After what was yet another enthralling gameweek the festive season is finally over. Time for me to take a break, but before I do I will leave you with some reading to keep you busy over the next few days! I know we haven’t all played it but most of us with have our wildcards in play. This means we will need to plan our trades early to take advantage of price rises. I will also discuss whether we should all play our wildcards or if we should hold them until after the trade window ends. Along with the winners and losers I will take a look at some of the better budget options in each line. Oh and of course the knee-jerks! Let’s take a look…
- Suarez – When he gets going he is very hard to stop, 4 goals and an assist in his last 2 games says enough. He lost his way for 4 games but since that down period he has notched 809 points at 202.25 ppg. Ok so he’s not that good (Well done EA) but he’s still scored a very respectable 41 points at over 10 ppg. A great option, especially if you don’t own RVP. By far and away the second best striker to own this season.
- RVP – And that ladies and gentleman is why we captain RVP. He is a fixture proof, captain ready option and he will make life as an fpl manager so much easier. Select and forget. Lock him in and throw away the keys. You get the point, best player in the game currently.
- Berbatov – Back in form it seems, 21 points in his last 3 games says as much. He is essential to Fulham’s attacking play and as suspected, with Ruiz back he is back. Has the ability to dominate a game and with penalty duties in his locker he provides super value. Great mid price option.
- Ruiz – If you want a budget forward option, this guy is the man. Don’t worry about the fact that he plays midfield, he is integral to Fulham’s lineup and will be a major part in most of their goals. Another 7 points last week backs up his performance from the week before where he managed 7 shots on target! At 5.4, he is incredible value and is well and truly locked into my team. Will allow you to upgrade to Vanners and be the perfect back up option on the bench, he really could start if you need him to. Not enough superlatives to describe him, pretty much like Berba at 5.4.
- Hernandez– After Fergie sent managers into a spin last week, Chicha made up for it with a sublime performance, scoring 2 goals and an assist. While he is great value and will continue to be so for another game or two, Rooney should return by the end of the month. With Kagawa back also, he could get benched at any time really. Not very reliable.
- Walcott – His emergence as a premium fantasy asset continues to grow, 7 attacking returns in 8 starts says as much. He is now locked into Wenger’s first XI and looks set to re-sign. Let’s just hope he wasn’t just performing for a new contract, keep it going Theo! 77 points in 8 games is all I need to say, he is the real deal now.
- O’Brien – Quite a few people (including me) had brought him in as a budget defensive option, just it was one week too late! He then got hauled off after 61 minutes, just before West ham lost their clean sheet. Plenty of others gladly took his 15 points off the bench and felt like Jesus had just been thrusted upon them. I don’t, third time I’ve brought in a defender as they score whilst sitting in my lineup for next week. Jesus hates me. Anyway, O’Brien looks a safe option for West Ham’s upcoming DGW and will be set for investment over the wildcard period.
- Zabaleta – He was looking a good option when Maicon and Richards were both out injured, but his added goal threat recently has put him right into many managers mind. At just 5.9 he could provide great value, especially with Nastasic’s job security now under question. Maicon’s fitness is key, hard to find much info on it right now.
- Evra – For a player who went 3 seasons without even scoring a goal, 4 goals and 3 assists just over half way through the season seems ridiculous. He is now the highest scoring defender in the game, the only question is the value he presents. Is 7.0 worth it for a guy who you would be mostly relying on attacking returns? Probably not, especially since he doesn’t create the most chances. Risky, but could be worth the punt if you have spare cash.
- Gerrard – The only reason he isn’t in my team is due to the fact that I can’t fit him in! So many options (which I will get to later) means that it is hard to fit in POD’s like Stevie. However another 10 point haul means he is hard to ignore at the moment. 50 points in 5 games, what more could you want! Still ever reliable it seems, great option with a fair amount of risk attached to him. One for the gamblers…
- Torres – This is the last time I’m putting him in here, simply because no one should own him next gameweek! Another striker is almost sure to come in, which will mean his starting spot is in doubt and his gametime will be significantly reduced. Hopefully it will help guys like Mata, someone may actually be able to finish the chances created 😉
- Nastasic – Mancini’s rotation came into affect once again, it now must make us rethink Nastasic’s job security. Zabaleta looks the better option at the moment if you want some cover in City’s defence, he will provide an attacking threat also.
