10 months ago
No beef here — just a good old-fashioned debate — and we're back for a second season! I continue to bring you the major talking points of the FPL/FanTeam week here at DraftGym. I've been quiet for a little while, so let's come back with a bang! As we approach the second international break of the season, more and more people are getting itchy fingers around the wildcard button. Regardless of how your seasons have started, the temptation is there with fixture swings for teams like Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon. There are plenty of talking points, and many of them feature around the concept of going with a 'ThreeMium' team or making the choice between Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku. There are plenty of other talking points with regards to key assets across both the FPL and FanTeam. So let's get into the biggest talking point of the build-up to Gameweek 7.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku are the kind of premium forwards that the game has been crying out for a long period of time, to increase the amount of variance in the game and provide managers with more and more options. Since their arrival, both have already shown their worth.
To the surprise of nobody, Cristiano Ronaldo has hit the ground running since joining his former club. 3 goals in his opening 3 games including a brace on his debut against Newcastle has seen the doubters of his age and motivation fading away, although a disappointing blank against Aston Villa last time out hurt many that chose to captain him. Lukaku has been back at his former club for slightly longer with 3 more appearances, but his outstanding display on debut against Arsenal as well as a superb brace against Aston Villa showed exactly what he is capable of when the fixtures are favourable – and that is what we are about to walk into.
The decisions that you make now really depend on where you stand now. If you own neither, we must identify which is the right one to buy, either as a transfer or on a wildcard. If you own both, we need to assess what that does to the rest of your squad - and, one of the most pertinent questions - if you own Ronaldo, is it time to make the switch to Lukaku for the run of fixtures that Chelsea are about to walk into?
Let's explore each briefly in turn and allow you all to make your own decisions.
With this question, I think there's a clear distinction between Fanteam and FPL and a distinction in the circumstances.
With the kinder pricing in FanTeam, I would be bringing both in if I was utilising a wildcard. Having both for a combined price of £22.1m doesn't restrict you budget wise in the same way as it potentially could do in FPL (combined price - £24.4m). It feels relatively comfortable to build yourself a wildcard in FanTeam which includes both premium strikers, Mo Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold (when fit), while still maintaining a balanced squad. The kinder general pricing allows this to be an option and one that I would encourage managers to take up.
With FPL, it's definitely a different conversation. Building team value in FPL hasn't been the easiest task in the opening 6 gameweeks of the season, and using £44.6m of your budget on the same 4 players just leave your squad seriously unbalanced. If I was wildcarding in FPL, I'd be looking to go with just one – and I'd favour Lukaku at this point.
This is predominantly due to fixtures and feeling more confident in captaining the Belgian for this fixture run but with the knowledge that Ronaldo could do some serious damage. The fixtures in 7 (Everton H) and 8 (Leicester A) are definitely fixtures where Ronaldo can compete with Lukaku (Southampton H, Brentford A).
The argument I can make for owning both is that there are viable budget enablers that could allow you that budget to invest in both. In FPL, players like Livramento, Shane Duffy and Ben White in defence can allow you to free up money. The problem with that is that Chelsea and Manchester City are about to hit a fixture run where we will absolutely be wanting to spend budget on the likes of Joao Cancelo and Antonio Rudiger.
In midfield, options like Demarai Gray, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr have emerged but are about to run into significantly tougher fixtures where you wouldn't necessarily expect those points to continue. Raphinha in FPL is an obvious bargain at £6.5m, but it will become necessary to own cheaper mids like the aforementioned Brian Mbeumo and Conor Gallagher in order to afford the 4 main assets. You will also potentially need to be using transfers on those cheap midfield spots to play the fixtures, which is great in principle but will become a problem if other fires emerge.
In FanTeam, it feels easier. The defensive options are a little cheaper, but its the price of the two assets themselves that enable it. That extra £2m+ saving on FPL allows you to get the players you need to remain relatively balanced.
The other factor that has an impact is captaincy. Its highly unlikely you'll captain Cristiano Ronaldo between GW8 and GW14 - so in FPL at £12.7m, can you really pay that for someone you wouldn't captain?
