Game Week 1 of the 2019-20 English Premier League campaign has come and gone, and we’ve been treated to our first official look at its teams and players. Some of them dazzled other while others disappointed, and as fantasy managers it’s now up to us to decide whether our first impressions are accurate or misleading.
We also need to evaluate the effect that Fantrax’s first price recalculation of the season has had on players’ fantasy appeal. This early in the season, the salary changes can be erratic. Big hikes might turn us away from some who looked very attractive last week, while big drops may now bring into consideration some who failed to capture our interest.
We’re here to help you navigate these tricky waters, just as we will be ahead of every game week. Below I’ve listed the slate of fixtures on tap for Round 2, followed by my best ideas for your Fantrax sides. A couple things to point out though:
First, our Fantrax Player Picks articles will always center on the NMA-11 league, not the NMA-17 or NMA-sub leagues. Player pricing, fantasy values, and management strategies will be slightly different in those other two (very fun) variations. We welcome and encourage questions and advice about the -17 and -sub leagues in the Comments section though, of course. We want to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Second, this week’s early game is Arsenal v Burnley. Be sure to join us in our GW-2 Pre-Deadline Chat for confirmed lineups ahead of the Fantrax deadline, as well as all the other late-breaking team news you need to know to set up your fantasy squads for success.
Saturday 17 August 2019
- Arsenal vs Burnley
- Aston Villa vs Bournemouth
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham
- Everton vs Watford
- Norwich City vs Newcastle
- Southampton vs Liverpool
- Manchester City vs Tottenham
Sunday 18 August 2019
Monday 19 August 2019
Tom Heaton ($3.80, AVL v BOU): Villa surrendered three goals to Tottenham on Saturday, but not for any lack of talent on Heaton’s part. This week the Villans face Bournemouth at Villa Park, so a win, clean sheet, and save points are all possible. At $3.80, he won’t need all of those things to return value.
Tim Krul ($3.80, NOR vs NEW): Like Heaton, Krul also got battered by elite opposition last week. But this time he’ll be squaring up to Newcastle, whose offense is one heck of a far cry from Liverpool’s.
Adrian ($3.80, SOU vs LIV): The Reds sported the best defense in the league last year, while only 5 teams scored fewer goals than the Saints. Alisson is sidelined with a calf injury for the next few weeks, so his deputy represents a cut-rate route into ‘Pool’s premium defense.
Tyrone Mings ($7.09, AVL v BOU): The 26 year-old Englishman was an absolute beast against Tottenham, adding an assist to tons of heroic defending to register 16 points without the benefit of a clean sheet. On Saturday he’ll host a side that only managed a single goal against a newly-promoted team last week. He probably won’t rack up the massive defensive returns he accumulated while beating back Tottenham’s withering second-half onslaught, but a clean sheet could be in store this time.
Joel Ward ($4.45, SHU v CRY), Martin Kelley ($5.48, SHU v CRY): Both of these Eagles notched nine points in the scoreless draw with Everton, and there could be another clean sheet in the cards when Palace travel to Bramall Lane — the Blades required an 88th-minute equalizer to salvage a 1-1 tie at Bournemouth last weekend.
Yerry Mina ($4.94, EVE v WAT): Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman are the high-flyers in the Toffee defense, but Mina is perhaps the best bargain among the back four. Watford failed to score at home against Brighton last week, so Mina could be in line for another clean sheet on Saturday.
Trent Alexander-Arnold ($16.48, SOU v LIV): On last season’s final day, TAA broke the record for most assists by a Premier League defender. On Friday, he picked up right where he left off, lobbing a helper to Divock Origi that made the Englishman only the eighth player to notch an assist in five straight Premier League matches. Actual defending is not the fullback’s strong suit, of course, but do we really care? He rewarded fantasy owners with 15 points last week, despite the lack of a clean sheet. That performance bumped his price a bit though, so if you can’t find room in your budget for TAA, Andrew Robertson costs $5 less and is also an excellent play.
Max Aarons ($5.91, NOR v NEW): Facing Liverpool at Anfield is a tough introduction to life in the Premier League. But Aarons still managed to eke out 5 points, and this week it’s Newcastle at Carrow Road. Double-digits would not surprise me this time around.
Emerson ($7.76, CHE v LEI): Manchester United thrashed the Blues 4-0, yet Emerson somehow still emerged with 16 points — only two Fantrax defenders performed better than that. His three shots on target, one accurate cross, and one corner-forced were more than enough to compensate for Chelsea’s defensive frailties.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles ($8.08, ARS v BUR): AMN is classified as a midfielder but is playing out-of-position as a right back while Héctor Bellerín recovers from an ACL injury. That makes the Englishman eligible for clean sheet points in addition to his attacking returns, and indeed he piled a CS on top of an assist against Newcastle for a 14 point Fantrax bonanza. This week AMN will host Burnley, whose goal tally in the last campaign was just one spot above the table’s lowest quartile. AMN could once again gather points from both sides of the ball, then.
