Steve Rothgeb

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Fuzzy's FPL Favorites - GW23

Thursday, January 11, 2018


 

And.........exhale.

 

Congratulations on making it through a hectic festive period in FPL. Hopefully, you had a happy new year to celebrate and a bit of time to decompress from all the PL action we enjoyed leading up and into 2018. Since our last round, we have had time to take it easy and enjoy some cup action as we mentally prepare ourselves for the next phase of fantasy football.

 

This is the point of the season in FPL where it makes sense to really take stock of where you are at and where you can realistically finish. For those killing it this year with a high ranking, nerves will be frayed. Some can fall into a trap of playing it too safe in an attempt to protect their rank. For those who have struggled up until now, it is time to start thinking about the ways one can gain ground. Yes, there is still many weeks to go but, after next weekend, the season is two-thirds over. It is time to start thinking outside the box and roll the dice on some players with low ownership, otherwise you are simply treading water. What will likely be the biggest factor in the direction your season goes from here on in is how you make use of your 2nd half wildcard and whatever remaining "chips" you may have.

 

Speaking of chips, I express my condolences to those who took the plunge and triple captained Harry Kane. Double gameweeks tend to be the ultimate troll of the FPL game. I cannot blame anyone for playing the triple captain given his form, but my gut told me that the situation was too perfect to actually go the way we anticipated. Meanwhile, unexpected players will pop up to deliver from nowhere. Lucky for me, and this has to be my luckiest moment of the season, I got a haul from an unexpected source. Entering the double gameweek, I had two free transfers in hand. I knew the players I wanted but in order to squeeze them in, I needed to take a 4 point hit to free up cash. I picked up the 4.4m Pedro Obiang, allowing me to afford, Heung-min Son and Jan Vertonghen. It was a masterstroke. Son and Vertonghen gave me the returns I expected, but it was Obiang who saved my round. After feeling silly for spending points on him only to see him play 45 minutes in the first match of the round, he gave me a goal and maximum bonus against Spurs.

 

One more quick thought before diving into the meat of the column - the transfer window is alive and kicking for January and managers need to keep their eyes peeled for new talent coming in and, more importantly, how players coming and going can open or close doors for other players as well. As you will see below, I think there is a definite benefit for a popular player after the departure of Philippe Coutinho and we all need to pay attention to Everton to see if new acquisition Cenk Tosun will have an immediate impact. More names will come and I think this is the stage of the season where one should be conservative with their transfers. Try your best to pocket one and have two in any given week until we are out of the transfer window to be in a position to address needs without spending points.

 

Right, it has been a nice relaxing start to the new year but I am ready to dive back into the mad world of FPL.  Let's take a peek at the landscape ahead of Week 23:

 

 

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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: Adrian - Perhaps you did not go for Adrian for the double gameweek, but that doesn't mean he or other West Ham options should be overlooked for the weeks ahead. The Hammers enjoy a kind run of opponents and Adrian is coming off an impressive draw with Spurs in which he saved seven shots. Barring injury or a drastic dip in form, his place ahead of Joe Hart seems firmly cemented and at 4.3m, is the budget keeper to own right now.

 

Player to sell: Kasper Schmeichel - The Foxes are coming off of a clean sheet against Huddersfield, so the defense isn't in poor form. However, I think you have gotten the best Schmeichel can offer for now. The loss of Wes Morgan is one main reason, the other is Leicester's schedule, with away trips against Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City comprising three of their next five matches.

 

Player to hold: Ederson - City have a tough assignment in their trip to Anfield this weekend, so expectations of defensive returns are not very optimistic. That said, City are a better defensive side on their travels and, after the clash with the Reds, have plenty of kind opponents lined up for several weeks. 

 

Player to avoid: Karl Darlow - I feel bad for recommending Rob Elliot heading into Week 21, as a thigh injury has kept him out of the next two games. Meanwhile, Darlow stepped up in the last round with the highest score for any keeper. It is a murky situation, because it had been surmised that Rafa Benitez was looking to ship Darlow out during January. There is also a chance the Magpies go shopping for an upgrade at the position. So, while Darlow did well last round and Newcastle have a good-looking matchup at home against the Swans this weekend, he is not worth using a transfer on.

 

 

DEFENDERS

 

Player to buy: Marcos Alonso - Yes, his price tag is steep, but Alonso is on absolute fire right now in the FPL game. In fact, the form guide shows he is averaging 8.8 points per game over the last several weeks, with the next-closest average belonging to teammate Cesar Azpilicueta, who is averaging 5.7 pts. Over three points per round more than the next best option, Alonso's price is as it should be. The fact that Cheslea have a great schedule only makes him more essential. Open your wallet for him.

