"I'm late. I'm late. I'm late for an important date."
Ahh, seems likes only yesterday when I last checked in on how my gameweek went. Oh, that's right...it was. We are in the midst of a quick 48 hour turnaround between Premier League rounds, which means I have as little time to get some rankings out and you do to read and digest them, so this week's column will be short and sweet.
I will only briefly mention a couple of points to take away from the Boxing Day round, and naturally, it is mostly of the annoying variety. Though Week 19 is sure to offer many a broken heart with a number of popular fantasy options perhaps getting rested, Week 18 did have a couple of big names left out of Starting XIs, such as Sergio Aguero and Gerard Deulofeu. To have owned both of those players would have been a terrible misfortune. That is why I am here. To take that burden for you. I own both of those players, and it wasn't so much that I felt upset about being snake bit, it was more of being taught a lesson that I should already know - you have to have a couple of viable bench options during this festive period, because the odds are extremely high at least one will be called upon. I subscribe to the super-cheap bench model. Players that play but are of the extreme budget variety and normally only provide 1 and 2 point returns. So my 13m Aguero investment was reduced to a 2-point sub replacement in the 4m Danny Simpson. If I had given the armband to Kevin de Bruyne, Harry Kane or even Jack Butland, I would probably be less miserable, but I went with Mahrez and ended on a ho-hum 52 points.
That score should have been higher, but the two best sides in the league, Leicester and Arsenal, each decided to put up fantasy duds, with no goals or clean sheet among them. I also got smacked over the nose with a rolled up newspaper with what I THOUGHT was a good defensive trio based on their production to date and fixture strength. Thank you Chris Smalling, Hector Bellerin and Craig Dawson. You managed to average one point each from the three of you, making Danny Simpson look like a superstar. I tell you, when it rains it pours.
But, as mentioned from the start, as much as I would like to complain further, there is simply no time. This week's rankings will be short and, hopefully for your sake, sweet. I will bypass the usual summary to explain each pick and simply roll out the names. Know this, while some players may seem and odd choice to be ranked above or below others at their position, a major influence in my decision process is the threat of rest/rotation. That is not to say that every name that follows is free of risk, but they are either too good to risk NOT ranking them or I feel pretty confident they start, whether it be because the club they play for do not have a legitimate option to replace them, or they have a reputation for being an engine and can cope with the quick turnaround. So let us get started then...
Week 19 Fixtures
Crystal Palace v Swansea City
Everton v Stoke City
Norwich City v Aston Villa
Watford v Tottenham
West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Manchester United v Chelsea
West Ham United v Southampton
Leicester City v Manchester City
Sunderland v Liverpool
My match of the week - Well clearly, it has to be Man United v Chelsea. Who wouldn't want to see two high-profile managers in a battle of wits with two high-profile clubs that are always neck and neck for league supremacy. Wait a minute...I keep forgetting this season has been utter madness. Both clubs are looking like they are nowhere near Top 4 quality, let alone title contenders, and while Louis van Gaal MIGHT be spotted in a big red comfy seat at Old Trafford, this match is not LVG v Mourinho, it's Giggs v Hiddink. The scenes at Old Trafford are bound to be memorable for neutral fans one way or another. Either the crowd will be in a frenzy if United suddenly play well and beat the Blues, or they will be in a frenzy if United fail to win yet again. Will Leicester face their first bad run in the form guide, taking on a Manchester City side that is back in the goals while the Foxes themselves were held without one for the first time all season. Even what looks to be the most unappealing fixture all season, Norwich v Aston Villa, has huge implications in either can earn three points to help their survival chances. Plenty of drama all around this gameweek, 'tis a pity we have no time to speculate more.
What follows are my top picks at each position. It doesn't matter what format you play, these rankings will help you figure out how players at each position compare with one another, and can help you on transfer decisions in the FPL.com game, who to start or bench in draft leagues, and who is worth putting up the cash for in salary-based leagues. You will also see how I have begun to highlight prospects that are especially valuable in formats like Playtogga, Fantrax and DFS, so that they are given the credit they deserve. At the end of the day though, nothing gets the points flowing more than goals, assists and clean sheets. So without further ado, let's get cracking...
Virgil van Dijk
Kevin de Bruyne
So there you have it. The best of the best to consider for Week 19, though I have to admit, I think this is the toughest week of the season to put out a rankings column, with the exception of Week 1. Some new faces in this week's picks, and some names usually at or near the top have taken a bit of a plunge. Be wise in your transfer(s). I made a point to use a free transfer to upgrade my cheap fifth midfielder to Dele Alli. I am sure it will somehow backfire, but the rest of you should create a team with 12 good options instead of only eleven. Odds are, at least one player you are counting on will not be there for you. Remember that the deadline for FPL is one hour before the first kickoff, so you have a couple of extra hours on Monday to check out the news here at Rotoworld before committing to the final look of your fantasy team.
Good luck fellow managers, may your arrows be green.