After three weeks, Huddersfield Town sat in third place, and West Bromwich Albion was fifth. Following four fixtures, Watford occupied the fourth spot. Through five games, Newcastle held fourth place. Now, following a half dozen weekends of fun, the usurpers’ dreams have been crushed, and things have sorted themselves more according to plan. In GW6, each of last season’s “Big Six” squads emerged victorious, occupying the top five spots (Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool) with Arsenal just one point off in seventh place. (Yawn.)
While things have boringly reverted to form in the table, thankfully there is still plenty of underdog appeal when we peruse the leaderboard for fantasy scorers. In Official FPL, Huddersfield’s Jonas Lossl ranks second among goalkeepers in total points, while his trio of teammates Chris Lowe/Christopher Schindler/Zanka tie Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles for seventh among defenders. On the offensive end, Brighton’s Pascal Gross is in fifth place among midfielders, joined by fellow Seagull Tomer Hemed who ranks 10th among strikers.
In Fantrax, Burnley’s Ben Mee has the seventh most points OVERALL and is tops among defenders, while the aforementioned Schindler ranks as second defender. In midfield, Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy and Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie tie for seventh, while Gross is tied for ninth. Watford’s Richarlison ties for #8 at striker.
The lofty fantasy ranks may not last long for all or most of those players on the smaller teams, but then again, who knows? And even if it doesn’t, it could be worth riding it out until the clock strikes midnight.
Petr Cech (Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion) [£5.5 Official, $9.17 Fantrax]
The Gunners have secured three straight clean sheets, while Brighton has scored only once in its three away matches. As a wise geek once said, “You do the math.”
David De Gea (Manchester United v. Crystal Palace) [£5.6, $13.27]
Let’s see, the team which has shut out all but one of its opponents is welcoming the squad that has failed to score yet. Remember the payout for picking Floyd Mayweather over Conor McGregor? If you’re betting on a Red Devils clean sheet victory, it should be about as miniscule.
Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion v. Watford) [£4.5, $6.11]
West Brom has allowed only one goal total in its three home games. Foster has faced only five shots combined in those affairs. A clean sheet is never a lock, but there’s still a pretty decent chance against Watford who average 1.5 goals per game overall.
If the Potters’ defenders are still in injury crisis, Stoke will be stuck on their back feet unable to muster much offense, just as they were when Chelsea came to town last weekend. Then again, the Saints aren’t Chelsea Blues, so YMMV.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham at Huddersfield Town) [£5.5, $8.57]
You’ve heard the story about the team that was horrible at home but great away? That team is Spurs! Tottenham has two clean sheets in its three away games. Meanwhile, Huddersfield has scored only twice at home. Even without the suspended Serge Aurier, Spurs know how to make things fairly easy for their French shot stopper.
Jordan Pickford (Everton v. Burnley) [£5.0, $6.22]
Burnley have been on a nice run, particularly on the road where the Clarets have beaten a 10-man Chelsea and drawn against Spurs and Liverpool. Can last season’s second-worst away team maintain such form? I think Everton’s shot-stopper has a better chance of keeping a clean sheet than counterpart Nick Pope.
Kieran Gibbs (West Brom v. Watford) [£5.0, $2.67]
He has six and seven points in Fantrax in his first two starts. Not spectacular, but it’s great value for his price, and one of these days the wing back is going to deliver something on the offensive end. Could it be Saturday? Why yes, yes it could. (But it also could not. No need to get greedy.) The decent shot at a CS is enough to make him an intriguing play in Official.
Mason Holgate (Everton v. Burnley) [£4.4, $4.66]
While Cuco Martina has started the past four games, he was removed early in the second half before the Toffees began their comeback against Bournemouth. Meanwhile, Mason Holgate started due to Michael Keane’s injury and seems a safer bet to keep his spot in the starting XI given that he played the full match and was on the pitch when the final whistle blew.
Phil Jones (Manchester United v. Crystal Palace) [£5.2, $10.27]
Feel free to grab Manchester United defenders. You’ll want to start with Jones, who is affordable, well-rested (thanks, Champions League suspension!) and coming off a man of the match performance at Southampton, earning three bonus points in Official.
Ben Mee (Burnley at Everton) [£4.5, $8.96 Fantrax]
Like I said, I don’t expect Burnley to get a clean sheet at Everton, so the aforementioned Mee is not someone I’m highly recommending in Official. Then again, he’s cheap, and the CS certainly isn’t out of the question, so it’s not a bad play by any means. Fantrax is really where I like him, though. In three matches away from Turf Moor, the Clarets have been outshot 67-20 as Mee has averaged a whopping 14 ppg without benefit of any goals, assists or clean sheets, so you can expect him to keep busy racking up those phantoms at Goodison Park.
Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace at Manchester United) [$1.24 Fantrax]
You’re not going to find too many bargain basement defenders still out there who are regular starters, so if you need one on top of Gibbs, take advantage of Sakho’s recent return from injury. His health may not last too long, but as long as it does you should get a solid ROI. No, you do not want any Palace defenders in Official, particularly this week but quite possibly ever, so this is a Fantrax-only play even more than Mee.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool at Newcastle) [£8.9, $12.67]
Sadio Mane returns from suspension, making Liverpool’s offense absolutely lethal as he and Coutinho should start together for the first time in the league this season. With Coutinho coming off a dominating performance at Leicester City where he scored a goal and contributed an assist (good for 13 points in Official and 28 in Fantrax) and having netted his team’s only goal in the midweek Champions League affair, he has to be the top Reds’ choice in fantasy.
