Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 24
Welcome to Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 24. This is kind of an MLS-ish type of schedule that we’re dealing with this week (and in the rounds coming up). We had games take place on Tuesday and Wednesday for GW23 (and this article is actually being written before GW23 has been played out, so bear that in mind). We have another set of games kicking off on the weekend after short rest. And in just a few weeks time, we’ll have a serious set of bye weeks to plan for. So yeah, it’s kind of fitting that the
former MLS writer for this site gets stuck trying to navigate some of this mess that we’re coming into.
And just like when I used to have to write the MLS stuff, I’m not in the best of moods about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m upset about having to write, I love writing – it’s just that I know when it comes to byes and rotations, even the best laid plans can be scrapped in a moment’s notice. Plus my bad mood stems from having a sick kid in the house, and we have more snow forecasted for where I live, and lastly, in my country… let’s just say it’s probably not the best time to be playing for the Browns right now. I’m under a lot of stress at the moment, that’s all.
But, since this is a short week, I’ve been given license to adapt the article to be more of a hybrid. What does that mean? I’m not sure yet, but I think I’ll have it figured out by the time the writing is done.
The Tracker in full…
#1) Navigating the current schedule with impending bye weeks
If you’ll refer to the schedule above, you’ll see that we have Arsenal, Man City, Man United and Southampton coming up on byes in GW26. That means that all of you that have Ibra, Aguero, Sanchez, KDB and such are going to have to start making decisions now as to how you’re going to handle this stretch. Now there have been some cavalier comments already on Twitter and other social media that say people ought to hold all of their players and take zeroes because all of these players are going to come around and have DGW’s later in the season. And that’s true. But if you’re in any kind of competitive mini league, maybe taking a sub-optimal score isn’t really your kind of thing. The byes are not the end of the world if you plan for them correctly. Let’s take a look at each team:
Arsenal: Really the only question you’re going to have to ask yourself here is if you can safely sell Sanchez and absorb the sell-on penalty or not. It seems that most people have had Sanchez in their team for some time, so he’s really going to be the sticking point in this situation. The rest of Arsenal’s players probably haven’t been owned long enough, or haven’t risen in price enough, to justify having to worry about retaining their services. If Sanchez is a must-have for you, then he’s a player that’s worth benching in GW26 and taking that risk. But now that Arsenal are relatively healthy again… you may consider selling Sanchez and buying up Walcott instead in preparation for the DGW.
Honestly though, the case for selling Sanchez, and all of your Arsenal players, might look like a better option now after they lost at home to Watford in GW23. I mean seriously, Watford couldn’t have done more to prepare to lose that game, and yet they still found a win. Also remember, Wenger still has more time to serve in his suspension – so if that’s the sort of replacement sideline coaching we’re going to get for Arsenal while he’s away, maybe it really is best to wait until he comes back in his parka-dress to lead that team. Sure, there is that ‘gimmie’ of a game against Hull still on the Arsenal schedule prior to the bye, but can you trust this Arsenal squad to return good points away to Chelsea this weekend? In my eyes, the Hull game alone isn’t enough of a prize to justify the probable low scores coming your way from the Chelsea match.
Man City: Let me pick up from last week and say once again, “LOL’s to the nearly 20% of you wasting nearly 13m on Aguero”.
Now that we have that out of the way, I almost fully expect Aguero to make me eat my words and score a hatty here in GW23, but the odds and recent performances are saying that’s not likely. Scrap that, he didn’t even start. Give me a second, I’m laughing even harder here… On the real though, if you own some Man City players they are probably worth a HOLD straight through the bye and on into the following rounds. Prior to the bye, they’re going to play Swansea and Bournemouth, and straight after the bye they’ll play Sunderland and Stoke. I don’t know if you could justify owning multiple City players at this point, but if you do, it’s almost worth taking the zeroes in GW26 to roll straight on into Sunderland in GW27.
Man United: It’s looking like a peach of a schedule for United before and after the bye as well – though I still prefer City’s schedule by a slim margin. United will play Leicester and Watford before GW26, and they’ll get Bournemouth and Southampton straight after. But is any player here worth holding onto during the bye to take a zero?
