Steve Rothgeb

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Fuzzy's FPL Favorites - GW15

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Ahh, the perils of a congested schedule.

 

Where's Eden Hazard? Earth to Leroy Sane, come in Sane. Anyone seen Philippe Coutinho?  Mr. Azpilicueta, you always play. ALWAYS.

 

Yes, Week 14 was a tough one for many and it would figure out of the 5.4 million FPL managers around the globe, very few came away without having to dip into their bench players. Yours truly had a red arrow round, but I can at least celebrate the unexpected one point from Chancel Mbemba that worked it's way off of my bench. I may as well have captained him, he returned the same score as the man I gave the armband to, Alvaro Morata. I also continued my streak of luck by using my free transfer to bring in a player who was benched. Just another typical chapter in this nightmare of a season this far.

 

But wait. What's that? The player I am referring to is Mo Salah? Well, then. Isn't that FPL for you? Congratulations Mr. Salah, you have ascended the ranks to be on par with the likes of Hazard and Alexis Sanchez. Enjoy his sub-10m price tag because, unless he utterly collapses, you can be certain the Egyptian sensation will set you back at least 10.5m next season. With just 23 minutes, he delivered another double-digit haul, his sixth of the season already, and has failed to gain an attacking return just four time through 14 games, two of those were against the table-topping Manchester sides. Salah has not only been the hit acquisition of the summer, he just might gun for Player of the Year.

 

A few other quick observations as we approach our third deadline in eight days - welcome back Big Sam. Sam Allardyce has once again been brought in, like "the Wolf" in Pulp Fiction, to clean up a top-flight mess. Well, a 4-0 win, easily the Toffees best showing this season, should give supporters a heaping helping of optimism. Conversely, a former Everton boss, David Moyes, is feeling the immediate pressure of righting the West Ham ship and, so far, he is looking less like Captain Phillips and more like Captain Ahab. Arsenal put up a cricket score, including a brace by super-sub Oliver Giroud. Starting striker Alexander Lacazette is already ruled out for the weekend, so we are likely going to see Giroud's first start of the campaign on Saturday. Congratulations to Crystal Palace for keeping their first clean sheet of the season. Finally, I've been saying it since the weather was still warm - Burnley should be every neutral fan's club to follow this season. Looking at the squad they had entering the season, which was basically a spitting image of the previous season, except without their most promising striker Andre Gray, and their anchor of the defense in Michael Keane, I was under the impression that the Clarets would be in a relegation battle. Pretty sure, we will need to refer to the boss as Sir Sean Dyche.

 

 So, as unpredictable as FPL is, one thing is as close to a guarantee as possible, if a star player was left out of the Starting XI in Week 14, and it was not injury-related, then you can at least count on that player starting this weekend. So, let's look at another quick turnaround with Week 15...

 

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TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

 

So now it is time to look at the players to think about ahead of Week 4. As a reminder, there are four categories of players which I feel are worth mentioning week to week when making decisions about transfers....

 

1) Players to buy

2) Players to sell

3) Players to hold onto

4) Players to avoid buying

 

I will also include later in the section, my top choices for the captain's armband. While I will consider every player from A to Z, you will normally find the usual suspects there.

 

Right, so let's dive in...

 

GOALKEEPERS

 

*Just as a reminder, keepers should always be the last position to think about using transfers for, unless there is an urgent need. So, when you see who I have listed here, bear in mind that my keeper advice does not carry as much weight as the outfield positions.

 

Player to buy: Lee Grant - Several managers who like to go with cheap keepers were given a knockout blow in the past few days as both Palace's Julian Speroni and Newcastle's Rob Elliot were both dropped, making this a week where keepers are being given more focus than usual. Assuming managers want to stay cheap at this position, may I suggest Grant, despite the fact that his ownership will be on a temporary basis. Jack Butland is due back right when the calendar flips to 2018, only a month away. But, with the heavy schedule, Grant will start the next six fixtures, including home games against Swansea, West Ham and West Brom, along with a trip to Huddersfield.

 

Player to sell: Joe Hart - I am pretty sure I have never named the same player to "sell" in consecutive weeks, but in the case of Hart, he has everything going against him. The Hammers defense is showing no signs of improvement under Moyes, shipping four goals to a previously-underachieving Everton side. Hart is ineligible to face his parent club this weekend, rendering him useless. Then, upon his return, he faces Chelsea and Arsenal back-to-back. The Hammers are in turmoil, you should be selling any and all players from that club right now.

 

Player to hold: Jordan Pickford - There should not be too many managers who have Pickford or an Everton defender already, but for those that do, the result in midweek for the Toffees is seeing the stock rising on players like Pickford. You have suffered long enough, do not give up now when the points could start to flow.

 

Player to avoid: Karl Darlow - Rob Elliot owners will need to look past his replacement to find a replacement for themselves. Rumor has it, Darlow will be sold in the upcoming January window, and part of Rafa Benitez's decision to include him over Elliot is to audition Darlow to prospective buyers. That means, Darlow's days will likely be numbered. Go Grant instead. Better fixtures, cheaper price.

