Jeremy Spitzberg

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First XI: Lucky Thirteen Picks

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1. Sergio Aguero - So, new rule: Bet on Manchester City at home. I thought Spurs' road defensive record - one goal conceeded all season - would see them in good stead against City. I also was burned after remaining invested in City when they perfomed so poorly against Sunderland. But they've now scored 3, 5, 7, and 6 goals in their last four home matches and host Swansea City this weekend. Aguero can't be avoided, and should probably be captained.

2. Yoan Gouffran - There's a lot of buzz around Newcastle's French star, Loic Remy. And for good reason. He's scored in each of the last three matches, and has found the net eight times this season. But if you look a little closer, Yoan Gouffran is contributing as much, if not more, to Newcastle's recent success. He scored in two of the last three matches, and assisted in the other. While Remy gets the large percentage of his points from his goals, Gouffran also contributes with defensive stats. In Yahoo!'s new format, those add up a lot quicker than they used to. Gouffran has out-scored Remy in the matches in which they've both scored this month, and it was a close-run thing in the other match. It doesn't hurt that Gouffran is cheaper than Remy, and that's why I'm switching French horses in mid-stream as Newcastle have another home match, against West Brom, who are coming off an emotional Monday derby.

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3. Luis Suárez - Probably not much to say about this pick. He's in the team, and potential captain, until he bites someone, gets sold to a "bigger" club, or refuses to play because of the British media or somesuch.

4. Steven Gerrard - This is a bit of a stretch. He's expensive, and likely to play a deeper role on the road this weekend, even against Hull. However, week after week he returns fantasy points from set pieces - crosses and the resulting assists, and winning tackles in midfield. Hull will likely be tough to break down, but Gerrard could be the key to doing so.

Other candidates for this spot include Jesus Navas under the "bet on Manchester City at home" doctrine, or Aaron Ramsey, despite his recent run of relatively human performances.

5. Phillipe Coutinho - Finally added a goal this season, scoring the opener against Everton. I see no reason to get off the bandwagon now.

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6. Leroy Fer - Speaking of bandwagons, is it too late to start one for Fer? He's scored goals in each the last two matches, and returned points for a month now - save for THAT match against Manchester City. He's quietly becoming this season's Yaya Toure, or more likely Marouane Fellaini. A home match against Crystal Palace should give him the opportunity to continue his hot form, and I aim to profit from it.

7. Yohan Cabaye - Speaking of players in hot form, Cabaye continued his run against Norwich. He assisted on Remy's early opener and then put in a full shift in midfield, making two tackles and intercepting five passes. Another home match, and despite West Brom's excellent defensive midfield duo of Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu, Cabaye should do well.

8. Mathieu Debuchy - We do love our bandwagons, don't we? I'm happy to be back on the Debuchy Express. After giving up on him, and then signing his praises, I'm happy to be able to get him back on my fantasy team. After missing the Norwich match due to yellow card accumulation, he's back for West Brom who gave Leandro Bacuna tons of space yesterday.

9. John Flanagan - Is he really first choice for Liverpool? I'm not sure about this pick as Aly Cissokho could be back against Hull. Or Glen Johnson could play on the left and Jordan Henderson could deputize on the right. But after an assured performance against Everton, it might be worth taking a flyer on the young Liverpool full-back. He's not cheap anymore, but he's not that expensive yet either, considering that most of the better options in defence do cost more this season.

Another option for me is Joel Ward, who was highlighted in our recent "constant production" feature. With Norwich, West Ham, and Cardiff, the next three opponents now might be the right time to... get on the Ward bandwagon!

10. Bryan Oviedo - We've been waiting for Oviedo to get his chance for a few years now. He's cheap, and when he has played, it has been in Everton's midfield. That's fantasy gold! Now, with Leighton Baines injured, Oviedo could get his chance at full back. Everton host Stoke City this weekend, and despite the Potters' better form, Everton would expect a clean sheet at home. It remains to be seen if Oviedo is the man for the moment, but he very well could, and should, be.

11. Brad Guzan - With a lot of money being spent on the likes of Suarez, Aguero, and possibly even Gerrard, I'm finding myself scraping around a bit for a keeper. It's an unusual feeling this season, and the Y! fantasy game has afforded us a nice cushion. But there are some options in my price range, and I find myself choosing between Guzan and John Ruddy. I'm leaning towards the American because USA! USA! USA! That, and the fact that Villa have kept some clean sheets of late, and they get a Sunderland side that while more solid, aren't any more fluid in attack, under Gus Poyet.

Hugo Lloris finds himself in the mid-price range too after giving up six goals to Manchester City, but hosts Manchester United at the weekend. That's not the fearsome matchup it has been in the past, but, at least at the moment, I'm leaning towards the shakier teams with better matchups.

On the bench is Jordan Spence, who's on loan until January; Mesut Ozil, who I haven't regretted benching... yet; Steven Reid; and Robbie Elliot.

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