Fantasy Premier League Tips and Captain Picks Gameweek 17
Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips and Captain Picks Gameweek 17.
Full disclosure: I scored only 47 points this last round – and that’s just one point below the average. And in a lot of ways, that’s probably emblematic of this article, just one point below average. I mean, c’mon, what do you want from me? This last round was a bit of a dumpster fire, and it was so unpredictable that I feel a bit sheepish trying to fully predict what this next round holds. We knew there would be rotation, we didn’t quite know how much. We had reports that Rondon liked hats and he was fond of tricks, but we never thought he’d combine those elements the way he did. Everton went old-school and supplied points from three of their defenders, just when nearly everybody had sold them off. Also, Hazard was a disaster.
And as we go into GW17, we have to wonder exactly what’s in store for us with all of these teams on short rest once again. It’s a bit nerve wracking too, because GW17 is when the top 2,097,152 scorers from the round get selected into the Cup. So even if you had a really poor round, this probably isn’t the spot to take a -12 to fix your team if you want to ensure that you qualify for the Grand Daddy of head-to-head competitions. Also, because we’re on short rest, this isn’t my typical fixtures article, it’s more of a one-off hybrid of fixtures, capos and tips. What are the odds of me being proficient in all three areas? Has to be better odds than Rondon getting back to back hatty’s, right? So take that for what it’s worth.
Keepers and Defenders
If you’re going to talk about keepers, you have to start with Tom Heaton, no? Every time you think he can’t turn in a monster score, he goes and leads all others in his position for that round. Will he block a penalty every game? That’s pretty doubtful, but as a long-term option, he isn’t bad. After Burnley’s game against Tottenham this week, they’ll follow that up with games against Middlesbrough and Sunderland, so he still has a great upside through the calendar year.
Heaton may be last round’s best scorer, but the overall best scoring keeper in the game goes to Thibaut Courtois. And let’s face it, Chelsea are quickly proving themselves to be the best team in the league week in and week out, so owning Courtois isn’t the worst idea in the world. The problem with owning Courtois over Heaton, aside from their price, is that owning Courtois means you can only own two other Chelsea position players, and that’s not always a sound strategy. But if you just want steady points over a stretch, it’s hard to look past the Chelsea man.
There were 8 clean sheets last round, so the scores for many defenders look a bit more inflated than usual. If you’re rushing to pick up Pablo Zabaleta because he scored a goal and a clean sheet last round, you’re probably not playing the game properly. But who knows? Maybe these games in rapid succession will lead to a few more clean sheets than we had anticipated simply because the attackers all have tired legs. If that’s the case, why not just hold tight to the defenders you currently have and try to hit the lottery that way?
Zabaleta and the Everton defenders aren’t going to continue to turn in big scores on a regular basis. If you haven’t shifted your team to include at least one Chelsea defender though, you may want to think about doing that – there is a reason that 3 of the 4 highest scoring defenders in the game all come from that club. Also have to give a nod to Kyle Walker from Tottenham, though any of the Spurs backline should be getting a look from more owners since they still remain tied with Chelsea for fewest goals conceded on the year (11).
If you’re looking to go cheap… maybe a West Ham defender like Winston Reid could fill a gap for you temporarily. Now I know, I recommended West Ham earlier in the year and they fell apart. But they did turn in a clean sheet last round and there next three opponents are Hull, Swansea and Leicester. So they could conceivably get a decent score over that stretch.
Even though he didn’t play during the week, Eden Hazard still tops my list as the man to have. He’s in such fine form that he still has a positive Net Transfers number for the week despite the injury. Chelsea play against Crystal Palace this weekend, and the matchup is too tempting to leave Hazard out of your squad.
Next on the list for me is Kevin De Bruyne. After notching his 10th assist of the year last round, he’s starting to make his case once again to be included in the conversation with Sanchez and Hazard as the ‘one to have’ in your team at all times. That might sound a bit premature to say given that he’s still 20 points behind Hazard and over 40 points behind Sanchez – but with Aguero’s return just around the corner, and the looming threat of Sanchez finally getting rested and rotated himself, I expect De Bruyne to start closing the gap quickly for the top overall score for midfielders.
And let’s pause for a moment to talk about Christian Eriksen. Seriously, when is this guy going to slow down? If De Bruyne ends up being out of the top 3 scoring mids, he’ll have Eriksen to blame. Through the first 12 rounds of the year, Eriksen had zero goals and only 3 assists. In the last four rounds, Eriksen has 5 goals and 2 assists. It’s a night and day transformation we’re seeing here. The reintroduction of Kane into the squad has undoubtedly hampered Son’s performance, but it’s really given an unexpected boost to Eriksen. Will he maintain this form or fall back to his normal pace? It’s hard to say right now, but you may as well strike while the iron’s hot and try to fit this guy into your squad.
A case can also be made to not include any of these mids listed above – and just enlist the top trio from Arsenal as the cornerstones of your team. Assuming Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott can stay healthy (I know, queue the canned laughter now) you have to look at their schedule and really think about how many points these guys could possibly score together over the next couple of months. After they get past the Man City game this weekend, Arsenal are set to take on: West Brom, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Swansea, Burnley and then Watford. They won’t be playing against Chelsea until February. There is no better schedule in the league than the schedule that Arsenal are about to have. So call me crazy, but you could honestly do worse than load up on Arsenal attack for the next while.
Diego Costa is still the best forward in the game right now – his elusive 5th yellow card be damned! Costa has only failed to score a goal in 5 games this season, and he has yet to go back to back weeks without getting on the score sheet. And that’s all bad news for Crystal Palace this weekend. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if Costa gets a pair early in this game just to make up for the blank last week.
Harry Kane is not a bad bet for this week either, even though he has actually been shutout for two straight weeks. The problem is that Tottenham are playing Burnley and you have to wonder if Heaton has any more magic left. But even if Heaton gets a great save or two, the attack for Tottenham is strong right now and Kane should get back on the scoresheet again this week.
Solomon Rondon will not get another hat trick this week. I think Jose Mourinho would probably storm the field himself to tackle him if Rondon even got close to getting a brace. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic actually has a goal in each of his last two road games, and he’s probably good for another one in this spot.
I’m not sure what will happen in the Liverpool Derby – therefore I left off Adam Lallana from the midfielders picks and I’m not recommending Romelu Lukaku because he looks to be back in one of his pouty moods again. I can see that game having a lot of goals, and a lot of red cards and a couple of clean sheets with some dirty drawers. I can’t pick it at all, actually. So go with those teams at your own risk.
If I had to pick my captains based on everything I’ve written above, it would go like this:
Start with Diego Costa because he’s the safest pick. And if you go with Costa, make sure Hazard is your vice to really ensure you get the points from that Palace game. If you only own one of the two, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. If you own Costa and not Hazard, or Hazard and not Costa…go to your local house of worship and ask for forgiveness.
If you don’t want to play it safe, skip over Kane and go right to Eriksen. I’m honestly not sure how much longer that guy can keep it going, but he’s playing at such an elite level right now that he’s hard to ignore. Is that the best move on the qualifying round for the Cup? Maybe it isn’t. But it will definitely be the most daring pick you’ll have all week.
And the ultimate risk you could take this week is to take one attacker from Liverpool and one from Everton and captain and vice-captain the pair of them (you choose who gets which band, it won’t really matter). It’s the ultimate roulette play. One of them is bound to get big points and one might get tossed – it will make the game that much more exciting to watch.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Premier League Tips and Captain Picks Gameweek 17. This article was written by Guy Sanchez
Fixture Tracker – the next 6 games