To start, this isn't a formal Player Picks post, more of a discussion on which Chelsea/Villa players will be most effective in the double week and a platform to help get your team organized. A more traditional player picks post will follow closer to the game week 1 deadline.
For those late to the party, match week 1 of the new Yahoo Fantasy Football game will feature a double week for Chelsea and Aston Villa. Here are the fixtures:
Saturday Aug 17th - Arsenal v Aston Villa
Sunday Aug 18th - Chelsea v Hull City
Wednesday Aug 21st - Chelsea v Aston Villa
As you can see, Chelsea hold the favorable matchups playing twice at home to newly promoted Hull and last season strugglers Aston Villa respectively. However Villa face a much more daunting opening double playing away both matches to Arsenal and Chelsea. For me, the clear path is to invest heavily in Chelsea and only to sprinkle in some Villa players.
But which Chelsea players should be chosen? I am sure, like me, many of you have been building and gutting your team like a madman since the game officially opened. There has been a lot of discussion generated by Mo and KM on the topic of strategy for the new game. However for this thread, I am focusing on maximizing your starting 11, and keeping your bench free for double game fillers.
Lets look the defense:
Petr Cech - Should be guaranteed to see 180+ minutes and start both matches. Given the opposition, he should also be your number one keeper pick for this week. With the threat of rest/rotation for many of Chelsea's attacking talents, Cech will be a strong Captain candidate especially with 2 strong CS possibilities.
Ashly Cole/Ivanovic/David Luiz - These are the three Chelsea defenders that I believe will get the most minutes if not starting both matches. There is slight concern Bertrand may come in for Ashley Cole for one of the matches, but for now I am not too concerned. But it might not be a bad idea to have Bertrand on the bench in case he does come in for one match.
John Terry/Cahill/Azpilicueta - Mourniho has already stated that John Terry will need to prove that he is still capable of playing at the highest level, so expect limited minutes here. Mourinho also said Spanish players like Azpilicueta probably wont start in Chelsea's campaign opener due to travel lag from international matches played days earlier. I am not sure exactly how Cahill fits into Mourinho's team, but I have a feeling he will split minutes with Terry, so I am avoiding all 3 for this double.
The midfield possibilities:
Frank Lampard - Another player that Mourninho has stated he will be careful with. Lampard is still a crucial figure for Chelsea so I expect to see him start 1 match, but surely not both given Chelsea's riches in the attacking department. It remains to be seen if he keeps PK duty, you have to ask yourself, is Lampard's current price worth the possibility of only 1 match? So far I haven't talked myself into picking him yet.
Oscar/Ramierez - Of the midfielders for Chelsea, Oscar and Rameirez represent the best chance of seeing the most minutes from midfield. Both are experienced in the Premier League and we all know what each is capable of scoring. Both have had a solid pre-season thus far and I can see them continuing that form against Hull/Villa.
Essien/Mikel/Van Ginkle - Not much love here as the minutes don't seem strong for anyone in this trio. You might take Mikel as a cheap bench option to allow you to field higher priced players.
Andre Schurrle - Not yet proven or ready to start, I can see him eased into the squad. But certainly watch to see if he can grab a starting role. Might be a useful bench option.
The forward line situation:
Romelu Lukaku - He had a sensational season with West Brom didn't he? Already this pre-season we have seen Lukaku continuing that form that saw him net 17 times for the Baggies. After last season, Lukaku feels like a player just ready to breach the first team and nail down a regular starting birth. Given the other options, Lukaku should get atleast 1 start with a possible 40-60min cameo in the next match. He is currently in my side.
Torres/Mata - Both Spanish players will be away on international duty prior to the Premier League kick off. So, Mourinho has said that both will probably not start the opening match. Does this mean they start the second match? In Juan Mata's case, certainly, for Torres I am not so sure. It's going to be a tough call because either could excel given the match ups, however for only 1 possible start, neither are currently in my team.
Demba Ba - Should get 1 start, might sub the other match, not totally convinced given the price though.
Hazzard - The must have Chelsea forward for week 1. Should start both in my opinion and is taking PK's although we don't know if Mata or Lampard will steal those if they are present on the pitch.
With Chelsea players obviously going to dominate most of our squads for week 1, that leaves little room to squeeze in some Villa players. For starters, I am not convinced given the squad or the match ups that Villa players will come good this double week. Two tough away matches against top 4 sides means I am staying away for the most part. However I still think you can find value in some of Villa's squad, the players I'd look at are as follows:
Brad Guzan - Not a huge fan, especially with the away matches, but his price is in the low 4mil range and wouldn't be a bad benched keeper. In the extreme off chance Cech lays an egg and Guzan comes up heroic against Arsenal, Guzan could be a sneaky cheap pick. He is currently in my side and wont hurt your team as long as he stays benched!
Lowton/Vlaar - Boy the Villa defense isn't cheap for a team that narrowly escaped relegation last season is it? I don't have any interest in spending almost the same for Lowton as my Chelsea defense so I am staying away. But Vlaar is a slightly cheaper alternative and both can produce points without a CS. I'd also be interested to see if Antonio Luna can nail down a starting birth at LB.
Bannan/N'Zogbia/Tonev *Note: Bannan is currently training away from the team and N'Zogbia is injured. You may want to look at Aleksandar Tonev in the Villa midfield although he is untested and I would only put him in a bench slot until we see some production.
Benteke - The only Aston Villa must have player. Regardless of the matchup, Benteke just has that eye for goal. He is a tall, strong, central forward who proved to us last season that he can give any defense problems.
With 2 weeks still to go, more transfers are surely going to line up, and with Chelsea hot on Wayne Rooney's signature, we may be in for a lot more tinkering. Who do you feel is a must have for the double week?