With just one month remaining until the start of the 2018/19 Fantasy Premier League season, we take a look at the opening fixture difficulty.
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Fixture Difficulty Rating
The official Fantasy Premier League website assigns a Fixture Difficulty rating of 1-5, to every single fixture of the season. The rating system isn’t perfect, but does give a reasonable indicator.
A rating of 1 implies a very easy fixture and a rating of 5 implies a very difficult fixture. These ratings change given form over the season, with none of the early assignments awarded a rating of 1.
We have split up the ratings into an overall rank for Gameweek 1-4 and Gameweek 1-8. There is an international break at the end of Gameweek 4 and again at the end of Gameweek 8, which seemed like a sensible point to draw the line.
These checkpoints within the Fantasy Premier League 2018/19 season will be key for managers, with plenty opting to activate their first wildcard in one of these two-week windows.
Salah and Kane
One of the biggest dilemmas on fantasy premier league managers minds, is whether to invest in the two most expensive players in the game for Gameweek 1: Mo Salah and Harry Kane.
Building my squad with the @FantasyFootyFix Pre Season Pack
First up, Mo #Salah as its easier to sell him after GW1 if he's not worth £13m than buy him if he is!
Oh and he's class 👑 pic.twitter.com/jvu4XPvWzJ
— FPL🆚 (@FPL_vs) July 7, 2018
Mo Salah has seen a significant price hike for this season, after being the first player to ever break the 300 point barrier. His current ownership is currently just under 50%!
Liverpool having a relatively easy early schedule, I plan to own him from the start. He may be expensive, but it’s far easier to have him from the start, than be late to the party and attempting to squeeze him in.
Harry Kane’s August in the Premier League this season:
11 on target
13 off target
Not his month. pic.twitter.com/PM0h3ls1No
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 28, 2017
Elsewhere, Harry Kane is currently lighting up the World Cup, but he’s got a very poor record in the Premier League in August. He may not be available for Gameweek 1, having missed a big chunk of pre season.
As things stand, I intend to play my wildcard after Gameweek 4. With question marks over Kane for the opening two, then a tougher pair of fixtures, it’s likely that he won’t appear in my initial squad.
Looking at the traditional top six clubs in the Premier League, it’s Liverpool and Manchester City who have the easier opening schedule, particularly for the opening four games.
As previously mentioned, Mo Salah is likely to be the first name in my squad for the new season. After amassing 17 clean sheets last season, I may opt for a defender too, selecting one of the 5.0 million options.
Manchester City also look wise for investment, although could be lacking in wing back options for some of their opening games. With rotation fears up front, I’ll be looking to the midfield. De Bruyne and Sterling are still involved in Russia, so Silva or Sane are the likely options as things stand.
England, Belgium, France & Croatia will still involved in the World Cup with less than 4 weeks before the start of the Premier League season.
Expect some big names missing in GW1&2. The big clubs face the most absentees early on.
— Fantasy Football Community 🏴 (@FFCommunity_) July 8, 2018
I’m likely to pick up one player from each of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. Aubameyang, Alonso and Sanchez are particularly high on the watchlist at the moment, but this may change.
In terms of Spurs, with three away games in their first four, and the new White Hart Lane yet to be completed, I’m likely to avoid altogether until the wildcard. The main spine of their team are still involved in Russia.
With investment planned in at least six premium players from the big clubs, it’s important to find value and differentials in the rest of the squad to provide balance. I’ll be looking for players with good fixtures in GW1-4.
Everton have by far the easiest opening fixture scheduling, facing none of last seasons top six. There’s value all over the pitch, with full backs Baines & Coleman, Walcott and Sigurdsson in midfield, plus Tosun in attack.
FIXTURE ANALYSIS – EVERTON
A potential slippery fixture away at WOL in GW1 is followed by SOU, BOU, HUDD, WHAM, ARS, FUL. Hopefully more attack minded under Silva GRADE A pic.twitter.com/0Yt9cDQmuN
— FPL School (@fplschool) July 6, 2018
Burnley kept twelve clean sheets last season, so it will be tempting to pick up a defender. They may struggle if they have Europa League fixtures to juggle, so I’ll keep an eye on that before committing to their 5.0 defence.
Bournemouth had a tricky season last time around, meaning their defenders have had a price cut: Daniels at 4.5 looks to be a bargain. They are better from an attacking perspective, but rotation looms.
FIXTURE ANALYSIS – PALACE
Ended last season well. My No.1 set of fixtures. FUL, WAT, SOU, HUDD, NEW & BOU coupled with a home match against LIV
GRADE A – Invest (Zaha/PVA) pic.twitter.com/jaqKrEOSv0
— FPL School (@fplschool) July 6, 2018
If Zaha stays put, he’s an intriguing option from Crystal Palace, despite being listed as a forward this time around. He could be a solid choice as a cheaper striker.
Thank you for reading. We will be sharing our initial draft squad in the next few days, make sure you check back for that. Remember to join The FF Community Shield, league code 1739-786