FPL Final Draft Heading into GW1
Written by: FPLijah
After all that tinkering, planning, and research, the first Fantasy Premier League deadline of the season is upon us (Reminder: Deadline is TODAY, Friday, 5 August 2022).
If you’re still new to FPL and all its wonders, make sure you give my previous article a read, as I went through a comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Fantasy Premier League, as well as some tips and hacks to ensure you stay ahead of the herd.
If I’m being honest, I’ve gone through a ton of drafts, making changes almost on a daily basis, which I am sure most of you have done as well. Still, I have not changed that final draft in approximately four days now, indicating that I may have just found that perfect balance and a squad I am happy to go into Gameweek 1 with.
Before we jump on discussing why I’ve selected each player in my final draft, as well as some alternatives, let’s first run through the better FPL assets, in my opinion. Based on pre-season, the current manager pressers, form, threat, and the transfer market, here is a list of my Top 3 FPL assets from every Premier League Team, which I have also posted on my social media accounts (if you already follow me there):
I am sure you may not necessarily agree with the Top 3 list, but this is precisely why we love Fantasy Premier League. There is no guarantee that a particular way of playing the game is better than another, hence the discussion, debates, and interaction amongst all FPL enthusiasts. Playing FPL is pretty similar to sports betting, and you need to have you choose a strategy to be good and successful.
There have been quite a few variations in terms of formation floating about on social media, even amongst the so-called ‘Elite FPL managers’ – however, the one I favor the most is a 4-4-2 due to its flexibility and ability to target various price points in the different positions. Jumping onto form players, bandwagons, and punts, are made easier, and likely with one transfer, using this formation. I’m sure you’ve been patiently waiting to see the draft, so here it is!
Firstly, this squad isn’t locked in! It is the team that I am currently on the moment, and I feel fairly certain that I will be going into Gameweek 1 with. One or two players are definitely subject to change, but I will be posting my final team prior to the deadline, both on Twitter and Instagram (@FPLijah).
This final draft has £0.5m in the bank for your reference.
In goal, I generally avoid spending big. I tend to go for reliable cheap options from a defensively minded team. A £4.5m + £4.0m keeper pairing is generally my way of playing the game, while investing the remainder of the cash into the outfield players. Every 0.5m matters; however, this season we have two goalkeepers from the ‘Big 6’ Premier League teams, massively under-priced at just £5.0m, namely Ramsdale from Arsenal and Mendy from Chelsea. Chelsea haven’t looked great defensively during pre-season, therefore ruling Mendy out of my team. Ramsdale is an intriguing one, as Arsenal have incredible fixtures to begin the season with. They’re a team in form as well, if we’re basing it on pre-season. The only downside of going Ramsdale, is that it prevents you from going for triple Arsenal attack, in the event that you ever want to (I don’t recommend it at present as it may be overkill, but definitely not a bad option).
Sanchez and Raya are the best £4.5m option goalkeepers in my opinion, however I’ve opted for Sanchez, as I trust Brighton a little more defensively than I do with Brentford. With Schmeichel transferring to Nice, Ward is now the go-to £4.0m goalkeeper, that is very likely to start in goal for Leicester. Not often do we ever find a gem in goal for just £4.0m, and if you double up with Iversen, you are essentially paying the bare minimum of £8.0m for a starting keeper and his back-up. The only downside to this strategy is that Leicester could still go out and buy a new No.1 goalkeeper, but for the short-term, this could be quite a nice strategy, as you could invest the remainder of the cash into your defence or midfield (Sidenote: I am actually weighing up this option and will show you that draft towards the end of this article).
The defense this season, much like last season, offers far too much value to ignore. If I say it offers far too much value, why just not go five at the back? Well, that’s a good question, and naturally, that comes down to the type of FPL manager that you are. Although flexible, one of my philosophies is to go on the attack and rely as less as possible on the defense, and naturally, I would always favor the attacker over a defender. Some defenders, however, play so high up the pitch, and they are involved in most attacks and are on corners and free-kicks, which are extremely difficult to ignore.
