The Week Ahead - Matchweek 35



It took a while but good things finally happened for (most) fantasy managers who went with two-gamers over the stalwarts from places like Chelsea and Arsenal who were still on their roster from a week ago. There were certainly pitfalls with Zamora, SEB, and eventually Eth being limited by injury (I had all three). Despite those pitfalls some combination of the highly regarded two-gamers - Sturridge, Dempsey, KJones, Pennant, Schwarzer, Begovic, Hangeland, Shawcross, etc - won the day. Even with almost no contribution from the three injured players I ended the week over 100 which is pretty solid when compared with the the one-game alternatives (unless you knew Maxi was going to get a hat trick).

I guess my point is that if you play it smart and limit yourself to guys who at least have a chance to be solid fantasy contributors in any individual match, you're likely to be happy to have those guys for two matches over more talented players over one match. Occasionally it doesn't work out (see the Birmingham disaster of a month or so ago) but much more often than not it will.

Was it sweating bullets on Saturday evening when it was clear that the first round of matches was all but useless? Definitely. Do I feel a lot better now that the second set of matches has been played and it turned out much better? Even more so.

Just something to keep in mind as you look forward to next week when again, there will be a limited number of teams (this time two) who will play two matches. The good news is that the teams are better - Manchester City and Spurs. The bad news is that they play each other in what might be the most unpredictable pairing in the league right now. Still, my inclination is to start thinking about my two-game strategy now rather than thinking that I might want to ignore the two-game thing entirely.


Schedule
Where we evaluate the match-ups that improve the value of the players involved versus the ones that leave the player’s value unchanged. The first note is to mention that all teams are back to having one match only this week.

Real Value
  • MAC vs. WHU – I’m not wild about Manchester City without Tevez but West Ham have clearly lost what momentum they had now that they’re playing a tougher schedule.
  • Stoke @ Blackpool – Another team that seems destined for the drop going up against a solid team riding some solid momentum. I’m particularly interested in Stoke attackers – seems less likely that Blackpool will be shut out.
  • Fulham @ Sunderland – I’m not sure if any of Sunderland’s players are still healthy – my only hesitation here is that Fulham aren’t that great on the road. I’m more interested in Fulham’s defense since Sunderland are missing all of their forwards.
  • Liverpool vs. NUFC – Predicting how NUFC will perform has made me nervous all season and this week is no different but Liverpool are playing well and are at home which makes me feel good about their chances.
Stay Away
I hate trying to figure out where the points are going to come from when teams at the top of the table face off so I’m staying away from Arsenal vs. Man United and Chelsea vs. Spurs. I suspect that United and Chelsea will win but betting on their premium players is especially risky since the opposition isn’t the typical mid-table pushovers.

Forwards
  • Suarez – The headlines will be about Carroll playing his old team but Suarrez is The Man and consistent best bet for Liverpool.  Not in love with the price in the Yahoo! game but it feels like the right thing to do if you can afford it.
  • K Jones – More a “stick with him” than anything else but he’s a streaky scorer and he’s on 3 in 3 matches and playing against opposition that can’t keep the ball out of the net. Another one where the price is a little high but the match-up/form thing is just too compelling.
  • Balotelli - I really don't love this pick because he is who he is - a bit crazy and just as likely to see an early red as score a hat trick - but the price and match-up are both right.
  • Beckford – Another relatively inexpensive option at forward in a week when I'm not in love with the forward crop at retail prices.  That said the match-up is a solid one and Everton don't have too many other options up top.
Midfielders
  • Silva/Toure/Johnson – None of them have lived up to the hype but I’d suggest picking your two favorite of the three and assuming that West Ham’s visit will improve their outlooks. Also a good idea to prepare ahead of time for next week’s two-gamer.
  • Dempsey – Easy to pick the guy coming off the brace but somehow that made Dempsey Fulham’s all-time scorer in the Premier League so who else would you bet on to score against teetering Sunderland.
  • Gardner – Still quietly having a strong fantasy season and gets to play at home to Wolves who have looked worse and worse as the season finishes up.
  • Meireles – Same logic as Suarez – he’s been exceptional during the Liverpool revival.
  • Pennant – With Eth hurt, Pennant will likely take all of the free kicks which will improve his chances for assists against goal-friendly Blackpool even further.

Defenders
There are obvious choices if you're going to spend money (Kolarov, Kompany, Zab, RJohnson, Skertl, etc.), if you're not going to spend a bunch, here are some ideas for less expensive avenues to finding some points.
  • Steinsson – Blackpool aren't very good at scoring goals - Steinsson is cheap - you can figure it out from there.
  • Carr/Jiranek - Birmingham at home against Wolves both seem like solid bets at cheap prices - I'd go Jiranek over Carr if I were choosing but its a close call.
  • Hibbert – With failing Wigan the opposition, Hibbert is the only inexpensive option in the Toffees defense.  I wouldn't expect double digits but a return of 7 or 8 wouldn't be insane if EVE get the CS.

Goalkeepers
  • Hart – Certainly better if you got him on the mid-week BD but still solid value at retail - especially if you keep him through next week's two-gamer.
  • THo – There aren't too many compelling keepers who are inexpensive but Howard is one of them coming off the loss to Man United. 
  • Foster – Home against Wolves seems like as solid a bet as you can find.