What are you chasing? This question, intentionally ambiguous, has many answers compartmentalized into every aspect of our lives: professionally, socially, and personally. What are you trying to run down in your fantasy soccer endeavors? And still, there are many answers: to win it all (of course), to win you mini-league, or simply to beat a fellow compatriot. We are all on the hunt for those few extra points that inch us closer to success. The carrot at the of the stick for fantasy sports managers, with soccer in particular, will always be the enamoring quality of upside.
Like the question posed at the beginning of this article, this has many differing meanings for managers. Subsequently, to complicate things even more, each player has his own plausible upside, or that ever present gut-feeling, uniquely generated from history or statistics in the mind of every manager. Oh, and if that’s not complicated enough, each player’s upside, once again, fluctuates with every different match-up a player faces.
With a limited number of free transfers, we have to add a time component to the equation, adding to the complexity. Simply put, we all have our separate opinions of players, positions, and teams, and their corresponding upsides. The FPL exposes this desire to chase points by having a decided first-mover advantage. The gains from picking out a big-hitting differential, or an emerging low-priced asset, stand to benefit the most.
As you peruse the players, and prices, and match-ups each week, with the pressure to earn a green arrow bearing down on you, and deadline clock winding down, and a single free transfer, how do you pick? The last thing you want to do is induce a bout of FOMO (fear of missing out). After all, that next big breakout could be yours in a few clicks. Or worse, your opponent could harvest this ripe fantasy asset and use him against you. These are the players that haunt managers like unrequited loves. Their tantalizing prospects scramble our decision making receptors, keeping us awake at night. They sing like sirens in the distance. Luring us mere mortals in, helpless against the allure of these deadline darlings.
Here is what you need to know for week eleven, to avoid crashing on the rocks. As well as few deadline darlings keeping me awake at night.
Bournemouth v. Manchester United
The early game of the weekend sees the Red Devils away to one of the Premier League’s early season surprises, Bournemouth. Jose Mourinho has indicated that Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard are in contention to play.
On the other side, Joshua King was ruled out by Eddie Howe.
Deadline Darling: This Manchester United defense has to come good at some point, right? If or when it does, the nailed-on Luke Shaw is supremely appealing at his 5.0m price.
Cardiff will host Leicester on the heels of the tragic passing of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Neil Warnock did not have any new injury concerns to report in his press conference. Aron Gunnarsson appears to have reached full fitness after his delayed start to the season.
For the heavy-hearted Foxes, Wes Morgan returns from suspension.
Deadline Darling: Is Josh Murphy a thing?
The Seagulls will hope that their recent defensive form travels, as they face a road test against Everton. The only injuries currently beleaguering Chris Hughton’s men belong to Davy Propper and Pascal Groß.
Everton have nothing to report on the injury front.
Deadline Darling: In the year of the fullback will the Everton defense show enough resilience to warrant selecting the emerging star of Lucas Digne?
The Magpies have nothing to report on the injury front.
Thanks to a hamstring injury, Troy Deeney is the highest profile Hornet to miss out. His absence should keep the door open for Isaac Success to enjoy another start. In defense, Kiko Femenia should have a similar opportunity to continue his torrid run, as Daryl Janmaat is set to miss this match, as well.
Marko Arnautovic, with his nagging knee injury, was able to make the bench for West Ham’s midweek Carabao Cup match. Manuel Pellegrini reassured that he expects the Austrian to feature this weekend. Pellegrine was also optimistic that Aaron Cresswell would return this week also.
Sean Dyche had good news for Burnley as there were no new injuries to have popped up. Aaron Lennon is confirmed to have recovered from a prior illness.
Deadline Darling: Is Robbie Brady truly back?
In Saturday’s feature match, Arsenal host title contenders Liverpool at the Emirates. Arsenal come into the match with a host of question marks in defense. Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all face fitness tests prior to the match. Also unavailable is Matteo Guendouzi following his sending off during the midweek match with Blackpool.
For Jurgen Klopp’s men, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are the only players ruled out, neither making the trip to London.
Deadline Darling: Can Xherdan Shaqiri keep his spot in the starting eleven?
During his press conference, Nuno Espirito Santo revealed that Diogo Jota was the only player unfit for the weekend’s match.
Spurs will be without Victor Wanyama who suffered an injury during the midweek game against West Ham. Danny Rose and Eric Dier were ruled out for a longer term, with each of them unlikely to feature until after the upcoming international break. The Tottenham Twitter account also described Jan Vertonghen as “rehabbing”, so not even back to training.
Manchester City v. Southampton
In case you have not heard, Kevin De Bruyne suffered another injury during the City cup tie on Thursday. It is expected to keep him out until December. Otherwise, there are no new injuries from the blue side of Manchester.
After missing due to illness last week, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has been confirmed healthy. Mark Hughes was happy to report that the entire squad was fit.
Uncertainty continues to swirl around the status of Eden Hazard. While it sounds like he is fit to play, Sarri stated that “40 to 45” minutes might be the limit on his game-time. Being that the game is Sunday, your guess is as good as mine as whether he plays. He needs only twenty minutes to make a major contribution, as we saw in weeks one and two. If he were in my team, he would be in the starting eleven.
Palace received good news earlier in the week: Wilfried Zaha is expected to be fit to play on Sunday, and Christian Benteke is not.
Deadline Darling: Is Ross Barkley going to be able keep his spot once Hazard returns?
In what is being advertised as a “relegation six-pointer,” Huddersfield look to get off the schnide against the leaky Fulham. David Wagner will be hoping that his nearly fully-fit squad will be able to get a result in prime time Monday. Danny Williams is the only Terrier set to miss out.
Fulham look to have all of their usual suspects back to full fitness. Despite playing a complete 90 minutes midweek, Tom Cairney is expected to do the same against Huddersfield.
Deadline Darling: Is Tom Cairney the key to unlocking this once potent Fulham attack?
The penultimate week before the next international break has some exploitable match-ups for fantasy managers. Will you be able to fight off the demons summoning you to make that last minute transfer in search of maximizing those coveted fantasy points?
What last minute moves are you looking to make to solidify your squad(s)? Who is you weakest link? What match-ups are you taking advantage of by stacking players? And, most importantly, who should wear your all important captain’s armband? Let’s tackle those tough questions in the comment section below!