I was hoping to do some additional meaningful scouting yesterday while watching some more FA Cup action but there wasn't a lot worth observing really. Here are a few thoughts and then I'll get on quickly to my player picks:
- Wes Brown Knock - No definitive news yet but Wes Brown went limping off at the 60 minute mark in their match against Boro and it doesn't look particularly good for the defender given the quick turnaround between matches.
- Campbell Back - Frazier Campbell didn't take long to remind us why he was a bright prospect before he was injured. He scored a nice goal, ran fluidly, and was generally dangerous albeit against second division competition. Given his price (5.45), he's an interesting option when Sunderland have a good match-up.
- The Ox Continues - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started again for Arsenal and continued to impress. Tell me again why Arshavin was starting over this kid? Seriously, can anyone tell me? In any event, despite his strong contribution my best guess is that it wouldn't have been a terribly productive fantasy day if it had happened in the league. You can take a risk on him if you're so inclined but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high at this early stage in his career. My guess is that he's unlikely to be as productive as Sigurdsson.
- Sagna Back - Those who stuck around to the end with the Arsenal match will have noticed the presence of an actual specialist fullback returning to the line-up as a late substitute. Great news for Arsenal although his price is still rather high (9.31) despite the extended absence. More importantly, his presence (and Djourou's absence as a makeshift right back) likely increases the value of Arsenal's other defenders and Szczesny.
- Flipping the Script? - We're getting to the time of year when Arsenal usually disappoint greatly (see the February/March meltdowns of the last few seasons). Could it be that the second half comeback against Villa represents a different script than the one we're used to? Could it be that they're actually gaining confidence heading into the homestretch rather than losing it? A team that features a lot of parts that came together late in the summer transfer window PLUS some young players coming to maturity AND some key players making their way back from serious injuries last season might take some time to get their act together. I'm not saying that's what IS going to happen but there does seem to be some upside with this group.
With those observations out of the way, we move directly to my player picks:
- Robin van Persie - His FA Cup performance aside, RvP has been slowing down noticeably in terms of fantasy output. Don't get me wrong, he isn't producing BADLY, he's just not on the same transcendent pace he was in the early going. There are more mediocre performances and even a smattering of flat out poor ones. Given the price, this is a risk. Given this week's opponent, there is hope that he'll return to his early season form.
- Craig Bellamy - His price isn't crazy and he's been producing very nicely when he's started in Suarez's absence. Just ask Jeremy how many times Bellamy has caused him to text "grrr" to me over the last month or so. [Grrrr! -J]
- Frazier Campbell - See above. The match-up isn't GREAT but it isn't bad. Norwich don't have the tightest defense in the league.
- Emmanuel Adebayor - In all honestly, I'm flipping a coin between recommending K2 here over Torres. Both have been incredibly frustrating in recent weeks and K2 gets the nod because a) he's been better far more recently; b) the match-up is better; and c) he's playing at home.
- Gareth Bale/Rafael van der Vaart - Take your pick here but the match-up is strong enough that there's no reason NOT to be in on at least one of Spurs' two most productive fantasy players.
- Clint Dempsey - He wasn't the best American in the Friday FA Cup match with Everton (that was Landon Donovan) but Dempsey IS among the best bets in midfield this weekend at home to West Brom.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson - Still loving him, don't care what the match-up is.
- The Ox - See above. A great enabler even if I'm not expecting a huge weekend.
- Stephane Sessegnon - I have a Larsson/Sess problem. Whenever I pick one, the other does well. I'm not sure whether that applies only to my line-up or to my recommendations as well. He's a strong value if you're willing to risk the curse of the pundit.
- The Discount Guys - I'm assuming that many of you still have David Silva and/or Antonio Valencia at a strong discount. I can't think of any good reasons why you should be abandoning those picks now. There may be others with Hatem Ben Arfa after his big weekend last weekend. Hard to know how his playing time will be impacted with so much flux at NUFC between Cabaye's pending FA charge and the uncertainty of the return times for Ba and Cisse.
- Chris Smalling - Home to Stoke is an interesting match-up for Manchester United. I don't love their expensive attacking players given Stoke's general toughness to play against but Smalling looks like a solid bargain.
Fabio - A bit of a flyer given that he came in as a sub and left before the end of the match but he could be an interesting play if you're looking for something interesting from a defensive enabler (although I'm sure I've regretted writing a similar sentence on multiple occasions so far this season).[Sorry, I think Neal got him mixed up with his brother. -J]
- Davide Santon - His price is still relatively low and I really liked what I saw on Saturday despite the poor result for his team.
- Philippe Senderos - Say it very quietly but the former Arsenal man is quietly averaging about the same fantasy production as teammate Brede Hangeland at about 60% of the price and he's starting regularly. This week, he's doing it at home against a team that isn't playing particularly well.
- Daniel Ayala - After a run of negative output caused me to write "NOT Ayala" in my last TWA he went out and had a very productive match. Given that it was Norwich's only clean sheet of the season thus far I wouldn't get too addicted to 8.5 point outputs from your favorite enabler but he's officially off the "dead to us" list and re-approved as an enabler in defense.
- Taye Taiwo - Not sure what his status is relative to his work permit and Mark Hughes' willingness to throw him on to the pitch immediately but it is definitely worth watching as we're all excited to have another inexpensive attacking defender available and starting regularly.
- Szczesny - His price has dropped to 5.35 (about 1 lower than Krul at full price), he gets an actual right back this week AND he's playing Bolton. If not now, when?
- Tim Krul - I'm considering the second half against Fulham to be anomaly.
- Brad Friedel - Another one who managers will be happy to see got crushed last weekend in fantasy which makes his price much more attractive if you're willing to spend a solid amount.