The Week Ahead - Birthday Edition

It feels like a while since we did one of these.  Between the FA Cup action over the weekend and our inaugural two-gamer of the season there hasn't been a call for a full weekly preview in a while.  Probably a good thing since I'm sure you needed a break from reading long posts after the holiday fixture congestion and I know I needed a break from writing them.

First things first, welcome Edin Dzeko to the Yahoo fantasy game ranks.  When points were tallied yesterday, his name appeared as an option for fantasy managers.  Nice to have that option with Wolves the opponent and Balotelli out for a month or so.  No guarantee that he'll play at this point but given the expenditure, you'd have to think they'll see what they have against modest opposition.

Elsewhere in fantasy news, Jeremy has officially declared that Liverpool are dead to him.  My sense is that this is mostly due to the fact that he chose Pepe Reina despite the warning that Liverpool have been TERRIBLE on the road and they were playing two road matches.  Hard not to see that one coming.  I was pretty upset with the results of my Scott Carson pick in net until Reina made me feel better by being just as bad despite costing more money and squandering two matches of opportunity instead of one.  Oh, and as always Jeremy reserves the right to reverse course on declaring Liverpool dead to him.  In essence making them the new Bolton - never bet on or against them...unless you do.  More importantly, don't spend time watching them on TV, it's hard stuff to watch. 

Finally, if you're wondering about the title of the post.  Today is the 41st anniversary of my arrival into the world.  The first 40 years have been fantastic and I'm looking forward to what the 41st has to offer.  For those who have offered birthday wishes on Facebook and in the comments section, thank you very much.  I'm sure many of you disagree with my opinions from time to time (and some more often than that) but I'm eternally grateful that you continue to read, comment, "Like" and forward along our posts. 

Enough of the sentimentality, and on to your regularly scheduled column

Where we separate the matches that are going to provide real value to fantasy managers from those that just LOOK like they'll provide some value.

Real Value
  • Citeh v. Wolves - Looks for all the world like a 2-0 or 3-0 match despite the fact that Wolves have been playing better.  Citeh continue to look more and more serious about contending and this HAS to be a decisive win at home.
  • Blackpool @ WBA - WBA are struggling mightily while Blackpool continue to gain strength at 9th in the table with two games in hand (granted one is against ManYoo so we'll call it one in hand really).  Did I mention that Blackpool play five of their next six at home and will be two-gamers again in the next match-week? Seems like a solid time to be in on them.
False Hope
  • Arsenal @ WHU - I'm divided on this one.  I think Arsenal will win and score goals so I am in on their attacking players but the defense is too stretched to bank on a clean sheet so I'd be cautious with whichever keeper ends up playing and/or any ARS defenders. 
  • Chelsea v. Rovers - On brand name, this should be a whitewashing but I think it's time we all collectively realized that Chelsea are in a major slump.  Be extremely cautious in spending heavily on them.  
  • Dzeko - Great match-up plus he has the whole "debut goal" potential working for him.  Oh yeah, he's cheap too.  The only caveat is that you should watch the team news and hope for a decisive announcement about his participation.
  • RvP - Given the night off for Arsenal's dire performance against Ipswitch and that performance will ensure that he's back in the first team immediately.  His price is reasonable and WHU's defense is leaky.  Should be lots of kicks and goal opportunities. 
  • DJ Campbell - This is more of a recommendation for you to get him and keep him for the next three or four weeks as BPL play their series of home matches.  He's got seven goals in the league and seems to be finding his stride.  
  • Sturridge - This is more of an enabler pick than anything.  The rumor mill has Drogba being benched in favor of Daniel and his cost (3.08) means that all he needs to do is get one SOT to return his value.  Why go in on someone who has disappointed in the past? Well, getting to Joe Hart in the biggest reason I'm considering it. 
  • RSC - Again with the transfer window rumor mill but RSC-(back)-to-Rovers seems to be gaining enough steam that the word is he may start for Rovers against Chelsea this weekend.  With his price at 5.63, you probably want to consider getting in on that action either for this weekend or certainly on the BD if the deal is done. A front line including Dzeko (assuming he lives up to his billing) and RSC (assuming the deal goes through and he stays healthy) for around a total cost of 12 seems pretty solid.
  • Tevez - For those looking for a premium striker, he's the obvious choice this weekend with Rooney having a tough match-up against Spurs, Berbs likely to be rotated as SAF does against strong opposition, Torres in a derby match, and Drogs potentially rotated as well. 
  • FBFDB - Haven't used this designation in a while and for those who have joined us relatively recently, FBF means "Former Blog Favorite" and in this case the DB is David Bentley who was a huge blog favorite during his days at Rovers when he was a great fantasy producer.  Having rediscovered his competitive level as a key player on a bottom half team, I think we're all excited about his fantasy potential.  That his price is under 8 is a huge bonus. 
  • Adam - Consider me officially back on the bandwagon after his 20+ point two-match week last week.  I think he'll be good against WBA and you'll definitely want him at a reasonable price for the two home matches the following week.
  • Song - I want to recommend one of the higher priced Arsenal midfielders but two things are preventing that - first, their prices are really high and second, I'm not sure who will play.  If pressed, I'd say Nasri is the choice if you want an attacking ARS midfielder.  That said, Song is reasonably priced and he'll definitely be starting. Seems like about time for him to score again too - call it a hunch.
  • Lampard - I'm more discussing him here than recommending him - what to make of someone who has consistently been a fantasy stud AND takes PKs but hasn't looked the part since Carlo took over? Feels like another PK game for him but I worry about him if he doesn't get one.
  • Nani/VDV - Obviously keep them if you've got them cheap but tough to buy at current prices.
  • Kolarov/Kompany/Toure/etc - On a weekend with a lot of very competitive matches between teams close in the table along with a few derby matches there aren't a lot of highly likely clean sheets sitting out there.  Throw in Arsenal and Chelsea's frailties and you're looking at almost all of the high probability value coming from the Citeh defenders. 
  • Koscielny - In general, I'm recommending that you stick with whomever you have at the back rather than disrupt things to chase points that are just too hard to predict this weekend.  If you need someone cheap, Koscielny is a reasonable option.  I don't THINK ARS will get the CS but he's one of the few options that could pay off for you.
  • BPL defenders - It's pretty amazing, they're almost statistically identical between the four of them - Evatt, Cathcart, Eardley, and Crainey.  All cost just over 8 and are averaging between 5.5 and 6 points/match.  Tough to bet on a clean sheet on the road but not a bad month-long investment given all the home matches. Pick your favorite one.
  • Hart - Without question the best option available if you can afford him.
  • Stockdale - I was a lot more interested in this option at last week's price than I am at this week's price
  • Friedel - He's cheap and you'd be betting on an ugly match where he gets a few saves and maybe Villa come away with a grind-it-out 1-0 win. 
  • Carson - If you just want to bow out of this position and spend the money elsewhere.  I'm not a fan of this option but it at least is worth mentioning. 
So, there you have it.  I'm going to give an early warning that there will be no Live Chat this Saturday as I'll be headed up to Philadelphia to visit family and friends and celebrate my birthday.  Back tomorrow with Injuries and Suspensions.


