So, here we go again. Will rational results return to the world of fantasy (and real world) football? Or will the somewhat chaotic results that have marked the first six weeks of the season continue. Certainly the English teams got things going in the Champions League with four wins in four matches (granted, they were all quite different matches from Chelsea cruising to Arsenal's wild performance to ManYoo grinding to Spurs' even wilder performance). The Europa Cup, not so much with Liverpool and Citeh both picking up a single point for their Thursday efforts. Throw in some uncertainty over Rooney's injury status and we really don't know what kind of week we're in for.
The Schedule, Part 1 - The Match-ups
It's been a long time since I looked at the schedule and not one single match jumped out at me and said "you MUST get a few players from this one in your team" but that's the case this week. In better times, Liverpool playing at home against a newly promoted team would have done the trick but not this year. Blackpool have been blown out twice but both have come at teams that are far better than Liverpool have shown themselves to be thus far. Am I saying Liverpool DEFINITELY WON'T find their mojo this weekend? Certainly not. Am I saying I'm going to bet they will with my fantasy line-up? Again, certainly not.
Similarly, ManYoo traveling to a mid-table-at-best Sunderland would have been a cause for some celebration in years past but this ManYoo team doesn't seem to be able to overpower much of anyone and Darren Bent has an exceptional scoring record against the biggest teams in the Prem so that doesn't look so enticing either.
The biggest gap in the table between opponents this weekend is between Fulham and West Ham but with West Ham looking, well, competent last weekend and Fulham struggling with a lot of attacking injuries it hardly looks like a blow out.
Man Citeh vs. Newcastle could go just about any way you can imagine. On money spent, you'd expect Citeh to blow the Magpies back to St. James' Park but Citeh haven't blown anyone away this season and NUFC has had a habit of doing well in matches where we don't expect it while Citeh have been mediocre when we expect excellence so I'm certainly not going to load up on mediocre Citeh players for this one.
Finally, Birmingham hosting bottom of the table Everton looks enticing on paper as well but I guess there's something in me that keeps thinking that Everton are going to break out of their malaise and that overloading on Birmingham seems like it is doomed to fail - especially Birmingham attacking players. I can see people stocking up on Foster and the Brum defenders against striker-less Everton but that's about it.
I guess the best way to sum up all of the above is to play it straight. Value the players according to their historical performances and where they're playing (home vs. road) and don't give anyone a particular advantage in expecting the match-up to boost their value (except Drogba who KILLS Arsenal).
The Schedule Part 2 - European Nights
Chelsea (Tuesday), Spurs (Wednesday), and Citeh (Thursday) were all at home for their Champions League action so there shouldn't be too much of a drain for any of those teams. We should watch Spurs' back line and their level of exhaustion since there are a lot of injuries there. Citeh's defenders are slowly working their way back with Boateng starting his first match and Lescott at least finding a place on the bench.
The away teams this week were Arsenal (Tuesday), ManYoo (Wednesday), and Liverpool (Thursday). Certainly Arsenal will benefit from playing the early Champions League match and then not playing in the league until Sunday. ManYoo do not get the same benefit with their match scheduled for Saturday. Liverpool waits until Sunday but at least their trip - to the Netherlands - was relatively short. The real factor in this will be Arsenal's opposition (Chelsea), ManYoo's health (poor), and Liverpool's play (also poor) more so than their European exertions.
- Drogba - He K I L L S Arsenal and it doesn't look like Verm will be back to help stem the tide - I know a lot of people were on the "drop Drogs" bandwagon before last weekend, this is where we find out if you were on to something or not.
- Berbatov - This is where he kills me - I dropped him this weekend for Odemwingie so it stands to reason that he's going to score a brace. He's just one of those guys who hates me.
- Tevez - Despite what I said about Citeh under-performing when they should win easily, it's hard to ignore Tevez's goal-scoring excellence since he started playing regularly at Citeh.
- Odemwingie - Week 2 of the bandwagon and we'll see if he can keep it up with a pretty reasonable match-up at home against Bolton. We aren't at the point where we can say WBA have a match-up advantage over anyone but if they were to, this might be one of those times - you know, if we were willing to bet on or against Bolton.
