The opening fantasy football game weeks of the 2016/17 has seen a dramatic increase in the number of players up for consideration each week. The influx of money into the league has seen many of the so called middle table teams strengthen and add players of a higher quality into their squad. The has opened up our options and unlike last season we have no current template of players that are obvious to hold. Should this continue the standard tactic of holding of discounted players in Fantrax could become an inflexible trap towards long term goals.
Let's take a look at some of the options for game week 5.
Mr Bravo faced plenty of ridicule for his debut performance last weekend. To be fair his debut did come in the Manchester derby and plenty of keepers struggle adapting to the league in the early weeks. David De Gea made plenty of errors in his early games and Bravo made need time. The good news for him is that Joe Harts debut had a typical howler in it and Pep's public support should see him start against Bournemouth. City haven't yet kept a clean sheet in the Premier League so are due I guess and the Cherries do have spirit about them so should create chances. His price make's him a risk worth considering this week.
Lloris player behind the league's most solid defence in my view. Facing a Sunderland team that are too reliant on Jermain Defoe he must have the best shout of a clean sheet win double this week. Still a great price as well.
Back to back clean sheets and the Toffees look a fair more ruthless side under Koemann. Like all top managers Koemann has illustrated his authority on Monday night and the players know what a drop in standards will result in. Stoke are bottom of the league and low on confidence.
If you don't fancy using Bravo to cover the City clean sheet chance then you could try a mini gamble on Sagna. Back in the city side in the derby, he got a midweek breather in the Champions League. As with every city player you can never be 100% sure he starts but I suspect he will and in Pep's system he will get forward plenty offering attacking returns to go with any defensive points.
One of four player to return double digit points in Fantrax every week so far. All with just the one clean sheet and 1 assist. Davies is the highest points scorer In the whole of the Fantrax game in any position. I wouldn't pay retail price but would hold him with any sizable discount. Playing Arsenal he can only add to his huge TW, PI and BS totals.
In FPL he is only the 10th highest scoring defender so his appeal isn't quite as strong. The only thing he hasn't done so far is score so don't be surprised to see that happen sooner rather than later.
A further player to show you the difference between the FPL and Fantrax scoring systems. Walker is the no1 defender in FPL with 25 points. In Fantrax he is only the 3rd highest Tottenham defender. Hosting the Black Cats he is a very strong pick this week. Although Spurs did rotate full backs last season the 4 day gap between the European game and Sundays game should mean he is safe to start.
Leighton Baines or Seamus Coleman
Both should start against Boro. Baines is the pick in FPL. In Fantrax the price difference means choosing between Colemans customer friendly price against Baines chances of holding spot duties.
Papy potentially is one of those players who's reward in Fantasy eclipses his performances in the real world. With no clean sheet and little sign of one ever coming he has put up consistent points. He is becoming a Curtis Davies lite. For sure in an away game against Spurs he will need to rack up the phantoms once more. He price has gone up a little already so if he does tempt you will need to move on him soon.
Player two to score double digits in all 4 Fantrax weeks and doing very well in FPL for his price on top. Facing Manchester United at home this week his form tells you to start him if he holds a spot in your FPL squad unless you have a better option. In Fantrax he would be a real differential pick should you be bold.
No goal no assists and yet the third player who has gone double digits in Fantrax every week. In FPL he has been rubbish showing you the importance of phantom points scoring in Fantrax. In that format he is pretty expensive and he will need a goal to make him a worthwhile pick this week. Fortunately bottom of the table Stoke City are heading to Palace so there should be chances. I will guess he provide that goal this week.
Barkley's opening two performances had fueled hope that we will see his talent produce points. The young man took a mental blow when he failed to make the England squad for the Slovakia game and followed by a terrible 45 minutes against Sunderland. Ross gave the ball away way too many times for his manger and got the hook at half time. While it is possible he faces a game on the bench this weekend, I think the opposite is more likely and Koemann will use it as a chance to hit reset and talk him through just what makes a top player as opposed to a squad version. Whether Barkley can accept and adjust will decide on the end result against Boro. If he can learn, keep his chin up and decide to prove my managers wrong we could see a big performance from him. If during the week he reacts poorly as a person he won't even start. Its time he moved to the next level as a player and we will know more come the end of week 4.
You all know I have a soft fantasy spot for Bolasie. While in the real world his end product is so inconsistent and his decision making sees him forget to achieve the basics, as a fantasy player he can still rack up the points. He is certain to start against Boro and after putting 15 crosses in the last two games
he could be the assist maker this weekend or perhaps, better.
Along with Gavin we have written many words on the apparent attitude concerns/failure to fulfill his talent of Raheem. Under the influence of Pep we may actually be seeing Sterling starting to match that talent. He seems safe to start the game after being subbed early in the derby and Champions League. There is also a pattern to absorb here. Last October a Kunless Manchester City faced B'mouth winning 5 -1 and Sterling scored a hatty. Given the volume of players city commit to attack under Pep I don't see a repeat but he surely is involved in a goal or two somewhere this week. Frustratingly a forward in Fantrax but a great one week bet before Kuns return next week.
Kevin De Bruyne
The inform midfield man, KDB averages 3.5 shots per game and 2.3 crosses. He is in flying form and has history of producing better points in home games. Again pre Kun return a 1 week pick perhaps in FPL and a must have in Fantrax this week.
