Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 16
Welcome to Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 16. This is the first Tips article by my good self in some months due to me hoodwinking the FF247 lot into thinking that I’ve been busy this autumn!
I jest, this is the first proper chance I’ve had to sit and focus solely on fantasy matters for any reasonable amount of time. And right in time for the busy Christmas period. Stars align I guess.
And why do I have to follow Bry’s article? I don’t know how to put this across but that’s like someone really poor following someone really brilliant (See? I can’t even example right!)
Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea are the premium picks and unsurprisingly are the two highest point-scoring goalkeepers in the game, although the Spaniard has an almost 20 point lead on his be-gloved challenger. Thibaut Courtois is still to me the most reliable and hassle-free way in to a Chelsea defence where I think, based on their forthcoming schedule, cover is almost essential.
De Gea produced one of the outstanding performances of any and all time in the 3-1 victory at Arsenal last Saturday. The ‘best goalkeeper in the world’ [copyright Jose Mourinho 02/12/17] made 14 (FOURTEEN) saves including a miraculous double save and a goal-line stop to thwart a Lukaku goal (not having much luck at either end really Rom?). For any goalkeeper to NOT keep a clean sheet and score 9 points is a feat in itself. This comprised four save points and two bonus points. Wow. It was a joint saves per game PL record. Only Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea has made more league saves in total so far this season. After the derby this weekend, United have fair claims to clean sheets in all games until the end of January. That’s some run so for those with no United cover and perhaps Chelsea cover in defence, you could pick up DDG for £5.8M and he’ll be worth every penny.
Though Courtois isn’t as tuned for save points, he does have a far smaller ownership rate of 14.2% (compared to 42% of de Gea) which could play in his favour for those of a chasing nature, that and a fixture run Chelsea couldn’t have picked better if they were allowed free-reign in the Premier League offices.
Jordan Pickford is a strange case in fantasy terms. In real terms, a fantastic keeper and will hopefully (for England) battle out with Butland for years to come ala Shilton and the other one. I say that Pickford is strange in terms of the fact that last year he was a brilliant acquisition for our squads because of the save points he accrued playing in a struggling team. Fast forward 12 months and he’s still in a struggling squad but far less attractive. I get it, it’s his price now compared to the £4.0M in his SoL days. But things just got real at the Gladwys with the arrival of, statistically speaking, the best ever England manager (that’s always going to be funny) in Big Sam the man. I love him by the way, genuinely. He’s a big tip for himself but I think he’s ace. Anyway, he’s in the door two minutes and Everton already have a clean sheet and young Pickford can be got at for £4.8M. And please don’t worry about the tricky fixtures when they come along, if anyone can knock these big boys out of their stride it is Sam. Then they’ll all be dancing in the streets of Walton and the dance floors of Marbella!
Wayne Hennessey OR Julian Speroni would be the budget choice if I knew which one of them was going to be in this weekend! I would advise of course to wait for Roy Hodgson’s press conference this week to see how he speaks about the GK situation and now likely Welshman Hennessey is to be back in. If you have either, then I wouldn’t rush anything just yet. Roy has shown he trusts both. If you have a partner who can rotate at New Year when they play City and Arsenal, the Palace goalies are a decent value at £4.3 (Hennessey) and £4.0 (Speroni) seeing as how Roy has tightened up the Eagles defensively since arrival.
Cesar Azpilicueta AND Marcos Alonso are both the same price these days and that wasn’t always the case so it comes down to personal preference and there’s not much in it. I’m going Azpilicueta personally as my tip this week. A case really could be made for either but I think if you take out Alonso’s goals against Tottenham where he scored two of his 3, then I get a feel that Azpilicueta is the more consistent points scorer. He is in fact the club-leading assist provider and seems to link remarkably well with Alvaro Morata. This could be why he leads Alonso 11 to 5 on bonus points, another box ticked for me. In the interest of fairness though, I will say that in looking at the statistics, Alonso has had the second-most shots at the club and has attempted more crosses. But in the cold light of day, it is points that count and that’s why I’m sticking with Azpilicueta this week.
