With the holidays coming upon us quickly, I will make the pre-amble to my recommendations brief. For the second week in a row I fell an annoying half point off of the 100 point mark. Yes, two straight 99.5s. The upside is that it is my 3rd consecutive week of besting Jeremy after he spent the beginning of the season putting solid distance between the two of us in the standings. Nik made a rousing Tuesday comeback to beat me (for the first time in a few weeks) by 15 points. I'm still bringing up the rear among the three of us but at least things have been heading in the right direction for me as November has turned to December.
The first major note that I'm sure everyone is aware of by now is that Chelsea and Southampton are not playing this weekend due to Chelsea's date with the Club World Cup thingy. If you didn't know, now you do.
Elsewhere, Manchester United, Norwich and the defenses for Liverpool and Aston Villa seem like strong bets for match-up-based advantages. You'd think Arsenal facing Reading would qualify as well but Arsenal are in a really bad place right now and I can't imagine anyone placing big bets there. Even Santi Cazorla has only averaged just over 6 points/match over his last four matches in the Yahoo format.
With those thoughts in mind, here are my recommendations as you start putting your team together:
Robert Snodgrass - Obviously I like him a lot more at his BD price (in the 11s) but if you look at his effectiveness and the match-up, he's still solid value compared to guys like Rooney and Ba who produce similar results for a bunch more money.
Dimitar Berbatov - Berbs loves a weak opponent and QPR are nothing if not a weak opponent.
Kevin Mirallas - There aren't many forwards out there with reasonable prices and assuming Mirallas was actually rested at halftime as a precaution and he'll be good for this weekend (which is what was reported during the match) then he's a solid source of potential value even against Stoke's stingy defense.
Carlos Tevez - One would assume that Roberto Mancini has learned his lesson and will start Aguero and Tevez until they start to show some fatigue-based regression. The team is out of the Champions League so there should be plenty of rest to be had and they need every point they can get to catch United for the title again. Oh, and Tevez like Snodgrass is much better value for similar production to Rooney.
Grant Holt - If you don't have the money or stomach for Snodgrass at retail then Holt is a nice alternative at 11.
Luis Suarez - I know I said I liked Liverpool vs. Aston Villa as a defensive struggle in the intro but Luis Suarez hates me and I'm sure he'll do well if I don't recommend him so you can consider this either a recommendation or a jinx...your choice.
Antonio Valencia - A bit of a mystery in that he only has one double digit effort so far this season. We know he's more talented that that and a lopsided match against Sunderland who feature defensively challenged wide midfielders and only adequate outside backs might be just the thing to get him on track. Oh, and I needed to find some source of value in the United line-up with Rooney and RvP so overpriced for their production.
Kevin Nolan - He's been scuffling a bit over the last month or so but so have this weekend's opponents West Brom. The price on Nolan has come down to a reasonable level (9.95) which means it's time to dive back in.
Moussa Dembele - I have no good reason for this one other than the feeling that he should be returning to full fitness here soon and with Bale back, the points could follow at a reasonable price.
Steve Sidwell - Nik will hate me for it and his price has risen above the level I'd usually be comfortable with but he's been very effective this season and away to QPR shouldn't scare anyone even with "Fulham" and "Away" in the same sentence.
(I'm assuming just about everyone is keeping Cazorla and Michu at steep discounts)
Nikica Vidic - With Johnny Evans out and Vidic presumably back, he could be a very reasonable option at the back against a goal-shy opponent. Nice timing on a potential return.
Nicky Shorey - He didn't do a ton over the double week but are you telling me you're going to bet against someone who takes set pieces when they're playing Arsenal? I'm not.
Steven Whittaker - Hard to pay for Sebastian Bassong on the back of two consecutive goal-scoring weeks - Whittaker profiles similarly for less money and has an equally good match-up.
Eric Lichaj - Nice value since some of the old stand-bys (Bassong, Cameron, Shotton, etc.) have seen their prices go up.
Andy Wilkinson - Shotton is out suspended and Wilkinson is rounding back into good health at a very reasonable price.
Mark Bunn - Can't beat the price combined with the match-up if you're buying on the discount rack.
Andres Lindegaard - He should be back from his paternity leave and in net for United against Sunderland. Solid potential value for the price but not great.
Jussi Jaaskelainen - He had a rough one last week and unlike his peers among the best point-scorers at the position his price is still pretty flexible and fell to 7.61 which is a solid bargain considering he's just a shade below Petr Cech for the most points among goalkeepers so far this season. At West Brom isn't great but it isn't a bad bet either.