Fantasy Football Christmas Tips Gameweek 19 – 23
Welcome to Fantasy Football Christmas Tips Gameweek 19 – 23. Christmas duos continue to be a massive theme from ages past to the modern day. Whether it is Mary and Joseph from the original Christmas story, or Mel and Kim rocking around the Christmas tree or indeed Del Boy and Rodney lighting up our screens, the festive season seems to be full of duos doing their thing.
We at FF247 are no different. Earlier this week, Inittowinit and Cookie brought you the Fixtures article and the same combo are back with the Festive Tips article.
Due to his his alleged love of a left back, Cookie writes about Keepers and Defenders, while on the back of his GW18 Rooney capo pick and his traditional love of Jon Walters and Jason Puncheon, Init talks you through his Midfielders and Forwards Tips.
So let’s waffle no longer and see what Christmas crackers our very own Laurel and Hardy can come up with.
Keepers continue to be a conundrum for many FPL managers. Is it the right tactic to go cheap as chips or pay up for a good ‘un and leave him set for the season? Both avenues have their merits and there remains good options for either avenue.
On the premium side, David de Gea remains our preferred option – the United keeper is owned by over 44% of teams and has rewarded his ownership with the most clean sheets thus far. Not cheap at 5.9mln, the Spaniard remains the safest route into the United backline. Although I did snigger when the impotent Baggies stroked one past him last weekend! The fact remains though that if he were a defender or forward he would also lead their points category and if he were a midfielder he would be the 5th highest scorer there. And he leads Harry Kane by 2 points. For just yhe 6.9mln less…
Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is the other premium keeper worth considering right now. Spurs DGW22 is the main reason for his inclusion here – while the likes of Trippier, Davies, Rose and Aurier will be facing rotation worries, Lloris is, like DDG, the safest route into his team’s defensive unit. Spurs fixtures leading up to their DGW are Burnley (a) and Southampton(h), so clean sheets should not be beyond the team, despite them keeping just one clean sheet in the last 10! Just make sure you have a playing keeper to deputise for when Lloris blanks in GW21.
Our other DGW keeper appears to be West Ham’s Adrian. The Spanish keeper has seen a return to the first team under David Moyes and our favourite Ginge has been paid back with the Hammers keeping three successive clean sheets vs Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke. Performances like this will see him keep the starting spot and will ensure Joe Hart gets the Cup games! Adrian costs just 4.3mln and joins the list of decent budget keeper options.
Three other keepers on the aforementioned list are Julian Speroni, Rob Elliot and Matt Ryan. Speroni has started each of the last four matches and nine of the last eleven and seems like he has secured Woy’s confidence as no.1. Two clean sheets in the last four has seen his ownership rise to over 5%, but he is still available at just 4.1mln. Palace’s fixtures are mixed so we’d recommend having a rotating pair of keepers if you have Speroni.
Rob Elliot was a FPL dream – a cheap, starting keeper playing for a team who while may not be the best defensively are at least managed by a boss who knows how to organise a defence. And then suddenly Karl Darlow got a run of four starts (3 defeats, no clean sheets, 9 goals conceded.) Benitez saw sense and recalled Elliot in GW18 and Newcastle conceded just the one at Arsenal.
This provided great relief to Elliot owners, their hero was back!
Matt Ryan has gone largely unnoticed by the masses, yet the Brighton keeper is only bettered in the number of clean sheets kept by de Gea, Cech, Pope, Courtois and Ederson and is cheaper than all the above at just 4.5mln. Aside from a pair of matches vs Chelsea in GWs20 & 24, Brighton have a relatively friendly set of fixtures up until the end of February and Ryan’s ownership is low at just over 1%.
In my view there are three things to look for when buying a defender. Either he is a) budget friendly (think Mariappa, Dunk etc) b) premium priced offering realistic attacking returns (think Alonso, Valencia etc) or c) mid-priced but bargain entry into a top-tier team (think Jones, Mustafi etc).
I will endeavour to find some realistic options for each category who have decent short-term fixtures over the Christmas period.
The Hammers and Moyesie look like they have fallen in love with each other if recent results are anything to go by. We have covered their recent clean sheet prowess when recommending Adrian above but if you’re looking for defensive cover instead then Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku both look decent prospects at 4.4mln. Both seem settled in Moyesie’s new system and there is really not much to choose between them – Ogbonna has one goal, Masuaku has 2 assists. Masuaku as a wing back may just sneak in as the preferred option due to their fixtures easing. Of course their DGW is an added bonus – before that the Hammers face Newcastle and Bournemouth which should seem like a walk in the park after facing Chelsea and Arsenal.
Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny has firmly established himself as the club’s, and indeed Big Sam’s, no.1 right back in the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman. There is already evidence that Big Sam is again working his magic, having battled to a draw at Anfield, winning away at Newcastle and fighting back from a goal deficit to beat Swansea. Kenny is available at 4.4mln and has returned 3 clean sheets and two assists in the last 5 matches. If this sounds too good to be true then, you’re correct, there is a caveat. And here it is – Everton’s fixtures are mixed with matches vs Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs being interspersed with clashes with Bournemouth, Leicester, Palace and two meetings with West Brom. So if you have someone to rotate Kenny with then all the better. Someone like Masuaku for example? Look at this rotation for the pair… Newcastle, West Brom, Bournemouth, West Brom & Spurs (DGW), Huddersfield, West Brom, Palace, Brighton. Sweet eh?
Moving onto the premium defenders with attacking potential and Man City’s Nicolás Otamendi leads the way. The Argentinian has scored four goals already this season, has some great looking fixtures coming up and is relatively free from Pep’s rotation due to injuries to John Stones and Vincent Kompany. At 6.2mln he is still affordable compared to others and his ownership in nearly 25% of teams means he should be seriously considered as your premium defender.
The Chelsea pair of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso come into contention of course and their attacking qualities are well known. Alonso has matched Otamendi’s four goals while Azpi has returned five assists. Chelsea’s fixtures are not quite as good as City’s – over Christmas the Blues travel to Everton and Arsenal either side of a pair of home matches vs Brighton and Stoke. So there is clean sheet potential there too and of course the attacking threat is always there.
Out of the three in this section, Otamendi wins for me as Conte may well decide to rest and rotate over Christmas and has more personnel than Pep to be able to do that.
Finally, we look at the cheap(ish) entrants into good defences and you won’t be surprised to know that United start the bidding here. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling look the best bets at 5.4mln – Marcos Rojo comes in at the same price but is a booking away from suspension so needs to clear GW19 first. United’s fixtures remain favourable and despite their concession of a surprise goal at West Brom last week, it’s safe to assume that barring anything extraordinary, the clean sheets will continue to come for the league’s joint best defence.
Andreas Christensen’s price has risen from 5.4mln to 5.6mln over recent weeks so maybe doesn’t offer quite the value he did. However, we know that Conte can organise a defence and as per Alonso and Azpi above, the clean sheet potential is there for Chelsea over the next few weeks and if the two premiums are considered too expensive then 5.6mln for a Chelsea defender remains great value.
If you have transfers to burn and no other urgent issues then you may look to have a short term punt on Man City’s Eliaquim Mangala. Only playing due to the absence of Stones and Kompany, Mangala has started three of the last four and while he may offer only limited opportunity before the others return from injury, he is available at 5.0mln only and could do a job over the next few game-weeks.
Goalkeepers and Defenders?! Pah, screw them, midfield is where it’s at – the top 4 points scorers in FPL reside in the middle of the park. And there’s a good chance you already own two of them. At least. Well, given as three of them are from Man City then yeah, it’s probably just two. Evidently the wise move was to get three! And Salah. You’d have been laughed off the RMT park had you pitched up in August and said I’m considering a midfield of –
Salah Silva Sterling KDB
But you’d have been right. We doubt anyone actually did. Probably due to budget as that little lot would cost you a cool £37.3m now. Leaving you just £5.7m on average for the remaining 11. Which suggests that you can have two. And then find two more who are more budget friendly. Unless you opt out of Kane in which case you can have three. So, two or three then, you still need another one or two. Which leads us onto the actual Midfield Tips bits – you all know about the premiums and so we won’t bore you with amazing Salah stats, KDB assists or Sterling goals. Here are the other ones we would consider owning for the festive period, be it emerging, under the radar or just because they may have a DGW soon!
The West Ham Boys
The what, what now?! This would have been unthinkable a few short weeks ago, but then so would buying and captaining Rooney for a 26 point haul… FPL can change that quickly and sometimes it’s best to just roll with the punches. We were all set to tip Manuel Lanzini (£6.8m) here until the silly little sausage went and got himself a retrospective ban for an obvious dive. It did however, at the time, grab him one of three assists in the Stoke game. But we aren’t anything if we aren’t stubborn here at FF247 and we like to push the boundaries and so we are going to carry on and tip the now unavailable scoundrel anyway!
