The Week and Christmas Holiday Extravaganza Ahead

In the spirit of the holidays, I am going to be charitable to everyone reading and keep things relatively brief this time around.  Obviously there are a lot of moving parts to think about with 3 matches for some teams and the possibility of the weather canceling more matches like it did for Bolton as our "never bet on or against Bolton" rule was underscored for everyone who had forgotten or thought that the rule was rendered irrelevant once Big Sam moved on a couple of years ago.  With all that in mind, here we go on a quick roller coster ride starting with the 3 gamers and ending up with the potential one-gamers (Burnley if Bolton/Burnley is postponed due to weather).

One final note for everyone who hasn't been following the conversation about how many matches are included in the Christmas "matchweek" (and if you haven't looked at the table on the "Team Manager" page since it was updated) - we have confirmed with Yahoo that all of the matches from December 26 until January 7 will be included.  Should make for a crazy time as we all pull our hair out after players get injured or suspended or rotated part of the way through the 2 or 3 match stretch.  As you select your team, it is just as important that you go for guys who will be selected as it will be to pick the best match-ups or most talented/hottest players.

The Definite 3 Gamers
With Bolton's first match of the Christmas in some question due to the weather (see below) we are left with Fulham, Stoke, and Arsenal as the teams who will definitely be playing 3 matches over the course of this matchweek.  You've no doubt already seen Jeremy's analysis of who the hell might be playing consistently for Arsenal across those 3 matches.  My conclusion is that the guys you really should get in your team if at all possible are Almunia, Verm (although I assume you've had him all along), and Arshavin.  The second tier of options from Arsenal would be Denilson, Nasri, Diaby, and EdS (in that order).  If you feel strongly about the Gunners' chances of scoring a lot over the course of two very winnable matches (@POR and BOL) and one tougher one (AST) at home then I'd jump on at least one of the above.  I've ordered them based on my impression of their chances of a) starting and b) performing during the time they do play.

Outside of Arsenal, Fulham contains the most interesting players for me. Their schedule isn't the greatest (Spurs, @CHE, and @Stoke) but they've started resembling the team that pushed its way into the Europa League last season.  They're also catching Spurs and Chelsea in the right positions (Spurs will be on the road which hasn't been great for them this season and Chelsea will be without Drogba and Anelka due to ACN and injury respectively and they've been pretty shaky WITH those two recently).  I'm not so Bullish on Fulham that I'd be going "all in" on their players but Bobby Zamora (who is on fire), Duffman (although he's more likely to start 2 of the 3 matches), and Dempsey (having a quietly excellent year in both the real world and fantasy) are attractive options.  If you want to go one deeper then you might want to consider a defender.  Ordinarily, I'd recommend a favorite from last season John Paintsil but he is a) expensive and b) going to miss either one or two matches due to the African Cup.  His absence essentially renders the RB spot at Fulham useless to fantasy managers for this week.  Given that that is the case, someone like Chris Baird is strong value for the money.

And where are Stoke in all this? Nowhere really.  Their 3 fixtures are pretty tough from a fantasy standpoint (@Citeh looking to impress the new boss and then home to both stingy teams in Birmingham and Fulham).  If you want in on Stoke, I'd go for Eth over Beattie on the theory that he's much more likely to play all three.  Stoke have few alternatives on the left and Beattie is coming off both an injury and a bust-up with the manager (and he's sort of pudgy) so hard to see him pulling off 3 matches in such a short timeframe.

The Maybe 3 Gamers
Here is the latest update from Turf Moor on the Boxing Day fixture between Bolton and Burnley.  My advice would be to check Burnley's web site at the latest possible hour on Friday (exactly how you wanted to spend your Christmas right?).  I know the rule on Bolton but with Klasnic, Lee, and MTay all reasonable fantasy options you have to consider them seriously if they are playing 3 matches.  If you really want to get crazy, Gary Cahill (despite his price) is also a pretty strong bet if there are 3 matches to be played. 

