As if there are not enough reasons already to enjoy playing FPL, this past weekend gave us another.
The title race is over folks. If we had assumed it before, we can say it with confidence now - Manchester City are going to cruise there way to hardware and I haven't even begun to do my holiday shopping yet. By beating United, along with Chelsea's loss, there is just too much ground to make up on a club whose only flaw seems to be how to get enough minutes to make all the world-class talent around Pep Guardiola happy. If anything, the gap between City and the rest of the field is going widen quickly. Outside of Spurs in Week 18, it looks to be three easy points against the likes of Swansea, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. That will take us to into 2018, and not much drama to be had for this season's title race.
But, that is the beauty of FPL. No matter what may be decided already in reality, there is plenty left to be determined with your fantasy season.
That is as positive as I can be heading into Week 17. Just as my side has begun to find form and gain ground in the ranks, I approach this round's deadline with my team in complete disarray. Even with two free transfers, I cannot fix it all. And with my luck, the players I bring in will be rested. Alvaro Morata, Aaron Ramsey, Matt Lowton...the fact that I have two Bournemouth defenders traveling to Old Trafford and a Swansea defender hosting City. Yes, this midweek has me trembling with fear, but it at least provides me a valuable lesson for future seasons - from now on, I am preserving my first half Wildcard for December. I will also take a screenshot of this statement and use it as my desktop background so that I don't forget.
Anyway, another quick turnaround means another quick and streamlined column as we look at the prospects of Week 17...
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: David de Gea - Derby out of the way, many clean sheets on the horizon for the game's top GK. Maybe you had Phil Jones or Eric Bailly as United defensive cover and want to get it back. Get it back with the reliable de Gea.
Player to sell: Fraser Forster - If not this round, then soon. The Saints have road games against Chelsea, Spurs and Man United within the five matches that take us into 2018.
Player to hold: Heurelho Gomes - Two rounds in a row for Gomes. No cleanie in Week 16, but he did make four saves and the Hornets have a kind run of fixtures ahead. That, and he is due for his annual penalty save.
Player to avoid: Adrian - West Ham's performance against Chelsea, along with Adrian's grip on the job and cheap price should have managers tempted. But, the Hammers have a blank in Week 21.
Player to buy: Cesar Azpilicueta - If you want a premium defender that consistently produces and who faces some soft opponents, and most importantly, can be counted to start every match (as much as one can be counted on), then Cesar is your man.
Player to sell: Charlie Daniels - Brought in Daniels several weeks back to take advantage of the Cherries schedule and was banking on an attacking return. It never came. Now, Bournemouth face both Manchester sides and Liverpool in the next three rounds. All AFCB defenders should be shipped out.
Player to hold: Kyle Walker - Two points or less from Walker in the last four rounds, hardly acceptable from a defender with his price tag. I think he will make you pay if you drop him now though. City should get back on the clean sheet path considering their schedule and Walker is due to chip in with an assist soon.
Player to avoid: Huddersfield defenders - Both Mathias Jorgensen and Christopher Schindler grabbed double digit hauls over the weekend, with a clean sheet and an assist apiece as the Terriers showed a bit of the magic they displayed in the early stages of the season. Don't buy them yet though. Get the Chelsea fixture out of the way, then revisit the idea heading into Week 18.
Player to buy: Riyad Mahrez - Mahrez is quietly heating up, scoring or assisting in Leicester's last three. He seems a safe bet to start every game during this busy stretch and makes for an excellent differential right now.
Player to sell: Sadio Mane - The pattern seems to show that Mane cannot start back-to-back games when they are only two or three days apart. He started the weekend and he poorly missed an opportunity to help give the Reds what would have been a match-winner in the derby. Mane is a dynamic player but he is a fantasy headache this season.
Player to hold: Philippe Coutinho - Yes, Klopp's rotation over the weekend caused many an ulcer around the globe for fantasy managers but, at least you can feel confident that if Coutinho was rested for the derby, he will certainly start midweek and West Brom are going to be pushovers. Rotation beyond that scares me but Coutinho could explode Wednesday night.
Player to avoid: Heung-min Son - I have a feeling Son will be in my squad in 2018 because he is proving to deserve an extended run in Tottenham's side and the only thing keeping him from matching points from his more expensive teammates is his playing time. Alas, Spurs have a blank in Week 21, so now is not the best time to invest in anyone from the Lillywhites.
Player to buy: Dominic Calvert-Lewin - Everton's attack in the derby was virtually non-existent, but DCL was involved once again in their one moment of magic. Two goals and three assists spread out over the last six weeks is a good enough sample size to say he is returning great value. With Everton moving in a positive direction, he seems to have secured a regular role in the XI. Maybe he gets a rest during one of these busy weeks between now and the new year, but at 5.3m, a rest will not scar you for life.
Player to sell: Tammy Abraham - Abraham had an assist over the weekend, and it was for Wilfried Bony's goal, proving both can be on the pitch at the same time and share the points. But, it looks as though for now that Bony is the de facto starter with Abraham the bench weapon. Unless your name is Olivier Giroud, "bench weapon" is not a good label to have in fantasy.
Player to hold: Sergio Aguero - Same philosophy as Coutinho. Aguero did not play a minute of the Manchester derby. So, while several big names run the risk of rest for Week 17, Aguero is assured of a start. For that reason, not only do you keep him, you give him the armband.
Player to avoid: Jermain Defoe - Defoe added another brace to his fine career over the weekend. I can see many Callum Wilson owners wanting to make a sideways move for the veteran. But, Bournemouth's schedule is too brutal even for Defoe in the next three rounds.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
1) Sergio Aguero
2) Harry Kane
3) Mo Salah
5) Philippe Coutinho
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 Tuesday evening. 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.