We're now a few days into the SBNation.com re-design and we hope you're getting used to the new surroundings here at the blog. We certainly understand that there will be aspects of the re-design that people love and aspects that they don't love so much and to make things even more confusing, those lists will differ by user. We are certainly interested in hearing your feedback in the comments section and we will do our best to pass that feedback along to the powers-that-be at SBNation so that they can evaluate the launch and potentially make tweaks over time.
Please also keep in mind that Jeremy, Nik and me are learning about new publishing tools that we have available to us as we have the time and mental energy to internalize how best they can be used. There are a lot of new features available to us but we only have so much brainpower to apply to changing the way we do what we do at any given time. Hopefully, you're liking the StoryStream concept where we can group a bunch of related posts - like news related to the League Cup - in one place so you don't have to search up and down a list of chronologically ordered posts to find them. Over time, we'll find creative ways to use this and other new features at our disposal and we fully expect and hope that you are open and constructive with your feedback on what is working and what isn't. For our part, we'll promise to listen to all comments with an open mind and try our best to take that feedback into account in whatever ways we can to continue improving the experience we deliver here at Never Manage Alone.
OK, back to what we actually do here, the coming week of games and what they mean for your fantasy team. Newcastle (@Reading) and Everton (vs. Southampton) are the major focal points while Arsenal and Chelsea's match has this blogger staying away where possible. On to the picks:
- Nikica Jelavic - Kevin Mirallas got all of the BD love last weekend in Jelly's absence but with Jelavic looking like he'll be healthy again, you have to expect he's the best bet among Everton forwards. [FYI, it is my assumption that Anichebe goes to the bench despite his strong supporting role the last two matches]
- Kevin Mirallas - Despite Jelavic being the better option, that doesn't mean Mirallas is a BAD option.
- Demba Ba - He's been on fire to start the season and Reading has given us no reason to think that they're the ones that can stop him.
- Ricky Lambert - Everton have been good but hardly airtight at the back. The only concern here is that Lambert is getting expensive in the Yahoo format.
- Steven Fletcher - I've been beating him and his one touch, one goal habit up since he arrived at Sunderland but if ever there was a match where he seems likely to get more opportunities for both goals and phantom points, it would be home to Wigan.
- Peter Crouch - Swansea are a mess at the back which should give Crouchy a chance to have a nice weekend.
- Hatem Ben Arfa - I can't say I was expecting it but HBA is slowly adding some consistency on phantom points to his occasional amazing goals. You have to love the match-up
- Maraune Fellaini - He's clearly taken a large step forward this season and you'd be foolish not to notice even if he still looks fairly clunky out there.
- Steven Pienaar - He's less noticeable on the field than his Belgian teammate but his play has been no less impressive. After not making an impact in a talented Spurs midfield, he seems to have rediscovered his proper level and he's thriving again.
- Michu - I'm not jumping off the bandwagon.
- Esteban Granero - A solid debut but then he had a tough run against better teams but he looks the part and the opposition gets easier this weekend. A nice lower-priced option.
- Adam Lallana - Gaston Ramirez is the more popular name but against a hot team like Everton on the road, I'd rather go with the guy most likely to get phantom points and that's Lallana whose price isn't that much higher despite having a stronger early track record.
- Michael Kightly - I was hoping for more consistency from him so far this season but I'm still hanging on to my belief in him as a fantasy player (at a reasonable price).
- Santi Cazorla - His price still isn't over 10 so if you're one of the people who aren't "in" yet, what are you waiting for? No, I don't care that he's playing Chelsea.
- Leighton Baines - Yup, the price is high but the production has been worth it so far this season. Find the money.
- Phil Jagielka - If you can't find the money on Baines.
- James Perch/Davide Santon - The inexpensive ways to get to Newcastle's defense against Reading. The only downside is neither player scores much in the absence of a clean sheet.
- Titus Bramble - It isn't often that we recommend him but home against Wigan for a reasonable price seems like a reasonable time if ever there was one (although I'm open to the possibility that there isn't).
- Branislav Ivanovic - Less a "buy" than a "hold" even though Arsenal are playing well. He's the sort of physical presence on set pieces that tends to undo the Gunners.
- Geoff Cameron - Maybe it's just a hangover from recommending him on MLS games but with Swansea's passing game, there would appear to be lots of opportunities for phantom defending points. Plus, he's cheap with potential on a weekend where there aren't many attractive, cheap defenders.
- Tim Howard - As I said above, I expect Everton to win but I am a little wary of Southampton's attacking prowess so I'm a little less sure about the Everton clean sheet. The upside is that I expect a bunch of SOTs and a win which can be good enough for fantasy gold.
- Steve Harper - Reading is just not good at all which means Newcastle are likely to get the win and have a strong chance at a road clean sheet. The downside is that there won't likely be a lot of SOTs/saves if the CS falls through.
- Julio Cesar - Tough to pick a QPR keeper after some of the displays we witnessed over the first few weeks but he's a big improvement and at home to WHU offers some promise for a reasonable price. If you're heavily invested in NUFC and Everton elsewhere, he's also a solid diversification strategy.
- Vito Mannone - His price is low and Chelsea tend to take a lot of tepid shots on target leading to saves. Hard to picture a clean sheet and there's definite downside risk associated with the price.