So, four gameweeks in and we’re at the end of our first round of Premier League action. The international break is coming to a close which means only one thing: FPL managers losing their minds and overthinking every decision.
Well, we’re here to help you make sense of it all. In our first monthly review, we’ll take a look back at what we’ve learnt so far from August and, hopefully, help uncloud your judgement.
Below, we've highlighted some early season surprises, given pointers on the age-old wildcard debate, and helped shed some light on the common conundrums facing FPL bosses. Ready? Let’s dive in…
This Season’s Surprise Packages
Arguably the biggest shock at this stage of the season has been Watford’s abysmal start. The Hornets have just one solitary point to show for their efforts thus far, mustering a draw last time out against an uninspiring Newcastle side.
With FPL favourite Gerard Deulofeu (£6.3m) yet to return more than 2pts in a single game, and the defence failing to keep any clean sheets, the club’s assets are dropping in price, fast.
It remains to be seen whether Javi Gracia can can turn things around at Vicarage Road or not. But with Arsenal and Man City in their next two gameweeks, we’re not anticipating an immediate renaissance.
At the other end of the table,The Eagles are soaring high in fourth. Many tipped Crystal Palace for the drop but Hodgson's men are continuing to defy pre-season predictions.
Palace’s standout performers feature across their backline, keeping two clean sheets and only conceding one goal in each of their other two fixtures.
Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m) is a self-confessed FPL nut, and he’s doing himself proud, topping the club’s point-scoring charts with 24pts so far. Striker Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) is another who’s turned heads. He’s netted in consecutive games and has 20pts to his name.
It won’t have come as much of a shock to Norwich supporters – who watched their main man plunder a staggering 29 goals in the Championship last season – but to the rest of us, Teemu Pukki (£7.0m) has been something of a revelation.
The Finnish forward has already risen £0.5m in price over just four gameweeks, and is the league’s joint second top scorer, with 5 goals to his name.
Manager Daniel Farke has had The Canaries singing at the start of this campaign; each player dancing to the German’s free-flowing football beat. Pukki and co. have Man City up next before enjoying a run of Burnley, Palace, Villa and Bournemouth. The party must go on!
To Wildcard or Not to Wildcard?
Crunching the Numbers
According to Fantasy Football Scout, nearly one in five FPL managers have already activated their wildcard. That number rises to nearly one in four when looking at the overall top 10k in isolation.
So, if you’re one of the 80% still sitting on the wildcard chip, is now the right time to take the plunge?
Pros and Cons
First Names on the Team Sheet
If you’ve accepted that an early wildcard is the only way to go, your next question will inevitably be: 'who should be in my team?'
Popular picks include Teemu Pukki (£7.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (£9.8m), John Lundstram (£4.2m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.0m) – due to a combination of their favourable prices and early-season form.
Most other selections tend to divide opinion. Let’s take a look at some of the club-specific, head-scratching decisions we’re faced with.
Mané vs. Mo
This is a big one. Does Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) warrant the extra million spend over Sadio Mané (£11.5m)? Well, if we project their season totals based on their output so far, Salah would finish on 342pts, dwarfing Mané’s projected 238pts.
Those numbers are slightly skewed given Mané only appeared as a late sub in the first game of the season, but it does give you an indication that it’s likely Liverpool's Egyptian King will outscore Mané again this campaign.
Sterling vs. Agüero
They may play different FPL positions, but the chances are once you’ve chosen Salah or Mané, you won’t have room for both City's premium assets. Raheem Sterling (£12.3m) and Sergio Agüero (£12.1m) are closely priced and have similar returns thus far (Sterling on 37pts behind Agüero’s 40pts).
The dealbreaker here could be their on-pitch minutes. Last season saw Sterling play 2,770 minutes compared to Agüero’s 2,457. With the Argentine another year older, and Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) chomping at the bit for more gametime, it could be that Sterling ends up playing significantly more minutes than Agüero this campaign.
Martial vs. James
United appear to be stuttering a little, however, two assets who have made big FPL impacts are Anthony Martial (£7.7m) and Daniel James (£6.1m). James is significantly cheaper, but with Martial operating as an out-of-position striker, choosing between them becomes a bit of a headache.
Weighing everything up, there’s not much to separate the pair. There is something to be said for proven experience, though, and in that sense, Martial certainly has the edge over James. The Frenchman may be a little inconsistent, but at least we know he’s not a flash in the pan. The same can’t be said about James… yet.
And there you have it – a nice summary of what we know so far. Hopefully we’ve helped clear your thinking a little, but ultimately the best advice we can give you is to play your own game.
That's it from us for now. See you next month for September’s round-up!