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The Week Ahead - Part 2 - Week 14 Player Picks

Will he or won't he - going to be expensive to find out (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Will he or won't he - going to be expensive to find out (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
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Just a clarification from Part 1 where a couple of people in the comments section - presumably Manchester United supporters - rushed to condemn my assertion that I didn't see any particular advantage for United's players based on their match-up this weekend away to Aston Villa. For those who don't plumb the depths of the comments sections, here was my logic:

Yes, United are a good team and deserve their spot near the top of the table.

Yes, they are 2-1-0 in their last 3 Premier League matches.


Two 1-0 wins and a 1-1 draw are not the stuff fantasy dreams are made of (their last three results). Throw in the fact that Rooney has had only one double digit match since Week 7. Ditto Ashley Young and Nani. Last weekend only TWO United players were in double figures in fantasy points (Chicharito and, wait for it, Giggs of all people). Throw in the modest performances against Crystal Palace and Benfica and the fact that 4 of the 5 matches in question here, the three in the EPL and the other two, have been at Old Trafford and you have the recipe for doubting the value of investing in United's high priced players. You certainly have a recipe for saying that there's no reason to value United's players MORE than usual this weekend which is the point of analyzing the match-ups. I'm not saying that United's players are worthLESS, I'm just saying they're not worth MORE this weekend based on their current form, the form and quality of their opponent (both average), and the location of the match (Villa Park).

Just figured that was worth pointing out before we get to the player picks.


  • Emmanuel Adebayor - We're certainly getting to the point where good ol' K2 has disappointed in the past. Sustained runs of goal-scoring have never been his thing. I'm completely torn on this one. On one hand, we'll all feel foolish if we don't pick him (great form, great match-up, and playing at home). On the other hand, it feel a LOT like a trap.
  • Robin van Persie - Speaking of traps, I'm worried that he'll be rotated again in an effort to give him two entire weeks off with his rest in the Carling Cup, the match at Wigan, and there being no need to play him in the Champions league group finale as Arsenal have wrapped up the top spot in the group. IF he plays, he's a must-start. If he doesn't, wow are you going to be mad. It is going to be critical to follow the Friday team news on this one.
  • Gervinho - He didn't start in mid-week and it seems likely he'll get the nod at Wigan. Regardless of RvP, he's likely a lock in most line-ups.
  • Steven Fletcher - If you believe that Wolves will have a moment in the sun against, well, SUN then Fletcher seems as likely as any of their forwards to get a goal or two. The price isn't bad either.
  • Mario Balotelli - Feels like a Balotelli sort of weekend doesn't it? He usually follows up his buffoonish ways with reminders of why the light blue-clad masses and Roberto Mancini put up with his antics. Last weekend was the foolishness and this weekend, with a good chance of some key players being rested ahead of a key Champions League clash, Balotelli (and Adam Johnson) seem likely to have major parts. Just a feeling, hopefully we'll learn more tomorrow.
  • Luis Suarez - It's been a while since everything came together for Suarez and for some reason I feel like this is his weekend. If you're squeamish about RvP or K2, this is your ready-made alternative and he's cheaper than both.
  • Scott Sinclair - Regular readers know I love me some Danny Graham but the numbers say that Sinclair is the better bet and as a bonus his price is lower. He not only gets the occasional goal but he does the little things that make Yahoo fantasy managers happy like win corners and fouls in abundance.
  • David Silva - Hard to believe he'll be rested two matches in a row.
  • Dinar Bilyaletdinov - A bargain in Everton's midfield who we've seen have some big matches before. I have a hard time believing in Everton's higher-priced attackers this season (e.g., Cahill, Saha, and Osman) but if Bily gets the start he's likely to be worth the price and more.
  • Jamie O'Hara - Solid value at just over 11 playing at home in a "must win" match against beatable opposition. Works for me.
  • Mark Gower - Have you heard, he's the most creative player in all of Europe (proof that statistics can, indeed, lie). That said, he is creating chances and against Blackburn that has been leading to good things - my intuition tells me Gower-to-Sinclair is going to be working this weekend.
  • Ashley Richards - I don't know what it is with the blog and love for guys named Ashley (well, except that Cole fellow) but with Rangel out until around New Years it appears that Richards is most likely to replace him at right back. He's listed as a midfielder which isn't ideal but he's also priced at 3.06 which makes him an enabler who will start and has at least some potential.
  • Johnny Heintinga - The clean sheet seems like a solid bet and while he's not rock-bottom priced any longer, he's still not terribly expensive.
  • Oriol Romeu - We'll wait to hear the team news but if he's going to be starting in place of Mikel on a regular basis and getting points for clean sheets (he's listed as a defender in the Yahoo game) then he's a solid investment. Not in love with him for the NUFC match but there are definitely worse investments you could make in your defense.
  • Garry Monk - No, not the quirky TV detective but the Swansea defender. Since he began being picked regularly in the starting line-up he's been churning out solid performances against most teams not named Manchester United and Chelsea. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen (Google it) "I know Blackburn and they're no Manchester United or even Chelsea." (for those for whom that is too obscure a reference, you may ignore the last sentence).
  • Andre Santos - The funny thing about fantasy is that it sometimes makes you do things that don't make sense in the real world. For instance, Spurs defenders really don't produce much of note in fantasy but are fairly expensive and have been getting the job done in real life. Santos doesn't do much actual defending in real life but he's been producing in fantasy and he isn't that terribly expensive. Go figure.
  • Dedrick Boyata - I don't hold out much hope that Bolton will do well at White Hart Lane but Boyata is cheap enough that he really just needs to avoid a card to be a useful play for you. With Wheater out due to suspension, it seems likely Boyata will regain his spot in the line-up whether he's ready or not.
  • Leighton Baines - If you want to spend big on a defender, he's the choice this weekend in my book.
  • Paul Robinson - Hard to advocate for any Rovers player really but Swansea have been poor at the attacking end and you could easily see a 0-0 draw with 3 or 4 tepid shots saved by Robinson all for the low, low price of 1.99.
  • Wojciech Szczesny - The season-to-date numbers aren't good but this is Wigan we're talking about. I generally don't love spending a lot of money on my keeper and he's a solid mid-priced keeper with potential at 6.97.
  • Tim Howard - If you're going to pay for a guy on the first page then T-Ho seems like the best bet given that he's priced under 10 and has a strong home match-up. Nearly all of the first page keepers had big weekends last weekend so the prices are pretty high elsewhere.
Back tomorrow with Injuries and Suspensions.