BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 21)

Welcome one and all.

We’re back again as the fantasy football gameweeks come in thick and fast. No sooner does one end, the next begins at barely 48 hours notice. It’s superb stuff but will test squads, strategies and manager mindset to the max. We are now starting to see injuries become a huge sticking part in the selection process as we’ll get onto.

It was another excellent week for my team racking up 54 points in a week’s average of 42. We are edging closer to the summit in the all important office table, a mere 3 points off the top spot. And tellingly, the man who has been top for a large portion of the season has now relinquished his perch after a shakey couple of weeks – Signs of title race pressure starting to show in some camps.

From my perspective, I’m relishing a title race. The season overall has been very good so far as we pass the half way point and into the nitty-gritty. But when I look back, I can’t help but rue the week Tottenham’s game was postponed which was, typically, the cup qualification round which we subsequently failed to make – That week still irks.

The big news from GW20 was another injury. This time to Harry Kane, adding to the premium priced player injury list which includes also Kevin De Bruyne, Vardy, Aguero and Aubameyang. The players seem to be dropping like flys now which does happen at this stage of the season, mainly due to the amount of games. This means the deferential players are going to have a huge say in everyone’s next game week totals and respective leagues. By deferential, I mean the lesser priced players that have less chance to be duplicated in yours and your opponents team. With the lack of standard big hitters that most select available, it’s really going to come down to a mixture of clever selection and, of course, good luck.

Looking at the striking options available now that Kane has took a tumble, it seems very limited. This is, in part, due to the bizarre Fantasy Premier League player positioning set out at the start of the season. Salah, Rashford, Son, Mané and Aubameyang are all down as midfielders when we all know they are clearly forwards. The go to formation for fantasy managers has been 5 across midfield for this sole reason, whoever was in charge of selecting player positions at Fantasy HQ has had a stinker this year.

KANE

Replacing Kane looks like it’s going to be a far tougher task than it was to change KDB last week so, with that in mind and similar to the last week’s question, my need to know this week is for those with Kane in their side.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO REPLACE HARRY KANE?

Simple answer for me is I HAVEN’T A POT OF GLUE. And we must remember, as I write this, Kane hasn’t definitely been ruled out yet. So is it worth the risk in keeping him in? Maybe. He’s such a focal point to Spurs attack and many fantasy Premier League teams. Another question mark now has to be laid at the feet of his Tottenham strike partner, Son. The South Korean will now carry that extra burden in the Spurs team and so much of his good work is due to his balanced partnership with Kane. Can he cope without him? I’m not so sure. The one thing I do know is, I won’t be taking the risk on Kane. In my eyes, he’s ruled out and needs replaced. A few minuses are on the cards in terms of my transfer activity that’s for sure.

LOOKING AHEAD

Manchester City’s favourable run of fixtures will continue when they entertain Sheffield United. Without KDB in their side, Pep’s usually erratic rotated selections should be a lot more controlled and slightly easier to predict. The cheap option of Gundugan has been an outstanding point source of late.

Other fixtures to keep an eye on would be Chelsea at home to Burnley and possibly Leicester home to Leeds. It pains me to say it, but also Everton at home to a Newcastle side who are bereft of any sort of cohesion, form or quality. But, as mentioned before, the main thing this week is the Kane conundrum. That’s the key battle ground and whoever gets it right could be set to make good gains.

THIS WEEKS PICKS

I’ve taken a -8 straight on the chin this week and it looks like that could become a regular occurrence. My team is strong but my squad isn’t. Even after the minus, am I satisfied with my team? No. It lacks striking prowess in the absence of Kane. The midfield is full of great talent who could/should be great but haven’t really lived up to expectations so far this season. Mané, Sterling and Paul Pogba have the potential to offer big scores week in week out but have so far failed to do that consistently. Just a quick side note on Pogba in particular – He was only meant to a temporary inclusion in my side but changes elsewhere means he stays in this week. You can’t help but feel for a midfielder of his size, stature and obvious ability that he should be a point scorer in the bracket of a KBD or a Salah. It just never seems to happen. Whether that’s down to his off field activities, his mindset or maybe he’s just been overrated and isn’t as good as people make out. I’m not sure of the latter. He was sensational at Juventus and the 2018 World Cup with France. Who knows, strange player to work out. Anyway, taking him out my team would’ve meant a -12 and I always try to limit myself to -8 at the absolute max.

