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Week 24 Fantrax EPL Fantasy Player Picks: Light Maintenance

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What minor work can keep your fantasy team purring smoothly?

Paul Pogba - Manchester United - Premier League
Paul Pogba is an absolute scoring machine at Old Trafford. Where is Manchester United playing this weekend? You guessed it!
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Some weeks you need an overhaul, but this time of the season is generally when it feels more like lighter maintenance should suffice. It should be time for a tune-up, not a rebuild, if you will. Which is nice, because nobody likes to wait idly by while their car is stuck in the shop for a week or two! Let’s take a look under the hood and see what part or two sitting on the garage stock room shelf can get your team back on the road quickly, good as new.

[NOTE: Games begin late — or early, depending on your perspective — this game week, kicking off on Tuesday rather than the usual Friday or Saturday, but all six Tuesday matches should show us confirmed lineups before our Fantrax deadline. Don’t miss it!]

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GOALKEEPERS

Bernd Leno ($5.78, Arsenal v. Cardiff)

Leno has suffered some poor road showings recently, but here are his home scores this season (most recent first): 12, 7, 5, 11, 6, 7, 4, 5, and 6. Now he faces the team that ties for the 2nd fewest goals in the league. And he’s at the Emirates. Sound like good value for $5.78? I thought so! (Unless, of course, you’re completely panicked about the recent piling on of injury news surrounding Arsenal defenders.)

Sergio Rico ($2.16, Fulham v. Brighton)

Rico is extremely hit or miss, with six negatives and six 6+ scores among his 14 appearances this season. Home to Brighton, you have a fairly good chance at the latter, but you’ll have to be willing to stomach some serious risk at the former.

David Button ($1.54, Brighton at Fulham)

Deputizing for Mat Ryan who is away on Asian Cup duty, Button has done next to nothing, scoring 0, -1 and 3 points. But if you hate paying much for keepers, a cheap option at Fulham is not a bad play. Then again, maybe you prefer Rico. Six of one, half dozen of the other...

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DEFENDERS

Ashley Young ($9.40, Manchester United v. Burnley)

Young is averaging 8.9 ppg at home, and he should see plenty of action up the wing as the Red Devils pepper a Clarets box that this season has tended not only to bend extremely often, but to break quite frequently as well.

Benjamin Mendy ($6.78) or Danilo ($3.00, Manchester City at Newcastle) [Danilo is D/M eligible]

Mendy has returned to training following a long-term injury, while Danilo has starred recently. Whomever starts at left back should be good value in this one, and there is even a chance that both could crack the XI if Pep Guardiola chooses to replace Kyle Walker with Danilo on the right side. Wouldn’t that be lovely? (unless you’re a Newcastle fan)

Man City’s match kicks off only 15 minutes after the first matches of the set, so we should see the confirmed lineup (among 12 we’ll be shown on Tuesday) just in time to panic adjust.

Callum Chambers ($5.70, Fulham v. Brighton ) [D/M eligible]

The Arsenal loaner has scored 6+ points in 7 of his past 9 games, and now a subpar Brighton side comes to Craven Cottage.

Nacho Monreal ($4.85, Arsenal v. Cardiff)

Hector Bellerin’s unfortunate season-ending injury would seem to pave the way for Monreal, who is averaging 6.3 ppg this season and will be free to bomb forward at will against Cardiff.

Joel Matip ($3.77, Liverpool v. Leicester)

If you’re looking for a very short-term plug-in, Matip is an interesting option, having scored 14, 8, 3 and 22 points in his four starts this season. He may get another chance filling in for the injured Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, but with this being a Wednesday game rather than Tuesday, be sure to check team news as the deadline approaches.

Nathaniel Clyne ($2.23, Bournemouth v. Chelsea)

Clyne has scored 8, 7 and 9 points in his three starts this season, including the past two with the Cherries since arriving on loan from Liverpool. He won’t be eligible to play in Week 26 against his parent club, but he should be able to grab you enough points in the meantime that you won’t mind that donut too much. (Or if you do, swap him out then.)

AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United - Premier League
Care to guess which of Nathaniel Clyne or Felipe Anderson scored more points in their game last week?
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Florian Lejeune ($1.16, Newcastle v. Manchester City)

If you don’t have enough for Clyne — or if you already have Clyne and you need another cheap defender, for instance if you had Koscielny and now have to drop him due to his injury, but you are exactly one penny short of being able to afford Danilo (I wonder where I got that example) — feel free to take a chance on Lejeune, who has notched 8 and 7 points in his past two games, only one of which brought the clean sheet bonus. Obviously it would take a miracle to get that against the Sky Blues.

