OK, enough with the excuses and on to the look ahead to the Barn Door that we'll all be contemplating over the weekend as the matches unfold and we look to optimize our teams for the next match week.
Once again, the schedule is an odd one with everyone playing once and four teams playing twice. Here's the thing, the teams that are playing twice are going to test the skills and abilities of fantasy managers everywhere because, how to say this nicely, none of them are exactly challenging for a spot in Europe. The other quirk is that NONE OF THEM ARE PLAYING THIS WEEKEND. So really, there isn't much need to spend a lot of mental effort on the BD (which is nice).
If you do want a little look ahead just to have something to read and to consider one-gamers you might want to keep amongst the two-gamers, here are some thoughts.
So, here are the two-gamers and a quick review of the value each team is likely to deliver:
- Fulham - The best of the two-gamers with their tougher match at home (Bolton) where they are very strong and their away match (Wolves) definitely not daunting either. The only downside is that Fulham's best fantasy players (Dempsey, Zamora, Duff, Hangeland, and Schwarzer) are all pretty expensive.
- Bolton - Probably the best team of the two-gamers but they suffer from the fact that their match-ups (Arsenal at home and Fulham away) are both fairly difficult. The other downside is that their recent mauling of West Ham has prices sky high - especially Sturridge, Elmander, Lee, and Jussi. Not a ton of value to be had here given the match-ups. At least that's my early take.
- Stoke - A hard team to figure, they aren't as talented as Bolton but their match-ups aren't bad across the two matches with an away date with Villa and a home match with Wolves. The trouble is that, the thrashing of Newcastle aside (sorry Jer), Stoke have been pretty rotten for the last two months. Hard to say what to expect, especially with the FA Cup potentially complicating their priorities.
- Wolves - Their momentum really died over the international break didn't it? I don't know if it was losing Doyle or just one of those things that you can't really explain about how team psychology works but they were playing great and then, not. The two matches ahead aren't incredibly daunting (home to Fulham and away to Stoke) but it will take quite a leap of faith to get behind this group beyond a modest investment.
The table tells me that I should be throwing Spurs (home vs. WBA) and Liverpool (home vs. Birmingham) into this category but I can't say I'm overly thrilled with either choice. WBA have been playing better than Spurs in the league and I'm just not sure what to make of Liverpool.
My problem with Liverpool is that they seem to have developed a bad habit of falling down in "trap" games. What do I mean by a "trap game?" I mean a game against modest opposition placed between a resounding success and a match with another high profile team. Evidence? String of four straight wins culminating in a victory over Chelsea...and then they get completely dominated by West Ham the week before playing against Manchester United. Coming off the Man United victory (and another against Sunderland) they didn't show up against West Brom the weekend before a match with Manchester City.
The situation isn't exactly the same this time around with a success against City being followed up by a match this Sunday against Arsenal that we don't know the outcome of. That said, the match against Birmingham will definitely not be as glamorous as the clash with Newcastle the following weekend. Just sort of feels like another trap.
That really makes Chelsea's home date with West Ham the best one-game match-up of the next match week. Since most of us likely are already overloaded with Chelsea players, that should continue to make the BD a fairly quiet place.
Hope this has helped you prepare a bit for next week. See you on the Live Chat tomorrow for the one time slot where there will be live matches. Here on the East Coast of the US, that's 10 AM, in the UK it is 3 PM. We hope you join us wherever you happen to be.