Team 33 Fantasy segment co-presenter Eoin Sheahan looks ahead to Gameweek 2 ahead of Friday's deadline
The fallout from the opening weekend of the Fantasy Premier League season is a perilous thing. Lock your doors, don’t answer your phone and encase yourself in a state of quarantine. There’s hysteria everywhere and it’s highly contagious.
Peek outside your window and you’ll see cars overturned by angry FPL players who picked Firmino over Coutinho, you’ll see windows smashed because Jamie Vardy didn’t take that penalty and there'll be full-scale strikes in protest of Harry Kane’s existence after his dud showing in Gameweek 1.
If you’re feeling like your life is over because you got your captain call wrong, then you are absolutely correct, because the first week is all that matters and the remaining 37 gameweeks have all been cancelled.
Well, that would be the view of a snowflake fantasy manager who welcomes the idea of Armageddon, weeps uncontrollably at emotional Sky Sports montages and probably supports Arsenal.
The reality is that the first week isn’t very important and certainly shouldn’t heavily inform the decisions we make. In fact, we should be less reactive to Gameweek 1 than we should be to any other gameweek. In the space of six days, we will have double the amount of data at our disposal which will not happen again at any other stage this season - something anyone with a basic understanding of maths can appreciate.
You can listen to Eoin's assessment of Gameweek 1 on the podcast player or iTunes:
Who knows if some of the numbers we saw last week were the start of trends or pure anomalies? Anything can happen in one gameweek. Case in point: Micah Richards scored a goal last season.
The overall pre-Gameweek 2 point here is that using a transfer at this stage could be a waste. You should only be looking to remove a player from your team if:
Of course, there are are trends already afoot, but we are not entirely sure what they are. The demise of the premium-priced option in the forwards outside of Ibra and Aguero is one point of concern, though. Jamie Vardy’s display last Saturday puts him comfortably behind Riyad Mahrez as the standout option for Leicester’s attacking coverage. Harry Kane looks like he can also be ditched, after a fantasy showing that even a 4.5-priced striker would be disappointed with.
There are other trends that might have also started. What of Hull? Is their win against Leicester the dawn of things to come? Most importantly, will Robert Snodgrass provide us with a legitimate option in the sub-6.0 attacking category?
Hull City's Robert Snodgrass (left) and David Meyler celebrate after the Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium, Hull. Picture by: Nigel French / PA Wire/Press Association Images
There are countless questions on top of those which we’ll hopefully be able to answer after another set of matches this week. Here are the tips for Gameweek 2, splitting the picks into two sections, attack and defence.
Before that, though, remember the deadline for Gameweek 2 is Friday at 7pm. So this Saturday, you get a lie in.
Toby Alderweireld (6.5) is the defender of your dreams this week. Think about that clean sheet potential at home to Palace. Think of that goalscoring potential. Think about how easy you’ll sleep tonight knowing that you’ve got the best Fantasy defender in your team.
Going after a defender of that price is difficult work, though. Thankfully, Kyle Walker (5.5) popped up last week with the assist for Erik Lamela’s goal and may prove to be sensational value as the season progresses. In that Everton game last week, Walker created more chances than any other defender in the league across the whole weekend and also comes in 0.5 cheaper than Danny Rose.
Antonio Valencia (5.5) is another right-back with an appealing home fixture the week after an encouraging opening week display. The presence of Juan Mata is a positive for Valencia, given his tendency to cut inside with the ball. There seems to be plenty of room, then, for the Ecuadorian to exploit the right wing and some sort of attacking output is soon expected. The best of the United defensive options right now.
Patrick van Aanholt (5.0) finished the season in scintillating attacking form last year but we’re yet to see if he can replicate that under David Moyes. A home clash with Middlesbrough this weekend is the perfect litmus test of his 2016/17 potential and we’ll be keenly hoping for an average position deep in the Boro half.
However, without attacking returns, Van Aanholt will slip down our radar. That’s due to the big value that rests elsewhere in that Sunderland defence, with Donald Love (4.0) a huge prospect. If you’ve got a 4.0 defender in your side that isn’t going to play, Love might be your man to swap in. It’s far from certain that he’ll lock down that right-back berth but it’s a gamble worth taking at that price.
Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt, right, takes a free kick during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
That being said, he’s probably not even the best prospect at that price. After a pair of bonus points to tag onto his clean sheet last week, Stephen Kinglsey (4.1) of Swansea has burst right onto our radar and has been transferred in by more managers than any other defender since Gameweek 1. The problem, now, is an awkward price tag of 4.1.
However, his defensive partner, Jordi Amat (4.0) hasn’t made such waves and maintains his price. With Hull arriving at the Liberty Stadium this weekend, his prospects of a clean sheet look good, and it’ll come with a big slice of value.
Between the sticks, Lukasz Fabianski (5.0) looks a strong shout. With a save point and a bonus point last week representative of his strong showing last week, the Pole will suddenly turn a lot of heads. Many will have been deterred pre-season and selected a 4.5-valued keeper.