 

 

DEFENDERS

 

Player to buy: Marcos Alonso - Last week, I said "you could play it safe and go for Azpilicueta". Just another example of how jinxed I am feeling this season. Azpilicueta played every minute of every match last season and had not missed a minute heading into Week 14. So what happens? He rests. Mind-boggling. Anyway, Alonso remains my #1 defensive option to own, though Sead Kolasinac is a close second and I would be happy to have the latter if I couldn't afford the former. If the fixtures were even, I'd go Kolasinac, but Chelsea have the advantage, starting this weekend as Arsenal face a tough opponent in Manchester United.

 

Player to sell: Ahmed Hegazi - Weeks ago, I told people who jumped early on Hegazi to take their .1m  or .2m profit and cut bait, because West Brom's defense was not getting it done and the schedule wasn't going to help turn things around. He has now scored a total of nine points in the last nine rounds, a point per game. Now, his price is all the way back to where it started, yet he is still the 3rd-highest owned defender in the game. Just let it go, folks.

 

Player to hold: Nicholas Otamendi - Speaking of paltry points, take a look at Otamendi over the last five rounds. He has totaled three points. THREE. In five games. But hey, he is still nearly a million pounds cheaper than teammate Kyle Walker yet they are virtually level on points. The own goal last weekend certainly punished his current fantasy form, but owners need to keep the faith. He is still the safest investment, other than Walker and the Citizens will pick up some cleanies during the festive period.

 

Player to avoid: Dejan Lovren - Liverpool are coming off of a clean sheet and Lovren was a part of it. So it is possible then! Still, I am not sure he has truly earned the trust of Jurgen Klopp and the only reason Lovren got the nod was because Ragnar Klavan was out with an illness. Klavan otherwise doesn't deserve to get dropped, starting the previous four and helping earn cleanies in two of those. Provided Klavan gets over the illness, Lovren could go straight back to the bench.

 

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Player to buy: Eden Hazard - As mentioned in the introduction, star players who did not start midweek and it was for rest, not injury, should be looked at as safe, smart transfers in for the weekend and Hazard fits that recipe better than anyone. The Belgian was already in the middle of classic form and the Blues have a great schedule ahead of them, so Hazard should really do damage. Outside of the red-hot Salah, Hazard is my top armband choice, so a case can me made that a 4 point hit to fit him in is a valid move.

 

Player to sell: Christian Eriksen - Just a couple of rounds ago, I suggested owners of Eriksen to stand their ground, despite his points having recently dried up. Part of that reasoning was that he looked sharp in international duty, but that did not translate back to club football. At this point, it is time to concede that Tottenham's attack is not consistent enough to validate owning two attacking players and, since I think Harry Kane is a fantasy mainstay, Eriksen is the one for the chop.

 

Player to hold:Philippe Coutinho - Owners suffered though a no-show of Coutinho in midweek and, with points flying elsewhere, are likely ready to cut ties with the Brazilian immediately. Again though, this is not a case of a player being dropped, he was merely rested. That means you can count on him being out there this weekend. Maybe in a couple of weeks when we have another midweek round, you might want to sell him before another potential rest, but don't do it now, when he's definitely starting.

 

Player to avoid: Pascal Groß - Groß has been the budget midfield surprise of the season and owners should hang tight considering how much the German has helped them. But, if you never got on that bandwagon, I think you might be too late, for now anyway. He has come back to Earth in the past few games, with one goal and no assists in four. With tough defenses in the next few weeks like Tottenham and Burnley, you have a couple of reasons to avoid him for now.

 

 

FORWARDS

 

Player to buy: Jamie Vardy - Vardy is quietly returning solid value this season, coming off his seventh goal in midweek. We know he is capable of scoring a brace or a hat trick, and if he does that any time soon, he would be right in the mix with all the premium strikers on total points. I like Leicester's schedule during the festive period and I like how the Foxes are hanging below the mainstream fantasy radar.

 

Player to sell: Roberto Firmino - Since Week 3, Firmino has just one goal and one assist to his credit. Just about every starting striker in the league is producing more than that, most at a cheaper price. Let's face it, it's the Mo Salah show and, though we are all enjoying watching it, the show comes at no one's expense more than Firmino it seems.

 

Player to hold: Tammy Abraham - If you failed to remove Abraham for the past couple of rounds, then you may as well sit tight with him now. He should be back as a starter this weekend and the Swans have some opponents they can score on.

 

Player to avoid: Romelu Lukaku - Yes, Lukaku contributed an assist in midweek, but when the club scores four goals, only an assist from your main striker feels like a weak return. With Arsenal and Manchester City the next two opponents, managers should avoid buying any United players. Yes, even you, Ashley Young. Let the Red Devils get these two rounds out of the way and then revisit the idea of investing.

 

TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES

 

1) Mo Salah

2) Eden Hazard

3) Harry Kane

4) Alvaro Morata

5) Philippe Coutinho

 

That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline on Saturday. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.

 

Good luck, and may your arrows be green.



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb





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