Welcome to my favorite time of the year – garbage time. We are now officially into garbage time territory in the Premier League, where a few teams have determined their fate and it’s time to experiment with tactic and rosters.
Our regular player picks expert Nik Argiropoulos is away this week so I’m covering for him and hopefully the picks will be as successful as always. One thing I want to mention before I start looking at specific players is to note that the best tactic in the closing moments of the season is to target players who are nailed on to start. That includes players in the relegation battle and battles for top four and six. Some other managers might feel too adventurous and you want to make sure you field 11 players each and every week. With that in mind, let’s start looking at some matchups and players.
Everton – Everton have been good as of recently outside of a 3-2 loss to the surging Aston Villa. Before the Villa match, they had conceded just once in the previous four matches, including zero at home. We here are Rotoworld have them at 61% chance to win against Sunderland, who only have two away wins from 16 matches this season. Everton are not in the relegation battle and do not have a chance at a European spot, but they can realistically finish anywhere between 9th and 13th and Roberto Martinez may need to finish in the top 10 to save his job, so I consider Everton players safe from being rested.
Manchester City – Manchester City are fighting Arsenal for the number two spot and shouldn’t rest anyone at this point. A home match versus QPR gives them every chance at a big win.
Arsenal – Arsenal face Swansea and have been absolutely on fire lately. I’m sure Arsene Wenger wants the number two spot as much as Manchester City and there shouldn’t be any surprises here either. We have Arsenal as the highest chance of a clean sheet this weekend.
These are the three matchups I love the most, but there are a lot of good games this weekend so value should be present in a number of places.
Boaz Myhill – I hate point chasing, and this feels like it, but Myhill’s form is just too good to ignore. The West Brom goalkeeper is averaging 24 points over his last three matches and faces Newcastle, by far the worst team in the Premier League at the moment. Despite being a great pick, Myhill carries some risk. What I am afraid of is Newcastle having one shot on target that inevitably goes in, ruining a clean sheet and robbing Myhill of any saves, but I think the more likely scenario is at least 10 points for the West Brom keeper.
Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob
Leighton Baines – I’ve been a proponent of not spending that much on a defender but Baines is in form and has a fantastic matchup. He’s averaging 12.5 per game in his last four, a form worth paying for, especially in a week where midfielders don’t stand out as much. For a cheaper way into the Everton defense, consider Seamus Coleman.
Kurt Zouma – Chelsea have won the title and desperately need to figure out their center-back situation for the future. Zouma has the potential to be the solution at center-back when John Terry retires, but Mourinho has to see more. I think Zouma will start this weekend and Chelsea have dominated Liverpool in recent times.
Martin Demichelis – The City defender only costs £ 7.3 M and has an over 50% chance at a clean sheet. You could do worse with a budget defender.
Jeff Schlupp/Wes Morgan – the two defenders lead Leicester City in total fantasy points this season by a wide margin and have been great recently. Leicester have won their last four out of five and I love everything these two bring to the fantasy sheet.
Hector Bellerin – Bellerin has been the most in-form Arsenal defender lately and can excel against Swansea. I think he’s safe for at least 7-8 points with the possibility of getting you 15, which is more than you can ask for at his £ 9.31 M price tag.
Marc Albrighton – I pumped up Albrighton in the pre-season over and over again and then had to eat my words as he was absolutely unusable for the first 30 weeks. He’s found his form lately though and has averaged 25 points over his last two and 16.5 over his last four.
Santi Cazorla – The second highest scoring midfielder on the season faces a great matchup and is in form. There is very little that can go wrong here. I think he’s safer than Hazard due to Hazard’s risk of getting rested.
Aaron Ramsey – Ramsey has been quite inconsistent this season, which has been very tough on fantasy managers, but he looked great last week and comes at a reasonable price. The matchup is there for him to succeed and his ceiling is sky-high.
Fabiah Delph – Delph is Aston Villa. He has done everything for this team this season and has deservedly earned praise from his manager. He is a phantom-point all-star at the moment and will earn you points even if he doesn’t find the back of the net.
Erik Lamela – Lamela is averaging 12 points per match over his last three and faces Stoke City. The problem is that Spurs are on the road, but Lamela should be able to do enough to meet his value.
Sadio Mane – Mane has struggled for consistency as well this season but he scored a goal last weekend and should easily snatch another start. He is always dangerous when he starts and can earn enough points from shots and crosses to match his price. The goals are a bonus.
James Milner – Another one of Steve’s picks, I like Milner as the best Manchester City midfielder in this one. Everyone else in the City midfield has been horrific but they are heavily favored against QPR and Milner can produce enough to meet his price.
Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob
Sergio Aguero – easily the top choice of the week. We have no idea who starts up top for Chelsea and Aguero is nailed on to start for Manchester City. He is the second best player playing this weekend in the Premier League (assuming Hazard plays) and he has a cake matchup. Splurge for him without thinking too long.
Alexis Sanchez – Another easy matchup for a great player, Sanchez has lit the Premier League on fire this season. 33 points last week showed he can produce on any given day and Sanchez can easily be the top scorer in gameweek 36.
Romelu Lukaku – Remember how I spoke about the three matchups I loved the most at the beginning? I love the strikers for all three and am probably spending to try to fit as many of them as I can. There is no one who stands out in midfield as much as these three strikers and I’d rather spend here and save everywhere else.
Christian Benteke – Benteke is absolutely on fire. 11 goals and an assist in his last 9 matches, there is no more in-form striker at the moment. Aston Villa are finding him in space and he is terrorizing opponent defenses. Add to that the injuries West Ham have had in defense and it’s hard to see how they can contain Benteke with James Collins and Reece Burke.
James Vardy/Leo Ulloa – Both Leicester City forwards have been great and although it was Ulloa who had a huge gameweek 35, I like Vardy better in this one. Vardy has been the more consistent of the two and can contribute in more ways than just scoring, but they are both great options this week.
As you can probably tell, I am much bigger on strikers and defenders this week than midfielders. With Hazard being at risk of rest and Manchester City’s midfield struggling to produce, there isn’t that much value at midfield this week. To add to that, Manchester United are out of form and it’s hard to predict who could produce there. My team reflects that and I have a solid squad stuffed with Leighton Baines, Sergio Aguero, and Alexis Sanchez. My XI:
Myhill, Baines, Cresswell, Bertrand, Delph, Mane, Milner, Grealish, Aguero, Drogba, Sanchez.
I’m not sure Drogba starts this one but if he doesn’t, I have Leandro Bacuna ready to come in for me off the bench. Outside of that, I’m hoping Baines, Aguero, and Sanchez carry me to a solid week. I’m sure changes will be made so tune in Twitter to see my final lineup on Friday.