- Riise – Another loser this week, he’s missed Fulham’s last 2 games with what can only be a suspected knock. Either that or he is way out of favour. You probably shouldn’t have him anyway, better value options our there (see budget options later on) or you can upgrade to guys like Zabaleta or Shawcross.
- Tevez – Interesting one this. I feel that long term he definitely should be traded, but with Aguero out surely he will pick up his game. Here’s a stat, in games which Aguero hasn’t started Tevez has scored 58 points at 8.3 ppg. Not bad and considering he should start each week it may be worthwhile holding for another couple of weeks.
- Benitez – Just thought he had to be in here this week. LOSER. I was going to put Hazard in here but in reality, it wasn’t his fault. I’m sure he would have loved to be out there thumping a struggling team, same with Mata. Why not start your best 2 players when there is 10 days between premier league clashes? Seriously? Even if there is an FA cup game, surely that’s when you would rest them… Probably closed the door on their slim title hopes.
- Chelsea – It wasn’t just Benitez, if you look at Chelsea’s team it should surely still be good enough to topple the bottom team at home. Terrible performance, they didn’t show up. Luiz had a horror, will be interesting to see if he maintains his midfield role. Don’t worry, Mata shouldn’t get rested again this season.
- Ba – If he is indeed of to Chelsea (pretty much a done deal) then I’m not so sure it will help him. He shouldn’t do any better than he was at Newcastle but Rafa rotation will come into play. Benitez still has a man crush on Torres so his job security will be poor, I can’t see them playing both in the same team. He may prove me wrong but too risky before we find out his role.
- Ba – Quite a few people are trading him in on the back of his likely move to Chelsea. Don’t be so quick on the trigger, I’d wait until he’s played a few games. even then I reckon his job security will be too risky for me.
- Defoe – Suddenly a heap of people are trading him out? For Ba I presume, bad call I reckon. yes he missed out last gameweek but don’t let that put you off. Adebayor could be off to the African Cup of nations and with bale returning he is still great value. Hold if you have him.
- Cazorla – A disappointing showing last week from the Spaniard, however a DGW is around the corner so certainly hold if you have him. That next big gameweek is right around the corner I reckon.
- Martin – Russell. Russell who? Martin of course! Wait, you’ve never heard of him? Oh. Yet people are blindly trading him in on the back of a flukish goal scoring run. No, no, no.
- Marveaux – He won’t hold his first XI place when Ben Arfa returns, he was a good short term option but I wouldn’t bring him in with your wildcard, will only cause issues trying to dump him. Puncheon is your best option at that price range, has both ability and security.
- Hernandez – Chicharito made up for his blank last gameweek with a superb 15 points on Tuesday. However don’t let this tease you into bringing him in. How’s this, he is yet to start two games in a row all season. I’m sure this will change next week but with Rooney eying a return in a couple of games I’m not sure it’s worth bringing him in now. Missed the boat.
- Dzeko – This one could go either way. he has been superb over the past coupe of games and with Aguero likely to miss at least 2 games he is settled into the starting XI for now. For now. Is it worth bringing him in with your wildcard? Probably not, you would want to straight swap him out for a guy like Berba. Be careful, we might have missed the boat. Most certainly not a long term option.
Wildcard, should I play it?
Before I get into the wildcard I need to have a vent. I’m not sure I agree with this January wildcard to be honest. All it will do is leave us all with practically the same teams, hardly any POD’s and nowhere to move. Captain decisions will be so important, and even then RVP will produce most weeks anyway. Guys like Walcott were a POD for me not long ago, with this wildcard no way. I have the exact same midfield and now so do thousands of others. I also have the same strikers… what’s the point? Anyway that’s my vent, stupid second wildcard. Bad idea, ruins the game.