With all those Swansea tips, there does come a drawback, however. While they all look excellent options this weekend, the potential of returns after that isn’t so encouraging. Proceeding this weekend’s clash with Hull, they have a nightmare six fixtures:
Man City (H)
The same can’t be said for West Ham. James Collins (4.5) stood out on Monday night, and not just because of his goal. The fact that he started was also encouraging, offering us a decent price in that West Ham rearguard. After Bournemouth at home this weekend, Watford, Southampton and Middlesbrough all visit the Olympic Stadium in the following five fixtures.
Adrian (5.0) also, then, comes into our thinking and may well be the best replacement for those who started the season with Hugo Lloris in their squads.
After scoring from the spot on Monday night, Eden Hazard (10.0) looks another great option ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Watford in Gameweek 2. While we’ll need to see a return to explosivity from play before the fantasy juggernaut we knew in 2014/15 returns, it was a more than acceptable start for the Belgian and has rightly gathered over 50,000 new managers this week.
Riyad Mahrez (9.5) has had the most important seven days in the league of any player. Stepping up to the penalty spot when the opportunity arose last Saturday, the only thing that could stop an influx of interest was a continuation of the transfer speculation that has surrounded him all summer. But, with that dotted line signed, he’s a far more secure pick and is, without question, the best way into that Leicester attack.
As for Jamie Vardy (10.0)? Hold him and start him for the home clash against Arsenal this weekend. It then might be time to change things up if he strikes another blank. Can we all please remember that he would have scored last week if it wasn’t for that miracle Jake Livermore challenge, though? Granted, losing spot kicks is a real blow.
Liverpool’s midfield was one of the most fascinating questions we were posed with before the season started and things have since got a whole lot more mystical. Ahead of a clash with Burnley this weekend, it is extremely hard to continue without any Klopp coverage in midfield. But the question still remains - who the hell do you opt for?
Roberto Firmino (8.5) is still the top pick after more shots on goal than any of his teammates in that crazy game against Arsenal. He essentially just needs to start getting those shots on target and we’ll see a rapid upturn in fortunes. Both Firmino and Sadio Mane (9.0) registered more touches in the box than double-scorer Philippe Coutinho (8.1) which suggests that Coutinho’s blistering opening performance might not necessarily spark a trend.
Spurs’ midfield also provided a pre-season conundrum and it was Erik Lamela (7.0) who came out on top. This does look like something we may be seeing more of. His tendency to shoot inside the box makes him more of a goal threat than Dele Alli (8.5) or Christian Eriksen (8.5) from open play. Eriksen will provide points from set pieces, however, and should outscore Lamela overall this season. But that 1.5 saving edges Lamela as a pick right now.
As for Alli, well, his fantasy potential is looking a little grim. First of all, he is going to struggle heavily to return value at 8.5 and, as we feared, he’s not going to get many chances to play with Kane up front when new signing Vincent Janssen is on the pitch.
But for any of your Spurs assets, the forecast is good. Here is their encouraging schedule:
Crystal Palace (H)
Elsewhere in that price range, Anthony Martial (9.5) confirmed his huge potential as a reclassified midfielder. A pair of assists led to 11 points and looks a hugely encouraging option ahead of a home tie with Southampton. His involvement in chances inside the opposition box was every bit as good as Rooney and Ibrahimovic’s which is further good news but one question remains - how does he do when Paul Pogba is in the team?
Lower down the stock exchange, Gaston Ramirez (5.5) looked impressive in his return to the Premier League, with an assist and enough evidence to suggest that goals will soon come. If you’re looking to go even cheaper, Etienne Capoue (4.5) rewarded his owners with a goal last week and looks to notch a few more before the season is out. The best case scenario for him under Walter Mazzarri would have been the freedom to get forward from deep and join in in the attacks. That happened last week and, as long as that continues to occur, he stands out as the best 4.5 midfield option in the game right now.
Up front, the big question last week was whether Sergio Aguero (13.0) or Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11.5) was the man to go for. Like many others, that question has yet to be answered with a goal apiece after Gameweek 1.
After midweek, though, Sergio Aguero seems to have found some of his terrifying aura once again. A hat-trick against Steaua will leave owners licking their lips ahead of the trip to Stoke, but will also be less than certain that penalty duties will still be at his disposal following a pair of misses.
As for Zlatan, he’s started exactly how we expect him to go on - getting on the scoresheet without a world-beating performance. If you own Zlatan, he is the man to captain this weekend. If you don’t, but do own Aguero, then stick the armband on the City man.
If you own both Aguero and Ibra, home comforts just about edge the United man.
As mentioned earlier, the rest of the premium bracket up front is looking less than reliable, so we turn our attention to the cheaper and ever-reliable Jermain Defoe (7.0). He looks a stunning proposition ahead of Sunday’s home tie against Boro and, after already getting his goalscoring on the road, he’s got form to boot.
Arguably, though, the standout forward from Gameweek 1 was Salomon Rondon (6.5). He matched Sergio Aguero’s potency of efforts but touched the ball in the penalty area more than any other player. He turned a few heads at the end of last season, but we had double gameweeks top of our priority list back then. Now, there seems a chasm of potential up front and he fits that hole perfectly, with a great set of fixtures ahead.
Finally, Fernando Llorente (6.5) looks finely poised to take advantage of Swansea’s fixtures. He only managed an assist last week, but was in the ballpark of Rondon and Aguero when it comes to efforts. Furthermore, he hit the target more than any other player last week. Goals coming soon there.