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Week 12 Fantrax EPL Fantasy Player Picks: Seeing Red

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The “whoever plays Fulham” strategy has paid off for much of this season. Now with top tier Liverpool hosting the woeful Cottagers at Anfield, how many Reds can you fit into your Fantrax sides?

Sadio Mane (left) celebrates with teammates - Liverpool FC - Premier League
How many goal celebrations will Liverpool have at home against Fulham?
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Fulham has conceded 29 goals, comfortably (or uncomfortably) the most in the league, and on pace for 100 this season, which of course would be horrific. The overly friendly Cottagers have allowed 2+ goals in nine of their 11 league games so far, 3+ scores six times, and 4+ twice (including Cardiff)!

The news is not much better on offense, at least at the moment. Despite being blessed with the heralded talents of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Andre Schurrle, Tom Cairney and Jean Michael Seri, Fulham has been blanked in each of the past two games, three of the last five, and four in seven.

Liverpool, on the other hand, has scored the fourth-most goals in the league, while conceding the second-fewest, and having yet to suffer a loss. On top of that, the fixture comes at Anfield. As well, if you harbored any worry about fatigue, there is plenty of time for rest between Tuesday’s Champions League debacle at Red Star Belgrade and Sunday’s EPL clash.

Many of us (myself included) advised taking a break from the anti-Fulham formula and staying away from Huddersfield investment last week, given the unpredictability of pegging which of the anemic Terriers would be able to take advantage. As it turns out, Huddersfield won 1-0 thanks to an own goal, so that advice — at least on offense — proved sage.

But after that brief avoidance, now it’s time to get back on the bandwagon! If you’re looking for another team to feast on Fulham, is this an early Thanksgiving dinner or what? Especially after the shock 2-0 loss at Belgrade in midweek action, Liverpool will be extremely motivated to re-assert its dominance.

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LIVERPOOL PLAYERS TO CONSIDER

Even with plenty of time to rest since Tuesday, there is always a concern regarding rotation. Following the last international break, Liverpool has played five games in a two and a half week span. Let’s look at whom Jurgen Klopp has started in that time (home games in caps, away games in lower case) to get an idea of which players are most locked in the starting line-up.

Liverpool Recent XI

POSITION 10/20 hud 10/24 RSB 10/27 CAR 11/3 ars 11/6 rsb
POSITION 10/20 hud 10/24 RSB 10/27 CAR 11/3 ars 11/6 rsb
GK Alisson Alisson Alisson Alisson Alisson
DEF Robertson Robertson Moreno Robertson Robertson
DEF Lovren Gomez Lovren Gomez Matip
DEF Van Dijk Van Dijk Van Dijk Van Dijk Van Dijk
DEF Gomez Alexander-Arnold Alexander-Arnold Alexander-Arnold Alexander-Arnold
MID Henderson Fabinho Fabinho Fabinho Lallana
MID Milner Wijnaldum Wijnaldum Wijnaldum Milner
MID Shaqiri Shaqiri Lallana Milner Wijnaldum
MID/FW Lallana Mane Mane Mane Mane
FW Salah Salah Salah Salah Salah
FW Sturridge Firmino Firmino Firmino Sturridge

Clearly, your best bets for starting are Alisson, Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino. That’s 10 players, leaving the fourth defender spot the most in doubt, likely between Gomez and Lovren. Another consideration is midfielder Naby Keita, who was a regular starter for much of the season before missing the past month from injury. Keita was on the bench but did not play in the loss at Belgrade. I would expect that to mean he will also be on the bench for the Fulham affair and come in for some minutes as a sub, but it is possible that Klopp will turn to him for his starting-XI again, which could put Fabinho’s job at risk.

Of Liverpool’s expected starters, these are the stand-out options in my mind:

Alisson (GK, $12.63)

He’s much better if you already have him at a discount, but a clean sheet win with a couple saves would more than return value even if you have to pay retail. But if you need funds to get other Reds, keeper is definitely where you should look to find a cheaper option.

Dejan Lovren (DEF, $4.88)

The other expected starters in defense are all overpriced at retail, as you’d have to get double digit points for them to return value, and they’re more miss than hit in that department. Meanwhile, Lovren has delivered double digits in two of his three starts. The confident Croatian center back is expected to be healthy for the weekend, and hopefully Klopp will turn to him, but that is far from certain. If you want to be safer, feel free to pay up for VVD, Robertson, or TAA. Or if you are expecting Gomez to start instead of Lovren, he could work well given that he is also cheaper than the big trio, but his $9.45 is still considerably dearer than Lovren’s bargain price.

James Milner (DEF/MID, $10.21)

Milner delivers double digits when he scores or assists, but tends to be a disappointment otherwise. If you’re expecting goals from Liverpool — and we’re expecting goals from Liverpool, right? — the wiley veteran gives you a fairly good shot for happiness. (Notably, his goals disproportionately — but not exclusively — come from PKs.)

