Who doesn’t love the English Premier League? We’re five games into the campaign, and last year’s juggernaut defending champs sit in third place, while Chelsea and Liverpool have perfect records. Watford and Bournemouth sit above Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester United, the triumvirate only one point above the newly-promoted Wolves and just a game above the table’s lower half. Is there any other first-division domestic league that’s as competitive and entertaining as this one?
Anyway, let’s turn our attention to the weekend. Here’s what’s in store:
- Fulham vs Watford
- Burnley vs Bournemouth
- Cardiff vs Manchester City
- Crystal Palace vs Newcastle
- Leicester vs Huddersfield
- Liverpool vs Southampton
- Manchester United vs Wolves
- Brighton vs Tottenham
The best match-ups belong to Manchester City, Leicester, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Also: Fulham vs Watford is our deadline match-of-the-week, meaning that we Fantrax managers will see those two starting lineups just before our deadline. Be sure to join us here at NMA for our pre-deadline chat to react to that and other late news.
Wayne Hennessey (CPL, $8.83): Crystal Palace are 2-3 so far and have given up 6 goals. But Hennessey has been as smooth as silk from a fantasy perspective (catch the reference?). He has 20 saves to his credit and is the #2 netminder in Fantrax. This week he faces winless Newcastle at home, and the Magpies are averaging less than a goal per game.
Alisson (LIV, $9.96): We’re five games into the season now, and Liverpool still have the league’s best defense. Southampton are good enough to hand Alisson at least a little bit of work, so he should accumulate enough save points to return value even if the Reds fail to hold the Saints scoreless.
Ederson (MCI, $10.06): The defending champions face Cardiff’s anemic offense this week. Seems like a no-brainer, but my worry is that City have already given up goals to drop-zone dwellers Huddersfield and Newcastle. If Cardiff also manage to sneak one in, Ederson could end up sticking it to his fantasy managers with the dreaded “zero saves, one conceded” scenario.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (CHE, $7.32): If this is the price range you’re looking at, I’d try to stretch to Hennessey instead. But if you can’t quite make it, Kepa isn’t a bad alternative. Chelsea are undefeated and cross London to West Ham on Sunday. The Hammers have conceded 11 and scored only 5, and Marko Arnautovic could be an injury doubt.
Michel Vorm (TOT, $3.00): Spurs have kept only one clean sheet all season, and Hugo Lloris was between the sticks when they earned it. But Vorm is now the guy until Lloris returns from injury, and the Dutchman is this week’s Fantrax GK value play. I’ll give you $1 if he’s not in Ken’s squad. Actually, no I won’t. Ken would go the “deliberate zero” route just to screw me.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (CPL, $7.54): This guy is Fantrax gold, and you should have jumped on his bus a long time ago (or the moment he returned from suspension). But he’s still a bargain at his current price, so go ahead and climb aboard now. The Englishman averages 10.5 ppg and hosts Newcastle on Saturday.
Alfie Mawson (FUL, $4.77): Since returning to health, Mawson has joined with Denis Odoi to form Fulham’s first-choice center back pairing. You can probably forget about a clean sheet this week — only City, Liverpool, and Chelsea have scored more goals than Watford, and no team has given up more than Fulham. But that’s okay, because Mawson has averaged 6.5 ppg without any clean sheets. In fact, the harder Watford come at the Cottagers, the more points Mawson will likely accrue. (Credit to Ken for the heads-up on this one.)
Marcos Alonso (CHE, $14.38): He’s pricey, but last week was the first time this season that Alonso failed to return double-digits. Against West Ham, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to generate points from both ends of the pitch, and I expect him to get back to his usual high-flying self.
James Milner (LIV, $9.42): With Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold seemingly getting all the attention this season, it might surprise a lot of NMA readers that Milner is actually Liverpool’s #1 Fantrax defender. And in the Champions League victory over PSG last night, he buried a penalty with Salah and Mane on the pitch, confirming Milner’s status as the preferred spot-kick taker. The prospect of rotation is always there with Jurgen Klopp, but if Milner starts against Southampton this weekend, his owners could be richly rewarded.