But for next week, obviously. But not for the week after that as he doesn’t have a game then. But then definitely for the week after that as he then has two of them. Yeah ok, he’s probably too complicated a beast at this stage but we just wanted to point out that he’s an option at some stage as he looked fantastic at Stoke and was compared to a ‘mini Hazard’ in some media quarters. Which would make him very small indeed.
Onto a more viable Hammers option then. Namely one who is actually available. The Moyesolution has leaned a lot on his ability to rile this guy into action. He warned him to run more. He didn’t. He dropped him. He then warned him to run more and then played him again. He did run. A lot. Simple messages seem to work for Marko Arnautovic (£6.8m). Funny that, when you appear so neanderthal.
And he’s a streaky player too. When he gets ‘on one’ he can produce in spades, as he often did at Stoke. With Newcastle up next at home and then an equally leaky Bournemouth away we would back this move if you like a bit of an ‘in form’ punt. Yeah ok, it’s just 2 goals in 3 games and nothing else all season but then he didn’t have Forrest screaming “Run” at him from the sideline before that.
Our next tip has only actually played eight games this season. But in those he has managed a total of 56 fantasy points which gives him an average of 7 points per game. Extrapolate that out over 18 and he’d be on 126 points, tucked neatly in behind Salah and ahead of KDB, as the 2nd highest scorer in the game and all for a couple of million less.
Paul Pogba’s influence extends beyond his own contribution too as his team have scored 39 goals in total this season and 24 of those were in the eight games in which he played. Or to put it another way they have averaged 3 goals per game with him and only 1.5 goals per game without. And he was directly involved in 10 of those 24 goals. At just £7.9m he could be terrific value and is perhaps one who your more casual mates will overlook. Out of sight, out of mind and all that. That’s until they notice his name back on the score sheet, possibly starting this Saturday. You just need to hope that he can somehow string another four games together…
When their dream move to grasses greener is scuppered some players take to sulking, here’s looking at you Alexis, others miraculously up their game 10 notches knowing that potential suitors are still watching and that the transfer window is looming, here’s looking at you Mesut. Others just crack on as they were. It was thought that this may be the case given the measured and pleasant nature of Philippe Coutinho.
If you thought that Pogba’s stats were impressive then Coutinho’s are even better. He’s only featured in 11 games but has 80 points, an average of 7.2 per game. It’s actually 7.9 if you exclude his 1 point in a 12 minute cameo against Big Sam’s fleet of buses. Using the same 18 game logic he’d be on 130 points – just 5 behind Salah. Liverpool have scored 20 goals in the games in which he has featured and he’s been directly involved in 11 of those with 5 goals and 6 assists. He’s not averse to a monster haul either as he has scores of 13, 10, 13, 18 and 13 in five of his 10 and a bit appearances. At £9.0m he’s not cheap but if you have Silva and some spare change then you could do worse than taking a look at Philippe.
Now we won’t lie, we aren’t the biggest fan of our next tip here. But we will try and be as nice as possible to him. You see, it’s nothing personal, we are sure he’s a very nice chap, we just don’t know what he actually contributes to his team when he plays. Although his stats in the last 5 games may make a liar out of us! Prior to GW14 you’d have to think that Jose agreed with us as Jesse Lingard had started just the 1 game and had a load of minor minute cameos in which he grabbed nothing more than a couple of assists. We don’t know what has prompted such a change in fortune but since GW14 he has started all 5 games and got 4 goals and an assist. That’s a contribution to nearly half of the 11 goals United have scored in that spell.
That’s about as nice as we can manage to be. Oh, and he’s just £5.9m. Which is very nice.
The Spurs Boys
It would be remiss of us not to bookend our midfield tips with another mention of the imminent DGW22. Spurs play Swansea and West Ham that week and most FPL managers (who are paying attention) will have Harry Kane for that one already. And almost certainly as captain. And so the only real differential may fall in your ability to pick which one of the Spurs mids will shine that week. And that may come down to either your budget or simply your ability to plan ahead. Either way this is probably a decision for DGW22 and not before as you’ll most likely already be benching the most expensive player in the game for BGW21, and adding in a Spurs mid to that would see you with at least £20m on the bench.
Christian Eriksen is the most expensive of the trio at £9.3m. He is however Mr Consistency – he always plays, which is awfully helpful, and he has 5 goals and 5 assists, and he likes a bonus point too – 15 in total (only KDB, Kane and Rooney have more). All that puts him on 99 points, or the games joint 5th top scorer to put it another way.