Fabinho (MID, $1.80)

The summer transfer has done little so far — or actually nothing, on average — with 3, 0, and -3 points in his trio of appearances, which is an average of 0. But he’s no scrub — there’s a reason why Liverpool invested so heavily to bring him in — and eventually he will provide a 5+ point return that would be excellent for the price. At home against Fulham feels like that type of a game... if he starts, that is.

Mo Salah (FW, $22.63)

Salah has generally been too rich for my blood, but this is the type of fixture where I am willing to make an exception. He has earned 15+ points in four games so far, and a fifth seems awfully likely here. Really, 20+ seems more likely than not.

Sadio Mane (FW, $16.06)

However, Mane has averaged almost as many points as Salah, and is considerably cheaper. So if you don’t have the funds available for the Egyptian, go with the Senegalese star.

Roberto Firmino (FW, $9.89)

Of course, Firmino is even cheaper than Mane, and with good reason. Sadly, the Brazilian has been a ghostly third wheel in the Liverpool offense, as his best output this season has been only 11 points. Can he hit a new high in this game? I can’t promise anything, but I don’t see why not.

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NON-LIVERPOOL PLAYERS TO CONSIDER

I’ll also include some cheap enablers who may be worth mixing into your teams in order to allow you to stack your team with Liverpool studs along with some other stars who enjoy appetizing fixtures.

GOALKEEPERS

Ben Foster ($6.68, Watford at Southampton)

I have no idea what to make of up-and-down-and-up-and-down-again Watford. But Southampton have scored just once in their past six games, so the Hornets should be able to take care of business.

Kasper Schmeichel ($5.87, Leicester v. Burnley)

The Foxes’ defense is far from airtight, but they’re at home against Burnley who generally struggle to score. I wouldn’t bank on a clean sheet victory, but then again you’re not paying too much.

Bernd Leno ($3.62, Arsenal v. Wolverhampton)

Leno’s poor effort at parrying Sadio Mane’s cross provided James Milner’s goal for Liverpool, but that’s a good thing for fantasy managers on the outside looking to get in on the Gunner who looks to have supplanted Petr Cech as the #1 in net. After all, failing to keep the clean sheet has kept Leno’s price down at the bargain level. With Wolves’ mediocre offense coming to London, Leno can return value and then some.

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DEFENDERS

Callum Paterson ($7.97, Cardiff at Brighton)

The defender-turned-forward endured a rough time against Leicester, scoring only one point because neither of his two shots were on frame. But he has been active with 12 shots in the past five games, scoring 8+ points in four of his last seven tries, and the upcoming fixture offers a favorable locale and opponent. (Note: Paterson has dual eligibility at defender and forward.)

Kiko Femenia ($5.99, Watford at Southampton)

With only 2 points last weekend, the Keekster was a disappointment, but he has still averaged 10 ppg in the past three weeks. Now he gets a good chance at the CS bonus on top of random phantoms at the sorry Saints.

Bruno ($5.67, Brighton at Cardiff)

Bruno had a 1-point stinker at Everton, which thankfully brought his price down. The Brighton defender is averaging 6.8 ppg on the season, faces the anemic Cardiff offense, and costs under six clams. What’s not to love?

Jonny Evans ($4.22, Leicester v. Burnley)

Harry Maguire left last weekend’s game early with injury, and if he misses out again, Evans — who averaged 5+ ppg in each season from 2013-14 through 2017-18 — would be a nice plug-in against the goal-shy Clarets.

Rob Holding ($3.57) or Sokratis ($2.71, Arsenal v. Wolves)

It’s not 100% assured that Holding will keep his spot in the XI when Sokratis passes fit following injury recovery (which may be this weekend), but the youngster’s solid play has made it a difficult choice for Unai Emery. Whoever proves the partner for Shkodran Mustafi in central defense will be an outstanding bargain. Holding has averaged 4.0 ppg in his five starts, with benefit of only one clean sheet. Meanwhile, Sokratis has averaged 3.75 ppg in his four full games, without any shutouts. Arsenal’s defense can expect an uptick in clean sheets, and when that happens, Holding or Sokratis should earn an improved output. It would not be a surprise to see that get going at the Emirates against Wolves.

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MIDFIELDERS

David Brooks ($11.04, Bournemouth at Newcastle)

Last week I advised managers to consider culling their fantasy teams of Bournemouth players (in Official FPL, at least) due to the extremely daunting run of fixtures from GW11-29. But sometimes you can’t argue with the numbers, which point to keeping David Brooks, at least for this week and maybe longer. The exciting Cherries’ midfielder has scored double digit points in five of his past six games (including a 12 point effort against tough Manchester United), and is averaging 13.5 ppg away this season.

