If you look at the Premier League schedule, you can see that the crowded festive period technically begins in Game-Week 14 and runs through GW21. However, it could be argued that it actually began a couple of game weeks ago. Loads of stars played in GW12, featured for their national teams during the international break, then jumped back into GW13 action, which was followed by Champions League or Europa League affairs, and now they trod back onto the pitch for GW14. GW15 will bring us midweek Premier League affairs, and there’s no rest for the wicked the next weekend with GW16.
Whichever way you look at it, the players are, and will be, dealing with physical fatigue, and fantasy managers accordingly face mental exhaustion as fitness doubts and rotation worries begin to pile up. And then there are some more cups for good measure. Right now, though, thankfully there are plenty of good options for GW14, so let’s get going!
[NOTES: Newcastle v. Manchester City is the first game and will allow Fantrax fantasy managers to see confirmed XIs prior to the deadline. Yes, Pep roulette can be nullified!
Prices shown below are for the Fantrax NMA-11 league; YMMV.]
Alisson Becker ($6.66, Liverpool v. Brighton)
It would have been nice to grab Alisson at $5.65 on the barn door (or for GW13 action when he scored 11 points), which will probably be his lowest price all season. However, $6.66 isn’t too shabby for a player who averaged 8.9 ppg last term. Liverpool’s defense has been maddeningly unable to deliver clean sheets, with just two so far, despite conceding the second-fewest goals in the league.
Having given up exactly one goal a seemingly inconceivable 11 times, the luck should turn toward more blanks, and with low-octane Brighton coming to Anfield, it’s a good time and place for that change of fortune to start. After all, the Seagulls have already suffered five clean sheets this season overall, and have only scored five goals on the road, tying for third-fewest in that category. On top of that, forward Neil Connolly is out injured.
Kepa Arrizabalaga ($5.97, Chelsea v. West Ham United)
$5.97 for a keeper averaging 2.96 ppg on the season does not sound like a good deal on the surface. But he has scored double digit points in each of his past three games at Stamford Bridge, and the Hammers have failed to score in three of their past four away tries.
Paulo Gazzaniga ($3.17, Tottenham v. Bournemouth)
If you’re looking for a budget option, Hugo Lloris’ injury fill-in is a good one, especially at home welcoming a Bournemouth side that has scored only three times total in the past six games.
Serge Aurier ($6.63, Tottenham v. Bournemouth)
Aurier has played eight games this season. In his four best games this season, he’s averaged 11.5 ppg. In his worst four, he’s put forth 1.8 ppg. If you’re tossing a coin, chances are that it lands on the good side being at home against the Cherries.
Ryan Bertrand ($4.32, Southampton v. Watford)
Bertrand’s price went down following his red card in GW10, and he scored 11 points in his first game back. Now a player who averaged 5+ ppg each of the past five seasons is at home against the worst team in the league. Jack Stephens ($3.90) and Cedric Soares ($3.39) are other good options to consider in the Saints’ defense if you feel like doubling or tripling up.
Phil Bardsley ($3.84, Burnley v. Crystal Palace)
Since returning from injury, all Bardsley has done is score 12 and 15 points. David tipped him in his picks last week (glad I listened!), and it would be malpractice of me not to do likewise this time around.
Charlie Taylor ($5.17, Burnley v. Crystal Palace)
Taylor has started the past two games, scoring 8 and 9 points. Turf Moor welcomes an Eagles side which has scored only 11 times this season, tied for second-fewest in the league, so there’s a good chance at getting the clean sheet bonus on top of his other contributions.
Sam Byram ($3.58, Norwich v. Arsenal)
Byram started last week in the 2-0 victory at Everton, returning 8 points. In the other two games he’s played at least a half, he has delivered 6 and 10 points. As long as he keeps starting, Byram should bring excellent value. But you’ll want to be sure to check team news for the battered and bruised Canaries ahead of the weekend to make sure that Byram is still in the plans for the XI.
James Tomkins ($3.54, Crystal Palace at Burnley)
Like Bertrand, Tomkins has a track record averaging 5+ ppg in recent seasons, and he is the beneficiary of not playing a chunk of this season. He has supercharged earnings by scoring 8 points in each of the past pair of games after two poor performances returning from injury. A clean sheet this weekend would seem unlikely, but it should be a defensive-minded fixture at Turf Moor and Tomkins should be able to pick up plenty of phantom points battling Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes.
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo ($3.24, Aston Villa at Manchester United)
Konsa Ngoyo has scored 5 and 13 points in his first two starts for Villa. Now Villa’s schedule gets extremely brutal — at Manchester United, at Chelsea, v. Leicester, at Sheffield United — so I certainly wouldn’t recommend any of the Villans in attack. But often tough competition can actually work to a defender’s advantage in the Fantrax scoring system.
Brandon Williams ($2.35, Manchester United v. Aston Villa)
Scoring 3 and 10 points in his two starts, the young Williams seems to have won the left back position from Luke Shaw. Now 15th place Villa comes to Old Trafford, so let the good times roll.
Hector Bellerin ($1.93, Arsenal at Norwich City)
Continuing with the theme here, Bellerin has scored 4 and 5 points since returning from injury. Even with the shock two-goal effort at Everton last week, Norwich’s offense has struggled lately. Arsenal should be on the front foot, giving Bellerin plenty of chances to contribute on both ends of the pitch.
Sadio Mane ($20.83, Liverpool v. Brighton) [M/F eligible]
With Mo Salah’s ankle issue, Mane has been the focal point of the Liverpool offense. As the Reds welcome 12th place Brighton to Anfield, Mane is an excellent premium pick if you have the funds available. His dual positional eligibility makes him even more attractive, allowing you to fit in three pure strikers.
