TDS Community Special: The Crystal Ball with FPL Hazardous
Updated: May 20, 2022
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The Crystal Ball
We are 30 gameweeks down and the end is in sight. At least for you mere mortals anyway. For those with a crystal ball, like myself, the end has been in sight for a long time. In fact, it is not so much “in sight” as it is “annoyingly obscuring my view of the rest of the world”. And being the kind and generous writer that I am, I have decided to enlighten one lucky league as to what this sight entails.
As this is our first ever Community Special at our new home, it’s only fitting that we choose someone who has shown us the same love and affection that Frank Lampard shows to Mason Mount. FPL Hazardous, like so many others in the Draft Community, has given us phenomenal support over the years and is always there with some kind words, useful feedback, and interesting opinions. On behalf of everyone at The Draft Society, we want to say thank you, and we hope this article goes some way to showing our appreciation. Enjoy.
(Caution: the following article contains 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. This is the Community Super League, it is made up of the 12 best performing teams from Community Leagues A, B, C, D, and E that ran from Gameweek 1 to Gameweek 27. There are no playoffs - just 11 straight games to decide the Super League champion. It uses 16-player squads and Fantrax Default Scoring. In it's inaugural season last year, TDS writer Draft Genie won the title.
The Current Situation...
It's early days in the Super League, and it's no surprise to see that it's all very tightly packed, with just the one side not sitting at either 2-1 or 1-2.
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 – Team 32chickens
Okay, so it may look like the wooden spoon for 32chickens, but essentially this is 12th spot out of 60 – still a great season by anyone’s standard. Finishing bottom of the Super League is like coming last in the 100m finals at the Olympics – you’re still damn fast, it’s just that now you’re running with the big boys. Carrying on the sprinting theme, 32chickens have come out of the blocks well, but a closer inspection at their two wins sees that one was despite scoring the 5th lowest score of the weekend, and the other was in large part down to 66 points from the trio of Sam Johnstone, Stuart Armstrong, and Chris Wood. I can’t see Lady Luck or that trio of bang-average players repeating itself enough to keep this side from the foot of the table. A lot rests on the enigmatic shoulders of Riyad Mahrez, Mason Greenwood, and Ademola Lookman – and none of them fill me with confidence. Oh, and I guess Gareth Bale too. Damn that Super League draft was timed cruelly; you can’t blame 32chickens for thinking that we were about to witness the second coming of Bale at the time.
11th – Totti’s Legion
Placing the legendary Totti – league D champion, former-Cup winner, and so-so Key Pass Collective guest – in 11th place goes against my better judgement, but it had to be done. Pedro Neto, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Phil Foden are going to need to go big for the remainder of the season, and whilst I can get on board with the first two, I’m not sure Foden gets enough Premier League action from here on in (which, by the way, goes to show what a season he’s having!). A few of the other mid-tier picks will have to have a purple patch too…perhaps Sergio Reguilon can rediscover his early season form, or maybe John McGinn can shine in a more attacking role if Jack Grealish’s mysterious injury persists. Totti will have to draw on all his expertise and experience to turn this bunch into title contenders, and I wouldn’t bet against it happening either. But even the greats can have bad seasons (Manchester United once finished 13th under Sir Alex, after all), and that’s what this year’s Super League may be. Perhaps Totti can take a leaf out of Jose’s book… ”same manager, different players”.
10th – Black Sheep FFC
Interesting forward line by Black Sheep, going with one absolute superstar and four absolute nobodies. I believe this is called the ‘Coldplay Strategy’, and I guess it’s worked for them, so who am I to judge*. Nevertheless, I can’t see much contribution from the likes of Mbaye Diagne, Willian Jose, David McGoldrick, and Matej Vydra, so a lot will rest on Harry Kane’s 17.21 FP/G shoulders. What’s more of a worry is that the weakest area is the area I consider to be the most important this season given the lack of depth there, and that’s the midfield. I like Bertrand Traore but the next best here is Harvey Barnes, and he’ll be lucky if he starts three games by the time all is said and done. Kalvin Phillips is fading, plus Leeds’ schedule is not good, and the less said about Johann Gudmundsson, the better. On the plus side, Luke Shaw, Lucas Digne, and Marcos Alonso might be three of the top five defenders out there, so perhaps a Super League challenge can be built on the defence. It will need Alonso to avoid the Tuchel rotation, of course, and this is probably wishful thinking. Shaw, too, may get rested in the final weeks if United have sewn up second spot and are still in the Europa League. Avoiding 12th spot will be a genuine achievement here.
*Yes, I know Coldplay are really a four-piece, but Wikipedia lists five members and I'll be damned if I have to think up a better metaphor.