In all honesty, Ibrahimovic and De Gea are the only two players that are owned in any real quantity – and as good as Ibra his, his pricing probably isn’t going to hurt you much if you sell him. We all had Ibra at the beginning of the year when he was 11.5m to start, but then he took a dive and was picked up again en masse after his scoring resurgence. But really, unless you picked him up at his absolute bottom price, he hasn’t risen a ton since that dip to make me worry about suffering his sell-on penalty. After all, he’s now 11.7m, so his 0.2m total rise on the year is nothing compared to Sanchez’s 0.9m total rise – so even if you do take a bit of a hit to drop Ibra, you can still get him back for nearly what he started at, meaning he’s affordable either way you look at it. I would list all Man U players as a SELL prior to the bye – you can get any one of them back easy enough prior to their DGW without having to worry too much about it.
Southampton: Nobody owns Southampton players. Seriously. Look at the stats, their players are being used for cover in limited squads, but nobody is investing heavily in them. Do they have an ok schedule before and after the bye? I think so. But are you going to get burned for dropping your odd Southy player early and avoiding the headache? I don’t think so. SELL your Southampton players before any of your Manchester players, and buy the odd differential back up before the DGW fixtures. (That’s right I called them Southy here, it will catch on).
#2) Best schedules not affected by the byes
Crystal Palace: Palace made the wonderful deadline move of NOT transferring in Arouna Kone from Everton. Given that they passed on Kone at the last minute shows me that their heads might actually be in the right place. Also, I have to give them a ton of credit for getting a 2-0 on the road against Bournemouth this last round. And they got a goal from Dann again finally. If they can replicate that kind of performance, their games coming up against Sunderland, Stoke and Middlesbrough could be a sneaky little treasure trove of fantasy points for the savvy fantasy player.
Everton: Let me say again, this is all being written prior to Everton playing their GW23 match against Stoke – but from what we’ve seen lately, Everton may be a good buy once again. Everton have 4 clean sheets in their last 5 games, and they’re cumulative scoreline for that run is a very decent 12-2. But…as is Everton’s natural tendency, we expect them to rise to the occasion in big games and lower themselves to the level of the competition in lesser games. But this run feels a bit more confident for me, so I’m saying that their next three matches against Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Sunderland will result in a continuing positive trend.
Tottenham: I think that every now and again, the Spurs have to look stupid and embarrassed to get their mojo back. And that’s what happened when Tottenham took on Sunderland. The game should have been winnable in a hundred different ways, but they were held to a nil-nil draw. In the long run, I think this will be a net positive for Spurs and should increase the productivity for their offence that looked to take their natural ability for granted midweek. They’ll play Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Stoke in the next three rounds, and the Liverpool game is the only game they’ll have to play away. Still, I like their chances at 9 points through this stretch.
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Like I was saying above, the upcoming byes have the potential to really change the landscape of the game depending on how soon you choose to manoeuver your team around them. So for that reason, let’s say for argument’s sake you drop Ibra and Aguero off your map right away – in that case I’m making Harry Kane my top pick. Kane has definitely been a bit more of a streaky player this year it seems, and he’s definitely not bringing that goal-per-game reliability that Ibra seems to. But when Kane goes off, he really goes off. He’s actually doing what everybody expects Aguero to do. He blanks for a week or two and then he comes back and absolutely crushes all other forward scores for the week. Kane actually is averaging a goal per game over his last 6 matches, but he’s blanked in three of those matches – so he’s that frustrating player that you have to have because he only knows how to score in bunches. Now that he’s had two blanks in a row, I expect him to follow his trend for the year and put the pieces together again.
Even as much as I like Kane, I think you need to consider Diego Costa now for a completely different reason. Sure, he’s a proven scorer and all, but now that Ibra and Aguero are probably going to get sold by managers who aren’t prepared to take blanks, Costa will probably take precedence over all other as the striker of choice for a week or two. Owning Costa just means that you’re going to keep pace with more people. Maybe you’re looking for a differential in certain areas of your team, but by not selecting Costa at any point in the next three rounds, you’ll find that you’re betting a key part of your weekly score against probably half the league. And that’s just a dangerous move no matter who you have instead of the choice forward. Whether or not you think Costa will have success against Arsenal this round or not, you should have him by GW26 just to ensure that you don’t get burned when Chelsea take on Swansea at home. By that point, it won’t even be about the score, you’ll just be buying him for the insurance.
