With the third deadline in little over a week looming, there is no time to dilly-dally. Imagine my surprise and joy when I went to check and make sure "dilly-dally" was a recognized word in the English language and found that it indeed is.
Yes, so Round 15 was a volatile one for the most part. Managers either had a nightmare, getting crushed by players missing out through injury or rest/rotation, or they enjoyed avoiding such a fate, were able to get out a full XI, and maybe even had a captained Harry Kane leading the charge. Of course, for me personally, my team can never seem to be on the same page as the rest of the league, so naturally my round score was right down the middle, barely seeing a change in rank. Not to worry though, that slight change in rank produced a red arrow.
You know, I kind of wish FPL would start providing different shades of red or green for our arrows depending on how much movement there was in a particular round. In a huge leap in the ranks, a deep green, while a tiny move up gives a very light, nearly invisible green. I mean, until the next round is complete, I have to stare at a red arrow that looks the same as the one back in Week 9 where my round rank was 5.8 million and I have been trying to crawl back to that rank ever since. Now THAT arrow should have little cartoon drops of blood dripping off of it.
Anyway, back to the point -- there is no time waste right now, and I need to figure exactly what I am going to do with Marko Arnautovic. I am probably going to put in Callum Wilson for him, but I am kicking myself because it will require a 4 point hit, as I did a no-no and made a very early transfer already, plus Wilson faces Liverpool's stingy defense, so the chances of making up the four spent points are quite low.
Well, I am sure I will decide something by the time we get to the "Forwards" section of the column, so let's dive in now and look at the landscape ahead of Week 16...
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
So now it is time to look at the players to think about ahead of Week 4. As a reminder, there are four categories of players which I feel are worth mentioning week to week when making decisions about transfers....
1) Players to buy
2) Players to sell
3) Players to hold onto
4) Players to avoid buying
I will also include later in the section, my top choices for the captain's armband. While I will consider every player from A to Z, you will normally find the usual suspects there.
Right, so let's dive in...
*Just as a reminder, keepers should always be the last position to think about using transfers for, unless there is an urgent need. So, when you see who I have listed here, bear in mind that my keeper advice does not carry as much weight as the outfield positions.
Player to buy: Lukasz Fabianksi - Moved him last round to my "GK to buy" and what does he do? Saves a pen and blows away the other keepers in scoring, in a rare round where no club kept a clean sheet. Expect Fabianskl to stick here for a couple more weeks at least, with form and fixtures all on his side.
Player to sell: Kasper Schmeichel - Schemichel was the only keeper besides Fabianski to score more than three points in the last round (5) but his prospects going forward are not appealing. With Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in three of the next four rounds, I would drop him for Fabianski and pocket the extra .4m.
Player to hold: Hugo Lloris - Just one game with more than three points in the last six for Lloris but Spurs have the best schedule among the top three sides and the defense is much healthier now than they had been for the previous two months. Tottenham were unlucky to be to only side to keep their opponent out in Week 15, as they gave up one goal after the 90-minute mark.
Player to avoid: David De Gea - de Gea may do well in the coming weeks, but there are two facts I cannot overlook. 1) He has come short on expectations all season so far and 2) He is still too expensive. Yes, home to Fulham, then in Rounds 18 and 19, Cardiff and Huddersfield on the schedule, but it is going to take me a long time before I can trust any of United's premium options.
Player to buy: Matt Doherty - Doherty is back in the returns on the attacking side, having done so twice in a few days. You have to catch his form now or wait until the next wave, because the later you wait to add him, the closer you may be to a drop in form again. Wolves have not been getting it done in the clean sheet department lately, but they have some opponents in the near future that are pretty weak in attack.
Player to sell: Brighton defenders - Shane Duffy is set to start a 3-match ban, so clearly he has to be dropped. But really, Lewis Dunk and anyone else at the back should be exiting your side. The absence of Duffy will downgrade their clean sheet potential and, after a long run of good fixtures, they take a turn after this weekend. With Duffy in the mix, I would have held on to any Brighton defender for one more week, to see if they can get a road return against Burnley, but now I think the Clarets find at least a goal.
