We’re three games into the season, and Watford sit ahead of Manchester City in the table. Bournemouth are only 1 place behind the Sky Blues. Arsenal are barely in the top 10 and have a negative goal differential. Manchester United are 13th (just below Brighton!) and have a goal differential that is even worse than Arsenal’s. And at least for now, none of the newly-promoted sides are in the relegation zone. Don’t you love the Premier League?
Here’s the slate of fixtures that will provide this week’s drama, followed by the Game Week 4 Fantrax player picks:
- Leicester vs Liverpool
- Brighton vs Fulham
- Chelsea vs Bournemouth
- Crystal Palace vs Southampton
- Everton vs Huddersfield
- West Ham vs Wolves
- Manchester City vs Newcastle
Alisson (LIV, $9.21): 12 months ago, who would have guessed that Liverpool would have the best defense in the Prem right now? Well they do: They’re the only team in the league that hasn’t conceded yet. And this week ‘Pool travel to Leicester to face a side that will be without the suspended Jamie Vardy.
Ederson (MCI, $8.29): For all their dominance, City have had difficulty keeping the opposition out this season. They sport just a single clean sheet, and have given up goals to the likes of Huddersfield and Wolves. If you think those little leaks were just flukes, then the Brazilian sweeper-keeper is a good bet at home against Newcastle this week.
Wayne Hennessey (CRY, $6.28): He has lost two in a row, but he has made 13 saves so far, and Palace’s schedule now softens up, beginning with a home match against Southampton this weekend.
Jordan Pickford (EVE, $5.33): Huddersfield sit in 19th place and are the league’s second-worst offense and joint-worst defense. On Saturday, England’s #1 will welcome them to Goodison Park. That makes Pickford a great value play this week.
Andrew Robertson (LIV, $10.41): The same average ppg as Trent Alexander-Arnold. But TAA has been shown yellow in every one of Liverpool’s games so far, costs a little more, and is perhaps slightly more susceptible to rotation. Robertson is my pick from the Reds’ stable of defenders this week.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (FUL, $3.40): He was outstanding (in real life) against Burnley and registered one SOT and an accurate cross while constantly marauding down the right flank. Brighton is the opponent this week, so although Fulham’s defense isn’t exactly tight, TFM could add clean sheet points to his returns.
Martin Kelly (CRY, $3.40): James Tomkins suffered a calf injury while warming up for the Watford match, so Kelly was forced to step up. He’ll likely start again this week, when he’ll be at home to Southampton.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (CRY, $4.41): Joel Ward failed to take advantage of AWB’s suspension, so “Obi-wan” should slot straight back in this week. He’s all rested up and should find plenty of joy against the Saints.
Kurt Zouma (EVE, $3.40): Michael Keane fractured his skull in injury time over the weekend (isn’t that ironic?). With André Gomes and Yerry Mina still unavailable due to injury, Zouma should be set to deputize against Huddersfield on Saturday. The Terriers have just a single goal to their credit this season, so a clean sheet could be in the cards.
Seamus Coleman (EVE, $7.59): The Irishman has gone rather quiet after a bright start in GW 1. If he can’t produce against lowly Huddersfield this week, he’ll be out of my squad (where I hold him at $5.20) and you won’t see his name here again until he does something to earn it.
Benjamin Mendy ($14.48): Yes he’s the most expensive defender in the game. But he’s averaging 17 ppg and hosts Newcastle this week. You should already have him in your team for much less than his sticker price. But if you don’t, this week he’s as good a bet as any other player in his price range.
Toby Alderweireld (TOT, $4.65): The Belgian put up 14 points in the shutout of Manchester United. He’s a key element of one of the Premier League’s best defenses, and he’s available for under $5.00. At that price he’s set-and-forget.
Marcos Alonso (CHE, $14.04): He has put up 46 points in three games. You’re late to the party, but there’s still plenty of beer left in the keg.
Note: Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcos Alonso have dual-eligibility in Fantrax and can be played as either defenders or midfielders.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ARS, $11.54): His 1-point return against West Ham caused his price to drop. I’ll give him another chance this week against Brighton.
Pascal Gross (BRI, $12.18): He scored against Manchester United two weeks ago and collected 8 points in a 10-minute cameo against Liverpool on Saturday. The set-piece and PK taker will return to the starting lineup this weekend when the Seagulls host the Cottagers, and only two teams have shipped more goals than Fulham.
Luka Milivojevic (CRY, $10.71): No goals or assists yet, but this could be the week. Seventeenth-place Southampton will visit Selhurst Park, and Milivojevic takes pens and set pieces.
Max Meyer (CRY, $3.85): The German was declared match-fit by Roy Hodgson in Friday’s press conference, but was only introduced against Watford with 15 minutes left in the match. No matter — it took Meyer only three minutes to notch the helper for Wilifried Zaha’s consolation goal. He put in 90 minutes last night in League Cup action, and I expect him to start against Southampton. He’s a screaming deal at his current price.
