Updated: Feb 16
Here at The Draft Society we’ve always said that what makes the draft game different is the community that is has fostered. It’s all love, baby. The support we get from each and every one of you every day of every week is beyond anything we could ever have imagined when we founded back in March of 2021. And whilst we’ll never be able to thank you all enough for this, we hope that we can give a little something back in the best way we know how: the Community Special.
Each week @the_innergeek will write up a personalised article for the league of one lucky winner. It’s your call on the topic. Whether it’s a Trade-Maker Special, a Gameweek Preview, or The Crystal Ball Breakdown, the Inner Geek has you covered. A word of warning, though: no punches will be pulled when the Inner Geek gets to work! This week’s winner is Matty Boar (our first ever two-time winner!), whose response to our request for the best sporting, but non-football, GIF was absolutely perfect… Anyway, the Crystal Ball analysis was chosen, so Matty Boar, are you and your rivals ready to see into the future?
The Crystal Ball
We’re now past the halfway mark in the Premier League season, yet for you mere mortals, the end is still nowhere near in sight. For me, though, blessed as I am with my crystal ball, the end has been in sight since draft day. In fact, it is not so much “in sight” as it is “annoyingly obscuring my view of the rest of the world”. Time to remedy that. It goes without saying, but the following article WILL contain spoilers!
Before we begin, we need to take a look at the rosters. After all, how can you agree with my predictions if you don't know what they're based on?
The Rosters and Some Context
For those of you who continually miss the Sky Sports or ESPN coverage of this league, then here's a quick recap of the rosters, current league standings, and rules.
Matty has chosen to have his Genie League analysed this time. This league – or should I say ‘division’ – is the 5th tier in a pyramid of 10, with the top 2 at the GW35 mark earning automatic promotion, and then the winner of a 3rd-6th place playoff securing a final promotion spot. Roster size is capped at 16 and the scoring system is default Fantrax. (Note: the International Genie League is expanding for the 2022-23 season - if you wish to get involved, check out the Twitter page here).
The Current Situation...
How It All Ends…
Enough with all the formalities - let's start seeing into the crystal ball! Here we go then, in reverse order (though if you can't stand to wait any longer, the final league standings are at the foot of the article!).
12th – Harchester United (current position: 8th)
Not every team can have a defence like SLP, or a midfield like SeshGremlin, or a front line like KoKonate, but every team in this league does have at least one positional area which sits above average. Every team except Harchester that is. This roster is simply abysmal, which perhaps isn’t surprising when you consider it has 11 Manchester United players on it (and none of them are called Bruno Fernandes). An IRL clean sheet for the Red Devils could put a fantasy opponent to the sword, but this United team has the 6th worst XGA in the league and should really be far further down the table had it none been for the regular David de Gea heroics. Anyway, United are bad. Harchester are bad. 12th spot it is.
11th – Gueye for Thiccford (current position: 12th)
Despite being stranded at the foot of the table at present, Gueye’s roster is decent, and the recent boost from January arrivals Kieran Trippier and Philippe Coutinho should see a much improved second-half to the year. In fact, Trippier’s addition strengthens what was already a solid defence consisting of Rayan Ait-Nouri, Thiago Silva, and Lucas Digne. This back four can keep them in a contest most weeks, and with a midfield that also contains certifiable top-20 picks in Raphinha and Conor Gallagher, Gueye will see themselves go 8-and-8 the rest of the way. If the frontline had a number 2 not named Ayew, Rodrigo, or Zaha, then it could have been even better. Whilst an 11th placed finish will still consign the club to relegation, they can console themselves with the fact that at least it’s not the wooden spoon.
10th – HODAR (current position: 9th)
At the start of the season, this forward contingent may have been the most feared collective in the league. Now, one is injured (Jamie Vardy), one is in the doghouse (Romelu Lukaku), one is in a slump (Raul Jimenez), and one is fighting for his spot each week (Roberto Firmino). The other is Jay Rodriguez. Oh, and perhaps most damning of all: the most “valuable” midfielder on this roster (by far) is United flop Jadon Sancho. The season could have turned out so differently for HODAR, but 10th is where it’s going to be for the club. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise either given that they’re rolling out Cresswell and Saiss and the defensive 1 and 2, and then starting a midfield trio of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, David Luiz, and Fabinho.
9th – Pukki Blinders (current position: 10th)
Defence might not win championships in the fantasy world, but they do still help. Hence why the Pukki Blinders – with their fearsome four of Max Kilman, Erik Pieters, Ben White, and Adam Webster – are spending their season in the lower reaches of the table. What exacerbates the issue is that the rest of the roster is not built to be able to field just three defenders (and therefore limit their negative impact). With Patrick Bamford and Abdoulaye Doucoure missing large chunks of the season through injury, and Diogo Jota, Patson Daka, Jakub Moder, and even Mason Mount at perennial risk of not starting, options have been too frequently limited for the Blinders. Things will become easier down the stretch with some of those situations naturally resolving themselves, and it will lead to a huge jump from the 10 spot all the way up to 9th.
8th – Lets FantasyF (current position: 6th)
I look at this team and like what I see. Nick Pope is one of the best around and has 43 games left this season. Nelson Semedo is a clean sheet machine. Reece James looks like he’ll be back sooner than first thought. The midfield has not just guaranteed starters, but guaranteed points in the form of Youri Tielemans, James Ward-Prowse, Stuart Dallas, and Tomas Soucek. And the forward line has the returning-to-form Harry Kane, the returning-from-injury Ismaila Sarr, and an Alexandre Lacazette whose competition for his starting spot is about as fierce as a kitten in a candy floss stall. And yet the Crystal Ball has them all the way down in 8th. Hmmm. Still, that’s what it says, and who are we to argue. Must be some rotten luck coming LFF’s way.