9th – Electric Light Djorkaeffstra
Great team name, not-so-great team roster. Quite a few question marks here too. If Jack Grealish, aka the next best thing to Bruno-KDB, is fully fit and firing, he immediately makes Watkins much, much better, and therefore makes Djorkaeffstra much, much better. Maybe even potential challengers, which shows: 1) just how good Grealish is, and 2) just how close this league is going to be. But the Crystal Ball can’t ignore the fact that the main man has missed seven straight, and Villa look woeful without him (save for that crazy 10-minute spell against Fulham). So ELD may have to turn to the likes of…Gabriel Jesus? Christian Pulisic? And…Vladimir Coufal? Ah, yep, that explains the 9th place finish. For sure, these guys are decent – Jesus and ELD should actually profit from Manchester City’s Champions League-winning run – but you don’t head into a weekend confident that they’re going to bring in a double-digit return. Just like Black Sheep, this is a defence heavy roster reliant on a superstar, and just like Black Sheep, they’ll find themselves finishing in the lower reaches of the league.
8th – Have a Buendia
I’m projecting an 8th place finish for Buendia, but that’s largely down to key-man Raphinha having the nightmare of all schedules on the horizon. If he struggles, as I think he might, then I can’t see this side getting into the top half. If, however, the Leeds man can show why many are tipping him to be a first round pick next season, then this side can go somewhere. Being within touching distance heading into gameweek 36 will be the aim because the schedules of Raphinha, James Ward-Prowse, and Burnley defensive duo Ben Mee and James Tarkowski get a hell of a lot easier in those final three weeks. Elsewhere, Serge Aurier’s spot on this roster gets decided this gameweek. If the right back can’t get into the Spurs side after they conceded two to Newcastle, then I think it’s settled that he’s bunking with Dele Alli in the Jose Mourinho doghouse. And that means the 10.8 FP/G defender should become a free agent. That said, I think Jose brings him back, and I think he performs. If he does, that will be a huge bonus, because an in-form Aurier is easily a top five defender. Finally, I think we all want to see a farewell cameo from Sergio Aguero. I’m talking seven starts, seven goals, and seven good days for Buendia.
7th – Los Voodoos Frescos
Okay, so defences don’t win championships – not in Fantrax at least, but they sure can lose them. And that’s a worry for the Los Frescos. Jannik Vestergaard is not the same asset that he was in the first half of the season, as these useful metrics tell us, and I fear the Joachim Andersen bubble has burst now too. The midfield is also a concern, particularly if Michail Antonio’s injury is a serious one. Eberechi Eze and Miguel Almiron may be nice on the eye but being part of such defensive teams kills their fantasy value – put them in a Leeds or Southampton side and those FP/G’s could go from 7s to 9s easily. Fortunately Jesse Lingard is surpassing even his own expectations and his purple patch shows no sign of slowing down, and the forward line is legit. Four players with PP90s north of 10 is a nice little problem to have, especially when two of them – Kelechi Iheanacho and Son Heung-Min – have the second and third best upcoming schedules in the league for forwards. In an earlier Community Special over at Fantrax HQ, I incorrectly predicted the demise of Los Frescos in the Community League C, so I’m sure Andres won’t be too concerned about this lowly projection here.
6th – Give-N’Golo
We’re into the top half and suddenly everything seems a bit brighter. I’m liking this roster from N’Golo, in particular, the midfield and forwards (where it matters!). Daniel Podence, Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe look to be fit again, and with Wolves and Arsenal’s run-in’s all three could put up some decent points (provided Mikel Arteta doesn’t shift Saka to left-back, of course). Stuart Dallas and Wilfried Zaha may not be the greatest assets, but they are nailed on 90-minuters, which has its benefits. Then we have the forward contingent of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Richarlison, Timo Werner, Danny Ings, and Callum Wilson. Having five solid starters is generally a good thing, but it’s going to be really difficult knowing who to bench week-in, week-out here. Auba has the fixtures, but the worst form. Richarlison and Timo Werner have the expected numbers on their side. And the two lesser names are actually the ones with the best FP/Gs. Good luck N’Golo – nails these selections and you could put yourself into the title mix.
5th – Drafterthoughts
Fellow TDS writer and, without doubt, the best provider of statistics in the Fantrax Community, Drafterthoughts comes in at number five. And just as it hurts me to put Totti at 11, so it hurts me to put Drafterthoughts here…not least because they are the only team sitting 3-and-oh right now. So why the drop-off? It’s more down to the other rosters to be honest. And the semi-reliance on Leeds (Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison) and Wolves (Nelson Semedo, Romain Saiss, and Ruben Neves). Yes, Wolves have a very nice schedule, but even nice schedules don’t elevate so-so players into superstars. In midfield we have Bruno Fernandes, who pretty much guarantees 20 points each gameweek, and I think Havertz – if given enough starts – will end the season very well. But Matt Ritchie is a no-go and, I’m sorry to say this to the Anwar El-Ghazi fanclub, but the Villa winger isn’t very good to be honest. Yes, he holds some fantasy value because he shoots every time he gets the ball, but he needs to start first, and in a fully-fit Aston Villa side, he isn’t going to do that. Anyway, let’s leave it on a high because this blurb already contains far too much doubt for someone that has won a Community League two seasons running and currently sits top of the Super League: Jamie Vardy could go nuts over the next few weeks.