Another interesting Liverpool option for Game Week 6 is Alberto Moreno (LIV, $3.00). Andrew Robertson went the full 90 against PSG last night, and has also played every minute of every league game so far. Robertson could be due for a break this weekend then, and Moreno could be set to start in his place. If that proves to be the case, the Spaniard is a steal at $3.00.
Kieran Trippier (TOT, $8.59), Toby Alderweireld (TOT, $5.52): Neither man made the trip to the San Siro last night, so we must assume that Mauricio Pochettino is preserving them for the Brighton match. Tripps has a higher ceiling, but Alderweireld’s returns should still exceed his price. Pick the one you can afford.
José Holébas (WAT, $11.06): Holébas seems to thrive at home, and he’s on the road this week. He’s also a discipline problem, seeing 3 yellow cards already (that’s right, 3 in just 5 games). But the left back is a terror going forward, already notching one goal and four assists. In fact, if not for the 3 YCs he’d be the #1 defender in Fantrax, and even with them he trails the mighty Marcos Alonso by only 3 points. The Greek faces Fulham this week, and the Cottagers have conceded more goals than any other team in the league.
Benjamin Mendy (MCI, $13.54): Mendy missed Game Week 5 with a knee injury. He was initially in contention for City’s Champions League fixture tonight, but hasn’t trained this week and looks unlikely to feature. If he recovers in time for the weekend, then he is worth every cent of his price tag. His average is 13.75 ppg, and this week’s opponent is Cardiff, who have but 3 goals on the season. Follow team news.
Note: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcos Alonso, James Milner, Kieran Trippier, and Jose Holebas have dual-eligibility in Fantrax and can be fielded either as defenders or midfielders.
Richarlison (EVE, $13.01): He’s back! The young left winger piled up 41 points in his first two games before a 3-game suspension temporarily removed him from relevance. He has now served his punishment and will slot straight back into the lineup on Sunday. On it’s face, the trip to the Emirates may seem like a difficult fixture. But the Gunners have given up 9 goals this season, and Richarlison scored 2 goals and put up 27 points when he traveled to Wolves (who have a tighter D than Arsenal). The Brazilian seems to do just fine on the road.
Ryan Fraser (BOU, $15.46): The Scot was already averaging 11.5 ppg before Saturday’s 26-point explosion forced him to the forefront of our thoughts for this weekend. Hopefully you barn-doored him (or even better, already had him!). But even if you have to pay retail, you should probably try to find room for him this week. Bournemouth face sorry Burnley, and Fraser is now tied with Sergio Aguero for the #2 overall asset in Fantrax.
André Schurrle (FUL, $9.93): In my preseason article on the promoted teams, I said that Schurrle’s stint with Fulham would be the “last chance saloon” for his career. He seems to understand that. The right-winger is in sparkling form, averaging 10.6 ppg. Watford are a tough nut to crack, but the German just put up 9 points against Manchester City without even scoring. I barn-doored him this week.
James Maddison (LEI, $11.25): I was an early-adopter of Maddison, and I’m glad. The 21 year-old is averaging 12.6 ppg and hit a 26-point Fantrax home run against Bournemouth over the weekend. Huddersfield are tied for the second-worst defense in the league, so I’m again expecting big things from Maddison when the Terriers visit on Saturday.
David Silva (MCI, $13.44): He’s a consistent Fantrax performer (double-digits in three of his four games this season), and he’s probably the most secure starter in City’s midfield (unlike last season). I love him for the trip to Cardiff.
Lucas Moura (TOT, $7.54): The Brazilian has arguably been Tottenham’s form player this season, but he only featured from the bench against Inter Milan last night (and was outstanding when he did finally appear). That means he could be set to start against Brighton. With 3 goals and 48 points so far, Moura would be a good bet against the Seagulls, who have conceded 9 times this campaign.
Son Heung-Min (TOT, $8.09): Dele Alli’s hamstring injury sidelined him for Game Week 5, and he didn’t even make the bench for the Champions League defeat at Inter Milan last night. If Alli remains out of contention for Game Week 6, then Son will probably start against Brighton.
