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Xherdan Shaqiri
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FPL Draft

FPL Draft Preview Week 31

by Neal Thurman
Updated On: March 14, 2019, 10:59 am ET

This is one of those weekends where context matters.  If this were Week 10 of the season and you were going to be missing a bunch of players then you would probably look at the good players that would be missing out and, rightly, surmise that their value to you over the next 28 matches was much larger than the value of replacing them for a single match at the risk of not being able to get them back on waivers ahead of Week 11. 


Now that we've made it all the way to Week 31, the calculus changes a little bit.  If, like me, you're looking at your draft fantasy Premier League squad and you're going to have more players not playing this weekend than players playing then you're looking at a different risk profile than you would have been in Week 10.  Dropping a player in Week 31 means that the most that player is going to do for you over the balance of the season is play seven matches (with two coming in a single match week).  With four Premier League clubs still alive in the Champions League as that competition heads to the quarterfinal round, you can bet that there's going to be a lot of rotation among those players heading down the stretch as well.  

Where does all of this lead? It certainly isn't to an easy decision.  In my two leagues, I find myself in 3rd (4 points from the top spot) and 5th (and likely rooted there with fairly big gaps on either side of my point total).  In the league where I'm 3rd, my first inclination is that I should go for it.  Before doing so, though, I'm going to take a look at my opposition for the match week and how their squad looks.  As it turns out, my opponent (Steve Rothgeb) is pretty well stocked with players (Allison, Chillwell, Rice, Townsend, Barnes, Mitrovic, and Vardy) who will be playing.  Before waivers, my team of players available to play this weekend is Kepa, Alexander-Arnold, Azpilicueta, Richarlison, Pedro, Hazard, and Higuain.  Of the players I have that aren't playing, I'm definitely NOT dropping Jonny, Jimenez, or Aubameyang.  That leaves Moutinho, Pereyra, Laporte, and Holebas as potential drops in favor of someone who can help me this weekend.  


That moves us to who is available.  The bad news is that there isn't a lot to love, especially in midfield.  There are Liverpool fringe midfielders galore (Shaqiri, Milner, and Wijnaldum) all of whom could start and star against a Fulham side fading into the Thames. Beyond that there are guys like Kante, Ritchie, and Gudmundsson who have a big fantasy match once a month or so but are almost certain to start.  That gets you to the next question you have to answer, do I want the solidity of an almost guaranteed 2 points with only minor upside or do I want to go big for the chance at a five or a six with every chance that it will end up as a one or a zero.  Maybe one of each between high upside and steady contributor if you have enough spots in your squad.  


If you're interested, my initial moves were to submit Shaqiri (dropping Pereyra) and Kante (dropping Moutinho) in midfield and Joel Matip and Aaron Cresswell as option one and two to replace Holebas in defense.  


Good luck with the waiver wire and enjoy the abbreviated program this weekend. 



Neal Thurman
Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.