Taking off from the pod Ep. 23 with Jake and many others on their Wildcard and Marco and me holding on to ours for dear life, it seems like a good time to take stock of the first four game weeks and to look at where we went right, the early mistakes we made, and where to go from here.

At this point this week, I have spent four points and two saved transfers in an effort to cover the biggest mistakes I made so far. Thanks to Marco’s dive into the FPL rules, I now know I can activate my Wildcard before GW5 and retrieve the 4 points I’ve spent so far on transfers this week. I was wondering about that.

But back to the mistakes… In keeping with my “cheapest starting defenders on the best teams” rule, I started with a defense of Shaw/Alexander-Arnold/Stones/Bellerin. This was a downgrade from my last pre-season draft team of Mandy/Robertson/David Luiz in order to get a midfield upgrade to Eriksen/Alli. And to add insult to injury, I got that move exactly wrong and transferred Eriksen to Alli to save a few bucks at a time perfectly calculated to get exactly zero returns out of either of them.

Against those very large strategic blunders, which cost me somewhere around forty points, I started Wan-Bissaka in GW1 and captained Aguero in GW2. Many good managers owned both (and Salah), but those two moves netted me around 20 points on the many managers who owned the same key players but didn’t play them in the same way. Owning budget returners Richarlison & Callum Wilson from the very beginning also helped me a lot.

Early this game-week with two free transfers in the bank, I sold Bellerin, Stones & Alli for Mendy, Alonso & Pereyra. I had a few hundred K in the bank but after that action, I’m left with Mendy/Alonso/Shaw/Alexander-Arnold/Wan-Bissaka in defense and Pereyra/Cairney/Mane/Salah/Pedro in the midfield with $1.2 M in the bank. As the dust settled on GW4, I’m on two red arrows in a row, 31,523th place, 5th in League Dive and first in my friends and family league–my career best ever start to an FPL season. I haven’t made any changes to my original GK pairing of Begovic/Patricio or my forward line of Jiminez/Wilson/Aguero which I count as a huge dose of fortune. I’m not super pumped about my midfield but the 1.2 in the bank will come in handy when I get my next free transfer, or two.

But though the paragraphs above have been good therapy, that’s enough about me.

From here, let’s talk about some players to consider whether or not you’re on your Wildcard. I’ve spent the last two weeks thinking about the Wildcard, so if you haven’t looked at the last two Hodge Podge chapters on the subject, I think they hold up reasonably well. Whether you had to pull the trigger early, planned all along to click the button this week, or you were lucky enough not to need a drastic overhaul at this point in the year: here are some thoughts on players you might think about going forward.

As far as this Hodge Podge tract is concerned, you’re going to have to make your peace with the glamour players on your own. I assume there isn’t a lot of mystery or lack of online resources related to the best-of-the-best FPL players you absolutely “must have” on your team. For example, on defense, in the “year of the defender (TM)”: Mendy/Alonso/Trippier/Robertson are obviously the class of the league so far. You should own two or three of them. I wish I knew which ones or how many. Aguero/Aubameyang/Kane. All? None? Two? One?

In the Midfield, I had some things to say about Salah, Mane, and Hazard last week. There should be a link at the bottom of this page, in case you’re curious.

For players with top 100K aspirations, your guess about the best premium players is as good as mine and if you’re reading this, you’ve probably given comparable quality thought to the subject as I have.

My own working theory is that I should have:

2 $4.5 M keepers that offer decent rotation

3 stud defenders;

3 stud midfielders;

Question marks on the forward line.

Jake’s take on the Ep. 23 pod–where he’s on his Wildcard and looking at an upper-limit price-point of Firmino/Lacazette/Vardy for one pick at $8.9-$9.5 M. in the forward line with two other budget choices–strikes me as eminently reasonable. My own choice is for one slightly upgraded main striker, but I can’t say that in his position, I wouldn’t make the same choice.

My own inkling, and because I’m not using my Wildcard yet and don’t have the transfer, is for one non-Kane premium forward at around $11.0 M and 2 budget strikers totaling, in my case, an original price of $11.5 M. See above; I’ve been on Jiminez/Wilson/Aguero all along.

Ignoring the keepers, I think the 3-3-1(?) mode works out pretty well for week-to-week formation flexibility while taking each week’s fixtures into account.

So, once you’ve worked out which seven, give-or-take, premium players you should choose, the rest of your season is going to turn on how you fill in the other eight spots on your roster.

If you’re still here, here are some players to consider for those other roster spots.

Goalkeeper:

Maybe I’m touched in the head, but I’m happy with my opening salvo of Begovic/Patricio. So far, the week-to-week choice between the two has been pretty obvious and the returns have been fine.

Etheridge (FUL) and McCarthy (SOU) at $4.6 & $4.5 M are currently at the top of the GK point totals.

