As a result of the Capital One Cup final yesterday, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, along with their scheduled opponents Queens Park Rangers and Leicester City, didn't play their Premier League fixtures in Week 27. Chelsea's continued involvement in the Champions League means they'll have to wait until April 29 to face the Foxes, but Spurs' lack of action in other competitions means they'll have the chance to face QPR this weekend while the quarter final matches of the FA Cup keep the rest of the Premier League on hold.
The result is a rare double week for the two London clubs, and means we're likely to see some pretty similar fantasy teams for Week 28. Let's take a look at which of the double-gamers look like strong investments, as well as other options from the single game teams:
Hugo Lloris - The no-brainer pick this week with two winnable matches against Swansea City and QPR. Priced very nicely after conceding twice against West Ham in Week 26.
Fraser Forster - If you're not sold on Spurs' chances at clean sheets this week, Forster should be in your thoughts ahead of a home match with Crystal Palace. The Saints have been in poor form of late, and will be eager to get a result to keep their dwindling Top 4 hopes alive.
Joe Hart - The Manchester City number one had a rough day at the office against Liverpool (though it's doubtful any keeper in the league would have had a chance at either of the goals scored against him), and as a result he's priced to sell for the home match against Leicester City. Expect City to be out for blood after losing more ground in the title race.
Ben Foster - The Tony Pulis style of football is in full effect at West Bromwich Albion, and Foster has reaped the benefits of an improved defense in front of him. Aston Villa seem incapable of scoring and have lost the support of their home crowd, so another clean sheet could be on the cards for the Baggies keeper.
Jan Vertonghen / Kyle Walker - Of the Spurs defenders, these two seem likeliest to start both matches, though there are some doubts over Walker's chances to start the home match against Swansea given the minor injury he sustained in the League Cup final. It seems unlikely DeAndre Yedlin will get his chance to start just yet, though, so the right back only really faces competition from Eric Dier, who has proven much more effective in the center of the defense.
Yun Suk-Young / Steven Caulker - The injury-hit QPR defense is a little less likely to face rotation than Spurs, but the likelihood of Rio Ferdinand playing twice in the space of a couple days at this point in his career is questionable at best. On top of that, he's not nearly as reliable a fantasy producer as Yun or Caulker. Yun's forays further forward, coupled with his cheaper price, give him an edge in my mind, and if questions remain over Walker's availability the Korean is similarly priced and could be a nice differential pick in a week when many teams will look alike.
Ryan Bertrand - Outside of the double gamers, many of the usual suspects look like good investments, and chief among them is the Southampton left back. The loss to West Brom at the weekend has kept his price in the single digits heading into the home match against the Eagles.
Branislav Ivanović - It was John Terry's turn to score in the League Cup final, so it should be back to the Serbian for Chelsea's home match against West Ham United. A clean sheet could be on the cards, especially given the Hammers poor form since the beginning of 2015 - we could be seeing the typical complacency from a team that's achieved safety and doesn't believe they have a shot at a European spot, and the Blues look set to capitalize to maintain their lead at the top of the table.
Pablo Zabaleta - With Vincent Kompany regularly disappointing fantasy managers this season, Zabaleta has established himself as the go-to option in City's defense. He'll cost you a pretty penny in a week where there are a lot of high-price options you'd likely rather have in your team, but a clean sheet seems very likely and the Argentine could pop up with an assist or two against the Foxes as well.
Alberto Moreno - Liverpool are the form team in the Premier League right now, largely thanks to a formation switch and improved defensive setup. Burnley visit Anfield in desperate need of a win to help them in their survival bid, but the Reds look primed to keep their unbeaten run in 2015 going, and Moreno could come up with big points if he can help his team keep another clean sheet.
Christian Eriksen - The most important man in Tottenham's midfield, the Dane looks most likely to start both matches in the double week, and will be on set piece duty. He's shown his quality time and time again from direct free kicks and open play this season, and should be good value for money over the course of the two games.
Niko Kranjčar / Matt Phillips - Neither QPR midfielder would likely be under consideration this week if they weren't playing two games, but the fact that they are makes them more attractive options. With Joey Barton out through suspension, Kranjcar should get the nod in the center of the pitch for both matches and will be on set piece duty while he's on the pitch. There are a few question marks over the Croatian's ability to place twice in a week, though, so Phillips could be the better value for money.
David Silva - With rotation likely to play a role in the midfield across the two matches for the double gamers, investing in single game players in midfield could be a good strategy this week, especially with some of the enticing match ups taking place. Silva has been in great form, particularly at home, and will be at the heart of everything City does when they take on Leicester at the Etihad. Yaya Toure's poor form since returning from the African Cup of Nations has seen his price drop as low as I can remember it ever being and he could be worth a shout, though another low return seems just as likely at this point, so Silva is the safe bet.