My -8 three changes are

IN: Davis – OUT: Kane (frees up funds)

IN: Chilwell – OUT: Bernardo

IN: Mané – OUT: Smith-Rowe

With the lack of striking options available, I’ve gone for a tactic many have used this season – Bolstering up the defence. Defenders have been an excellent point source this year so I’m going to try and cash in this week.

Sterling will be the captain, with Fernandes (who did nothing with the armband last time out) vice. Wilson remains the sole Toon player on board but will have to make do with a place on the bench such is Newcastle’s terrible form.

BALL DOWN, PLAY.

GW21 squad selection.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 20)

WOW.

If you could ask for the perfect double game week what would it be? 144 points and cutting a 70 point deficit at the top of the office mini league to just 19 has got to be right up there.

In a game week average of 74 we used the wildcard to perfection to double up in key areas and take full advantage. I asked last week what would be considered a good or acceptable game week score having used a main chip. I think we have exceeded expectations slightly here. At one point in the week we sat on roughly 110 points with 7 players left to play. Outstanding effort.

I’ll probably never have a week like it again. And that’s the important thing to remember and consider – keeping feet firmly on the ground. Yes the strategy worked but your only as good as your next week’s score. Finding the right strategy week after week is the main thing and not letting previous week’s great work go to waste. Others had great weeks too, it was a high scoring week (as doublers usually are) so it was just lucky we managed to get into the higher echelons of it, winning some key deferential battles which can always go either way.

27 points for John Stones alone has to be mentioned. 2 goals, 2 clean sheets and 2 win bonuses for a defender in a single game week is probably unprecedented.

LOOKING AHEAD.

After the chaos of gameweek’s 18 and 19 we finally have a standard fixture week ahead of us – although it is a midweeker. The two fixtures for big potential point scores have to be Man United at home to Sheffield United and Man City away to West Brom.

From City’s perspective and fantasy football managers all over the world, the big news going into this week is that Kevin De Bruyne will be out for a couple of months. He’s in a large percentage of teams including mine and is obviously a premium priced player who will need replaced. So my question this week is for those who have KDB in their side?

DO YOU PLAN TO REPLACE KDB LIKE FOR LIKE PREMIUM PRICE OR USE THE EXTRA FUNDS IT WILL GENERATE TO BOLSTER YOUR TEAM IN OTHER AREAS?

If you’re are looking to bolster, this will be clearly dependant on how many transfers and potential minus point hits you’re willing to take and also if changes due to injuries or suspensions are needed elsewhere. Me personally, I’ve got 1 or two injury worries so it looks like I’ll be taking at least one negative this week, will I swap KDB like for like? I’m not sure yet. None of the other premium priced players in midfield seem to be really setting the world alight at the moment. Heung Min Son will be coming back in at some point but Tottenham’s tough match against Liverpool has halted that for at least a week.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

2 changes this week for our lads meaning a -4 right on the chin. As just mentioned, the injury to Kevin De Bruyne has forced my hand a little bit but, in a way, I’m pleased about that. We don’t have the will he/won’t he play conundrum and whether to risk keeping him in or not.

Rahim Sterling comes in. I know Sterling hasn’t had the best of seasons but if he plays, he’s always likely to chip in with a goal or an assist – with KBD out, you’ve got to fancy Pep picking him this week.

The 2nd transfer is a funny one. Probably for this week only, Paul Pogba comes in for Marcus Rashford. Rashford hobbled off with a knee injury in Man United’s FA CUP match so I don’t want to take the risk of him playing or not. Pogba has finally hit a bit of form of late and home to Sheffield United is a welcoming fixture. Bit of a gamble but hoping it will pay off.

With those two transfers in place it leaves a massive 3.4 million pounds in the kitty which will give us big options in the coming weeks and in enable us to play the form guide properly.

In terms of captaincy, Fernandez will take the armband with Sterling the backup.

And finally I’ve persisted with Wilson as the sole TOON representative this week – God only knows why, but at least they have a home match eh.

PASS AND MOVE LADS.

| WAYNE ROONEY |

When Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from football yesterday I had a strange, overriding feeling I just couldn’t pinpoint or get my head around.

I don’t support Man United and I don’t really care that much about England. So why was I bothered? I began to think and it soon became apparent that Rooney (for all he is or isn’t, was or wasn’t) is my generation, my era in a nutshell. We are of similar age and there’s perhaps a sorry realisation my own amateur football days are coming to an end. Maybe his finish closes the book on everyone our age’s football playing endeavours, I don’t know. Whether that’s it or not I’ve seen Rooney’s entire career unfold, properly. All of it. Start to finish.

