Is my Yahoo fantasy season slowly starting to show signs of a revival? A 115 point haul in Week 16 thanks to Michu and a scattering of my double-game selections will see AM FC safely through to the next round of The Blog Cup (the results will be calculated next week) and has me edging back towards the Top 2000. Matches and fantasy weeks come thick and fast over the Xmas and New Year period ....
15th Dec - Week 17 Deadline
22nd Dec - Week 18 Deadline
26th Dec - Week 19 Deadline
29th Dec - Week 20 Deadline
1st Jan - Week 21 Deadline
... so now is an ideal time to build a bit of a momentum and my target is to be in the Top 1500 come the end of Week 21.
On to Week 17 then, which is a single week for all teams except Southampton and Chelsea, who do not play. Their match will be rescheduled for a later week in the season as Chelsea are in Japan for the eternally pointless Fifa World Club Cup, so I'd suggest dropping players you may be holding from these two clubs. If one of those players is Adam Lallana then you have a tough decision to make, but rumours of a knee ligament injury continue to rumble on and if that is the case he's likely to be missing most, if not all of the gameweeks listed above.
From the nine fixtures that are taking place I fancy Manchester United's chances of knocking a few goals past Sunderland at Old Trafford and I'm expecting Liverpool's improved form to continue at home to Aston Villa. Norwich's remarkable reversal of form and fortune will have the team full of confidence and should lead to 3 points at home to Wigan and I'm still backing Arsenal to overcome a Reading team who have lost 6 in a row in the league.
I'm interested in Manchester City attackers for their trip to Newcastle and Tottenham v Swansea should be entertaining with plenty of goals possible at both ends of the pitch. Anything could happen in the game between QPR and Fulham ,with Harry Redknapp's team now seriously desperate for a win, so I'm finding it hard to call, but I predict low-scoring draws for West Brom v West Ham and Stoke v Everton.
Let's take a look at the players I'm considering for Week 17.
Lloris / Bunn - If you're holding Hugo Lloris at 2.09 (as I know many of you are) then I feel he's worth hanging on to. If you're not playing the long game with Lloris then it's a simple choice in my opinion. Mark Bunn has looked impressive, Norwich are in great league form, they have an relatively easy home game against Wigan and he costs just 1.93. I see no reason to look elsewhere.
Bassong - I think we've all picked Sebastien Bassong as some point this season but the majority of us never saw him as a long-term investment. Those who did are reaping the benefit now with clean sheets and goals coming out their ears and there's every chance of another double figure score at home to Wigan this weekend.
Shorey - Didn't seem to do anything during the double week but still picked up 14 points - despite no clean sheets and no Reading goals - thanks to a smattering of successful crosses and shots from distance. I think Reading will lose again but he should return his value against nervy Arsenal.
Vertonghen - Another 7 attacking point from Jan Vertonghen at Everton, he's likely to fair even better at home to Swansea in an open match.
Toure - With Vincent Kompany "very doubtful" and Joleon Lescott completely out of favour, Kolo Toure could well return to the Manchester City starting line-up this weekend and he costs just 4.52. Manchester City v Newcastle is the lunch-time kick-off so we'll get the line-ups before the deadline.
Wilkinson - Ryan Shotton is suspended so the affordable Andy Wilkinson will return in his place for Stoke's home game against Everton.
Jones - Undoubtedly a gamble, but isn't Sunderland at home exactly the sort of game Sir Alex Ferguson would give Phil Jones a run out in? He's costs just 4.70.
Piscu - Don't expect too much from Adrián López Rodríguez aka Piscu, but he's a decent filler option guaranteed a start.
Valencia - I agree with Neal that Antonio Valencia - so impressive against Manchester City - could enjoy some rare fantasy success against Sunderland this weekend.
Sterling - Anyone who dropped Raheem Sterling for the double-week should be picking him up again for the home game against Aston Villa.
Michu - Simply can't be ignored in his current form, but remains one yellow card away from a one match suspension. If he can survive until 1st January 2013 his slate will be wiped clean.
Pilkington - The pick of the Norwich midfielders, Anthony Pilkington is getting a lot of joy from the left hand side of the attack and often finds himself playing in support of Grant Holt.
Cazorla - Everyone has him.
Lennon - Aaron Lennon thrives in games that are stretched, leaving him plenty of space to run at people at pace and I'm expecting Swansea to go for the win at White Hart Lane. I think the little man could pick up some rare fantasy points.
Gera - He's no spring-chicken but Zoltan Gera is having a fine season for West Brom playing an attacking role and he could do some damage to West Ham.
Rosicky - A number of Arsenal players were very poor at Bradford on Tuesday night so it could be time for Arsene Wenger to give Tomas Rosicky a league start. He costs just 2.70 so we'll keep an eye on team news.
Javi Garcia - Is Garcia likely to start? Very possibly, with Gareth Barry suspended and Samir Nasri embarrassing himself last weekend. At 4.53 he could be a terrific option and remember, we'll get the City line-up before the deadline.
Rooney / van Persie - I know both men are very expensive but the thought of not having a Manchester United forward for a home game against Sunderland terrifies me. We need to keep an eye on news on Wayne Rooney, who was suffering with illness earlier this week. It would be handy for fantasy managers if the far more affordable Javier Hernandez became an option.
Suarez - Liverpool proved against West Ham that they can win without him, but they'll still be delighted to welcome Luis Suarez back from suspension. He's priced above 21 so you need to be confident of at least one goal from the Uruguayan, but a home game against Aston Villa is tempting.
Snodgrass / Holt - Robert Snodgrass was typically sensational at Swansea after an appalling performance against Sunderland the week before (when I picked him) and his price has sky-rocketed as a result. He's on set pieces and loves to shoot from every angle so he's still worth a look for the Wigan match but if you don't fancy paying full price then penalty taker Grant Holt is a very decent alternative.
Tevez / Aguero - As mentioned towards the beginning of this post I'm keen on City forwards and their game at struggling Newcastle is the lunch-time kick-off so we'll get the line-ups before the deadline. With Mancini's men now 6 points behind United he surely has to play his big two up-top? If he does I'm leaning towards Tevez.
Berbatov - All results are possible between QPR and Fulham, I'm sure there will be goals and as Neal mentioned in TWA, Dimitar Berbatov has history for scoring big points against poorer teams.
Giroud - Sunderland managed to score 3 goals against Reading. If Olivier Giroud is fit - and with the game on Monday night he has a decent chance - then he will get plenty of opportunities to score, but I accept that another quiet week will see plenty of fantasy managers jumping off the wagon (if you haven't already).
That's it for the players. Please check back here at NMA on Friday for all the important team and injury news to give yourself the best chance of fielding 11 starters.
Here's what I currently have on my Yahoo team page...
Lloris, Piscu, Vertonghen, Shorey, Rosicky, Sterling, Cazorla, Michu, Snodgrass, Suarez, Rooney
I like it, although I've mentioned the slight concern over Rooney and I'd love a City striker in there somewhere. I'll need to keep an eye on Rosicky related team news and have 2.01 available in the bank to upgrade him to Wilshere, or switch Piscu to Wilkinson / Toure / Jones.
How's your team shaping up?