Despite Etheridge’s 2 early GK saves which aren’t really something to bank on, he’s looked every bit as good as his point total. Four of the next six fixtures for Cardiff are really rough, though. 9 of the next 10 after that are as good a run as Cardiff is going to get all year.

McCarthy (SOU), paired with Etheridge, makes for awkward game-weeks 6 & 8, where they both have really tough fixtures, but it might be advisable to pick one of these two.

The next two $4.5 M GK’s on the points total list: Foster (WAT) and Lossl (HUD) both have completely workable fixtures over the next ten game weeks.

My own pairing of Begovic and Patricio are worth considering individually or together.

Defenders:

As with Etheridge above, there are three bad fixtures in the next five game weeks, but besides that, the four Cardiff defenders appear to be nailed on and three of them cost $4.5 M. Maybe pick one of them for one of your 2 scrub defender spots and roll with it in rotation or just go with a three-defender formation for the bad game weeks.

Holebas (WAT). Who knows? If he keeps it up, we all should buy him for $4.8. Fixtures are a little rough and he’s already almost halfway to his last-year’s points total. You can take that either way. Either he’s going to revert to last year’s form or he’s this year’s must have. I’ll take my chances and leave him off for now. But note: I tried to do the same thing with Mendy and Alonso, so you’ve been warned.

Cédric (SOU) with a $0.1 price drop at $4.4, He’s really attractive. Fixtures are mixed. Look at rotation.

Wan-Bissaka (CRY)/Bennett (WOL) at $4.1; $4.0. Both have played all the minutes they’re eligible to play. Wan-Bissaka is the more exciting of the two with a return and a red card but saving around a half-million with either of the two makes sense.

Stepping ub by $0.5 M, it looks like it’s hard to go wrong with Shaw (MUN) or Alexander-Arnold (LIV). Both are solid starters among good defenses. Shaw is looking lively for assists and (gasp) he looks somewhat confident taking a shot in a contract year. In GW4 Alexander-Arnold managed to avoid a yellow card for the first time this year, though he also managed to avoid a clean sheet for the first time this year.

Midfielders:

Where to start?

Richarlison (EVE): If you missed out on him at the beginning of the year, now’s your chance to get him for just $6.7 M and probably down another pip by the time you read this. Whichever FA sanctioned cup match is on tap for Everton looks like it will soak up one of the three games of his suspension for the faux head-butt. I shopped him for Pedro (then $6.7; CHE), but if Pedro looks like he’s becoming a super-sub, I’ll burn a free transfer to reverse that move and, perhaps save $0.1.

Schürrle ($5.9) & Seri ($5.4) (FUL): It depends on what you think Fulham really is. If you think Fulham is really the team of the first two games, avoid. If you think they just needed to get a couple of Premiership games behind them to get their mojo on, there should be some goals to come. Cairney at ($4.9) is there, too.

Pereyra (WAT; $6.3): Currently in my team. A GW1 auto-pick for my 9-year-old nephew has come in really good and Watford is doing really well. I don’t know how they do it, but the auto-pick function at the FPL site is no joke. Even if you don’t take their advice, it’s always worth checking out their suggestions.

Maddison & Gray (LEI; $6.5 & $5.5): These two players have returned this year already and it looks like Vardy is back from suspension, amping up the Leister attack that these guys feed.

Guendouzi ($4.5 ARS): Rock-bottom starter on a decent team

Kanté ($5.0 CHE): Admittedly, as with the ‘doozy we’re in “blind squirrel” territory here, but they’re both super-cheap and they’ll both probably find a nut here and there this year.

Forwards:

Mitrovic ($6.7 FUL): See above. If you believe in Fulham, get him.

Wilson ($6.2 BOU): Has better fixtures than Fulham. Too bad he missed his GW1 penalty because it looks like Josh King ($6.4) is taking them now.

Jiminez ($5.5 WOL): Has one goal so far. He also had a goal called offside by about a foot and stood on a ball caught in the spokes for what might have been a sitter.

Deeny ($6.1 WAT): Fat Drake (OK. Uncharitable, but funny) may be a really good buy. Two rough fixtures in the next three, but he scored on Tottenham at home. Give him a look. He’s a baller. Also, given Watford’s 4-win start, the official FPL site may be under-estimating Watford’s strength against their schedule in the fixture list.

Ings ($5.6 SOU): There really isn’t an awesome run of fixtures for Southampton anywhere in the calendar this season, but he may turn out to be a good budget striker combination in rotation with someone else you can live with.

Murray ($6.5 BRI): I love him for his magic trick goal against De Gea in GW2. That was awesome. He’s also on penalties. The next three weeks are rough, but the next 9 game weeks after that are the best run Brighton are going to get this season. At the price, I’d take Deeny or Wilson before Murray.

Well that’s what I think this week.

 

That, and You should dive!

 

J

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