FPL Family’s Sam gives her take on the premium Fantasy Premier League player debate.
The FPL community has been awash with one key question over the last few weeks: which premium assets do you own? This season, more than any other that I can remember, the decisions over which of the premium players you buy can be the difference between a huge green and a big red arrow.
Owning four premium assets is achievable, especially if you can get your low-value differentials to work for you. However, owning five is almost impossible without destroying the integrity of the rest of the team.
So which heavy hitters are the right ones to own? Let’s take a look at the premium attackers and see which assets offer the best potential points returns between now and Gameweek 16.
For the majority of FPL managers, the big transfer decisions are being made across just a few of the Premier League sides.
- Leicester City – Jamie Vardy (£10.3m)
- Liverpool – Mohamed Salah (£12.3m), Sadio Mane (£12.0m)
- Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes (£10.9m)
- Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Raheem Sterling (£11.4m)
- Tottenham Hotspur – Harry Kane (£10.9m), Son Heung-min (£9.6m)
When you assess the fixtures of these clubs, there are some obvious stand-out picks:
Sorting the Season Ticker by difficulty for attackers, Liverpool sit pretty at the top with games against Fulham, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Newcastle in four of their next five fixtures. Only the Gameweek 13 match against Spurs looks like a difficult test for the current Premier League champions. Going purely on the fixtures, Salah and/or Mane should be the obvious picks from the premium brackets over the next five Gameweeks.
At the other end of the spectrum sit Leicester and Spurs, who are still in the difficult run of fixtures that they have been in since Gameweek 9. However, the Lilywhites have come through games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal with three clean sheets, four goals scored, two wins, a draw and seven Premier League points. As such, should matches against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Leicester, Wolves and Fulham really turn FPL managers off from owning Spurs assets? Certainly not, if their form since Gameweek 2 (but especially Gameweeks 9-11) has anything to do with it.
Leicester have been up against it on the fitness front, with a number of injuries to key players. However, having just enjoyed a lovely period of fixtures against the likes of Fulham and Sheffield United – games in which they failed to impress – they now enter a run which sees them play Everton, Spurs and Manchester United, all of which will be difficult matches.
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Over the course of the season so far, five of the top six points-scorers are the premium players that we would expect to feature high up the list. The Manchester assets have also played one game less, having started the season with a Blank Gameweek.
The absence of the Manchester City players here is interesting. Pep Guardiola’s side started the season late and, in terms of the standard that we expect from them in terms of goals scored on average per game, slowly. De Bruyne is 19th currently when players are ranked by points scored, and you need to go all the way down to 27th and Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) before you find another City player on paper.
By looking at just the points scored so far, the Spurs’ boys look like the go-to options – but, of course, bar Leicester they rank last for fixture difficulty. This is where the obvious ‘go-to’ data that we as FPL managers look at can be contradictory – good form, poor fixtures – and this is what often divides us as a community.
Currently, there are many managers selling Son and Kane and moving towards the likes of De Bruyne and Sterling. The fixtures suggest one thing and the form and points another. So what else can we look at to inform these decisions?
So who to invest in?
Club form suggests one thing, player form another, while the underlying stats and fixture list throw up more confusion. Couple that with the chatter in the FPL community about who is “essential” from one week to the next, and it’s no wonder that we as FPL managers are currently struggling with the conundrum over which premium Fantasy assets to own and which to leave out.
In seasons gone by, I have always placed a lot of weight on the form of my premium assets. Over the last few seasons, my strategy has been to be loyal to my most expensive picks. Last season I owned Kane for the first 15 weeks of the season. Similarly, I backed Vardy for the majority of the campaign and he was the player that I handed my captain’s armband to the most (nine times in total).
This season, loyalty is difficult in some ways – the players mentioned as “must-haves” each Gameweek are different: Fernandes in Gameweek 9, Vardy in Gameweek 10, De Bruyne in Gameweek 11 and now both Salah and Son ahead of Gameweek 12.
I have spent many hours looking at my team trying to assess if it is possible to work an extra premium player in. However, this means ripping up the rest of my team and downgrading the likes of Ollie Watkins (£6.1m), who has lovely fixtures and who will eventually have at least one Double Gameweek, as well as players such as Ben Chilwell (£6.2m), Aaron Cresswell (£5.2m) and Ruben Dias (£5.6m), all of whom are performing well and returning good solid points.
Loyalty feels key. Choosing four vital premium assets who have a combination of all of the factors mentioned and backing them up with some cheaper and more differential picks who can return points also should ensure green arrows.
Above: My premium attackers in Gameweek 11
Going into both Gameweeks 10 and 11 without a Manchester City attacker felt like a huge risk. I was sure that De Bruyne would return FPL points and I could easily have swapped the likes of Son over to him. However, the Korean was in form and I have value invested in him, and I knew that I would want him back for the Gameweek 12 fixture against Crystal Palace – so holding made sense.
For me, when it comes to premium assets, points returns are key. I hold my big hitters until they stop returning FPL points, be that as a result of injury or a drop-off in form. Jumping between premiums as a result of fluctuating fixtures has never really worked for me. So I make peace with the fact that I still don’t own a Manchester City attacker and that they will return points because I know that, at the moment, the form is with the players I do own and thus they could just as easily reward my faith.
At some stage, potentially after the Manchester derby, I will likely move one of my premiums on to De Bruyne. But for now, I’ll stay loyal to those that have gained me four green arrows in a row and a rank rise of 1,176,192 places. Loyalty means that you will never miss a haul from a player you are doing the hokey-cokey with, which as an FPL manager is one of the worst feelings that there is.
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