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The Week Ahead: EPL Fantasy Player Picks for Week 3

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Well, he's pretty in the eyes of fantasy managers at least. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Well, he's pretty in the eyes of fantasy managers at least. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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Some weeks, like last week, the schedule doesn't really provide much help. Most of the match-ups are relatively even on paper. Some weeks, like this week, the schedule really does provide a great deal of help. All you need to know about that is right here:

DATE HOME AWAY
Sat, Sep 1 Swansea v Sunderland
Sat, Sep 1 Man City v QPR
Sat, Sep 1 Wigan v Stoke
Sat, Sep 1 Tottenham v Norwich
Sat, Sep 1 West Ham v Fulham
Sat, Sep 1 West Brom v Everton
Sun, Sep 2 Newcastle v Aston Villa
Sun, Sep 2 Southampton v Man Utd
Sun, Sep 2 Liverpool v Arsenal

Manchester City gets a home date with struggling QPR to try to right what has been a shaky ship over the first two weeks. Newcastle has had two very difficult fixtures to start the season and must be licking their lips at the prospect of struggling Aston Villa coming to town and Manchester United seemed to figure things out after about 20 minutes against Fulham and must be relishing a chance to whip up on Premier League new boys Southampton to consolidate their newly-found attacking prowess. I'm not sure who is actually going to be part of the Spurs squad by the time Saturday rolls around but whoever happens to be there will be happy to see thus far unimpressive Norwich coming to town. Finally, we'll get to test the "are Fulham only good at home" theory when they play at West Ham who didn't look good at all against Swansea last weekend.

So, with a bunch attractive match-ups and the potential for a lot of roster changes between now and the weekend, how should you approach the weekend with your fantasy team. Rule number 1, as always, get guys who are going to play! What else? Read on...

Forwards

  • Carlos Tevez - Carlito's price is creeping up but not so high that he isn't the most attractive premium forward available.
  • Papiss Cisse / Demba Ba - Which one should you choose? Demba Ba has scored better so far this season BUT he's 2.5 more expensive which is leading me to last season's sensation Papiss Cisse who should have a chance to shine against Villa.
  • Robin van Persie - Yes, he scored a goal last weekend but it was seemingly his only touch. The competition is lighter still this weekend but do you invest that sort of money in someone you need at least a brace from for him to pay off? Might want to look at Danny Welbeck instead.
  • Mladen Petric - The star of the season's first week had a bit of a comeuppance at Old Trafford (although it took a very nice DDG save to keep him off the score sheet). The bonus being that his price dropped to just over 9.
  • Mario Balotelli - He had a rotten match against Liverpool but we know he's capable of amazing things. Choosing him would give me ulcers but you have to recognize the potential value.
  • Danny Graham - Swansea-only teams have been killing it in the Yahoo game thus far this season - are you willing to bet it goes to three in a row at home to Sunderland?
  • Jermain Defoe / Emmanuel Adebayor - My only problem here is that we're talking about AVB as the manager and I don't feel like I ever know who he's going to start (pan to those who owned Gylfi Sigurdsson last weekend shaking in a corner like they'd been electrocuted). If it were me, this choice would be K2 but I'd like some confirmation from the Spurs camp that he's going to start before I plunk down the cash.
  • Eden Hazard - Obviously you don't want to buy someone on a bye week but one final affirmation for those thinking about keeping him on the BD price. I'm doing it for whatever validation that's worth. My understanding is that Jeremy is not. Either way, you can say you've got an expert with a pretty good track record behind your choice.
Midfielders
  • Gareth Bale - The one guy that AVB really doesn't have a substitute for so you have to figure he'll start with a great match-up.
  • Michu - Yes, even at his market price.
  • Shinji Kagawa - See Michu above.
  • Santi Cazorla - See Kagawa, Shinji and Michu above.
  • Maruane Fellaini - Sensing a trend? And no, I'm not particularly concerned about Jeremy's worry that Fellaini will start playing further back as Everton's new forwards get acclimated. The DOWNSIDE is the Tim Cahill role which was very productive when Cahill was in his prime.
  • Yohan Cabaye / Hatem Ben Arfa - Assuming he's healthy this looks like the weekend for Cabaye to get back into the swing of things fantasy-wise. Ben Arfa is the more sensational of the two and priced cheaper but if it were me choosing, I'd go for the surer thing unless I needed the money elsewhere.
  • Samir Nasri / David Silva - As most readers know, I have a dim view of Samir Nasri (diva, overrated, overpaid, etc.) but I'll say this, IF David Silva is in the line-up then you have to rate Nasri's chances of having a good match against a bad team. If Silva is absent again or sub-par then you don't like Nasri as much (see last weekend's crap effort which was hardly the first time he's come up small).
Defenders
  • Davide Santon - A cheap way to get at a possible Newcastle clean sheet against goal-shy Villa.
  • Jan Vertonghen - Still looking for the Belgian to show some of that "next Vermaelen" stuff.
  • Leighton Baines - He's been racking up the points thus far and has been worth his high price over two matches.
  • Chico - Not a great second weekend for the Premier League newbie - it will be interesting to see the extent to which his propensity to get carded detracts from his fantasy value over the course of the season.
  • Marc Wilson - All the talk in the Live Chat last weekend was of Geoff Cameron on the heels of his 17 point Premier League debut. As we saw with Chico the week before, defensive phantom points can be fleeting. If you think that Stoke will get a clean sheet then Wilson is a more economical way to get those points.
  • Sascha Riether - You have to figure that Fulham will be on the front foot more against West Ham than they were against Manchester United which will give Riether more chances to contribute crosses and rack up phantom points. His price is back down to a pretty reasonable entry-level-like number which makes him a solid enabler.
  • Fabio - You've heard people use the excuse "I did it because I needed the money", well, you could well attach that phrase to Fabio's name until his price rises. Yes, even at Manchester City.
Goalkeepers
  • Tim Krul - I fully expect Newcastle to get back on track after two tough matches to open the season and Krul's price is attractive after those two matches.
  • Brad Friedel - His price hasn't gone down quite as much and there's still something I don't trust about an AVB defense but Norwich might be the cure for that particular ill.
  • Jussi Jaaskelainen - I don't love any of the sub-6.00 goalkeepers but if you have to take a risk then an embarrassed West Ham/Jussi against a Fulham team that has been known to be mediocre on the road is a bet I could talk myself into. I'm not saying I'd LIKE it, but if I needed the money elsewhere I could talk myself into it.