ROONEY.

Wayne Rooney finished his career Manchester United’s and England’s all time leading goalscorer and is decorated, winning everything at club level multiple times. It’s an astonishing haul. And yet, he still divides opinion more than any other player.

From the burst onto the scene 16 year old sensation, the prime serial Premier League winner to the winding down questions asked, question marked Rooney. That unfortunate stage they all go through, him more than most. I feel like I’ve been on his journey.

I never made a concerted effort to follow Wayne Rooney’s career, it followed me and you couldn’t escape it. The ravaging, unforgiving English press pack – Overhyping, overexciting and sensationalising. The saviour, the golden boy, the next…………. England get knocked out. Rooney’s fault. Quickly knocked off the perch they have created themselves all in the name of fast newspaper-selling opportunities. And people quick forget. It’s the reason ‘the golden generation’ never won World Cups and the reason England will probably never win anything again. A cultural problem and the Rupert Murdock mentality.

It’s a funny thing to say being English hindered, certainly Rooney’s international career because he’s stereotypical English. Take the English style and mindset away from him and he’d be half the player. It’s his fellow countrymen sat behind a desk who have perhaps cost him a World Cup. Who knows, there are many other factors, a lot of what if’s, but’s and Rooney himself. This of course, is merely an opinion.

What I do know, and what shouldn’t be up for much debate, is that Wayne Rooney was the full package on the football pitch. Strong and quick, powerful and off-the-cuff clever with superb technical ability. He was a brilliant link up player and a master at finding pockets, never afraid to try something different and that’s what made him stand out, he was fearless. Some of the goals were outrageous and there were a lot but that was secondary. Everything centred around the team. He was selfless, unselfish and would run all day with a firery temperament and insatiable desire to win, to be better each game, each season. He was fully committed and always on the edge, a pot that could boil over and often did. A peak Wayne Rooney is as good as the Premier League has seen.

What a player.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Double Gameweek 19)

Hello all, welcome.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to get this week’s question out of the way because its an interesting one and will lead nicely into where we’re at.

What score in relation to a fantasy game week average is considered a good week if you’ve used one of your chips?

Now in theory, with a chip you should have an advantage which should equate to more points, right? That’s the idea of the chips – You should expect more. An average or, heaven forbid, below average week would defeat the object of using the chip and be seen as a waste. So what’s a good score? Let me know.

So, that being said, I used my FREEHIT in Gameweek 18 in order to compensate the shorter 6 fixture round. I’ve got to say I’m relatively pleased. 50 points on the board in a week’s average of 30. Did the Freehit work? You’ve got to say yes. Would I have wanted a bit more? The answer is also yes but maybe that’s being greedy. We’ll not mention the fact that Tierney of Arsenal was pulled from the squad an hour or so before kick off and that Arsenal ended up with a clean sheet……….Overall happy and can’t complain. One lad in our office mini league was all set to use the wildcard. He made his transfers all fine, clicked confirm, forgot to click the wildcard button before. TOOK A -32. Shouldn’t laugh.

We are definitely in the midst of the strangest period of fantasy football I’ve ever known. The reduced fixture set of Gameweek 18 to be followed by the double gameweek of 19. Not to mention games getting bashed on the head or rearranged left, right and centre. It’s been bonkers quite frankly.

The way I see it, game week’s 18 and 19 are like one giant game week and we are currently sitting at half time. From my team’s perspective, we’ve grabbed an away goal in a 1-1 draw of a Champions League quarter final first leg. Good start, but far from over.

The weird thing is we go into the second leg with a completely different side as the Freehit expires. So to the lad’s who came in and did a job for 1 week only – Thank you. Your endeavours haven’t gone unnoticed and you maybe required later in the season. But it’s the here and now where it matters and this week brings the first DOUBLE GAME WEEK of the season.

LOOKING AHEAD

The teams we need to concentrate on this week are all those with the double fixtures. Man United. Chelsea, Leicester, a couple of others and, the main one for me, Manchester City. They seem like they are just starting to get run together and have some favourable fixtures. The problem we have is the problem we have every week – Pep Guardiola. What are the chances he’ll play the same side in both matches? Slim I would say but if you can get the selection correct there’s big points to be had this week, it’s maybe even Triple Captain territory.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: Ok, so with my team reverted back to its original pre GW18 state, I thought I would be able to get away with 1 maybe 2 transfers max to combat the double game week. Before I knew it there was a potentional -24 on the card. WILDCARD activated. And yes I did click the button.

