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Late Fitness Check: Fantasy EPL Injury and Suspension Analysis

The last word before you set your Fantasy EPL line-ups for Match Week 16 in the Premier League

Neal is hoping this guy continues his strong fantasy performances with Stokes forwards all questionable
Neal is hoping this guy continues his strong fantasy performances with Stokes forwards all questionable
Scott Heavey

I wrote at length about how important Steven Fletcher is in constructing your roster this weekend. Of course the fantasy gods couldn't be kind to us and give us an actual answer on his status for the match with Chelsea. Fletcher is listed as "in contention" but less likely than John O'Shea. If I were John O'Shea's doctor, that might mean something to me but since I'm not, it means I'm not willing to risk it. Here's the rest of the fantasy relevant news:

Arsenal vs. West Brom - Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, and Laurent Kosciely are all out for Arsenal while Bacary Sagna is doubtful and West Brom are fully healthy. Not good times for Arsenal but Giroud and Gervinho should at least be guaranteed spots with The Ox a strong bet too at a reasonable price. I still like Odemwingie a lot in this one.

Aston Villa vs. Stoke City - I don't think anyone was chomping at the bit to know who Stoke's starting forward(s) might be for a road trip to a team in reasonably good form but the news that all three of Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome and Michael Owen are uncertain makes a mediocre proposition look pretty ugly. Throw in the absence of creator Charlie Adam due to suspension and you're looking at a situation you should definitely pass on.

Sunderland vs. Chelsea - We've covered Steven Fletcher above but there is an interesting (Barn Door watching only) note that Frank Lampard is available again. With Mikel out due to suspension it will be very interesting to see how Chelsea line up in midfield. If you have HUGE balls, you could go with Oriol Romeu in defense hoping that a) he'll replace Mikel and b) Chelsea will keep a clean sheet.

Swansea City vs. Norwich City - The only news of note here is that SeaBass will play after his knock during last weekend's goal-scoring performance (yeah, I'm still happy about that one).

Wigan vs. Queens Park Rangers - The interesting opportunity for the Rs here is that Wigan are facing a massive defensive crisis with Alcaraz (groin), Ramis (hamstring), Caldwell, and Figueroa (both suspended) all out. We talked of balls above, do you have the balls to pick a QPR attacker on the road? Not sure I do but I could see why you might take the risk.

Manchester City vs. Manchester United - There are some names that are either doubtful or definitely out - Anderson, Vidic, Kagawa, Kolarov ,Valencia, and Nani - and some that are uncertain - David Silva, James Milner, Gael Clichy, and Tom Cleverley. Honestly, I don't think I'm particularly interested in any of them or their replacements. Hard to see much value in this one.

Everton vs. Tottenham - Gareth Bale is definitely out and Michael Dawson is very likely to join him which makes Spurs a questionable proposition. Gylfi is too expensive to bet on as a potential Bale replacement. The only news from Everton is that Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman are potentially available again. "Potentially" means that I'll be steering clear until it becomes "definitely" - too many other options this weekend to take those sorts of risks.

West Ham vs. Liverpool - The interesting news is that with Luis Suarez out, Jonjo Shelvey might feature as a "false nine" which, given his price, could be attractive if you aren't of the opinion that this, combined with West Ham not being a bad team, will mean the death of Liverpool's attack more so than being a huge opportunity for Shelvey owners. If you need a cheap midfielder for other things, he is an interesting option (remember, there is no guarantee that this will definitely happen, just a possibility) but I wouldn't get overly excited and build your strategy for the week around Shelvey.

Fulham vs. Newcastle - Bryan Ruiz is out for upwards of a month which makes us sad. Brede Hangelaand is back from his suspension which should make Fulham a little more stable at the back. Newcastle, on the other hand, get a bunch of players back/cleared with Cheik Tiote, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, and Jonas Gutierrez all back. Yohan Cabaye is still out but Newcastle should be significantly improved with all of the returnees.