Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 27
Welcome to Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 27. Those of us who write for the site have a WhatsApp chat which is primarily used to ensure that everyone knows who’s writing what and when. From time to time there is some conversation and on Monday night it went a little like this, (abridged version)…
Rosco: Fixtures sent, off to shoot myself in the face.
Init: Good luck with that, you’ll probably miss.
Init: Oh dear. Kop has a rival misery guts judging by the first paragraph.
AT: Ahh shite
Rosco: What’s up hun?
AT: I might have to rewrite mine to be more upbeat. Can’t have the whole site plunged into a state of misery all week hahaha.
Rosco it was an excellent intro, I share your pain mate. It has however got me thinking. Perhaps I should try being positive and happy this week? But what would I write about? Sunshine, summer holidays, long walks in the countryside, art, music, drinking alcohol, sex… and while some of these would make for interesting topics this is probably not the time nor place for them. Maybe I should just remain my usual negative self. Again, what would I write about? How about my FPL team?! No, I wouldn’t do that do you and in fairness Init would probably edit a lot of the negativity out of it!!
Instead I’ll do what it says on the tin and Tip a few players! As you’re all well aware the resumption of European football comes next week and with that the threat of rotation will hang over our key players. The likes of Klopp and Pep don’t need the excuse of European football to rest key players. With that in mind I’ve decided to this week focus on the teams not involved in Europe i.e. those currently outside of the top 6.
Despite keeping just seven clean sheets to date Lukasz Fabianski is the 4th highest scoring keeper in FPL with 106pts. To give this some context, seven keepers have kept eight or more clean sheets. David de Gea is in a class of his own and leads the way on 135pts but Fabianski is just 7pts behind Nick Pope in 2nd and 2pts behind Ederson in 3rd. Whilst he may have struggled to keep clean sheets it’s certainly not for the want of trying as with 99 saves he has made more saves than any other keeper in the league. On 20 occasions this season he’s picked up those all important save bonus points. Despite a tough run of fixtures in recent weeks Swansea appear to have been rejuvenated under new coach Carlos Carvalhal, losing just once in his six games in charge. They now embark on a relatively easy run of fixtures during which there’s every chance Fabianski will add to his seven clean sheets and even if he doesn’t he’s likely to continue racking up the saves.
Saturday’s performance against Arsenal makes Jordan Pickford that little bit more difficult to justify. In fact Everton’s performances over the past six game-weeks aren’t doing me any favours. The honeymoon period is well and truly over for Sam Allardyce as after going undefeated in his first six games in charge they have subsequently lost four of his next six in charge. As this is supposed to be a Tips article I’d better find something positive to write about Pickford. Fixtures. The fixtures are in their favour for the remainder of the season as aside from game-weeks 32&33 when they host City & Liverpool they do not face any of the current top 6. It’s also worth noting that they are guaranteed to play in GW31 and with the game-weeks quickly running out and a maximum of 6 free transfers to be used between now and then it makes sense that where possible you bring in a player who will feature in GW31. Given Allardyce’s constant tinkering with his defence Pickford would appear to be the only one assured of his place at present.
The final name I’ll throw into the mix is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel. Granted they face a trip to the champions elect this week but their following three fixtures are against Stoke, Bournemouth and West Brom so a couple of clean sheets aren’t out of the question. The Dane has been in decent form of late keeping three clean sheets on the bounce between game-weeks 22&24. Also rather encouragingly, he has picked up 14 bonus points this season with Nick Pope the only keeper to have accumulated more.
I should note at this stage that Nick Pope would most certainly have been included but for the fact that Tom Heaton is nearing a return. No date has been put on Heaton’s return but it’s unlikely to be too far away. At £4.7m Heaton could prove quite popular on his return.
Any defender who can contribute offensively is worth his weight in gold in FPL. When we look at teams outside of the current top six this is even more relevant as in most instances these teams will find clean sheets more difficult to come by. Leicester’s Harry Maguire is a good case in point. Despite Leicester keeping just seven clean sheets he is the 10th highest scoring defender with 97pts, thanks in no small part to his two goals and four assists. £5.5m is a lot to pay for a defender not playing for a top 6 side but his points to date suggest he’s worth it. He’s had 47 touches in the opposition penalty area a figure only bettered by four defenders although he has only managed 12 attempts on goal. This probably isn’t the week to bring Maguire into your squad but he’s certainly worth some consideration from GW28 onwards.
