Back on the merry-go-round. FPL 21/22 first draft team.

Hello everyone, welcome to my first post of the new season. The Euros are over and the games are being launched for the new Premier League season. The biggest game of all, as always, is the official Fantasy Premier League game. I’ve had a few moments to get together my thoughts and here’s my thinking behind my first draft team.

First, I have got together my shortlist of players. Those I am seriously considering (at this stage) in each position.

GK: Martinez, Meslier, Leno, Sanchez, Guaita, Dubravka, Pickford.

DEF: Robbo, TAA, Shaw, WB, Cresswell, Coufal, Dias, Chilwell, Targett, Cancelo, White, Digne, Maguire, Lamptey, Fofana, Zinchenko, Ayling

MID: Raphinha, Salah, Bruno, Son, Havertz, Harrison, Gilmour, Soucek, Grealish, Mahrez, Saka, Smith Rowe, JWP, Mount, Zaha, Greenwood, Pepe, Mbeumo

FOR: Toney, Bamford, Kane, Watkins, DCL, Iheanacho, Ings, Wilson, Antonio, Welbeck

Next, I have written off anyone who was in the England squad that has only just been sent home from a superb Euro 2020 effort. It’s by no means certain that they will miss the first week or two, but I think it’s both highly likely and entirely sensible for them to do so. They both need and deserve a rest. Last season followed so quickly on from the restart period of the season before and they have spent weeks in an England camp. It’s only four weeks until the first game of the season and I am happy to leave them out, knowing that they are on my shortlist to bring in later. 

The next thing I have done is choose a few players that I just can’t see myself not starting the season with. That sets my budget for the rest of the squad. 

The first name on my sheet is TAA. Walker was excellent in the Euros and the next World Cup is well within his capabilities. However, TAA will be desperate to win his place back. He was in the squad for the summer before injury. Having seen him on the training pitch this week, I am confident he will be fit and he really does need a big 15 months to get him on the plane to Qatar as first choice right back. I love him as an FPL asset anyway and I have no hesitation at sticking him in my team. He would have been considered as a captain option were it not for my second player. Salah is the standout captain pick for GW1 and I see no logical reason not to have the best captain option for GW1 in my initial team. I’m completing the Liverpool triple up with the excellent Andrew Robertson. 

The argument for picking the two most expensive defenders and the most expensive midfielder is that downgrading is far easier than upgrading. As I definitely won’t be starting with the most expensive forward in Harry Kane, I need to think about ensuring I have cash cows. Now it might well be that I never do downgrade them. But I like the option.

My next selection is Raphinha. As a Leeds fan, he thrills me. As an FPL asset he has been a bit frustrating but his underlying numbers and potential means I feel 6.5m is a mispricing. After that, I’ve stuck in Gilmour as 4.5m bench fodder. He’s a talented player and I think he will be important for Norwich. There might be a better minimum priced player that emerges over the first few weeks and I don’t ever see myself starting Gilmour.

The first striker in my team is Toney. He’s getting a lot of attention and the numbers from the Championship make that perfectly understandable. He’s only 6.5m. If he fails, he will fail for a lot of people and I think we’ll get a pretty decent idea quite quickly. Their first five games are not ideal, but I suggest Brentford will need to get a win early on to give them confidence. 

So I now have six players in my squad. I’ve spent 44.5m. But five of those six are definite starters in my first XI. I’m going to have to look for some value now. The best place to find real value is at the back, so I’ll got there now.

Goalkeeper is a tough call but I often think it’s one we spend a long time on for marginal gains. Martinez was sensational last season but I’m looking at the 4.5 options for this first draft. I like Brighton’s defenders so I have plumped for Guaita and Dubravka. Now, I’m not entirely happy with this and I might end up going for a Brighton double as we approach mid-August.

Next up, I’m filling my defence. I want a piece of that Brighton action and I love the look of Lamptey and Ben White. I’m going to go for the exciting Lamptey option for now because White has been with England. If Lamptey gets injured ahead of GW1. I will bring Sanchez in as GK and have another look.

Everton have kind fixtures and I’ve always been a Digne fan. So he’s in. At 5.5, he’s not really a budget option but I’ve now got four defenders I would happily start most weeks. I need another 4.5 or cheaper (unlikely) option. Leeds are far better than their prices suggest. Ayling scored fewer points than he really should last season and I expect an upturn in points. Not a great set of opening fixtures but I can bench him when I need to.

I have two midfielders and two forwards to buy for 32. Eek. That’s not great. Realistically, I need to find one cheap option in both positions and see where that leaves me. 

Newcastle have very few options other than Wilson to score their goals. He’s reliable. He’s 7.5. He’s in.

Southampton score very few goals that have nothing to do with JWP. He’s a guaranteed starter on all the set pieces. He’s in. Now where does that leave me? 18m. So either two mid-priced starters or a premium and fodder.  

Looking at the squad, it’s solid with lots of options but only one stand out captaincy pick. So Bruno has to come in. I’m not Bruno’s biggest fan but I’m not overly convinced by City and Chelsea’s opening run of games and a lot of their players are coming back from the Euros. Bruno also offers that cash cow potential.

So 6m for a benchable attacker. Welbeck sticks out here. He’s been decent when needed and I won’t be afraid to give him splinters.

So that’s the squad as it stands. I have a vague notion that I might look to BB in GW1 and this squad is nothing like good enough on the bench to do that. But I’m very happy with how it is set up if I’m trying to play a longer game.

I will post my final GW1 team in the days leading up to KO. I’m sure changes will be made but it’s unlikely that the structure of being defensively heavy will change dramatically.

Happy tinkering!

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