Sadio Mane/Philippe Coutinho/Roberto Firmino
In the last 18 months we now know what we get from Klopps Liverpool. At times woeful against smaller teams but often brilliant against the big boys. I'm surprised the side haven't had more credit so far this season. Their opening four games saw them play away three times and they faced three of the best defensive teams from the league in 2015/16 in Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester - two away from home. They lost none of those three games, outplayed all three opponents and scored 9 goals in the process. If they can follow with a point/s at Chelsea I really do think with no European distractions and despite an awful current defence that they are genuine title contenders. As a Utd fan that was a tough sentence to write!
I expect one of the pool trio to score at least facing David Luiz and co. I will take a stab at it being Coutinhos turn.
To balance my thoughts its Liverpool's defending against an in form Hazard under the lights. There is a chance pool could dominate possession but that just means they are open on the break. Hazard on any discount should stay in your team.
The most consistent Arsenal player this season and at a great cost of 7.6m in FPL. Santi has the Gunners pen duties but as they have been given 3 penalties already this season you may need a more traditional point scoring method from him in week 4. In current form he is Arsenals most important player and a strong pick in any fantasy team.
Bit of a gut pick for Fantrax. He got a footballing lesson last week and while he may become the world best player in time he has plenty of learning and improvement to get there. I'm not keen on many Utd options this week but Watfords system and loose man marking is the perfect match for Pogba to enjoy. I will call a goal from him this week but even if I'm wrong you will get his value back in Fantrax.
The danes form line is improving and he will love the fixture. Eriksen can follow his brace of assist last week with his first goal this week. His price in both formats makes him so tempting for a one week shot.
History tells us that the smaller teams struggle to play Thursday night European football and follow up with a Sunday Premier League game. Southampton have to do this with a squad that looks much weaker than the last few seasons. Swansea meanwhile are a pretty positive group at the moment and I can see them exploiting an unconvincing Saints side. Siggy has scored well as normal in the Fantrax system and averages 3.3 shots per game. After opening his scoring for the season last time out Siggy looks in the right place at the right time this week.
Super expensive now in either format his goals scoring returns are currently way ahead of my pre-season predictions (not according to Zlatan of course). He is the no1 forward in FPL and no2 in Fantrax after 4 goals in 4 games. The swede is all about efficient effective use of energy combined with the highest level of technique you could wish. Should the goals dry up the effective energy style will mean some disappointing fantasy week ahead. Indeed without a goal at Hull his finished with zero Fantrax points. There are better forward options for me this week but the big man holds penalty and direct free kick duties. As I have said a few times so far I don't see a United side performing miles better in attacking areas this season just yet. Zlatan has been a one chance one goal type and Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Micki and Anthony Martial have all looked below expectations to me. The city defeat and Jose comments hopefully will see a reaction from the side but I am sorely tempted to leave the Red Devils alone for any away game in the next few weeks. The pick is based on you holding him at 12m in Fantrax. For all other combinations I think the correct play is to look elsewhere this week and cross your fingers he doesn't punish you.
Costa is back to his aggressive best this season and the final Fantrax player who has provided double figures in every game this season. 4 goals, 1 assist and 3 yellow cards, Costa is a love him or hate him type. There is history between Chelsea and Liverpool and the game being played under floodlights will add spice. It looks a certain yellow card game for him but you just cannot ignore his form or Pools inability to defend the most basic attacking play. The game will be a great watch and if you picked Diego up on the barn door I would take a chance with him this week. Watching behind your hands may be needed.
Alexis is in form and even if he wasn't you know you would get relentless work rate and potentially explosive fantasy points. Hull will defend in numbers, have form on their side and have zero pressure in this game. The longer they hold out the harder it will be for Arsenal. However, when arsenal get ahead of teams they can be quite devastating on their day. An early goal could see Sanchez score on the road again. His price in Fantrax is so tempting at retail even more so on the barn door.
Harry may be the big call for many of us this week. Beautiful fixture and having opened his Premier League account against Stoke you could see a goal scoring streak. The caution is that his general play is still some way off last season but then he faces Sunderland. He has only had 2 shots on target all season but then he faces Sunderland. He failed to score in the Champions League midweek but then he faces Sunderland. Still unsure? What If I told you Mike "that's a clear pen" Dean is the games referee?
While Everton's star forward is still Troll King, Mr Benteke is doing his best to compete in that field. 8 points after scoring last week sums him up in Fantrax. In FPL he is much better option and one you could run with for a few weeks. In Fantrax he is an unbelievably cheap price and having broke his Palace duck last week he faces Stoke "10 goals conceded in 4 games" City.
I have been really impress with Nolito so far. He seem a perfect fit for a Pep's style side and he should take his 1st team spot back this week. While others will go with other city choices, Nolito could prosper.
Great price and should start. We may not get 90 mins from him but he needs to do very little to return his value in 60 minutes or even if he comes on from the bench. Only problem is we have so many forward choices that are certain to start. I want to gamble with him but fantasy football is a game gambling often doesn't work out.
Hatty hero against Sunderland he saved my FPL week. I may be close to removing his King Troll Tag. We all know how this works in game week 4 right. After picking him up in Fantrax on the barn door for 10m and facing a Boro side that look workmen like, Lukaku is a great pick. Perhaps I have been playing too long but I see a parked red bus cutting supply and the big fella snatching at chances along with his FC run, a -1pt return at half time and may be 4points at full time. Maybe I'm too much of an old Cynic? One thing for sure Boros defends will not be as horrific as Sunderland on Monday night. He is certain to stay in my FPL team but I'm not sure either way in Fantrax right now being a few times burnt.
Interestingly week ahead then. Way to many forward choices to pick from which should mean some very different NAM team this week. The Chelsea/Liverpool game will be the most fun to watch this weekend where any result can happen. One of the manager may just explode on the touchline.
How do you see week 5?