Anyway! We do have it so how is it best used? I’ve changed my mind a few times on this issue. Firstly I was planning to use it as soon as GW 21 ended, but then I thought, why not wait? I was pretty happy with my team, scoring well and reckoned I could see what happened throughout the transfer window then set myself up at the end of January. Now I’ve changed my mind for a third time! This time for good though, I’ve used it. Quite a few people were worried about Arsenal’s DGW, however you can set your team up for this anyway with get out clauses as well. I’ve got Walcott and Cazorla and also brought in O’Brien. I can easily trade out Walcott or Cazorla for Fellaini after GW 23 and free up some cash also. If you have guys like Ba or Fellaini and transfer rumours are flying around it may be better to wait, who knows what will happen. However my team are all certainly staying in the BPL and I see no reason to chase guys who get transferred in. Personally it was better for me to get on the front foot, anyone who doesn’t take it immediately will be behind the ball game for the next few weeks, not only points wise but value also. If there’s method to your madness and your happy with your team then be patient, but don’t hold back if you need it!
p.s A lot of people are trying to gain value on players, however they need to go up by at least 0.2 to gain any benefit. If there is a player you are thinking of bringing in with any danger of gaining value this week then make sure you have them first.
Is there a such thing as a must have?
I say this in regard to a few players. Van Persie, Suarez, Bale, Fellaini, Mata and Michu have all put forward claims to this title at different stages this season. In fact there is a strong argument to claim there is a template 5 man midfield that we all need. This season we have seen more options like these than ever before, it has never really been such an issue. There are some players we just can’t afford not to have! After all a midpricer has been leading the golden boot… Here’s my opinion.
There are a few must haves, but not the ones you may think. Van Persie is by far and away the best, most consistent player in the game and if you want to score well without too much effort and worry then he is your man. Just captain him and away you go. However it is not impossible to score well without him, it just requires a lot of skill and a huge amount of luck. Captain decisions must go your way, and all your players must perform. It is not impossible though, hence I don’t reckon he is a must have. However I reckon you need him, just makes life so much easier.
Suarez is borderline, depending whether you have RVP or not. If you don’t then Suarez is a must, but if you have invested in RVP then you could certainly find 2 great replacements to fill your forward line. I have both, once again they are just so consistent it makes life a lot easier. they scored over half my total (48 points) this gameweek… More than a few peoples total score!
Mata is another borderline call, but another which you can get away with. I like to fill my team with consistency, he has scored fpl points in 12 of his 13 starts. I doubt Benitez will be brave enough to rest him again. Having guys like RVP, Suarez and Mata all in your team pretty much guarantees you points each week. Make one of them captain and it makes the game much easier, I’ll take that. However if you want to play hard ball you can find options that will score as well as Mata whilst freeing up your budget, just they can’t match his consistency. Once again luck will play it’s part.
Here’s where I feel we reach must have status. Not on the most expensive guys like RVP and Suarez as people can spread their budgets throughout their team to match his returns, but mid-pricers who play like premiums. Michu was leading the golden boot up until his ankle knock the other day, just past the halfway point and he has 13 goals! 13 in 19 games to be precise, ridiculous for a guy who was priced at 6.5. I can’t see how you can gain an advantage by not having him. You can’t really save cash as he is priced way below premium status, yet he leads the midfielders for points scored! Michu is a must have in my opinion, what do you have to gain by not having him…?
Another man who was pretty much reaching must have status is Fellaini. Prior to his headbutt was Fellaini was dominating, there was a period where he scored in 6 consecutive gameweeks scoring 56 points at an average of 9.3! When priced at around 7.0-7.5 for that part of the season, he was a must have as well! The most important thing was that almost half the game owned him and Michu, so when they continued to score week after week if you didn’t have them you were behind the eight ball!
When mid-pricers perform as premiums they become must haves in my view, to be honest I’ve never seen a season like it with 2 guys priced at 6.5 completely dominating. I am yet to bring Fellaini back in, to be honest I’m hoping he leaves Everton during the January transfer window. It will allow me to get a POD into my team and see some differentials going around!
There is one premium mid I do see as a must have. Gareth Bale is an absolute superstar, and he can take the game away from any opposition at any time. As he matures he is becoming more consistent and more dangerous. One of those rare players who is fixture proof, he gears himself up for the big games, notching goals against Liverpool, Arsenal and United. His 21 point haul just a few games ago proves why he is a must have, once he gets going he is unstoppable. Especially when 50% of the game own the guy, you can’t afford not to have him! The final nail in the coffin is the real lack of a super premium midfielder. The days of Gerrard and Lampard dominating fpl are over, and fact is there are no options in midfield that outweigh Bale.
