The (Mid) Week Ahead

So, this week is all about the quick turnaround and I'm sure we'll all continue to experience some frustrations as players are unexpectedly rotated without much warning from their managers. As an added bonus we have the first "double" week of the season featuring the re-scheduled Blackpool vs. Liverpool match from late in 2010. As if that weren't enough, Liverpool teased us into diving in with a quality win against Bolton that saw Gerrard and Torres return to competency if not stardom. The confounding factor in all of this for fantasy managers is that a number of other high quality/low-priced players also returned to form over the weekend. Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Robin van Persie all awoke from long dormant spells with goals (and the corresponding increased fantasy prices). So, what to make of it all?

Here we go with an abbreviated preview...

Where we try to separate the match-ups that provide real value from those that just appear to provide value.
Real Value
  • Chelsea vs. Wolves - Chelsea certainly aren't back to their best but I'd still count on some goals starting to flow against bottom of the table Wolves;
  • ManYoo vs. Stoke - Probably the opposite of the match above in that I'd expect better from the ManYoo D than the attack against Stoke but I still expect a solid home win.
  • Blackpool -  Two home matches against beatable opponents for a solidly mid-table team despite the fact that they've played the fewest matches of any team in the league.
False Hope
  • Fulham vs. WBA - WBA have been struggling recently but I'm really concerned about Fulham's ability to score goals against any opponents at this point.  Seems like it's going to be an ugly one.
  • NUFC vs. WHU - I like NUFC to win but WHU are playing much better over the last couple weeks so I'm not expecting the Magpies to spank the Hammers even if Andy Carroll is back to full fitness. 
  • Liverpool -  Two away matches for a team with only 5 road points and 6 road goals in 9 matches away from Anfield this season.  Remember, they're only a week removed from a home loss to Wolves.
  • Rooney - Gaining steam and the home match against a mid-table opponent should continue the momentum.  Watch for news about his ankle though.
  • Drogba - Slowly coming around - still might not be worth the money but not bad based on the match-up.
  • Agbonlahor - His price is low and while I don't think Villa have "turned the corner" a home match against injury-depleted Sunderland seems a decent bet for a goal if not a win.
  • Odemwingie - His price dipped after the PK miss against ManYoo (still bummed about that one) but I like his chances to rebound against Fulham
  • Varney - The value play among Blackpool forwards with Campbell a bit pricey for my tastes.
  • Torres - If you got him on the BD then yes, if you're paying retail then this is a tough trigger to pull. 
  • Gerrard - As you saw above, I'm not too high on Liverpool but even two mediocre Gerrard matches should return value when everyone else is only playing once. 
  • Adam - Hasn't gone over 8 points since Week 10 but his price has dropped into the 8s so he's a solid risk to return his value with some hope he'll return to his early season form. 
  • Nolan - With Carroll presumably back, I like his chances - he's best sneaking into the spaces created by defenders gravitating to his "roomie" - Barton scores better but Nolan is better value for the money.
  • Lamps/FloMal - Hopefully you have one or both on the BD because they're both expensive.  If I had to pick, I'd say stick with FloMal - Lamps looked OK but most of his points came on a PK and you can't guarantee one of those each week.  FloMal was more productive than Big Frank despite no goals and no assists.
  • Modric - I'm really not thrilled by the midfield options this week and especially at the lower price points.  I keep waiting for Modric to have a strong fantasy game and maybe this will be the week with struggling Everton the opposition. 
  • Aurelio/Agger - Both defenders were back which really just makes life more difficult on fantasy managers - on one hand both are eminently affordable on the other hand, who knows if they'll continue on or be rotated.  Seems likely each will get one match. 
  • Blackpool Defenders - None of them are spectacular but all should return value between the two matches with Craig Cathcart the "steady" choice and Ian Evatt the "high risk/high reward" option.
  • Simpson - We featured him here last week and he returned his value and he has a reasonable chance to do so again home to WHU.
  • Ferreira/Bos - Less of a recommendation and more of a discussion point. Who knows if Ferreira or Boswinga will start or if either will go long enough to get CS points if CHE can keep Wolves out.  That said, with a marked lack of interesting options at the back, you might want to take a look. 
  • Fabio - Certainly not a sure thing but the ManYoo team report indicates that Evra picked up a knock against WBA and is at least questionable.  If you're looking for a potentially strong value pick (if he starts) then he's your guy.
  • Stick with who you have - If you have reasonably productive defenders at a discount (Kolarov, Coleman, Bale, etc) I'd definitely stick with them this weekend, not at all excited about the purchasing options above but I have to write something to keep you coming back.
  • Reina - I know I'm not too high on Liverpool's two matches on the road but Reina isn't a very expensive risk compared to Kingson who is very expensive even after a negative against Citeh.
  • Carson - WBA on the road isn't very enticing but it's only Fulham and his price is SO low.
  • Stockdale - With Schwarzer gone to the Asian Cup Stockdale is a reasonable option with a home match against struggling opposition.  His price is a solid 5.85.
So, as always - watch the weather reports because it's still winter and Blackpool's field is still not very conducive to bad weather.  Obviously there isn't much you can do about the Liverpool replay in a week but just wanted to point it out so you don't go overboard on your team selection.  It may LOOK like a two-gamer but there's at least some chance it won't be.

