There was a time when a decent total for a standard "one fixture for all" gameweek in Yahoo! Fantasy Premier League was anything over 100 points. If you hit 120-140 it was a great week, and there were occasions when the very best (and occasionally lucky) managers would hit 150-160+.
This has changed for the 2013-14 season. The introduction of a bigger budget, the captain rule and additional point scoring opportunities for defensive players means 100 points is now way below average. What do we think the new "decent total" marker is now? 120? 130? It's too early to tell, but the landscape has definitely changed.
My own team scored 112 points in Week 5 but barely made a dent in the overall standings and I wasn't surprised when I saw other fantasy managers (mainly those who gave Leighton Baines
the armband) achieve some remarkable scores of 190+. I was reasonably pleased with how my side performed (Daniel Sturridge
excluded) but Olivier Giroud
was my captain and his contributions doubled up to 18 points, which simply isn't enough to be competitive when others are picking up 60+ for their selection.
It is clear that getting your (C) pick right is absolutely key to being successful in the new format of the game. I've been getting it wrong, which is why AM FC is languishing down in 6,000th overall, so I'll be adding a greater emphasis on the captain options from here on in.
Let's look ahead ...
Week 6 Fixtures
Aston Villa v Man City
Everton v Newcastle
Fulham v Cardiff City
Hull City v West Ham
Man Utd v West Brom
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Stoke v Norwich
Sunderland v Liverpool
Swansea v Arsenal
Tottenham v Chelsea
At a glance you'd immediately view Southampton v Palace as a banker home win if 7th placed Saints play close to their potential. Ian Holloway's men aren't the worst side in the league but I can't see them picking up too many points away from Selhurst Park this season. Confident Everton should have too much for Newcastle at Goodison Park with Romelu Lukaku
likely to be unleashed from the start, and if Manchester City can continue their Manchester-derby form then a Benteke-less Aston Villa could get a tonking at Villa Park.
If Sir Alex was still at the Old Trafford helm I'd have Manchester Utd v West Brom down as a home win by a few goals, but things are tough for David Moyes
at the moment and the Baggies will be feeling relieved and relaxed after picking up their first win of the season in Week 5. Of course United have the quality to take the 3 points in front of their own fans and will be boosted by the narrow win over Liverpool in the Cup, but it could be tighter than people are expecting.
Elsewhere, the returning Luis Suarez
will help fill the creative void left by Philippe Coutinho and should help Liverpool to a comfortable victory over a Sunderland side without a league win and in yet another state of flux, while Mark Hughes and his improving Stoke City side will be confident of dispatching struggling Norwich City at the Britannia.
Swansea versus Arsenal and Tottenham versus Chelsea are both difficult to call either way, but there will be some sensational attacking talent on display, so expect two cracking matches full of chances and goals a'plenty. I can't say the same about Fulham versus Cardiff and Hull versus West Ham, so these are two matches probably best avoided for fantasy purposes this week.
NOTE: Tottenham v Chelsea is the 12:45 BST kick off on Saturday so we will have access to line-ups on Twitter before the Yahoo deadline.
Based on my predictions for the Week 6 match-ups, here are my player recommendations:
- Southampton's keepers is in fine form and the defence in front of him have been extremely sturdy (conceding just 2 goals in 5 games), so £9million is terrific value at home to Palace this weekend. He'll be in net for my team.
Asmir Begovic - Stoke are usually solid defensively at home and are playing well as a team, so Begovic is a great pick for their very winnable match against Norwich.
- I always try to pick a keeper playing at home, but Mignolet is the outstanding performer thus far so I wouldn't argue with anyone selecting him for Liverpool's trip to Sunderland.
- He's averaging 15 points per game this season, he takes set pieces, he takes penalties, he's at home to Newcastle ... need I go on? Baines is in my team and will probably be my captain for Week 6. Even without his goals he is scoring excellent "phantom" points so he should always return something decent when you double it up.
Pablo Zabaleta - Villa without Benteke is like Tom without Jerry. There is a clean sheet chance for City this weekend and Zabaleta should be able to get forward to his heart's content.
- As above, but he also takes set pieces. It's interesting because Kolarov was set to leave the club in the summer, but Pellegrini seems to fancy him and he was fantastic against Man United, so Gael Clichy
should continue to warm the bench.
- The Southampton center back has impressed all season and rewarded loyal fantasy managers with the winning goal against Liverpool. Lovren's price has risen as a result but he's still decent value at home to Palace.
- I'm not really sure what he's doing to pick up so many points each weekend, but it's happening, so I'm going to keeping recommending Newcastle's Debuchy until there is sign of his productivity decreasing.
- If you fancy a Stoke clean sheet then Shawcross is my pick of their defenders.
- You can sense that the Vidic-Ferdinand partnership is starting to creak, but the two men remain the best central defenders in United's squad and the Serbian is a threat from set pieces. All of the players above are better picks (in my opinion) but I thought Vidic was worth a mention.