Victor Lindelof struggled at the beginning of his United career, a joke figure in some quarters, with other more sensible football folk questioning why exactly the Red Devils paid Benfica just short of £31M for the services of the Swede. He has now played the last four league matches with a well-known Manchester United fans podcast waxing lyrical about his performances recently, strengthened by many of its contributors giving him a couple of man of the matches, especially in the Watford win. He can be collected for just £4.9M and I believe that Jose is the type of manager to reward players playing well. And despite his short time in the first team he has more blocks than any of his colleagues, so even though competition is fierce at the back I think the huge summer signing may be finding his feet now and could be a lovely pick up at under £5M.
Mamadou Sakho was mentioned on the boards a few days ago by a contributor and when I looked beyond just the cheap goalkeepers I realised that the ex-Liverpool and PSG blocker could also be a fine tip this week with the aforementioned fixtures on the horizon for Roy’s boys. Why? Well he has scored 11, 9 and 8 points in his last three missing out on just one Bonus Point from a possible nine. The colossal Frenchman has broken his scoring and assisting duck this season and again at just £4.9M could be a shrewd investment over the festive period.
Jonjoe Kenny could be a top pick-up for those formulating a wildcard squad at just £4.3M. I’m pleased to report that I brought him in myself on my wildcard three weeks back. I did of course bench him for his 11 point score against West Ham but I did have faith in him against Huddersfield where he got me five. He has played the last seven games for a full 90 minutes and crucially retained his place for Big Sam’s first selection. I would bet that his assist and bonus points against the Hammers last Wednesday will not be his last this season.
Marvin Zeegelaar first came to my attention a few Sundays ago when I was watching the Watford v West Ham game with my Watford-supporting friend. “He looks good at LWB” I said. Yeah he was signed for that position in the summer but hasn’t been properly ready. “Well he looks ready now!” Fast forward four days and I commented privately to my doubles partner – go for Zeegelaar for our doubles team. He said no, he might be threatened by Holebas. We went elsewhere and Marvellous Marv’ assisted twice at Newcastle. There’s FPL for ya! (Not naming names NZ Alex). At just £4.4M and playing as a winger to all intents and purposes, yeah Watford might not collect many clean sheets, but they have a lovely run of games to try to improve on that until January.
Eden Hazard is getting back to his best. You’ve had fair warning! Almost 125,000 FPL managers had brought him in already this week and that was before he’d even played in the Atletico Madrid Champions League match last night. The mercurial midfielder was immense on Saturday against Newcastle with both a sclaffed volley (yes, it’s a word)and a panenka penalty showing the varying range of goals he can score. Just before he was taken off he tried to chip Karl Darlow for his hat-trick and that would have been only his second hat-trick in the Premier League (poor Newcastle were also the victims the last time out) but alas just the 30 points for his captainers. You don’t need to be given all the stats on Eden to know that he ought to be your number one priority for transfer just now. For me, it’s only an ‘either or’ between he and Alvaro Morata when picking the captaincy. You should definitely own both.
Mohamed Salah is the signing of the summer. Don’t even @ me (as the kids are saying these days). This man not only walks like an Egyptian, but dribbles like a teething infant, and runs like a thoroughbred. He also has great hair. You get the picture, I’m having this lad. I think Liverpool stole this player from AS Roma even if it was an initial £36.9M. At this point in the season, he has more goals than any Liverpool player has had and is top scorer and has the most shots on target of any player in the entire league. Ignore the rotation and the games he starts from the bench. The World Cup-bound attacker needed only 23 minutes versus Stoke to rack up 13 points. You have him or you’re doing it wrong I’m afraid.
Aaron Ramsey is my FPL baby this year even if I did sell him on my recent wildcard, purely to re-balance other areas. He served me fantastically well in the lead up to my wildcard and I’m still chuffed to see him score and play so well lately. I watched the Arsenal v Manchester United game on Saturday and Ramsey yet again assisted but he is just so remarkable in how he arrives to the box, often holding his run to meet the ball at exactly the right time. He has blanked in only one of his last seven and the fact he has only increased £0.2M staggers me. That and the fact he was only £7.0M to begin with! This guy is fantastic, playing in a very attacking team and has 3 goals and eight assists so far. For me, pound for pound, one of the best value players in the game.