The 2 Gamers
Its always easy to pick one of the glamor teams and pimp their players as great bets but if you're going for 2 gamers, then you'd be foolish not to look at ManYoo first.  With @HULL and WIG presenting the opposition you have a hard time seeing the Red Devils NOT coming out of the Christmas week with 6 points.  As Jeremy mentioned in his Early Doors posting the defence that made ManYoo look so mediocre against Fulham is on the mend with Vidic coming back to anchor along with Fabio (actual defenders is a HUGE upgrade).  I'm not sure there will be enough certainty/stability across the two matches in the ManYoo defence that you'd want to pick any of their defenders BUT what the presence of actual defenders and crappy opponents does is increases the value of Kuszczak in a pretty big way.  Giggs is also back but with the caveat that it's hard to see him starting two matches 3 days apart.  If I were prioritizing ManYoo players, I'd go Kuszczak (if you don't have the money for Almunia), Rooney (although there are lots of alternatives for less money), and maybe a flyer on Darren Gibson if you think he's made the leap to the starting XI (I'm of the opinion that he's only been getting his run because the alternatives in midfield are all either injured or playing in defence).

There aren't really any other sets of match-ups that really catch my eye despite Jeremy's enthusiasm about Everton's schedule (if Everton were playing decently this season I'd be more excited but the table doesn't lie, they've been crushed by injuries and can't be trusted until they have their players back - sort of like ManYoo last weekend).

In the absence of great match-ups, here are the players I'm considering from among the two-gamers...
RSC (K2 on his way to Africa and RSC re-announced himself nicely last weekend); Tevez (he's been on fire); Gerrard/Torres (I think Liverpool might take out some frustrations on Wolves at Anfield anything from the Villa match would be a bonus after that); Bily (when he's played, he's been pretty strong); and O'Hara (forget what you thought you knew about Pompey - they've been playing like a middle-of-the-table team for over a month now).

So, I'm sure you're reading this and wondering "Why no one from Spurs?" Is he THAT biased against them as an Arsenal supporter that he'd undermine his fantasy team (and his credibility related to this blog) because of that bias? As it turns out, the answer is "no" the the second question.  The answer to the first is that I'm of the opinion that Spurs are tremendously overvalued right now on the back of some excellent performances in recent weeks.  If you have some of their more productive players (Defoe, Crouch, Kranjcar, Lennon) at a good discount then by all means I recommend keeping hold of them and riding their hot streak.  On the other hand, if you're looking to buy for THIS week at the current prices then I'm of the opinion that you can do better.  Something about the MBA training in me that says "don't buy when the price is at its peak".

Finally that leads us to...

The Maybe 1 Gamer
As we discussed above Bolton/Burnley is still up in the air for Boxing Day.  I've been playing Chris Eagles for the last few weeks and have been very happy with the results and am inclined to keep that going if I know for sure he's going to get two matches.  If he's not then I'll either look for a secondary option from one of the 3 match teams (Diaby, Denilson, Ethrington, etc.) or go with a solid two-gamer like Bily who I know won't be limited to one match.

OK, with all of that out there, I wish you all the best of luck in your holiday selections.  I hope they bring you holiday cheer no matter where you are or what holidays you are celebrating (if any).

Between Jeremy and I we'll try to get an injuries and suspensions post out tomorrow but I can't guarantee anything due to family obligations and the like.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Good Luck.

Cheers - Neal


  1. Tundra United10:09 AM

    And then there are those of us with GAlex at a discount. While not exactly a week-in, week-out killer option, he's been pretty steady. Hold him at the discount...or move him?

  2. Hold. DNH defenders who occasionally pop up with a PK goal... you just don't find that in the game much.

  3. Anonymous11:41 AM

    My queries for the group:

    1. Is Drogba only a one gamer?

    2. I have MTay. Dropping him would allow me to get Zamora or Dempsey or an Arsenal 3 gamer whose status doesn't depend on the weather. Good move to drop him?

    3. Keep Klasnic?

    Happy Holidays everyone.

    Bob G.

  4. Anonymous12:19 PM

    ^ 1) Yes. But no one except Carlo Ancelotti will know if he is going to even play that game.
    2) MTay had not been getting big points in the recent matches if i am not wrong. Sell imo.
    3) maybe good.

