It’s been a long time since I did one of these but Nik is off celebrating his anniversary in a fantastically beautiful undisclosed location somewhere in Europe. Hopefully, he is faring better on the continent that either Arsenal or Manchester City did this week. At least City played one of the best teams in the world and were close to nicking a point. Arsenal were just bad and, worse yet, bad to watch while falling 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund. With Chelsea visiting the Etihad on Sunday and Arsenal playing against a thus-far-undefeated Aston Villa side as both clubs come off of unsuccessful mid-week road trips to Germany one wonders how we’ll view those two teams come Monday. If City defends their home turf against the Chelsea juggernaut and Arsenal gives Villa their first loss then mid-week agony against excellent German sides will be fairly quickly forgotten. If the results go in the wrong direction for either club then it will likely be a legitimate sign that goals that seemed realistic at the beginning of the season (the title for City and a Champions League spot for Arsenal) might be under serious threat.
Before we get to the player recommendations, here’s a brief rundown of the schedule for this week:
Burnley v Sunderland – This one seems destined to be a nil-nil affair so if you’re investing, look to the defensive side of the ball
Newcastle v Hull City – I don’t love Hull City on the road as a rule but Newcastle were just horrible and Southampton aren’t THAT good so maybe tend towards the Tigers if you’re in on this one at all.
West Ham v Liverpool – The Reds laid an egg against Villa so you have to expect they’ll send out the best line-up they can for this one to avoid dropping more points they need to have in the race for a Champions League spot.
Aston Villa v Arsenal – Not as easy as it looked heading into the season and Arsenal still only have one solidly played match on the season, seems like a 2-1 match but I’m too scared to venture a guess as to which side gets the 2.
Swansea v Southampton – It feels like there will be goals in this one given the attractive style both sides aspire to. Swansea is a little more cohesive given their time together and they’re playing at home so favor Gylfi Sigurdsson over Dusan Tadic and Bony over Pelle if you’re investing in this one.
QPR v Stoke – QPR need to get some points at home if they’re going to be that poor on the road but I like what Stoke are doing – look for a 1-1 draw here.
Everton v Crystal Palace – This is one of two match-ups you want in on when you’re building your team for the week. Go for as many Toffees as you can afford/fit into your line-up.
Leicester City v Man Utd – I’m expecting a close match with a lot of angry managers who got too excited about the QPR result and over-committed to Manchester United players. I see another 2-2 in this one with Leicester having a greater ability to test United’s new defense.
Man City v Chelsea – This could be a lot of fun with City’s talent going up against Chelsea’s fragile defense and imposing attack. 4-2 or 4-3 doesn’t seem at all unreasonable with the team in blue winning.
Tottenham v West Brom – This is the other match-up to dive in on in a huge way. West Brom aren’t very good and Spurs need to bounce back after a disappointing result at the Stadium of Light last weekend. Go hard for Spurs players.
And with that, on to the specific player recommendations (calibrated to the Yahoo scoring system but generally applicable to any game format and focused on managers who are paying current prices for players this week vs. making decisions to hold at a discounted price):
- Romelu Lukaku – You would have liked to see more out of him against the Baggies last weekend after he scored in the first minute and then not again but with Palace’s newly shaky defense the opponent I would keep with him if you had him last weekend and pick him up if you didn’t.
- Emmanuel Adebayor – I hate that we use the K2 nickname far less now because it isn’t Search Engine Optimization-friendly but that’s the price of moving up to the big time. Adebayor had a few SOTs last weekend without a goal and has a great match-up this weekend that should increase his chances of getting one or more in the net. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
- Diego Costa – How can you not?
- Wilfried Bony – This is the week his SOTs become goals.
- Mario Balotelli – I’m not a fan in general but if the Hammers are going to give up two to Hull then you have to think Liverpool will get more than that.
- Abel Hernandez – He looked very lively against West Ham on Monday and Newcastle haven’t shown much inclination to put up massive resistance.
- Cesc Fabregas – Did I mention “How could you not?” about Costa above? Same goes here.
- Morgan Schneiderlin – If he’s going to add goals to his game on a regular basis as he appears to be doing so far, he’s going to be a huge bargain as well as the next former Southampton player very quickly.
- Stewart Downing – Hands up everyone that would have guessed he was the third highest scoring player in the Yahoo format. Anyone with their hand up is a liar. Don’t love the match-up but his price is still a very reasonable 10.80.
- Raheem Sterling – He’ll be back and will show Brendan Rodgers how poor his decision was to rotate Sterling last weekend.
- Nacer Chadli – It appears that he and not Lamela is going to be the Spurs midfielder to make the leap to fantasy relevance under Pochettino. That his price is just 7.92 is a huge bonus on top of his objectively excellent production and the favorable match-up.
- Victor Moses – How can you not get excited about a guy who had 22 points in the Yahoo format without his team scoring a goal or him even getting a shot on target? That’s a LOT of phantom points and QPR seems likely to be a little less stingy with the goals.
- Dusan Tadic – He’s been in the middle of too much good stuff for Southampton without a huge fantasy day and I’m betting on him having one sooner rather than later.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson – Remember above where I said to bet on Gylfi over Dusan? You didn’t think I’d forget THAT quickly did you?
- Leighton Baines – With Everton’s match-up it’s hard to stay away from the guy who will be taking penalties and likely assisting on a goal or three.
- Seamus Coleman – If you can afford both he and Baines then go for it, you’ll get your points from at least one if not both.
- Phil Jones – The adjusted scoring system that favors passes intercepted/tackles won seems to look very favorably on players like Jones even when they don’t get a clean sheet or participate in the attack.
- Ryan Shawcross – See Phil Jones above but with a little higher chance of a yellow card to bring down the total but also a stronger chance of a clean sheet all wrapped up in a physically imposing package.
- Kieran Trippier – Burnley at home against weak opposition looks like a clean sheet waiting to happen. Trippier has been strong on phantom points regardless and is still a relative bargain at 8.27.
- Patrick van Aanholt – The Sunderland version of Trippier who is equally likely to pile up phantom points and get a clean sheet as the two match up in a rare instance where two relatively unheralded defenders are in contention to be the highest scoring fantasy players in the match.
- Joseph Schlupp – I really like his game and while Manchester United isn’t the ideal time to jump on a bandwagon, I’m still not convinced that United’s defense will be any good when faced with actual Premier League quality opposition. He’s a very reasonable 7.21.
- Hugo Lloris – I like Lloris’ match-up better than Howard’s and he is cheaper to boot after giving up two goals last weekend. If you’re buying retail then Lloris seems like the clear choice.
- Tim Howard – If Spurs giving up two to Sunderland gives you pause then spend the extra money on Howard.
- Tom Heaton – Maybe my confidence in Burley’s highly organized defense is irrational but they certainly didn’t gain automatic promotion based on their attack and if you check it out, they’ve only conceded one goal so far to a team not named Chelsea and that was to Swansea who have been off to an impressive start themselves (especially if you discount their result against Chelsea who are in a different world right now).
- Vito Mannone – How sad that on a weekend where Arsenal plays what appears on paper to be a mediocre Aston Villa side that there are two former Arsenal keepers (Mannone and Fabianski) that I rate ahead of Szczesny.
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