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The Week Ahead, Part 2 - Fantasy EPL Player Picks

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Primed for a big weekend at home against Norwich, or so says Neal.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Primed for a big weekend at home against Norwich, or so says Neal. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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With one big introduction in the books already today, I'm pretty sure I don't have a second one in my either from a number-of-words-typed perspective or from any anything-useful-to-say standpoint (fill in your own jokes here about me ever having anything useful to say).  Given those two limitations, I'll stick to two housekeeping notes and then get on with it: 

1) Awards Nomination - As Jeremy posted earlier, we are shooting for our first blog award in either the "Best Blog" or "Best New Blog" category at the Not 100% Awards.  Please click through and nominate www.nevermanagealone.com. We thank you for your support.

2) Many Thanks - For those of you who helped out with the survey I posted the link to earlier in the week.  The response was great.  As someone who has fielded surveys in the past the ratio of page views to responses was unbelievable.  Hopefully, we'll reap some interesting rewards in the form of analysis tools in the near future (think next season).  

Without further ado, on to the fantasy players pick for Week 11 in the Premier League:

Forwards

 

  • Robin van Persie - I was prepared to write a cautionary note here under the assumption that RvP would be coming off of consecutive starts in big matches against Chelsea and Marseilles but Wenger shook things up a bit and rested his talisman in mid-week meaning he should be in great shape to start this weekend.  The price is still hard to justify but the way he's been producing its hard to ignore him.
  • Luis Suarez - He's been getting the chances and the phantom points but hasn't quite been able to put the ball in the net over the last few matches.  I'd expect that drought to end this weekend and his "pretty good" weekends to turn into "exceptional".  If you can't afford RvP then Suarez is a nice second place.
  • Gabby Agbonlahor - Based on brand name, Villa should be a strong favorite over Norwich but Villa have been rotten at home so far.  The exception has been Gabby who has been great value when he has played.  His price is an affordable 9.15 so he is a good fit between the expensive options. 
  • Gervinho - The only worry with this recommendation is that he might be rotated for the reason we thought RvP might be rotated. His price has climbed high enough that it's hard to take the risk on him not playing but if he looks like he will, he should be a great bet. 
  • Chicharito - I'm incredibly torn on this one.  Rooney is way too expensive to pick - especially if he's going to continue to play as more of an attacking midfielder.  The problem with Chicharito - as I mentioned in First XI earlier in the week - is that his fantasy value is almost entirely wrapped up in his scoring goals.  He does that often which is good but when he doesn't, he doesn't tend to do much for his owners.  
  • Mario Balotelli - I'm including him because I think the first choice forwards (Aguero and Dzeko) will start for City in the Champions League today leaving Balotelli more likely to feature against modest competition on the weekend.  This could be entirely turned on its head if Balo starts today. We'll know more by Friday.
Midfielders
  • Aaron Ramsey - His price is still low and he's really coming into his own after a slow start to the season.  If you need a modestly priced midfielder (and who doesn't) then he's a strong bet. 
  • Ramires - Even without any goals or assists last weekend he had a solid 6.5 point effort.  Excellent news for the continued evolution of a player I had all but given up on at the start of the season.  If he can even out the downside performances when he doesn't score then he's going to be fantasy gold at a price under 10. 
  • Frank Lampard - He only played about 25 minutes during the Champions League match so he should be well-rested for the weekend.  I haven't been high on him this season because I've paid too much attention to how he's played in the real world (too one dimensional to justify his reputation).  In our fantasy world, he's still producing. 
  • Rafael van der Vaart - He's been on fire at the center of Spurs' attack.  With K2 still providing very little, VDV is the gold standard for Spurs fantasy players. 
  • Jamie O'Hara - I like to look at SOTs as a predictor of who should be scoring more.  Some players like Chicharito and Aguero are incredibly efficient but more often there is a strong correlation between SOTs and goals.  If you're looking for players for whom bad luck is likely to turn around then you should be looking for those who have a lot of SOTs but few goals.  Suarez (see above) is one and O'Hara (1 goal and 11 SOTs) is another.  At the very least, it means that you're likely to see some solid fantasy points even if he doesn't score. 
  • Hatem Ben Arfa - Still my enabler of choice after about 10 days of rest following the extra time Carling Cup match last mid-week. 
  • Adam Johnson - Seems likely that he'll get a start on the heels of City's away Champions League match but watch today's team news for confirmation.  We'll know more about how to approach City's players after the match is over. 
Defenders
  • Vermaelen - He appears to be back after a substitute appearance last weekend and a start in mid-week.  There is some risk of rotation as he comes back from injury but at his current price, I'm willing to take the risk for a defender who was worth much more when he was starting regularly. 
  • Jenkinson - He will almost certainly start since another weekend of Djourou attempting to play as a right back is probably too much for anyone at the Emirates' heart.  He is reasonably priced and his attacking stats belie what appear to be limited skills. 
  • Kolo Toure/Stefan Savic - One of the two is likely to deputize for the suspended Kompany.  If it becomes clear which one will get the nod then both modestly priced players are worth a risk even if Kompany is at the heart of City's clean sheet potential. 
  • Johnny Evans - He isn't the best player at the center of United's defense but he's definitely the cheapest who is likely to start this weekend.  Rio will likely play in midweek due to Vidic's suspension leaving a likely Vidic/Evans pairing against Sunderland.  
  • Daniel Agger - I'm pretty high on Liverpool's chances for an excellent defensive weekend.  If you can get to Enrique then that's the right answer but if you can't afford him (which wouldn't be a surprise) then Agger is a more affordable option who could also return a couple SOTs as well. 
Goalkeepers
  • David De Gea - The price has gone up and presumably most managers have him at a cheaper price.  It would be tough to justify paying twice the price as your opponents.  Not so much because he isn't worth the price, I think he is, but because of the competitive disadvantage you're at paying 5+ extra for the same player. 
  • Wojciech Szczesny - If you're looking for someone who comes in at roughly the same price as everyone else has DDG at and has the potential to equal his output over the next month or so, Szcz is your guy. The schedule is relatively easy until the December 18th trip to Eastlands.  Until then you're looking at WBA, @Norwich, FUL, @WIG, and EVE.  Not exactly murderer's row for a keeper priced just over 6 who gets his best CB back.
  • Wayne Hennessey - I'm not 100% sold on this one but if you're ever going to pick him then home to Wigan is the time to do it.  He's definitely cheap. 
  • NOT Petr Cech - His price has dropped like a stone but it has done so for a good reason.  It would take big brass balls to gamble that Chelsea's shambles of a defense can keep a clean sheet on the road.  The only upside here is that at least you wouldn't be paying much (compared to his history) to be disappointed.