GW8 was one of those weeks where I just knew I was going to kill it. My Fantrax squad was stocked with a dream lineup of all-stars like Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez, Mohamed Salah, and Thibaut Courtois. I mean, with names like that in your team, how could you possibly fail?
Well, I’ll tell you how. Hazard and Courtois suffered a stunningly humiliating defeat at the hands of the worst team in the league, with Hazard returning 3 points and Courtois a goose egg. Salah ended on 5 and seemed like he couldn’t finish even if the net were twice as big. Coutinho was only slightly better, notching 7. Kane failed to score, but at least he put three shots on frame, putting up a “meh” return of 12 points. And presumably due to short turnaround after intercontinental travel, Sanchez didn’t even play. Despite all the fantasy studs in my team then, my total score for GW8 was a shambolic 41 points, by far my worst performance of the season.
So, like Antonio Conte, I was served a painful reminder that whether in real life or in fantasy, nothing in the English Premier League is a sure thing. Given my abject failure to succeed in GW8 with a team stacked with blue chip players, our blog manager Chris may now be rueing his decision to assign me the task of making premium player picks for GW9. But the die is cast, so I’ll put forth my best effort.
David De Gea
No other netminder even comes close to DDG in Fantrax. Through 8 games he is averaging almost 13 points per game, which is just slightly less than his price. He faces Huddersfield in GW9, so if you’re looking to pay up for a GK this week, he is your man.
Like DDG, Jones is the overall Fantrax points leader at his position, with an average return that is nearly equal to his £10.85 price tag. And unlike his premium teammate Antonio Valencia, Jones returns well away from home. If you have the budget, he should be value for money at Huddersfield.
Davies is a goal threat and Tottenham will take the game to the Reds when they host Liverpool’s loose defense on Sunday. He missed the weekend league game through illness and did not travel to Madrid for the mid-week Champions League match, so follow team news before dropping the coin to bring him in.
If Davies looks unlikely to start, then look to Vertonghen if you want to shell out for a premium Spurs defender. Shifted to left back with Davies out, Vertonghen played well last weekend and contributed to yet another Spurs clean sheet. Vertonghen’s place in the squad seems assured; he’s played every minute of every league game this season.
Tied with Kevin de Bruyne for most Fantrax points among midfielders, Erikson scores well home or away. TOT’s string-puller also has set pieces in his locker, so he should get chances when Liverpool’s suspect defense comes to visit. His price makes investment a risk, but if you’ve got the funds...
Kevin de Bruyne
While he was a bit slow to warm up this season, since GW3 he has notched double digit Fantrax returns in every game but one. The Citizens are scoring for fun lately, and if you have the cash to splash, KDB should reward your investment against Burnley this weekend.
The Spaniard notched his first league goal of the season in last weekend’s 7-2 rout of Stoke, and leads the league in assists with eight. This week it’s Burnley’s turn to face the Manchester City buzzsaw, and Silva will be right in the middle of it all.
Right now the Brazilian is that rare player whose Fantrax average points-per-game is higher than his price. This circumstance will be fleeting. The going will be tough away to Tottenham’s stingy defense, but Coutinho is Liverpool’s best player. At his Fantrax price of £13.65, this premium midfielder is a bargain.
Ok, it may be a stretch to call Zaha a premium option at his current Fantrax price of £8.97. But Zaha was electric against Chelsea, and his reintroduction to Crystal Palace’s squad sparked what will surely be the English Premier League’s biggest upset this season. He is pure class whether his price reflects it or not, and this week he faces Newcastle. I’m in, and you should think about it too.
Yes he’s expensive as hell, and yes he still hasn’t scored a league goal at home. But Kane hosts Liverpool this week, and the Reds aren’t renowned for keeping clean sheets. Plus, the Englishman picks up phantoms in Fantrax, so there’s some downside protection even if he fails to find the net at Wembley yet again.
Like a schoolyard bully who shakes down skinny nerds for their lunch money, Lukaku preys on the EPL’s weaklings. And this week the Belgian faces Huddersfield. Unlike Kane, he’s not good at accumulating phantoms, so he’ll likely need to score to have a chance at returning his price. But I like his odds.
Rested against Watford due to international travel, the Chilean will be raring to go when Arsenal travel to Goodison Park this weekend. He is returning to his old form, conjuring up 18 Fantrax points against Brighton without even scoring. Everton are struggling this season, having only won two of eight, and Sanchez will have room to operate against them. He’s in my squad.
Let me close with a word on two high-profile fantasy studs that would normally make a list like this one: Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero. Burnley give up shots to their opposition, and lately one might mistake City’s real-time play for an edited highlight reel. A fantasy manager could not be blamed for wanting in on that.
However, although Jesus has had the striker position to himself since Sergio Aguero injured a rib in his Amsterdam car accident, Kun made the bench for the Champions League fixture last night, while Jesus played 87 minutes. That could signal that Pep is expecting Aguero to see the pitch on Saturday, possibly at the expense of Jesus.
If you are inclined to pay up for a City striker this week, you’ll have to decide which one you believe has the best chance of rewarding your investment. Given their high prices and the availability of other options, the situation is probably too uncertain for me to gamble on either of them.
So that’s my list of recommended blue chip fantasy players for GW9. Think I’ve left someone out? Ask me why. Think I’ve named someone who doesn’t deserve it? Call me on it. Let’s work it all out in the comments below.