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MIDFIELDERS

Paul Pogba ($19.64, Manchester United v. Burnley)

Pogba has played 10 home games this season... and he has scored 160 points in those games... which by simple math means he’s averaging 16.0 ppg(!) at home. My guess is that mark is tops of anybody in the game, but without a sorting mechanism on the site by home/away splits as far as I can see, it’s difficult to say for certain. But I can quickly check and tell you that Pogba’s home average is higher than the usual suspects Aguero, Hazard, Kane, Salah, Sane, and Sterling. And this game is at home against a Clarets side that has conceded the third-most times in the league.

Diogo Jota ($8.16, Wolves v. West Ham) [M/F eligible]

Expecting another hat rick would be foolhardy. But even before his 32-point effort, Jota had averaged 8.8 ppg in his prior four games. With the Hammers coming to the Molineux, Jota has a good chance to shine again.

Pascal Gross ($6.70, Brighton at Fulham) [M/F eligible]

Gross has gotten things going recently with two double digit efforts in the past three games, so if you’re looking to take advantage of a player facing the worst defense in the league, he’s your guy!

James Ward-Prowse ($5.85, Southampton v. Crystal Palace)

The Notorious JWP has exploded for 15, 17, 9, 7, and 10 points in his past five starts, including a goal in each of the last two. The Eagles just gave up four goals at Anfield, so while Southampton is certainly not Liverpool, the Saints have won four of their past six games, and JWP has been front and center in those efforts.

Dwight McNeil ($4.00, Burnley at Manchester United) [M/F eligible]

Here’s what McNeil has done in the past four games: 10, 10, 11, and 17 points. Traveling to Old Trafford is not easy, especially given Manchester United’s surge under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but sometimes you just can’t argue with form.

Ademola Lookman ($3.23, Everton at Huddersfield) [M/F eligible]

The young Toffee has scored 6 and 11 points in his past two games, playing 90 minutes each time. Now Everton travels to last place Huddersfield.

Kevin De Bruyne ($2.85, Manchester City at Newcastle)

KDB is not yet in the superstar form we’re accustomed to seeing, but even so, he’s delivered 6, 9, 8, and 13 points in the past four games, which is more than enough given that his price tag is even farther removed from customary. He’s cheap and due for a breakout.

Hamza Choudhury ($1.98, Leicester at Liverpool)

The young Leicester Academy jewel has started the past four games, with outputs of 7, 9, 4, and 5 points. Normally Anfield would be expected to dull an opposing player’s performance, but Choudhury so far only has one shot on target total, with no goals or assists, while having conceded more fouls (4) than he has drawn (1). Rather, he relies largely on phantoms such as interceptions (8) and blocked shots (3), and those should have no problem continuing against the high-powered Reds attack.

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FORWARDS

Mo Salah ($24.95, Liverpool v. Leicester)

Yes, he’s the most expensive player in the game. But if you have raised cash by filling your team with some of the many cheap players popping up these days, then you have plenty of money left over, and you should put it to work! Salah has 19+ points in 6 of his past 8 games, he has earned 15+ in 13 of this season’s 23 games, and this one’s in the comforts of Anfield where the Egypt superstar is averaging 14.6 ppg.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang ($18.76, Arsenal v. Cardiff) [M/F eligible]

PEA has only 6 points total in his past two games, but helpfully that’s deflated his price somewhat. He’s tied for the 2nd-most goals in the league and now at home waiting to ambush the Bluebirds who’ve conceded the 2nd-most goals in the league.

Willian of Chelsea is challenged by Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League
PEA has been held down lately, but odds are that he will get going again against Cardiff City.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford ($14.86, Manchester United v. Burnley)

Rashford has scored 13+ points in 4 straight games and 5 of his past 6, and the surging Red Devils welcome 16th place Burnley to Old Trafford.

Roberto Firmino ($12.48, Liverpool v. Leicester)

After scoring only 4 times and averaging just 5.3 ppg in his first 19 games, Firmino has exploded for five goals and 15.3 ppg in the past four. Here’s hoping the Brazilian poacher can keep his hot streak going.

Gonzalo Higuaín ($7.00, Chelsea at Bournemouth)

As opined in my scouting report on Higuain, I don’t expect the Argentina international to be on par with Salah, PEA and the league’s other top scorers by any means. But at the entry price of only $7.00, he doesn’t have to be! I do think Gonzo will be a major upgrade from Alvaro Morata who averaged 5.75 ppg this season. And even though it’s away from Stamford Bridge, this is a favorable opening Premiership fixture for the recent Serie A man, as only three teams have conceded more goals than the Cherries this season. Check this weekend’s FA Cup news to see how rapidly he may be integrated into the Chelsea squad.

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What minor fixes do you need to make here and there as you try to get your sides back to burning rubber? Should I have included any Spurs in the no-Kane / no-Son era? Who on your roster is nearing troll status, the ejection seat, needs to perform this week or he’s out? And who, not on your roster yet, is on your barn-door watch-list? Please let us know in the comments!

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