The DGW list includes six teams in the top half of the table, four of which are “Big Six” sides stocked with talent. Normally such a slate would have us doing cartwheels!
Unfortunately, those same four Big Six teams are all in the midst of horrific fixture congestion, raising the specter of rotation to the front of our minds. Verily, ‘tis a conundrum. Which double-gamers should we fancy, and just how worried should we be for them getting enough minutes to justify spots in our fantasy squads? Are there any single-gamers who may prove more profitable?
THE DOUBLE GAMERS
[NOTE: Man City vs Tottenham kicks off the weekend, so be sure to check the confirmed XIs in pre-deadline chat before the Fantrax deadline!]
Manchester City (v. Tottenham, at Man United)
The Citizens face a gauntlet pair of games against two elite opponents. On top of that, they’re in the midst of absolutely brutal fixture congestion, with nine games in under a month. We’re likely to see plenty of “Pep Roulette”, and victories are far from assured. Thus, I’m staying away from the usual high-priced assets who would normally tempt (e.g. Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, and Ederson). But if you think that the shock Champions League exit to Tottenham tilts the table enough for you, go ahead, I’m certainly not stopping you.
The way of looking sharp in Sky Blue may come from their fit-again, under-priced (if they stay healthy) stars. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne ($6.45) has earned 5+ points in each of his past six games, with four double digit efforts in that span. Even if he only gets one start, he should more than return value. And if you get lucky with two starts — or even one start and one meaningful spell from the bench — you’ve got a chance at gold. Similarly, cut-rate defenders Benjamin Mendy ($5.06) and/or Vincent Kompany ($1.11) could also be worth a punt if you’re feeling frisky.
Tottenham (at Manchester City, v. Brighton)
Tottenham faces its own fixture congestion thanks to Champions League. Mauricio Pochettino would love to rest his stars, but with Harry Kane out injured, and the roster not blessed with the offensive depth of other top teams, that won’t be easy. So that makes Spurs’ assets pretty attractive! We already saw M/F Son Heung-Min ($13.56) rested for much of the 4-0 win over Huddersfield, so he may be the most likely to get two starts. M/F Lucas Moura ($10.11) is a fair bet as well, since he had plenty of time to relax on the bench when Kane was healthy. The hand injury to M/F Dele Alli ($8.34) was a blessing in disguise, at least for fantasy managers, since it gave him time to rest.
I’d lean away from Christian Eriksen, though. With the midfield maestro having racked up so many miles this season as usual, Poch will likely look to give him a break, and that would be particularly unfortunate (for us) if it came against a weak Brighton side, which makes all too much sense. Defense is the area where Spurs’ do have some depth, so expect rotation at that end of the pitch. It will be tough to predict which if any defenders can get two starts, but Kieran Trippier ($11.67) did get a game off last week; do you feel lucky? Keeper Hugo Lloris should see both games, but like Ederson, his high price tag makes it difficult for him to return value, even if only one of his two turns looks difficult.
Arsenal (v. Crystal Palace, at Wolves)
The pair of games for Arsenal comes in a rough stretch of six tilts in 18 days. So I’m staying away from offensive stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey; none of them seems overly likely for two starts thanks to Unai Emery’s chameleon line-ups. Alex Iwobi, Henrick Mkhitaryan, and Mesut Ozil always seem to have their starting status in doubt, so I’m not biting there either.
Instead, I like defenders Nacho Monreal ($6.78), Laurent Koscielny ($6.11) and Skhrodan Mustafi ($8.11), three among the quartet who featured in the 1-0 victory at Watford. Sokratis, Konstantinos Mavropanos and/or Sead Kolasinac could throw a wrench into things, so buyer beware.
Manchester United (at Everton, v. Manchester City)
The Red Devils’ pair of games certainly isn’t anything to write home about. But the silver lining of Champions League being over is that Manchester United can focus fully on the quest for a top four EPL finish.
On offense, I hesitate to add Paul Pogba, who is very pricey while also relying almost entirely upon penalty kicks for production; Everton has allowed five, and Manchester City four this season, making it more unlikely than likely that Manchester United will draw one in the two games. Likewise it is difficult to feel great about Romelu Lukaku, who is well-known for failing to score against top competition (hello Manchester City), and it’s tough to count on him performing well at Goodison Park. The fairly well-rested forward Marcus Rashford ($14.11) is far more appealing; having taken at least two shots on target in nine of his past 17 games, and having suffered 18 more fouls than he has conceded on the season, the active attack man can deliver points even if he doesn’t score or assist.
If you’re looking for cheap midfielders to take a punt on, Fred ($2.95) or Scott McTominay ($2.83) have gotten a lot of run lately and could pay off nicely; however, be sure to follow team news regarding Nemanja Matic, who is on his way back from injury.