- Not Torres - for those wondering why the hate for Nando, I'll refer you to his weekly scoring chart - his average is under 7.5/week and that INCLUDES a 20 point effort. Outside of that, he hasn't topped 8 points. Could it change this weekend? Yes. Am I spending 16.64 this weekend on the chance he returns his value for only the second time this season? No.
- Obinna - I've been watching him for a few weeks (which is hard when you're trying to cover your eyes because the rest of the WHU team is so bad) and I like him a lot as a fantasy player (and maybe as a real player if he were on a team with any hope). His price has risen to nearly 10 but if you're looking in that neighborhood, I like your chances with him this week.
- Yayga - Speaking of players to like this week (but not too often), Yayga is playing at home against a Wolves team that has started fading a bit after a pretty strong start. I don't see this as a blow-out but I don't see Wigan being shut out at home and that makes Yayga a decent bet for a goal with maybe an assist thrown in for good measure.
- Kalinic - Still the
goalgold standard if you need a cheap striker - or is that the bronze standard? I'm not sure.
- Nani - As much as I am pessimistic about the Arsenal match-up with Chelsea, it's hard to imagine that both Drogs and FloMal will be exceptional - that leaves Nani as the best "premium" midfield option in my mind. Decent enough match-up and he's been scoring well even if he isn't as convincing as United supporters would like in the real world.
- FloMal - If you have him, keep him. Maybe not the week to buy in if you're choosing between he and Nani.
- Van Der Vaart - He's been solid and the price still isn't over 10. Explanations don't always need to be complicated.
- Gerrard - I'm not doing it but I can certainly see the argument here. He's third on my Premium Midfielder list this weekend behind Nani and FloMal but if you have a feeling that this is Liverpool's week then you'll want Gerrard as they lynchpin/only guy who has produced anything.
- Downing - At Spurs has not been the daunting task that we all expected it should be and Downing has been the best value for the money on Villa's roster thus far.
- Adam - He scored at his cost last weekend DESPITE an own goal. @LIV doesn't scare me here even a little bit.
- Not Barton nor Ben Arfa - I have both at a discount but this isn't the weekend to buy in on either guy since Citeh have been stingy.
- Larsson - Solid value for the money (his price has dipped to under 9) with a pretty decent match-up.
- Holden - Rewarded with a second contract extension in the last 6 months and @WBA shouldn't frighten anyone - if you need a cheap-o he's a good bet coming off of a poor week.
- Bale - I'm not jumping off the bandwagon (even the premium-priced one) after one bad weekend. Everyone has the occasional bad weekend - especially when their team loses one they should have won. I'm betting that he'll still be worth the price.
- Salcido - Despite the story that surfaced this week about his questionable choices in hook-ups (hat tip Kris Hall), I'm still on the Salcido bandwagon. Good match-up, good price, attacking defender, better than average chance of a CS. 'nuff said.
- Kompany - I extolled his virtues as perhaps the most boring high-value fantasy player a few weeks ago and while his price has gone up since then, he's still maintaining solid value even at that elevated price. Just don't expect to watch the match and be blown away by all of the obvious fantasy points he collects.
- Hutton - Hard to say who will be healthy for Spurs (will Corluka take his place back?) but if Hutton continues on, he's a strong value play as a (very) poor man's Bale (one might even call him a homeless man's Bale if one read The Sports Guy on a regular basis).
- Dann - If you think Birmingham are going to get the CS vs. goal-shy Everton then this is the best way to buy in on it. He isn't cheap but he's cheaper than the alternatives and he isn't Stephen Carr (don't let Carr's 10.00 last week fool you, it only got him to 17.5 for the entire season in 6 starts).
- Foster - Price is still reasonable after an 18 point showing last weekend - match-up is a pretty good one.
- Hart - Slightly more expensive but the match-up is equally good and Hart has been much better week-in and week-out than Foster so the safer pick between the two
- Carson - If you have the balls to bet on WBA at home - I don't - but if you're going cheaper than Foster but no so cheap as Kirk the Enabler then this is probably the best bet of the weekend.