Stoke have a mixed bag of fixtures over the remainder of the season. Currently they’re in the middle of some decent fixtures but between game-weeks 30&33 they have a horrid run before they get slightly easier for the remainder of the season. Despite that horrid run it is worth noting that they will feature in GW31 when they host Everton. For now we’re going to ignore the fact that Stoke have the worst defensive record in the league and instead focus on the two clean sheets they’ve picked up since Paul Lambert has been in charge, and our tip is their Austrian right back Moritz Bauer. The Austrian is not renowned as an attacking player, he’s never scored and only has a handful of assists to his name. He has however shown a willingness to get forward since arriving at Stoke and has created six chances in the four games in which he’s featured, putting him on a par with the likes of Alonso & Walker. For those of you on the hunt for a cheap defender Bauer could be your answer, at least in the short term.
Looking at the fixtures over the next 5/6 game-weeks and even beyond would suggest that Burnley could pick up their fair share of clean sheets. They’ve picked up just the one clean sheet in their last eight games but they have faced Spurs, United (twice), Liverpool & City. From an offensive point of view the Burnley defenders don’t exactly set the world alight and between them they’ve just one goal and four assists over the course of the season. However, over the past four game-weeks Ben Mee has registered 11 touches in the opposition area which is more than any other defender. These have led to five goals attempts which is only bettered by Alonso and Janmaat. As the saying goes, he’s due one! It might be worth keeping an eye on Matt Lowton who replaced Phil Bardsley at half-time last weekend and in doing so picked up his 2nd assist of the season. This could see Lowton regain his place and following an extended period on the side-lines his price has now dropped to £4.3m which is £0.6m cheaper than Mee.
As we’ve already noted, the fixtures suggest that Swansea may be a source for the odd clean over the coming game-weeks. Alfie Mawson would appear to be the best choice but at £5.0m is he perhaps too expensive for a Swansea defender. Should we instead look at the likes of Naughton, Fernandez or even van der Hoorn? Mawson has played every minute this season and as a result has had more penalty area touches and goal attempts than the others. When fit Naughton is assured of his place and while Swansea play with three at the back both Fernandez and van der Hoorn will both start. However, should they switch to a back four it’s likely to be van der Hoorn who will lose out. The stats certainly favour Mawson over both Naughton & Fernandez but I’m not convinced he’s worth the extra £0.5m. There’s little to separate Naughton & Fernandez but I’m opting for Federico Fernandez on the basis that he offers a greater goal threat and his priced at just £4.4m. Actually, if it’s a goal threat you’re after just get Mawson as he’s scored six in 55 appearances for the club.
Theo Walcott picked up an assist on his Everton debut and followed that up with two goals against Leicester in GW25. Such an impressive start saw the latest FPL bandwagon roll out of the station and he was picked up by something in the region of 250k managers ahead of GW26. The rest is history. He blanked against Arsenal and was hauled off after 60mins. Everton were unlucky to run into Arsenal on one of their good days but a look at their fixtures over the coming weeks highlights that they won’t face such quality again until GW32. The issue Theo has had over recent seasons has been his inability to stay fit coupled with competition for places at Arsenal. Assuming he stays fit he is likely to start every game for Everton and as we’ve seen in the past he will score and pick up assists when given an extended run in the side. As pointed out earlier, there’s the added bonus of Everton featuring in GW31. Don’t forget though that Walcott has the ability to frustrate at Lukaku levels so you may need to ride out a few blanks before you reap the benefits.
As we’ve already mentioned, Everton’s opponents in GW31 will be Stoke City who themselves have a number of midfield options worth monitoring ahead of said game-week. First up is Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss international has chipped in with 100pts to date which on first glance may not look great but on a closer inspection you’ll see that only four players sub £7.8m have scored more points. So given his price point he’s certainly relevant. He’s had just 11 touches in the opposition area over the past four game-weeks which doesn’t compare well but he has managed nine attempts on goal, seven of which have been or target. The only players with more shots on target during the same period were KDB and Harry Kane. If Stoke are to get some much needed points over the coming weeks I suspect Shaqiri will be involved as they don’t have a striker capable of scoring on a regular basis. Stoke also offer up Eric Choupo-Moting who’s £0.7m cheaper than Shaqiri and Joe Allen who’s £1.0m cheaper. Given their stats and form of late I’d go with Shaqiri over both of them but Joe Allen could prove to be a decent enabler ahead of GW31.
