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Week 26 Fantrax Player Picks: Barn Door Edition

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With most of the games ending by Monday, we’ve all had plenty of time to consider players for our teams ahead of the eventual price increase following today’s game. Whom should you grab before the barn door closes?

Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford - Manchester United - Premier League
Pogba and Rashford just can’t stop hooking up for goals.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

How many players did you load up on from Everton and Manchester City for their mini-double game week 25? Whether it’s a few or a lot, you’ve surely got some holes to fill, and you’ll likely largely be looking elsewhere than Toffees and Sky Blues. You won’t want to wait to set at least a first draft of your new team, so let’s get started ahead of the price change!

Before we do though, one thing to keep in mind is that there are four teams with blanks in Week 27: Brighton, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City. That doesn’t mean you should entirely avoid their players in Week 26, but if you’re going to add them, you’ll want a really good reason.

[Notes:

Player prices listed below are barn-door costs (before the post-Week 25 adjustment) for the standard 11-man NMA league. YMMV.

There’s one game that should show confirmed lineups in the hour before our deadline: Fulham v ManUtd]

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KEEPERS

David De Gea, ($10.24, Manchester United at Fulham)

De Gea has been feast (22, 32, and 16 points) or famine (-1 and 5 points) in the past five games, but oh what a wonderful time you have when it’s the former! The Red Devils are in fine form on both sides of the ball under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while the Cottagers have scored a goal or fewer in 11 of their past 12 league games.

Ben Foster ($8.28, Watford v. Everton)

Don’t look now — no, do look now — as Foster has scored double digits in four of his past five games, while the Toffees have managed just 5 goals total in their past 6 league contests prior to the Manchester City tilt.

Mat Ryan ($4.67, Brighton v. Burnley)

Ryan is averaging 6.0 ppg at home, and while the Clarets have picked things up a bit recently, Burnley’s offense remains one of the weakest in the EPL.

Tom Heaton ($3.84, Burnley at Brighton)

Since replacing Joe Hart, Heaton has scored 3, 15, and 9 points in his three away games, and Brighton certainly isn’t going to scare you. It seems that his job is safe from Nick Pope for the time being, but you will want to check team news closer to the deadline.

Vicente Guaita ($3.54, Crystal Palace v. West Ham)

Guaita is averaging 7.8 ppg at home, and while the Hammers may be coming off an impressive 1-1 draw against Liverpool at London Stadium, they have failed to score in their past three away matches.

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DEFENDERS

Joe Bryan ($5.95, Fulham v. Manchester United) [D/M eligible]

Unlike the Official FPL game, defenders on leaky teams can be attractive in Fantrax. Fulham’s Joe Bryan is an extreme case in point, given that he toils for the worst defense in the league. Bryan has scored 7+ points in four of his five home games, and he notched 10 in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. That’s pretty good for under 6 clams, eh?

Bernardo ($5.04, Brighton v. Burnley)

Bernardo has returned 6+ points in 7 of his past 9 games. However, he has been out injured recently. The hope is that he will pass fit this weekend and slot back into the XI, but keep an eye on team news.

Laurent Koscielny ($3.24, Arsenal at Huddersfield)

Koscielny’s injury fear ended up passing as a mere speculative trifle, as he followed up a 25 point effort with a 16 point outing. No, you can’t expect him to score every game, but even without the goals, he’d still be bringing a solid ROI.

Lee Peltier ($2.48, Cardiff at Southampton)

In Peltier’s last five starts, he’s provided 16, 0, 8, 5 and 7 points. Plus he’s cheap as chips. And now he travels to Southampton, not exactly the most feared offense. I like that combo!

Florian Lejeune ($1.58, Newcastle at Wolves)

Lejeune is averaging 6.3 ppg in his four starts, and that’s with only one clean sheet. Traveling to the Molineux will be no picnic, but he should pick up more than enough phantoms to justify his bargain basement cost... if he keeps starting, that is. Ciaran Clark looks to be available following injury recovery, so be sure to check team news to get an idea of how Rafa Benitez is leaning. If Clark ($6.17) and Fabian Schar ($7.45) are the preferred partnership in central defense, either (or both) could prove a good pick, albeit at a higher price than Lejeune.

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MIDFIELDERS

Paul Pogba ($20.63, Manchester United at Fulham)

Pogba is a guaranteed big performer at home, whereas he’s hit or miss on the road, scoring 19, 9, 20 and 8 points away from Old Trafford in the OGS era. At Craven Cottage against Fulham, I’m asking the dealer for a hit.

