PREFACE:

I sincerely sympathize with Jacob Klos, Manager of Arsene’s Replacement and an astute observer of the FPL landscape. Really, I do. His insights into the game have helped me immeasurably. But if what I’m looking at in the League Dive standings is real, it’s epic.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself on Saturday night (4 points spent on 3 transfers, including Mendy who didn’t even make an appearace/43 points/two players yet to play), when I decided to peruse the League Dive standings. Congratulations to Marco, manager of the League Dive Pod team on an excellent week! Fraser & Silva were truly inspired choices. Now all I need is nine goals from Jimenez (WAT; $5.5) tomorrow and we’re tied!

I consider myself a fast starter in FPL–I’m reasonably good at the science of how the FPL game works: the money, the fixtures, etc.; and less good at the art of football–and I have profited greatly from listening to Jake and Marco discuss the sweet science of soccer.

So, holding on to my Wildcard for dear life and looking at another average FPL game week, I listened intently to the dueling perspectives of the two Art of the Dive managers discuss the divergent perspectives of managers who were using the Wildcard chip and who were holding it in reserve in the TAOTD podcasts Ep.23 & 24.

You probably recall that the a main subject of the last two episodes of The Art of the Dive podcast has been what Jake would do with his planned GW4 International Break Wildcard.

Unless there has been a huge mistake in either my vision, cognitive function, or the FPL API, what I found while checking the League Dive standings is a combination of truly shocking/tragedy/comedy/cautionary tale/epic fail/you-should-never-do-this that I had to totally rewrite this week’s Hodge Podge to bring it up.

It looks like Jake made twenty transfers over the last two weeks and DIDN’T HIT THE FRACKING BUTTON!

By all appearances, and I really hope I’m wrong, that means Jake took an 80 point hit on twenty transfers and didn’t actually use his Wildcard this week.

An 80 point hit has to be a record.

Never mind. Who am I kidding? I’m sure someone out there somewhere, one time, got pissed and pissed off enough that they burned all of their 1,852 points for the season in GW37 to make it official, but still; You can replace all 15 of the players you’re allowed to own in FPL for only 60 points, so, for someone who still cares and was off to a good start, burning 80 points makes the Hindenburg look like a weenie roast where only 36 people died.

So I’d like to offer you the first rule of Wildcard; Let’s call it Jake’s rule:

The first rule of Wildcard is: You have to use the Wildcard.

The bad news for me anyway, is that I’m on a massive red arrow, and barring the aforementioned 9 goals from Jimenez, on schedule to exit the top 100K, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that I didn’t take minus 80 points.

UPDATE: Jimenez got the game winning goal and 2 bonus points to get me over 50 for the week and back in the top 100K for now despite the points hit.

Seriously, I don’t want to pile on Jake. We have Marco for that. I feel for the guy. He knows the FPL game and the on-the-field EPL game and he goes out of his way to help us all out on a week-to-week basis.

The consolation for us both is: We still have our Wildcard!

I offer this missive not as a taunt to Jake, but as a challenge. I do this partly because I really can’t imagine the horror he went through when he realized “OMFG I didn’t click the button,” but partly as a challenge. Catch me by the end of the year. You can do it! Now, he needs to re-adjust his goals and aim for a top 100K finish. I think he can do it. Barring that, he should aim to finish ahead of me. I’m even more certain that he can do that.

That’s enough about Jake’s Rule…

Here’s what I wanted to talk about this week.

Going forward: an insane number of middling teams have runs of really good fixtures between now and the end of the year, when you get another Wildcard. In the list below, the stars (*) represent tough games in the middle of an otherwise good run of match-ups.

I’m not saying you should have 15 guys on these teams. My working theory is that you need:

2 $4.5 GK’s

3 Stud Defenders

3 Stud Midfielders

1 Stud Forward

This isn’t a random formulation. The FPL game mandates that you have to start a GK, 3 Defenders, 2 Midfielders, and a Forward. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone go with a 5-2-3, but they’ll let you do it. If you have a solid core in the 3-3-1 formation, with two keepers selected for rotation and six other dudes that play solid minutes and who can deliver a result on any average game week, you’re in a good place.

If you buy this general theory, it means you need 6 budget players who are completely reliable in terms of minutes played and offer a decent prospect of kicking in some returns here and there with FPL formation flexibility and fixtures in mind. Champion’s League is starting and some of your glamor seven are going to miss an EPL fixture here and there so it’s really important that you have something to fall back on.

Marco and Jake do a great job of talking through the glamor players, and that’s where the bread is buttered in the FPL. After that, the six guys you choose to fill out your squad deliver the mail, too.

With that in mind, it looks like the fixture list is completely saturated with bottom-half teams playing each other through the end of 2018.

Take a look, here is a sampling of really good fixture runs for non-elite teams:

Date: GW: Opponent: FPL fixture Rating:

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 8.58.56 PMScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 8.59.03 PMScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 8.59.09 PM

 

Wat

Given Watford’s start to the season, and the fact that the FPL site doesn’t update fixture rating numbers, it’s possible that Watford is better than these numbers. I really need to dive into FPL_Jim’s Fixture Ticker V2.0 [LINK], because based on what I’m hearing, it’s a real revolution on how to broaden your mind on the run-of-the-mill stats that the FPL site provides.

Ham.png

…and it doesn’t really end there for West Ham, but because this post only covers the FPL season to the end of calendar year 2018…

To be continued.

I’m generally really high on the Cardiff defense and if West Ham gets it together, look out.

And always remember: You should dive!

 

My team: https://fantasy.premierleague.com/a/team/318573/event/5

 

Transfers: Cairney for Fraser, mostly to avoid an eminent Cairney price drop and to take advantage of the Fraser bandwagon price increase. My next free transfer looks like Pedro for Richarlison, reversing the move I made when Richarlison got his three match ban and pocketing $0.1 in real cash in the process.

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