...of the Top 100. Nice (but somewhat expected) weeks from Mssrs. Rooney, G. Neville, McFadden, and Giggs and improbably good weekends from Yousi Benayoun and Matthew Etherington who both piled up the fantasy points despite doing very little to actually help West Ham. Somehow I managed to put even more space between myself and Jeremy despite both Mido and Ruud getting two matches worth of points in one. Good times, but don't ask me to explain how it happened. Please note that Liverpool and Sunderland are off this weekend due to Liverpool's World Club Championship commitment - probably worth keeping Reina through the 0-point weekend but he's the only one. With that brief intro out of the way, it's on to the analysis...
Chelsea - Looking ahead at the weekend, the big match on the schedule is Arsenal hosting Chelsea. Well, that's the one that will receive all of the hype but for fantasy managers, it's probably one to avoid. Chelsea have been grinding out wins and Arsenal have just been bad for the last couple weeks. I'd guess this will finish 2-1 (sadly to Chelsea) but I'll add to that by saying that I don't think there will be a ton of fantasy points accumulated in this one. The big question coming out of the day for me will be "Is Henry affordable come Monday?" a third consecutive stinker and he might be down in the low 20s again and priced to move in anticipation of matches with Charlton, Pompey, and Villa in December before the first clash with the Red Devils at the beginning of January. Stay tuned.
If you've got Lampard or Henry at a good price, it's probably worth keeping them and of course fantasy bargain-of-the-year Asier Del Horno fits into this category as well. Otherwise, there probably isn't much for fantasy managers here. Search elsewhere for your points. Think about picking up both Henry and van Persie once the weekend is over - the upcoming schedule will favor them going on hot streaks if they remain healthy.
The Former "Big Two" - It pains me to compliment ManYoo but they (finally) looked like the team SAF promised on Wednesday. Giggs was strong on the left side of midfield. Scholes was useful for a solid 30 minutes. Rooney lived up to his "boy-wonder" billing and Ruud actually executed a nice leg drag/dive to win a penalty and then calmly converted. The defense looked shakey but got the job done. Heck, even Rio scored his first goal in a ManYoo uniform. Definitely what the team needed after being chased out of Europe and a mediocre performance vs. Everton. Now comes a trip to a Villa squad that, as far as I can tell, doesn't really have a central defense. They may not have two matches this week but keeping your ManYoo guys around is probably an excellent bet (unless you have Park or Ronaldo around). Silvestre is probably not going to figure again but otherwise, it's going to be hard to go wrong by loading up. Hopefully, you did so before Rooney, Ruud, and Giggs skyrocketed in price after the Wednesday match. If not, then pick the one or two you can fit - you probably can't go wrong.
The Relegation Zone - As noted above, Sunderland won't be around this weekend to make all of our lives easier by ensuring that at least one team will have a great fantasy day - we will do our best to soldier on without them and wish them a speedy return to the pitch on Boxing Day when they will have the opportunity to show whether it is possible to make Bolton look like a superior offensive side on the road.
Birmingham heads to the City of Manchester Stadium to face a Citeh squad who have been nearly impossible to figure out all year. They beat Charlton within an inch of their lives one week and the next they lose 2-0 to West Brom. With Andy Cole out, Citeh will have to find another source of goals. Trevor Sinclair is a modestly priced option worth considering. Who knows what Mssr. Bruce is thinking in relation to Jermaine Pennant - he's in the line-up, he's out of the line-up, I'm not sure why you WOULDN'T play your best (only?) offensive player but I guess that's why they are where they are. All that was a long way of saying that Pennant is a good bet if you know he's going to play, but that's not as certain a thing as it should be.
That brings us to the South Coast where 'arry will lead his ragtag band of Championship refugees against visiting WBA (who aren't much more than that) in what promises to be an unpleasant match even if there are goals. Here's to Fox Soccer Channel for having the good sense not to show this one. The only important note here is that Dario Silva might be back which might muddy Jeremy's rumination on Pericard who might represent value but only if he plays. Kanu has been playing well but he's always been streaky so I'm not sure how excited I'd be to have my fantasy week rest on his shoulders.
Random Notes - Darren Bent is questionable nulifying one of the few intriguing options in the Wigan/Charlton match. On the other side of the ball, Pascal Chimbonda has dropped back down in value after Wigan's difficult run of matches vs. the Top 5 and he's a good bet to spring back to productivity against the Addicks...Emre is out for Newcastle but it certainly feels like it's about time for Michael Owen to explode for a couple of goals...Mido has a thigh strain and faces a fitness test in advance of the match with Boro - beware...Claus Jensen is still injured for Fulham's match with Blackburn who are missing Bellamy, Todd and Nelsen - time to switch back to Collins John who should do well vs. Rovers' depleated back line...Everton...Bolton...may god have mercy on our souls...
Good luck and happy shopping