    "More games, More Luck" =)

  5. Anonymous12:52 PM

    what about tuncay at just over 5 units? Stoke are strong at home, even against stingy opposition and the turk is getting his game now!

  6. Alex D.12:58 PM

    i'm hesitant to give up rooney, despite the one yellow card risk. I would trade him for Arshavin, BUT, I feel like ManU have need to get some wins, which means rooney could come up big. also, especially with Chelsea not having many players over the next month, it seems like the next month is an opportunity for MANU to get ahead.

    so, my questions are three:
    1) trade rooney for arshavin, even though rooney scores much more when he plays well, but arshavin is guaranteed 3 games (from what people seem to be saying)?
    2) trade drogs for someone like Bent or Zamora, or even dempsey (may have to scrounge cash from elsewhere) because he's playing one game versus someone playing 3?
    3) trade valencia for a fulham midfielder or one of the players above in question (2)?

    Not sure if anyone is having the same dilemmas. if so, i'd be interested to hear what you may decide to do...

  7. Anonymous1:00 PM

    I am plannin to drop Drogba this week.
    please suggest me a good forward.
    currently i m considering H-Rod n Defoe.
    anyone else u prefer ?

    - ajinkya

  8. Alex D.1:01 PM

    to add one more thing, it seems that Zamora only gets points if he scores. i mean, despite assists, goals, and game-winning goals, he only gets around 15 points. many players who score end up with around 20-25 points... thoughts?

  9. Personally, I'm scared off by the "2 games in 3 days" clubs. I think any decent manager will rotate his squad heavily to avoid injuries. So I think there could be a LOT of strong fantasy players who only get significant minutes in 1 match this week.
    That being said, Arsenal and Bolton (unless cancelled) make the best of the 3 game choices, and Pompey (2 matches in 5 days), Wigan (2 in 5), Man Utd (2 in 4), and Liverpool (2 in 4) make up the best of the 2 gamers. (Stoke and Fulham obviously give you a guarentee of 2 starts as well.)

  10. Fidan1:07 PM

    Right now:

    Should I change Given/Gallas/Tunch for Almunia/Sylvinho/Etherington
    And finally drop MTay for Arsh???

    I really need some help with this one

  11. My team:


    Would do you think? I can get Nasri instead of Billy, and should I sell MTay and upgrade RSC?

    Hard long week......

  12. Anonymous2:01 PM

    I really like Matt taylor for this week, if they play their game, which you should know by sat morning...

  13. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Mtay will be a safer choice than RSC, but he's not really flying away now. maybe then.
    Rooney is more forgettable. unless he had pens, he is pants. look at how many open goals he score recently (last 5 games 3 pens 2 goals) . Billy seemed steady, Nasri had a potential 3 games(but maybe miserable).

    Zamora is , well, Zamora, nuff said(but he looks real good against good teams that i wonder does he had split characters). HRod has some phantom points in him but not really hot on fire, but nice ave if you know what i mean . defoe is erratic. good game, he gets you immense points, bad ones and he is 12th man on the pitch.

    weather is a key component in this week's selection. my advice: stock up on 3 gamers, lest there is postponement.

  14. - my guess is that the Burnley/Bolton game goes as planned. Checking website it sounds ALOT of time/resources are being put in to make sure this game happens.
    - I'm dropping Rooney. That 1 yellow card DOES scare me. He's kind of prone to get them, so thats enough. I'd rather drop him and get points than him sit for a game and get a zero. Another reason I'm droping him is because of first point which I will trade him for Klasnic.
    - Going Vidic/Nasri/Rooney -> Bassong/MTay/Klasnic

  15. Great article yet again Neal. So then, for all you lads that are worried about dropping Drogs..check out the link below and feast your eyes on what you could be picking up in makes for extremely exciting reading for FF purposes as well! Consider it my little Xmas Prezzy to you all...Merry Chrimbo everyone!

