Halfway there

Reigning Gaffer Tapes Champion Calvin Chan gives us some thought and anecdotes from the first 18 Gameweeks...


1)      If you don’t like a player GTFO. If you don’t like a player/position, get the fuck out. It’s a simple adage that is easier to understand than to follow. It does not pay to waste time mulling over a player who leaves you uncomfortable each Gameweek.Seek out better options, and don’t make excuses for keeping a player you hate. I was more than guilty of this when I hopped on the hype train that was “John Stones”. As a short reminder, in late August, City announced they signed Stones for £47.5MM, making him the world's second most expensive defender in history. Forty-Seven-And-A-Half-Fucking-Million.  Since he was coming from Everton, he was being priced at a cool £5.0 in FPL. This represented a cheeky £1.0 discount to the likes of Otamendi, Kolarov, and Kompany. He was also nailed. You also don’t sign the second most expensive defender in the world to have him sit on your bench. City’s opening fixture was Sunderland. It all made sense. But after 5 GWs and 7 pts, the disappointment started to sink in. By the end of GW10, the situation had not improved (1 clean in 10 weeks). Every week I made new excuses not to drop him: “it’s City coverage”, “Swansea Away”, “West Ham at Home”, “Kompany’s back”, but by GW14, I had enough and took him out for Pieters (STK). I have not looked back since and haven’t been happier. Stones is still owned by 19% of teams and can be yours for a discounted price of £4.7.


2)      Be willing to change your opinion on players. Things change. GW1, I brought in Walcott. At the time, he was 1.9% owned, cheap (£7.5MM), and Giroud was still recovering from athlete’s foot or some persistent toe injury that never seems to go away. With Sanchez slated to play up front, Walcott was a good shout for a mid-priced midfielder. During the 28th minute of the club’s first game, Walcott missed a penalty and scored a minute later, summing up his Arsenal career and every love-hate feeling I have towards him.  I convinced myself this guy was off pens, didn’t deserve a spot on my squad, and would turn out to be the same injury-prone Walcott we saw in 2015. I promptly dropped him for Firmino. Walcott would then go on the mother-of-all-streaks scoring 50 points over the next 7 games, while I sat idly, trying to reassure myself that I made the right decision. Emotionally I refused to bring him back in. But it was clear that this time was different. Failing to change my opinion on him early on cost me dearly. 


3)      Doubling up on players in the same position on the same team. Generally, I don’t recommend doubling up on players who play for the same team in the same position (i.e. two mids, two defenders from the same team). The reason for this is, on balance, points from two players in the same position are somewhat mutually exclusive. If Firmino scores 2 goals during a GW, the probability/likelihood that Mane scores 2 goals during the same GW are diminished. Firmino scoring 2 goals, however, does not have any bearing on Hazard scoring 2 goals in the same week (unless they are playing each other yada, yada). Said another way, you are more likely to see Firmino and Hazard have big weeks than you otherwise would with Firmino and Mane. If you want to reach the upper echelons of fantasy, you need to look for players from separate teams and hope that those players hit independent of each other. Where this argument breaks down a bit (and where it pays to have multiple players from the same squad) is when you 1) have a specific set of easy fixtures, 2) no other better alternative players, and/or 3) a dominant team that is firing on all cylinders. Liverpool post-GW4 was an example of this. You could have picked Coutinho, Mane, Firmino, or even Lallana, and it would have paid to have another Liverpool midfielder. Chelsea is also starting to look like this (Hazard+Pedro). You can also make an argument that doubling up on players is a safer option with the logic that two of the same players from the same team ‘guarantees’ you a certain amount of production each GW (more important in head-to-head formats versus classic). But this type of thinking is for the weak. 

4)      Taking hits. Last season I didn’t take many hits. This season I’ve taken 10 through GW18. There have only been 3 weeks where I didn’t make a transfer. There is no holy grail in fantasy. Do what works for you. Each season the fixtures, players, bandwagons, positioning, and options change. Last season with Ozil, you could close your eyes and he would 1) create two assists, 2) rise price, and 3) register double-digit points with max bonus. This season you cannot find the same sort of consistency in the £8-8.5 bucket. Dele Alli was £5.5 last year and Charlie Austin scored 18 goals as a £5.0 striker playing for QPR two seasons ago. Learn to adjust to the game accordingly given new prices and options. Premium players are performing this year. Look forward at least 3-4 GWs with every transfer and try and picture how each player will fit in your squad over consecutive weeks.  I will say that one aspect where transferring too much has hurt me is team value. At a measly £101.1, my team value sits below peers in similar rank giving them more flexibility to own top players. 


5)      Dealing with bad Gameweeks. Bad shit happens. I was ranked top 3k by GW10, but kept a couple players too long, didn’t move on certain guys early enough and captained Aguero who brought me a whopping -2 with a four-week suspension. I dropped 100k in a single GW and have yet to fully recover (shout out to Salomon Rondon who was helpful in sourcing some green arrows).  It is important to kept trying to make the best possible decisions given your set of circumstances. I captained Kane during GW16 (Hull) and GW17 (Burnley). He blanked twice. I still standby both those decisions. Don't confuse the concept of high and low scoring weeks with good and bad decisions. Good players can blank and Stanislas can score a brace on your bench.

Administrative notes and leaving thoughts. Wildcards are going to be refreshed in a couple weeks. I still recommend holding off until the double gameweeks no matter how much you are itching to make a change. The same goes for the other chips. You will need them when (if) the DGW’s start piling up and this includes the All-Out-Attack, which could be very handy when you have players with blanks and need some formation relief. AFCON is coming up so careful on Zaha, Mane, Afobe, Mahrez, Slimani, Ayew, Diouf, and Bony (is he relevant?). If you own players from these teams, you should also consider how the squad will temporarily be affected (Crystal Palace, Leicester, Liverpool losing key players). Teams with JUICY fixtures coming up (5 weeks) include: Arsenal, Bournemouth, Man United, and Middlesbrough. Final thought, one player I’m looking at is Jay Rodriguez. Priced at an affordable £6.3, he is playing out of position (forward registered as a midfielder), and could be utilized as a discount fourth/flex fifth mid. Scoring two goals against Bournemouth should also help his playing time. Shane Long has been as useless as a cassette player in the twenty-first century, and Charlie Austin shows no signs of returning soon (at the time of writing, Southampton are yet to play Tottenham).

Every Thursday I provide my top 3 picks for captain over at www.facebook.com/TheFantasyPL or you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/calvinjchan.