So the question in this week’s episode of Fantasy 606 is: can you have your cake and eat it?
I found myself a little envious in gameweek 11 at the Mohamed Salah owners who were gleefully watching him hoover up 14 points in Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Wolves, most of them doubling that up to 28 having given him the captain’s armband – and this was despite the fact that my skipper, Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, had done exactly the same thing for my team the day before against Fulham.
It wasn’t enough. I wanted more.
I also had Tottenham striker Harry Kane chipping in with another double-digit haul in the north London derby win over Arsenal and Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes clocking up a useful six points despite starting on the bench at West Ham.
But I didn’t have Salah, I didn’t have Spurs’ Son Heung-min and I didn’t have Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin. And I wanted them all in my team.
Those five players are the top scorers in the game at the moment – Son, Kane, Salah, Fernandes and Calvert-Lewin – and I’m also adding De Bruyne to the wishlist as he’s flexed his muscles with 24 points in the past two gameweeks.
So that was the challenge I set the Fantasy 606 listeners – can you come up with a squad that includes most of them or all of them, but also one that doesn’t leave you so severely compromised that the rest of the line-up is providing next to nothing every week?
By the way, if you like the look of any of these squads and you have your first wildcard still to play then you might just be tempted to have a dabble.
See what you think….
Fancy some inspiration?
So what about Rob’s line-up ,which doesn’t include Kane but does have Jack Grealish as the fifth midfielder?
Alex McCarthy, Orjan Nyland; Ben Chilwell, Aaron Cresswell, Tariq Lamptey, Max Kilman, Jimmy Dunne; De Bruyne, Salah, Fernandes, Son, Grealish; Calvert-Lewin, Patrick Bamford, Rhian Brewster.
Obviously the issue is going to be the bench, with Nyland no longer with Aston Villa and the others not getting a regular start for their clubs.
Jonathan came up with this squad, which doesn’t have Son but does have five defenders who start pretty much every game for their teams…
McCarthy, Illan Meslier; Reece James, Cresswell, Stuart Dallas, Jan Bednarek, Darnell Furlong; De Bruyne, Salah, Fernandes, Tomas Soucek, Curtis Jones; Kane, Bamford, Brewster.
This next one comes from someone who goes by the name of Pineapple Hombre on Twitter and gets ALL the big guns in but, even without injuries or enforced absences, you have got to have one of Neco Williams, Bernardo, Jairo Riedewald or Brewster in your starting XI every week…
Emi Martinez, David Button; Charlie Taylor, Arthur Masuaku, Jamal Lewis, Williams, Bernardo; De Bruyne, Salah, Fernandes, Son, Riedewald; Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Brewster.
Daniel came up with this – it’s another one that doesn’t include Son, but I quite like the look of it…
Mat Ryan, Caoimhin Kelleher; Kyle Walker-Peters, James Justin, Eric Dier, Fabian Balbuena, Kilman; De Bruyne, Salah, Fernandes, Pedro Neto, Soucek; Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Danny Welbeck.
Meanwhile, the best I could do with my squad at current prices was…
McCarthy, Jed Steer; Dallas, Bednarek, Balbuena, Charlie Taylor, Lewis; De Bruyne, Fernandes, Salah, Soucek, Ademola Lookman; Kane, Calvert-Lewin, Bamford.
It does seem that trying to squeeze all six star names in leaves you too vulnerable elsewhere and, obviously, it also depends on what budget you’re starting with given who else you have already got in your squad.
But is it worth it? Do the points hauls of the big-hitters tempt you in? Or is it better to play it safe and just accept that you don’t have Salah, or you don’t have De Bruyne, and at certain points in the season not having them is going to hurt you?
Who are the budget bargains?
There is always that compromise and, as I said, the budget players are crucial to give a plan like this any chance to work.
There’s certainly plenty of defenders around the £4.5m mark, the likes of Luke Ayling and Dallas who offer exciting attacking returns at Leeds, as does Brighton’s Lamptey. Vladimir Coufal, Arthur Masuaku and Balbuena are all excellent value at West Ham, as is Bednarek or fellow Southampton centre-back Jannik Vestergaard, who is just that little bit more at £4.8m.
In midfield, West Ham’s Soucek looks the real steal at £4.9m, Solly March of Brighton and Fulham’s Lookman are both only £5m, while the Wolves boys PNeto and Daniel Podence provide goals and assists if you are happy to spend about half a million more.
Strikers always cost that little bit extra, as they do in real life. As discussed last week, Leeds’ Bamford looks the best-value bet at £6.1m – but if you wanted to save a little bit then how about Welbeck at £5.5m, who has racked up 19 points in his past three games for Brighton?
I have to say I’m torn.
Fantasy football can be painful sometimes.
Thank you to everyone who submitted teams – the email address to get in touch is firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget the gameweek 12 deadline is Friday at 18:30 GMT before Leeds v West Ham, and that is quickly followed by the gameweek 13 deadline at 16:30 on Tuesday for a midweek round of Premier League fixtures.