Game Week 22 is in our rear-view window, so let’s take a look at how results ended up shaking out.
Manchester City’s 6-1 beat-down of Aston Villa produced massive returns for Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, and Gabriel Jesus. Headlining, Aguero registered his 12th Premier League hat-trick, surpassing the legendary Alan Shearer for the most hatties in EPL history. His result was a 41-point Fantrax bonanza, but you were also happy if you owned either of the other two Citizens, as they scored 28 and 23 respectively (and if you were prescient enough to own all three without any zeros from Pep roulette, then I want you picking my next powerball numbers).
You weren’t so pleased if Raheem Sterling was in your side though, as he watched from the bench while his teammates ran riot. Diego Rico and Jan Vertonghen were also left out of their teams’ lineups, burning fantasy managers who backed them to start.
Marcus Rashford and Danny Ings each tendered 23-point performances, Rashford on the strength of a brace that included a PK, and Ings due to a feverish Saints onslaught that saw him pepper the opposing goalkeeper before finally netting a late winner. Warning: Rashford limped out of his midweek cup match, so watch news carefully before the deadline.
Defenders Reece James and Brandon Williams also thrust themselves onto our Fantrax radar. Chelsea’s fullback combined beautifully with Callum Hudson-Odoi down the right flank and added an assist to clean-sheet points to earn +20. Williams put in an 18-point performance that should make it difficult for Luke Shaw to reclaim his place — Football365 is now calling Williams a “Shaw thing” (get it?). These exciting youngsters are definitely worth monitoring, as attacking fullbacks can be Fantrax gold for managers who identify them early (FPL too, if yer reading!).
As you might imagine, managers who had some of these game-week 22 high-performers did themselves some favors in the rankings. In the NMA-11 league, Team Colecole won the week with a tidy 145 point haul. Team OGL 1 was six points behind him in second, with Sparta FC and Team Captaingerrard sharing third place with 136. Team rabbitshaw was only one point behind them for fourth, and kcwjames25 and Team DavidBrian tied for fifth with 131.
On the season, Hall_oF_Fame sits atop the NMA-11 leaderboard with 2196 points, with Sparta FC in silver medal position with 2167. Team JCUnited1 is bringing up third place with 2153, and Team Colecole is in fourth with 2142. Team DavidBrian is fifth with 2132.
Awthena 154 won the week in the NMA-17 league with a score of 154, with bioHAZARDS coming in second with 150. 1998JJB PMA SAINTS and Team sakiv tied for third with 149, and Team DevilInRed and الهدف both finished on 144. Sir Boy United FC finished in fifth with 141.
Team minhtruong is leading overall in the NMA-17 league with 2709, while KMFC PADAWAN has dropped to second with 2692. Team c444si is in third place with 2659 and KMFC is in fourth with 2652. Team Rockdelux rounds out the podium in fifth place with 2641.
Finally, in the NMA-Sub league, Sir Boy United FC took the weekly honors with a score of 154, followed by Team Captaingerrard with 145. FC Bautista (hi Janice!) took third with 133 despite missing the Friday transfer deadline, and Voetbal FC was fourth with 125. 1998JJB PMA SAINTS finished in fifth with 121.
Team Captaingerrard’s strong game-week performance brought him to 2350 points on the season — enough to leapfrog Team DavidBrian (2327) into pole position. HELLENIC POWER sits in third with 2321, KMFC is in fourth with 2276, and OKIES rounds out the top five with 2259.
On the transfer front, we’re now halfway through the January window and although activity has been a bit slow, a few deals have gone through since I last updated you. In a move that could signal Christian Eriksen’s imminent departure, Tottenham brought in midfielder Gedson Fernandes on an 18-month loan with a £55M option to buy. He becomes Jose Mourinho’s first signing as Spurs’ manager and could slot into the action relatively soon.
Watford has signed an exciting 18 year-old Brazilian sensation named Joao Pedro as well as Argentinian winger Ignacio Pussetto. Finally, due to Lukasz Fabianski’s tricky hip and Tom Heaton’s season-ending knee injury, West Ham has brought back former Hammer Darren Randolph, and Aston Villa has brought in former Liverpool GK Pepe Reina.