Junior Stanislas ($5.24, Bournemouth at Newcastle)

Two Bournemouth midfielders? Have I lost my mind? Don’t answer that question. But Stanislas is not someone for whom fantasy managers had overpaid due to the friendly run of fixtures. Instead, Stanislas has just recently returned to fantasy relevance following a long injury recovery, starting for the first time and returning 8 points against the Red Devils. There is a word of caution: He was in the XI due to Joshua King’s absence, but Stanislas is such a talented player that Eddie Howe should want to find room in the XI for him going forward. (That said, be sure to keep an eye on team news as the deadline approaches.) Averaging 8+ ppg in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Stan the Man absolutely screams out as a bargain right now, no matter whom the Cherries come up against.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh ($3.91, Brighton at Cardiff)

The prized summer transfer from AZ Alkmaar took a while to crack the XI, which has kept his price down. The dynamic winger returned 9 points against Everton last weekend and has averaged 4.67 ppg in his past three starts, all without benefit of a goal or assist. The Iranian international should reliably return value for his affordable cost, and when he finally does get on the score sheet he’s really going to have fantasy backers doing cartwheels. (Note: Jahanbakhsh has dual eligibility at midfield and forward.)

Grady Diangana ($3.21 West Ham at Huddersfield)

Diangana has earned more minutes in each of the past three games, averaging 5.0 ppg. Now the promising youngster gets a favorable match-up at Huddersfield. Teammate Robert Snodgrass also deserves a shout, but he costs a fair bit more ($4.86) and has delivered only slightly more production (6.3 ppg in the past three weeks).

Aron Gunnarsson ($2.77, Cardiff v. Brighton)

Many of us recently latched on to Cardiff’s exciting young wing midfielder, Josh Murphy, as he scored two goals in three weeks from GW7-9. Unfortunately, as his price has risen, Murphy’s production has come crashing back to earth, averaging a soul-crushing 1.5 ppg over the past two games. Enter Aron Gunnarsson, who has started the past three games following injury, but his price has still not caught up to his performance. No, you won’t expect goals or assists from the Icelandic defensive midfielder, but he can deliver phantoms. Coming off a 9-point effort in his first 90-minute effort of the season against Leicester City, Gunnarson is averaging 4.67 ppg in his three starts, and you can expect him to be busy against Brighton as a tidy enabler.

Robbie Brady runs with the ball - Burnley - Premier League
Fantasy favorite from previous years Robbie Brady is back in action at a tempting price.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Robbie Brady ($2.66, Burnley at Leicester)

Shortly after returning from injury (a recurring theme, unfortunately), Brady notched an assist over the weekend. The Irish playmaker has averaged 5+ points in each of his previous seasons, so if he becomes a regular in Sean Dyche’s XI... and stays healthy... Brady offers excellent value. (Hat tip to community member Renegade on this pick.)

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FORWARDS

Alexandre Lacazette ($16.90, Arsenal v. Wolves)

If you don’t want (or can’t afford) to fill your forward spots with Reds, chances are you may be thinking about Gunners. It’s awfully difficult to predict which one from the dynamic duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will go off in a given game, so that’s why I’d lean toward the cheaper Frenchman.

Alvaro Morata ($13.42, Chelsea v. Everton)

Don’t look know, but the oft-strugglng Spaniard is in a rich vein of form with four goals in as many games, averaging 14.5 ppg in that stretch. The Blues are at home against a mediocre Toffees’ defense, so he’s a decent bet to keep thing going.

Jamie Vardy ($11.62, Leicester v. Burnley)

The speedy Vardy nabbed 9 points without a goal or assist last weekend, so just think of how well he’ll do if he gets on the score sheet!

Gerard Deulofeu ($4.65, Watford at Southampton)

I’m usually not a fan of wasting a vital forward spot on a cheapie who doesn’t offer much, but this is an unusual week. You could do worse than Deulofeu, who will probably give you 3 points, but if he scores or assists he’ll get 10+.

Salomon Rondon ($2.37, Newcastle v. Bournemouth)

If you want a dirt-cheap forward and are in the mood for taking a huge punt, Rondon started in the 1-0 win over Watford, so Rafa Benitez is expected to turn to him again. Home at St. James’ Park welcoming the Cherries isn’t a horrible fixture, and you really don’t need much to return value.

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What is your strategy regarding players from Liverpool and other teams this week? Take the poll below and then let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

Poll

How many Liverpool players will you have in your Week 12 Fantrax team?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    None, why go with the crowd?
    (7 votes)
  • 37%
    One or two
    (21 votes)
  • 32%
    Three or four
    (18 votes)
  • 5%
    Five or six
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Seven or eight
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Nine or 10
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    All 11, baby!
    (6 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now

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