Welcome to Week 35 of Rotoworld's player picks for the Yahoo Fantasy game. This is Steve Rothgeb filling in for Nik Argiropouolos who is away on holiday. Hopefully, you check out my Bargain Hunter column on Wednesdays as I scour the player pool for the week's best budget options, but I have plenty of experience in this role as well so keep the faith!
Week 34 was perhaps the most crucial gameweek of the season for fantasy managers. The fact that my XI put up 143 points and I am disappointed by it should speak volumes. Nik did a fantastic job with his picks last week, recommending players like Marc Albrighton, who turned out to be the highest scoring midfielder of the week. To prove how Nik and I are on the same page, I anointed Albrighton just the week before as a Bargain Hunter play. Like most of my budget picks, Alrighton now commands a hefty price for his services. We both backed Dame N'Doye as well, as his 40 points made him the top forward last week.
Week 35 returns us to a normal fixture list. Ten matches, no double gameweek clubs, no clubs with a blank. So you can rest your brain somewhat trying to weigh the value of players when some are playing twice and some aren't. However, do not get too comfortable. We are down to the final four weeks of the season. It is time to pull out all the stops. Let's take a look at the fixtures then:
Week 35 Fixtures
Leicester City v Newcastle
Aston Villa v Everton
Liverpool v QPR
Sunderland v Southampton
Swansea City v Stoke City
West Ham v Burnley
Manchester United v West Brom
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Manchester City
Hull City v Arsenal
For my money, I am bullish on Leicester, Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool and Manchester United as I see positive results for all of them. Tottenham and Manchester City are bound to have some goals given their track records but the outcome is still hard to predict. It will be interesting to see Hull's defense match up against Arsenal and I am intrigued by the match between the Villans and Toffees. Crystal Palace, Burnley and QPR look like clubs to avoid entirely, bar Kieran Trippier.
With that in mind, let's take a look at my Week 35 recommendations.
Adrian - Hammers are at home and coming off a clean sheet while Burnley haven't scored a goal since Week 29.
David De Gea - United's home record can't be ignored for the keeper "win" factor even though the Red Devils haven't been keeping things as clean as they should. De Gea's price cannot be ignored either.
Kasper Schmeichel - Foxes are in top form despite the loss to Chelsea midweek and are home to a Newcastle side that haven't won in over two months. Plus, it's just fun to watch Kasper's shot-stopping skills.
Lukasz Fabianski - Yahoo's top keeper has just seen a 2m dip in price and the Swans are playing at home. Ranked lower than the rest because Stoke are tough to keep out for 90 minutes.
Branislav Ivanovic - Top of the defenders picks last weeks and going nowhere as Chelsea play at The Bridge against a Crystal Palace side that hit a dip in attacking form last week in their 0-2 loss to Hull. Capable of producing in just about any category
Aaron Cresswell - Coming off a road clean sheet, Hammers in fine defensive form. Cresswell put up 17 points then, now comes home to face a Clarets side who haven't scored for five matches straight.
Martin Skrtel - Liverpool's best defensive weapon for fantasy purposes, Skrtel will look for production at both ends as the Reds look to stifle Charlie Austin and Queens Park Rangers in an Anfield tilt.
Leighton Baines - Everton are flying high after a 3-0 win against Manchester United. They will have to travel to Villa Park but Baines is bound to produce regardless of the final score. Totals of 17 and 19 points in the past two weeks.
Ashley Williams - He hasn't missed a minute on the pitch and is always solid in plus matchups, which a home game against Stoke is considered to be.
Wes Morgan - Robert Huth is trying to recover from the knock picked up on Wednesday and Jeffrey Schlupp is also an injury question at the moment, making Morgan the safest route to the Foxes' defense as they host a poorly performing Newcastle United.
Chris Smalling - Smalling has been a bright spot in the merry-go-round that is the Red Devil defensive unit. A match at Old Trafford against a West Brom side susceptible to poor attacking displays makes for a good spot to use him.
Kieran Trippier - Clarets are struggling right now but it doesn't stop Trippier from putting up crooked numbers. Only his price eats into his value or he would be an every-week fixture-proof lock in your XI.
Ryan Bertrand/Nathaniel Clyne - Take your pick of the Saints full backs, odds are you will be pleased either way. They take on a bad Sunderland side. Only the trip up north keeps this pair lower in the ranks.
Eden Hazard - Hopefully in your XI from Week 1, Hazard had a quiet double gameweek but is still the PL's best player and Chelsea are home to the leaky defense of Crystal Palace. Hurts too much NOT to own him.
