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Weekly Picks

Fuzzy Logic: Week 38 Rankings

by Steve Rothgeb
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It has come to this. The final gameweek of the season, and what a season it has been, both in reality and in fantasy. Surely, the tale of Leicester City has to make this one of, if not, THE most memorable chapters in the history of the Premier League or in the 150-some-odd years of professional English football for that matter. As a fan of the game, one has to wonder if what we have seen the Foxes accomplish will ever happen again in our lifetime. But, a part of us also has to wonder if this season is a sign of more surprise stories like this down the road, where there is more and more parity in the league and a club like Stoke City or Southampton might be able to lift a trophy some day in the not-too-distant future. Personally, I hope so. I think it is good for the game and there is no denying the drama of the Premier League was raised to a whole new level with the incredible story that has been Leicester City.

 

There was no shortage of drama in fantasy this season as well, as alluded to in last week's column. There was a direct correlation between the success of the Foxes and the struggles of clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea when looking at how the fantasy landscape was shaped. In past seasons, there was always a struggle with managing one's budget in FPL, trying to figure out how to afford Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale and Leighton Baines. But this season, there has been more than enough cash to afford the very best players. It was a matter of how quickly a fantasy manager came to realize that which likely determined how well they have done. Like Leicester in reality, we may never see a season quite like this in fantasy for a very, very long time. It was truly unique.

 

Last week was the final chance to make up considerable ground in your rank, with one more double gameweek in the campaign offering a chance of a giant round score. Many managers, myself included, have sat on one last FPL chip to use in Week 37, to make the double gameweek even more lucrative. I have to say, playing my bench boost this week and fielding fifteen players that had two fixtures looked to have been a massive disappointment by as late as Wednesday morning. All three of my Liverpool players did not so much as feature against Watford last weekend. I was pretty sure Daniel Sturridge would be a big risk, but I thought I had the right defender in Dejan Lovren and midfielder in James Milner to give me a shot at two home games from each. I was massively wrong. I also had two Chelsea players stumble in one way or another. Pedro missed the first match with a broken nose that was not known about until after the deadline had passed. Then, Diego Costa was injured before the second game, so I only got one game from each. Then there was the disappointment from West Ham. I got two starts from Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll, two players who I had ranked as the number one player to own at their respective position in last week's column, and the duo did absolutely nothing. 

 

Yes, it seemed like all the planning I had done to spend my second half wildcard the week before last and use my bench boost chip this week was an epic failure with just a few games left in the round, one of which, Watford v Norwich, I had no investment in at all. Then, Sunderland went and saved my bacon. When I put my wildcard team together the week before, the very last move I made,  minutes before the deadline, was picking a second Sunderland defender. I felt like the Black Cats were a better bet to deliver points from the back than from their attacking players, and, with their options being so cheap, it made sense to double up with another Sunderland defender to partner Patrick van Aanholt, who I thought was a must-own for the run in. At first, I had my eyes on De Andre Yedlin. I normally prefer fullbacks to center backs when looking at defenders from a particular club and I kind of liked the notion of having a fellow American in my side for this final spot on my wildcard. I even considered Jan Kirchhoff. He was playing in a more advanced position, looked capable of delivering some balls in the final third, and had a habit of being subbed off late in the match, which is always nice when you don't want a late goal from the opposition ruining your clean sheet. At the last moment though, I made up my mind to go with Lamine Kone. The logic was, he seemed the most likely to play both games. Before news of an injury to Billy Jones, I had the slightest worry that if Sunderland put in a horrible performance in the first of their double gameweek games, perhaps Sam Allardyce might replace a youngster like Yedlin with the more experienced Jones. I did not expect Kone to give way to John O'Shea. The funny thing is, that is exactly what happened at halftime in the first game. O'Shea replaces Kone, giving me yet another situation to moan about in what looked to be a disaster of a gameweek.

 

But, Sunderland turned everything around for me, courtesy of a brace, clean sheet and 3 bonus point bonanza from Kone. And the lesson here is, it is hard to go wrong when you put forth fifteen players with thirty fixtures among them. Even though I did not get thirty games played from my squad, the sheer volume of players and possibilities finally found paydirt in the end. I ended a round with a score of 119, good enough for a round rank of inside the top 4,000. It took my overall rank and more than cut it in half. Just when I thought the season was going fade away in disappointment, I was given my biggest thrill. I was pleasantly reminded of why one obsesses over fantasy Premier League. It is moments like that, when a cheap defender who has never delivered attacking points turns up for the game of his life and puts a smile on an owner's face that lasts for weeks.

 

So, before I get overly sentimental about this season coming to an end or get any more self-congratulatory about a miraculously successful gameweek, we had better move on and take a look at the fixtures in this season's final round...

