Today's Crystal Palace v. Everton fixture finishes off Game Week 33 in Official BPL and Togga Perfect XI fantasy formats while simultaneously marking the start of Game Week 34 in Fantrax. (Not confusing at all, no need to get on the same page or anything, fantasy portal creators!) The deadline for setting your Fantrax fantasy team is 2pm EST / 11am PST today, so be sure to get cracking ASAP if you want to make any changes!
As with GW33 in Official and Togga, the Crystal Palace v. Everton fixture similarly offers the only opportunity for a double week in GW34 for Fantrax. (Palace travels to Arsenal while Everton hosts Southampton for their second games.) Both sides come in riding horrible stretches of form, as Palace's victory at home against Norwich broke a 14 game winless streak and Everton's draw at Watford left it with a meager four victories in its past 18 games. Even so, both teams have plenty to play for and this should be an exciting game both from a real and fantasy perspective. Everton and Palace are each pushing to reach the vaunted 40 point safety zone, Roberto Martinez could very well be coaching to keep his job and Alan Pardew is looking for a contract extension.
Given the vagaries of the Fantrax scoring system combined with how late we are in the season, I recommending loading up on Palace and Everton players for your Fantrax squads. And yes, I shall be practicing what I am preaching.
DOUBLE GAME PLAYER PICKS
This one's pretty easy. You have two choices and thankfully both are cheap.
W. Hennessey (CRY, 4,397) - If you pick Wayne Hennessey, you're counting on a solid performance against Everton. That's fine. But then you have to hope for one of those games where Arsenal passes around the box but just can't hit pay dirt. If the Gunners offense clicks, however, you're in trouble.
J. Robles (EVE, 1,303) - That's why I like Joel Robles better. Southampton's no slouch, but it's also no Arsenal. And he's significantly cheaper. If you manage a meager 3 points across the pair of games, you've more than doubled your investment. There's an outside possibility of Tim Howard stealing a start, but that shouldn't be too much of a worry.
D. Delaney (CRY, 10,043) and P. Souare (CRY, 9.012) - For Crystal Palace, you're likely going to have the Dann/Delaney/Souare/Ward back line start both games. Damien Delaney and Pape Souare are not only the cheapest of the bunch, they've also both scored double digit points in the past two and three of the past five games.
S. Coleman (EVE, 10,858) and R. Funes Mori (EVE, 9,392) - For Everton, Ramiro Funes Mori should come in for the injured (and unfortunately cheaper) Phil Jagielka and will be expected to start both games along with Seamus Coleman and John Stones, while there's a fairly decent chance that Leighton Baines will rotate with Bryan Oviedo given their injury issues this season. Baines is pretty cheap, so I wouldn't blame you for taking a punt on him, but if you can spare the funds, Funes Mori and Coleman offer the best attacking potenial of the Toffees' likely double game defenders.
Going with four or five defenders is a solid strategy since defenders generally have a higher probability of starting a pair of games in quick succession (especially amidst further fixture congestion, which is the case for both teams as well) than midfielders and strikers. Then again, spoiler alert, if you're prioritizing a lot of midfielders, it may be worth rolling the dice with more offensive players.
R. Barkley (EVE, 14,984), J. McCarthy (EVE, 7,275) and A. Lennon (EVE, 6,298) - Ross Barkley looks to be fit after being subbed out early over the weekend. While he's been a bit sluggish lately, he has the biggest upside of any double game midfield player; after all, he's got 8 goals and 7 assists on the season. McCarthy has double digit points in three of his past four games, while Lennon has hit double digits in six of his past nine games. However, I certainly would not be surprised to see Kevin Mirallas and/or someone else poach a start from amongst the Toffees' trio in one of the games.
Y. Cabaye (CRY, 15,961), Y. Bolasie (CRY, 10,749) and M. Jedinak (CRY, 3,312) - The cogs of Palace's midfield are adept at returning fantasy value even when they don't get goals or assists, which is pretty vital since nobody on Crystal Palace has scored more than 5 or assisted on more than 3 goals. Yohan Cabaye is averaging 10.6 ppg for the season and is coming off an 18 point effort (unsurprisingly, without a goal or assist), while Yannick Bolasie has double digits in three of his past four games. Meanwhile, Mile Jedinak is a nice cheap play, averaging 8 ppg over his past four games. Similarly to Everton, while I worry about Bakary Sako and Wilfried Zaha jumping in.