Philip Billing (HUD, $7.22): I haven’t really offered you any budget midfield options this week, so I’ll submit Philip Billing for your consideration. Although his price isn’t quite cut-rate, he’s still the cheapest middie on my Game Week 6 list. And the guy has quietly run up an average return of 9.4 ppg (almost as much as Moura) while playing every minute of every game for a crappy team. I may not have any dime-store midfield names for you this week, but Billing is definitely value for money. He could be a nice differential if you’re looking to break away from the pack.
[Editor’s note: If Mendy is not ready to return this weekend, then Fabian Delph ($3.45, facing Cardiff) will probably deputize again, and he is eligible to be placed in midfield (or defense).]
Note: Richarlison, Andre Schurrle, Lucas Moura, and Son Heung-Min can be played either as midfielders or forwards.
Troy Deeney (WAT, $9.35): Much of Watford’s surprising success this season is down to their captain’s confidence and leadership. The striker has set an example for his teammates with his tireless workrate on the pitch, and by constantly shepherding, organizing, and encouraging the players around him. His efforts have paid off not just for his team, but for himself as well. He has 2 goals and an assist so far, and I’m betting he’ll add to those numbers when he visits the leakiest defense in the league this weekend.
Callum Wilson (BOU, $11.31): Wilson has cooled off a bit over the last two game weeks, but this week he faces last-place Burnley. Chances are good he gets back to his winning ways.
Eden Hazard (CHE, $21.73): Yes he’s expensive. But Chelsea travel to one-win West Ham this weekend, so the Blues’ best player could have a field day. A second hat trick on the trot? Maybe not, but the Belgian should do at least enough to merit your investment.
Wilifried Zaha (CRY, $15.08): He has scored in three of the four league games he has played this year. I like his chances to make it 4 out of 5 when Newcastle pay the Eagles a visit on Saturday.
Alexandar Mitrovic (FUL, $12.54): Four goals in five games, and last week’s away match against Manchester City is the only game in which he’s failed to return double-figures. At home to Watford this week, he should revert to his norm.
Jamie Vardy (LEI, $9.84): A red card in Game Week 2 pumped the brakes on Vardy’s 2018-19 campaign, but now that he’s back from his three-game suspension he’s beginning to shift into gear. No goals on his return to action last week, but he still put up 10 points. And this week he welcomes Huddersfield’s accommodating defense.
Roberto Firmino (LIV, $14.46): Firmino came off the bench to register the game winner in Liverpool’s Champions League victory last night, so his starting status for the visit of Southampton should be secure. He also has a goal in each of his last two league games, so not only is he the cheapest option among Liverpool’s Big Three, but at the moment he’s also the hottest.
Sergio Aguero (MCI, $19.47): Aguero was forced off the pitch with an ankle injury in Game Week 5, but not before notching an assist and tallying 11 points in just 54 minutes of work. He has returned to training, so follow City’s Champions League lineup tonight for clues to whether he looks fit to start in the tasty fixture with Cardiff on Saturday.
Raheem Sterling (MCI, $18.66): He’s tied with Aguero with 3 goals this season. But Kun has played 5 games and got all of his with a single hat trick, whereas Sterling has played just 4 games and scored in three of them. The winger is also slightly cheaper than his Argentinian counterpart. Follow tonight’s CL lineup for indications on how Pep Guardiola might rotate for the weekend, but if Sterling looks set to start he’s as good a bet as anyone in the premium price range.
Who is the most essential Fantrax player for Game Week 6?
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What do you think of this list? Is there someone you’re excited about whom I’ve missed? Have I backed someone you don’t rate? Come on in and tell us who’s in your plans.
Also, bear in mind that both of the Manchester clubs have Champions League fixtures tonight, plus Chelsea and Arsenal have Europa League matches tomorrow. Be sure to follow lineups and injuries from these European competitions for potential impacts on the weekend’s S11s (although Maurizio Sarri has already revealed that Eden Hazard and David Luiz will be rested tomorrow, and that Mateo Kovacic and Emerson Palmieri are currently not available through injury).