Sadio Mane - Consistently the most dangerous attacking option at Ronald Koeman's disposal, the Senegalese winger should get the start if he can show up on time for the pre-match meal this week. Following a sub-standard appearance against West Brom, his price has fallen to more reasonable levels.
Juan Cuadrado - After being given a brief run out against Spurs in the cup final, the Colombian should be in line to start over Willian against West Ham. His price is still totally reasonable, and he could be a good alternative to the similarly-priced Matt Phillips. Whether Cuadrado can beat his returns in one match is up for debate, but this could be the week we start seeing the best from Chelsea's newest signing.
Jordon Ibe - It's been the Philippe Coutinho show at Liverpool recently and if you have him at any sort of discount it's probably worth hanging on for the home match against Burnley. If you missed the Brazilian on the barn door, though, Ibe should be restored to the starting lineup ahead of Lazar Markovic for Week 28. The youngster has been in impressive form since returning from his loan spell with Derby County, and looks primed to deliver another good performance in this match for a low cost. Update: Ibe is out injured with knee ligament damage. Thanks Sidewinder for the information.
Erik Lamela - The Argentine didn't start in the cup final, which should increase his chances of starting at home against Swansea on Wednesday, but his poor showing against Chelsea could dissuade Mauricio Pochettino from restoring him to the starting 11. Even if he only starts one of the two matches this week, Lamela should see action in both and has the potential to be the difference-maker for Spurs on his day.
Mauricio Isla - We don't often recommend players who are listed ahead of the position they play, but Isla should make his return from injury against Arsenal to slot in at right back. Clean sheets don't seem like much of a possibility for Rangers this week anyway, so a player like Isla who consistently gets into the attack should still have opportunities to put up pretty good fantasy points. Keep an eye on team news to see if he's set to start midweek, but if he is the Chilean could be a cheeky differential pick this week.
Harry Kane - Before being shut out against Chelsea yesterday, I can't remember the last time Kane wasn't on the score sheet. Currently one of the top form players in the Premier League, Kane should get back to scoring ways against Swansea and/or QPR. Those who have him at discount will be smiling, but even at retail it's hard to imagine the England striker not returning his value across two matches.
Charlie Austin - QPR's best player this season, Austin has been a bit quiet recently. Still, it's hard to bet against him delivering the goods in terms of fantasy over two home matches despite the difficult opposition in Arsenal and Tottenham. Austin will be on penalty duty and should take plenty of shots as he tries to help his team on their way to Premier League survival.
Sergio Agüero - A quiet day at Anfield notwithstanding, Kun has been one of the league's most consistent strikers and fantasy performers. His price has fallen slightly after a 5-point haul in Week 27, and while he's still premium-priced, it's easy to see him returning his cost at home against bottom-of-the-table Leicester City. Leave him out of your team at your peril.
Daniel Sturridge - The Liverpool striker was given most of the day off against City at the weekend following his exertions in the extra time Europa League loss to Besiktas, but he should be in line to start against Burnley. We've yet to see Sturridge hit the heights of last season, but his propensity for shooting and ability to create chances for others should make him a strong consideration if Aguero is out of your budget.
Dame N'Doye - The Tigers suffered without Nikica Jelavic and their new striker N'Doye against Stoke City, failing to score in a 1-0 loss in Week 27. The 30-year-old failed to make an impact in a brief cameo this weekend and his price dropped enough to make him an attractive option at home against Sunderland.
Diego Costa / Alexis Sánchez - Many fantasy managers have held on to one or both of these strikers at deep discount over the course of the season, and with few enticing options outside of Kane and Aguero this week, it wouldn't be unreasonable to hang on to one or even both of them heading into the tail end of the season. Both have their downsides, with Sanchez fading quickly and Costa closing in on a two-match suspension for yellow card accumulation, but both have favorable matches this weekend and could deliver the goods for those who keep the faith.
As is expected, my own fantasy team for the upcoming week will have a number of double gamers, though I'm strongly considering dropping from the 8 in my current team down to 5 or 6. Here's how I'm currently set up:
Walker, Cresswell, Vertonghen
Eriksen, Kranjcar, Phillips, Sinclair
Kane, Aguero, Austin
I'll surely tinker with it a bit more, but Lloris, Vertonghen, Eriksen and the front three are all very likely to stay. As I mentioned in the picks above, I'm considering swapping Kyle Walker for Yun Suk-Young, while Phillips and/or Kranjcar could also make way for Cuadrado and/or Isla.
How are your teams shaping up? Have I missed anyone you're considering? Let's chat!