Community Special: Gameweek 9 Preview with @thegreatlaekes
Yes, yes, we know: we are too good to you people here at Fantrax! Not only do we give you the wise words of the Kickaround Pod, the astute analysis of Genie’s Waivers, the informed insights of the Chaps Sleepers XI, and the must-read musings of Totti’s Weekly Rankings, but NOW we are providing you a preview of your very own personal league. Okay, enough of the alliteration. Hopefully, you know the score: on Monday we gave you the opportunity to win a written preview of your league’s matchups, and you got back to us admirably (by the way, a big thank you for this – we love reading all the retweets!). We chose @thegreatlaekes as our Community Special winner this time, so here is that preview…
P.S. Even if this isn’t your league there should still be some useful tips for gameweek 9!!
Note: this article was written prior to 19:00 GMT on Wednesday 18th November. As such, it is based on information (i.e. injuries and possible team selections) up until this point. This timing is even more consequential this week, given the international fixtures and enhanced impact of COVID.
Community Special: Gameweek 9
Werner’s Weiners vs Leo Gerard U1s Team
Last week we suffered through the international break, and so the article I wrote here was the first-ever ‘Community Special: Trade Maker’ article, in which I identified various trades in a particular league. I bring this up not because it was one of the finest pieces of literature written since Steve Bruce put the pencil down on ‘Sweeper!’ , but because these two teams here have a trade screaming out to them that I would certainly have highlighted had it been their league chosen. Benrahma for Tielemans is a win-win if ever I saw one, and can improve what are two very good squads…potentially enough to challenge The Celtic of FPL. Not that either needs the help to put up a big score this week. This is gonna be a shootout. Both teams are going triple digits big (a bit greedy to be honest, as it’s not leaving much for the rest of the league). Bruno is hitting 30 points minimum. Mane will go for 20 in the absence of Salah. Ditto Mount. Coufal and Mee will bring in double-digits. That’s 90+ right there.
Will it be enough to defeat Leo Gerard (Google informs me that this is a retired steelworks labor leader, which is disappointing. I’m going to choose to ignore this and believe it’s a tribute to these two icons). LG has some great matchups on paper and they would cruise to victory against any other side this week. But the fixture fairy has not been kind to them, and it’s an L that will be delivered come Monday night. Rashford being fit enough to take on the Baggies could help, but for the faint hopes of victory to come true, it’ll need probably three or four of Werner’s side to disappoint. One or two might, but I can’t see enough of them doing so given their minimal reliance on just one team. Ironically, had the LG manager not controversially traded out James Rodriguez for Pulisic and Ings last week, the tables might have been turned in this one.
Werner’s Weiners 133-118 Leo Gerard U1s Team
*Note: as a rule, for players who are ‘doubtful’, I tend to go by premierinjuries.com’s status report, with anyone less than ‘75%’ not considered for the starting 11. As of this writing, Robertson was ruled out, and Alex Telles was at 50%. I actually think both will play, but I’m a stickler for the rules (especially my own!) so I will keep them on Werner’s bench here.
Midtable Merchant vs Oliver McBurnie’s 7.36 FP/G
So we’ll assume (see note above) that Tross, Havertz, and Rodrigo don’t start in gameweek 9. Combined with Azpilicueta, Saiss, Traore, and Moutinho’s exile to benchland, and the selection headache for Merchant could turn into a full-blown migraine. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the manager is also showing symptoms of Walkeritis – a disease in which the individual somehow believes Kyle Walker to be a valuable fantasy asset. Forget COVID, this is the real one that we need to find a cure for. Walker hasn’t looked good (on fantasy paper) since donning a Spurs shirt and helping himself to a runner’s up medal back in 2017. The right-back has three negative point games from seven this season. Remove the monster haul against Sheffield United (even MLS players would haul against the Blades) and he has an FP/G of 2.8. That would rank 95th amongst defenders. Jeez. Without some free agent pickups – or some luck with the starting 11’s – Walker will have to start. Fortunately, his teammates are going to help him out. De Bruyne, of course, will put the team on his back, but watch for big scores from Reece James and Wan-Bissaka too – they will be the ones that decide this game.
McBurnie’s hopes here rest on the miraculous recoveries of its bench. I don’t claim to be an expert on fantasy football, but I think it’s safe to say that Aguero and Salah would be a slight upgrade on Cavani and McBurnie, if fit. Speaking of which…regular readers of my articles will know I appreciate a good fantasy team name. And ‘Oliver McBurnie’s 7.36 FP/G’ is just brilliant. In fact, this is a solid bunch of names all-around – nice job, league. I’m not privy to the banter, of course, but this is what I picture when the two Tim teams face off. Anyway, back to McBurnie’s. The bench looks like every Premier League team’s bench when they play a pre-season friendly in the U.S. – filled with the star names (sorry, that’s two digs at our friends across the pond in the space of two paragraphs). If Eze and just one of Aguero or Salah can start, then McBurnie wins it. But without them, it’s reliant on some of the bit-part players to have themselves a game. Midtable to win the matchup, but McBurnie’s to finish higher.
Midtable Merchant 96-85 Oliver McBurnie’s 7.36 FP/G
Jesse’s Last Touch vs The Celtic of FPL
This is a matchup between a team with a 3-5 record and a team with a 5-3. It’s also a matchup between the team bottom of the league and the team top of the league. What is this madness? Speaking of madness; Jesse’s has adopted the “all-eggs-in-one-basket” approach when it comes to the defense, owning four City defenders. It’s controversial, but it can work. In fact, against a dominant team like ‘The Celtic of FPL’ (they have won all four seasons to date), then it might actually be the way to go. Unfortunately, City takes on Spurs this weekend – a team who have scored the 2nd most goals in the league (19), have the 2nd highest XG (16.0), and have some okay players in the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, and Gareth Bale, up top. The City love-in doesn’t stop in the defense though – with the team also dependent on Rodrigo, Sterling, and Silva for points. This, apparently, is from a Manchester United fan, by the way. That’s some extreme “can’t lose either way” mentality right there. The sort of manager that bets on his own kid to lose at Sports Day I’d imagine.