Player to hold: Fabián Balbuena - Owners were likely disappointed to see Balbuena on West Ham's bench this week, but do not worry, it is not a sign of a changing of the guard. Balbuena's spot in the XI is firmly in his grasp and he will be back on the team sheet this weekend surely as West Ham continue to enjoy a kind schedule during the festive period.
Player to avoid: Vincent Kompany - First, a bit of praise for putting David Luiz in here midweek? Yes, he had not missed one minute all season but I had him as a potential drop, and he was the only Chelsea player in the back four to see such a fate. So, allow me to make an easier call this time around. Yes, Vincent Kompany is an FPL legend, and yes, he was the top scoring defender in Week 15. But NO, he in not a fantasy option.
Player to buy: Christian Eriksen - The midweek was a strong indication that Eriksen is back to full fitness. He was in the starting XI just a few days after playing minutes, he was sharp, assisting Tottenham's opening goal, and he was taken off on 78 minutes, giving him a bit of a breather and setting him up for this weekend. Yes, he may be on the bench at some point during this busy schedule, but again, this is Erisken back to full strength, so you have to roll with the puches.
Player to sell: Pedro - It seems pretty clear that Pedro and Willian stand to rotate a bunch in the coming weeks. Wilian got the start in midweek which means Pedro should be back in the XI at the weekend, so why sell him now? Well, I expect little in a matchup with Manchester City. Then, you have to worry about him not starting the next game, so it could be weeks before we see another attacking return, as a starter anyway.
Player to hold: Raheem Sterling - Hey, it had to happen sometime. Pep picked Week 15 to give Sterling his rest, but there is no reason to think the midfielder is going to miss another game anytime soon or see a dip in form. He was in the XI last weekend, he will be again this weekend...so it's a normal week for him.
Player to avoid: Riayd Mahrez - Yes, so I hedged by bet by saying to avoid Sterling and Leroy Sane here in my last column, feeling confident one would sit. This time around, I am going to focus on the replacement option, Mahrez. With a goal and assist in midweek, Mahrez has made a case for inclusion again this weekend, and I can see him playing over Sane to keep the "three players for two spots" rotation working, But I am not interested in a one-week roll of the dice. I would be shocked if he started three straight, so if he's not back on the bench this weekend, he will be come Week 17.
Player to buy: Raúl Jiménez - Honestly, I was shocked to see Jimenez's ownership at just 16% as of this writing, I really thought he would have been in the 25%-33% range by now. I am not sure what non-owners are waiting for. He has been the perfect FWD3 this season and his form is so consistent. You have to go back to the opening month of the season to find a stretch of more than two games without a return. That is good value for a striker in the 9m range. It is a must-have at his price. If you are a Marko Arnautovic owner, this switch is easy. Callum Wilson remains the next best buy in this price range, though again, the matchup against Liverpool this weekend offers me little optimism for an immediate return on investment.
Player to sell: Glenn Murray - Unlike Arnautovic, Murray's injury is not serious, suggesting if he were to miss this round, he will be back in line for the next. Well, even if he's fit for the weekend, Brighton are on the road. Seven of Murray's eight goals have come at home. Problem is, when the Seagulls return to their ground, it starts a tough run of fixtures for them. I'd sell him now and target him again when the calendar flips to 2019.
Player to hold: Romelu Lukaku - It will be some time before I can trust him as a "buy" but if you happen to be brave enough to own him already, but are fed up after he was benched midweek, I would hold on. Owners know already the Belgian broke a long drought last weekend and, with Fulham up next, I think Lukaku finds the net again.
Player to avoid: Salomon Rondon - After turning heads with a brace last month, Rondon found the net again during the midweek. I suppose for anyone that bought him after the brace will appreciate the return, but my stance on Rondon is firm. He is simply not consistent enough to be used in FPL. There is always a better option than him at or near his price tag.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
2) Harry Kane
4) Mo Salah
That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline on Saturday. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline, and there are usually a few extra surprises in this regard coming out of an international break. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.
Good luck, and may your arrows be green.