The FantasyYIRMA.com website is open to Guest Post articles over the summer. Pleased to feature friend of the site @JamesMartin013 with his preview of the season and a walk-through on his thought process as he builds out his initial squad. (Which I am sure will change 20 times between now and Gameweek 1) If you would like to submit a guest post for the site email us at FantasyYIRMA@hotmail.com or contact us on twitter at @FantasyYIRMA
Fantasy Premier League 2016/17: Preview
Here we are again. Having sworn to myself multiple times that I’m ‘so done’ with FPL, I appear to have once again registered a team within hours of the site launch. It’s rage-inducing, it’s infuriating, it’s even a bit unfair at times* – but most importantly, it’s back. Perhaps it’s something about the way it makes Match of the Day interesting right to the very end that makes it so addictive, or perhaps it is that feeling of immense smugness that only a risky captaincy paying off can bring. Whatever it is, the endless tweaking and tinkering has already begun: fantasy season is upon us.
One of the biggest headaches when making the initial squad is trying to establish who will get game time. The three promoted teams are all largely unknowns for most people – minutes played, stats from last season are useful to a point, but there are certainly no guarantees. At the moment Abel Hernandez and Tom Heaton sit as the sole newly promoted players in my side, and they are occupying the bench: there are undoubtedly some bargains hidden away in the squads of Burnley, Hull and Middlesbrough, but they are undoubtedly tough to find at this stage
By all means take a gamble, but I would recommend erring on the side of caution at this point and waiting to see who plays and impresses in the opening weeks. A similar dilemma is posed by new signings: the big names in particular can be a lure too strong to resist. Depay and Firmino both featured in a lot of early squads last year, and the options are even harder to ignore this time out: Zlatan Ibrahimović and Heinrich Mkhitaryan jump out at you from the transfers page. However, with reputation comes price: at 11.5 and 9.5 respectively, they represent huge outlays considering all of the unknowns. Will they adapt to the Premier League well? Will they suit the team’s style? Will they even be guaranteed starts?
Perhaps I’m simply too cautious, but as with the newly-promoted players I have not gone to town with the new signings: Joel Matip, who starts against an Arsenal side still missing the majority of attacking options after international tournaments, and Nathan Redmond. Even these could backfire, as a Sakho-Lovren starting pairing isn’t exactly implausible and the Southampton line-up is hard to predict considering the change in personnel and management – overloading your FPL squad with summer additions will likely backfire.
There is also the classic dilemma of team allegiance. I tend to load up on Liverpool, my team, as I hate being conflicted – FPL is great as an enhancement to watching the Premier League, but when part of you isn’t backing your own side then it stops being fun. That said, I also take my fantasy seriously; it’s about trying to strike the balance that allows you to support your team in peace, but doesn’t hinder your FPL prospects too badly. In my case this usually takes the form of not captaining people who face Liverpool, or perhaps benching them – inevitably there will be conflicts of interest, but it’s worth considering priorities. It also gives a nice excuse when things go wrong: without my Liverpool bias I’d probably have won for the last three years running!
Finally, it is worth giving significant consideration to how you want to distribute your budget. As ever it is £100 million: for what it’s worth, I think the bulk of the investment should go into the defence and the attack. As per previous years I have been left uninspired by the mid-range midfielders, with the exception of Willian at a very reasonable 7.5 – instead I have bought a couple of the lower-end premium players (Eriksen and Coutinho) and filled the other slots with budget options. This has left me with money to invest in two top quality strikers, who traditionally rake in the most points year on year, and a solid defence that should be able to chip in with fairly consistent clean sheets. Regarding the defence, full backs are generally preferable if they are guaranteed game time – they have more potential for assists. As such, Azpilicueta, Cedric and Walker all feature in my back line for GW1; the Chelsea man improved upon his attacking output last season, and the latter two are regularly found high up the pitch.
With all of this in mind, I think my team is in pretty good shape at the moment. There will undoubtedly be more tinkering before a ball has even been kicked, but at the moment I will be heading into the opening weekend with a team that looks like this:
The aforementioned Liverpool bias is clear to see, but there is method to the madness – I genuinely believe Arsenal could be in for a torrid time with their depleted opening day squad, and the subsequent fixtures look fairly kind for the Reds too. The Watson shout may also be raising a few eyebrows, but he scored fairly well last season and in any case is very much a facilitator – his 4.5 price tag allowed me to be more extravagant elsewhere. The keepers, as yet undiscussed, both seemed very good value and will probably be rotated week on week based on fixtures.
To summarise: play it safe early on with new signings and newly promoted teams, go big on defence and attack, stick to full backs, and most importantly make sure it stays fun! I hope this has been useful to some of you, although I don’t claim to be an expert – feel free to comment with any adaptations you’d make to my team, or else share your own team with me. You’ll find me on Twitter @JamesMartin013.
*That ball touched Silva on its way in, it was his goal! (Ed. Let it go James…let it go)