Given his form of late it’s difficult to ignore James Ward-Prowse. Granted he’s playing for a Southampton side with just one win in their last 13 games, but of late he’s been the one bright spark with three goals and two assists from the last four games. Can this form continue? It’s difficult to say. Last season was his best season to date and he only managed a total of four goals & four assists, he’s only one goal off matching that. Over the past four game-weeks he’s had 10 goal attempts but only five touches inside the opposition area so it’s clear he does his best work outside the area. He’s also created eight chances in this period. The fixtures would appear to be in his favour and at £5.1m he could prove decent value for money.
Things looked bleak for Eddie Howe and Bournemouth when they lost 11 of their first 19 games. I’m not sure what they got for Christmas but since Boxing Day they’ve taken 15pts from a possible 21. This run of form has seen them beat both Chelsea and Arsenal. Not only are they in form but they’ve got some decent fixtures over the next 6/7 game-weeks. They provide us with a number of options in midfield…Jordan Ibe (£4.9m) has a goal and three assists from his last five games, Ryan Fraser (£5.1m) has three goals and an assist from his last five games, while the returning Junior Stanislas (£5.9m) has a goal and two assists from the last three games. Given his price tag and injury record this season I’ll rule out Stanislas. There’s little to separate Ibe and Fraser but I’m going to for the former Liverpool man. Over the past six game-weeks he’s had 21 goal attempts seven of which have hit the target. These numbers are on a par with the big hitters in midfield and see him top the charts for midfielders under £5.5m.
I can’t say for certain but I suspect Callum Wilson has never received top billing in our Tips article. He has now. Callum, you’ve hit the bigtime mate! Back in GW12 in just his 3rd appearance of the season Wilson smashed a hat-trick against Huddersfield. The following week he was snapped up by over 200k managers and his price hit £6.1m. He followed this up with seven barren game-weeks during which time he failed to start a couple of games. This saw his price drop to £5.7m. However, the upturn in Bournemouth’s fortunes have coincided with Wilson hitting a rich vein of form and over the past seven goals he’s picked up four goals, two assists and seven bonus points. His stats would suggest that his all round play has been good and that the goals are deserved. Over the past six game-weeks he’s had 33 penalty area touches, 16 goal attempts, 10 of which were on target. Just like Ibe in midfield, these numbers compare very well with the big hitting forwards. Given his form, his stats and Bournemouth’s fixtures he currently appears to be the perfect 3rd striker at £5.9m. To be honest given the form of a number of the heavy hitters there’s possibly an argument to be made for having him as your 2nd striker!
I mentioned above that at £5.9m that Callum Wilson was the perfect 3rd striker but maybe I was wrong. Could it be Swansea’s Jordan Ayew who’s available for £5.3m? He’s scored four goals and picked up nine bonus points over the last eight game-weeks. A goal every other game for just £5.3m is nothing to be sniffed at. Just as importantly he’s started the last seven games. Swansea is a team reborn under Carlos Carvalhal and this is backed up by some of their attacking stats. They’re creating twice as many chances per game since his arrival while they are also converting a greater % of their chances. An 8-1 win in the Cup on Tuesday night will have given a further boost to their confidence and this confidence coupled with their fixtures would suggest Ayew could be a decent bet over the coming game-weeks.
Reports suggest that Riyad Mahrez has not trained since failing to force through a deadline day move to this weekend’s opponents Manchester City. Should he miss out this will be the 3rd game he has missed. There’s no denying that Leicester have missed and will continue to miss Mahrez but we’re not here to talk about Mahrez! In his absence Jamie Vardy has scored two in two, albeit one was a penalty. He now has 12 for the season, with only Kane, Salah, Aguero & Sterling having scored more. Following this weekend’s trip to the blue half of Manchester they’ve got an ideal run of fixtures and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he breaks 20 goal mark for the season.
Aside from Wilson, Ayew and Vardy it’s rather difficult to make a case for any other striker outside of the top six sides. Christian Benteke has a goal and four assists in his last five games but Palace are set to embark on a shocking run of fixtures over the coming weeks. Javier Hernandez has two goals and an assist in his last three but once everyone is fit at West Ham he’s unlikely to be assured of his place. Glenn Murray has three in five but from GW29 until the end of the season Brighton has the fixture list from hell. And then there’s JRod. But he plays for West Brom and with the addition of Daniel Sturridge they now have three strikers to choose from.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Tips Gameweek 27
This article was written by Kop
The League Codes for FF247 for the 2017/18 season are as follows:
Gameweek Tracker GW27-32