Week 16 came and went in the blink of an eye and tomorrow marks our third FPL deadline in eight days. Once again, I will provide an abbreviated version of my weekly column as we all work on getting ready for Week 17 in a limited amount of time.
Before I get to my picks, I want to share a thought about transfers this gameweek that may have been more helpful to print in the column ahead of Week 16. All twenty clubs are on a two-at-home followed by two-away schedule, or vice versa. So, all players on clubs who were at home in midweek will be home again this weekend. Then, the fixtures flip and those who were on the road for Weeks 16 and 17 will play two at home. Long story short, I think this is a good week to save your transfer, if at all possible. Then, you are given many more options with two free transfers next week, as you can drop two players that will be on the road and bring in two players with home games. For instance, I am looking at possibly switching Harry Kane to Zlatan Ibrahimovic next week. To make up the tiny difference in price, i am weighing the options as to who to drop for another two-at-home player. Again though, injuries, suspensions and worry over playing time may force your hand to make a move this week.
Just food for thought. What would the holiday season be without food? Right, let's get started...
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, it is pretty hard to look past the A (Aguero) or the Z (Zlatan).
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: David de Gea - United's defense has been somewhat patchwork in recent weeks but they have looked as good at the back as they have all season. A trip to West Brom followed by Sunderland and Middlesbrough at home looks quite lucrative.
Player to sell: Claudio Bravo - City finally kept a CS against Watford midweek. It took five weeks for the previous one, and four weeks for the one before that. Arsenal at home followed by two road games tells me to take the Watford cleanie and sell.
Player to hold: Petr Cech - Gunners struggling for clean sheets lately and a trip to the Etihad does not do them any favors in that department. But, if you can live with Cech's score or use a backup this week, Arsenal's schedule gets very good starting next week.
Player to avoid: Lee Grant - Stoke are trying to keep Grant on a permanent basis but it may not happen. He had an excellent Week 16 but after hosting a blossoming Leicester attack this week, the Potters then travel to Liverpool and Chelsea.
Player to buy: Jose Holebas - His penchant for yellow cards will drive you crazy but the attacking production for a defender under 5m is unparalleled in this season's game. Hornets travel to Sunderland this weekend then have three of four at home.
Player to sell: Gareth McAuley - McAuley the only sub-5m defender to be a top ten scorer at his position this season, so the value is there. But, you may want to consider a switch. Hosting an improving Manchester United this weekend followed by two on the road against Arsenal and Southampton.
Player to hold: Michael Keane - Small chance the Clarets can keep Spurs down at White Hart Lane, but if you can manage to use a Burnley defender on your bench this week, you will be set up for Weeks 18-19 with home games against Boro and Sunderland. Burnley can defend at home.
Player to avoid: Pablo Zabaleta - A goal and a clean sheet gave Pablo a huge score in Week 17 and he has started back-to-back matches. Problem is, he has yet to start three in a row for the Citizens and, even though I tip him to start this weekend, his playing time is just too questionable to invest.
Player to buy: Gylfi Sigurdsson - I think the Swans can get something away to Boro this weekend and then they host West Ham and Bournemouth. When the Swans get something, Gylfi gets something. Also unlikely to be rested during the busy schedule.
Player to sell: Roberto Firmino - The jury is out. Firmino has been failing his owners, especially since his fellow countryman Philippe Coutinho was injured. Time to downgrade to Adam Lallana and spend the extra cash elsewhere.
Player to hold: Riyad Mahrez - Mahrez didn't offer a return beyond appearance points for owners in Week 16 but he has looked sharp in the past few weeks overall and the Foxes attack is gaining momentum. After a trip to Stoke, more possible returns at home to Everton and West Ham.
Player to avoid: David Silva - Silva finally scored his first goal of the season during the midweek but this is the second season of diminishing returns from the once-mighty fantasy stud. He is just too expensive when his involvement is not what it once was.
Player to buy: Diego Costa - First time I've mentioned Costa as a "buy" since he got his 4th Yellow Card. I finally caved in and bought him. You should too. Even if/when he misses one match with a ban, you are going to want him back. Just buy, keep, and bench one week when needed.
Player to sell: Kelechi Iheanacho - I admittedly was one (of many) to back Iheanacho as an Aguero replacement. It worked good earlier in the season. Not so much now. End the experiment.
Player to hold: Jermain Defoe - There's a reason he's got a blue star next to him in FPL. Two weeks without a goal, but so what? He should be your third striker and will return value over time. His droughts don't last too long.
Player to avoid: Salomon Rondon - I cannot look at fixtures over form all the time, but despite the midweek hat trick, the schedule is quite tough for the Baggies ahead and I just don't trust their attack to be consistent.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
1) Harry Kane
2) Diego Costa
3) Alexis Sanchez
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 Saturday morning. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. 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.