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Game-Week 11 Fantrax Fantasy EPL Player Picks: Prisoner of the Moment

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Three players notched hattricks in game-week 10. Should you add them or look elsewhere for joy?

Ayoze Perez congratulates Jamie Vardy - Leicester City - Premier League
Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez each scored hattricks at Southampton. Do you need them in your fantasy teams?
Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Week 10 was absolutely phenomenal. The only Big Six match-up — Liverpool v. Tottenham — came down to the wire with a late penalty kick from Mo Salah deciding it. This came not too long after Son Heung-Min had missed a glorious chance to put the visitors up 2-0, which could have sealed the three points in the other direction. Speaking of PKs, Manchester United continued its horrific proclivity for missing those, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial each seeing an attempt saved by Tim Krul, but those two Red Devils redeemed themselves from open play in the 3-1 win at Carrow Road.

The big headlines, of course, came from the trio of hat trick scorers. Amazingly two Leicester players — Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy — each busted the net thrice in the Foxes’ record-setting 9-0 away evisceration of Southampton. Meanwhile, Christian Pulisic handsomely paid off Frank Lampard’s decision to start him, accounting for the first three goals in the Blues’ 4-2 victory at Burnley.

If, as a prisoner of the moment, you rushed to add those three players to your fantasy team, I don’t blame you. But if you didn’t grab them (or don’t already have them), you are now faced with a tough decision of whether to put them into your squad after their prices have skyrocketed. Here are a few thoughts that may ease your worry:

  • Shortly after Ben Chilwell scored the opener, Southampton wing defender Ryan Bertrand was given a straight red card 12’ into the game against Leicester City. No, most teams don’t score eight more goals after an opponent is reduced to 10 men, but an early red card is usually an unexpected gift that rewards greatly — and is unlikely to be repeated.
  • Manchester City is the other team that has enjoyed a ridiculously lopsided victory this season, thrashing Watford 8-0 at the Etihad in Week 6. In Weeks 1-5 prior to that brilliant explosion, the Citizens’ offense averaged 3.2 goals per game. From Weeks 7-10 following that romp, the Sky Blues’ output has actually dropped sharply down to 2.0 gpg.
  • After the nine goal fest, Leicester boasts the second most prolific offense in the league at 25 goals scored (2.5 gpg). However, the Foxes scored only 16 goals in the first nine games (1.8 gpg), which is good but hardly great. To put that into context, 1.8 gpg would translate to 68 scores for the season; Manchester City paced the league with 95 (2.5 gpg) and Liverpool bagged 89 (2.3 gpg) last season. Sure, it’s possible that Leicester will continue to average a robust 2.5 gpg the rest of this campaign. But looking at what happened with Manchester City following the Watford game, isn’t it more likely that the 9-0 stunner was merely an outlier and the Foxes will revert to something closer to their prior form?
  • Pulisic scored his three goals from five shots, four on target. In his six prior games (three starts, three sub appearances), he had tallied a total of six shots, with only two on target. Even if he becomes a regular starter, just how many goals, and how many shots, do you realistically expect him to get going forward? Consider that his first two goals came from out-of-character Clarets’ defensive errors, and his third score was a header shortly following a corner kick, an extremely unexpected source of joy for a diminutive midfielder.
  • Here is the list of other players who boast hattricks in the Premiership this season, and the number of goals they have scored since:
  1. Raheem Sterling (Week 1): four goals in eight subsequent games (Sterling did not play in GW6)
  2. Teemu Pukki (Week 2): two goals in eight games
  3. Tammy Abraham (Week 5): one goal in five games
  4. Bernardo Silva (Week 6): no goals in four games

Following those four hattricks, that is a total of seven goals in 25 games. How many of those players do you regret adding to your teams if you did so, and whom are you glad you didn’t bother grabbing? Especially in the Fantrax format where costs are so volatile and hattricks supercharge those price rises so drastically, there is often no need to be a prisoner of the moment for those players.

Bernardo Silva of Manchester City congratulates Raheem Sterling - Manchester City - Premier League
The goal scoring form has been very different for Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling following their hattricks.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

However, while I am saying that you don’t necessarily need to overreact by adding hattrick heroes, I am recommending that you be a prisoner of the moment in a different vein, by focusing on the overly attractive fixtures this weekend. Which teams — and players — should fill your roster in game-week 11?

