Telegraph Fantasy Football tips. Experienced TFF manager Paul McAnulty shares his thoughts on his story so far as he heads towards a top 100 finish, along the key players to target to improve your team as we head towards the final stretch of the season.
A bit about my season so far
I’m currently ranked 268th overall with eight transfers left, which based on the Telegraph’s communication in February, should leave me with a good chance of a top 100 finish. I think my relative success this season is down to similar experienced managers, in that I got on Man City assets quickly for their incredible run from January, with even Oleksandr Zinchenko (£2.9m) making it into my team. I was one of those stung by Chelsea’s faux pas on Twitter, announcing the incorrect starting XI for their FA cup tie which resulted in me using three transfers to make the most of their extra game and good fixture run post international break. Cesar Azpilicueta (£4.5m) at least came off the bench so I got his three points. Below I look at some fixtures runs, teams and players which could bear fruitful from now until the end of the season.
Three teams have potentially 11 or more TFF-point eligible games this season, namely Leicester, Chelsea and Southampton (11) so I deep dive into these teams.
The Foxes are quietly going about their business this season, comfortably sitting in the Champion’s League spots. Recent injuries to key talismen James Maddison and Harvey Barnes hasn’t resulted in a downturn of form, and after this weekend’s fixture against Man City they embark on a favourable run of games. Jamie Vardy (£6.9m) is unsurprisingly their overall top points scorer this season with 144, but the re-emergence of the big at the back formation of 5-4-1 may lead to difficulty in acquiring the prolific goal scorer unless managers are willing to drop Kane.
Since reverting to a 3-5-2 formation, Kelechi Iheanacho (£3.4m) has been in breath-taking form (46 points in last 4, 1.6% owned) and may offer a budget route into their attack. I may look at their defensive assets, and in particular Caglar Soyuncu (£3.7m, 37 points in last 6 GWs) and Wes Fofana (£3.0m, 11 points from last 3 starts since returning from injury). Brendan Rodgers’ men are favourites to progress to the FA Cup final, if that were to happen it would leave them with the maximum 11 games in which to accrue points in this season.
Since arriving at Chelsea Thomas Tuchel has added defensive resoluteness to the Blue’s backline, generating 12 clean sheets in his 14 games in charge. It’s unfortunate they play first this weekend as doesn’t offer managers a beneficial hop on point to utilise an extra game, but if managers can forgo the great looking West Brom fixture they can perhaps look at jumping off Leeds, Man City or Liverpool players next weekend, and moving on to Chelsea assets before the Crystal Palace game on Saturday. Cesar Azpilicueta (£4.5m) looks to be nailed on for starts, but with that comes a heaviest defensive price tag. I’d consider Rudiger (£3.8m) the next best defender option, however although Reece James (£3m) doesn’t start every game, he does seem to play a part in most, and with Telegraph offering part clean sheets it may offer a budget route into the impressive Blues’ backline. Those looking for a very cheap punt, Andreas Christensen (£2.6m) has scored seven in each of his last five games, I emphasise ‘punt’ as with Thiago Silva (£3.9m) due back at some point, there is every chance the Dane will see his minutes reduced significantly. If doubling up at the back my preference would be to partner Azpilicueta with keeper Edouard Mendy (£3.5m), with my only word of caution would be that they both could be rested for the FA Cup game(s).
Chelsea haven’t been stream-rolling teams with high goal counts, but if I was to consider their attacking assets only one player really interests me – Mason Mount (£4.5m). The England international has worked his way into Tuchel’s preferred midfield three and has scored two goals in his last six club appearances.
The Saints’ upcoming fixtures are a real mixed bag, and at present I don’t really have my eye on any of their players. If I were to dip my toe, I think Che Adams (£3.5m) continues to offer good value, he has scored three in his last four, is only 4.15% owned, and does play every game, helping him to the impressive 110 point tally he returned thus far.
If fixed on the 5-4-1 formation and looking for a midfielder, James Ward-Prowse (£3.8m) continues to deliver, and even with his record breaking -12 score against Man Utd, Jan Bednarek (£2.6m) is still Southampton’s top scoring defender on 100, (with an impressive 38.5 points per million value). The south-coast club play on the 5th Premier League time slot this weekend, and the 9th next weekend, giving good jump on points if looking to take advantage of their extra games.
The best of the rest
Man City could still play 10 TFF point qualifying times this season, the concern for managers is the potential of mass rotation. Investment in their defensive assets is still strong with Ruben Dias (£3.8m), John Stones (£3.2m) and Joao Cancelo (£3.7m) all having ownership of over 20%. Kevin De Bruyne (£6.5m) is back on form since he returned from injury, I mentioned in a previous article that I just don’t think he offers the same value since TFF scrapped the key contribution points this season. Ilkay Gundogan (£3.9m) has scored two in his last two and is making a mockery of his price tag. If I were going for another City attacking asset, I think I’d look at Riyad Mahrez (£5.5m), the Algerian is on red-hot form at the moment (45 points in his last seven starts) and only has five points less than Raheem Sterling (£6.4m) this season.
Wolves‘ fixtures for the next six looks great. Arguably the toughest of those six is this weekend’s fixture against West Ham, but as the game is the 10th league match to be played it means you can transfer out any player from the previous nine games to gain additional points. With my defensive interests being firmly on Chelsea, Leicester and Man City, the only player I have my eye on Pedro Neto (£3.2m), the tricky midfielder hasn’t boasted great TFF point returns recently but certainly has the potential to score well.
I really like the look of Arsenal’s remaining fixtures, but I just can’t bring myself to plan for any of their players based on Mikel Arteta’s tendency to rotate, and the common belief that the Gunners’ focus will be on the Europa League now. If I did feel more confident about their players starting most league games, I’d be looking at Kieran Tierney (£3.2m), Bukayo Saka (£3.1m) and Martin Odegaard (£3.7m).
With Leicester’s FA Cup game being on the Sunday of the gameweek commencing Fri 16th/Sat 17th April I am going to try and take advantage of their extra fixtures from this point, targeting the afore mentions players. There should be the required two-hour window from the previous Premier League fixture to allow managers to see their line up before making transfers, and therefore will gamble on making two or three moves at that time. Depending how many transfers I’ve used at this point and what formation I’m on, I may also consider Che Adams; this a move based purely on volume of fixtures and likelihood to play, rather than fixture ease. For my other transfers, barring injuries or suspensions, I’m open to rotate high-ceiling premium options in order to utilise three-for-ones and similar to get the best fixture coverage, in hope of achieving my aim of a top 100 finish.
Good luck to all TFF managers for the remainder of the season!
Don’t forget to catch our TFF tips every week at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/fantasy-sports/