Here's hoping you all enjoyed a Happy Halloween, and that Week 10 in FPL for you was light on tricks and heavy on treats.
When it comes to picking a captain in the last round, it would seem virtually all of us were tricked. Of the top five armband options in Week 10, only one had an attacking return, and that was a subdued five point effort from Romelu Lukaku. The only forward to make FPL's dream team was Chicharito, who just happened to be the forward I advised to hold onto last week. How about the top scorer among all positions last week? That honor goes to Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac, who I had been touting was due for a cricket score and has been featured twice already in my column as a defender to buy before the inevitable explosion comes. Hopefully, some of you took the plunge on him, though his Week 11 status is in a bit of doubt with a hip injury.
Personally, Week 10 was a microcosm of my season to date. With a low ranking, I somehow managed to grind a green arrow out of my gameweek, despite having the names Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero on my bench. Only a 51 point round, but when you have that kind of firepower and cash stuck on your bench, you cannot help but be pleased that you escape with a climb up the ranks.
What may turn out to be the biggest decision was to hold on to Kane. Last week, I mentioned how some of these star players this season seem to be trolling us. A player gets hot, we buy, and his points dry up or he gets injured or surprisingly benched. Conversely, a big name has gone quiet for weeks in your squad, you finally move to drop him, and he explodes the very next weekend. It is enough to drive one crazy, but this why we love this game, right? So, in regards to Kane, here you have a player that everyone was transferring in immediately following Week 9. Then, when he is ruled out for Week 10, he has massive transfers out in the same gameweek. Now, he has come back to action, playing in Champions League action last night, coming off after 79 minutes seemingly fresh. Now, those who may have bought and sold Kane in the same week may be scrounging to buy him back yet again, as Tottenham have perhaps the most attractive fixture of all the big clubs.
It is going to be a Super Sunday in the Premier League this weekend. Manchester City will host Arsenal and Chelsea will entertain Manchester United. It is tough to feel extremely confident in picking a captain out of fixtures like this, but Spurs are at home and playing Crystal Palace. Coming off one of the biggest wins in the club's history for my money, a convincing 3-1 victory over Real Madrid, already qualifying Spurs for the Round of 16, and getting it done at Wembley, where the "curse" that seemed to loom over the club at the start of the season seems to have officially vanished, Tottenham look to be the side to find a captain from. Even if Kane worries you in terms of how many minutes he will play, a chance on Dele Alli, who bagged a brace against Madrid, or Christian Eriksen, who also scored last night, are viable alternatives.
A couple more quick observations from the round that was - again, major props to Sean Dyche and his Clarets. Another clean sheet and another fine performance by Nick Pope. They managed to earn another clean sheet against another solid defense in Newcastle. Both sides have given up just nine goals in ten games this season, a defensive record bested only by both Manchester clubs and Spurs. Need to find the cash to build a monster attack? Rob Elliot or Pope in goal, then three defenders at 4.5m from both sides, doubling down on both defenses, seems a viable strategy. I am currently going with Elliot, Lowton and Yedlin, with Kyle Naughton being my other cheap defender. Naughton might switch to second Claret defender soon though. Too much value to be had. That cheap back line, anchored by Phil Jones, has allowed a starting core of seven attackers that include Kane, Aguero, Morata, Eriksen, Sane, Ramsey and Mooy. Not too shabby...in theory.
So I feel my squad is finally getting into the zone, let us look at the landscape for Week 11, which will be followed by our final international break of the calendar year...
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...
*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: Hugo Lloris - Lloris has been playing at a high level in recent weeks and is the cheapest route into Tottenham clean sheets. Spurs should see their fare share of those in the coming weeks, with home games against Crystal Palace and West Brom this weekend and in Week 12 looking particularly promising. If you own David de Gea, I would stick on him all season. But, if you have, say, Phil Jones in defense already and want some Tottenham representation, then Lloris should serve you well.