- Perhaps this is a bit of a points chasing pick, but Hull are at home to West Ham in a game that could easily end 1-0, so not only does Davies offer a clean sheet chance but he's also (like Vidic) very dangerous when he goes up for free kicks and corners. He's a good option if you're looking to do something a bit different.
- No explanation required, barring injury Ozil must be in your team every week.
- Southampton's playmaker was a fantasy star at the beginning of last season before he suffered a bad injury and never managed to break back in to the starting XI after Nigel Adkins
left. But Lallana is back to his best now, taking kicks and looking a little bit classy, so I highly recommend him vs Palace.
- Playing a deeper role these day, but Gerrard's performances seem to go up a notch when Luis Suarez
is in the team. The two men are on the same wavelength when it comes to movement and passing, plus the Uruguayan's trickery / theatrics can always lead to a penalty (which the Liverpool skipper normally smashes home).
- Let's be honest; by his own high standards the giant midfielder was pretty rubbish last season, but he's been magnificent for City in the opening 5 games and now Fernandino can do most of the dirty work Yaya is free to get in to the opposition's box far more often. We've also discovered he takes a wicked free kick.
Michu - It's a tough game for Swansea but there should be goals in it, Michu is starting to show his best form and he has a terrific record against Arsenal.
- A nice home fixture for Barkley and his Everton side, at a cost of just £3million he's a bargain, if not for your first XI then for your bench.
Robbie Brady - Hull's creative midfielder is having great fun in the Premier League so far, but whenever I've picked Brady it just hasn't worked out. When I don't pick him he racks up the points, and I'm not picking him this weekend against West Ham, so that may tempt you to do the opposite.
Oscar - With Juan Mata out-of-favour for the big games it has been left to Oscar to fill the number 10 role and he's doing an excellent job thus far. There should be plenty of attacking points on offer at White Hart Lane this Saturday lunchtime and the Brazilian will be at the heart of it all.
- Tottenham's new number 10 has made a bright start to his career in England and has picked up 17 points in two games without a goal. As above with Oscar, Eriksen has the ability to turn in a big number in Week 6.
- Navas appears completely settled now and is looking mighty impressive on the right wing. I prefer Yaya Toure
for Week 6 but there could be room for two City midfielders in your side at Villa.
- I still have absolutely no idea why Jose Mourinho loaned out Chelsea's best striker, but their loss is Everton's gain and the powerful Belgium forward should enjoy his home match against Newcastle. Lukaku is a genuine contender for the Week 6 armband.
- Booooo! Hissssss! The pantomime villain returns to Premier League action and Suarez will be "hungry" for goals against Sunderland. Love him or hate him, you wouldn't be surprised if he banged in a hat-trick, would you? The guy is world class and despite looking a bit rusty in the Cup he should start as Brendan Rodgers
looks to prevent Liverpool's winless run extending past it's current 3 games.
- Rejuvenated, looking sharp and slim, Rooney is back to his all-action best which usually results in fantastic fantasy returns regardless of the result. Media reports suggest Robin van Persie is struggling to make the West Brom game which means everything will go through Rooney, so I reckon he's another player worth considering for captain.
Sergio Aguero - My mate at work is a reasonable and knowledgeable City fan and he swears Aguero is back to the form that won the club the title in 2012. We saw the quality he possess in the Manchester derby and Villa's defence will be dreading dealing with him.
- Unlucky not to add to his impressive goal tally versus Stoke, Giroud is looking like a proper top 4 striker right now and with Ozil pulling the strings he's going to keep on scoring.
- Mark Hughes has decided that the big striker is his main man for Stoke this season, and he's playing pretty well despite missing a couple of sitters at Arsenal. Jones is unplayable on his day and Norwich will find it tough if he gets the right supply from midfield. There are better options above, but if you're looking to make up a deficit and you're feeling risky then you could do worse.
Roberto Soldado - Playing well (his movement and hold-up play are exceptional) but Soldado needs to start scoring soon to keep Jermain "six goal in three starts" Defoe at bay. One thing is for sure - with Eriksen in the team, the striker will keep on getting chances.
So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 6 Yahoo team. For now I have the following saved on my own team page:
Starting XI: Boruc, Debuchy, Kolarov, Baines (C), Yaya Toure, Eriksen, Michu, Ozil, Lukaku, Aguero, Rooney
Subs: Elliot, Spence, Luna, Livermore
I like it, but I'm aware it's lacking any Liverpool attacking presence, so I may have to make a tough decision to fit Suarez in. There's £7million in the bank if I decide to upgrade my midfield, with Lallana under consideration. Captain will be between Baines, Rooney and Lukaku, with Baines currently the front runner.
Check back here on Rotoworld on Friday for all the team and injury news coming out of the manager's press conferences to assist you with your final decisions.
How's your Week 6 team looking? Who's your captain choice?