  16. Bradley3:34 PM

    Thanks Ketz. Brings back fond memories of picking up Arshavin last January on the cheap. There's usually a lot less movement in this window than advertised, but I hope some of those potential transfers turn out to be more than the standard British media hype.

  17. Anonymous3:38 PM

    @Ketz - That's old news brotha, it would be great if it really happens but only if he joins Manchester United.
    What do you guys think about Berbatov, everyone's talking about Rooney but if Rooney gets that second YC and misses the second game, who do you think will take his place? Surely not Owen. So far my team is...

    EdS/Roque Santa Cruz/Tuncay

    I want to get rid of Tuncay and fit in Berbatov but the only way to do that is by loosing a pricey middie...MTay maybe, I don't like this snow problem. I'm also considering switching Eagles to Diaby and MTay will allow me to get extra cash to fit him in. What do you guys think, I'll take suggestions. Man looking at my team, there's only one player from my last weeks pick still there, Verm...and he's not going anywhere.

  18. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Are you guys sure that you won't be able to change your team before each gameweek, in other words you dont have to plan for 3 gamers etc. Look at gameweek deadlines here:

    and then fixtures here:

    Surely we should be changing our teams according to these match arrangements?

    Someone please clear this up, so confused.

  19. Anonymous4:00 PM

    My lineup is:

    I don't like Kirkland but I don't have the money to change it around. I am unsure of Crouch, I have him at a discound from last week, should I keep him?

  20. Anonymous4:01 PM


  21. Bradley4:14 PM

    @Anonymous 3:54 PM: The Premier League's fantasy game is completely different from Yahoo's. The PL's game seems to separate each round of matches into separate gameweeks whereas Yahoo lumps all matches from Saturday to the following Friday into a gameweek (with an extra week this time around to accomodate the make-up matches for Arsenal-Bolton and Stoke-Fulham).

  22. Anonymous4:22 PM

    team so far:

    Heit, Verm, Bass
    Arshavin, MTAY, Bily, Nasi
    EDS, RSC, Klasnic

    still debating on bringing rooney back, would have to probably downgrade EDS to Tuncay to make it happen to obtain a slightly downgradable option to Nasri... then again I think I am probably ok. what do you think?


  23. Anonymous4:58 PM


    Rooney/Etherington or Klasnic/Taylor?

    and in that case... RSC or Tuncay? I am still not comfortable with this whole Citeh Manager switch, but by the looks of it with Bellemy running man, he could be left out.


  24. Tundra United6:04 PM

    There's been a ton debated about this topic already (sorry to dredge it up again) both here and at the Asst Mgr's blog...but am I the only one still torn by the prospect of gutting Drogs? Yes, the prospect of a month of zeroes is frightening...but having a $10 striker putting up his numbers (tops in FF by a wide margin) -- and hoping a) he returns in form, and b) everyone else drops him -- is tantalizing.

  25. Tundra I am with you. I had dropped Drogs but just couldn't hit the confirm button. But only 1 match in a 3 game week? Crap I hate this.
    I am currently on
    Arsh/Nasri/Duff/Abou Diaby/Ether
    Decisions, decisions.....

  26. Anonymous7:56 PM

    @ Tundra - definitely torn, hes just been so good. I think the majority of people will drop him and im also leaning in that direction:- with january coming up surely someone (Im looking at you, city) will buy a must have striker at 6? decisions, decisions...bad time to have to make a decision on this one. I feel like theres a lot of risk that he wont hit the same form when he comes back too...I guess the question is can you use that spot to make up >2/3 of the points drogs would has got so far cos if not then keeping him might be the safe option...

  27. Excellent post Neal.. Merry Christmas to you and family..

  28. Great post Neal & have a Merry Christmas. Good luck to your Eagles. Looking forward to a Eagles-Vikings matchup in the 2nd round :)

    What about Cesc FAB? I read he will be back for the Villa match up on Sunday & if healthy I would assume he would play all 3.

  29. Almunia

    any comments or criticisms?

  30. shane6:54 AM

    sunderland players anybody? @ home against everton and away to blackburn.

    mccartney @ 5.31 looks more promising than fabio and darren bent, come on have we forgotten him? sunderland certainly have a tempting christmas fixture and if scoring 3 times against man city is any hint of a revival....