Raheem Sterling - Maybe Mario Balotelli starts up top, maybe not. Either way, Sterling has to be in one's thinking this week as the Reds are at home to QPR. Less than two goals from the Reds here would be a shock. Sterling has the best chance to be involved.
Philippe Coutinho - A solid pick for the same reasons as listed above, Sterling edges him out for being a slightly better goal threat, but there is no issue in investing in both this week.
Cesc Fabregas - Blues hosting Eagles. Fabs has been producing more since he took a more advanced position in Chelsea's formation. The result has turned a good fantasy weapon into an even better one.
Esteban Cambiasso - The heartbeat of the Leicester team, Cambiasso will look to clean up in several fantasy categories as the expectation is a win over a hapless Magpie side.
Jordan Henderson - Completes the fantasy trinity of the Reds' midfield, Henderson has more often than not exceeded expectations this season. Cross your fingers for Gerrard to not start, it only increases Hendo's value.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - Siggy found success last weekend with Nelson Oliveira leading the line so the Swans attack is getting along swimmingly. He's the best bet to be their top scorer again this week as the Potters come to the Liberty Stadium.
Aaron Ramsey - Rambo has collected two goals and three assists over the past five matches for the Gunners, quietly outproducing more expensive options Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil. They travel to Hull who have picked up back-to-back clean sheets but the odds of making it three are slim.
Sadio Mane - Saints have to travel but their opponents, Sunderland, are prone to conceding no matter where they play. Mane has been the Saints' best fantasy weapon and should get his share of looks at the goal.
Juan Mata - Investment in United's attack may be this week after the dud they put up against Everton, but their record at Old Trafford cannot be ignored. This should be a test of whether Mata's resurgence was temporary or if he is back to stay.
Marc Albrighton - Scored his first goal since 2011 yesterday and comes out of Week 34 the highest scoring midfielder for the round. Foxes should be on the front foot often against Newcastle.
Jack Colback - While the Magpies may be tanking in the table, Colback has returned to fantasy prominence, racking up points in a variety of ways making him fixture-proof.
Ki Sung-Yueng - An alternative to Sigurdsson in the Swans' midfield, Ki has had plenty of weeks with big numbers to know that a nice haul here would come as no surprise.
Jamie Vardy - Hard to believe, but a Leicester forward tops the rankings for the second week straight. Foxes will be putting the pressure on Newcastle and the Magpies are highly likely to break. He's dealing with pain but you can bet he won't allow himself to miss the match.
Christian Benteke - Perhaps the the most in-form striker at the moment, it is best to ride Bentekkers form while it is here. He will have the benefit of playing at home, but beyond one goal could prove difficult against the Toffees.
Alexis Sanchez - Normally would be ranked above Vardy and Benteke, but Arsenal are traveling to play a Hull side that have suddenly found some defensive might. Still, he can rack up points without scoring or assisting.
Oliver Giroud - Again, Hull are suddenly hitting form defensively but Giroud's goal rate has been one of the more consistent stats in the league this season.
Sergio Aguero - Tottenham don't have a reputation for keeping their opponent out, so despite the match taking place at White Hart Lane, an opponent like City are likely to find the net. Aguero is the best bet to be to the one to do it.
Graziano Pelle - Pelle is finally being productive again, after a long drought in the middle of the season. Sunderland provide the sort of opposition that should keep his form going.
Romelu Lukaku - Toffees have plenty of confidence behind them after last weekend, so expect Lukaku to give Aston Villa problems.
Dame N'Doye - Makes the list more for his form than for the fixture against Arsenal. Still, Hull have renewed confidence after sweeping both games of their Week 34 double and if the Tigers do put one past the Gunners, he is far and away the likeliest one to do it.
Harry Kane - The moment you gloss over Kane, he merely scores again. Pricey but Manchester City aren't exactly defensive giants.
So those are the players to consider for your Week 35 Yahoo team. Please make sure you check back here on Friday for Ben Dinnery's wonderful team and injury news column where he'll run through all the important info ahead of Saturday's deadline.
My own XI, which is constantly changing, currently looks like this ...
XI: De Gea; Cresswell, Bertrand, Shaw; Fabregas, Coutinho, Sterling, Hazard; Vardy, Giroud, Sanchez
If you check out my Bargain Hunter column for this week, you will see that I am taking a chance on Shaw with Jores Okore sitting on my bench as a replacement should the cheap United defender not feature. Otherwise, I was able to afford some of the very best options this week has to offer. Good luck to you and may your arrows be green!