Jeremy Spitzberg

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First XI: Early Week 12 Picks

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

International break, so the League schedule is a little more... relaxed. Which is good, because it's taken me an extra day or so to come to grips with another terrible weekend in Barclays Premier League fantasy.

How is it that when I do well, I keep pace with everyone or, at best, find myself ten points ahead. But when I do poorly I ship 50 or more points to the leaders? It's not proportionate, and it's taking a toll on my standings. And my psyche.

But as always, it's fun to start anew. Hopefully, I can learn the lessons of last weekend - don't bet on Manchester City away, don't miss an opportunity to bet against Fulham, defenders are only going to break your heart. Unless they don't.

Let's see what an early "First XI" for week 12 might look like.

Wilfried Bony - A second-half brace against Stoke in a match where neither team's defence performed up to expectations. Now Swansea travel down to London and get the tonic that is a match against Fulham. The match will likely be too soon for Michu to return, so Bony should again be the focus on the Swans' attack.

Loic Remy - I'm a little gun-shy about this pick. The last time I selected him, against Sunderland, I'm not sure he had more than two touches in the entire match and didn earn a single fantasy point. But other than that match, he's been scoring goals on the regular. I would expect that to continue against a poor-traveling Norwich side. The worry with Remy is the whole "no-touches-no-points" thing as his fantasy returns are almost exclusively down to goals scored. Again, against Norwich, that's probably a risk I'm willing to take.

Luis Suárez - Double-digit fantasy returns in five of his six matches since returning from suspension. His brace, and my captaining him, was the only bright spot in my fantasy weekend. He'll be in the team again despite this being the Merseyside derby and at Everton.

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Oscar - Chelsea take on a West Ham side who have been better on the road than at home this season. I'm not 100% on this selection, but Oscar seems to have a nailed-on place in the Chelsea team, which is more than you can say about most of the squad. He's also been very consistent with his fantasy returns - rarely dropping below six, though rarely breaking above 12. He seems safe, and at the moment safe gets you into the First XI.

Phillipe Coutinho - Another Liverpool player away from home in the Merseyside derby. But Coutinho is the attacking fulcrum of this team and he has the players ahead of him to profit from the chances he creates. I'm more inclined to bench Mesut Ozil this week against Southampton as neither are great match-ups. But I'll likely decide from between the two.

Álex Pozuelo - Without Michu, I had a suspicion that Swansea would turn to young Spaniard Pozuelo as their attacking midfielder. However, there was enough doubt between him, Jonjo Shelvey, and Jonothan De Guzman that I didn't try to get Pozuelo into my fantasy team. In the end, Poz (can we just call him Poz?) had an okay match against a tough Stoke side, and I'm betting that he will do better against Fulham next week.

Yohan Cabaye - This is the no-brainer pick that I'm sure will back-fire on me. Another player retuning double-digits every week. And facing Norwich at St James' park is about as nice of a match-up as you can get in the league right now. What could possibly go wrong? Wait... don't answer that.

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Ben Davies - Back from injury, and straight back into the starting left-back role for Swansea. Even on the road, I'm betting that he can return points against Fulham (sensing a theme?), even if not a clean sheet.

Erik Pieters - I lost big betting against Sunderland last weekend (and when they played Newcastl a few weeks prior). So why would I go back to that particular, poisoned, well yet again? Because, dear reader, I'm an idiot. I would think that Stoke can shut down the goal-machine that is Phil Bardsley and beat the Black Cats. Pieters is the cheap, and in-form route into the Stoke defence.

Curtis Davies - Returning good fantasy points regardless of whether or not Hull keeps a clean sheet, and at home to Crystal Palace, we can back them to do that as well.

Steven Harper - At home to Norwich is a great time to pick the Newcastle keeper. Just kidding! But home against Crystal Palace when you're starting for Hull isn't bad either. And after shipping four goals at Southampton, Harper is basically free. What's not to like?

On the bench, thanks to Harper's price tag, I've gone for Chico Flores and Mesut Ozil. Jake Livermore is a good, cheap option as well.

Jeremy Spitzberg writes about fantasy soccer (football) and is a Rotoworld contributor. You can find him on Twitter @JSpitzberg.
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