Greetings from the ATL. Interesting as always, we have another week where there are a couple teams that have two matches and the rest are sitting on one. This always leads managers to the questions "how many do I go for?" "which two-gamers are worth it?" and "what do I do with the slots where I can't afford the two-gamer I want?" Fear not, I'm here to give you the answers (or at least my answers - I'm sure there will be dissent)...
In case you haven't checked things out yet, Liverpool and Fulham are playing two matches this week so those are the guys you should be evaluating against the normal crop of one gamers.
Chelsea - Before we get in to this week's analysis, I'd like to comment on the Champions League..."HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA". OK, with that out of the way, on to this week's match against Spurs. Robben is out and miraculously, Duffman isn't hurt so he is a good bet if you're in the market for a moderately priced midfielder who isn't playing two games. Spurs have been a little shakey in defense the past few weeks having yielded a very impressive performance to Rovers despite coming out on top. Throw in Chelsea's anger and the London rivalry and you have to think Chelsea scores at least 2 in this one. Lampard is always a good bet but his hamstring is still a question and anyone with the money for Lamps should be spending it on Gerrard this week. For Spurs, Robbie Keane is in fine form but this isn't the weekend to pick him up - this probably applies even more to others on Spurs who are a) playing away; b) playing Chelsea; and c) not as hot as Keane right now.
The Former "Big Two" - So, the good news is that Arsenal is moving on in the Champions League, the bad news is that they're playing Juve and old friend Patrick Vieira in the next round. Not good times as it seems likely that they'll go out AND they'll still have to focus on something other than finishing 4th in the Premiership. The match this Sunday with Liverpool won't help matters much. It may be at home and there may be momentum coming off of the victory over Real but I can't say I'm too optimistic from a fantasy standpoint. For the big spenders in the crowd, sell Henry and pick up Gerrard. Crouch over Adebayor. Kewell over Reyes. You get the idea. If you're looking to save in defense (more on that later) I'd suggest Eboue if you must go with a one-gamer - another low-scoring affair between these two teams wouldnt' surprise me at all. Especially in the cozy confines of Highury.
Manchester United welcome Newcastle to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday in a match that I have to admit, I don't have much of a feel for. NUFC has been playing well in recent weeks as they've regained health and United have been good but not great. The positive for fantasy managers is that both sides have been scoring. I'm sticking with Ronaldo and I wouldn't counsel against Emre but that's about it for me on this match.
Special Liverpool/Fulham Section - In addition to the recommendations above, I'm going with an all-Liverpool backline. They're expensive but the combination of going to Fowler (who is dirt cheap) and not being able to afford Gerrard has me looking at Finnan, Hyypia (if he looks to be healthy), Agger (if Hyypia isn't), and Carragher. The uncertainty at left back and the possibility that the answer will be Warnock (a midfielder according to Yahoo) makes that position less interesting unless you're SURE Traore is going to be the guy. Reina is a no-brainer.
Fulham has two tough matches this week against the teams from Liverpool. Wayne Bridge is a great (and inexpensive) bet in defense. If you just HAVE to have all two-gamers, then think about Malbranque in midfield and Helguson up top but given the level of defense played by their competition this week, I'm not going that way.
Against the Relegation Zone - Sunderland hosts Wigan who are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Manchester United this past Monday. The only thing I have to say about this match is Camara, Camara, Camara. I tried to make the money work so I could afford Gerrard but it didn't happen so I'm going with Camara to light up a Black Cats squad that is a bit in shambles. He looked the part against United but just couldn't quite finish. Expect different results this weekend. Wigan have an excellent record against the bad teams and, well, Sunderland fits that description.
Manchester City, fresh off a Samaras double against Sunderland (yup, had to rub that in J), stay in the relegation zone as they face Pompey. Barton is back and Pompey is terrible. Samaras is still a good idea if you are looking for an affordable one-gamer. Barton might not be a terrible idea either. I refuse to waste more than a sentence on Sunderland.
I'm really not sure what to say about Birmingham against WBA other than at least Pennant plays for Brum. Not a terrible week to pick him but Kewell and Gerrard should be the preferred options in midfield.
Random Fantasty EPL Notes - Bolton vs. West Ham features my man Dean Ashton in a bad match-up but I'm sticking with him (because that's what I do), that's just about it from this one - Reo Coker is sick...Nothing worth mentioning from the Everton side of Everton and Fulham...Rovers welcome MGP back for their match against Villa - MGP and Bellamy (if he's not in jail) are decent but expensive bets...Finally, the Boro/Charlton match is probably not worth investing in unless, like me, you already have Downing - no point in skipping out on the bet now.
Happy Shopping - sorry it took so long to get here...