Instead of focusing on analyzing individual players or teams I have a few articles on building your team for the first Gameweek.
Building the perfect team is tricky, to say the least, and is based on so many personal preferences. Building my “perfect” team would be of little value to many. Instead, I will focus on how to build a team based on certain prerequisites. This means we can try to carve out some valuable information, given certain tastes in building your team.
In the first one, I’ll focus on how to build your team with a top heavy base. We’ll choose the elite strikers as given and see how we can manipulate the team around them.
The Elite Pool
The tope five strikers from last season were (with current prices in parentheses and last season’s score after the colon):
- Van Persie (RvP) (£13.0): 269
- Rooney (£12.0): 230
- Aguero (£11.5): 211
- Adebayor (£9.5): 194
- Ba (£7.5): 165
To the list we also add Torres (£10.0), who despite scoring only 92 points last season, is considered to be part of the elite by many a Fantasy manager.
From the six strikers we first eliminate Ba, as his price isn’t high enough for our purposes. We want to pick expensive strikers to see how that choice shapes the rest of the team. Adebayor’s expected transfer to Tottenham seems to be in jeopardy so he’s ruled out.
With RvP a confirmed United transfer, it puts a big question mark over how it will impact the Fantasy potential of both Rooney and RvP. United will likely line up with RvP up front and Rooney playing behind. They should be lethal and for the sake of this team building excercise we will assume that both forwards will benefit from the partnership. I can see Ferguson leaving RvP out of the team on Gameweek 1 and will therefore build the team with Rooney.
This leaves us with a strikeforce of Rooney, Aguero, and Torres. Few would argue with the inclusion of Rooney or Aguero, but Torres seems the odd one out. But with Chelsea’s double Gameweek 1, he seems a logical bet. Arguments for RvP or Tevez instead of Rooney or Aguero are valid but we’ll opt for the more settled options. Both are easily interchangeable.
That’s a total of £33.5, a little over one third of our transfer budget for three out of fifteen players. This means we have to pick several budget options in midfield and defence to accommodate our star studded forwards.
We have £66.5 left for twelve players or on average just over £5.5 on average per player. This means that if we are to pick up any heavy-hitters we need several players priced at £4.0 or £4.5.
Trawling through midfielders priced under £5.0 does not make for a pleasent experience. Few are guaranteed playing time. Fewer have any Fantasy promise. However, playing defenders under £5.0 are plentiful. Thus, we’ll look to build a budget defence with to accommodate some attacking potential in our midfield.
Defence and Goalkeepers
Let’s start with the budget defence:
- George McCartney, one of West Ham’s summer signings, can be had for only 4.0. West Ham has a kind opening schedule on paper (qpr, WHM, SUN, avl, EVE, sto) which could return 2 – 4 clean sheets.
- Another £4.0 that has the opening fixtures on his side is Reading’s Mariappa. Brought in by McDermott for decent money in the summer I’m wagering that he will start the season for the Royals. I don’t love their opening schedule, apart from the double Gameweek 1. For only £4.0, it’s worth a shout to take a punt and play Mariappa.
- For only £5.0, Brede Hangeland is seems like a great value pick. Despite delivering neither a goal nor an assist last season, the towering Norwegian scored six goals and made one assist in the 2010/2011 season. He clearly has the potential for goals. Add to that his consistency, having played almost or over 3000 minutes in the last four seasons, and Fulham’s settled defensive record, Hangeland could surprise many this season. Fulham play NOR, whm, WBA, and wig in the first five Gameweeks which translates to a high likelihood of clean sheets.
- The unlikeliest of the bunch is left-back Fabio, on loan at QPR from Manchester United. Presumably, Fabio was loaned with the guarantee of game time, and Mark Hughes has been playing the versatile Brazilian both in defence and in midfield in the pre-season friendlies. He’s a punt for the first two Gameweeks (SWA, nor) as Gameweeks 3 – 5 see QPR face mci, CHE, and tot.
- Sunderland’s season turned around under Martin O’Neill last season and his teams tend to be solid. O’Neill brought in Carlos Cuellar this summer and he’ll likely start the season playing after news that Bardsley was out with an ankle injury. Bench him for the opening game away at Arsenal but he’s playable in the next five games.
- To complement the budget defence I’m opting for a David de Gea in goal. For the first time in years, the numbers tell us that having rotating budget keepers is not the obvious strategy. To save money, we’ll have to pick a £4.0 goalkeeper, which means a backup choice. Any will do.
Other choices who were left out but worth considering at £5.0 or under are Stephen Taylor (NEW), Nathan Clyne (SOU), and Ashley Williams (SWA).
The defenders and goalkeepers cost us a total of a meager £32.0, which leaves a more healthy £34.5 for midfield options.
To enable us to pick two heavy-hitters in midfield we again have to look at the budget options at £6.0 or less:
- I touched on West Ham’s amiable schedule earlier. We’ll capitalize on that with the cheap option of Mark Noble. At £5.0 he’s as good as it gets. He’s a guaranteed starter, is on penalties and set pieces, and scored eight goals and delivered nine assists in 48 appearances last season.
- Another budget options who could well be on penalties is Wigan’s Shaun Maloney (£5.0). He returned 52 points (three goals, two assists, and seven bonus points) in only 772 minutes, starring for Wigan in the latter part of the season after settling in.
- To round out the budget options we’ll take a punt with a possible huge upside in Adel Taraabt. He comes in at£ 6.0 and a hope of being able to shine in Mark Hughes’s QPR setup. He showed signs fulfililng his often touted potential under Hughes, after having underperformed for Neil Warnock. He’s likely to be afforded a free role behind Cissé, with Park and Derry compensating defensively.
For the heavy hitters there are several options. I considered but did not pick:
- Silva as he is a long-term options but could be rested for the first Gameweek.
- Dempsey we avoid because his future is still unsure.
- Uncertainties surround Manchester United’s starting midfield, with Valencia, Nani, Kagawa, and Young all in with a decent shout. Besides, we have United cover in Rooney.
To capitalize on Chelsea’s double Gameweek, Mata gets into our team at £9.5. Another option is Eden Hazard at the same price. I like the bet on Mata’s consistency after an excellent last season.
That leaves us with £9.0 that we’ll spend on Van der Vaart (VdV). We had no Tottenham cover and they enjoy easy fixtures for their start to the season. VdV is a proven Fantasy performer with double-digit goals in his two seasons in England. With this lineup of defensive gambles I like the pick of VdV better than the risk of Sigurdsson at a new club.
This rounds out our top-heavy team. This experiment is meant to highlight the choices we need to make to accommodate the expensive strikers. The disadvantages are obvious:
- We don’t have a Manchester City defender which could prove costly.
- We’ll have to play budget punts in the first few Gameweeks. Even if we decide to change strategies, we’ll need several weeks to ship players out and in unless we spend the Wildcard early.
The upside could be huge. Should the three strikers come good from the start you can afford defenders not keeping clean sheets, especially if your captain delivers. Having both Aguero and Rooney allows us to rotate the captain’s armband to a proven striker playing at home since the Manchester teams never play at home in the same Gameweek.
Stay tuned for the next team building experiment tonight.