Jeremy Spitzberg

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First XI: Early Week 28 Picks

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


We've now reached the point of the season where the schedule gets very fluid. Weather can always take out a fixture, but more likely it's cup and European action that forces rescheduling. What we're left with is blank weeks for teams, followed by the inevitable double game weeks. While the latter is great, and you want to field as many players as you can for those, the blanks mean that you're likely to sell the players that you want, losing the discounts you have, and limiting your ability to field as many double gamers as you would like. Especially those from the big clubs.

And we're talking about the big clubs here.

Credit to Fantasy Football 24/7 for putting together the definitive guide to the next two game weeks. To sum up what they put together:

GW28 blanks include:

Manchester City
Manchester Utd
Sunderland
West Brom

GW29 blanks include:

Arsenal
Aston Villa
Everton
Hull City
Liverpool
Manchester City
Newcastle
Sunderland
Swansea
West Ham

Manchester City not playing for weeks is going to hit fantasy managers hard. But Liverpool having a blank gameweek 29 will be more of a hurdle for most managers. Because they've been scoring so freely, many teams (including mine) have doubled-up on both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Many teams also have the Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, and Phillipe Coutinho on big discounts. We have a bench to use, but there's a lot of money, and a lot of spots tied up in players who won't play, but we won't want to sell because we'll never be able to afford them later.

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But that's an issue for another week. Next week, clearly, but another one nonetheless. What about this game week? Let's take a first run at setting up a team:

1. Daniel Sturridge - £23.98M - Another week, another goal(s!) for Sturridge. He's been in Luis Suarez-type form and he's been repaying fantasy managers for their faith in him. Some managers have even been wise/brave enough to give him the armband over Suarez (Hi, Jon!). While Liverpool aren't the same team away from Anfield, Southampton did just ship three goals to West Ham. So I don't see a need to sell just yet.

2. Luis Suarez - £19.70M - Suarez continued his frustratingly mortal spell. Even so, he still returned an assist and 12 fantasy points in the Yahoo! game. It's not clicking for him at the moment, but surely it could at any time.

3. Emmanuel Adebayor - £14.09M - What a frustrating performance by Spurs against Norwich. Yes, the Canaries are a decent home side, and yes, Spurs travelled to Ukraine for a Europa League match. But there are no excuses for the players rested for that trip or their manager, who sent out a flat, tentative team and was unable to makes changes when needed. That being said, I'm sticking with Adebayor this week. At home to a reeling Cardiff side who won't have their midfield destroyer, Gary Medel in the line-up, Spurs should dominate and there will be goals!

4. Leandro Bacuna - £12.30M - While Norwich proved that they are a good home side, they have yet to convince away from home. Bacuna is probably a bit exspensive, especially if he continues to line up at right back. However, he is returning good points most weeks, and takes set-pieces. I'm betting that those trends make him a good investment for the week.

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5. Paulinho - £10.98M - In the absence of Christian Eriksen - and what an unexplained absence that was on Sunday! - Paulinho is the midfielder furthest forward for Spurs. He had some looks at goal against Norwich, and I would expect that he keeps his place, and his forward role, against Cardiff.

6. Tom Ince - £9.53M - I was dubious about Ince going into the Manchester United match, but didn't see any great options elsewhere. While Palace really weren't in the running against United, Ince did get set pieces and was involved from the wing. Whether he plays there, or off the main striker, he looks a good bet for points in the Yahoo! game most weeks. Just not against a big club who absolutely, positiviely, without fail, needed to win the match. Palace are on the road against Swansea, so another not-great match-up, but I think it's good enough to keep him in the team.

7. Aaron Lennon - £8.08M - I'm not at all comfortable with this pick. The price is good for a sure starter with a good matchup, but Lennon has been performing below his usually average self for a month. He's in th eteam for the circumstances, but I'll be looking for other options. For instance, with Mohamed Salah cup-tied in Europe, if we get a hint that he might feature at Fulham, well, I'd be all over that! I may even stick with Lewis Holtby, despite his playing against Chelsea this week.

8. Ryan Bertrand - £1.00M - Subbed off relatively early against Newcastle, and Aston Villa failed to keep the clean sheet with Loic Remy scoring at the death. But for the price, and with Norwich visiting, Bertrand is likely to get promoted from the bench yet again.

9. Jan Vertonghen - £14.51M - THis has to be the lock of the week, and I'll be looking at Vertonghen or maybe Kyle Walker (injury doubt) to profit against the Bluebirds. Another premium defender option would be Curtis Davies, home against Newcastle, who has been quietly back to his fantasy best.

10. Branislav Ivanovic - £11.09M - No reason to sell here. Chelsea, unlike the other top teams, don't miss a gameweek, and Ivanovic has been a featured attacker for Chelsea this last month. Set it and forget it.

11. Alan McGregor - £5.04M - Bought last week, before his price rose, McGregor is a good bet at home against a Newcastle side that needed a full five matches before scoring in injury time against Aston Villa. With Hull advancing in the FA Cup, this is a one-week rental, with Joe Hart moved to the bench.

Right now my bench is Holtby, Hart, and the cheapest two defenders I could find - Martin Kelly, and Massaido Haidara.



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



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