At its best, memory allows Liverpool fans to remember fondly the days when they were a dominant force in English football which probably helps them cope with the fact that this hasn't actually true for a number of years. That's what brand, tradition and a lifetime of memories (fueled by highlights packages, sports radio, and stories from your elders) can do on the upside.
At its worst, memory causes fantasy managers to get suckered into wasting roster spots on fading forces like Giggs and Scholes because they see "ManYoo playing twice" and remember the days not so long ago when both were among the best players in the Premier League. Then they see what appear to be relatively inexpensive prices (at least compared to years past) for the two and think - how could it go wrong?
How it could go wrong is pretty simple:
- Giggs - He has only started 17 matches total in all competitions this season and only twice in that time has he started two in a span of less than seven days - of those two times only once did he complete both matches. With two goals and four assists to show for his Premier League exploits this season, any realistic hope of an exceptional fantasy performance rests more on fond memories than any empirical analysis.
- Scholes - He has started the same 17 total matches in all competitions and one ups Giggs on the number of "back-to-back" matches he's started (3) and played the full 90 in (2). Still with yellow cards (8) doubling his combined total of goals (1) and assists (3) you have to wonder why you'd bother at any price.
I know I usually wait to talk about specific players but I went straight from the comments section of one of Jeremy's posts to this and I felt that it couldn't be ignored. Now back to your regularly scheduled fantasy analysis.
- Man United – The Red Devils have two matches this match week thanks to Chelsea’s loss to Everton in the FA Cup. Both are on the road which hasn’t been kind to United this season but you’d still rather have two matches worth of points than one. Especially when one of them is against Wigan.
- Man City – This would have looked like a great match-up as recently as a month ago but it has been downgraded to only a pretty good match-up for Citeh as Fulham have picked up the pace.
- Stoke – West Brom are picking up where Fulham left off a month ago and Stoke should benefit from getting Albion on their home pitch at the right time of the season.
- Rooney/Berbs – Assuming you can’t afford both, the choice is a difficult one. Between fixture congestion, rotation, and form this has been one of the most difficult choices of the season. Since Berbs has been shy about scoring on the road and tends to get rotated more, I’m going to suggest you go with Rooney. Consider that a VERY abbreviated version of the Berb-O-Meter for this weekend.
- Tevez – Sometimes these things aren’t very difficult. He’s at home, he’s scoring freely, and the opposition isn’t imposing.
- Doyle – With Blackpool the opposition, you know Wolves are going to score at least one at home and maybe more (whether that will be enough for a home win is another story entirely). Doyle is a solid bet to be the man doing it.
- Campbell – The other side of Blackpool conceding a lot of goals is that they tend to score in bunches as well. Adam’s suspension might slow that down a bit but I still believe this will be an open match and Campbell is a very solid choice.
- Carew – The big man has been rejuvenated since his move away from Villa and a home match against porous West Brom is just the thing to keep that momentum going with goals.
- Nani – A bit of a no-brainer between his consistently strong performances and United’s two matches. A must-have. Yes, even at that price.
- Meireles – The match-up (@WHU) is solid and he’s been on fire for Liverpool.
- Puncheon – With Adam out you might wonder where the inevitable points are going to come from in the Blackpool midfield. Here's a promising answer albeit one that has very little track record.
- O’Hara – We at the blog have a soft spot for Jamie O’Hara and we have particularly enjoyed his return to first team football with the move to Wolves. And again, we like the match-up with Blackpool to have a lot of goals in it. If I try to look past my O'Hara bias, I could see spending more and choosing Milijas or Jarvis instead.
- Bradley – Call me a homer but I just like the way Michael Bradley plays. You'd never think he'd be a scorer of goals but he's one of those guys who seems to find himself in the right place at the right time and then gets the job done. After a while, you start thinking that there's something more than luck to that.
- Vidic – Like Nani, a no-brainer as the most productive at his position, essentially an evergreen in the line-up and having two matches.
- Evra – Similar logic to Vidic but he hasn’t been as productive over the course of the season. Still, I’ll take two of his matches vs. one of just about anyone else’s.
- Smalling – This one is obviously dependent on Rio's health and how it projects - even if he's only going to get the match against Wigan, he's not a terrible bet at his current (sub-5) price.
- Walker – A “defender” who in reality does little more than attack. He’s cheap at 7.24 and has a solid return from the matches he’s played so far since moving over to Villa.
- Richards - Assuming he continues on as a starter, he's solid value if you're shopping for defenders at retail.
- EvdS – Another no-brainer given the two matches but he is pretty expensive and he hasn’t been THAT productive this season especially on the road where United have struggled so while he is the logical choice, you may want to think twice.
- Hart – Expensive but he’s been worth it all season and the match-up is one that makes you feel reasonably good about a clean sheet.
- Friedel – I don’t expect attacking fireworks from Rovers on the road which makes Big Brad a solid investment at a reasonable price playing at home. Not the strongest endorsement ever but a solid third choice if you don’t have the money for Hart or EvdS. And yes, I like Friedel over Howard despite Friedel being marginally more expensive. Both are at home but vs. Rovers trumps vs. Sunderland and Villa's recent form in the league trumps Everton's season-long malaise.