I want to maximise the chance of scoring double this week so the plan is to bulk up on the double game week players. Unfortunately now that the wildcard is in play, that takes away the chance to Triple Captain, you can’t have it all and that chip is still safe for a rainy day.

Having wracked my brains trying to come up with the best possible line up, I think I’m just about there. 10 of my 11 players have 2 games only Harry Kane will play once but he has a nicely looking fixture against Sheffield United.

De Bruyne HAS to be captain this week and I am disappointed I can’t triple it. Being at home to Palace and Aston Villa is a massive scoring chance for the City maestro – fingers crossed. Fernandez will be vice, I think – not that it should matter being a double game week.

Another thing to note is my bench. With the exception of Smith-Rowe, it’s total garbage and has be completely disregarded. We are looking for the best 11 and nothing else at this stage.

And despite Newcastle’s awful form, we still have a toon representative. Callum wilson remains and is in line to play twice.

DOUBLE UP, GET TIGHT LADS.

DOUBLE GAME WEEK 19 LINE UP.

THE RHYMING MATCH REVIEW | Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle United |

The Toon travelled to Sheffield with Wilson in attack, our opponents rock bottom but it’s 5 at the back. Set out our stall, we aren’t going to commit. All part and parcel of the Steve Bruce remit.

We start off sluggish, the passings inept. Hendrick looks homeless, disheveled and unkept. Longstaff is lost and everything is sloppy. He’s playing ‘false 10’, should of stuck to ice hockey. And then there’s Yedlin who is too easily breached. Not only that, his president’s impeached.

As possession teeters around 30%. This is nowt new, no attacking intent. Then a moment we certainly won’t saver, with an awful hair do, enter Ryan Fraser. Two silly tackles and the ref doesn’t waver. An early bath for Fraser, reckless behaviour.

‘You’ve got to feel for Steve Bruce’ no, not really, the bloke has got his customary excuse.

Into the 2nd half, any words of inspiration? Just more devastation and a lack of perspiration.

For Sheffield, it’s chance after chance. Newcastle struggling to cope, struggling to advance. These haven’t won a game all season to add to the plight. Newcastle bending over, to Sky’s clear delight.

It’s shambolic, prehistoric with no histrionics. Nothing on the bench to give us a tonic. We’re alarmingly bereft of pace and quality. A Sheffield pen via video technology.

How’s the bacon did you say? We can’t go on playing this way. It’s time to go Mr Bruce, you’ve out-welcomed your stay. A chancer, free lancer with no second answer. You claim mass hysteria, do the right thing and remove your posterior.

And lastly, Mr run badly, the trashy Mike Ashley. Neglect, oppressed, it’s sports direct. Non essential, a lack of footballing credential. A slimey nomad, anyone will do for me Bonny lad. Time to act, take your sports shop tat. Get out of the club you fat cockney twat.

It’s full time. 1 nil and I’ve had my fill. The clubs dead, relegation dread while Boris ensures the kids go unfed. A bore, a chore and rotten to the core. But Newcastle United, there’s always next week. We’ll support you ever more.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18 – Part 2)

I’m back again. 24 hours after I posted about Gameweek 18, I feel compelled to update on proceedings. Things are changing minute by minute and emotions are running high in the office.

The Premier League have thrown another curve ball into, what was already, the game week 18 madness. They have, as excepted, called off Tottenham’s match at Aston Villa due to Corona virus. But, it gets interesting. Spurs will now be at home to Fulham instead, a match that was knocked on the head a few weeks ago causing one of the worst gameweek’s in our history. What does that mean for us? A chance to make amends from that disastrous gameweek 16 episode for a start. It’s a more favourable fixture than Villa away and takes away some of the selection doubts regarding Son and Kane. They’ll both be in the side now that’s for sure and both will be potential Captain material.

I mentioned yesterday that should the Spurs game go ahead the free hit would still be an option but wouldn’t be a total necessity. However, I want a full starting 11 competing in the 6 matches of gameweek 18 and a strong lineup at that. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was red flagged this morning, supposed hamstring injury with an unknown return date – We need a striker. Our goalkeeper doesn’t have a fixture this week, nor does one of our centre backs. The list keeps growing and we are being pointed down that road.👇🏻

FREE HIT ACTIVATED – let’s do this.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS.