James Maddison ($18.98, Leicester v. Everton)
He’s not cheap, but there’s a reason that Madd Man has hit double digits for six of the past seven games. At home against struggling Toffees, I expect that to be seven in eight.
Marcus Rashford ($18.64, Manchester United v. Aston Villa) [M/F eligible]
Marcus Rashford is in fine recent form, having scored 18+ points in three of his past four games. With 15th place Aston Villa coming to Old Trafford, you won’t mind the match-up either.
Son Heung-Min ($15.24, Tottenham v. Bournemouth) [M/F eligible]
21 points in Mauricio Pochettino’s final game, 22 points in Jose Mourinho’s first game, it doesn’t matter who Son plays for, he delivers.
James Ward-Prowse ($14.87, Southampton v. Watford)
The Notorious JWP has scored in double digits each of the past five games, and now 20th place Watford comes to St. Mary’s. I do worry that he may lose the #1 PK job to Danny Ings, but even if that is the case, he should still be able to score well.
Christian Pulisic ($12.51, Chelsea v. West Ham)
The American star was a dud at Manchester City with a return of -1. But West Ham is not Manchester City, and this one’s at Stamford Bridge.
Diogo Jota ($9.54, Wolves v. Sheffield United) [M/F eligible]
Raul Jimenez has been the one in the goals for the Wolves’ attack, but cut-rate option Jota has been a beehive of activity with 14 shots and 7 SOT in the past four games. The Blades do have a solid defense, but this game is at the Molineux, and Jota is overdue for a goal.
Lucas Moura ($8.34, Tottenham v. Bournemouth) [M/F eligible]
In his first game in charge of Spurs, Mou turned to Lucas Moura to start on the wing, and Moura responded with a goal. I’m not saying the Brazilian blur is going to bust the net every game going forward, but when he starts, he always brings a good chance of returning value, unlike when he languished largely on the bench under Poch.
Deli Alli ($6.55, Tottenham v. Bournemouth)
Eschewing the likes of Christian Eriksen and Giovanni Lo Celso, Mourinho utilized Dele Alli in the playmaking midfield role against West Ham, and it worked wonders as Alli delivered the assist on the game’s first goal as well as the hockey assist on the second.
Michail Antonio ($6.22, West Ham at Chelsea)
Antonio has exploded for 15 and 17 points off the bench the past two games, and should be pressing for a start. The match-up isn’t the most favorable, but we know that Antonio will shoot on sight, so even if he doesn’t score, he should be able to more than return value as long as he’s given enough minutes.
Jamie Vardy ($22.57, Leicester v. Everton)
Vardy has scored nine goals with two assists in the past seven games, averaging 18.6 ppg in that stretch. If you’ve held off adding him to your team this long, you might just want to give in and get him now. After all, King Power welcomes reeling Everton, which has only one win on the road this season and is coming off an embarrassing 2-0 home loss against Norwich.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($18.98, Arsenal at Norwich)
PEA has faced two bad teams on the road this season, scoring 15 points at Newcastle and 21 at Watford. At Norwich this week offers another chance to perform in like fashion.
Raheem Sterling ($18.01, Manchester City at Newcastle)
Manchester City, and its players, tend to perform much better at home than on the road. However, Sterling has been an aberration, with five of his seven goals and his only assist coming away from the Etihad so far this season. With Sergio Aguero injured, Sterling will shoulder more of the offensive load, and the Sky Blues head to St. James’ Park as heavy favorites over the 14th place Magpies. As a bonus, Man City’s starting lineup should be confirmed in the hour before our Fantrax deadline, granting Man City assets extra value to those who can tune in then to fine tune.
Harry Kane ($15.60, Tottenham v. Bournemouth)
The Tottenham talisman comes off a brilliant brace in midweek Champions League action in front of the home fans, and will look to keep the momentum going domestically in London.
Gerard Deulofeu ($13.50, Watford at Southampton)
Deulofeu has delivered 18, 20, and 13 points in his past three games, thanks to two goals, one assist, nine shots and five shots on target. The Hornets are bad, but the Saints are even worse; that’s what you get when 19th place travels to 20th place. It may not be a fixture that anybody wants to watch, but that doesn’t mean you should shirk away from fantasy investment.
Willian ($13.02, Chelsea v. West Ham)
Before the Manchester City game, Willian had reached double digits in five of the past six tries. Sometimes you fall off the horse. Now Willian should get back on in flying fashion.
Danny Ings ($12.87, Southampton v. Watford)
As mentioned, I think there is a good possibility that Ings retakes primary PK designation from JWP, which helps Ings cause. But even without it, Ings has scored in five of his past seven games, and now the awful Hornets visit S’ton.
Chris Wood ($12.25, Burnley v. Crystal Palace)
Wood has six goals in as many games. The Clarets’ offense is rolling, having scored three times in each of the past two games and now welcoming a Palace team that gives up just a shade under two goals per game on the road.
Alexandre Lacazette ($12.14, Arsenal at Norwich)
Lacazette has hit double digits in three of his past four games, and while the Gunners hit the road, it’s against the Canaries who have allowed the second most goals at home (16) this season, fewer than only Southampton.
Gabriel Jesus ($9.43, Manchester City at Newcastle)
I had the injured Sergio Aguero in my Champions League fantasy team and simply transferred him out in favor of the considerably cheaper Gabriel Jesus to free up some funds. If you have Kun in your EPL Fantrax teams, you may want to do likewise.
[NOTE: Player prices, EPL and fantasy statistics came via Fantrax; EPL table and fixture information came via the official Premier League site; EPL team home/away table came via SoccerStats.]
Which of the above players are already in your teams? Which are in your plans for the weekend? Who else are you sure to rely on? Please let us know in the comments!