Can you manage Robin van Persie? Can you manage without him?

Michael Regan

Can you manage to assemble a fantasy team with Robin van Persie eating up 30% of your budget? Can you manage to compete without him?

5. Sell Beckham

New rule named after an old joke. If there is a player who is head and shoulders above the rest of the league (like RvP last season), just buy him. Suck it up. Gut the defence, and buy him. In years past guys like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Cristiano Ronaldo have defined this category. This group is not to be confused with very good fantasy players like Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale, or Vincent Kompany - all are very good but none of the three are SO over and above everyone else that you couldn't replace their points at that position. The question here is whether Robin van Persie can maintain this status for this season - will he be healthy enough? Will he even be in the Premier League?

Well... eleven weeks into the Premier League season and I think we're starting to get an answer to those last questions. Van Persie is certainly still in the League, he's healthy enough, and he's still the class of the League - both in real life and in fantasy.

That begs the next question - what do we do as fantasy managers? In the Yahoo! game, van Persie is a ridiculous 29.86. But can you afford not to have him? And if you can't, what are your options to afford him?

My take is this: Unless you have Juan Mata or Gareth Bale, you have to get Robin van Persie. There are no other players producing the same value week in and week out. Of those three, it's van Persie who has the best chance of continuing his run of form as Manchester United's schedule compares very favorably over the next month.

That begs the next question - how do we as fantasy managers afford the Flying Dutchman? Here's a list of cheap options in the Yahoo! game that can help you build around van Persie.

Goalkeepers

  • Gerhard Tremmel - Swansea travel south to play the Southampton and that fixture always brings fantasy investment with it. Southampton have some bite to them, but this isn't a terrible pick.
  • Adam Federici - wasn't good when he was starting at the beginning of the season, but Alex McCarthy is out with a shoulder injury and Reading are hosting Norwich. Only for the brave of heart.
  • Paulo Gazzaniga/Artur Boruc - cheap as chips but if we learn which one starts for Southampton... you can pick the other one.
  • Julio César - not as cheap as the other options on this list, but he has a better chance of actually returning points for you - Stoke have only scored three home goals this season, allowing only one. He's your option if you just need a shave a few bucks off your best bet pick of Asmir Begovic or Tim Howard.

Defenders

  • Shane Ferguson - cheapest defender on the board and actually scored points as a "super-sub" last month. A safe pick, with limited upside.
  • Gary Monk - facing Southampton, albeit on the road. Monk might not start if Chico Flores returns from injury. UPDATE: "Chico is now 'very doubtful' for Saturday's trip to St Mary's as he struggles to get over the knock, with club captain Garry Monk again on standby to fill in."
  • Andy Wilkinson - starting opposite his usual right flank with Marc Wilson injured. Terrible match last week, but he has a history of decent fantasy returns for the price.
  • Ryan Bertrand - If Ashley Cole misses out, Bertrand is starting for Chelsea this weekend.
  • Chris Gunter - see Federici, Adam above
  • Sebastien Bassong - SeaBass!

Midfielders

I think this is where you spend your money. There are enough decent midfielders for around the 8 price point to round out your squad. But if you're desperate:

  • John Obi Mikel - likely starter, likely to return a few points.
  • Tom Cleverley - he's your bargain basement entry into Manchester United's good run of games. His fantasy returns have been down with United's matches against Arsenal and Chelsea, but could return (sorry) against the lower teams.
  • Raheem Sterling - the season's number one enabler. He's still not too expensive, surprisingly, and returning value. The knock here is the match-up, at Chelsea.

Forwards

Slim pickings here, but:

  • Jason Roberts - started the last few matches for Reading. He's a rotation risk with Reading picking two from him, Noel Hunt, and Pavel Pogrebnyak. But he's cheap and a shot on goal gets you your money back.

I hope this helps. There's a great discussion going on along these lines over on Nik's Week 11 AM Picks post. Are then any players I've missed, or over- (or under-) rated?

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