Heung-Min Son is definitely your budget option here at just £8.0m. He’s also Mr Explosive, as 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 starts would attest to. Speaking of starts… that’s your issue here as he’s always prone to being rested / rotated. Take Son and take a deep breath. And a long drink.
Dele Alli is out of form and out of sorts. So much so he’s even been out of the team as of late. This one is a wait and see – wait and see if Christmas brings him any more cheer. And then make a judgement call on him come DGW22. Hes £9.0m and his only returns since GW10 have been 2 assists. Whatever you are drinking for the Son pick you may want to double it for Alli.
You can ignore that daft intro as Kop is here to turn the duo into a threesome! That’s what she said!! After the two lads had a good waffle in this week’s superb fixture article and again in this article on keepers, defenders and midfielders I felt it was time to step in to bring you my version of festive cheer! Now in previous seasons I’d have been thinking ‘happy days’ given the opportunity to focus just on the forwards, but not this season. You know the forwards aren’t doing their jobs correctly when they’re being matched point for point by defenders. Times are tough. Woe is me! However, I’ll do my best to stay positive as only I can!
Back to the Future is always on TV at this time of the year and I’ve stepped into my very own DeLorean to bring you my first forward tip. Wayne Rooney. The former English captain is in fact the 3rd highest scoring forward to date. Thanks in no small part to six goals, three assists and 10 bonus points in his last five games. He’s certainly rolling back the years. The upturn in Rooney’s form has coincided with Everton claiming four wins and a draw from their last five games. Now I’m usually one to haul out some stats to back up my Tips but I’ve had a quick look at Rooney’s stats and they’re shocking. Playing as deep as he is means he’s had very few penalty area touches and goal attempts. However, sometimes we can just ignore the stats and simply ride out someone’s form. As Monday night showed Rooney is lucky. His goal and one of his assists were quite fortuitous but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
I realise Harry Kane is being sold by the masses but that’s not going to stop me including him this week. The main reason for his inclusion is the distinct lack of quality alternatives. He’s scored 12 goals to date. Only Mo Salah has scored more and he’s just a freak of nature. I’m not going to bother with Kane’s stats as by this stage we all know he tops most of the charts but just isn’t turning his opportunities into goals & points. Everyone is moaning about his lack of form but he’s still managed four in his last seven games. The big problem with Kane is his price tag and at this stage we probably expect more from a striker priced at £12.8m. There is an argument to be made for selling Kane and distributing the funds elsewhere but the flip side of that argument is that if and when he really does find his scoring boots he could destroy your rank should you have sold him. The choice is yours to make. It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that he blanks in GW21 so perhaps if you already own him you hold onto him but if you’re not an owner you wait until GW22 to bring him in.
Two players with very little in common but the ability to frustrate are Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino. Lukaku has scored 10 goals to date but he really should have more. United sit 2nd in the table and have scored 39 goals. Personally I would have expected Lukaku to have accounted for more than 25% of the goals. It’s not like he hasn’t had the game time…he has started and more importantly finished every game thus far, a claim no other striker in the league can make. He has however scored in each of his last two games and from an FPL point of view that’s all that really matters. Those who watch Liverpool on a regular basis will tell you that when Firmino plays he is very much central to Liverpool’s play. His movement without the ball creates space for his colleagues while he never gives up and is constantly harassing the opposition. Unfortunately FPL doesn’t reward such play. He is however priced at £8.6m which makes him cheaper than the likes of Coutinho & Mane. With so few forwards showing form on a consistent basis a punt on Firmino might work out over the coming weeks.
For those of you who’re short of cash in the run up to Christmas you might want to consider the following cheaper options. Think of it as buying the Mrs a Prado rather than a Prada handbag for Christmas. The options I’m referring to are Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin (DCL to his friends) and Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre. DCL has scored twice and claimed two assists in his last four games. Just as importantly he’s played the full 90 minutes in every game since Big Sam has been in charge. Sam is likely to be in the market for a forward come January but until then DCL should lead the line. Huddersfield aren’t exactly scoring freely but Depoitre has two goals & an assist in his last two games, and The Terriers have a relatively easy run of fixtures over the festive season.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Christmas Tips Gameweek 19 – 23
This article was written by Cookie, Inittowinit and Kop
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW19-23
This includes all of the festive fixtures. This will be your best friend at Christmas. Take a screenshot and save it somewhere on your phone…