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BRIGHTON: TAKING CANDY FROM A BABY

After a strong start, Norwich has emerged as the league’s punching bag. Part of that is being a newly promoted team that plays with a fairly open style, and another is a rash of injuries, particularly on the defensive end. Following the shock 3-2 win at Carrow Road over defending champs Manchester City, the Canaries are winless (four losses, one draw) by a combined score of 12-2.

In stark contrast, things are looking up for Brighton. Following a single win in the first seven games, the Seagulls have soared with home victories over Tottenham (3-0 in GW8) and Everton (3-2 in GW10) sandwiching a 2-1 loss at Aston Villa marred by the first half dismissal of Aaron Mooy.

Forward Neil Maupay ($11.55) has two goals in the past three games, averaging 11.7 ppg in that spell. Norwich ties for the most penalties conceded in the league with four this season, and Maupay is the Seagulls’ preferred option from the spot. (Remarkably, Tim Krul has saved three of those, so there may be a bit of worry in that department.) Young strike partner Aaron Connolly ($8.84) burst onto the scene with two goals and 25 points in the win over Spurs, then made way at halftime in the loss at Villa due to a line-up reshuffling due to the aforementioned Mooy red card, before notching two fantasy assists and 16 points against Everton.

After a slow start, midfielder Pascal Gross ($9.52) is rounding into form with a goal and assist in the past three games, posting double digits at each turn. He has eight accurate crosses in the past four games, and has taken 2+ shots in five of the past six affairs. Fellow attacking midfielder Leandro Trossard ($4.55) played only 24 minutes after returning from injury, but he tallied 5 points in that cameo and could be worth a punt if Graham Potter puts him back into the XI.

Nobody in the defense is jumping out at me, but keeper Mat Ryan ($7.84) has an excellent shot at the clean sheet win. The Australian international has averaged 10.4 ppg in the past five games, never falling below 5 points, so even if he doesn’t hit double digits as expected, he shouldn’t disappoint at his price.

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CHELSEA: THE FORM HORSE AGAINST THE HOPELESS

The Blues do not enjoy the comforts of Stamford Bridge this week. Rather, this fixture comes at Vicarage Road. So why am I recommending Chelsea players? Because we’re still talking about a lopsided match-up: 4th place against winless 20th, and the joint third-best offense against the third-worst defense. Chelsea has won its past four games by a combined score of 11-3, and while the Hornets’ defense has improved of late, they’ve scored a total of one goal in their past five outings. This game could be on Mars and you’d still want to back the Blues.

I did mention earlier that Tammy Abraham ($16.61) has seen his goals dry up since his hatty. While that may be a problem in FPL, which rewards forwards only for goals and assists, Abraham has actually scored double digits three of the past four games in Fantrax thanks to his 13 shots (8 SOT), 5 corners forced and 5 fouls suffered. Fellow forward Willian ($13.37) has been even better, with two goals and two assists as he’s hit double digits each of the past quartet of games.

Willian - Chelsea FC - Premier League
Willian has been in fine form lately, making him a strong pick at Watford.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Of the trio of Week 10 hattrick heroes, Christian Pulisic ($9.71) is the cheapest at retail, and while Chelsea travels to Watford, Leicester faces a significantly tougher task visiting Crystal Palace. Even if you didn’t grab Pulisic on the barndoor at $5.71, there’s still a good argument to be made for adding the American. Even if you take out his three goals (and corresponding three shots on target), Pulisic would have scored 8 points last week. And if you entirely take out his Week 10 return, prior to that he scored 30 points in 313 minutes, which is 8.6 ppg per 90 minutes. Even if he fails to crack the net, Pulisic can still return value at almost 10 clams, and if he can keep scoring you will really be loving life. Fellow midfielder Mason Mount ($13.06) suffered an off game at Burnley, but has still scored three of his four goals away from Stamford Bridge, where he’s averaging 10.6 ppg. The youngster should be good for a bounce-back effort.

None of the defenders seem worth the outlay unless you have them at discount, but an argument can be made for Kepa Arrizabalaga ($6.43). After all, he has kept two clean sheets in his past four tries, and the Watford offense has been nonexistent with injuries to Troy Deeney, Danny Welbeck, Isaac Success, Etienne Capoue and Tom Cleverley.

