Telegraph fantasy football (TFF) tips. Experienced manager Paul McAnulty shares his thoughts on the story so far and the key players to target to improve your team.
I always try to play the long game with Telegraph Fantasy Football, and with no captaincy doubling points I try to focus more on where the value is as opposed to picking players based on 2-3 week runs of strong fixtures. In this article I’ll be looking at the season so far and where the value picks are to give the solid foundations for your TFF team.
Looking at P/£ (Points scored per million pounds), Villa shot-stopper Martinez (£3.3m) tops the pile with 10 P/£, having played one game fewer than the majority of his rivals. Dean Smith’s men have looked much more solid at the back this season and Martinez has been on top form. Fabianski (£3.4m, 9.1), and Patricio (£4.0m, 9) are only just behind and both look solid investments, with the Portuguese keeper the top points scoring keeper overall with 36 in his eight games.
Two additional keepers stand out to me for different reasons are Meslier (£2.1m, 7.1) who is the cheapest starting keeper in the game, so if Leeds start chalking up one or two more clean sheets could quickly burst up from his 6th P/£ position, and Mendy (£3.5m), whom if we pro rata’d his 6.6 P/£ up from his four starts would put him top value keeper overall.
With an influx of goals at the start of the season compared to previous ones, it would have been easy to think we should avoid spending our precious transfers on defenders. However, defenders are still clear of all other positions on P/£, meaning the previously requested 5-4-1 formation could still offer managers the best formation moving forward. The first choice Liverpool back four from the end of last season have only averaged 13.5 points between them thus far. Those that ignored Lampard’s rotation tendencies and plumped for Zouma (£2.9m) have been rewarded with an impressive 14.1 P/£, and the highest points tally of a defender thus far with 41.
Vestergaard (£2.8m, 13.9) has only started six of the eight games but looks to have nailed down a starting spot now, and Kilman (£2.0m, 13.5) offers those that look in the bargain basement a great enabler if he can keep his spot. Two players who don’t appear near the top of the list but I think are worthy of a mention are new signings are Fofana of Leicester (£3.0m, 5.3) and Coufal of West Ham (£2.7m, 5.6). Both have played only four games each so far this season, but look to have greatly increased their respective teams’ defensive potential.
Only three midfield assets have a higher P/£ than 10, namely Villa talisman Grealish (£4.6m, 11.1), differential option Fornals (£3.2m, 10.6) and Spurs fan-favourite Son (£6m, 10.3). Salah (£6.8m) and Fernandes (£6.2m) are still 2nd and 5th highest scoring midfielders with 59 and 44, and therefore would make good set and forget heavy-hitters to sit alongside your value budget enablers. Emerging fantasy options Eze (£3.4m), Jota (£4.1m) and Ziyech (£4.3m) would all rank higher had they started more than eight games between them, but current form should see them increase their starts significantly and climb the points and P/£ ranks quickly.
Mane (6.7m), De Bruyne (£6.5m) and Sterling (£6.4m) have all had steady, if not spectacular, starts to the season with 14 attacking returns between them, but are all probably below what managers expect from returns from big hitting assets.
Harry Kane (£6.7m) tops the points scoring charts so far this season. The England captain has 15 attacking returns in his eight starts, and with a P/£ of 11.2 has to be the premium of choice so far. His P/£ is only bettered in the attacking category by Leeds Utd front-man Bamford (£4.2m, 13.3) who looks to have finally found his feet in the Premier League.
Adams (£3.5m, 11.1), Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m, 10.9), Watkins (£4.4m, 10.7) and Wilson (£4.8m, 10.6) all boast impressive starts to the season and could complement Kane in a two or three man front-line.
My closing thoughts are around the ideal formation I’d want to utilise going into the Christmas stretch. I do think the midfielder value is, and may continue to be, significantly lower this season due to the removal of the key contribution (assist the assister) scoring, with this not necessarily being factored into the player prices at the start of the season. However, most strikers in the TFF game had few KCs last season so would be affected less by this. As mentioned previously, defenders still hold the best P/£ position, even with the increase in goals per game, so I’m keen to move towards either a 4-3-3 or 5-3-2 formation to utilise this information. If I had unlimited TFF transfers in this international break I would set myself up with a team similar to the following:
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