Beginning with Alexander-Arnold, he is as essential as Mohammed Salah. In good form and involved in almost every attack for the most attacking team in the Premier League. He has great fixtures, to begin with, and is almost guaranteed an attacking return in GW1. He currently sits in 59.3% of the FPL teams at the time of writing this article, so if you don’t the Scouser and he smashes it in GW1, you’re already playing catch up.
Trent’s other half on the opposite wing, Robertson, is going under the radar yet again at the start of the new season. He is a differential (shockingly) at just 12.6% ownership. Andy Robertson ended the 2021/22 FPL Season with two goals, six assists, and 11 cleansheets in 15 games, earning himself 117 points during that period, making him the highest-scoring defender in 2022. As a Liverpool fan, going with the eye-test as well, in open play, he is more likely to get an assist than Trent. During a dead ball situation, I’d back Trent to rack up the points. The big decision many FPL managers are facing is whether to go with Robertson or Luis Diaz, and personally, I’m backing Robbo for consistency, the safety of minutes, and various streams of getting in points (goals, assists, and cleansheets).
Up next, I’ve gone with Cancelo, playing for one of the best teams in the world and often rivals Robertson in the Team of the Season debate, year in year out. With Haaland up top for Manchester City, this only increases the appeal of Cancelo, and with the fixtures listed below for the 6 gameweeks, it’s difficult to ignore him.
Cleansheets + Assist/Goal potential. What’s not to love? We’ve become accustomed to ‘Pep Roulette’; however, players that are often immune from benchings are Ederson, Cancelo, and De Bruyne. Cancelo is a great pick and sits in 45.4% of FPL teams.
Rounding up the defense in the starting XI, I’ve gone for Trippier. He is a short-term pick with great opening fixtures against Nottingham Forest and Brighton. He is on free-kicks as well, scoring in pre-season, with Newcastle looking to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Alternatives to Trippier are Cash and Gabriel.
On the bench, Neco Williams has made his way into the team after his move from Liverpool to Nottingham Forest. At just £4.0m, he is expected to be a regular starter, therefore providing enough cover in the event that a player from the starting XI misses out completely. Patterson from Everton is a good alternative £4.0m bench option after having a great pre-season.
Beginning with the King himself, Mohamed Salah, he is as essential as they come. An FPL God that is always likely to be the top scoring player at the end of the season. He ended the 2021/22 FPL Season, scoring the most points (yet again), also coming away with the Golden Boot and the Playmaker award for the most assists in the Premier League. Some FPL managers are contemplating going without Salah due to his £13.0m price tag and would rather spread those funds around the squad, but that’s like playing FPL on difficult mode. For the vast majority of weeks, Salah will have the highest effective ownership (ownership + captaincy + triple captaincy percentage), and you will likely find yourself behind the couch with your hands covering your eyes and going on a social media break during Liverpool games. Honestly, just get the man into your team. I will have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who chooses not to go with the Egyptian King and then complains when he inevitably hauls.
Mason Mount has also entered the team. In terms of flexibility, I believe every single FPL team should have an £8.0m price bracket player. Whether you go for Diaz, Saka, Mount, Foden, Mahrez, or Maddison, just get one in. From the list above, I’m sure you can see why I’ve said you need an £8.0m price bracket player. There are so many great options, and at any point, one of them could go on a good run of form, and you need to try to be able to get to that player with one free transfer. This strategy will help you stay ahead of your mates and rivals in mini-leagues, as they look to take points hits to get to that specific player. I would’ve loved Maddison as a differential, but with all the transfer rumors surrounding him, we have no idea whether or not he plays in GW1. My order of the £8.0m mids are as follows:
Diaz has essentially replaced Mane for just £8.0m, making him a standout option (I’ve opted for Robbo at the back over him, though, as my 3rd Liverpool player). Saka is a guaranteed starter in Arsenal’s front three and likely on penalties as well. Mount comes in as a differential pick against a weakened Everton side. Mahrez and Foden are just rotation risks going into GW1, but hopefully, we will get a clear idea of who will start in GW2 against Bournemouth and could easily do Mount to one of the Manchester City boys.