  31. shane6:57 AM

    bass/verm/mccartney/ (all under 6)

  32. Bradley8:38 AM

    @Tundra: I'm definitely torn/unhappy about dropping Drogba. If he resumes his form after the ACN, holding onto him would be the right long-term move. However, I can't take up to 6 weeks of 0s. I have enough trouble getting 100 pts out of 11 players much less out of 10. Although I'm perfectly capable of picking around the points for the duration of the ACN, at least by dropping him I'll have the opportunity to get something out of that 10.76. Bottom line is that YFF is supposed to be fun. Watching my team drop for over a month wouldn't be. Plus, there's always the hope of a January transfer miracle... :)

  33. Anonymous11:31 AM

    I've sold Drogba! Finally. I knew I would do it, but it was too emotionally hard to drop him until a couple of hours ago. With the way Chelsea are performing right now, and away to Brum, and with only one match... I'll probably pick him up when he's back. I actually dropped all of the strikers I'd had last week, with Tevez and Defoe clearing the way. I must say I'm not as excited about ManC as a lot of others here, because I can't tell who exactly Mancini will pick, and how certain players will respond to his management on the pitch (Given and Bellamy are very important for ManC right now), so I just couldn't pick anyone from them. Defoe can be good for a certain match (see his 18p against Everton WITH a PK miss), but isn't consistent enough for 2 games (see his 18p on the latest DG week). And Spurs have difficult match-ups as well.
    For the first time this season, I'm leaving the 3-4-3 formation for a 3-5-2. It's a huge bet, but with many strikers irrelevant and many unstable, I just think a midfielder can bring much more points. And I REALLY like my midfield.

    Vermaelen Bassong Heitinga
    O'Hara Nasri Arshavin Bily Dempsey
    Rooney Klasnic

    Well, of course the biggest bet is Robinson. He's playing an away game against unexpected Wigan plus a home game against Sunderland who score 3 against ManC. And Blackburn lost 2 in a row, while Robinson got negative points in these games after a long time he haven't, even when he conceded 4 or 6. But I needed the money, and I really believe he can get a lot from these match-ups. It's surely much safer than Kirkland, and in my opinion even safer than Given of Fulop.
    I'm really happy to hear Bassong isn't going to Africa, as I have him at 5.5. Heitinga is also cheap, and might play in midfield again.
    I don't usually get players who play against Arsenal, but I just couldn't give up O'Hara at 5.75mil and Klasnic with a hot streak and with 3 games. I hope they'll get a lot of points without doing to much danger for Arsenal on the real world. Arshavin is obvious playing 3 games up front, Bily might be rotated but I have him on discount and he'll enter quickly enough if he doesn't start. Nasri isn't that great right now, but the other option was Etherington and I believe they'll end up with about the same amount of points this week.
    Rooney isn't popular with 4 YCs and a poor performance against Fulham, but I can't take the risk of not having him against Wigan and Hull, really. Dempsey was my pick with 3 games instead of Drogba. The other options in my mind which I rejected were Saha (can't really count on him scoring well in 2 back-to-back games, and I don't really want 3 Everton players in my teams), Crouch (inconsistent, only 2 games) and Zamora (his on great form lately, but you must say he's about to lose it; I hate him as a striker, while Dempsey is practically playing as a striker himself, right?). Klasnic also worries me, but I remeber him from his great years at Bremen, and I can't let go.

    What do you think?

  34. Anonymous2:28 PM

    @SF I would worry about Rooney. I don't like his tendency to foul often and the yellow card is a huge worry. Also, even with his relatively easy games he hasn't been the goal scorer he was last year with the lack of good midfielders. I would think hard about letting him go and if it was me I would let him go, but that is that IMO. I can't really suggest a striker unfortunately, maybe Tevez? I don't really like him though, although he has been on fire. What about Crouch on a discount or Klasnic? Need help please.


  35. Anonymous10:05 PM

    between Jeremy and "me" ...