 

 

 

 

Week 38 Fixtures


Arsenal v Aston Villa

Chelsea v Leicester City

Everton v Norwich City

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth

Newcastle United v Tottenham

Southampton v Crystal Palace

Stoke City v West Ham United

Swansea City v Manchester City

Watford v Sunderland

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool


 

While there are bound to be many changes across the league as some regulars with nothing to play for will get some rest while managers will test out some fringe players that have been waiting for their chance, there is a section of the table that looks primed for positive fantasy returns from the players that you are used to seeing on the team sheet. I am referring to clubs positioned between 2nd and 7th in the table: Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, West Ham United and Southampton. All these clubs will be jockeying for position, with different objectives on the line. Spurs will be driven to finish ahead of rivals Arsenal for the first time in ages while the Gunners would love to spoil that plan. Both sides are playing relegated clubs and there should be fantasy points all over the place. Manchester City are two points ahead of their local rivals Manchester United for the final Champions League spot, so both of those sides will be giving it their all. They are playing two teams that are in the bottom half of the table with nothing left to play for. Though to be fair, Swansea City, Manchester City's opponent, has started to find their form late in the season. West Ham are two points ahead of Southampton for the sixth spot in the table, so a Europa League spot will likely be on the line. Southampton need help but they have a good setup. They play at home while West Ham are on the road. The Saints are in cracking form while the Hammers showed some signs of slipping in last weekend's loss to Swansea. And the Saints have arguably the easier opponent in Crystal Palace while the Hammers play a Stoke side that are inconsistent but can be tough to beat when they are in the mood to play well. There will be points in other matches around the league, there always are, but in this final week, they could be coming from unlikely sources. You can be sure that is the case with Liverpool, as they will field their "B" team. Chelsea and Leicester should be an entertaining affair and is another good source for attacking players. Be careful though, and try to field as many player from that 2nd-6th table position as possible. There will be some surprises in this final weekend, there always are.

 

 

Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob | Matt | Andrew

 

 

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. Keep in mind that extra weight has been given to Everton and Crystal Palace players because of their double gameweek. If you play in a league that only the originally scheduled fixture, then you need to drop them considerably farther down the rankings. So without further ado, let's get cracking...

 

 

GOALKEEPERS

 

1) Petr Cech

2) David de Gea 

3) Hugo Lloris

4) Joe Hart

5) Fraser Forster 

6) Simon Mignolet

7) Heurelho Gomes

8) Ben Foster

DEFENDERS


1) Hector Bellerin

2) Antonio Valencia

3) Laurent Koscielny

4) Nacho Monreal

5) Chris Smalling

6) Danny Rose

7) Toby Alderweireld

8) Virgil van Dijk 

9) Marcos Rojo

10) Patrick van Aanholt

11) Gabriel

12) Gael Clichy

13) Cesar Azpilicueta

14) Aaron Cresswell

15) Christian Fuchs

16) Leighton Baines

17) DeAndre Yedlin

18) Eric Dier

19) Nicolas Otamendi

20) Ryan Bertrand

 

 

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

1) Alexis Sanchez 

2) Eden Hazard 

3) Kevin De Bruyne 

4) Dimitri Payet

5) Dusan Tadic 

6) Christian Eriksen  

7) Riyad Mahrez 

8) Marko Arnautovic 

9) Sadio Mane 

10) Andre Ayew

11) Cesc Fabregas

12) Erik Lamela

13) Juan Mata

14) Alex Iwobi

15) Sheyi Ojo

16) Ross Barkley

17) Andros Townsend

18) Pedro

19) Nathan Redmond

20) Mesut Ozil

21) Jordon Ibe

22) Michail Antonio

 

Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob | Matt | Andrew

 

 

 

FORWARDS

 

1) Sergio Aguero 

2) Olivier Giroud

3) Harry Kane 

4) Jamie Vardy

5) Shane Long

6) Anthony Martial

7) Troy Deeney

8) Christian Benteke 

9) Romelu Lukaku 

10) Andy Carroll

11) Odion Ighalo

12) Marcus Rashford

13) Dwight Gayle

14) Wayne Rooney

15) Salomon Rondon 

 

 

 
So there you have it. The best of the best to consider for Week 38. A reminder that there are no games on Saturday. It will be a full slate on Sunday as every match will kick off at the same time. So be sure to check in with the news here at Rotoworld on Saturday, as well as early on Sunday, as you never know what late piece of information or gossip could help determine your final managerial decisions of the season.
 
 
 
Good luck this week fellow managers, and may your arrows be green.

 

Steve Rothgeb
Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.