The Week Ahead, Part 2 - Player Picks

Unfortunately, my schedule and a general lack of a reliable internet connection prevented me from posting as much as I'd have liked about the transfer window.  In an effort to at least summarize some thoughts related to fantasy before the matches start up I'll do a quick version here before we get to this week's player picks.

Villa - As Spurs play revolving Right Backs with Villa Kyle Walker (and then Luke Young) head out and Alan Hutton makes his way in as the presumed starting right back.  For those hoping that Eric Lichaj (and his rock bottom price) would get a start you will have no such luck.  At 7.60, Hutton is his typical self.  Reasonably priced for now when he is at home against modest competition.  He'll occasionally have a solid attacking match but nothing you should get too excited about. 

Rovers - I really like the move for Scott Dann and there are other teams (Spurs, Arsenal, etc.) who would have done well to make that same move as cover for injury-plagued center back corps. From a fantasy standpoint, not much to see here as Dann won't likely be a definite starter. 

Bolton - Speaking of cut-priced defenders, Bolton got a nice one in Boyata who should get a long run of matches for a price of 2.05.  I wouldn't go in on him at home against United this coming weekend but the Barn Door holds some promise of a home match with Norwich the following week.  Other moves that deserve watching from a fantasy standpoint are the arrivals of Kakuta (we'll see how he fits in with Eagles and MPet) and N'gog (also likely to start out as a reserve).  I don't see either man going straight into the squad but there is at least SOME potential there. 

Everton - I have to admit that I haven't watched much Spanish soccer recently and even if I had, I'm not sure I'd have seen much of Royston Drenthe.  At one point he played well enough for Real to buy him but he's been mostly forgotten since then.  Whether he still has anything to offer remains to be seen.  I know even less of Denis Stracqualursi but you have to think he'll get a good run of playing time with Beckford and Yakubu sold off and Saha always a risk to be hurt (seriously, he could have been hurt while I was writing this paragraph).  The real winner here might be young Ross Barkley who will likely get a chance to play with Arteta gone from the Everton midfield.  That one really looks like he'll be worth watching. 

Fulham - I'm liking this Fulham team more and more with two solid acquisitions in Grygera and Ruiz.  Grygera will likely end up as an inexpensive starting right back option which is always nice to have around.  Ruiz could be anything from the next Alvarez, Mutu, Suarez to van Nistelrooy.  My guess is that he ends up injecting some pace into the Fulham attack to give them additional looks.  Hard to know whether he'll start regularly but I'll certainly be keeping tabs to find out on both.  There may be some downside here for Zamora/Dembele/Dempsey.  

NUFC - Davide Santon doesn't sound terribly Italian but at one point he was supposed to be the next big thing in Italian defenders.  If regular playing time can help him capture even some of that back then this is a great move for NUFC.  The question is whether RTay moves up to play left midfield (which would be good for him) or whether he goes to the bench in favor of Gutierrez.  If RTay goes to the bench then there may be some upside for Cabaye who will likely get more kicks.  Definitely worth watching to see how this works out.

QPR - Welcome to the club the poor man's version of the Premier League starter kit.  Joey Barton, SWP, Anton Ferdinand, and Luke Young all bring solid campaigners who are likely paid much more than they are worth.  Club finances aside though, they should be upgrades over what QPR had.  Barton, SWP and Taarabt could combine to make a very solid attacking midfield trio.  The question that we'll all need to be watching is who will be taking kicks between Taarabt and Barton and how much SWP has left in the tank.  SWP, due to his low price, 4.39, could be particularly interesting if he finds some of his old form.

Stoke - For me, Crouch is the only marginally interesting signing here and I'm still not sure he starts.  I assume Kenwyne Jones has the starting role as a target forward and regardless of Tony Pulis' love for fielding a basketball team rather than a soccer team, the idea of a Jones/Crouch partnership just feels awkward.

Sunderland - As bad an idea as Crouch to Stoke seems, I'm very optimistic about Bendtner to Sunderland.  He's exactly the kind of foil they need for Gyan up top.  I also think he'll be very good despite the fact he seems like a bit of a d!ck of a person.  That he comes in at a price of 5.55 doesn't hurt either.

OK, that was a long build-up so now we'll get to the player recommendations:

