What makes fantasy PL unique to other fantasy sports in its coverage and analysis is that pundits like myself are tasked to make predictions on a one game basis. This is a result of how the game is constructed compared to other fantasy sports where more emphasis is put on the draft, or dropping and adding players that you don't expect immediate returns like you do with fantasy PL. From week to week, one can only hope that they guessed right more often than wrong, otherwise it can ruin one's confidence, because you can look bad in a hurry. Such was the case last week, as I offered Ricky Lambert as my forward land mine. Blatant backpedaling here - I did mention he had every chance to come good, which he did. But I still believe my logic was sound. He did not get the start in the previous match, and a late injury that kept Pablo Osvaldo out of the selection picture pretty much ensured Lambert would start, but the Osvaldo news came too late to enter into the decision making for us fantasy managers. Naturally, by Saturday evening, a column called "Danger Zone" with a picture of Lambert next to it didn't exactly leave me feeling like a seasoned guru.
Please note that my column is not designed to offer up the best option at each position. It is to dig a bit deeper, to come up with alternatives to the obvious selections. I do not intend on advising a player like Aguero home to Norwich City. You know that already. I am giving you the benefit of that doubt. Please reference our other fantastic features from our PL staff which include more of a rankings-based presentation if that is what you are looking for. They are indeed very helpful. My column's purpose is to say "No" to players with high ownership or have been fantasy relevant, but for one reason or another is not your best bet for that week; and to say "Yes" to alternatives that are not the most popular or obvious choice, but can provide value for their price or a differential to the commonly selected player. For that reason, perhaps the title of this column needs to be changed. I would hate to upset Kenny Loggins in doing that, but maybe it would be for the best. I could keep with the music theme and go "Alternative Nation", a callback for those as old as I am who remember when MTV played music.
Long story short, if you are looking for the obscure cheap player to free up cash - this is your place. If you are looking for a low ownership differential, which is the best way to gain ground in the rankings rather than just keeping pace - glad to have you aboard. Send me your suggestions for renaming this column in the comments section. Puns are always encouraged. Now lets get down to business:
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Joe Hart (Manchester City) - England's #1 has come under fire recently. Hart had been having a less than exceptional season heading into last week's game against Chelsea. But after he was labeled the scapegoat for Chelsea's game-winner, the once no-brainer, nailed-on selection for the keeper position at City truly found himself in a battle to hold onto his job. Manager Manuel Pellegrini has been backing Hart all season, but recently has been hinting that Hart's job is not as safe as it once was. I predict Hart will retain his position this weekend against Norwich City in favor of backup Costel Pantilimon, but when it comes to the keeper position, if there is any shred of doubt, I have a "no exceptions" policy. Time to look elsewhere.
Alternative: Before last week's drubbing against Liverpool, West Brom had conceded a respectable 7 goals in their first 8 PL games, and players like Liam Ridgewell have crept under the fantasy radar. I think the Baggies will want to focus on shutting their opponent down after Luis Suarez went berserk on them. I don't tout them enough to pony up the bread to invest so much in Ridgewell, but as always, I look for that value at the keeper position. Boaz Myhill (5.09m) seems a solid choice this week considering they host relegation candidates Crystal Palace.
David Luiz (Chelsea) - Luiz's ownership currently stands at 14.1% and when you throw out names like Spence, Coates and Oviedo, players whose ownership is high only because they are the cheapest defenders to own and they never play, Luiz becomes the 4th most owned defender in the game right now and the justification simply isn't there. He has made four appearances in the PL to this point in the season, amassing a whopping total of 9 fantasy points. Chelsea played a midweek cup game where it was clear the first team defenders like Ashley Cole, John Terry and Branislov Ivanovic were being rested, yet Luiz got the start. That is not a positive sign heading into the weekend's team sheet for his inclusion.
Alternative: While David Luiz may have the better hair, his 9 total fantasy points for the year are a joke compared to this week's alternative, Curtis Davies (10.45m), who is averaging 9 points per game, and becoming a favorite around here at Rotoworld. That 9 ppg figure is magnified when Hull City are at home, where the Tigers have conceded just once so far this year. When it comes to categories like Tackles Won, Fouls Won, and Passes Intercepted, Davies has been a multiple category stud, so attacking returns or clean sheets aren't necessarily needed for Davies to earn enough returns to validate investment. Throw in the matchup: home to suffering Sunderland, and you have all the reason to find a spot for Davies in your defense.
Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik | Steve
Kevin Nolan (West Ham) - Coming into this season, one of the most dependable investments was Kevin Nolan in home games for the Hammers. Nolan was money at home last season and that trend looked set to continue when he opened his account in the first game of the season in the Hammer's friendly confines. Even though he didn't begin the year as a starter, Ravel Morrison has put up a better campaign thus far and at a cheaper cost. This is one of those dangerous calls though, as I think that previous home track record could be achieved again eventually, but let's face it, the Hammers aren't even playing a striker at this point. Their attack as a unit is not looking formidable enough to feel confident about selecting any of them.
Alternative: Again I show some Baggie love this week as I suggest to opt for Stephane Sessegnon (11.71m) for one of your midfield slots. The streaky Benin international seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder since being booted by Sunderland early in the season and he looks set to provide a good run of form until his temperamental reputation catches up again. West Brom should put at least one past Crystal Palace and it's hard to imagine Sessegnon not being involved in the goal, if not more, whether it be scoring or assisting.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) - Per my introduction, this is an example of what I am talking about. Daniel Sturridge has scored the most points of any player in fantasy through the first nine gameweeks. He is clearly having a great season, and there is not a fixture where you can say the young man doesn't at least have a shot at a big day. My reasoning is this: Liverpool are away to league-leading Arsenal. Luis Suarez is essential to own. He has already cracked the top 5 scorers at the forward position, and that is in just 4 games! This is a scenario where Suarez should provide enough coverage, and then you add in Aguero who is also in top form, and seemingly essential given his matchup, but those two options will cost plenty of dough. So instead of Sturridge in that 3rd forward role, for this week try a cheaper alternative.
Alternative: The merry-go-round that is Jose Mourinho's starting XI may have been provided a little clarity this week after Chelsea took place in the Capital One Cup. A look at the XI is a clear indication of what Mourinho considers his "second" team. With current form and his lack of pitch time in the midweek cup game, I think it is safe to say Fernando Torres will be handed a start this week (11.55m). Chelsea have been waiting a long time for Torres to show that world class pedigree he exhibited before the signed him, and this may be his chance to solidify himself a more regular place in the XI as their main striker. Opponents Newcastle haven't been very good in the back and whether Fabricio Coloccini makes a return or not, he wont be at 100%. There may never be a more enticing scenario to bring Torres in, so take a chance and do it.