GW 14 Fixture List:
Manchester City v. Chelsea
Sunderland v. Leicester City
Tottenham v. Swansea City
Crystal Palace v. Southampton
Stoke City v. Burnley
West Brom v. Watford
West Ham v. Arsenal
Bournemouth v. Liverpool
Everton v Manchester United
Middlesbrough v. Hull City
Best Bets for 2+ Goals: Tottenham, West Brom, Southampton, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Arsenal
Best Bets for a Clean Sheet: Tottenham, Stoke City, Arsenal, Southampton, West Brom, Everton, Middlesbrough
Petr Cech (ARS) [5.5 Official] - I wouldn’t recommend paying premium for Cech in Fantrax, but in Official he’s worth the price. The Gunners boast the staunchest road defense in the league (four goals allowed total in six games) while the Hammers only average one goal per game at home.
Hugo Lloris (TOT) [5.5 Official] - The Spurs have lost their mojo with Toby Alderweireld out (along with Danny Rose last weekend) and Swansea is coming off an unexpected (to say the least) five goal explosion against Crystal Palace. Even so, Tottenham has allowed only four goals at home thus far (tied for fewest) while the Swans have averaged just one goal per game on the road, so take a deep breath and repeat after me: Tottenham is not Crystal Palace and the Swans are coming to White Hart Lane. As with Cech, Lloris is no bargain at retail in Fantrax.
Fraser Forster (SOU) [5.0 Official, 5.61 Fantrax] - I generally shy away from road keepers and defenders, but Southampton’s defense is in clampdown mode, tying for the third-fewest goals against overall and coming off a pair of consecutive clean sheets against dangerous sides Liverpool and Everton. After scoring a quartet of goals but allowing a quintet at Swansea, Crystal Palace will surely adopt a more defensive focus; even so, the Eagles are not exactly lighting it up at home on the offensive end, with three goals total in its past three affairs at Selhurst Park. On top of that, Connor Wickham is out injured, so don’t be shy to roll with the big Saint.
Ben Foster (WBA) [4.7, 6.34] - Albion has allowed only two goals in its past three games while the Hornets have managed only a pair across their past four away affairs, failing to score at Burnley or Swansea. Sound like a winning combo?
Lee Grant (STO) [4.1, 4.90] - After a choppy start, the Potters have righted the ship, particularly on the defensive end, allowing only five goals in their past eight games. Meanwhile, Burnley has a grand total of one goal away from home this season; the next fewest is Sunderland with four. If you’re looking for the week’s best bargain in the nets, you’ve found him.
Laurent Koscielny (ARS) [6.6 Official] - The Gunners have allowed one goal each in four straight games, which has killed Koscielny’s value in Official. Given Arsenal’s stingy road record, look for a clean sheet this time around, and he may just provide an offensive bonus as well.
Seamus Coleman (EVE) [5.5, 11.49] - The rampaging wing back has notched 6.75 ppg in Official and 14.25 ppg in Fantrax in his past four home games, and here comes another one against Manchester United which is pretty mediocre on the road.
Ryan Bertrand (SOU) [5.4, 9.37] - The wing back has nabbed at least nine points in Fantrax in six of his past seven games and has at least six points in Official in five games across that stretch. This weekend against Crystal Palace looks promising for plenty of activity and another nice haul.
Gareth McAuley (WBA) [4.8] - I’m not having a stellar run of things in Official (understatement of the year), but one thing I got right was McAuley, who began the year at 4.5 and has scored the fourth most points of any defender. He’s only ticked up to 4.8 now and has a tasty home match-up looming.
Erik Pieters (STO) [ 4.5, 11.22] - Stoke’s notched three clean sheets in its past six games, and Pieters has gotten double digits in points four times in that stretch. As mentioned, there’s a good chance at another defensive donut this weekend.
James Milner (LIV) [6.6, 14.60] - With Philippe Coutinho out and Roberto Firmino a doubt, the Reds offense could struggle a bit at Bournemouth. Even so, it’s tough to imagine Liverpool getting completely shut down and Milner offers a great bargain, tying for the ninth-most points of any midfielder in Official and averaging 15.1 ppg in his past seven games in Fantrax.
Nacer Chadli (WBA) [6.3, 6.19] - The former Hotspur man missed out on two games through injury, then failed to start last weekend, so you will want to check in on Albion news later in the week to get a feel if Chadli is expected to crack the starting 11. If he does, he’s an amazing bargain, having scored four goals with a pair of helpers in his past half dozen starts, with a tempting match-up to boot.
Wilfried Zaha (CRY) [5.4, 12.42] - Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend have been huge disappointments, while Zaha has been a pleasant surprise. The former Manchester United starlet has one goal and four assists (five assists in the wacky BPL format) over his past five games, in which he’s averaged 6.4 ppg in Official and 14.2 ppg in Fantrax. Southampton will be a tough match-up, but when you’re on a roll, why not keep rolling the dice?
Matt Phillips (WBA) [5.3, 9.44] - I harbored high hopes for Phillips at the beginning of the season, but he disappointed with a slow start. However, the former QPR star is smack back on my radar with averages of 10.7 ppg in Official and 14 ppg in Fantrax in his past trio. (The three that Chadli didn’t start. Coincidence? Probably not. So this may be a case of Chadli being the man if he starts and Phillips keeping control of the offensive reins if he doesn’t.)
Gaston Ramirez (MID) [5.3, 6.75] - Has picked things up with double digit points in Fantrax in three of his past four games (one goal, one assist) and looks like a bargain in both formats with Liverpool coming to town and the accompanying hope for an open game.
Sergio Aguero (MCI) [13.1, 19.55] - It’s going to be a tough match against Chelsea, and you’re paying up the wazoo. But hey, he’s got five goals (and one assist in BPL format) in his past four games. On top of that, Kun’s scored four times in his past two games against Chelsea. Admittedly it’s a much different Blues squad with Conte than it was under Mourinho, but still, if anybody’s going to return value at a high cost, you can never be faulted for going with Aguero at the Etihad against anybody.
Harry Kane (TOT) [10.9, 15.44] - The Spurs talisman has five goals in as many games, averaging 7.6 ppg in Official and 15.6 ppg in Fantrax over that stretch. The Swans and their league’s second-sorriest defense (tied) are coming to town. He’s cheaper than Kun and has a more tempting match-up, leaving Kane as one of the premium picks this week.
Jermain Defoe (SUN) [7.6, 13.67] - Leicester City’s fall from grace has been particularly pronounced away from home, with the Foxes tied for the most goals allowed in that category. While Sunderland is far from explosive at home, it has still managed twice the output there as on the road. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth are stout but plodding, unlike the small, speedy Defoe who has scored four times in as many appearances at the Stadium of Light.
Charlie Austin (SOU) [6.8, 11.78] - In case you didn’t realize it, Austin’s the sixth-highest scorer at striker in both BPL and seventh in Fantrax, ahead of a plethora of higher-priced luminaries. He’s notched at least five points in Official and 15 points in Fantrax in five of his past nine games. Crystal Palace is tied for the second-most goals allowed in the Premiership this season. Let me say it slowly, get...him...in...your...teams.
Alvaro Negredo (MID) [6.2, 10.18] - Similarly, the affordable Negredo is the seventh-highest scorer (tied) at striker in BPL, although he’s much further down the totem pole in Fantrax at 15th. Though he hit a lengthy barren spell after a strong start, he’s coming off a brace against Leicester City. Most importantly, though, Middlesbrough hosts the leakiest defense in the league, Hull City, on Monday.
So which players are you grabbing or avoiding this week?