UPDATE: Lloris was revealed to have picked up an abductor strain shortly after the release of this column, and that he will miss the next couple of weeks. So, he drops out of the picks. I will turn back to Nick Pope as my choice this week. Despite a road tilt this weekend, the Clarets have proven this season that their defending is not limited to Turf Moor, and the home games that ARE coming up are against weaker clubs in the league.
Player to sell: Petr Cech - Of the premium keepers in the FPL game, i.e., those that had a starting cost of 5.5m, Cech has the lowest point total after 10 gameweeks. Can it be blamed on a tough opening to their schedule? Apparently not, as they face the top three clubs in the league over the next five rounds; Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs. I wouldn't blame those who started the season with Cech to stay put and not spend a transfer on the position, but if there was ever a climate to ditch him, it is now.
Player to hold: Jonas Lossl - The Terriers have fallen down to Earth defensively after a very bright start. In the last four gameweeks, they have coughed up two or more goals every time. I would give Lossl two more weeks before selling though. Home to West Brom this weekend has a decent shot at a clean sheet and then it's a trip to Bournemouth. Trot Lossl out for those matches, then feel free to dump when Huddersfield get Manchester City and Arsenal back-to-back.
Player to avoid: Fraser Forster - Forster is the second highest scoring keeper in the game to date and one could picture the Saints possibly keeping out Burnley at home this weekend, making him an attractive option. It has not been fruitful for Forster lately though. The Saints have kept only one clean sheet in the last five weeks and, after the clash with the Clarets, they will be tested with two road tilts over three weeks against two very potent attacks in Manchester City and Liverpool.
Player to buy: Charlie Daniels- If there is one club to try and play the fixtures with for the coming weeks, it's Bournemouth. Over the next six weeks, here are the opponents - Newcastle, Huddersfield, Swansea, Burnley, Southampton and Crystal Palace. While the Cherries have been a disappointing side defensively, collecting a single clean sheet in the first 10 weeks, there are signs of improvement. In the last four weeks, they have averaged conceding one goal a game, much better than the rate they were conceding the first six weeks. Daniels is so appealing because of his attacking ability. With these fixtures, it is hard to picture him not being a worthwhile investment.
Player to sell: Marcos Alonso - Alonso was such an effective wingback last season, he may have been the reason so many managers have adopted Antonio Conte's defensive formation. So far this season, it has been very productive for the likes of Ben Davies and Sead Kolasinac. Chelsea are not as defensively sound as they were last season, so the clean sheets are not as common. So why pay a premium at this point for Alonso's attacking appeal, when Davies and Kolasinac can fill the bill for cheaper. A bout with Man United this weekend seems the ideal time to let go of Alonso.
Player to hold: Charlie Daniels - Do not expect a clean sheet for the Cherries this weekend when they host reigning champs Chelsea, but if you are a Daniels owner, you need to switch him out for another option already on your bench or just start him and bite the bullet. Reason being, once the Blues are out of the way, Bournemouth have a long stretch of positive matchups. While they have under performed so far this season defensively, I would expect a couple of clean sheets in the coming weeks. More importantly though, Daniels is set up for some attacking returns against opponents between now and Week 17 when the Cherries get Manchester United.
Player to avoid: Jose Holebas/Kiko Femenia - If you have a Watford defender at present, it should be one of these two prospects. Both offer some attacking edge to their game, which is music to managers' ears when they come in the 4.5m price bracket. Watford have been a fun side to watch so far this season, with their open style of play and penchant for finding the net. Unfortunately, they have paid the price defensively in the process. There are a few sides with 4.5m options who are collecting clean sheets at a steadier rate than Holebas or Femenia are supplying assists, namely Burnley, Newcastle and Swansea.
