The Week Ahead, Part 2 - Player Picks

Theo isn't letting him go, why would you in a week lacking compelling match-ups? (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Earlier today (or yesterday depending on where you are in the world) we covered the difficulties associated with the schedule for the coming week. Given the lack of anything additional to write on the schedule I'm going to diverge onto a different topic for my intro. That topic is the big topic of the day - the resignation of Fabio Capello.

I'll admit that being here in the States makes it difficult to know what all is entailed in managing the Three Lions. There is obviously a great deal of pressure in the press on Capello. The press, and the English population, still believe in the myth of English exceptionalism in the game of soccer despite the fact that books like Soccernomics have pointed out that England actually tends to perform as it should in most tournaments given population, focus on the game, etc. The myth is that, because the game was invented there and it is still the national passion to the exclusion of most other athletic activities, the English team SHOULD win more trophies and not doing so is a failure of the manager.

It is a shame for Capello, who from an outsiders standpoint, seems to be doing reasonably well managing a team that has one real star in Wayne Rooney who has been hurt when it has mattered most. Outside of Rooney there are a bunch of players who are above average players on the International stage but not superstars. As much as players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, and Ashley Cole are excellent in league play where they play against the flotsam and jetsam of the Premier League most weekends they don't measure up when it comes to playing against Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the like. Honestly, when you think about the best players in the Premier League this season how many of them are English? Gerrard, Lampard, Ferdinand, and Terry are fading. Players like Barry, Carrick, Milner, Defoe, Adam Johnson are solid complimentary players on "big" teams but the stars come from other places. Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, and Micah Richards are perhaps the only three current players at or near their peak playing prominent roles for "big" teams.

As an international manager, there isn't a lot that you can do to improve the players available. In the US, you can unearth players eligible to play for multiple countries one of which is the US. In England, there aren't many such options and any that there are seem to be taboo because of the politics that are seemingly associated with team selection.

I realize that this is a bit of a ramble but if you're wondering where it is all going, the answer is that it all leads to the idea that the job has to be a bit of a miserable one other than the pay on offer (for the right name). High (and unrealistic) expectations, overrated talent, big egos, and a press willing to base their selling of papers on ripping you for the circumstances you inherited. I wonder how Harry Rednapp will enjoy it when he can't buy Rafael van der Vaart on the eve of Euro2012.

OK, on to the player picks on for a week where we are advocating reverting to class and value.

Forwards

  • Daniel Sturridge - He didn't get credit for the goal he created against Manchester United but his fortunes should be better at Everton and his price to production ratio is strong.
  • Scott Sinclair - I like both Sinclair and Danny Graham against Norwich but Sinclair is the better value at 10.54 (vs. 12.46 for Graham). The combination of Norwich giving up goals even when it collects points and Swansea's home dominance give me some modicum of hope for the Swans in this match-up.
  • Steven Fletcher - He's had a quiet three weeks on the trot but playing at home against West Brom seems like the sort of tonic that will make a guy who has been a strong value most of the season continue to be one this weekend.
  • Luis Suarez - His price has dropped during his absence and then the punchless return so far. My sense is that he's had enough time that he should be returning to sharpness and it isn't like United shut down Chelsea in last weekend's big match up.
  • Stay with your Discounts - For those of you who have high quality players like van Persie and Aguero on big discounts, I would suggest you stay with them. There aren't compelling match-ups that should be driving you elsewhere so I'd keep the quality at a discount.
Midfielders
  • Stay with your Discounts - Same message with your midfielders like Valencia, Silva, Sigurdsson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, etc. No strong reasons to ditch them to follow the best match-ups.
  • Clint Dempsey - He's been a stud all season and Fulham are strong at home. I can't think of any reason to think that Stoke should dissuade you from picking him.
  • Jamie O'Hara - Like Luis Suarez, O'Hara had a quiet return to the line-up but his price has dropped and there is solid reason to think that home to West Brom will be a better opportunity for him to return to the sort of form that made him a frequent selection earlier in the season.
  • Adel Taarabt - See Jeremy's post on Mark Hughes and his impact on the fantasy value of the wingers that play for him. His price isn't too silly at this point and there could be some upside to be had. Oh, and going up against Rovers has been good for a lot of people's fantasy outlook.
Defenders
  • Stay with your Discounts - Getting a bit repetitive isn't it. Sorry but this is a status quo sort of week for guys like Vermaelen or Rangel on big discounts.
  • Taye Taiwo - Still on it, still waiting for him to break out a bit. A couple of more weeks before I lose patience and sell him as he's on the verge of becoming a fantasy stud.
  • Rafael - I dislike recommending this guy almost as much as I disliked recommending Ashley Cole at the height of his productivity (and douchy-ness). His attitude and body language on the pitch are miserable but that doesn't mean he isn't a strong fantasy value and the beauty of fantasy is that you don't actually have to put up with the players you select in person.
  • Philippe Senderos - I'm good recommending the under-priced Cottager any time Fulham are playing at home against a team mid-table on down to the bottom. At home - check; Middling-or-less Opponent - check; Recommendation - check.
  • Nedum Onuoha - Always good to look for players who have a Premier League track record that by virtue of a switch of clubs will be starting regularly as opposed to sitting on the bench. He's a good example of a solid fantasy player waiting to happen with a regular role.
Goalkeepers
  • I'm sticking with Tim Krul because I have him at a big discount. This isn't the week to be buying him at his retail price as he is playing at Spurs.
  • Mark Schwarzer - The best value buy after a bad weekend last weekend.
  • Michel Vorm - If you're willing to spend a bit more and buy in to the Swansea-at-home story.
  • Paul Robinson - If you think Rovers will rebound in a big way against a QPR team that has yet to really bed in after all their January changes. Oh, and he'll only cost you 1.00.
  • Adam Bogdan - Bolton isn't actually a terrible bet to get a clean sheet against Wigan at the Reebok. I wouldn't invest heavily in that proposition but Bogdan isn't that expensive and he isn't Robbo.
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