Best captain picks and managing fixture congestion

For those who made it big in the back, GW3 was one to forget.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City saw a clean-sheet wipe-out as last season’s top three defensive teams scored a whopping seven goals, sweeping popular players like Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5), Andrew Robertson (6, 9) and Reece meant James (6.1), Marc Cucurella (5.1) and Joao Cancelo (7.0) combined for just three points. Three measly points – unbelievable!

Let’s not be hasty though, as that was an unusual result and these defenders still offer plenty of reasons to trust them. They’re arguably some of the best picks in terms of value for their teams, and there’s a reason we’re blind to picking high-ceilinged full-backs.

However, in midfield and attack I make a conscious decision to cast my net wide and look for players from a handful of other teams.

Talisman Theory

West Ham's Jarrod Bowen celebrates his goal against Manchester City
West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen celebrates his goal against Manchester City

Do you remember Jarrod Bowen last year? He was one of the best FPL players in the game, but we were slow to bring him in because he wasn’t playing for one of the “sexy” clubs.

We all thought his goalscoring would be short-lived but he stayed in form all season and we all had West Ham’s talisman after all. So this season we should be on the lookout for the new Bowen; a mid-priced, low-owned asset (usually by a midfield team) that delivers with the consistency of a premium player at a top four club.

Only Arsenal and Man City (both nine) have scored more Premier League goals this season than Brentford (eight) and Leeds (seven). Teams like Palace also create a lot of chances and these three teams all have something in common – they have an obvious talisman that accumulates FPL points for their team.

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Ivan Toney (7.1) and Rodrigo (6.3) are the game’s best forwards and midfielders so far, while Wilfried Zaha (7.1) looks dangerous in any Palace attack. Now, I’m not suggesting you rip your team apart to accommodate all of these players, but I think every roster should consider at least one of them.

They’re also all in relatively low ownership – between 11% and 22% – and could make all the difference when competing against your mini-league rivals who might be a bit more stereotypical.

I’ve seen enough of Toney in the first two games to buy him last week and I expect his returns to continue. Sure he won’t match his eight-plus points-a-game average, but with Everton, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Southampton in the next four I expect goals. I was concerned about Brentford picking up second-season syndrome but they’ve recruited well this summer and from what we’ve seen so far it looks like a Premier League side.

device overload

From next week the teams involved in Europe will play every week midweek before we head off for the FIFA World Cup – we’ve never seen a heavier schedule this early in a season and so we have to expect rotation in particular from those who play in the Champions League.

We know some FPL favorites are durable enough to start whenever fit and I wouldn’t worry about Kevin De Bruyne (12.1), Harry Kane (11.4) and Mohamed Salah (13 .0) but players like Eerling Haaland (11.6), Jack Grealish (6.9) and Ivan Perišić could all suffer from the rotation around Europe.

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That doesn’t mean you have to sell these players. Just don’t expect them to start every Premier League game and expect a couple of A’s from the bench. When assets like Perišić launch, we know they’re gold dust, so be prepared to take the rough with the smooth if you think the rewards are big enough for playing.


GW4 Captain Pick

Last week, the captaincy numbers across the game were fairly evenly split between Haaland (11.6), Gabriel Jesus (8.1) and Salah (13.0), all of whom have between 1.9m and 2.4m FPL managers on the armband had lent.

Everyone has good games this week too, so I’m expecting a similar spread. Jesus at home in Fulham will seduce many and rightly so, but I think I’ll stick with Salah against Bournemouth.

Sure, Arsenal have looked like the superior attacking team so far, but Liverpool will certainly get going soon and there is arguably no better game than Bournemouth at home.

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