Below is the schedule for the weekend, followed by my picks. Please note that the early game this week is Watford vs Tottenham. Be sure to log in to our Pre-Deadline Chat for confirmed lineups for that match ahead of the Fantrax deadline.
- Watford vs Tottenham
- Arsenal vs Sheffield United
- Brighton vs Aston Villa
- Manchester City vs Crystal Palace
- Norwich vs Bournemouth
- Southampton vs Wolves
- West Ham vs Everton
- Newcastle vs Chelsea
Jordan Pickford ($6.00, WHU vs EVE): Since December 1, Everton’s only losses have come at the hands of the league’s top three teams: Liverpool, Leicester, and Manchester City. The Toffees are undefeated in the other six matches they’ve played, keeping two clean sheets and never shipping more than one goal. On the other hand, the Hammers have scored more than a single goal only once during that same period and sit just one point above the drop zone.
Tim Krul ($3.67, NOR vs BOU): This 6-pointer “Battle at the Bottom” sees the league’s two worst teams face off against each other. But although his team is poor, Tim Krul is excellent, and over their last eight games Bournemouth have scored a grand total of just two goals. Add home-field advantage, and you have a 1-week punt.
Reece James ($5.59, NEW vs CHE): His runs down the right flank offer you the potential for attacking returns, and against the Magpies Chelsea could even manage another clean sheet. With returns of 20 and 9 in his last two matches, James offers great value at an affordable price.
Djibril Sidibe ($8.59, NEW vs EVE): His five-point tally in Everton’s last match broke a string of five straight games with double-digit returns. That was an anomaly, and he should revert to the norm against Newcastle.
Joseph Gomez ($4.25, LIV vs MUN): Liverpool have collected six straight clean sheets, and the Reds are especially strong at Anfield. If you’re shopping at retail, Gomez is the only affordable route into the Reds’ back line, and his average return is exactly equal to his price.
João Cancelo ($4.25, MCI vs CRY): While we’ve learned not to rely on City for clean sheets, their chances of one here are decent: Palace’s offense has managed just 20 goals all season. Cancelo’s start against Villa was his second in a row, and his performance at both ends of the pitch should earn him another this week.
Christoph Zimmerman ($4.67, NOR vs BOU): United shellacked the Canaries 4-0 last weekend, but Zimmerman still returned 11 points. Indeed, despite Norwich’s poor results (they haven’t won a game since November), Zimmerman is averaging over 5 ppg. I bet he’ll do better than that when the similarly-lousy Cherries visit.
Pablo Zabaleta ($1.83, WHU vs EVE): Zabaleta started in place of the injured Ryan Fredericks last weekend, and with Fredericks not expected to return for weeks, the Argentinian should be set to continue. Do not expect to see the 34 year-old bombing down the flank, but he’s still a capable defender and a solid fantasy enabler.
Danny Drinkwater ($1.00, BHA vs AVL): Danny must have a closet full of jerseys: Leicester sold him to Chelsea who loaned him to Burnley ()who hardly used him) then recalled him to loan again, this time to Villa. We infer that the latest moves are designed to get him more minutes. The Blues paid £35M, but you can buy him right now for $1. It’s true he’s now only a shadow of the player he was when he called the King Power Stadium home, but as long as injuries to others ensure starts for Drinkwater, “Dollar-Boy” Danny will make a decent enabler.
Pascal Gross ($9.01, BRI vs AVL): Brighton’s main creative force welcomes Villa’s porous defense to the Amex this weekend. Aaron Mooy ($5.09) is another Seagull who could reward investment if he looks set to pass fit.
Richarlison ($18.85, WHU vs EVE): With attacking returns in three straight games — including an away goal against Manchester City — Richarlison has been justifying his high price lately. London Stadium should provide fertile ground for more production from the Brazilian.
James Maddison ($19.43, BUR vs LEI): The seven points that Maddison registered in the loss to Southampton over the weekend was his fourth single-digit return in his last five games. But the sting of that defeat should motivate the Foxes for their trip to Turf Moor, and Burnley’s accommodating defense will present Maddison with a great opportunity to resume the outsized Fantrax hauls we have come to expect from him.