Speaking of low-priced midfielders in fantastic form, Xherdan Shaqiri of Stoke City is currently only £6.1M and he himself has only one blank gameweek in his last six. The Swiss who will no doubt be a World Cup star again next year, making it a seeming wonder that he is at Stoke at all, carries the hopes of the club as evidenced in him being joint top-scorer, having the most assists (5) and the most shots on target. He takes corners, free kicks and has the most crosses at the club. In short, where would Stoke be without him? They take on Spurs at Wembley next but after that have a lovely little run of games with Burnley, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Huddersfield Town on the radar.
Jesse Lingard is no longer Zlatan’s plaything (K, he still might be) but he is finding his way in this united team and not just the squad. The last two matches he has 27 points! Alright so he is not going to sustain that but playing in such a team he is going to get chances when on the field and sometimes, as witnessed in his brilliant goal against Watford, he doesn’t need any and can make his own. It may be a risk but at £5.8M and you are looking for some United cover, sometimes you just have to follow the form. Certainly Romelu Lukaku isn’t doing it right now so Lingard may be assuming responsibility and you can take advantage of that especially considering the games ahead. How Pogba missing affects the team now could really go either way but they played on without him due to injury earlier in the season so I still expect them to win most of their games they have ahead (NOT commenting on the City one for fear of my own safety on here!).
This season we have seen that there are at least two of the big strikers in most teams as everyone is playing at least a 3-5-2 formation with others sticking to their principles and maintaining 3-4-3. As most teams will a;ready probably have some combination of Harry Kane / Alvaro Morata / one of Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, I thought I would leave these and their obvious credentials aside and concentrate on the third striker and briefly run through some with you.
Roberto Firmino would appear to be the strongest third striker as he plays in the strongest team of my selections and for one of the two most exciting attacking sides in this year’s league so far. With three double digit hauls so far (including maximum bonus points in these three) it is clear that the word explosive can rightly be attributed to the Brazilian attacker. On his day, he can go off on one. I suppose it would be hard not to be amongst the points with the plethora of talent surrounding him but Firmino himself is such a good player that he seems the obvious go-to if you are considering doubling on Liverpool ahead of a couple of home games, also due partly to his attractive £8.5M price. They have the derby next Sunday which will hold no fear and then West Bromwich Albion. They also have a double-header at Anfield against Swansea and Leicester in between Christmas and New Year so have a little faith if he is rested in the odd match before then.
Wayne Rooney may be the biggest player to enjoy the benefit of the new manager in at Goodison. A hat-trick against West Ham United may not be the norm for him these days but it points to the fact there may be life in the old dog yet. Big Sam will manage him just fine and I think he’ll add to his seven goals over the following few weeks.
Chris Wood has set aside the disappointment of not qualifying for the world cup (as have I, almost) by getting back to his goal scoring ways at club level. A goal two games ago against Bournemouth was his fourth of the season and with Watford (H), Stoke (H) and Brighton (A) in his next three he may be a way out for those looking to get off the Callum Wilson wagon.
Brighton’s Glenn Murray continues to defies age, mobility and price (£5.8M) to post a respectable 5 goals this season (in a newly-promoted side remember). If you take a quick glance at his and the Seagulls’ fixtures until February, then there are only really three tough fixtures. You could back Brighton to collect results in the rest of them and the man with the Premier League experience could be their hope for goals as he has been so far. The Cumbrian is a must for the shortlist for third striker for any of us looking.
As mentioned this week in the fixtures article, the gameweeks are now coming hard and fast with three across the next week so it is imperative now more than ever to have as fully fit a squad as you can possibly obtain. There will be rotation, injuries and who knows what else to thrown your FPL squad in to chaos, carnage and any other kind of ‘C’ you can think of.
Rotation is inevitable but don’t let it keep you awake at night or make you rush in to transfers trying to second-guess Premier League managers – we’ll never ever be able to do it. So just pick some players who usually play and have some back-up.
Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity to wish good luck and Season’s Greetings to you all. Everything to the best!
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 16
This article was written by The Gallant Pioneer.
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW16-22
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…