Martinelli has a brilliant pre-season for Arsenal, essentially ensuring that he makes Arsenal’s best XI. The only doubt we as FPL managers faced was the competition for a starting spot between Martinelli and Smith-Rowe, and after Arteta’s recent presser, it was confirmed that Smith-Rowe will miss out on GW1 due to a small injury. Martinelli in, is a no brainer for me.
Bailey, just like Martinelli, has shone in pre-season, with lots of praise coming from Steven Gerrard for the Aston Villa youngster. At just £5.0m, I think he starts, and up against a weak Bournemouth defense.
Pereira comes into the team as the 5th mid, bench option after his transfer to Fulham. At £4.5m, he will be a starter and a great bench option to have. Once Fulham’s fixtures turn, he could be one to look at for rotation with Bailey in the starting XI, assuming Bailey hasn’t already been transferred out.
Gabriel Jesus has broken an FPL record previously held by Mohamed Salah, being the highest-owned player in the game! He is now in 75.7% of FPL teams, and that figure will seemingly rise the closer we get to the deadline. His ownership indicates that he has been massively underpriced this season, and I don’t think you can afford to go without the Arsenal striker. His ownership is just too high to ignore. If you go without him and he does well (very likely based on pre-season, being the most in-from of any player in the Premier League), your rank will tank, and you’ll be playing catch up, not just in overall rank but in your mini-leagues, as I guarantee that most of your mates will own him. Be safe, be template, and get him in. Beyond how template this pick this, I genuinely do think he is a great pick and will do well at the start of the season with great fixtures.
Haaland is in the team over Harry Kane. Kane has been in every single draft of mine until the very final draft, which surprised many of my followers and subscriber, as it’s known that I never ever go for a new player joining the Premier League that has never played in the league before. When Timo Werner join the Premier League, he went into GW1, with around a 56% ownership, and although scary not owning him, I backed myself, and that decision was correct. The eye-test is insanely important to me, knowing how that player gels into the team, assurity of minutes, and how attacking he looks. Kane is a proven Premier League goal scorer and playmaker. He is the safe pick against a Southampton side that he generally does well against. I’ve had my doubts surrounding Haaland’s minutes, but he played a full 90 against Liverpool in the Community Shield, racking up a 1.59 xG (expected goals).
That fixture in itself swayed FPL managers to drop him for Kane (Haaland’s ownership dropped by more than 10% in a couple of days), but that did the complete opposite for me. FPL managers all agree that Haaland is a standout captaincy option in GW2 against Bournemouth, so by going Kane in GW1, you’re booking in a transfer for GW2, which I do not recommend. I know we all think we’ve made the perfect draft, but things will go wrong in GW1, and we will also see emerging players that we may want for GW2. Booking in a transfer is never good, and with Haaland expected to start in GW1, why not start with him? My gut says he scores a brace against West Ham.
The final spot in the FPLijah squad goes to Archer as the forward bench option. Greenwood is the highest-owned bench option forward. My reasoning for going Archer over Greenwood is that with Greenwood’s high ownership, casual FPL players may see that gets a handful of minutes and will sell him, resulting in his value lowering, thus decreasing your team value. Gerrard has come out and said that he will not loan Archer out, so there is some hope that he gets minutes in the league.
That sums up my thoughts on my final draft. An alternative draft that I am also weighing up on can be seen below. It’s riskier going with the Leicester keeper double-up as explained earlier in the article, but allows for Reece James and his extremely high ceiling to enter the team.
- Remember, we can have them all. Select a squad that you like and go with your gut
- Going template isn’t bad. You won’t win FPL at the start of the season, but you can definitely lose it by making it harder for yourself by going too differential
- Try to keep £0.5m in the bank for flexibility
- Have an £8.0m mid in your squad
- Captain Salah in GW1
- Avoid booking in transfers
- My final team will be posted on social media platforms. If you have any questions regarding your team or for more information regarding all things Fantasy Premier League, as well as maximum interaction, follow/subscribe to FPLijah on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.