Recently the draft for the IEFSA Fantasy League for the upcoming season was held on Fantrax. I was determined to assemble a better squad than the one I saddled myself with at the start of last season. Even though I claimed a respectable midtable position, I was constantly battling with injuries, out of form players, players not making it into their teams starting elevens, and of course, fixture bias against my team.
Things get a little more complicated with this year’s draft though, as there are more teams involved, and some players can be held over from last year’s game. For my part I held on to Marko Arnautovic for his salary of $1. The Stoke City top scorer was one of my best performers last season and I hope he can keep up that form into 2017. Let me explain the make up for the rest of my squad after the draft was completed.
In goals I went with Tom Heaton of Burnley. I got burned badly last year after spending $31 to get the Chelsea goalkeepers and didn`t feel like over spending in this area again. Burnley did not have a bad defensive record in the Championship and I’m hoping Heaton can emulate someone like Gomes, who gained lots of points for Watford in their first season back in the top division. With all the fantasy teams taking a team each, if things go wrong then he will be very hard to trade away. I could very well be stuck with him.
I`ve coupled Heaton up with his teammate Michael Keane in defence. Keane is a regular at the back and could perhaps be fancied to get three or four goals this year. I only spent $3 and won`t be too hurt if I have to jettison him later in the season. I put most of my money into two other players to make up my defence. Arsenal`s Bellerin cost $25 and is one of the highest scorers in the game, while Leighton Baines cost $19 and is looking to bounce back this year after an injury hit 2015/16. Everton should improve at the back under new man Ronald Koeman, plus I’m hoping Baines' frequent attacks forward can bring some joy too.
Last year my marquee signing was Memphis Depay…….. This year I spent even more money on another Manchester United player. I ended up in a bit of a bidding war for the services of Mkhitaryan and when the dust had settled he was in my squad for $71, which is way more than I had planned to pay. But I felt I had to secure a signing after seeing a number of other big names slip away. I will need the Armenian to play every game and to continue the form that saw him score nearly once every three games in the Bundesliga last season.
To compliment him in midfield I picked up two (currently injured) Arsenal players, Wilshire and Cazorla. I`m banking on them breaking into the Arsenal team sooner rather than later, and they are definitely an upgrade on the two Arsenal players I had last year in Welbeck and Coquelin. To round out the midfield I brought in Kevin Mirallas for $12, again this is a player I expect to be rejuvenated with the arrival of Koeman at Goodison Park. The last midfielder I took a punt on was Joe Allen. If he had stayed at Liverpool I would have never touched him, but at Stoke he will surely be given more game time. He likes to keep possession and I hope he will be able to set up a good few chances for my other Stoke player, Arnautovic.
All that`s left is to look at are the players who will supply the goals in my squad, the forwards. Arnautovic has already been mentioned. The two other Forwards did not have great seasons last year in the Premier League, but under the guidance of new managers maybe it will be their time to shine. Pedro was signed for $9 and as he is not a guaranteed starter at Chelsea, he will probably occupy a bench spot on my team. The main Forward I have will be Fabio Borini.
No, hear me out! Borini got five goals last year in a largely hopeless Sunderland side. This year they should be a bit tighter and more organized under David Moyes. If Moyes can get goals out of Jelavic and Anichebe, he can surely get goals out of Borini.
I still have some money to dabble in the free agent market if there are any transfers to the Premier League before the end of the month. I will probably look for a defender to rotate into my side, or perhaps a more consistent midfielder if my Arsenal players end up spending most of their time on the treatment table.
The opening matchup is fast approaching. Look out for a preview before the weekend. And to keep up with all the goings on in the league, follow @THE_IEFSA on Twitter.