In the spirit of the holiday, here are a few things vaguely related to fantasy footie and the blog that I'm thankful for...
- the pending emergence of Gabriel Obertan - there just haven't been enough decent fantasy midfielders on Big Four teams this season and Obertan has the chance to stake a claim in among a fairly useless set of ManYoo wingers - he certainly can't be worse than Nani/Valencia/Park for fantasy purposes.
- the opening of January Silly Season - I know most people tire of the rumors but I love it all - the baseless speculation, the tabloid-driven rumors, and the occasional actual deal that might give us fantasy owners something new to throw into the mix
- the fact that our move is done and we should be relatively settled for the next six to eight months until we move again
- the fact that FiOs (our new TV/Internet service provider) includes Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV, and NFL Red Zone in their basic package (nice not to have to pay a premium for them anymore)
- Tim Howard getting shelled over his two matches this past week and one of the guys near me in the standings in our private league having him (that was a big -12.00 for T-Ho and Jon)...
Before the matches started last weekend, I was thinking that ManYoo and Man Citeh were the far-and-away leaders in terms of the attractiveness of their match-ups this weekend. Fast forward one ugly ManYoo Champions League performance and one mediocre effort from Citeh against a weakened Liverpool team last weekend later PLUS a strong showing by Hull and I have to say I'm less convinced. Still, if you shade your squad choices towards teams that have favorable match-ups then ManYoo, Citeh, Fulham, and WHU are the odds-on choices as I see it. I'd add Liverpool to the list based on Everton's capitulation yesterday against Hull but this is a derby and you just never know what's going to happen. If you're looking for players to avoid then the obvious answer is Chelsea and Arsenal as the two giants (or one REALLY giant and one sort-of giant) face off on Sunday.
So, what to make of Robinho? The news today is that he's stopped agitating for a move to the Nou Camp and will be ready to face off against Hull. This leads me to a few questions...1) can this report be believed? 2) if so, will he start? 3) if he starts, will he actually play well? and 4) if he plays well, does he become a pretty strong bargain at 11.00? Lots of questions there but Citeh's issues seem to be at the back rather than going forward so I'm leaning towards Robinho as a pretty solid bargain if it looks like he's going to start.
Where there is downside will be with whichever of Bellamy or Tevez will (presumably) make way for Robinho. I'd assume it will be Tevez because he hasn't found consistent form and because Bellamy has been in the excellent form we all know he possesses when he's neither injured nor assaulting a teammate.
Others that are attractive here are Frazier Campbell (for the money he's been great and DBent is likely out along with KJones' suspension), CCole, Rooney, Nevland, and Altidore (Hull are hot and I like his chances). We'll have to wait on the Berbs fitness report before we decide what to do with him. I also like Yayga despite Wigan being crushed last weekend. Wigan really are unpredictable but he's been pretty strong for the money.
Oh yeah, there's that Drogba guy as well - with Arsenal's defence riddled with injuries he's probably going to have a big day as much as it pains me to say it. If you kept him on the cheap then you definitely want to follow-through and keep him this weekend. That aside, you may still want to buy at a premium despite the match-up.
With Lamps out Gerrard is really the man if you want to buy a premium midfielder. The difficult thing this weekend will be cutting through guys who have traditionally been mid-range when it comes to price who have been hot recently. I'm talking about your Dempseys, Lennons, and FloMals of the world. If you've got them, stick with it - if you are buying at current market prices, I'd stay away, there's a reason they haven't traditionally been very expensive.
Other midfielders worth thinking about are Jummy, BFAR, Hunt, Collison, Eth, N'Zog, Bily (should be back from suspension and is obviously needed), Fletch, Eagles, and (only if it looks like he'll get another start) Obertan. Why am I staying away from ManYoo's more established midfielders? Mostly because I'm not sure which ones will start and other than Giggs (too expensive) they haven't produced to their price when they have. As for the Citeh group, MPet seems unlikely to start and Ireland and Barry are overpriced.
There was a Yuri Zhirkov sighting yesterday in the Champions League. Granted it was a match that meant nothing to Chelsea really so its hard to know if he's going to get a little bit of a run in the team but with Cole available you have to think he'll get the start against his old club. Ivanovic is probably the best bet among CHE defenders for the price.
Elsewhere Rafael and Wes Brown are decent bargains for ManYoo and Baird is still a nice bargain (6.40something) from FUL coming off an 18 point 2-match effort.
Burnley doesn't have a terrible match-up so PK hero Alexander is also worth a look but certainly not as much as he was a month ago at a far lower price.
If I had any faith at all in the Citeh defence then Given would be the clear choice but they have been lackluster at best and he hasn't been getting as many saves as he did last year when he consistently made up for letting in one or two goals/match with 5 or 6 saves/match. In recent weeks it has been 1 to 2 saves/match and 2 to 3 goals along with a draw. Not exactly what fantasy managers are looking for. If you have the money then EvdS is the clear bet. More likely you don't and you're left to choose between Given or Green at an OK price and a favorable match-up, Robbo or Kirkland at home against moderate competition for really cheap, or paying for Schwarzer at a premium over Given but as a much safer bet home to BOL.
If I had the money (and we'll see if I do) I'd go Green as the best bet for the money followed by Schwarzer, Given, Robbo, and Kirkland.
Once again, a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers whether you celebrate the holiday or not. We are thankful everyday to have the opportunity to write this blog and have a dedicated and passionate following all over the world. Back tomorrow with Injuries and Suspensions.
Cheers - Neal