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The forwards game is pretty well jammed up. With byes forcing your hand, and really very little production out of any real differential threats, selecting forwards is actually going to be quite boring for the next few rounds. The mids, as ever, are actually quite a bit more diverse. Since I wouldn’t recommend Alexis Sanchez this round against a stout Chelsea team anyway, it gets to be a bit more open still. Sadio Mane probably tops my list this week simply because he’s in a great fixture and nobody really owns him yet. Granted, 8.1% of players isn’t exactly ‘nobody’, but he’ll be picked up in greater numbers here as the weeks roll by now that he’s back from AFCON. Mane came on as a sub in the Chelsea game and only played 16 minutes, so he should be fresh and ready to go this weekend against a Hull team that has just completed a fire sale of their best players. Honestly, Hull aren’t even pretending that they’re trying to stay up in the Premiership after the sales they made in January, and it should be a perfect game for Mane to get back into the groove of things with his club.
Going a bit cheaper, and continuing to pick on underdogs, I give a shout to Wilfried Zaha this week from Crystal Palace. I think Zaha is a good choice for a couple of reasons. First off, Palace are hitting a bit of form, and they’re coming upon a great schedule like I said above. Secondly, Zaha’s price of 5.5m is a great placeholder if you plan on selling off some off your expensive bye week options and want to keep some funds open for buy-backs and a bit of fluid movement if your plan changes. Zaha came back into play this last round and played his typical full 90 again, but he was held off the scoresheet. But he does have 4 goals and 8 assists on the year, and I expect that he isn’t completely done scoring for the season and should have a decent outing against a team like Sunderland.
Lastly, if you still haven’t jumped on board yet, you need to either have Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli on your squad, especially since people will be moving their direction as the bye weeks near. The duo are owned at 16% and 27% respectively, so there’s definitely going to be an uptick in ownership as certain owners out there will be feeling like the game situation will be forcing their hand that way anyway. And in the same sense that Kane doesn’t blank forever, these two guys will also not blank week in and week out. They have some points coming their way here in the next several weeks.
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Not much in the way of tips here for this category since the defenders and keepers are rarely as static in movement as are the other positions. I mean honestly if you have Chelsea coverage already, you’re not going to go changing those guys around simply for their match against Arsenal. Likewise, if you have Tottenham in the back, you’re not going to switch those guys around to avoid the Liverpool game. And if we’re being honest, there probably isn’t a whole lot of movement that’s going to be needed in this category based on the bye weeks. There are a couple of Arsenal defenders that have decent ownership levels, but nobody owns either Manchester teams’ defences in any major quantity. Although John Stones is still above 10%….go figure. But if you are one of those players that needs to make a preemptive move to get away from some of those players, I’d start with Leighton Baines. Baines is averaging 8 points per game over his last five prior to Stoke and he’s got three great fixtures coming up that shouldn’t see him be a liability to have on your pitch full time. Plus, it looks like he’s probably going to stick to penalty kicks again – and that’s all Evertonians really wanted to see anyway.
If you’re making a forced change, you may well want to consider the game’s most owned defender in Kyle Walker (34%). Aside from his stellar scores, he’s the one guy that is the most beneficial to have just so that you don’t lose out against the herd. He’s the key defender that is getting added into most teams automatically as the wildcards are being played, but if you’re moving out your Arsenal defence, grabbing Walker before your wildcard is a sensible move that should probably be one of your top priorities.
Aside from these two guys, the defence is relatively straightforward. I could tell you to get Scott Dann…but that would be pushing it as defenders rarely score back to back. Let him simmer for a game or two and then try to add him before he nets his next unexpected goal.
There you have it folks, that’s my time this week. Now if Everton lose today, I’ll probably throw up because I’ve built this winning streak into something grand inside my head. I’ll blame the illness on catching a bug from my kid, but you’ll all know the truth.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Premier League Tips Gameweek 24. This article was written by Guy Sanchez (Footy Fantastic)