Bernard (EVE, $3.40): Everton’s star man, Richarlison, will serve a 3-game suspension (missing 2 league games) for head-butting Adam Smith on Saturday. His countryman Bernard is set to deputize in his place. Although it’s unlikely he can displace Richarlison as Marco Silva’s first-choice left wing, Bernard can play anywhere in the attacking four. So he’ll be looking to parlay the opportunity provided by Richarlison’s suspension into a permanent role somewhere in the starting 11. That motivation could pay dividends for his fantasy managers, and at his price the downside risk is low.
Theo Walcott (EVE, $9.35): Theo will not want to be upstaged by Bernard when Huddersfield come to call this weekend, since the Brazilian has been pushing the entire front four for a starting role. Should Bernard outshine Walcott while filling in for Richarlison, Silva could decide to move Bernard to the right wing when Richarlison returns, with Walcott making way. Theo has a goal in each of his last two games, and he’ll want to continue that good form in order to beat back any threat from Bernard.
Lucas Moura (TOT, $6.99): It looks like his Fantrax returns will be heavily dependent on goals. But he’s got 3 in his last 2 games, so right now he’s the best play among Tottenham’s midfielders.
Rúben Neves (WOL, $10.77): Wolves’ talisman did not look outclassed against the defending champions, emerging from the Manchester City match with a double-digit Fantrax return. His opposition will go from best to worst this weekend when the Wolves take on the bottom-dwelling Hammers.
André Schurrle (FUL, $7.70): Schurrle exploded against Burnley, registering a goal plus 5 shots on target, and forcing 4 corners. That was enough to make him the overall Fantrax points leader for GW-3. Was this performance a one-off, or has he rediscovered the form he enjoyed during his best days at Chelsea? We’ll find out when he travels to Brighton this weekend, and I wouldn’t blame you for backing him.
Note: Pascal Gross and Theo Walcott can be played as either midfielders or forwards.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (ARS, $14.18): Still no goals for PEA this season, and Cardiff have only given up two. Nevertheless, we saw this guy’s talent last year, and sooner or later he’ll break his 2018-19 duck. I’d feel fine rolling with him this week.
Eden Hazard (CHE, $16.16): The Belgian picked up assists in each of his first two games despite playing limited minutes, and then went the whole 90 and hit a PK against Newcastle. He’s expensive, and Bournemouth’s defense is tight, but he’s a proven Fantrax performer who is back to full fitness.
Wilifried Zaha (CRY, $14.77): Double-digit returns in every game so far, and this week he faces Southampton at home.
Cenk Tosun (EVE, $6.70): No goals yet, but Everton’s dangerous attack force is sure to produce one for him soon. What better time than against Huddersfield at Goodison Park? The German represents wonderful value this week.
Sergio Aguero (MCI, $18.83): Those who chased his 39-point, hat-trick performance against Huddersfield must have been bitterly disappointed with his 5-point return against Wolves. But Aguero seems to do best at home, which is where he’ll face Newcastle on Saturday. And speaking of hat tricks, Kun notched one against the Geordies last year.
Lukaku (MUN, $11.34): If he hadn’t scored in GW-2 he’d be averaging just 3.33 ppg so far. But NMA’s pet troll loves to bully weak opposition, and this week he’ll get to pick on 18th-place Burnley. Will he be in my squad? Hell no. But putting him in yours could very well pay off if arrgh Joe Hart arrgh remains in goal.
Harry Kane (TOT, $19.62): Game week 1: nothing. Game week 2: one goal. Game week 3: one goal + one assist. Tottenham’s hitman is heating up. August was clearly not kryptonite for Kane this year, and it won’t even be August anymore when Spurs visit Watford.
Marko Arnautovic (WHU, $11.48), Javier Hernández (WHU, $7.94): Arnautovic was withdrawn against Arsenal with a knee injury and did not feature in the League Cup game last night. Chicharito deputized for him on both occasions, and scored in the Cup game. Follow team news; whichever looks set to start this weekend will enjoy a favorable match-up against Wolves (but Wolves will be thinking the same thing against the Hammered).
Aleksandar Mitrovic (FUL, $11.85): The Yugoslavian is thriving at Fulham, with 3 goals in 3 games and a 49-point Fantrax total so far. His price is still very reasonable despite his prolific production, and there’s no reason to think the good times won’t continue to roll against Brighton.
Who else is on your Fantrax radar this week? Who has gone out of favor? Does the NMA + Bench league present any significant differences affecting player-selection?
Also, be mindful that Newcastle, Everton, and Watford have EFL Cup games today, and that news from yesterday’s Cup games will continue to trickle out. Be sure to follow us here at NMA to stay abreast of all the updates (such as new injuries) that could affect your weekend lineups.