7th – Club Tropicana Drinks FC (current position: 5th)
Great team name. One of the best I’ve come across in all my time doing this. Shame the actual team isn’t as good. The Crystal Ball has foreseen a tough second half of the season, despite the club landing inarguably the signing of the January transfer window when they persuaded the icon that is Totti to come in and take over the manager duties. There are some pieces at the great man’s disposal – notably the #1 player in the game, Mohamed Salah, and a tidy defence consisting of Andrew Robertson, Ruben Dias, and Takehiro Tomiyasu – but that midfield is painful to look at. Some magic will need to be weaved in the trade market here with the two highest ranked players according to our recent Consensus Ranks being Christian Pulisic (#83) and Paul Pogba (#117). Yikes. The Crystal Ball has them falling agonisingly short of a playoff place.
6th – SeshGremlin FF (current position: 7th)
I’ve been advocating for a while that the “midfield pool is shallow” belief is a myth, and SeshGremlin’s 6th placed finish in the league here is further evidence for this. This midfield is LEGIT. Emiliano Buendia, Jack Grealish, Dwight McNeil, Leandro Trossard, and Bernardo Silva? There hasn’t been a five that dominant (and entertaining, for whatever it’s worth) since the heyday of Take That. Yet, despite having the best players in, apparently, the most important position, the club will have to settle to a mid-table finish. Why? Because: 1) superstars win championships, and 2) forwards take precedence. This roster lacks the former and has Said Benrahma/Richarlison for the latter. No amount of midfield power can offset that burden. Hence, the number 6 position.
5th – Earth, Wind & Maguire (current position: 4th)
Loving this roster construction. Not because it’s necessarily good – but because it shows a clear strategy from the manager. Three defenders (two of which are Watford for the current DGW), overload with eight midfielders, and solid up top with two guaranteed starting forwards and two high-ceiling rotations. I really like this way of thinking, though it does rely on strong defensive waivers, a good team selection in the midfield. For EWG, the latter is helped by most of those midfielders being far too friendly with the bench IRL, though whilst this may mean selection headaches are avoided, it’s not ideal from a fantasy success perspective. A little more quality at the expense of the quantity in midfield and a serious title challenge could have been had.
4th – Smells Like Potential (current position: 11th)
Like M People back in ’93, Smells Like Potential will spend most of 2022 moving on up – and fast. How this side languishes in 11th is beyond me – but that won’t matter in the end. Twelve wins and just four losses from here on in see the side surge into recognition – a bit more luck earlier in the season and we could have been talking about automatic promotion. The best, albeit smallest, defence in the league is backed by another huge midfield cohort which includes some big upside talent in the likes of Phil Foden, James Maddison, Gabriel Martinelli, and Andros Townsend. The first three of these are going to ball out over these next few months and will more than make up for what is an admirable if not fearsome forward two of Ivan Toney and Maxwel Cornet.
3rd – Wildboar XI (current position: 1st)
Like Dawid Malan in an England shirt, Wildboar fails to convert the decent start into a successful finish. Yes, our current league leader is going to slide down the table and finish just outside the automatic promotion spots. The reason? That forward line. Adama Traore is no more. Josh King is meh. Armando Broja, likewise. Steven Bergwijn; come on now. It is scientifically impossible for this collection of misfits to win a fantasy title. So far the success has come on the back of my personal #1 and #2 in the game – Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo. But with City sealing the title in March and Liverpool content to settle for second place, these two superstars will find themselves rested in favour of the big Champions League games. And when that happens, it’s curtains for Wildboar. In all honesty, it’s a wonder that this side doesn’t slip any further down the table.
2nd – Lime in De KoKonate (current position: 3rd)
Solid defence, solid midfield, exceptional forwards. This is why Lime in De KoKonate seal automatic promotion and almost take home the title. Heung-Min Son and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are as formidable a 1-2 punch as you’ll find in fantasy and the pair will finish in the top 5 forwards from here until the end of the season. The midfield is not bad either – Jarrod Bowen will continue his exceptional season and with Jack Harrison regaining form and Jacob Ramsey rising as an integral part of the Villa side, there will be points in abundance most gameweeks. The defence is too Spurs-dependent but with clean-sheet potential throughout the backline, there will be times when huge scores are posted. This is the second best roster in the league, and the league table will prove that come gameweek 38.
1st – Leicester A. Arthur (current position: 2nd)
They came, they saw, they conquered, and they won promotion to Division 4 of the Genie League as worthy champions. You know how I said superstars win championships? Well, I present to you Leicester A. Arthur – or KDB + Fernandes F.C. The two midfielders have been below par this season – despite sporting FP/G’s in the 12.5 – 13 range – but for the remainder of the season they will get back to their best; which is a level at which they were the undisputed numbers 1 and 2 back in August (just in case you’d forgotten). The rest of this roster may not have the depth of the likes of SLP, KoKonate, or SeshGremlin, but it doesn’t need to when KDBruno bring home 40 points each gameweek and the manager makes astute waiver pickups. Joel Matip, Lucas Moura, Ollie Watkins, and Joelinton are all underappreciated assets who can keep a side ticking along, but in the end, it’s the superstars who seal the title. Congratulations Leicester A. Arthur!
What about the playoffs, I hear you ask? Well, I could tell you that…but I think it’s better to leave something in suspense 😉
The Final Whistle
So there we have it. The Crystal Ball has revealed its secrets. Matty, you and your league may as well do the old Championship Manager trick now and ‘Go on Holiday’ – the results have already been decided, the positions finalised, and the silverware handed out (and wooden spoon too…Harchester…). It also means that you can now bring forward the end of season night out. You’re welcome.
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