On Saturday, Championship side Millwall defeated Everton in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Everton’s elimination from the tournament means that their league fixture with Manchester City has been moved up to February 6th. That slips it just inside the tail end of the window for Game Week 25, creating a double game week for only those two teams. That makes this a game-week of tiny doubles!
(OK, so the Don Ho reference is a stretch, and a rather pathetic one at that. But when we write these articles week after week, we sometimes become desperate for ways to keep things entertaining!)
The potential for two bites at the apple usually gets us salivating over double game weeks, but this one seems decidedly less promising than most. To begin with, it involves only two teams, which obviously limits our options for player selection.
The DGW fixtures themselves are also suboptimal. Manchester City faces a home tie with Arsenal before traveling to Everton. The Arsenal game will be difficult, and the Everton match could be a dud too, since City’s fantasy performances often dip when they’re on the road. On the other hand, both of Everton’s fixtures are at Goodison Park, but Wolves can be difficult to break down, and City have the league’s best offense and its #2 defense.
Finally we have the issue of rotation. Everton’s 11 for both games of the double should be relatively easy to guess, but Pep’s lineups are notoriously unpredictable. Few things irritate fantasy managers more than dismantling a solid squad to bring in double-gamers who end up playing only one game (or none!).
That’s not to say we should avoid double-gamers this week, only that we must use them judiciously. Let’s have a look at the GW-25 fixtures, and then we’ll analyze the best choices for your Fantrax sides. (Note that the week kicks off with Tottenham vs Newcastle, so we will have confirmed lineups for those teams ahead of the Fantrax deadline.)
- Tottenham vs Newcastle
- Brighton vs Watford
- Burnley vs Southampton
- Chelsea vs Huddersfield
- Crystal Palace vs Fulham
- Everton vs Wolverhampton
- Cardiff vs Bournemouth
- Everton vs Manchester City
Now let’s begin with a discussion of City and Everton, since they are the two sides with doubles this week.
Goalkeeper: I’m advising you to avoid Jordan Pickford ($8.66) this week. Wolves have scored 14 goals in their last 7 games across all competitions, including 3 against Tottenham at Wembley. And in the second game of the double, Everton host City. Yes the Citizens were just beaten by Newcastle, but in their last 8 games across all competitions they have scored a staggering 31 goals. In Fantrax, goalkeepers can hurt you like no other position, so for this DGW I think the odds of Pickford doubling your pain are higher than the odds of him doubling your gain.
Lucas Digne ($16.79) is a Fantrax stud. But his red card on Tuesday means that, at best, he’ll play only one game of the double. So he’s effectively a single-gamer this week, whose match up would be Manchester City. At nearly $17, it’s thanks, but no thanks.
Instead of the Frenchman, then, my choice among the Toffees’ stable of defenders is Kurt Zouma ($6.17). He’s averaging over 10 ppg over his last 3 games. Two of those matches were clean sheets, but if you subtract those points from his returns he would still average 6 ppg. He’s a solid bet to reach double-figures over two games for just a hair more than $6.
Lately it’s been feast or famine for Gylfi Sigurddson ($17.62). His last 10 returns are 4, 4, 1, 15, 11, 2, 4, -1, 18, and 15. That’s an average of 7.3 ppg, so based on that we should expect him to return about 15 points over the two games of the double. That’s probably about as good as we could expect from most similarly-priced single gamers. But if even one of his two games ends up in feast instead of famine, then his owners would be set for outsized returns. And that could definitely happen. Siggy is Everton’s designated PK taker, and with Digne suspended for the Wolves game, Siggy won’t be sharing free kicks and corners with him. If you can fit the Icelander in without performing major surgery on your squad, then it’s probably worth it.
Richarlison ($16.04) is probably the only Toffee forward we can count on for two starts. But before Tuesday’s goal at Huddersfield helped him to a 15 point haul, he had gone 7 straight games without a double-digit return, producing only 4 shots on target. Over that time frame his Fantrax average was 4.4 ppg. For the same money, I think a shrewdly-selected single-gamer is probably a better gamble this week. (Also eligible as M)
Over their last 9 league games, City have suffered 4 defeats and kept only two clean sheets. During that span, Ederson ($11.29) accumulated a total of just 15 points — that’s an average of just 1.66 ppg. Lately I can’t be sure whether to expect the world-class City to show up, or the City who lost to Newcastle on Tuesday. Consequently, Ederson holds no allure for me this week.
Aymeric Laporte ($7.98) is the City defender who is most likely to get two starts, but he is mostly a Fantrax dud. I’m not looking to City to fill any of my defender spots this week.
Raheem Sterling ($18.67) and Leroy Sané ($16.04) provide perhaps the most upside potential, and based on their average ppg we would expect them to provide returns roughly in line with their prices over the course of two games. But Kevin De Bruyne ($2.94) is the standout value here. We know what he’s capable of, and he’ll get two chances to do something special for the bargain price of just $3. (Sterling and Sané are also eligible as forwards)
Sergio Agüero ($15.96) has 3 goals in his last 5 starts and is the EPL’s #4 scorer. With City struggling for form, I see Pep relying on the experienced and reliable Kun to keep Liverpool’s tail lights in sight.
Single Game Goalkeepers
Artur Boruc (CAR v BOU, $2.71): Boruc has two clean sheets and 36 points since pulling on the shirt two weeks ago. This time he faces Cardiff’s feeble offense, which makes him a bargain at less than $3.