Finally I just want to touch on the fact that we are moving towards template midfields this year. When there are a lot of options going around you can get quite a few differentials, but with the inconsistency of most premiums there are only a few who warrant selection. Michu and Fellaini are must haves when going due to their incredible value, Bale is too good not to have and Mata is the perfect, consistent route into Chelsea’s extraordinary midfield. There’s 4 already. Now that Walcott is playing OOP upfront for Arsenal and destroying teams, your done. Who are you going to leave out of that 5? Are you brave enough? Can you afford to? I don’t think you can if you are serious about doing well, especially when pretty much every active player has them. This leaves us hardly any room for POD’s in our midfield, also budget options become harder to select with Walcott’s emergence. Intriguing which way the games going, as I say I hope Fellaini leaves for the sake of keeping things interesting.
With a lot of wildcards in play the only differentials may be in our budget options. To afford all of our premiums we must have a few in our team. There are certainly plenty to look at, so here’s a summary.
- Ruiz – The best budget forward option in my opinion, the only one you should need. I spoke about him in the winners section and it all reads true. An average of 5 ppg as a 5.4 forward is unbelievable value, especially now that he is fit and a certain starter. 2 goals and 8 assists in just 12 games is a great return and with set pieces in his locker he will be a fantastic bench warmer, even starter if you need, whilst freeing up plenty of cash to spend elsewhere.
- Hernandez – Pablo Hernandez that is, I’ve had him the last couple of weeks and have enjoyed his potential immensely. He really should have had more points if Graham had of finished his lay off and he didn’t miss an open goal! He is a class player and 5.9 is a steal. Will be a certain starter for Swansea and great value if you can fit him in. If Fellaini goes he is my first port of call!
- Davies – The first defensive option, with Neil Taylor out for the season he should be great value at just 4.2. However when I have Swansea defenders they never seem to keep a clean sheet, strange. With Vorm back however I’m hoping of more security and more Davies points soon, he has got assists and bonus points while at it. Real potential for value here.
- O‘Brien – After his goal on New Years Day O’Brien has become the West Ham defender of choice for the DGW coming up. Probably fair enough too, he seems to be their only budget option with safe job security. A slight goal threat is just a bonus.
- Harte – Set piece taker in a much improved defence who has scored 21 points in the last 4 games. Did I mention he is just 3.8! The bonus of having failed DGW’s, he is real value as a 5th defender. Not sure how long he will start for but while he does he is the perfect option. If your desperate for cash, this is who you look towards.
- Wilkinson – A first team regular while Wilson is out in what is probably the best performing defensive lineup, at just 4.4? Sounds, and is great value. As I say while Wilson is out he is superb value, then even when Wilson returns he is a perfect straight swap at just 4.2. A great way to get investment into Stoke’s solid defense whilst freeing up cash for spending elsewhere. Who wants to spend big on defenders anyway?
- Taarabt – He can produce sheer brilliance at times, a fantastic player to watch and one with unbelievable potential. However way too often he doesn’t produce what he should. Inconsistency is his biggest let down, and this can be bad news in fantasy. Even though he has had 3 games totaling 30 points, he only averages 3.9 ppg. Not great, guys like hernandez as previously mentioned (4.3 ppg) are much safer options and probably better long term. As I said the other day, toss a 10 sided die. One of those numbers is a successful game for Taarabt, you do the odds…
- Puncheon – Finally I get to Puncheon. he has been the budget midfielder of choice and if your not willing to spend more than 5.9, he probably is the best option available. He is locked in Southampton’s first XI team and has the ability to produce solid returns, 2 double figure returns and an average of 4.1 ppg is very decent at 4.8. The perfect bench warmer to help free up your budget elsewhere.
That’s it from me today, a massive wrap up for sure. Look out for the pundits review coming soon, after that we’ll enjoy a well-deserved break! We will be back next Tuesday and return to our usual schedule! Hope you all enjoyed. Cheers.