Marcus Rashford ($15.21, Manchester United at Fulham) [M/F eligible]

Unlike Pogba, Rashford has been impeccable on the road, scoring 16, 22, 15 and 18 in his past four tries. I’d normally consider him a forward, but with so many other appealing options at that position, Rashford’s eligibility at midfield makes him awfully attractive in that slot.

Matt Ritchie ($10.24, Newcastle at Wolves) [D/M eligible]

Ritchie has scored in double digits four straight games at all locations, and three consecutive tries on the road. This one’s at the Molineux, and Wolves boast a pretty good defense, but sometimes you just can’t argue with form. (Hat tip to community member Ken.)

James Ward-Prowse - Southampton FC - Premier League
James Ward-Prowse and Southampton are both in fine form. Coincidence?
Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

James Ward-Prowse ($6.78, Southampton v. Cardiff)

Notorious JWP is absolutely on fire, with three goals in his past four games, and he delivered 11 points at Burnley last weekend without even scoring. At home against Cardiff, that’s sweet music to your ears.

Kevin De Bruyne ($2.94, Manchester City v. Chelsea)

He’s already in your team, right? David and I keep having to put KDB and his criminally low price into our Player Picks every week because to do otherwise would be fantasy malpractice.

Ryan Babel ($1.20, Fulham v. Manchester United)

Babel scored 6 points in his first game, yet thanks to the wacky Fantrax pricing algorithm he plummeted from $7.00 to $1.00. Then he scored 10 points in his second match, and his cost skyrocketed all the way up to... $1.20. Of course, then he hit a snag with -3 in his third try, so his price might go back down to a buck. Sure, the former Red could be a dud again, but his two good games were at Craven Cottage, where he plays this weekend as well, so the hope is that he’ll give another strong performance in front of the faithful. (Doffing that cap to you yet again, Ken!)

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FORWARDS

Mo Salah ($24.39, Liverpool v. Bournemouth)

Liverpool is coming off two meek 1-1 efforts hosting Leicester and visiting West Ham, and the Egyptian superstar scored only 8 points total in that pair of matches. But Salah has notched 20+ points in three of his last four games at Anfield, and he delivered 31 points via hat trick in the reverse fixture at Bournemouth in early December. Amazingly, he still hasn’t gone three straight games without scoring a goal this season; do you really think it’s going to happen at home against the subpar Bournemouth defense?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($19.65, Arsenal at Huddersfield)

Auba loves to feast when the Gunners visit bad teams: 16 points at Cardiff, 24 at Fulham, 12 at Crystal Palace, 9 at Southampton, and 19 at Brighton. Do you think the road to Huddersfield qualifies? (Save your voice, that was rhetorical.) If you can’t quite afford Salah and/or PEA right now, their prices may tick down a bit after failing to score over the weekend, so you can look for that after the adjustment.

Sergio Aguero ($15.96, Manchester City v. Chelsea)

KDB and Kun are the only Citizens I advise keeping after the double game week. Why spend for Aguero? He’s averaging 15.1 ppg at home, with eight double-digit point efforts and five at 15+ in only eleven tries. Chelsea’s defense is pretty good, but these are not the lockdown Jose Mourinho era Blues.

Michy Batshuayi ($7.00, Crystal Palace v. West Ham)

Batman only played 8 minutes on his return to the EPL against Fulham... and he earned 10 points! I wouldn’t quite go so far as to extrapolate that production into 90 minutes, but if he starts at home against the Hammers, the borrowed Blue should easily more than cover his cost. Also, watch his price after the recalc; Fantrax is notorious for flooring new-boys on their first time through the mystery formula.

Gonzalo Higuain ($1.00, Chelsea at Manchester City)

Not only is Higgy surely not going to score another brace at the Etihad, but he’s likely not going to do much at all, plus Chelsea has a blank in Week 27. But even if he only scores a few points, that’s not much to pay for two weeks at a buck with an eye to reaping big rewards later. How much — or little — his price rises following the 23 point effort against Huddersfield will let you know if he’s indeed worth nabbing now and then holding onto, or if it makes more sense to wait and add him ahead of Week 28.

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How many players are you grabbing on the barn door before their prices rise? Whose cost are you instead waiting to see drop after a sub-par performance so you can get him for even cheaper? Please share your questions, thoughts and wisdom in the comments below!

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