Player to buy: Leroy Sane - Yes, I am aware of two things here. One, nominating Sane here may come off as "mailing it in" considering how hot he's been and that you'd have to be living under a rock to not know and 2) Pep Guardiola could very well not put Sane in his Starting XI, as he's had no problems doing the same to Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero or Raheem Sterling after big performances. But come on folks, Sane is FPL's top scorer now, and the fact that he can be had for 9m makes sense to me. Assuming he stays fit, he may be a season-long keeper at this point in the XI, the frustrating one-point cameos off the bench will be more than offset by his explosive scores.
Player to sell: Henrikh Mkhitaryan - True, Mkhi was in this space just last week, but considering his ownership %, price tag and fading production, I cannot justify nominating someone else. Watching United last week, he gave the ball away more than anyone else on the pitch. It is rather clear he is mentally blocked at the moment. Perhaps we will see improvement when Paul Pogba returns, but for now, Romelu Lukaku seems the only United attacking player to back. If only Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial could take up one spot in your squad. Their combined production has been fantastic.
Player to hold: Matt Ritchie - We are now up to five weeks where Ritchie has returned just a single assist, so we are beginning to enter "on the chopping block" territory here. Newcastle have to travel to Old Trafford when they return from the upcoming international break, so there will be little confidence in the midfielder for that one, but hang in there one more week if you have thoughts of selling. Home to Bournemouth could provide something to restore your faith in him.
Player to avoid: Luka Milivojevic - We saw glimpses of attacking potential from Milivojevic when he joined Palace back in January, and he finally opened account for this season this past weekend against West Ham. Because he began the season with virtually no returns, his initial 5m price has dipped to its current 4.6m. That is fantastic value. However, I still think there is a better and even cheaper alternative and he's a teammate - Ruben Loftus-Cheek. RLC is playing farther forward and is much more influential in the final third.
Player to buy: Tammy Abraham - Leaving the big guns out of the equation, and uncertainty over minutes for Kane, rotation carousel that includes Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero and big clubs playing each other, making Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Alexander Lacazette not as attractive as they normally would be, this looks to be the week to back a budget option. Abraham has established himself as the main center forward for Swansea and added an assist last week to his current tally of four goals. In the next three weeks, Swansea host Brighton and Bournemouth. I would expect one haul for sure in that span and would give even odds he does it in two.
Player to sell: Alexander Lacazette - Two tough fixtures for Arsenal leads me to nominate Lacazette here. Away to Manchester City followed by the North London Derby should temper expectations for all Arsenal players, but Lacazette particularly stands out as the one to drop because of his cost. When you consider he's behind Tammy Abraham on points for the season and costs 4.5m more, imagine how that cash could improve another area of your squad. If you'd rather swap for a heavy hitter, Morata and Jesus are similarly priced and I like their potential over the next few weeks much more.
Player to hold: Wayne Rooney - Everton has been a wasteland thus far this season for fantasy points. Their highest scoring defender and midfielder have yet to hit the 20 point mark for the season, so no player is averaging so much as two points per week in those groups. Their performance against Leicester did not do much to make investment in the Toffees a good idea, but if I were a current owner of Wayne Rooney, I would hold on to some optimism. Rooney has been their best fantsy producer to date and thier attack can only approve upon its current funk. The fixtures could help make that happen - Watford, West Ham and Huddersfield at home in the next five, with road tilts against Palace and Southampton in between. Everton should start to get some results, and when they do, Rooney is also most likely to dip into the bonus points.
Player to avoid: Jay Rodriguez - Rodriguez was a popular budget third striker option for many managers at the beginning of the season and he managed to provide a goal in Week 3 for those early investors. He also picked up two yellow cards in those first three weeks, cutting his goal impact in half. Since then, he had not provided an attacking return...until last week. Initially priced at 6m, J-Rod can be had for a tantalizing 5.6m, but I would not let last week's goal and his cut-rate price tag sway me. The Baggies simply aren't a consistent enough supplier of goals and after this weekend's clash with Huddersfield, it's two straight weeks of Chelsea and Spurs. No thanks.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
2) Harry Kane
3) Leroy Sane
4) Mo Salah
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.