It’s one of my favorite times of year in the Fantasy Premier League game, and it’s got my whacky little mind going in only one direction this week. We’re down to 11 weeks in the season, the actual league title is almost put to bed, the relegation battle is starting to heat up for real, and it’s time for fantasy managers to start making serious moves if they want to win some of their mini-leagues. All this has me thinking about just one thing. What is the singular thing that consumes my mind these days, where are my thoughts wandering? We’ll get to that one burning thought in a minute, but for now, here’s the classic “What The Hell Have I Done” wrap up of my team.
Like a lot of folks out there, I was heavily loaded with Liverpool and Swansea players after the previous double gameweek, and I was in a bind to field a starting XI. I recommended a powerhouse midfield last week, a la The Avengers, Walcott, Fellaini and Mata among them. And like many fantasy managers, this strategy almost went tits up (more on tits in a moment! Heh heh heh! WTHHID is NSFW!) Anyway, I almost got my kiester handed to me, as the best of the best failed to do much of anything this week, and it was Monday night that I was praising myself for sticking to my own personal rules.
I’ve long said that if you spend points on transfers in a week (I did this week) you have to bring in players worthy of the Captains Armband, thus offsetting the points expense. I picked up Rickie Lambert to replace Sturridge, and in my Avengers midfield, I spent 4 points, bought Garreth Bale, and handed him the Captaincy. His last minute heroics and masterful final goal sealed Totenham’s win and his three bonus points, and he ended up scoring just over half of my total of 59 points last week. Not great, but I’ll take it.
And now my mind turns to that one burning thought this week, and it’s not what you might think. It turns out when I look at my squad for week 28, I can’t stop thinking about one of my favorite movies: Trading Places.
The film itself needs little introduction (but I’m a long winded old fart, so I’m gonna do it anyway). It’s a classic of the early ‘80’s that features the best of that era. It shows us how money can ruin us or bring out our best, it’s a morality tale about the value of family vs. friendship, it’s a study of important scientific question of nature vs. nurture, and a condemnation of the greedy and powerful financial system. Artistically, it’s a brilliant collaboration between two very different comedians, the down and dirty street comedy of Eddie Murphy in his prime, and the vast comedic range of brilliant Dan Akroyd. And of course, it features Jamie Lee Curtis, and her boobs. Awesome. In terms of fantasy football, it has my mind spinning with the lessons it can teach us, so here they are.
1) It’s all about commodities.
Luis Winthorpe III was an expert commodities broker, and it turned out Billy Ray Valentine had quite a grasp on the concept as well. It’s important to get your hands on the most valuable things in life, the most very basic things in order to get ahead. You need things like eggs, and gold, and frozen concentrated orange juice and bacon, which you might find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. (Turn now and stare deadpan into the computer screen. You know you want to.) Fantasy Footie is the same way. You need some basic staples in your team if you want to do well. It’s fine to just screw around with your 4th or 5th midfielder, or worry over a 3rd cheap striking option, and there are lots to choose from for sure. But it’s important to buy the solid blue chip players early, and go long. Leighton Baines is the ultimate example of this investment strategy. He has long stretches of little return, and he’s really expensive, but over the long haul he pays off, year after year. I’ve never had the guts to invest in him, or to keep him for very long, but those who do always do well. There are other players like that out there, the Juan Mata’s and Garreth Bale’s and Robin Van Persie’s of the world. These are your bread and butter, literally, and if you don’t have a t least a couple, you’ll go hungry at the end of the season. But do you have to have them all?
2) Good information is key.
Sadly, we can’t all get on a train on New Years Eve, dress up like a drunken priest, kidnap the guy who’s the asshole Assistant Principal from The Breakfast Club (another great flick) and lock him up with a rape-y gorilla after stealing a top secret list of all the important fantasy info we’re going to need for the season. I mean, if it were THAT easy, everyone would do it. We do have to spend a lot of time looking at sites like this one, reading injury reports, paying attention to press conferences, and studying fixture lists to make good decisions. There are no top-secret crop reports out there, however, and sometimes that will put us in the poor house like the Dukes before you can say “Kung-Fu Grip”. Last week, a lot of people needed to put in players as replacements, and a lot of folks missed out. I know there were a good may managers counting on Victor Anichebe to take the field as their Sturridge replacement, only to watch him sit the bench. There seem to be players like this every week, guys on a hot streak who don’t see the field, guys with that mysterious 75% injury listing that never even get subbed and dash out fantasy hopes. This week the players to look out for like that are Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, who missed the FA Cup clash with a foot injury, and of course Robin VanPersie, who seems to pop up in every category. He’s also listed as 75% after ramming into a camera and injuring his hip.
