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Week 5 Fantrax EPL Fantasy Player Picks: The Fifth Beatle

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As we return from the international break, don’t find yourself asking “What if...?”

Sergio Aguero - Manchester City - Premier League
Manchester City’s main man at Norwich, that sounds good Eight Days a Week!
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

If you have seen the movie Backbeat or are otherwise a rock history buff, you know the story of Stuart Sutcliffe. A.k.a. “The Fifth Beatle”. Sutcliffe left the Beatles in mid-1961 to pursue the arts, which of course sounds like a horribly crazy decision given the musical greatness and pop culture immortality that the newly refashioned quartet was on the cusp of experiencing. (Sutcliffe sadly died of an aneurysm in 1962, so the “What if he stayed?” question was never truly in the cards.)

Of course, according to Saturday Night Live, there may have been an entirely different Fifth Beatle, Clarence Walker. I’m not sure just how historically accurate that claim is.

Fantasy football isn’t just about the players you add, it’s largely also about those you hold. Dropping a player at a discount who ends up reaching superstardom as his price skyrockets will leave you feeling left out like the Fifth Beatle. So when you look at the list of players below, be sure to think long and hard as you consider whom you would have to jettison from your existing roster (especially if they are also on the list) in order to bring in any newcomer.

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[NOTES: Our pre-deadline confirmed lineups this week will be Liverpool and Newcastle.

Player prices shown below are at retail in the NMA-11 league; YMMV.]

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KEEPERS

Adrian ($7.49, Liverpool v. Newcastle)

Liverpool has conceded only three goals so far, while Newcastle has scored just the same amount. On top of that, Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Matt Ritchie are all either ruled out or unlikely to feature. Simply put, a clean sheet win and the 10+ points that come along with it are a very strong possibility.

Angus Gunn ($5.19, Southampton at Sheffield United)

After a slow start, Gunn is in peak form averaging 15.0 ppg over the past pair of fixtures, racking up ten saves while conceding only one goal. While this game comes away from home, both teams will likely approach it with a focus on defense and goals should be hard to come by.

Dean Henderson ($5.04, Sheffield United v. Southampton)

Henderson hasn’t been as good as I expected so far either in Fantrax (3.25 ppg) or Official FPL (3.5 ppg). But if the highly-regarded loanee from Manchester United could keep Crystal Palace scoreless at Bramall Lane, why can’t he do likewise against a Saints’ side likely to be missing key offensive cog Nathan Redmond through injury?

Mat Ryan ($3.20, Brighton v. Burnley)

Ryan tallied 18 points across the first two games, but he has turned upside down with -14 in the past pair. A tilt at American Express Community Stadium against mediocre Burnley will have budget-minded fantasy managers hoping for a return to early form.

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DEFENDERS

Arthur Masuaku ($8.48, West Ham at Aston Villa)

The best Masuaku has ever averaged in any of his three prior seasons is 5.7 ppg. But he has exploded for 10 and 19 in his past two games, and now he enjoys a favorable fixture at Villa Park, so he should be able to keep the mini-hot streak going.

Marcos Alonso ($7.37, Chelsea at Wolves)

Emerson Palmieri is a doubt due to injury picked up during international week. If he can’t go, then Marcos Alonso — who averaged 8.2 ppg last season — would be an interesting fill-in at wing defender as a former fantasy favorite with something to prove.

Yerry Mina ($6.55, Everton at Bournemouth)

After anonymously averaging only 3.0 ppg last season, Mina has suddenly turned consistently excellent this campaign, scoring 7+ in each game. Facing a solid Cherries offense at Vitality Stadium, I don’t love Mina’s chances at a clean sheet, but he should rack up plenty of phantom points battling Joshua King and Callum Wilson.

Tyrone Mings ($6.40, Aston Villa v. West Ham)

Mings has fallen off since his 16 point Week 1 outing, but even so, he has notched 5+ points in each of the other three tries. Like Mina, a shutout is unlikely, but the talent-laden Hammers’ offense should provide plenty of action for Mings.

Kyle Walker-Peters or Juan Foyth ($4.75 or $3.20, Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace)

KWP and Foyth both seem to have recovered from injury, and either right wing back would be great value starting at Tottenham Stadium against the struggling Eagles. Just be sure to check team news ahead of the deadline to see if Mauricio Pochettino tips his hand.

Caglar Soyuncu ($4.69, Leicester at Manchester United)

The Leicester defense has not missed a beat without Harry Maguire, thanks to a strong showing from Soyuncu who has scored 7 points each in three of his four games. The Foxes travel to Old Trafford, but with Anthony Martial an injury doubt, Romelu Lukaku gone, and the likes of Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton, and George Best long gone, this Manchester United attack does not inspire fear as it used to.

John Stones ($4.25, Manchester City at Norwich)

Assuming Stones passes fit following injury, he should slot straight back into the XI alongside Nicolas Otamendi now that Aymeric Laporte is set for a long spell on the trainers’ table. At just over four bucks, he’s a Bob Barker special because the price is right!