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MANCHESTER CITY: SORRY SAINTS COME MARCHING IN

Yes, Manchester City lost at home to Wolves 2-0 in Week 8. But these are the results of the Sky Blues’ other four Etihad appearances: 3-0 over Aston Villa (Week 10), 8-0 over Watford (Week 6), 4-0 over Brighton (Week 4), and 2-2 against Spurs (Week 2). If you just came out of living in a bubble at the bottom of the ocean and didn’t know it already, City tends to be absolutely brilliant at home. Enter Southampton, which is not only coming off utter humiliation at the hands of Leicester, but has failed to win any of the past five tries (four defeats, one draw) and has conceded 2+ goals in 7 of their 10 games thus far.

Forward Raheem Sterling ($21.11) has two goals and one assist in the past four games overall, and has six double digit efforts on the season. Striker partner Sergio Aguero ($19.37) boasts four goals and two assists at home this season but has been strangely struggling for minutes recently. Meanwhile midfielder Bernardo Silva ($13.48) also has four scores at the Etihad. Midfield maestro Kevin de Bruyne ($16.95) has two goals and six assists at home, where he is averaging an astounding 20.5 ppg. Fellow play-maker David Silva ($12.44) has three goals and four assists in the past four games and looks to be staging a glorious final season before retirement.

With Fernandinho’s suspension for yellow card accumulation, John Stones ($4.46) and Nicolas Otamendi ($6.82) should pair in central defense, averaging 12.0 and 8.5 ppg at home, respectively. Oleksandr Zinchenko will miss out through injury, leaving cheap-as-chips Benjamin Mendy ($3.58) as the choice at left back, where has has scored 9 and 7 points the past pair of games. Joao Cancelo ($6.49) has scored 14, 12, and 10 points in the past three games, making him a very attractive option if he continues to start at right back, but there is a chance that Kyle Walker’s return to fitness will bump Cancelo back to bench duty.

Of course, the infamous Pep Roulette has certainly reared its ugly head recently, so picking Citizens comes with a heavy risk. Aguero, in particular, has been a dud for fantasy owners of late; besides not starting three of the past four games, he came in for a zero of a cameo last week to spoil NMA-sub coverage. Otherwise, KDB did not play in Week 8, Bernardo Silva managed only 40 minutes combined in Weeks 7 & 8, David Silva saw only 4 minutes in Week 7, and Sterling did not play in Week 6. As always, be sure to check team news ahead of the weekend to get an idea which way Pep is rolling.

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OTHER PLAYERS

KEEPER

For those of you who hate paying money for keepers (my hand is raised!) West Ham’s Roberto Jimenez ($2.69) is an outstanding budget pick. Since replacing the injured Lucasz Fabianski, he has scored 3+ points three out of four tries, and now a very limited Newcastle offense comes to London. If you’d prefer to pay more at the position, consider Liverpool’s Alisson ($7.30) as the Reds travel to Aston Villa; the Brazilian #1 averaged 12.3 ppg last season away at the newly promoted sides Cardiff, Fulham and Wolves.

DEFENDER

You’d be a lot happier if you have him at a discount, but even at premium, Bournemouth’s Diego Rico ($9.13) has an excellent shot at returning value, earning 9+ points in five of the past six games. Manchester United is never easy, but the game comes at the Vitality, and Bournemouth (10th) is actually ahead of the Red Devils (14th) in the table.

MIDFIELDER

With the Magpies coming to London Stadium, the Hammers will feel they have a chance at a couple/few goals. Midfielder Felipe Anderson ($15.95) and forward Sebastian Haller ($11.80) are a bit too rich for my blood, so I’ll go with Andriy Yarmolenko ($7.79) who has two goals and an assist in his four home games.

FORWARD

Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette ($10.73) has started three games at the Emirates this season, notching two goals from his 13 shots and 7 SOT on those occasions, averaging 14 ppg. Wolves tend to play Big Six sides tough, but with top central defender Willy Boly out injured, Arsenal should be able to put plenty of pressure on the visitors.

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial ($9.41) has a goal or assist in each of his four starts this season, and while I’m not expecting an offensive explosion by the Red Devils at Bournemouth, I don’t foresee a clean sheet either.

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[NOTES: Statistics and prices used in the article came via the official Premier League website and the Fantrax EPL fantasy site. Prices are from the Fantrax NMA-11 league; YMMV.

Bournemouth v. Manchester United is the first game of the weekend and will have confirmed starting-XIs available before the Fantrax deadline.]

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How many of the game-week 10 hattrick heroes did you add or avoid? Which team(s) are you loading up on this week? Please ask your questions and share your thoughts in the comments below!

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