I’m just about there, I think. I’ve used the free hit and it is a new look side, for one week only of course. Now, as I write this (21:00 Monday night) the XI I’m about to reveal is still subject to a sleepless night of change. The free hit will allow me to make as many transfers as I want all the way up to the 16:30 deadline tomorrow (today in reader time.) A plethora of chopping and changing. What I have learned in fantasy Premier League though – never leave it too late to make changes. The site often goes down due to the amount of traffic. I’ve never been caught up in this but I’ve seen hapless colleagues who have and it’s a tough watch. Grown men having a full blown meltdown when they can’t change their captain. Not pretty.

Anyway, where was I? Yeah, the team itself is self explanatory. All the players in it should be involved in game week 18, maximising our scoring capacity despite it not being a full fixture list. In terms of captain I’ve gone with Kane over Bruno simply because Spurs are at home, not an easy decision and one I hope doesn’t cost me.

The final thing to note, and most important, is, another Toon player edges his way back into the squad. GET IN.😌🖤🤍

GET INTO THEM EARLY.

GW18 team – will probably change.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18)

We needed a reaction. We got a reaction.

After one of the worst fantasy football performances of all time in game week 16, game week 17 produced a more satisfactory 60 points. A result I’m putting down to getting our allotted lucky charm Newcastle United players back into the side and nothing else – The straws you clutch at as a Toon fan. Looking at it, we actually could have been about 15 to 20 points better off had Leicester and Chelsea not conceded very late consolation goals.

I’ve been looking forward to the prospect of game weeks 18 and 19 for months. The shortened fixture set of the former, the long double gamer of the latter. Now that they’ve finally come round, I have a feeling of absolute fear and dread which has been exacerbated by the fact Spurs’ game at Villa is in serious doubt due to the Covid crisis.

There are only 6 fixtures in GW18. Should the Spurs match go ahead, I would have 9 players potentially involved. This means I could get away with making a couple of transfers to make up the usual full 11. Sounds straight forward? It’s not. A big problem would arise if the Spurs match is called off, taking our player involvement down to 6. That won’t be enough to have a meaningful score for the week. I would have to use my free hit and rejig the whole team to suit, what would be, the remaining 5 fixtures. Hopefully we get a decision on this match in good time, giving us enough scope to really use the free hit properly as I’m assuming the match will be bashed on the head. I am actually tempted to use it anyway regardless of any postponement. The conundrum and nightmare scenario being if Tottenham do actually play at Villa as planned, Kane bags a hattrick from 3 Son assists and we miss a massive truck load full of points. ——- All in all the situation is a f**king mine field. I’ve set the Premier League a 17:00 Monday night deadline to make their decision before I’m forced take matters into my own hands and pick a team on pure gut feeling – the worst type of team selection. Yes a certain percentage of your team should involve your gut but you also have to have those important elements of form, stats and certainty.

One plus from these dilemmas is that every fantasy manager in the land will be roughly in the same boat and that is why my question this week is simple.

HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING GW18?

Freehit, wildcard, transfers or even same XI. I want to know. Listening to the excellent fantasy 606 podcast, Statman Dave had, what at the time, sounded like a decent enough solution involving both transfers and the free hit at the same time. Trying to remember it properly without listening to the pod again is proving a difficult one though and would probably complicate matters further anyway.

What I do know is some managers will massively profit this week, some will massively fail and a large portion of what happens will ultimately come down to luck.

Of the 6 fixtures to look out for this week, scoring chance has to come at the Etihad. Man City at home to Brighton. That is providing you’re willing to play Pep Ball with city having played in the cup just 2 days earlier.

Man United away at Burnley could be another double figure Bruno return and, of course, Spurs away at Villa but we know the nonsense surrounding that match, it really is a lottery.

At this point on the blog I would usually run through my team for the week, explain my changes, Captain etc. But and it’s a massive but, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing yet and, as mentioned earlier, I’m leaving it till the last possible moment to do what needs to be done. I have the scenarios in my head, we are simply awaiting Premier League clarification now.

So whatever you fellow managers do in game week 18, I wish thee good luck and see you on the other side.

BALLS DOWN THE CHANNELS LADS, EARLY.