list he becomes a fantastic pick. 11 goals and 6 assists in his first Premier League season I fully expect an increase on both those numbers. Quite how his ownership sits at less than 7% is staggering and makes him even more appealing. Dusan Tadic makes it in even though he hadn’t made either of our first 2 drafts. He always seems to be one of those players overlooked and his current 5% ownership only backs that up. On closer inspection his stats from last season make him his 7.5m price tag look very reasonable. In the final 10 games of last season he accounted for 2 goals and 8 assists and was actually responsible for 48% of Southampton’s goals last season whilst he was on the pitch. There seemed to be a personality clash between him and Koeman last year but with Puel in charge and likely to use him at the tip of a midfield diamond he will start more than the 27 he did last year. Factor in that he is the expected free kick and penalty taker, I really do foresee an early Tadic bandwagon gathering pace. Next up is Andros Townsend. He finished on fire at the end of last season, even with Newcastle being relegated and at 6.5m he looks a budget friendly choice. Guaranteed starts and on his fair share of free kicks we are happy to see if he can take that form over to Selhurt Park. Last up is a player that I would never have expected to own but everything points to a break out season for Gerard Deulofeu. He has had a great pre season, scoring 3 goals in 4 games and in those 4 games he has started 3 as the false 9 and the other right up alongside Romelu Lukaku. It is clear the Koeman rates him and even clearer that he sees him as more of a central attacking figure. Last season he flittered in and out of games on the right wing but under Koeman we could have found ourselves a real budget friendly out of position option here. After a tough opener against Spurs they have a ridiculously favourable next 6 games. Certainly one to watch.
So onto our front line and where else to start than the biggest name in fantasy, Sergio Aguero. It’s hard enough to make a case for not owning Aguero but when his opener is at home to Sunderland I find it frankly impossible. My argument for owning Aguero has always been that it’s always easier to have him and replace him than it is to not own him and then try to bring him in. The one downside to him is obviously his fitness and given that he has failed to play more than 2,600 minutes in any of his Premier League campaigns, people will avoid. But given their opening run of games and the fact he seems fit and ready he is a must and you just have to work around the cost. He is also, unsurprisingly, our captain to start the season. Next up is a player that has well and truly carried his form from last season into pre season and that is Andre Gray. Since the day FPL launched I have been hoping Gray would stay under the radar but then he decided to score 9 in 6 this summer. He has scored more pre season goals this summer than Wayne Rooney scored Premier League goals last season! He is guarateed starts every week, is on penalties and has Swansea and Hull at home in his first 4. Strikers are at a premium this year and as one of the cheaper ones he will likely stick around here for a while. Last up is another Southampton player, Shane Long. With Graziano Pelle milking the cash cow in China it has left Long as arguably the main man up top for the South Coast outfit. Another at 6.5m he has never really been a big FPL option even though he totalled a decent 10 goals and 4 assists in just 2,100 minutes last season. His first 3 home games of the season are Watford, Sunderland and Swansea so he has a nice set of games to get off on the right foot. Also note that both Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez played for the Southampton U21’s on Tuesday so it’s fairly safe to say he will lead the line come Saturday.
So there it is, the 15 players that will hope to get the FPL Updates XI off to a flying start. The current plan is to have a team picked primarily for the first 3 GW’s and then call in the first Wildcard. If all goes to plan we may hold on a little longer. We feel we have a nice balance of expensive big names, reliable mid priced players and a couple exciting differentials but however you look at it we all know anything can happen in the Premier League. That’s what makes it so great!
My main tips for you at this stage are avoid anyone even remotely questionable for a week 1 start, avoid a cheap bench that are unlikely to start and stick with a team and be confident. There is nothing worse than seeing the player you dropped at 11.44 Saturday morning score a brace that afternoon. I will guarantee it now, you will see hundreds on Twitter saying ‘why did I take him out this morning’. Don’t be that guy. Pick a team this week, have a reason to want each player and if you don’t then drop him for someone else
Good luck to everyone and feel free to contact myself or FPL Updates for any last minute decisions you may need on either Twitter or the FPL Updates forum.
Written by FPL Guru (@FPL_Guru_)