[EDITOR'S NOTE: Nik's Player Picks will not appear this week due to some lame excuse about him getting married - we all wish he and his bride-to-be well and we'll look forward to having him back soon as a married man.]
It isn't that often that you get to see your name listed 475th out of a total of over 2.1 million people in something performance-based. As far as percentiles go, that's a pretty solid number. The reason I bring this up is that that's where I ended up after the first weekend of the official PL.com game. A pretty lofty spot for someone who has never actively managed through a full season in that game. I'm not saying I'm doing badly in our favored Yahoo game after a week but the limitations of the PL.com game forced me into some actions that turned out to be beneficial. The limitation on players from any one team meant that I was forced to look elsewhere which led me directly to Michu who we all KNEW was going to be a stud but many of us didn't select in Yahoo because we were too busy stocking up on Chelsea and Reading players almost to the exclusion of everyone else.
I don't know if there are any long-term lessons to be learned from this experience other than that the one thing that the PL.com game's limitations on number of players from a team and number of transfers is that it really makes you think about which players from a specific team are going to be the most valuable. In going through that process, I landed on Eden Hazard (and was smart/lucky enough to take the risk and give him the "C"), Branislav Ivanovic, and Ashley Cole as my three from Chelsea. It also may be that there's just a little bit of luck of the draw in here as well. If I'd have chosen Carlos Tevez and Ashley Cole in Yahoo over Sergio Aguero and Fabio then I'd be equally happy in that format.
Looking ahead, we're back to having to figure out how to pick out a line-up of players who will all be playing only one match this week. My assumption is that many of you have jumped in on a number of BD candidates (e.g., Hazard, Cazorla, Michu, Petric, Lambert, Ben Arfa, Vorm, Chico) and I'll try to address their value both on their BD price (are they worth keeping?) and their retail price (are they worth buying today?). With that we're off to analyze a really tough week that doesn't feature many lopsided match-ups:
- Emmanuel Adebayor - If Spurs are ready to insert him into the line-up, I'd have to say he's worth considering strongly even if his price is a little elevated. With all the new entry options, you should have the funds.
- Nikica Jelavic - Aston Villa looked mediocre and Jelavic is reasonably priced at 12.14
- Fernando Torres - I'm not inclined to keep him - Eden Hazard or the referee could have made Torres a two-match bust by taking the ball himself or correctly calling offsides respectively. He's back to "dead-to-me" status.
- Eden Hazard - It seems clear that he's going to be the straw the stirs the drink at Chelsea. The points will come in bigger chunks, I'm pretty confident. I'd buy him if you haven't yet and I'd certainly keep him if you have him on the BD price.
- Mladen Petric - I certainly wouldn't be buying him for Fulham's trip to Old Trafford but if you have him at the BD price then I'd think about keeping him (and am likely to do so myself).
- Wayne Rooney/ Robin van Persie - I have money to spend and Fulham aren't nearly as good on the road as they are at home but I'm not spending this kind of money on either guy until we get a better sense of how the points will shake out between the two. It's just too much to spend.
- Grant Holt - Tempting against QPR and Robert Green's terrible hands but I'm likely to avoid the temptation.
- Ricky Lambert - He certainly looked the part against City after he came on, didn't he? My only mild concern is that he came off the bench once and managers have been known to be crazy so it might happen again. With Wigan the opposition, this is a solid weekend to have him either on the BD or at retail. At BD prices you might keep him longer, at retail, he's probably only an occasional starter.
- Carlos Tevez - If you have him at the BD price then I'd be inclined to keep him for sure even if the match-up is tougher - his price seems like it will only go up. If you didn't get the BD price, I'd probably be more inclined toward Adebayor or Jelavic given that City are on the road (even if it is a weakened Liverpool).
- Romelu Lukaku - Lukaku did the worst thing he could have done to us last week, he scored in a substitute's role. Given his really cheap (sub-3) BD price and billing as "the next Drogba", there will many who want to keep him at that BD price. As much as I'd like to, I can't justify it given that he didn't start and there are definitely guys (Long & Odemwingie) ahead of him in line to start.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart - Spurs have what should be a good home match-up with West Brom. I'm going Siggy > Bale > VDV with the logic that Siggy costs less than Bale and VDV seems like too much of a risk to be used as an impact substitute (which is probably the best role for his hamstrings at this point).
- Maroune Fellaini - He was a beast against Manchester United, his price is low, and the match-up is good. I'd be keeping him if you have him on the BD and I'd be buying for this week even at retail.
- Frank Lampard - Abandon ship...abandon ship. He scored two goals but Chelsea aren't going to have a penalty opportunity every week. Look behind the 20 points he got in the Yahoo format and there wasn't much there beyond the two PK goals. Not a good sign for the future of his fantasy value.
- Michu - Get him.
- Shinji Kagawa - If you're investing in Manchester United against Fulham, this is the place to do it.
- Adel Taarabt - Taarabt was great even in a losing effort against Swansea - the match-up should be easier and QPR might even score this week so you have to think the potential is there for something big.
- Adam Lallana - He's likely to be at the center of anything good Southampton does against Wigan and his price is still reasonable if you missed the BD and can't afford some of the guys others have at cheaper prices.
- Santi Cazorla - All the signs were there in the opener - good passes - at least one of which should have been converted (by Giroud), shots from distance, taking a reasonable number of set pieces. Hard not to get on this bandwagon even away at Stoke. Good thing it won't be a rainy Wednesday night.
- Abou Diaby - I don't care how low his price is. Unless the game GIVES you extra budget for picking him, I wouldn't do it. I'm just morally against it.
- Chico - He's definitely worth it for those who BDd him last weekend and is still not a terrible idea at his current price of 8.00. His points all came from defending which is rare but that he did a lot of defending without fouling or picking up cards is a positive sign.
- Branislav Ivanovic - If he's going to keep scoring goals, you have to keep him, don't you? I wouldn't buy in at 11.84 but I'd keep him at his BD price of 8.79.
- Jan Vertonghen - Assuming he's ready to go, you have to like the match-up home to West Brom.
- Fabio - He was rotten last weekend and ruined what we all thought was going to be a great bargain but with Norwich the opposition, he's still worth thinking about even if you're not happy about how last week ended up.
- Sascha Riether - Hard to imagine Manchester United getting shut out twice in a row with the second coming at home against Fulham and Riether's points came predominantly from defending stats. My recommendation is that you wait until after the United match and jump back in once his price is back down a little bit.
- Leighton Baines - I almost never recommend a defender priced this high but if your budget can sustain it due to cheap newbies in the line-up, I'd seriously consider it given the lack of terribly attractive options at the back.
- Michael Vorm - I like him at the BD price but would start getting wary at his new retail price. We don't know if it was Swansea being really good last week or QPR being that bad or something in-between.
- Brad Friedel - His price doesn't look too bad after the NUFC match last weekend so for less than 10 and at home against WBA, you could do worse.
- Kelvin Davis - Anyone who could put up 7 points against Manchester City at the Etihad on their Premier League debut while losing 3-2 has to be doing something right. Wigan should prove a more tame opponent and give you your best bet as far as cheap keepers go.