4th – #Rigged
I’m a little disappointed that when I saw the #Rigged team, there wasn’t Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Raphinha on it, such is Genie’s reputation for building absurd rosters. But no, it’s “just” KDB and Mane. Oh, and James Maddison. Yep, that’s two elite assets and one premium asset right there. Throw in Wilfred Ndidi, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire, and Paul Pogba and this side gets scary. It’s not watertight, for sure. There’s the Anthony Martial injury/lack of form to contend with, alongside a tricky few gameweeks for Fulham which means the forward line could cause a bit of a headache. I’m also not buying the idea that Mateo Kovacic holds value, even in the new super-possession based Chelsea team (though perhaps that’s because he burnt me when I picked him up a few weeks back). Nevertheless, this might be the best roster in the league. It’s a good job they started off 0-2 because otherwise it might have been another Super League victory for #Rigged, and nobody wants a repeat champion.
3rd – FantraxStruck
Agonisingly close for FantraxStruck, as they finish level on wins with the Super League champion but have to settle for the bronze medal on points scored. Still an incredible achievement though, particularly given some of the names in this Super League. Joao Cancelo starting every league game would probably be enough to steal top spot, but unfortunately, that isn’t happening given City’s priorities from here on in. Ironically, though, this is where FantraxStruck perhaps benefit, as it may also mean that Raheem Sterling gets a lot of minutes. And if that happens, it’s going to be dangerous for any opponent. The other names that will lead Struck’s title challenge are that of Martin Odegaard, Alexandre Lacazette, and Adama Traore. These three have started to hit some form of late, and each have some very favourable fixtures in store. Tomas Soucek and Arthur Masuaku should also finish strong as West Ham push for an improbable Champions League spot, whilst I fancy Leandro Trossard to get a few more double-digit returns before the season is out. This roster is going to outperform everyone’s expectations.
2nd – Earth, Wind & Maguire
If tiebreakers were settled by team name, then Earth, Wind & Maguire would be crowned Super League champions. Unfortunately, they aren’t. So it’s a second place finish for EWM. Great season though, and it’s going to be built on the back on maybe the best midfield in the league (though #Rigged may have something to say about that). FP/Gs since February 1st: Mason Mount – 12.5, Matheus Pereira – 11.2, Lucas Moura – 10.1, and Dwight McNeil – 9.0. With Trezeguet (PP90 of 11.5) almost certain to get a run of games for Villa after his performance on the weekend, EWM should have five solid, and more importantly, reliable midfield starters (yes, even when Mount is rested he normally comes off the bench to good effect!). Up top we have Diogo Jota, Christian Benteke, and Marcus Rashford. It may not be special, but it’s more than good enough for a title challenge. The question for EWM is whether they can find a defence each week. Wesley Fofana will do nicely, and if Benjamin Mendy can get a run in the league, then great. But if Ruben Dias gets rested, you’re hoping for a performance from Seamus Coleman or Charlie Taylor…successful streaming here could win the Super League.
1st – SkyPlayerInFPL
Congratulations to SkyPlayerInFPL!! They follow in the esteemed footsteps of #Rigged to win the second ever Super League title – get it down on the CV (or “resume”, for our American friends) as this is one hell of an accomplishment, effectively finishing top of the pile out of 60 contenders. The key to victory is one man: Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool forward is going to play lights out for the remaining eight games, bagging goals for fun and returning double-digit points every week (including four scores of 20+). But it won’t quite be a one man team. You can’t win the Super League with just one guy contributing (just ask Black Sheep FFC). Allan Saint-Maximin is going to come back from injury as his 2019-20 version – the one that had an 11.4 FP/G, and James Rodriguez is going to stay fit for the run-in – and when he’s fit, he’s up there with the best of them. No need to worry about the defence either. Cesar Azpilicueta, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Matthew Cash (is it me or have Fantrax recently changed him from Matty? Anyway, I digress) will hold the fort there, with John Stones and Antonio Rudiger providing support when Pep and Tuchel allow them off the leash. And elsewhere, Ilkay Gundogan will be given a couple more opportunities to do his best KDB impression when the original gets rested. The crowning moment? How about this: Gameweek 38. SkyPlayerInFPL versus Earth, Wind & Maguire. Needing a win for the title, SkyPlayer’s Raul Jimenez makes his long-awaited return and scores for Wolves against Manchester United. I don’t think anyone would begrudge him that.
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