It would be no surprise to see Crystal Palace rotate amongst Emmanuel Adebayor, Dwight Gayle and Connor Wickham up front in its pair of games, so I'm looking more fondly at Everton.
R. Lukaku (EVE, 15,527) and G. Deulofeu (EVE, 8.059) - Like Barkley, the Troll King had a poor showing against Watford, leaving severe gut ache with those who chose him for the Official BPL and Togga double game weeks. Like Barkley, Lukaku comes with a dear price tag. Like Barkley, Lukaku has faltered following a wondrous first half of the season. But like Barkley, Lukaku also holds the highest upside of any of the double gamers at his position. He could get 3 points just as easily as he could deliver 33 points, and you'll be kicking yourself if you miss out on the latter scenario. Deulofeu's played 60+ minutes each of the past two games with 16 points over the pair. The big, strong Lukaku probably has less chance of being rested than Deulofeu, who could be rotated for Arouna Kone or Mirallas. If you don't want to go with two or three strikers, a 4-5-1 or 5-4-1 formation is a good option.
CHEAP SINGLE GAME ENABLERS
You may not be able to cobble together a desirable full team of double gamers at retail. So you'll certainly want to consider keeping cheap players you already have at discount who you expect to return double value. Additionally, these are some cheap options to enable you to afford as many Palace and Everton players as possible:
B. Foster (WBA, 3,692) - Ben Foster and the West Brom defense tend to be feast or famine. At home to Watford, you just might get a big feast.
J. Ruddy (NOR, 1,900) - Ruddy's averaged 7.8 ppg in his past four games and the Canaries have a favorable match-up hosting Sunderland.
J. Kirchhoff (SUN, 4,126) - 8.7 ppg in his past six games and looks foward to a favorable match-up at Norwich.
J. Chester (WBA, 2,877) - 10.3 ppg in his past four games and welcoming Watford.
T. Fosu-Mensah (MUN, 2,009) - 15 points against Tottenham, seems to be the preferred starter and has a good chance at a clean sheet with Aston Villa coming to Old Trafford, but is an injury doubt, so be sure to see if there are any further health updates prior to the deadline.
A. Townsend (NEW, 4,452) - 12 ppg in his past six games and at home against Swansea is not a bad match-up.
W. Khazri (SUN, 3,746) - Only 3.3 ppg in his past four games, but 13.5 ppg over the previous four and he could easily return to his prior form at Norwich.
S. Nasri (MCI, 2,497) - 18 points against West Brom over the weekend. While going to Chelsea is a tougher task, the price is right.
A. Iwobi (ARS, 2,280) - Has burst onto the scene in absolutely smashing fashion to the tune of 13.7 ppg in his past three games. The youngster could lose his starting spot to Aaron Ramsey, but Wenger isn't really crazy enough to mess with what's working, is he?
D. Sturridge (LIV, 4,777) - 13 ppg in his past four games and has a fairly favorable match-up at Bournemouth.
D. Welbeck (ARS, 3,040) - 7.8 ppg over his past four games and will be home to struggling Palace.
My team (Stallone Wall) at the moment:
Robles / Kirchhoff, Funes Mori, Souare / Barkley, Bolasie, Cabaye, Lennon, McCarthy / Deulofeu, Lukaku
I am considering dropping Deulofeu and Lennon for Jedinak and Ward, but am having trouble letting go of Lennon. I'm estimating a 80-120 point score with single gamers, while hoping for a 125-175 point haul with double gamers. Hence the difficult decision to dropp Sergio Aguero, Alex Iwobi, Harry Kane, Riyad Mahrez, Dimitri Payet and Andros Townsend at discount and push most of my chips in on double game selections. Crazy like a fox or just plain crazy? We'll see!
So are you loading up on double gamers, sticking to single game players or hedging your bets somewhere in between?
Which players are you counting on for fantasy glory today and how do you think this midweek game will turn out? Join in the discussion!