After suffering through another miserable fantasy weekend which saw me slip in the standings for the 4th week running and surrender my once solid 120 point lead my work league I have decided to implement two new strategies. The second one to be discussed in a separate article is that I will now be employing a 3-man striking rotation of mid-priced strikers based on match up. The first to be discussed here is that my team selection has gotten too cute and I will now focus on the following key factors when selecting my squad and team lineup:
1. Don't select players who I do not rate as good or better, no matter what they have done in the last couple of weeks. As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent. I've had Carlton Cole, Javier Garrido, Jonas Olsson, Edwin Van Der Sar and Andy Dawson, all of whom I rate no better than average Premiership players (van der Sar once was obviously a class keeper).
2. Don't take avoiding point chasing to a ridiculous degree. Last year I chased points and it got me nowhere fast, this year I swore not to make the same mistake again. However, I was so obsessed with not chasing points that I missed the fact that Anelka, Ireland and Bosingwa were three of the top overall players available and not merely form players.
3. I've said it before but 90 minute men are absolutely essential. Picks like Alex and Agger were too clever and have cost me major points over the past month as they have been benched with no prior warning. I am therefore moving these two guys on and using the money saved from my strikers to upgrade them to Arbeloa and Carvalho, who when fit will play every minute without fail.
4. If a player isn't playing well cut him loose. It's always hard to get rid of players you rate/like because when they score you kick yourself. However, its better to feel bad about lost points for one week than sit through 8 weeks of 2 and 3 point performances (I'm looking at you Valencia!).
Application of the new rules
The new rules basically lead me to have to select a totally new defense.
Alex - out of the team for good when Carvalho returns and apparently behind Ivanovic on the depth chart these days.
Agger - not guaranteed a game, and can be replaced for just 0.4m with Arbeloa who has played in all but one game this season.
Traore - benched by Adams when he took over and has only regained his place due to injuries. The return of Kranjcar and Adams apparent apathy towards the French full back suggests it's time to say goodbye.
Figueroa - I broke rule 1 this week to get Figueroa when all my logic suggested Luke Young: it could me 4 points. Wigan's defense is just inconsistent to rely on, though they still represent good value a bench players.
Olsson - purchased after a clean sheet and goal led me to think Olsson was a steal. WBA have since conceded 20 in 8 games with no clean sheets. With Ronaldo suspended and Zaki injured, suddenly that third bench spot becomes more valuable.
The midfield fairs better under the new rules though all are still not safe.
Ronaldo - despite his sending off on Sunday and the fact he has looked miserable in the last two games, Ronaldo has still scored 8 in 10 without having really played that well. I think he is still a must have player, though his status until week 19 in shaky. He is set to miss the Sunderland (H) game through suspension and then United do not play in week 18 as they are away at the World Club Championships. I will discuss the possibilities of selling Ronaldo to buy him back in a later article.
Lampard - no goals, one assist and one bonus point in four games have left some doubting Lampard as a fantasy force; I am not one of those people. Chelsea get Bolton, West Ham, Everton, WBA and Fulham in the next five and have a point to prove after losing to Arsenal at the weekend. I can see Chelsea scoring at least 10 over this period and Lampard is sure to get a couple of these. Add in a return to bonus town and Lampard will be good for his loyal owners.
Young - the Villa winger is very close to breaking rule 4 but a look at the upcoming fixtures and the desperate state of my defense have convinced me to hold on to him. All Villa's opponents in the next 10 games are conceding more than one a game on average 6 of these are averaging more than 1.5.
Valencia - as noted above, Valencia is a classic rule 4 breaker and after he impressed even when City were poor I am going to stop breaking rule 2 and bring in Stephen Ireland. Aside from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ireland was head and shoulders ahead of his team mates and was the centre of everything good they did. Aside from a tricky trip to Fulham this week, City's fixtures are pretty good and Ireland should continue his excellent form over the Christmas period.
Marney - far from a points machine, Marney is going to stick around on the basis that he has only missed 40 minutes of football since week 1 and has chipped in with 5 assists in this time. A great bench player and potential rotation candidate, I am pleased with the former Spurs man contribution.
Defoe - Defoe has been very good this season and the only reason I will transfer his out is to save cash and implement my 3 mid-range striker policy. My only regret with Defoe is that I broke rule 2 by not getting him earlier enough.
Zaki - the enigma of the season so far. So good to start the season and a great differentiator. Then everyone got on the bandwagon (almost 40%) and now he is carrying numerous mysterious injuries. If I were to transfer him out, it will cost 0.3m to get him back due to his price rise over the season. The fact he fits into my mid-range striker policy and has sat out for three weeks suggests I should keep the faith for now, but be careful not to break rule 4.
Cole - I broke rules 1 and 4 here and I want rid of Cole as soon as possible. He isn't a horrible player but he's far from class West Ham are a pretty poor team right now. Cole hasn't scored for 8 game weeks and has scored 7 points in that time. The only replacement issue is where to save money so that I can upgrade him to the 7m range.
Are there any rules you follow, or any that you wish you had? How do you see your teams shaping up over the next few weeks?