Ayoze Pérez ($11.34, BUR vs LEI): Like Maddison, Pérez was stifled by an inspired Saints team that was playing to restore its honor. But Pérez racked up a goal and three assists in the two games prior, so he’ll look for a return to form against Burnley.
Riyad Mahrez ($18.51, MCI vs CPL): He was cheaper before the assist and two goals he notched in the blowout win over Aston Villa, but given that he’s produced a goal or a helper in seven of City’s last ten matches, his high price could be worth it this weekend (if he survives Pep roulette).
Emiliano Buendia ($13.09, NOR vs BOU) or Todd Cantwell ($12.59, NOR vs BOU): Cantwell is more likely to give you goals, while Buendia is more likely to collect phantoms. Pick the player that suits your style for this relegation-zone rumble where I expect the Canaries to go at the Cherries with everything they’ve got.
Gerard Deulofeu ($13.76, WAT vs TOT): Deulofeu’s influence has increased as Watford’s performances have rebounded, and this week his marker will be Serge Aurier. I predict joy for the Spaniard.
Abdoulaye Doucoure ($6.51, WAT vs TOT): Double-digits in three straight, and yet he still costs less than $7.
Ismaila Sarr ($8.17, WAT vs TOT): Averaging more than 12 ppg over his last five matches, Sarr is a great value at his current price.
Neal Maupay ($11.93, BRI vs AVL): Maupay had a string of three goals in a row before going silent over his last five matches. A home appointment with the leaky Villans could be just the prescription to get the Frenchman back on track.
Callum Hudson-Odoi ($3.67, NEW vs CHE): A Blues fan-favorite, CHO took advantage of Christian Pulisic’s injury absence last week to score in his first full shift of the season. That should be enough to keep him in Frank Lampard’s starting eleven. And he’s been taking corners too, so for $3.67 he’s a great option for budget-strapped Fantrax managers this week.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin ($9.51, WHU vs EVE): DCL has been quiet for a couple of games, so he’s due for a goal or two. A trip to London Stadium offers him a fine chance.
Mo Salah ($17.93, LIV vs MUN): This is the weekend’s marquee match, and there’s no way Jurgen Klopp will want the Red Devils to be the team to bring LIV’s incredible unbeaten streak to an end, especially in front of the home crowd at Anfield. I therefore expect a full-octane ‘Pool attack, and we all know what that could mean for the Egyptian Magician. (Also, can you believe he costs less than Richarlison or Tammy Abraham?)
Sergio Aguero ($14.68, MCI vs CPL) or Gabriel Jesus ($15.51, MCI vs CPL): Proving that he is simply impossible to predict, Pep Guardiola started both of these guys against Villa and the results were spectacular (although that result also had a lot to do with the huge gulf in talent between the two clubs). So will it be one, the other, or both this week? Beats me, but if you’re willing to toss a marble onto Pep’s roulette wheel you could win big with one (or both?) of these men this week.
Teemu Pukki ($14.43, NOR vs BOU): Now back in training after recovering from a hamstring injury, Pukki will be licking his chops at the prospect of facing the floundering Cherries, who have kept just one clean sheet since the middle of November.
Danny Ings ($17.93, SOU vs WOL): Determined to avenge their humiliating home defeat in October, the Saints poured everything they had at Leicester over the weekend. Ings had 5 SOTs and hit the woodwork twice before finally slotting home the winner in the 81st minute. The end result? Twenty-three points despite a yellow card. Calling Ingsy’s form a purple patch would be an understatement, and he is showing no signs of letting up.
Troy Deeney ($5.34, WAT vs TOT): I loves me some Troy Deeney. He is not the most gifted striker the Prem has ever seen. He has never won, and will never win, the Golden Boot. But he’s been a loyal Hornet and model professional for the past decade, and the leadership he brings to the squad he captains is crucially important. He has missed about half this season through injury, but with four goals in his last five games, he’s fit and firing on all cylinders now.
Are you as sanguine on Watford’s players as I am this week? Do you think Pep will start Aguero or Jesus, or both? Will Raheem Sterling return to City’s starting lineup? Will Sterling bump one of your favorites to the bench? Who are you dropping this week, and who are you picking up? Please let us know in the comments below!