Henrickh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United v. Crystal Palace) [£8.5, $11.28]
The highest scorer among midfielders in Official and the fifth highest in Fantrax is still quite affordable. Along with that, the match-up is supremely inviting as the Red Devils welcome the hapless Eagles. Words can’t describe just how awful Palace is... They’re so abysmal, your one worry is that a top-drawer team like ManU might field a 2nd-string lineup instead of playing to rack up goal differential. With Paul Pogba’s injury, Jose Mourinho may not be able to give in to that temptation with his other star middie.
Juan Mata or Ashley Young (Manchester United v. Crystal Palace) [£7.0 and $4.91, respectively]
It’s not a bad idea to load up on ManU players this week given the locale and opponent. After MkHit, I like Young a bit more than Mata in Fantrax since he’s cheaper and actually more productive on a per game basis. Mata’s a better option in Official since he has more of a chance to grab a goal or assist, even though (surprisingly) he hasn't done either yet thus far... which of course means he’s due!
Adding to his attraction in Fantrax, Young now has the option of being slotted as a Defender in addition to his already established position of Midfielder, but as we often lament, the wing back will only have a chance at the clean sheet bonus if the Fantrax powers rule him to have actually played the game in a defensive position. That said, he did earn CSD points from “midfield” each of the last two weeks... YMMV.
Nathan Redmond (Southampton at Stoke City) [£6.4, $9.31]
With five shots (two on target) and one accurate cross, the Saints winger was quite bright at home against Manchester United. He has an even better chance of converting against the Potters’ battered defense.
Matt Ritchie (Newcastle v. Liverpool) [£6.0, $9.48]
Newcastle’s nucleus (OK, I’m officially dubbing Ritchie as a “Newcleus,” try and stop me) is averaging 6.0 ppg in Official and 12.5 ppg in Fantrax over his last four games. He’ll enjoy the comforts of home facing the famously dodgy Liverpool defense. Reds on the road have allowed 10 scores in three games.
Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth v. Leicester City) [£5.9, $4.61]
Recovering from injury, the Stan Man played 90 minutes in his first game of the season at Everton and scored seven points in Fantrax with three tackles won, two accurate crosses and one shot on target. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of his affordable price and good home match-up. He’s not too pricey in Official either, as he’s a decent bet to chip in with a goal or assist.
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City at Chelsea) [£11.7, $22.05] Normally I wouldn’t think to recommend anybody at Chelsea, not even Kun. But you know what? The Argentine assassin has scored four goals in his past two games at Stamford Bridge. And he already has four scores in his three away games this season. Given their form, the Citizens should actually come into this one as favorites. So go ahead and expect Aguero to add to his account. Of course, he’s the most expensive player in Fantrax, so I hope you already have him at a discount. See breaking news.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (West Ham v. Swansea) [£7.0, $13.61]
Li’ll Pea has three goals. West Ham has six. So if anybody’s going to score for the Hammers, there’s a strong chance Chicharito will be the man. Being at home for Swansea’s visit is about the best chance for joy you’re gonna get from disappointing West Ham all season.
Shane Long (Southampton at Stoke City) [£5.8, $1.58]
Hold your fingers just a wee bit apart. No, closer. Come on, a little closer. There, that’s how close Long came to getting his head onto a beautiful curler from Cedric Soares and scoring an equalizing goal against ManU just like Harry Kane managed from Dele Alli’s cross at West Ham. Long seems to have won the starting spot from Manolo Gabbiadini, and he should have good fortune against the depleted Potters.
Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal v. Brighton) [£10.3, $15.18]
The Lyon import has at least a goal in each of his three home games (four scores total), but he has nil on the road. Where’s this game? The Emirates. In Fantrax, when Lacazette fails to net, he earns exactly 1 point. You’ve been warned.
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United v. Crystal Palace) [£11.7, $20.60]
Lukaku. Old Trafford. Crystal Palace. C’est Finis. Our only risk is that Mourinho fields his youth under-23 squad because Palace are so... I’m still groping for le mot juste.
Harry Kane (Tottenham at Huddersfield) [£12.5, $20.05]
The Spurs’ talisman has four goals in his last three Premier League games, proving that he didn’t need service from sickly Christian Eriksen to nab a hat trick in the mid-week Champions League clash at APOEL Nicosia (gesundheit).
In an extremely rare moment of brilliance and/or luck, my team won Week 6 in the NMA Fantrax league with 145 points, so that means you should have listened to the picks I made last week... wait, I’m doing the picks this week, not last. Sorry! Past performance is no guarantee of future gains.
If it makes you feel any better, I had a much less impressive 57 points in Official. Anyway, just do what I’m sure you always do, follow the picks that make sense to you and never mind the rest.
(Note: Information regarding Premier League tables was found via www.whoscored.com)
How are your teams shaping up? Which players have you grabbing a tasty adult beverage with high expectations, and who instead has you reaching for your Pepto-Bismol? Let us know in the comments below!