3) It takes money to make money.
This is a rather obvious lesson it would seem, but beautifully illustrated here. Winthorpe and Valentine could never have achieved their revenge on the dastardly Duke Brothers without at least a little bit of their own cash, not to mention that of Louis’ butler and his new hooker girlfriend. After all, one can’t corner the frozen concentrated orange juice market without Jamie Lee Curtis’ boobs, … er, I mean … without some greenbacks in your pocket, illegal crop report or no illegal crop report. The same is true in Fantasy Football. Wise investment throughout the season is crucial in these last stages, as players of value are getting harder and harder to purchase. Where does one find the money for a MIchu when he’s up to £8.3, or Garreth Bale, who’ll cross the £10mil barrier this week? It’s wise investment and money management that will get you there, so (since we love both heading and SUB headings at WTHHID?), here are some strategies to garner some cash.
A) Sell Robin Van Persie.
Every time I come across the letters R-V-P, all I hear in my head is the voice of Mortimer Duke screaming “Sell! SELLLLL!!!!!”. I now that our illustrious Tony Cummins did a whole piece on this just this week, but it’s important to pay attention to him. RVP is the most valuable asset in the game for most of the season, but it IS time to cut your losses and run. He’s nursing an injury, and is the one player at 75% that might not see the field this week. Sir Alex has plenty of tools at his disposal, a 12 point league lead, and a CL tie with Real Madrid to worry about. My guess is RVP will start on the bench this week, and while he might come on if United have only managed a 1 goal lead, his contribution might not amount to much, if he sees the field at all. He’ll also, as of now, miss out on week 29, and with two weeks out of 11 to go with no return for him, he looks ready for shipping out. He’s also the best chance you’ll have to create differential over the stretch run to the end of the season, since many owners will be afraid to off load him, and his wealth can be spent in many positions across the board. This is the obvious move, but where else can we save cash?
B) Dump your backup goalkeeper.
At this point in the season, we’ve got a pretty good handle on which keepers are both valuable and nailed on in net every single week. Joe Hart, Asmir Begovic, and Simon Mignolet are the only keepers at over 100 fantasy points this season, with the capable Jussi Jääskeläinen right behind at 97. None of these top 4 fantasy keepers are in any danger of losing their starting place, and keeper injuries are well documented. So, by dropping your backup keeper, who’s likely also one of these guys, for someone who costs the bare minimum like Norwich’s 3rd keeper Jed Steer (who sounds like a character from a Zane Grey novel) or Wigan’s Lee Nichols, you could free up as much as a full £1mil of budget room. If you keep a close eye on fixtures, you’re unlikely to need a last minute sub to bring in a backup keeper, so he’s just gonna sit on the bench anyway. There will be a fixture or two where your guy will have a tough matchup, but we’ve seen these guys put up decent points in lousy games. Jussi managed a whopping 10 saves against Tottenham last week, for instance. Joe Hart will either look the fool in City’s upcoming season defining derby match, or play the hero, so it’s worth the risk. If you’re desperate for a strong finish to the season, and in need of cash, this is a good place to look.
C) Ship out players with nothing to play for.
While this might not apply heavily to this week, it’s worth bearing in mind for the last bit of the season that players with nothing to play for rarely deliver solid fantasy returns. This will soon provide even more reason to dump RVP, especially in United triumph over Real in the CL, widen the gap against City, or both in the coming weeks. Other high priced assets that might be ready to lounge around doing little? MIchu could be one to look at dumping, if you haven’t already. With Silverware and a Europa League place already secured, there’s little left for Swansea to achieve this season. Man United midfielders like Antonio Valencia, Nani, and Ashley Young are overpriced as it is as £8.2, and if they wrap up the title there’s little incentive for Sir Alex not to rotate them even further, making them poor investments. The same is true of City’ overpiced midfield option David Silva, once a fantasy darling. City are a relative lock for a top 4 finish, but if they aren’t legitimately chasing the title, their desire to win and wind big will be diminished. While I wouldn’t ship at Silva or Sergio Aguerro just yet (Aguerro still makes a fine RVP differential) I’d keep them on the sell radar for certain.
So there you have it. How another of the finest pieces of modern cinema can affect you fantasy selection, two weeks in a row. Have I found another brilliant vein of strategic inspiration? Or do I just need to get out of the house more often? Come back next week to see where this takes us, and until then, best of luck to all.