  1. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Happy birthday

  2. Belvaran1:16 PM

    Happy birthday Neal!

  3. Anonymous1:22 PM

    First thing first :D
    Happy B'day Neal


  4. Dan C1:58 PM

    What do you guys think about Matt Derbyshire? I BD'd him at 1.66, expecting him to be a placeholder until Dzeko arrived, but I'm now giving serious consideration to junking Torres (along with Reina, Gerrard, J.Cole, Skrtel. Ugh.) and going with Derbyshire-RvP-Dzeko up front. Pretty much the only thing keeping me from doing it is Liverpool's tasty looking double-gamer in Wk24 (@Wolves, Fulham).

    And Happy Birthday...

  5. jambulani2:00 PM

    happy bday neal! - jambulani

  6. Jambulani2:16 PM

    Coleman Kolarov Rafael
    Fabregas Nani Vdv Lampard
    Chamkah Torres Dzeko

    any suggestions?

  7. Drop ChamWow for a starting striker.

  8. Chris Jones2:38 PM

    No live chat means that Wolves will win! Don't forget Wolves won the reverse fixture!

  9. I notice you recommend both Dzeko and Tevez. Looking forward, how much do you think Dzeko will cut into Tevez production? I play in the "Fantasy Premier League" so I have to think a bit more long-term as I only get one free transaction per week. I finally gave up on Drogba to free up some money and was thinking of adding Tevez, but now I'm getting cold feet with the Dzeko signing. I wasn't even considering RvP but at an even cheaper price maybe that's the way to go?

    Btw, long time blog reader, first time making a comment. Love the blog, thanks for all the hard work...and happy birthday!

  10. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAN....seems like jus the other day it was 2003 and you were actually young....and i too am on the bandwagon of LIVERPOOL is dead to me...but i been there for the past couple years...welcome...lots of space for more

  11. Happy Birthday, Neal.

    Many thanks for this and the rest of your excellent advice over my season and a half of playing this game.

  12. Tom Beans6:22 PM

    Hit the South Philadelphia Tap Room for some tasty brews and out of this world wild boar tacos (god I miss that place). Happy Birthday and thanks for all the EPL info.

  13. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Carson has been dropped

  14. Happy Birthday buddy. What, no cap lounge event?

  15. gunnermetal1:40 AM

    janamdin ko subhakamana... that's happy birthday in Nepalese.. thanx for all the stuff man.. go get drunk

  16. Guys,
    In the past few years, everytime we thought that Tottenham was going to give Man U one hell of a tough time going into and even during the match, it didn't even turn out a contest.

    Chicharito FTW!!!

  17. Anonymous4:46 AM

    Never posted but I thought it appropriate to now since it is someone's big day.

    Happy Birthday Neal

  18. Anonymous5:29 AM

    Those picking Dzeko.... have you actually considered the possibility that he might not actually be a good player?

  19. good post TJM. and yes, the way to go is rvP.