A lot of what I’ve heard from the top players is that having a strong start sets you up for the rest of the season. In order to have a strong start, you need a strong plan. Much like everyone else, all of my drafts haven’t been anywhere near what I considered perfect. I just couldn’t afford the “essentials” and a good bench – so I have decided to focus on the fixtures and make a plan first. After a few days of checking Ben Crellin’s spreadsheets and weighing up my options, I’ve decided to, at least the first 4 gameweeks, have a team focused entirely on my first 11 and not worrying about who was on my bench. What I did learn last season was to be patient as the value cheap players would become evident after a few gameweeks and I’m putting this lesson to use this year.

Obviously, 5 of my first 11 will be a mix of Liverpool and Man City players, leaving 6 spaces for me to fill. I’ve got a bench of mostly fodder at 18m with Sheffield Uniteds McGoldrick the only player above 4.5 and the only player I’d expect to play, so I just in case one of my players doesn’t play, I will have a team of 11.

Despite ending the season badly last season, Brighton has one of the best starts according to the FDR, playing Watford, West Ham and Southampton in the first 3 before a trip to Man City. Arsenal also have a great start, playing a team in turmoil away at Newcastle first game of the season. No Rafa, no Rondon and no Perez, as a local lad to the Toon, it’s very much a team bereft of any sort of attacking threat which makes Arsenal defensive assets look a solid pick. Another plus is that when Arsenals fixtures turn in GW3, Chelsea’s fixtures face the reverse and get easier so for those that can roll a transfer, it looks an easy transfer to plan ahead for. As of now my team currently has Ryan and Koscielny, but Holding at 4.5, if he can get fit ahead of the season, could be of great value and provide the extra 0.5 to upgrade Ryan to Leno if wanted.

Everton undoubtedly have the best start of season, facing no big 6 teams until gameweek 7. You can make a case for considering a triple up of their players. As of now I only have Sigurdsson, but Digne, Pickford and Richarlison could easily be in my squad come the start of the season.

Much like Arsenal, Bournemouth’s first 3 games are also fantastic. Two of the newly promoted teams await them and their prized assets are wonderfully undervalued. Their defence isn’t worth considering but a double up of Fraser/Brooks/Wilson/King is where I’m looking.

Teams I won’t be starting with their players but I am considering after gameweek 1 are West Ham (GW2-5), Watford and Leicester (GW 3 and 4). Zaha currently occupies the final spot in my team as whether he is at Palace or Arsenal, his fixtures to start are definitely worth having him in for.

Come the end of the first international break, either my plan to forget the bench will have paid off and my wildcard will allow me to then bring in anyone I missed out on before or it will allow me to fix my team and set me on the right path. Hopefully I won’t be playing catch up from October.

Go Raptors!

By Bobby Love

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