The October international break wraps up today with Bolivia squaring off against Haiti — I’m betting no one in your Fantrax squads will be involved in that one!
My US Men’s National Team crushed Cuba 7-0 on Friday. Current and former EPL players Brad Guzan, Matt Miazga (Chelsea, on loan to Reading), and Tim Ream took part in the clean sheet, plus Christian Pulisic scored from the spot. Unfortunately, the USMNT had no answers for Canada last night. America’s neighbors to the north played them off the pitch 2-0, with Pulisic fluffing a crucial 1 v 1 chance with the Canadian goalkeeper before being hooked on the hour mark with the score tied at 0-0. He broke down in tears of frustration after taking his seat on the bench.
On the other side of the pond, the Three Lions suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic on Friday before smashing Bulgaria 6-0 on Monday. Sadly, the Bulgaria match was marred by racial abuse of Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling, but Harry Kane scored in both games and assisted three of the six goals against Bulgaria. His fantasy EPL owners will be hoping King Kane can continue that form when he returns to league play on Saturday!
Below is the slate of fixtures in store for us this week, followed by my list of best-buys for your Fantrax squads. Let’s do this!
- Everton vs West Ham
- Aston Villa vs Brighton
- Bournemouth vs Norwich
- Chelsea vs Newcastle
- Leicester vs Burnley
- Tottenham vs Watford
- Wolves vs Southampton
- Crystal Palace vs Manchester City
Tom Heaton (AVL vs BHA, $3.80): Heaton is cheap as chips and faces a Brighton squad that hasn’t scored a league goal on the road since the opening weekend. He’s my GK this week.
Roberto Jiménez (EVE vs WHU, $2.40): Another bargain-basement GK option for GW 9. I like Heaton better, but if you can’t squeeze out the extra $1.40 for the Aston Villa netminder, then Jiménez is available at Fantrax’s current minimum. Everton have only scored six goals so far, and just one in their last three.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (CHE vs NEW, $5.59): Chelsea’s defense is steadily improving, and Newcastle have managed only five goals all season.
Alisson (MUN vs LIV, $7.79): He’s been training since October 3, so there’s a good chance he starts against a discombobulated Manchester United this weekend. You will probably never see him this cheap again (he costs less than Adrian!), so if you don’t roll with him this week and he starts, then you’ll need to think hard about picking him up on the barn door.
Rui Patrício (WOL vs SOU, $8.78): If you’ve got some extra GK money to spend and Alisson’s status seems too uncertain, then maybe Patrício could be your guy. Wolves got off to a rough start, but with two clean sheets on the trot, they now seem to be righting the ship.
Matt Targett (AVL vs BHA, $3.77): An assist in his last game, and 5 points in each of his last two. This week the Villans welcome Brighton to Villa Park, so Targett could reach double digits if they can hold the Seagulls scoreless.
Diego Rico (BOU vs NOR, $6.21): Rico is averaging almost 9 ppg over his last four games, with two assists and no clean sheets over that stretch. He could add to his offensive output against a Norwich defense that leads the league in goals conceded.
Djibril Sidibé (EVE vs WHU, $2.40): A bargain-bin offering who will likely deputize for the suspended Seamus Coleman.
Jetro Willems (CHE vs NEW, $7.04): Jetro has put up a goal and an assist in his last four starts. He could continue to add to his attacking stats against a Blues defense that has conceded 18 goals this season.
Serge Aurier (TOT vs WAT, $3.41): Having served his one-match ban, Aurier should now return to the S11 for a home match against a Watford side that is winless and nailed to the floor of the table.
Aaron Cresswell (EVE vs WHU, $7.76): Cresswell has collected 39 points over his last three games, but he was subbed off with a knock in the 84th minute of the loss to Crystal Palace. He is expected to be fine for the trip to Goodison Park, but if he fails to pass fit then Arthur Masuaku ($6.41) becomes an excellent plan B.
Jack Grealish (AVL vs BHA, $12.79): The Phantom Menace. With 53 points from his last four games, he is home this week against Brighton.
Anwar El Ghazi (AVL vs BHA, $11.23): Jack Grealish and John McGinn have soaked up the majority of our interest in Aston Villa’s midfield this season. But while we were all focused on the J&J show, El Ghazi has quietly racked up 50 points over the last four games. Kudos to you if you spotted him early, but if you didn’t, it’s not too late.
Harry Wilson (BOU vs NOR, $8.52): It has been a while since Wilson put up double-digits, but he’ll have a prime chance to find that territory again when the Cherries host Norwich’s sloppy defense.
Mason Mount (CHE vs NEW, $13.05): Mount scored his fourth goal of the season last time out, and I like his odds of adding to that when Chelsea host Newcastle this weekend.
Andriy Yarmolenko (EVE vs WHU, $6.84): Three goals in his last five games, and this week he faces the struggling Toffees.
Manuel Lanzini (EVE vs WHU, $6.69): Injury niggles have hampered his fantasy returns lately, but he’s fully fit now and will have a good opportunity to resume normal service when the Hammers visit Goodison Park.
Wesley (AVL vs BHA, $11.16): Hopefully you bought him before his brace, assist, and 5 SOTs against Norwich bumped up his price. But even at $11.16, he’s a good value for the visit of the Seagulls.
Callum Wilson (BOU vs NOR, $17.15), Josh King (BOU vs NOR, $11.65): These guys are Bournemouth’s most dangerous attackers, and you’ll probably want to find a way to fit one in this week. They face a defense that has surrendered 21 goals this season — the league’s worst.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (CHE vs NEW, $2.65): He has played in two games now since returning from a long injury absence, and he has notched an assist in each. I think he’ll get the nod again on the left wing, and at $2.65 you can hardly go wrong.
Tammy Abraham (CHE vs NEW, $15.82): Chelsea’s star man has scored eight goals in his last six games. He’s not cheap, but he’s averaging over 12 ppg and faces Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Jamie Vardy (LEI vs BUR, $15.29): It’s feast or famine with Vardy, and the feasts tend to come at home. He’s a decent play for the match with the Clarets.
Riyad Mahrez (CRY vs MCI, 17.53): The least-expensive of City’s likely front three, and has the same average ppg as the other two. He has been an absolute terror down the right wing lately.
Harry Kane (TOT vs WAT, $18.20): Spurs are in crisis, but Harry Kane is still Harry Kane. He has managed two goals in his last three games despite Tottenham’s malaise.
Raúl Jiménez (WOL vs SOU, $13.35): Having faced (and beaten!) Manchester City last time out, Wolves are now about to embark on the league’s best run of fixtures. Jiménez was given a rest from international duty and remained in England, so he could now be poised for a break-out.
Prices are from our NMA-11 league; the NMA-17 and NMA-Sub leagues will be somewhat cheaper.
As usual for a return from international play, keep an eye on late news for reports of jet-lagged players (especially those flying back from East Asia or South America) who might not start as expected despite being uninjured.
The early match that should show us confirmed lineups just before deadline will be Everton vs West Ham (if anyone cares).
So who is underperforming or doubtful that you’re shopping for replacements in your Fantrax roster(s)? Are there any other players not mentioned above whom you’re considering? And who is on your barn-door watch list? Please share in the comments!