Cedric Soares ($3.99, Southampton at Sheffield United)

Cedric earned his first start in Week 4. If he continues in the XI, he offers excellent value the rest of the season. He has a trip to Sheffield in Week 5, and he averaged 7.3 ppg away last season.

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MIDFIELDERS

Christian Eriksen ($13.72, Tottenham v. Crystal Palace)

Eriksen’s transfer saga has been put to bed — at least until the winter — and his replacement-in-waiting, Giovani Lo Celso, just headed to the shelf with injury where he is expected to be sidelined for a while. The Palace defense is no picnic, but the Spurs’ maestro has notched two goals and four assists in his past seven games against the Eagles. With this game coming in London, he has a good chance to return value.

Daniel James ($12.79, Manchester United v. Leicester)

James is off to a scintillating start with the Red Devils, as spotlighted by David. In the past pair of games, the young winger has proven the team’s most influential attacker, notching nine shots (five on target) with two goals. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would surely prefer Marcus Rashford or injury doubt Anthony Martial to be the offensive focus, so you can’t expect James to keep up this form too long. However, I don’t see a reason not to give him another chance at Old Trafford, even against a solid Leicester outfit.

John McGinn ($12.62, Aston Villa v. West Ham)

In Week 2 home at Villa Park against Bournemouth, McGinn delivered 6 shots (3 SOT) while suffering 5 fouls for his best Fantrax return — 20 points — despite not scoring or getting an assist. Now West Ham comes to town, and this fixture should feature the same type of open feel. Lucasz Fabianski is used to facing plenty of attempts; this season has been no different, as the Fab Man has made 12 saves (8th most in the league) while conceding 7 goals (tied for 5th most), and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see McGinn pepper the net at will.

David Silva ($11.01, Manchester City at Norwich)

Pep Guardiola has given David Silva starts in both Citizens’ away games thus far, and the brilliant magician has erupted for four assists in the past two fixtures. Pep roulette is always a risk, but it may be worth jumping out on the limb this time.

Manuel Lanzini ($8.51, West Ham at Aston Villa)

Lanzini has hit double digit points in each of his past three games, with no goals and only one assist total to show for it. It should be easy money for a fourth straight 10+ outing at Villa, with the hope for a huge performance if he scores.

Manuel Lanzini - West Ham United - Premier League
Unlike Rodney Dangerfield, Manuel Lanzini gets plenty of respect from us here at NMA.
Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

Diogo Jota ($7.69, Wolves v. Chelsea) [dual M/F eligibility]

Jota has done two things so far this season: Jack and squat. But he’s a nice candidate for a breakout this week. Why? Well, Jota scored a goal with an assist in the pair of fixtures against Chelsea last year, and this Blues team is playing in a much more wide open style, allowing the 2nd most goals in the league (9).

Sean Longstaff ($4.81, Newcastle at Liverpool)

Longstaff has recovered from last season’s injury, starting the past two games and delivering 5 and 11 points. If you are seeking a budget enabler in midfield, look no further than the Magpies’ promising youngster. (I prefer him to fellow Newcastle midfielder Miguel Almiron at $4.46, although Almiron is worth keeping an eye on.)

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FORWARDS

Mo Salah ($23.65, Liverpool v. Newcastle)

He’s not cheap, but Salah is averaging 20 ppg at home this season, and he has notched three goals plus an assist in his four games against Newcastle.

Sergio Aguero ($22.14, Manchester City at Norwich City)

Kun has been absolutely on fire lately, scoring in all four games to start the season, with two successive braces to boot. With Gabriel Jesus returning to fitness following injury, many will worry that the Brazilian could pip the start from the Argentine at Norwich. Should you? Well, no, not if recent history is anything to go on. Aguero started 17 times away from the Etihad last season, while Jesus did so just once.

Sebastian Haller ($12.58, West Ham at Aston Villa)

24 points at Watford, 16 v. Norwich City, now what can Haller do at Aston Villa? More of the same, you say?

Nicolas Pepe ($7.86, Arsenal at Watford)

Points scored by Pepe in the first 4 weeks: 1, 4, 6, 11, that’s the direction we all like to see... upward! The French import has taken 11 shots (3 SOT) in the past two games, it sure feels like his first goal is coming, and this trip to last place Watford is as promising a match-up as any.

Moise Kean ($5.41, Everton at Bournemouth)

In the past two game weeks, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy have notched braces against Bournemouth. No, Moise Kean does not have anything close to the track record that those proven goal scorers have. But that’s why the young Italian is so cheap, and as the next forward in a single striker system facing the Cherries, there’s a mighty good chance he’ll hit pay dirt.

Andriy Yarmolenko ($3.20, West Ham at Aston Villa)

I’m not a fan of going the ultra-miser route at forward, but if you have a third striker spot open and have put all your money in other positions, Yarmolenko should be worth a punt. He’s coming off a goal against Norwich and should have little difficulty returning value with another favorable match-up at Villa Park.

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[NOTE: Statistics and prices used above come via the Fantrax fantasy Premier League site and the official Premier League site.]

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How is your team building going? Have you lost anybody to the dreaded international week injury curse? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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