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TDS Community Special: The Crystal Ball with Pawn Pogba

Updated: May 20, 2022

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 Pawn Pogba, who forced us to cave in with this gif retweet – gotta love a bit of Austin Powers/Dr Evil. Anyway, Pawn Pogba chose a Crystal Ball analysis, so with one fifth of the season gone, and a mighty 28 games remaining, the Inner Geek is sure to have his work cut out in this one. Pawn Pogba, are you and your rivals ready to see into the future?

The Crystal Ball

We are just 7 gameweeks down, and for you mere mortals, the end is nowhere near in sight. But for me, 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.

This league works to a 35-game season and utilises one autosub spot. Most notably, however, it also incorporates OverThinkingFootball’s realistic scoring system to determine matchups (click here for an explanation of this). For anyone not clicking, or already in the know, this basically assigns ‘goals’ to the fantasy points that are accumulated in a weekly matchup, so 80 points might be worth 1 goal, 100 points worth 2 goals, and so on. For what it’s worth, I think this would be game changing if Fantrax were able to automate this within their game…but I’m not holding my breath.

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!).

8th – Kruskal

Currently sat on 9 points, six off the top and six off the bottom, you could understand why Kruskal may be thinking more about a title challenge than a wooden spoon battle. Until you see the state of their squad that is. We have just two names that make our recent consensus ranks top 30 – Jamie Vardy at 19 and Cristiano Ronaldo at 4. Ronaldo may have been able to carry a very average Portugal team back in 2016, and to be honest, a couple of poor Real Madrid sides back in the day too, but he has no chance with this one. The major problem here is that midfield. Neves, McGinn, Moura, Willock, Maddison, Westwood…where do you even begin? When Lucas Moura is your MID1 you know you’re going to be in trouble.

7th – DJ Square

If Kruskal’s disappointed with how their season turns out, then it is surely nothing on how DJ Square will be feeling. Third in the league and just two points off the top spot, the club would be forgiven for being confident of a season dominated by wins and talk of championship glory. They would be wrong. This roster is built for 7th spot. Maybe the heady heights of 6th or 5th at a push. But there’s not enough here for anything more than that. Currently on the roster are FOUR players that went unranked on our recent consensus ranks. That means there are 150 players considered better than Alisson, Christensen, Zinchenko, and Jones. These guys may have the odd big day from time to time, but there must be better options in an 8-team league with 16-player squads. Having said that, a Lukaku-Kane one-two up top is going to destroy a few opponents this year.

6th – Bharat

This is by no means a good roster, but it is far better than its current league position suggests. The 35-game league season will prove that eventually though, so in the meantime, just stay patient Bharat! In fact, I have this defence as the best in the league by some distance. Unfortunately, defences don’t win championships in Fantrax, so the manager may want to look at trading away one of these solid assets (James or Robertson, in my opinion) to strengthen that dodgy looking midfield. Speaking of which, this is why the final position is no higher than 6th. With Havertz likely to see starts in just 50% of games, this midfield is basically Raphina, Harrison or James, and a free agent. God help them when Leeds face anyone half decent.

5th – Sandymon

If Bharat wants to know what a good midfield looks like, then they need look no further than Sandymon, who have wholeheartedly adopted the quality over quantity approach in this position. Fernandes, Saka, Soucek, and Tielemans are top drawer fantasy assets (the consensus ranks had them all in the top 60, but for me they all made the top 50). What’s more, they are probably as ‘set and forget’ as you can get in the Premier League, so the lack of depth here shouldn’t be an issue. What is an issue, though, is that defence. The names here have potential, but none of them fill you with confidence. Even Ruben Dias, perhaps the safest bet of the lot, is likely to be very clean sheet dependent. It’s almost a reverse of the midfield strategy. Here there is quantity, but not premium level quality.

4th – Neelansh

A mid-table finish for a very middle-of-the-road looking team. There’s little to dislike here, outside of Brighton’s Lewis Dunk (in an 8-team league there must be some better waiver options). But there’s also no X-factor. Jack Grealish and Mason Mount are the two star names, but even they have question marks surrounding them (their game time, of course, not their ability). Neelansh will be hoping to get lucky with Pep and Tuchel roulette this season, because if not, a Doucoure-Klich-Gundogan-Ritchie is a significant drop off in quality. The forward contingent probably best epitomises Neelansh’s roster – five very solid assets but nobody to set and forget. I’d be looking to trade one of these out because picking three to start each week could be a massive headache given the all-or-nothing potential of them.

3rd – Shaurya1652

Third place goes to Shaurya1652, who put together a solid season led by the fantasy player of the year Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool man will continue to dominate all season long and is supported by a very deep forward pool that includes Aubaemyang, Hee-Chan, Sancho, Ings, and Sterling. All of these players are going to put forward multiple 15+ point games from now until May – and it will be on Shaurya1652 to try and predict when these are. Successfully doing so could see a 2nd place finish come their way…but continual failures could see this drop down to 4th or below. Foden keeps a below-average midfield afloat as he ends as City’s top fantasy asset, whilst the decent defensive unit also contributes throughout. Trading out a forward for some midfield support would seem like a wise move to me.

2nd – The Conqueror

It’s a runners-up medal for The Conqueror, but in reality, this is a 2nd place finish that feels like a win against 3rd placed Shaurya than a loss against 1st placed Mane for Nothing. 15 points is the gap from the top, but to finish as the best of the rest is still a great achievement. Trent Alexander-Arnold has started (and will finish) the season flying, and it won’t be long until his underperforming teammates in defence start producing the goods that many predicted at the start of the season (looking at you, Wan-Bissaka and Cooper). A similar thing will be said of that midfield, which includes Buendia, Lookman, and Olise – these guys will also be firing come January. And whilst there is sure to be a bit of concern right now about the likes of Traore, Trincao, and Pepe up top, these are players that are going to bag points for fun when they do start…and they will start soon enough.

1st – Mane for Nothing

Top of the league right now. Top of the league come April. Yes, it may not be the exciting, twisting, edge-of-your-seat thriller that everyone wanted, but my crystal ball does not cater to your desires. It predicts the future. And the future is a Mane for Nothing championship. League titles don’t often come much easier than this one, but what do you expect when you have a front five of Son, Antonio, Mahrez, Iheanacho, and Calvert-Lewin? That’s the best in the league, and in fantasy, it’s forwards that win championships. It also helps that the midfield is up there as well. De Bruyne, of course, is the main man, but Ward-Prowse, Saint-Maximin, and McNeil make up a frightening four. A defence that includes Cancelo and the current highest scoring defender in the league is also not too shabby. A very impressive roster constructed by Mane for Nothing - one that even Genie and Totti would be proud of. It will be rewarded with silverware in 28 games time. And yes, this side also wins the playoffs.

So there we have it. The Crystal Ball has revealed its secrets. Pawn Pogba, 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…Kruskal…). It also means that you can now bring forward the end of season night out. You’re welcome.

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