Wolves (v. Brighton, v. Arsenal)
No Champions League concerns... a decent home side facing two home games against teams that struggle on the road... ding, ding — we have a winner! In-form striker Raul Jimenez ($15.84) and M/F strike partner Diogo Jota ($9.50) head the list as usual. Jimenez boasts six goals and three assists in his past eleven games, while Jota has two apiece in the past four tilts. Midfield play-maker Joao Moutinho ($9.72) has 6+ points in each of his past four tries. With Matt Doherty always seeming a risk of being given rest by Nuno Espirito Santo, Willy Boly ($12.61) has taken over as the premier Wolves defender, having scored 7+ points in five of his past six efforts.
Watford (at Huddersfield, v. Southampton)
Here we have another stand-out team for our consideration, Watford being a top half side going up against 16th and dead-20th, though Southampton has certainly been no pushover under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
With Troy Deeney beginning a three-game suspension for his straight red card against Arsenal, let’s start with forward Andre Gray ($5.17), who has two goals and two assists in his past eight games despite seeing limited minutes. Fellow forward Gerard Deulofeu ($8.22) is back in training. He is feast or famine, with four games of 7+ points and six of 4 or fewer in his past 10 appearances, but all you need is one big effort to return value.
Defender Craig Cathcart ($9.67) averages more points (5.7 ppg) on the road than at home (5.5 ppg), and keeper Ben Foster ($9.22) has done well when traveling to the other teams in the bottom five of the table (18 points at Brighton, 9 at Cardiff City, 5 at Fulham).
Southampton (at Newcastle, at Watford)
I’m not a fan of the two away fixtures, but as mentioned, the Saints have improved form considerably since Mark Hughes was sacked and Ralph Hasenhuttl took the reins. Most importantly for our purposes, a few players have emerged as worthy fantasy picks after languishing earlier in the season. Midfielder Nathan Redmond ($10.45) exploded for a brace last weekend and he could keep the momentum going, but he only had one double digit return in the prior seven games. That’s why I prefer fellow midfielder James Ward-Prowse ($8.84) who has hit 10+ in seven of his past 12 efforts.
On the other side of the pitch, there are some great options. Defender Jannik Vestergaard ($6.95) has notched 5+ points in five of his last six tries, while Maya Yoshida ($5.95) has done so in six of his past eight, and it’s 11 for 13 from Jan Bednarek ($6.78). My tiebreaker? Let’s go with Yoshida, who is averaging 7.67 ppg on the road this season. I also like keeper Angus Gunn ($3.11), who has averaged 7 ppg overall and 8 ppg on the road since taking over for Alex McCarthy.
Brighton (at Wolves, at Tottenham)
We all just witnessed what Brighton could do when gifted two home games against subpar competition: They turn their seasons around, which is to say the Seagulls reversed the other teams’ skids. The home fans even booed at the half during Cardiff’s visit.
Now they’re really up against it with two road games at top half teams. Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here — unless you want to take a flyer on a defender picking up loads of phantom points... Just kidding! Sell any Seagulls you are unlucky enough to still have left over from their abysmal DGW last week.
Normally I would load up my XI entirely with double-gamers, but given the possible rotation by the top teams, that does not have to be the case this time.
With Bournemouth at home against Fulham’s league-worst defense, nobody could quarrel if you went with the usual suspects: forward Callum Wilson ($12.73), and midfielders Ryan Fraser ($19.23) and David Brooks ($12.61). With three double digit efforts in his past five games, Fraser is the man in form, but he also costs the most, so your choice depends on your budget.
Chelsea’s M/F Eden Hazard ($24.84) is astronomically expensive, but he has scored 20+ points in each of his past three home games, and the Blues welcome Burnley to Stamford Bridge. But with three double digit returns in his past four games, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek ($5.39) is an even better bet to pay off at a double game clip in just the one affair.
Along the same lines as RLC, Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans ($3.83) disappointed last week with a single point, but even so has notched 7+ points in four of his past six games. Traveling to West Ham, he should be able to hit that mark again this time.
Crystal Palace defender Martin Kelly ($2.00) is a fine enabler, having returned to Roy Hodgson’s XI the past three games, bringing nice returns of 7, 5 and 6 points. With bashful Brighton (scoreless in their last five league matches) visiting Selhurst Park, there’s a very good chance of the clean sheet bonus.
What is your strategy for this late-in-season double game week? Which teams are you loading up on, and how are you balancing double-game stars with single-game players? Take the poll below and please elaborate further in the comments section!
How many double game players are you rolling with this week in your Fantrax XI?
This poll is closed
Loading up with all 11 !!!
9 or 10
7 or 8
5 or 6
3 or 4
1 or 2
None, I’m all about the single gamers!