Enjoy the matches.

Cheers - Neal


  1. Anonymous2:39 PM

    I don't Fergie will risk Rooney. Stoke isn't that tough, he has Nani back, Berbatov fit and Hernandez back on the score sheet. Rooney looked in agony and his ankles have been a problem so I reckon it's a game he'll miss/be on the bench for even if he tells them he's fit.

  2. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Do you have a link to show nani is back ?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. here is a really bittersweet moment. i am getting visited by 3 friends friends from the states. one of them plays in my fantasy football league. 8 weeks ago i was top 200 and he was 250 points behind in 3rd place behind my 7 year old son, who is in his first fantasy game. i have had 8 weeks of 2 or 3 zeros, in that time, most of it was van der vaart and alot was nani. the van der vaart holding, was a great move to keep him at 6, the nani move, backfired because he kept getting pushed back further. sir alex would say nani would play then he wouldn't be on the bench.
    the bittersweet moment is that my friend passed me up sunday, the day i picked him up. so now i have to hear some serious trash talking in my own house. he is a facebook friend of this blog with the team name irishzen.
    we will be travelling to the beach at rio de janeiro, so we will have to share his phone for updates.

  5. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Absolutely no way that Ferreira, Carroll or Rooney get a start this week. Ferreira was hot trash, Bosingwa was fluid and got forward plenty and would give Ancelloti more benching a Anelka, Ramires or definitely a Kalou as ineffective. I wouldn't be opposed to a Sturridge if i didn't load up with Adam and Evatt, and I don't care what Adam hasn't done he's well rested on a what will be a definitely jacked-up pitch from Birmingham. Liverpool will be lucky to score a goal. If you don't recall they suck, drink the Bolton Koolaide if you must. If you think the Spaniards putting in a full day at Bloomfield Road...
    I just hope the pitch passes pre-game stress tests. I also have Berbs up front, but I am not thrilled about him playing with hernandez, nani or no nani. Bottom-line Chicharito is rather selfish with his positioning...the basketball term is called baskethanging...or snowbirding. I don't need to get into Berbatov's work rate or supposed lack there of...

  6. Anonymous12:48 AM

    Carroll isn't going to play.


  7. chico4:25 AM

    Can Vidic Playing? As he picked up 5 yellow card.

  8. Belvaran5:12 AM

    Vidic will play, his 5th yellow was picked up after the Dec 31 cutoff

  9. Chris Jones8:44 AM

    Just to point out that it's WOL v. CHE, not the reverse as listed above. CJ.

  10. chico8:51 AM

    TQ for your info Belvaran.