As mentioned, Celtic is four times fantasy champion. Is it me, or would winning 3 out of 4 have been more impressive? Like, 3 out of 4 suggests you know your sh*t. But 4 out of 4 suggests the rest of the league is just sh*t. Anyway, unless something miraculous happens, it’s going to be 5 from 5. This squad is fire. It’s unbelievable. As in, it’s actually unbelievable that a team this good could have been acquired without: a) collusion, b) the rest of the league having zero knowledge of the Premier League (yes they’re American, but this is still unlikely), or c) access to a DeLorean and the 2020-21 footballing almanac. But let’s give Celtic the benefit of the doubt for now. A very wise man has recently ranked Grealish as the #2 pick for the ROS, and he will showcase why against Brighton, whilst Richarlison is going to come back with a bang for Everton against Fulham. When you’re opting for Watkins over Jesus, leaving Dallas on the bench (their league gives 1.25 for tackles and interceptions, making the Leeds man a decent squad piece), have Under and Lo Celso ready in waiting, and have Fofana to come back in after an injury, you know the title is yours to lose. I’m not predicting the century though. Celtic can’t have it all.
Jesse’s Last Touch 82-99 The Celtic of FPL
Gerrard’s Firm-Footed Rangers vs Team I_am_Tim
Vince McMahon vs Stone Cold. Ramsey Bolton vs Jon Snow. Voldemort vs Neville Longbottom (yes, he’s the real MVP). The list of legendary battles between heel and face grows once more this weekend as the controversial Gerrard’s FF Rangers take on the loveable Team IAT. How has Gerrard earned this unenviable reputation? Well, it’s not out of jealousy, as one quick look at his squad will tell you. It’s down to the claims of being “the unlucky one”. Nobody likes a moaning Myrtle. One of the reasons we love head-to-head fantasy is because you can lose when you score well. Rule 1 is to not bitch when this happens. You can also win when scoring poorly, and you almost never hear that manager piping up on those occasions. Now, onto the real business. The squad here is decent, but it’s not a contender. Like Trump in the White House, the manager needs to make the most of their current position, because come February, they ain’t gonna be there. An injury or two could fast-forward this decline, given that the bench is about as appealing as an England teamsheet with Pickford on it.
“Build from the back” is not a phrase often associated with fantasy football, but Team IAT may have to adopt it if they are to avoid a battle for the wooden spoon this season. TAA will come good despite Liverpool’s issues (I don’t know whether you’ve heard, but they have an injury or two). Reguilon is legit. And Tarkowski is as reliable as it gets. Harrison and Soucek are nice pieces, but they are the Ethan Hawke’s of the midfield when what you really want is a Denzel to build around. The forwards are an interesting bunch, with Lookman and Bamford outperforming the big names of Willian and Firmino, not just a little, but by A LOT. Since week 2, Willian has scored just 17 points, whilst Firmino seems allergic to the crucial ghost points, averaging just 2.3 when he doesn’t score or assist. With Gerrard owning Semedo and a trio of Southampton players, everyone in the league will be watching Monday night as Gerrard’s FF Rangers inch closer and closer to the lead Team IAT will have built on the weekend. It’s going to be agonizing for the (not-so) neutrals. I’m calling it now: a 90th-minute goal from Adama will inflict a decisive minus two onto Walker-Peters, and give the win to Team_I_am_Tim. Trump gone, COVID vaccine found, and Gerrard’s Firm Footed Rangers losing. What more could you ask for?
Gerrard’s Firm-Footed Rangers 89-90 Team I_am_Tim
Tim’s Team vs Never Wanted Him Anyway
Last and most certainly least is the apparent people’s champ Tim’s Team taking on Never Wanted Him Anyway, named for their passing on many of the big-name signings (see: Bale), and then having to settle for Thomas Partey. Quiz question: what is Partey’s % ownership at the time of this writing? Answer: 76% higher than it should be. I think the phrase that comes to mind here is “cut your losses”. Now we’re here, we may as well continue to discuss NWHA’s team. It’s…okay. To put themselves in contention they need to dispense with the Noah’s Ark strategy – that is, restricting themselves to just 2 good players from each position. Finding help for Lamptey and Ait-Nouri in defense; hoping Pep forgives Foden for whatever sins he’s committed to providing support for Bale and Podence in midfield, and praying that Lampard continues his misguided trust in Abraham to go with Martial and Jimenez up top; if these things happen, then NWHA will find themselves in the top half this season.
Tim’s Team started 5-1, but have lost the last two…and come Monday night, that’ll be three. The honeymoon period for the loveable Tim is unfortunately over and a glance at this midfield suggests a rocky marriage is to come. It’s basically James Rodriguez and free agent fodder. The Everton man – and his teammate DCL – will need to carry this team yet again this week, particularly as the (only) other premium asset, Son Heung-Min, is up against Manchester City. Everton is away at Fulham, and whilst Parker’s men are improving, they still offer a very enticing matchup from a fantasy perspective. From a defensive side of things, these two have Chelsea and West Ham players canceling each other out, which means it could come down to how well Justin and Gabriel cope against Liverpool and Leeds. Can they match Lamptey (vs Villa)? Tim will need them to.
Tim’s Team 71-77 Never Wanted Him Anyway
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