Fantasy League – Who To Pick #1

by Fantasy Phil

Fantasy Football is well and truly back!

Picking your team, arguing with your mates and work colleagues over who’s the better player, who’ll be the buy of the season or who’s a complete waste of money. At this time you’ll be setting up your leagues, and tinkering with your fifteen man squad before the August 15th deadline comes around. The expert on the matter here on BPF, “Fantasy Phil”, takes a look at who to avoid, and who to buy ahead of this season’s big kick-off.

You’re free to join BPF’s league, the code is 1493-92619! Register at the site, set up your team then go to “Manage Leagues” > “Create / Join”. If you’re new, have a read of the rules, and if you’re a veteran you might need to get up to date on the game’s newest changes:

  • “Vice-Captain” feature
  • Unused free transfer goes into the next Gameweek
  • New private “Head To Head” leagues

GOALKEEPERS

This spot has already displayed some interesting selections, going by player’s squads and FPL’s stats. ‘Keeper regulars: Pepe Reina, Petr Cech and Edwin van der Sar, have suffered a major drop in squad choices. This could be down to the rather expensive 6.5 price tag, or perhaps there’s a better deal to be had elsewhere. Mark Schwarzer – last season’s top points scorer – looks good at only 5.5, and has attracted an amazing 27% of the players thus far. The question of whether or not Fulham can keep up their great form will be asked, and if they do the Aussie will be a fantastic alternative to one of the top four ‘keepers.

Premier League: Manchester City Draw At Anfield

Shay Given, Man City’s #1, also looks good at 5.5. The Eastlands side will be looking to break the top four this year, and with a decent defense in front of the Irishman he could be the safest choice for players who are avoiding the top four goalies – and has already attracted over 20% of the selections at the time of writing. In between the above price tags you could opt for Tim Howard. He had a fantastic summer at the Confederations, and could be a consistent point scorer at 6.0, judging by his shot stopping stats.

For substitute ‘keeper, look no further than in the 4.0 category, don’t stretch farther than 4.5 if you’ve selected a guarenteed first choice goalie. England U21 hero – Joe Hart – is a big favourite amongst the players at a bottom priced 4.0, amassing over 20% of the attention. After his loan move to Birmingham, the clean sheet points might not be a dead cert but his shot stopping ability can’t be matched at that price. Alternatives to him might include Stoke’s Thomas Sorensen – who scored 143 points last year, 9th highest of the lot. If you’re stretching to 4.5, look no further than Jussi Jaaskelainen, or perhaps Paul Robinson. All guarenteed #1s at their respective clubs.

DEFENDERS

Football - Manchester United v Arsenal Barclays Premier League

When your shopping for defenders, it is important to include as many top four players as you can, rest assured the top clubs will get the clean sheet points. At Man Utd, Nemanja Vidic ammased the most points last year and thus is the most expensive, with a steep 8.0 price tag. Meanwhile Patrice Evra looks a better bet at 6.5. He is all but guarenteed a place, and is a cheaper alternative to his Serbian teammate, while sharing the same clean sheet haul. Avoid putting your eggs on one of their right backs, it’s not clear which of O’ Shea, Brown or Fabio will get the nod next year. Nonetheless, Big John might be a bargain at 5.5 if he lands the spot.

At Liverpool, it’s hard to look further than Carragher if you want an Anfield defender in your team. Carra is 7.0, and his consistancy can’t be questioned in FPL. Liverpool could be without Aurelio and Skrtel on August 15th, so Danny Agger at 6.5 might be a cheaper alternative, or even Emiliano Insua at 6.0. New boy Glen Johnson is expected to shine at his new club, and might be a good points scorer with a feast of clean sheets, a couple of assists, and maybe a goal or two on hand. But difficult to stretch to his 7.5 pricing.

Chelsea are in an interesting situation defensively wise. Jose Boswinga was top of their pile last season, but faded towards the end. No doubt he’s good for a few assists and maybe even a goal, at 7.5. Also at that price is John Terry, if you’d prefer to opt for the England captain who will be keen to prove his recent commitements. One of the top performers of last season on the field was Ashley Cole, and he goes for 7.0, but for me the shrewdest move of all could be Yuri Zhirkov at 7.5. Expensive, but the Russian is sure to start at left wing rather than in defense. He’ll be in a spot to score goals and assists, while qualifying for clean sheet points too. If you read Kevin’s article on the new man, it might sway your decision further.

If Arsenal can improve, and keep a consistent clean sheet haul, their defense might be worth a shout. All their starters are at  6.5 – Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Bacary Sagna and new boy Thomas Vermaelen. Going by FPL’s stats, none of these players are attracting much attention. Clichy is the highest at just 5%. If the Frenchman gets injured be sure to move swiftly for Kieran Gibbs, the young left back who at just 5.0 would be a great and cheap option from a top four club – even for the bench.

Outside the top four, Fulham’s Brede Hangeland is a huge favourite amongst the FPL players. He seems to be the top defensive attraction, the big Norwegian is in over 30% of the squads. No surprises, he’s at a nice 5.5. Joleon Lescott is another favourite, the Everton defender usually comes up with a couple of goals but is expensive at 7.5. Aaron Hughes, also of Fulham, could be a decent option at just 5.0, he scored 136 points last year and might be a cheap selection to fill in your starting eleven. Gary Cahill, Stephen Warnock and Luke Young all strong contenders at 5.0, also.

For those cheap players to fill in your squad, Abdoulaye Faye is a good option at 4.5, with 10% of the spoils. Maynor Figueroa, is another strong option at the same price, as well as Titus Bramble who has over 17% of selections. You can’t get a lot in a point scoring defender for 4.0, Kamil Zayette was the highest last year but only a measly 82 points. One of the newly promoted Wolves players would be a good option – they’ve a great opening fixture list and may surprise.

Players to note that I haven’t already mentioned – Phil Jagielka, who is injured as we go into the new season, but a decent 6.0 bet when he comes back. Vedran Corluka – all depending how Spurs perform – will be a very good option at 5.5. West Ham are improving a lot under Zola, so Matt Upson would be a decent buy at 5.5, along with young Tomkins who is at 4.5.

As people have already mentioned, it’s very important to note that a number of clubs will be missing on Gameweek 2. Arsenal, Everton, West Ham, Bolton, Man City and Aston Villa will all be out of action due to commitments in Europe, so if you want to keep up with the points it’ll be wise to base your squad around this. Of course it’s not necessary, these games will be played further down the line.

And that was a very in depht look at your back line and goalkeeper choices – at this stage you should have that part of the field more or less completed. Look forward to the midfield and striker guide, coming in the next few days, and you’ll be ready to take on the Fantasy League action on Gameweek 1.

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Fantasy Phil

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