With the calendar turning a page to December in week 14, the festive period is officially underway. Throughout this month, fantasy managers will see eight separate game-week deadlines leading up to and including the New Year’s holiday. I hope your arms and legs are securely inside the carriage, because this elevator has already began its ascent to game-week 21.
Following last week’s crazy derby Sunday, the big-six sides are pitted in some friendlier matchups for the midweek games, possibly exposing managers to a hefty bout of rotation. Manchester United and Arsenal face off on Tuesday, but the status of each team’s defense leaves little to worry about for the popular attacking assets. The debate on which high-priced forward to buy has reached a fever pitch in a few short days. The performances of the premium forwards has led to feverish wheeling and dealing along the front line. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane have combined for 493,000+ transfers in. Conversely, making way has been Sergio Aguero to the tune of 541,000+ transfers out, given his questionable status for the midweek game. All this is coming after he was a surprise absentee on Saturday, due to a slight muscular injury.
As our elevator car rises to the floors above, the expectations for a green arrow climb, as well. Here are the players I would look to for hope of rising highest.
Alisson, Liverpool (£5.7m)
This past weekend saw Alisson rise to the top of the goalkeeper scoring ranks. This season’s rendition of Liverpool has placed a strong emphasis on strengthening the defense and conceding less often. Facing a Burnley side that it is in complete free-fall provides a excellent opportunity to secure a clean sheet for the league’s best defense.
Jordan Pickford, Everton (£5.0m)
How much praise might we be heaping on the young Englishman if not for a decisive mishap late on in the Merseyside derby? I would expect an equally strong performance from the Toffee defense in their return to Goodison Park. The defensive showing versus Liverpool has me believing in Everton’s back line for future clean sheet prospects.
Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City (£5.0m)
Leicester City have kept three clean sheets in their last four games. Fulham had nothing to show in attack against Chelsea over the weekend. The Foxes’ back line is back to full health, looking to operate cohesively. Despite being on the road, Leicester have the look of a team able to shut down Craven Cottage.
Lukasz Fabianski, West Ham (£4.5m)
Managers have expected more from the West Ham back line over this run of friendly fixtures they are currently on. But, we have seen this sort of failure to meet expectations before from this defense. The hammers do present plenty of save opportunities for Fabianski, helping him register bonus points as he has done in both of the West Ham clean sheets this season.
With the favorable matchups for the big six clubs, I recommend starting any defenders started by Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham. For the sake of this article we are going to dig a little deeper into the ranks for some value and differential plays.
Lucas Digne, Everton (£4.9m)
As I noted above, I am a firm believer in this rendition of the Everton defense. In our chat this past weekend, I advocated swap ping Wolves’ Matt Doherty for Everton’s Digne, as he provides equally attacking intent with a much better prospect for clean sheets. However, Richarlison does present some challenges to the Frenchman’s service as he adjusts to his new forward role. And, if Digne can become a mainstay on corners, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina provide considerable opportunity for set piece goals.
Ricardo Pereira, Leicester City (£5.0m)
Given the preseason hype surrounding Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell, it may come as a surprise that Pereira leads all Leicester City defenders in fantasy points. To go along with his participation in the five clean sheets the Foxes have earned, he has also tallied a goal and three assists. He has proven to be a catalyst for a Leicester side that has been underwhelming to this point. If they do begin to gain some momentum, the attacking ceiling for Pereira could rise even further.
Patrick van Aanholt, Crystal Palace (£5.4m)
Patrick van Aanholt was back to doing van Aanholt like things over the weekend. The left back spent enough time in the attacking half to register five shots. The end of last season showed us the upside van Aanholt is capable of. Brighton present plenty of opportunity for a player of his ilk to score offensive and defensive returns.
Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal (£4.9m)
This recommendation comes exclusively on the prospect of attacking returns. Since his return in week 11, Kolasinac leads the gunners in attempted assists, with eight, according to Fantasy Football Fix. Two of those produced FPL assists. Playing in a wingback role will allow plenty of opportunity to get forward. And, the Gunners face a Manchester United side with a beleaguered defense due to a plethora of injuries.
