I didn't have a good opening weekend in fantasy. In Official, I got the dreaded double whammy as my captain, Kevin De Bruyne, did absolutely nothing, while I left my best player — Sam Vokes and his 13 points — on the bench. In Fantrax, it was thanks to triple negatives (Gabriel Jesus -1, Wayne Hennessey -3 and Cesc Fabregas -5).
I wasn’t entirely alone as plenty of unexpected things happened. Chelsea earned a pair of red cards and lost at Stamford Bridge to Burnley, Crystal Palace was shelled at Selhurst Park by Huddersfield, James Milner played a mere four minutes and missed out on the chance at a penalty kick in Liverpool’s draw at Watford, Harry Kane managed neither a goal nor an assist despite Spurs’ victory at Newcastle, and that wasn’t all. Those of you who navigated the choppy seas and came out ship shape and shiny, very well done indeed!
I also sadly didn’t watch a single game, since I was on vacation in the Emerald City and none of the friends my better half and I were visiting gave a lick about Premier League (of course, neither did my wife). But it was still a great weekend, even with respect to actual sports. I experienced a pair of wonderful stadia for the first time, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. As part of that, I witnessed a nice header goal from my favorite American player of all time, Clint Dempsey, and got to soak in an 11-3 romp by my beloved Orioles over the Mariners highlighted by a majestic grand slam from Manny Machado. Not bad at all!
I’m staying home this weekend, so here’s hoping for some fantasy greatness. I’m not going to overreact to the insanity of last weekend. After all, surely you remember Hull City winning its first two games last season, including the shock opener at defending champs Leicester City, then reverting to expected form and being relegated. You must recall Watford’s Etienne Capoue scoring four goals in the first five games, then following that up with only three scores the rest of the season. Strangeness happens every weekend, but you tend to notice more when it comes at the start.
The opener was a disaster for Cech who allowed three goals and badly misplayed the cross that led to Shinji Okazaki’s goal. However, the Gunners should fare better against the anemic Potters, and you won’t mind taking advantage of Cech’s price drop in Fantrax.
The Red Devils defense was significantly stouter at home than on the road last season, and got off to a nice start repeating the theme with a clean sheet against West Ham at Old Trafford. Traveling to the Siggy-less Swans will not seem too imposing, giving Manchester United another nice chance at a shutout.
Robert Elliot (Newcastle at Huddersfield) [£4.0, $2.44]
The supremely cheap Elliot acquitted himself well against the high-powered Spurs offense, allowing only a pair of scores, both following the sendoff of sneaky Jonjo Shelvey. The Magpies go on the road to face a team they greatly outperformed in the Championship last season, and Elliot should enjoy things much more.
Tom Heaton (Burnley v. West Bromwich Albion) [£5.0, $6.43]
The Clarets face a number of tough fixtures to begin the season, but welcoming West Brom is not one of them.
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool v. Crystal Palace) [£5.0, $5.54]
Much like Cech, Mignolet offers an inviting match-up following a poor performance, which can save you some moolah in Fantrax.
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton v. West Ham) [£5.5, $10.87]
Bertrand’s shot at a clean sheet isn’t quite as good as it was last weekend, but it’s not bad, and he always offers a shot at offensive returns.
Phil Jones (Manchester United at Swansea) [£5.0, $8.76]
Jones is cheaper than back-line mates Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly, while he scored more points than either in week one.
Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal at Stoke City) [£6.0,$8.65]
A defender who gets forward and takes part in the offensive action while also offering a decent shot at a clean sheet? Sign me up!
Harry Maguire (Leicester City v. Brighton) [£5.0, $9.30]
Maguire has 10 double digit point returns in his past 16 games in the Fantrax system. He costs less than 10 bucks. That’s some nice math there!
James Tarkowski (Burnley v. West Brom) [£4.5, $2.65]
He scored five points in Fantrax against Chelsea, which means that he’s good value, especially given a good chance at the clean sheet bonus this time around.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City v. Brighton) [£8.5, $14.15]
The whirlwind Mahrez of 2016-17 looks like a mirage, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have value in certain fixtures. At home to a side just promoted from the Championship should be one of those match-ups, especially given that he delivered five points in Official and 13 in Fantrax last Friday.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool v. Crystal Palace) [£9.5, $13.18)
With Philippe Coutinho questionable and Adam Lallana out, Mane and Mohamed Salah are the midfielders of choice for Liverpool’s attractive fixture welcoming the Eagles. Mane has a proven Premier League track record, hence this particular pick, although Salah certainly had a bright start last weekend.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United at Swansea) [£8.1, $8.87]
After securing only a single assist in all of 2016/17, Mkhy already has two this season thanks to a big performance against West Ham. He should be just as involved against Swansea, and nobody would be surprised if he notched a goal.
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield v. Newcastle) [£5.5, $5.90]
The Huddersfield maestro returned an assist in his first game and this match-up looks ripe for another.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United at Swansea) [£8.0,$13.98]
Much like his fellow Manchester midfielder, Pogba shrugged off a disappointing first season with a strong opener, netting a goal.
Troy Deeney (Watford at Bournemouth) [£6.5,$6.78]
Deeney has scored in each of his past two games against Bournemouth, offering a nice budget option up front.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool v. Crystal Palace) [£8.5, $13.12]
The Brazilian got off to a great start in the absence of national partner Coutinho and will look to keep things going against visiting Palace.
Steve Mounie (Huddersfield v. Newcastle) [£6.0, $8.12]
This is a great time to see if Mounie’s GW1 brace was a flash in the pan or the first glint of fantasy gold. You don’t have to pay much for the privilege, and what if he’s legit?
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City v. Brighton) [£8.6, $14.14]
After exploding for a brace at Arsenal, Vardy is definitely back on everybody’s radar. Being at home against Brighton will not take him out of those cross-hairs.
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal at Stoke City) [£7.5, $8.89]
Alexandre Lacazette certainly got off to a nice start and looks better for the long term, but if you’re looking for a cheap plug-and-play option during the “injury” absence of Alexis Sanchez, the much cheaper Welbeck offers nice value.
Have further insights? Please let everyone know in the comments!