I understand that owning both protects you somewhat if one of them hauls and you have captained the other, but the cost involved means it isn't worth it in my opinion. My stance is that owning both in FanTeam is optimal, but in FPL, you need to pick one and try to play the fixtures.
When I purchased Ronaldo on my FPL wildcard, it was with the loose plan to move to Lukaku this week, but I've been somewhat put off that with the way that Everton capitulated at Villa Park and the way that Southampton and Brentford have looked so far. Admittedly, Southampton weren't great defensively against Wolves and the goal Raul Jimenez scored would leave me worried about what Romelu could do to them, but I feel this isn't now the week to make the move with other fires emerging. Gameweek 9 seems like the week to make the move stick, and thats when I'm likely to do it.
Ronaldo will be my captain in Gameweek 7, but I will absolutely be fearful of what Lukaku will do – particularly if Cristiano suffers the early kick off curse.
Manchester City were absolutely outstanding at Stamford Bridge against a surprisingly passive Chelsea, but we continue to be faced with the same problem. If we wish to invest in Manchester City from an attacking perspective, how do we do it?
There are so many unanswered questions and so many options. Picking through the conundrum of De Bruyne, Foden, Mahrez, Torres, Jesus, Sterling, Bernardo and Grealish is becoming practically impossible.
My instinct is that the best option right now in terms of price and likelihood of start is Jack Grealish, who was the most advanced City player at Stamford Bridge and should have had at least a goal. But the instinct right now is to look at a double City defence and wait for someone in that City team (likely KDB) to unleash and make ignoring them impossible.
For a time, it looked like there was a dearth of third forward options –now it feels like we have plenty.
Ivan Toney has been a solid FPL pick so far but looks like a fantastic footballer. When his fixtures turn around GW10, he looks a fantastic option in both formats of the game, particularly as priced kindly.
Adam Armstrong is another option – he's cheaper than Toney in FPL but more expensive in FanTeam, meaning he wouldn't be a consideration for me moving forward in FanTeam, but in FPL, he offers a nice alternative.
There are still options at Watford too with Josh King and Emmanuel Dennis, but the return of Joao Pedro and the threat of subsequent rotation makes it difficult to nail down which one to go for, along with the fact that they are about to hit a horrendous run of fixtures.
Allen Saint-Maximin has already proved his worth as a forward at Newcastle, and the other interesting option is Chris Wood. Burnley's home fixtures starting from GW7 are wonderful, and it's difficult to ignore and disregard Norwich at home, given their form.
The options are plentiful - the difficulty is picking the right one.
As highlighted above, Watford are about to run into a challenging set of fixtures and face the prospect of significant rotation of attacking options. But one thing is clear – Ismaila Sarr is their main threat and talisman, and those that moved early on him have benefitted with a couple of strong returns. I think buying him now is probably moving too late - though I'd give it more consideration in FanTeam (90-minute points, more expensive price for Raphinha) than I would in FPL. But if you own him, you ultimately have a decision to make.
My instinct right now is to hold. Spending money on transfers on players at that price is a luxury, and Sarr has proved before in the Premier League that he can score goals against strong clubs. On top of that, the chance that he's on penalties adds to his value. I'll be holding while I can unless the luxury of two transfers and no fires comes up in the midst of a horrendous fixture.
Can we all agree that going without Mo Salah at this point is madness? His points hauls in both games (FPL - 57; FanTeam - 62.8) have been consistent, and his performance levels on every metric including eye tests are off the charts. There's no doubting Salah as the main man in my opinion this season. If you're selling, you better have a huge sofa to hide behind.
Stay away unless something changes. Lukaku and Ronaldo make going to Kane completely unnecessary at this stage, at least until Spurs show us something different. Heung-Min Son is a more reasonable price, but right now he feels like an unnecessary asset to own. As for Spurs defence? Go absolutely nowhere near. That's worse than Luke Ayling of 19/20.
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Thank you for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always valued. Stay tuned for more FPL and FanTeam content over the season including my attempt to learn to be a daily fantasy player with the help of my DraftGym colleagues! If you wish to participate in a future debate, get in touch with @rpick86 on Twitter.
The latest addition to the DraftGym crew, FPL veteran and the Debate grandmaster.