Fantasy EPL Player Picks Week 23: The Week Ahead

Don't get sucked in to the growing myth of Wilshere - he's not a big fantasy contributor yet - Richard Heathcote

Everything you need to make your selections for Fantasy Premier League Match Week 23 which finds Arsenal and West Ham playing twice while everyone else plays once.

I can't say that this past weekend's two-gamers were entirely satisfying but it is a good lesson in the value of two-gamers. If you loaded up on players from Chelsea and Southampton and chose players who were very likely to play twice it was pretty hard not to do well. Could you have done better by picking one-gamers? Of course. Would it have been easy? Not really. A full 9 of the top 22 scorers across all positions this past week were from either Chelsea or Southampton including the top 3. Despite Southampton's modest results so far this year they managed 3 goals and a clean sheet across the two matches.

Do I mention this just to fill up some lines before making picks? No, I mention it because West Ham are similarly dire in recent weeks and have a similar schedule - home to QPR and at Arsenal. It's hard to get excited about West Ham as a team or anyone on their team as individual fantasy contributors. Sort of the same way we felt about most of Southampton headed into last weekend.

Arsenal are a harder one to figure - you could see the Chelsea match being high scoring or you could see Arsenal getting blanked. The West Ham match in mid-week could end similarly to Chelsea's match with Stoke or it could be an ugly nil-nil draw in the style that Arsenal supporters have grown all too accustomed to these days.

If the last 30 minutes or so of the Chelsea-Southampton match didn't convince you that you should be playing two-gamers, I don't know what will but here's my rundown of the key players across the two teams:

Forwards

  • Lukas Podolski - He may never finish matches but he almost always starts them and goes 60+ minutes. He's the kind of on-again, off-again player who you want over two matches because he's likely to have at least one good one.
  • Olivier Giroud - He SHOULD be starting because Theo Walcott isn't that good at leading the line by himself. Even if you buy in to TW14 as a central attacker (he has his moments), it's hard to buy him as a solo attacker thus Giroud SHOULD be starting. The risk is that Wenger doesn't agree - which he hasn't for the better part of the last month.
  • Carlton Cole - Well, he's cheap.
  • Ricardo Vaz Te - He had a couple of nice matches early in the season but he certainly hasn't proven sufficiently consistent to justify a roster spot.
Midfielders
  • Santi Cazorla - Get him if you don't have him. He's cooled from early in the season but he's still too good not to have.
  • Theo Walcott - He has the potential to be anything from a huge disappointment to a huge success over two matches. Gives you some appreciation for the Arsenal management team as they contemplate negotiating a big money extension. Given the alternatives, it seems like a wise choice to have him.
  • Jack Wilshere - A nice way to fill out a roster but don't let the FA Cup goal fool you into thinking he's ready to be a consistent scorer.
  • Abou Diaby/Aaron Ramsey/Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Feels like a lot of potential for rotation even if these guys are cheap. I'd stay away unless you have a huge gut feeling.
  • Joe Cole - See Cole, Carlton
  • Matt Jarvis - What happened to the productive guy from seasons past? He's on the low end of the value for the price continuum even with two matches. The question is whether Jarvis is the James Puncheon (solid value) or Gaston Ramirez (bust) of this weekend.
Defenders
  • Keiron Gibbs - He's the Arsenal defender most likely to be value over two matches.
  • Bacary Sagna/Thomas Vermaelen - Solid value potential for both for less money than Gibbs.
  • Per Mertesacker/Laurent Koscielny - Concern over rotation makes these two far less interesting (remember Koscielny will be back after his suspension for the FA Cup match).
  • Daniel Potts - The England U19 seems to be getting some run at full back and had a nice fantasy debut at age 18 last weekend. He's worth the risk.
  • Winston Reid - Probably a little overpriced but more likely to start both matches than Potts who carries at least a little risk given his tender age.
  • James Tompkins - He's cheap and could be great value with just one clean sheet (see just about any Southampton defender from last weekend).
Goalkeepers
  • Jussi Jaaskelainen - Jussi has been consistently churning out points all season even when WHU aren't playing particularly well - the secret is in the sick number of saves he makes (over 4 per match) which makes up for a lot of goals conceded. That his price is about half that of Szczesny which makes this choice very interesting.
  • Wojciech Szczesny - His points/match numbers are surprisingly high (4th in the league) but his price reflects that. To choose him you really have to decide how you feel about the Chelsea match. Is the downside risk enough to potentially undermine a solid outcome against WHU?
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