Mo Salah, Liverpool (£13.0m)
The polarizing Egyptian is walking into the friendliest match-up of the week, facing the team with the second-worst goal difference this season. With the options at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal, rotation is always a possibility in such a match-up. With the revelation of an injury to Sadio Mane, putting him in doubt for this match on Wednesday, Salah should be secured into his usual starting role. He did get a short 20 minute breather versus Everton, to bolster his case to start.
David Silva, Manchester City (£8.7m)
All Manchester City assets are in play this week against a struggling Watford defense. However, Pep’s midfield has nearly returned to full health, Kevin De Bruyne being the only expected absentee. Given all these options, Guardiola’s rotation-roulette wheel is sure to be given a big spin. Having not started at the weekend, David Silva is the most likely to feature in the midweek. He also sports a cool 37 points over his last five starts, contributing three goals and two assists over that time.
Heung-Min Son, Tottenham (£8.3m)
Son has been the most influential attacker for Spurs recently. Although his past two starts have been abbreviated, he has managed a goal and an assist in just over 150 minutes. This recent form will make it difficult for Pochettino to leave him on the bench. Southampton’s defense has been the league’s punching bag, and they’ve been dealt another hurdle as Mark Hughes was sacked on Monday. This could be the week where Son’s impact generates a double-digit return for his investors.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton (£7.4m)
The Iceland international leads all toffee players in fantasy points. He has risen above fellow Toffee Richarlison by ten points. Sigurdsson’s all around contribution makes him my favorite Everton player in this match, and for the remainder of the season. He is 100% worth the fractional difference in price.
Felipe Anderson, West Ham (£7.1m)
The Felipe Anderson hype train has been running hot for a while now. But he may be reaching a point where his on-field returns are exceeding the early season anticipations. The run of fixtures can not be much better for the hammers, and Anderson has profited greatly to this point. He has four goals in as many games. The season-ending injury to Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic’s ongoing knee saga have created a void in the West Ham attack. Anderson has been the one to provide the necessary contribution in the attack. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Aaron Mooy, Huddersfield (£5.1m)
At this price, David Brooks has been the popular choice in midfield. But, Brooks’ counterpart in game-week 15 is set up for a better point scoring opportunity. Bournemouth have conceded at least two goals in each of their last four games. A red card really hampered the attacking opportunities for the Terriers over the weekend. Over his past five games, Fantasy Football Fix has Mooy leading Huddersfield in shots and attempted assists.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal (£11.1m)
The overall results for Aubameyang have been mixed this season. The Gabonese striker has not delivered anything resembling consistency thus far into the season. But his brace in the North London Derby saw him take the lead in the golden boot race. Those are results that are difficult to argue against. And, Manchester United’s defensive woes have been a hot topic of discussion after giving up the sixth most goals through fourteen games. This match-up could not be more deliciously poised for the league’s second highest scoring team.
Roberto Firmino, Liverpool (£9.2m)
Over the past couple of game-weeks, Firmino has shown signs of returning to last season’s form. With Mane likely absent, Firmino will fill the primary sidekick role to Mo Salah. His linkup play on the counter attack has been exceptional lately. It would behoove him, and fantasy managers alike, if his recent interplay would take place nearer the opponent’s goal, which has been a common concern this season. The Burnley match-up gives managers the opportunity to snag a few points with an under-the-radar selection having a proven pedigree.
Callum Wilson, Bournemouth (£6.9m)
Callum Wilson is my favorite Bournemouth asset, as the Cherries near the end of a punishing run of fixtures. Liverpool is just on the horizon; but, Huddersfield’s recent run of form should not scare managers away from Wilson. To date, he has provided his managers with seven goals + assists.
This elevator only travels in one direction, and that is up. The only way off is the culmination of the festive period in week 21. As the game weeks count up, managers will be hoping that their overall rank and team values follow suit.
Whom will you be riding to the top in week 15? Do you plan on arriving with them when the calendar hits week 21? Or will these be one-hitters on your ascent to the top? Let us know in the comments below!