Kevin De Bruyne ($8.84, MCI v TOT): Hopefully you already owned the Dutchman before his price jumped from less than $6 to nearly $9. But if you didn’t, it’s not too late — he’s still a steal at his current price. Yes, Tottenham are tough opposition, but that makes it even more likely that Pep will name KDB in the S11, and we all know what the Citizens are capable of on home soil. For me he’s set-and-forget unless injured.
Jack Grealish ($8.25, AVL v BOU): With 12 points against Tottenham despite no goals and no assists, this guy looks set to become a Phantom Menace. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do against Bournemouth at Villa Park.
Youri Tielemans ($3.80, CHE v LEI): He only managed a single point in the 0-0 draw with Wolves, but we know that’s not reflective of this guy’s track record — he scored 3 goals and notched 4 assists in just 13 games last season. Price hitting the floor now, he’s a no-brainer for the trip to Stamford Bridge, where Frank Lampard’s brand of football ought to offer the Foxes plenty of chances to expose the Blues’ sketchy defense.
Sadio Mané (M/F, $13.57, SOU v LIV): Does Mo Salah’s price tag give you palpitations? Then maybe consider his Senegalese teammate instead. Mané’s 16-minute cameo against Norwich dropped his price to a level that makes him a pretty ridiculous bargain: This guy shared the Golden Boot last year, remember? (Note that Mané only recently returned from summer national team exertions, and that ‘Pool play Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup today. Follow team news for clues to whether Mané might start against the Saints).
Emiliano Buendia ($7.43, NOR v NEW): The 22 year-old Argentine recorded an assist and two SOTs at Anfield on Friday. If not for a yellow card, he’d have returned 13 points. Imagine what he can do at home against Newcastle.
Manuel Lanzini ($3.80, BRI v WHU): Lanzini’s last EPL campaign was ruined by an ACL rupture he suffered while training with Argentina ahead of the 2018 World Cup. He has completely recovered now though, and managed to squeeze out 5 points against the defending champs on Saturday. He’ll look forward to softer opposition this week.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($18.32), Alexandre Lacazette ($9.48), Nicolas Pépé ($5.16, ARS v BUR): Arsenal will be taking one of the Prem’s most formidable front lines to Turf Moor on Saturday. Isn’t it nice that there’s a Gunner forward option in every Fantrax price range? Pick whichever man your budget allows, but I wouldn’t go without at least one of them this weekend.
Moise Kean ($5.16, EVE v WAT): Everton failed to score at Selhurst Park last weekend, so Marco Silva could be ready to play Kean from the opening whistle this time. At a hair over $5, he won’t need to do much to reward your investment.
Jamie Vardy ($11.75, CHE v LEI): Chelsea’s defense looks dicey; Vardy takes pens and has an outstanding crew of creative midfielders supporting him.
Mo Salah ($22.28, SOU v LIV): Yes he’ll eat up nearly a quarter of your budget. But he’s perhaps the most explosive player in the league, and since the beginning of the preseason the Reds have scored twice as many goals on the road as they have at Anfield. Oh, also: The Saints aren’t very good.
Divock Origi ($10.32, SOU v LIV): ‘Pool play in the UEFA Super Cup today. Follow the lineups and injuries from that game for clues about whether Origi looks likely to start in the league on Saturday. If he does, another 20+ points wouldn’t be out of the question.
Sergio Aguero ($15.83, MCI v TOT): It’s a home game against Spurs, so I think Kun will get the start. His price makes him a bit of a risk, but City’s offense is devastating on its own pitch and Spurs are just not in the same class as the Sky Blues. Aguero takes pens, too.
Teemu Pukki ($10.47, NOR v NEW): Pukki made his EPL debut in style on Friday, slipping one past Liverpool to notch a consolation goal against the Champions League title-holders. He’ll be bursting with confidence ahead of the home tie with lowly Newcastle.
Sébastien Haller ($8.43, BRI v WHU): Haller came away with 9 points in the futile effort against the Manchester City juggernaut, so his prospects look pretty positive for the trip to Brighton.
Which of my picks will be in your squad? Which won’t? Anybody I’ve missed? What variations on strategy are you pursuing in NMA-17 and NMA-sub? Please tell us all about it in the Comments below.