It happens every year. One or more of the so-called top teams gets off to a shaky start defensively while some of the "also rans" string together a run of consecutive clean sheets - but should that mean that you discard the services of a player for whom you paid top dollar for during the auction in favour of current form?
The answer is a resounding No!
Take Arsenal this season, for instance. Eight goals conceded and no clean sheets from their first three Premier League games, cumulating with a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool. Gunners defenders were being sold back to the free agents by the dozen during the first international break - with Huddersfield defenders suddenly flavour of the month following three successive shut-outs.
But come the end of the season, will a Terriers defender outscore a regular from the Gunners? Of course not! To even consider such a swap is, to be frank, plain silly.
Factor in that Laurent Koscielny was suspended for the first two matches while Shkodran Mustafi was missing for the third and there are plausible reasons for the leaky defence.
Add to the mix that they also shipped four goals in the equivalent fixture against Liverpool last season, then it’s not all that surprising that they did so again.
Four games further down the line and Arsene Wenger’s side have not conceded any further goals - four consecutive clean sheets, including a creditable goalless draw at Chelsea.
Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl may still be a point better off than Petr Cech after seven games, but rest assured that won’t be the case for much longer.
Liverpool have also been leaky in the opening two months of the season, but the same applies - even though the Reds first choice back-line is a bit harder to predict.
For those playing Fantasy League Auction for the first time this season after being brought up on the Classic style game, strategy is very different. In Classic, you have the option to pick up players that you previously discarded, but in Auction, a rival manager can beat you to it.
Essentially, if you have a defender from any of the top six sides of last season (Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal), then think very seriously before trading them for a defender from any other team - even if the free agent may have more attacking potential.
For attacking players, this theory doesn't apply so much - aside from 10-15 of the leading midfielders, for example, the next batch are all much of a muchness and is far more feasible to jump on a bandwagon based purely on current form and forthcoming fixtures.
"Past performance may not be indicative of future results."
This disclaimer is most often used in the finance world, but also very true in the world of Fantasy League Auction.
It's easy to look at the player list after just a few games and notice that a defender on your books is the wrong side of zero, whilst others from so-called "lesser sides" are racking up the points. But that's by no means the whole story.
The main influence is fixtures - if a team has had a relatively easy run, then you need to consider that as sure as night follows day, a string of easy fixtures will be followed by a run of much harder match-ups – thus making it extremely unlikely that they will continue the same defensive form.
You should block out what’s gone on before and take at least the next four fixtures on their own merit - arguably considering a much longer period and maybe even the whole remainder of the season.
If you listen to these words of advice, you won’t be left to regret letting a top defender slip through your grasp - leading to a points differential of more than 20 or 30 points over the remainder of the season.
There may well be players from teams more used to the mid-table positions that outscores regulars from one or more of last season's top six come the end of the season, but even if this does occur, selecting that player at such an early stage of the season (e.g. the equivalent of Gareth McAuley last season) is far easier said than done.
Of course, you don’t have to field defenders in particularly difficult fixtures, but if it's a regular occurrence, then that’s a sign that you don’t have all that much faith in that player's defence at all.
Essentially, if you have a regular starting defender from one of the top six sides, you should stick with them through thick and thin…even if they face a few weeks on the sidelines through suspension or injury.
A defender is for life, not just for Christmas.