Tom Heaton (BUR v SOU, $3.84): Heaton is averaging 10.2 ppg since demoting Joe Hart to the bench, and I think we can expect handsome rewards again this week when Saints pay a visit.
Single Game Defenders
Nathaniel Clyne (CAR v BOU, $2.94): Clyne has piled up 26 points in his three starts since joining Bournemouth on loan, and this week he faces toothless Cardiff.
Emerson Palmieri (CHE v HUD, $1.00): In a move many Blues fans had been calling for, Maurizio Sarri finally gave Emerson his first league start against Bournemouth, displacing Marcos Alonso to the bench. Chelsea went on to lose the game 0-4, but Sarri may give Emerson a few more chances before the gaffer decides who will be first-choice. For a buck I can’t blame you for taking a punt on the Brazilian. Against the league’s worst team you could do a lot worse.
Joel Matip (WHU v LIV, $3.76): Matip represents a low-cost, low-risk entry into the league’s best defense, and this week West Ham could be without Marko Arnautovic.
Matt Targett (BUR v SOU, $6.02): Targett’s average return exceeds his price. He’s not eligible for clean sheet points because he lines up in midfield, but he often hits double digits anyway. (D or M)
Jan Bednarek (BUR v SOU, $4.89): Bednarek is another Saint who has been putting up great numbers for minimal investment lately. He’s averaging over 9 ppg across his last 4 games.
Danny Rose (TOT v NEW, $7.45): Rose has been killing it. In his last two games he’s returned 24 points from an assist, 4 accurate crosses, and 4 corners forced. He’s in great form, and the good times should continue this weekend when the Geordies come to call.
Single Game Midfielders
Pascal Gross (BRI v WAT, $6.93): The German appears to be heating up after a long dormant spell. He has two goals and an assist over his last 4 games, averaging 8.5 ppg over that span. (M or F)
Alexis Sánchez (LEI v MUN, $5.35): Alexis put up 9 points in a mere 23 minutes against Burnley on Tuesday. Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already shown that he can reinvigorate Manchester United. If he can also resurrect the career of its most expensive player, then he’ll surely deserve the permanent job. (M or F)
James Ward-Prowse (BUR v SOU, $6.78): JWP’s returns have exceeded his price in every one of his 5 starts since returning to the S11. His last three games have each resulted in double-digits. With the player in this kind of form, his $6.78 price tag seems like a true bargain.
Son Heung-Min (TOT v NEW, $14.91): After returning to the EPL from the Asian Cup, the South Korean picked up right where he left off, notching a goal and 14 points against Watford. I keep thinking his form is unsustainable, and he keeps proving me wrong. I wouldn’t bet against him this week when he faces Newcastle at home. (M or F)
Joao Moutinho (EVE v WOL, $9.34): Moutinho has become a central feature of Wolves’ improved attack, registering a brace of assists and double-digit Fantrax returns in each of his last two games.
Diogo Jota (EVE v WOL, $9.19): Like Moutinho, Jota has also been a key feature of Wolves’ offensive resurgence, with three goals and an assist in his last two games. (M or F)
Paul Pogba (LEI v MUN, $20.63): I am usually wary of recommending players as expensive as Pogba, but there’s just no stopping him lately. In the 7 games since OGS restored him to the lineup, Pogba has racked up a stunning 149 Fantrax points. He has become one of those players that I’d be scared not to own. If you’ve freed up cash with one-dollar men, here’s a place to put it to use. Follow team news though, because although he was not subbed off against Burnley, he was seen limping down tunnel afterwards.
Marcus Rashford (LEI v MUN, $15.71): Rashford has missed double digits only three times in his last ten games, and each of those misses was a 9.
Dwight McNeil (BUR v SOU, $4.44): Tuesday’s trip to Old Trafford was the first time in McNeil’s last 5 games that he failed to hit double-digits. This week is a home tie hosting the Saints, so I’m betting he gets back on track. (M or F)
Single Game Forwards
Gonzalo Higuain (CHE v HUD, $1.00): The goose egg against Bournemouth cratered Higauin’s price (as predicted by Fantrax guru jeffryfisher), and for the cut-rate price of $1 he’s a no-brainer for the visit of the sorry Terriers.
Josh King (CAR v BOU, $11.97): King has 3 goals in his last two games, 48 points in his last three. Callum Wilson just underwent minor knee surgery, so King should continue to lead the line for at least the next few weeks, starting with a juicy match-up at Cardiff.
Fernando Llorente (TOT v NEW, $1.58): Yesterday, Llorente finally seized the opportunity that Harry Kane’s absence has afforded him, notching a goal and a helper in the 2-1 victory over Watford. Newcastle’s visit presents him with another good opportunity for returns, and he’s on offer at fire-sale pricing.
Raúl Jiménez (EVE v WOL, $15.74): Two goals, an assist, and 36 points over his last two games. The Wolves’ offense is heating up, and Jiménez sits at the tip of the spear.
Are you loading up on City and Everton assets in order to maximize your DGW exposure? Or are you wary of over-committing? What double gamers interest you? Who are your favorite single game players? Let us know in the comments below.
Who is the best choice among the double game week players?
This poll is closed
Kevin De Bruyne
Other (name in comments)