It’s that time of the year when wishes and dreams are fulfilled or dashed in an instant, not only when it comes to getting gifts during the festivities, but also in terms of how your fantasy team performs. The period of November 30 through January 2 (34 days) brings us a head-spinning total of eight game weeks spanning GW14-21, so your FPL fortunes can rise or fall in what may seem like the blink of an eye. Which single player can you simply not afford to miss out on having in your fantasy teams over this wild, wacky and wonderful festive period?
Ali: Leicester City Forward Jamie Vardy
It’s no surprise that the Vardy Party is in full swing as the English striker continues to be the fastest rising player in terms of FPL selection. The Foxes’ star has cemented his spot at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, with 12 goals to his name so far this season. Generating 72 FPL points in his past seven game weeks with nine goals and three assists is quite impressive.
There is a reason why 40% of FPL managers have added the striker to their teams. Even though he faces Manchester City and Liverpool in Weeks 18 & 19, Vardy still has all the potential to run past the opposition’s backline to score a brace. Let the Vardy party continue!
Jeff: Sheffield United Defender John Lundstram
Nailed on until / unless injured, he plays midfield but gets a defender’s credit for his tight team’s clean sheets. The Blades also have a nice run of fixtures up until December 29th when they smack into Man City and Liverpool back to back. See Chris’s longer analysis for more reasons.
Omar: Leicester Forward Jamie Vardy
With the glut of games across different competitions and the shortened recovery time between them, the festive schedule is always tricky to navigate. The premium players from the big clubs can be a bit of a mirage through this period, as the top teams can dip into their deep rosters to rotate and recover, meaning less security of starts and FPL points. Given the packed fixture list and options available, I would be concerned about rotation around players like Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
For this reason, I’m going with Jamie Vardy as the most essential player. Barring injury, he’s a guaranteed starter and should continue his goal scoring form through a favorable run of fixtures for Leicester. The Foxes have looked the part, and Vardy crucially is scoring in a number of different ways against different types of opposition.
Chris: Sheffield United Defender John Lundstram
44% of FPL managers have John Lundstram at the moment. If you’re in the other 56%, what are you dawdling for? Grab him already! He’s the highest scoring “defender” in the game, and while you may have missed out on getting the out-of-position marvel at his bargain basement entry price (£4.0m), he’s still cheap as chips (£4.9m). On top of that, look at the schedule the Blades have coming up: at Wolves, v. Newcastle, at Norwich, v. Aston Villa, at Brighton & Hove Albion, v. Watford, at Manchester City, at Liverpool. Sure, GW 20 & 21 might prove painful, but GW 14-19 look absolutely glorious! Not only should Lundstram rack up the clean sheets, but he’ll constantly be in the mix for possible offensive returns and bonus points as well.
I’ve had Lundstram and his teammate, keeper Dean Henderson, in my fantasy team the entire season, and the only time I’ve regretted it is when I’ve left Lundstram on the bench. On top of that, I very recently also added a third Blade, defender Enda Stevens. Why? Among the top teams, Sheffield United also has the advantage of not having Champions League (Chelsea / Liverpool / Manchester City / Tottenham), Europa League (Arsenal / Manchester United / Wolves), Carabao Cup (Aston Villa / Everton / Leicester / Liverpool / Manchester City / Manchester United) or Club World Cup (Liverpool) commitments, so Lundstram & Co. should have little worry about suffering rotation from manager Chris Wilder. (Liverpool notably misses out on GW18 due to schedule reshuffling, which may slightly help ameliorate what would have been a supremely crowded fixture situation, but missing an EPL game makes their stars less valuable in this period.)
Darryl: Leicester Forward Jamie Vardy
The essential player for the crowded schedule is Jamie Vardy. He is currently the top scoring FPL player, but he is not essential for what he has already done, it’s the upcoming Leicester schedule that is the reason.
Home games in the immediate future against Everton, Watford, and Norwich City are highly appealing. The only thing that could slow him down during these games would be rest by Brendan Rodgers, but you should feel safe installing him in your lineup.
David: Leicester Forward Jamie Vardy
With 12 goals so far, Vardy is the EPL’s scoring leader and was the first (and so far, only) FPL player to crack 100 points this season. He is also the overall points leader in Fantrax. And there is every reason to expect Leicester’s hit man to maintain his torrid pace: while Leicester must face City and ‘Pool over their next eight games, the other six matches are against teams ranked in the bottom seven at the time I am writing this. And with no European tournament commitments to worry about, no player in the EPL is as immune to rotation as Vardy. His price is steep in Fantrax, but FPL’s leading player will only set you back £9.7 — he’s a screaming bargain in that format.
I really like Sadio Mané over the upcoming period as well, but the Senegalese has a Champions League commitment that will introduce the risk of injury and rotation, and Liverpool have a blank in Game Week 18. He also costs £12.2 — significantly more than the Foxes’ striker. I’ll work to fit both in over the next week or two, but if there can be only one, it’s got to be Vardy.
Do you have either or both of Vardy and/or Lundstram already in your teams. If not, who among the pair are you going to be sure to add? Is there anybody else instead who you think is the most essential player? Please answer the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section!
Who is the most essential player for FPL GW14-21?
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Other (name in comments)