 

Player to sell: Bournemouth defenders - I really thought in preseason that Eddie Howe would steer the Cherries to one of the better defensive records among the "smaller clubs", but it simply has not happened. Outside of a stretch where they kept cleanies in three straight matches, Bournemouth have just one to their name otherwise on the season. With Arsenal next, followed by three of four on the road, including a trip to Stamford Bridge, it looks like a bunch of one point returns are in store for quite some time

 

Player to hold: West Ham defenders - It was not a great double gameweek for West Ham defenders, but for the same reason I recommend buying Adrian if you are shopping for a keeper, I think it is a good idea to stick with any defender you may have. If the Hammers are going to inch their way up the table, they should make their push now, playing two promoted sides sandwiched around two sides who have spent time in or near the relegation zone over the next four rounds. 

 

Player to avoid: Virgil van Dijk - van Dijk's long-awaited arrival at Anfield has finally come to pass and he immediately has our eye after scoring in his debut during cup play. His presence should improve Liverpool's defense and could prove to be a great option at his current 5.4m price. Luckily, the schedule has made it so that buying him immediately is not necessary. Let the Reds get their match with high-powered City out of the way first, then re-visit the notion of buying the Dutchman.

 

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Player to buy: Manuel Lanzini - Notice a trend? Yes, I am all in on West Ham as good options to buy at the moment, but Lanzini is the attacking player I trust to buy. He has been an assist machine, dropping five dimes over his last six starts. I think he will be one of the best value midfielders in the season's second half on a points per pound basis. I foresee several nice hauls over the coming weeks from the Argentine.

 

Player to sell: Wilfried Zaha - Similar to Lanzini in price, this is the player I would be dropping to accommodate the West Ham player. Zaha's game is such that he can pop up with a goal at any time. That said, he is not in consistent form now, failing to find the net since Week 18. The Eagles have tough defenses ahead that may make it difficult for Zaha to find that consistency. After hosting an always-scrappy Burnley defense this weekend, three of the next four are on the road for Palace, with visits to Arsenal, West Ham and Everton.

 

Player to hold: Sadio Mane - It wasn't long ago that I declared Mane unfit for the FPL game, because he is absent from the XI a bit too often for a player of his price. This philiosophy has changed for me now that Philippe Coutinho is out of the picture. Jurgen Klopp did his best to juggle four superstars for essentially three spots but with Coutinho's departure, Mane, who probably suffered the most from a crowded pool, looks to be the one to benefit most. Hold now if you have him through the City clash. Non-owners should have them on their watchlist for next week and beyond.

 

Player to avoid: Christian Eriksen - The Danish delight had an "okay" double gameweek, grabbing an assist in that round, but several factors are keeping him out of contention for a spot on your FPL side. For one, you have Dele Alli and Heung-min Son who are both in much better form and come at a cheaper cost. Additionally, while Spurs have a decent matchup at home this weekend and on the road next weekend, it gets brutal immediately after that. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool in succession is the toughest three week stretch of the season for Tottenham. Instead of buying one of their players, you should be planning on dropping one you might have soon before that tough run of fixtures.

 

 

FORWARDS

 

Player to buy: Sergio Aguero - Forgive me if this call comes across as "too obvious", but I want to make sure everyone is on the same page here. As soon as Gabriel Jesus went down with an injury, the first reaction to a fantasy manager's mind is - Aguero is now essential. Before Jesus emerged last year, Aguero was essential. As long as the roster is as it currently sits, Aguero is essential. Sure, Pep may find a match where he can rest Kun and give the central forward position to perhaps Raheem Sterling. But this is as good of a guarantee as you can get right now from Aguero in terms of starting without worry. We should see a spike in his armband numbers now as well.

 

Player to sell: Jamie Vardy - My last column was ahead of Week 21 and I advised selling Vardy then. He since picked up a groin injury, causing him to miss Week 22. Currently yellow flagged, he has a better chance than not of returning this weekend, but I would not hold out for his status, regardless if it is positive or not, simply because Leicester have a difficult run of games ahead. I't not saying the goals dry up completely for him, I just think his mid-range price tag leaves him undesirable. Better to spend more for the premium strikers or spend less on the bargain ones right now.

 

Player to hold: Alexandre Lacazette - Speaking of mid-ranged price tags, that's precisely what Lacazette is edging toward with his price tag down to 10.3m.  Personally, I haven't had the urge to acquire his services at any point so far this season, but, if you currently own him, I think you need to stay the course despite firing blanks the last two weeks.  The Gunners are scoring, they put two past Chelsea in the last round, and the schedule leads one to think there will be goals to come. Lacazette is due to be in the points for those upcoming goals.

 

Player to avoid: Andy Carroil - HA! You thought this column was going to be one big West Ham love affair, didn't you? Not quite. Carroll was the top scorer in the last round among forwards and, as has already been stated, the Hammers have a kind schedule ahead. So why does Carroll not get the respect that Adrian or Lanzini received? Simple - his injury reputation. Carroll can be a nice play in formats like Togga's Perfect XI or other DFS leagues where you can see that he is in the XI and plug him in. For FPL purposes, he is a fantasy house of cards. Outside of his breakout season with Newcastle years ago, he has not come close to earning my trust in FPL.

 

TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES

 

1) Harry Kane

2) Romelu Lukaku

3) Eden Hazard

4) Alexis Sanchez

5) Sergio Aguero

 

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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