  • Aguero/Dzeko - Both are reasonably priced compared to their production and potential with Wigan coming to town.  
  • RvP - Broke through against United but still hasn't had a great fantasy match this season but I wouldn't let that stop you, the level of opposition should be less impressive and it is hard to see him NOT getting at least 3 or 4 SOTs plus various and sundry phantom points.  If he gets the goal we all expect then it will more than make up for the steep price. 
  • Chicharito - As seemingly the only United player who didn't score against Arsenal, Hernandez is priced reasonably and and has a solid match up.
  • Bendtner - I'm throwing this into the mix on the chance that Hilario is playing.  If Cech returns to the line-up, forget I mentioned it. 
  • Long - I'm not a fan of picking players from mediocre teams on the road but Long has been a revelation and @Norwich isn't exactly the same as @OldTrafford. Plus, his price is still reasonable at 7.78. 
  • K2 - Another road pick that may turn out well at 5.78.  He seems the sort of player who will come up big in his debut for his club doesn't he? If only Spurs schedule weren't so ugly early (they have Liverpool and Arsenal as two of their three matches after traveling to Wolves).  
  • Silva - Still priced reasonably, still the best player of the season for me so far (not necessarily the best fantasy player but the best real one). 
  • Arteta - Arsenal need him and my guess is that he'll come through with a strong debut against week competition at home.  I'd like it more if his price were closer to 12 than over 13 but he's still worth it in my mind - especially this week. 
  • Nasri - Assuming he starts with the cast on his hand, he's looked like he'd be fitting right on in to the City midfield buzzsaw.  
  • Barkley - He could easily become a fantasy darling this season.  He has showed a lot so far, my only worry with this pick is that what he's shown in dynamism on the field hasn't translated into fantasy points quite yet.  
  • Drenthe - Another cheap flyer to balance out the expensive players from City and Arsenal that you're no doubt stockpiling. 
  • Kasami - The obvious pick in Fulham's midfield is Dempsey but he's also expensive and coming off a goal and what had to be a dispiriting loss to Belgium in an international friendly.  If you're looking for a  bargain in Fulham's midfield then the newbie is the choice. 
  • Mertesacker/Gibbs - That's a lot of potential value for not very much money.  Obviously, we'll have to watch for news of what Wenger plans to do with the left back position but Gibbs seems to be healthy and I'd bet he'll get the nod if that is the case. 
  • JAR - Played in international duty in midweek which leads me to believe he'll supplant Briggs and return to his left back slot for Fulham at home to Rovers.  'nuff said. 
  • M Richards - Playing better so far this season and still a solid value at 8.04. 
  • Smalling - Defenders on the road worry me to no end but with the converted CB already getting talk of an England spot at right back for the defending champions, you have to like the odds at 6.54.
  • Not a Lot to Love - I'm honestly struggling for defenders I'm excited about this week.  The ones most likely to score points are expensive and I'd rather spend the money elsewhere.  Even players like Boyata and Wes Brown are likely worth it despite difficult match-ups to conserve money to be spent elsewhere. 
  • Szczesny - The thing about 8 goals flying past you is that it tends to drive your price down quite a bit.  If you're buying retail then Szczesny at 6.32 is great value for both this week at home to Swansea as well as next week's trip to Rovers. 
  • Krul - If you're bound and determined to pick a goalkeeper on the road then Krul at Loftus Road is a great value at 5.60 on the back of 2 clean sheets in three matches. 
  • DDG - He has everyone quite worried with his tendency to give up awkward goals but he's also well out in front of the field in total points at the goalkeeper position and still priced under 10. 


  1. LES United1:07 PM

    Gibbs would start over 2Saints?

  2. We should have an idea tomorrow when Wenger announces his squad.

  3. Anonymous4:02 PM

    @Neal & Jeremy - I'd be worried about that Smalling recommendation, he's played the first 3 Epl matches with Manchester United and 2 successive games with England, last one being on Tuesday. Seeing as the Champions League is beginning next week, I see SAF resting him till then and giving Fabio a chance.

    Also, I would be interested in knowing who will be taking FK's & SP's for Everton knowing that Baines is injured and Arteta is gone. Thanks!


  4. Baines should be back, so I guess the bulk of the opportunities go to him. Last season when Arteta was out, however, Osman took his fair share of set pieces too.

  5. Anonymous4:30 PM

    Thanks Jeremy!


  6. adebayor playing against arsenal is a tasty choice, he tends to like to score against wenger's team.

    last year in la liga, drenthe was a fantasy stud, listed as a defender, until hercules decided to not pay its players and drenthe pissed of the staff by going to the press with the info.

    mertesacker and gibbs play different positions. so it is a choice of andre santos of gibbs. mertesacker will start in the center.

    i am confident with my stearman pick. i think spurs are struggling to find goals. it might be 3 consquetive clean sheets for wolves

  7. Anonymous8:01 AM

    richards santos risse
    silva young arteta kasami
    dzeko mata hernandez

    please comment ...

  8. Mata might be the sexy pick but Anelka always picks on my poor Black Cats. I think it's 7 goals in his last 5 against Sunderland. Without Drogs, I don't see any way for Anelka not to get some time/chances.

  9. Anybody have any opinions as to picking JAR vs Grygera?

    I'm hesitant in picking Arsenal new boy Santos because I don't think his fitness is where Wenger would like it for a starting role.

  10. Thanks for the Kasami recommendation gents! Really panned out for me... :)

    Trying to stick to Mo rules - only pay for players guaranteed to play, so I risked not going w/ either Dzeko OR Sergio, went for RVP instead. Oh well. Glad I decided to invest in Rooney over Young though.

    Best of luck in the AM's Blog Cup!