Game weeks like this are fairly easy in Fantrax. It’s a double game week, so we’ll take the usual strategy of loading up (for the most part) on the sides featuring twice. The simple part is that we don’t have to pick and choose from too many teams since there are only two teams with a pair of fixtures!
So let’s get started with Liverpool and West Ham. The games are spread out over two weeks (with FA cup matches on the intervening weekend), thankfully leaving us little worry about rest/rotation... unless the Wednesday-to-Saturday gap before gw-25 worries you.
With DGW-24 starting on Tuesday, don’t delay, go get started tinkering with your fantasy teams on the barn door!
[NOTES: Prices shown are barn door costs (pre-price change) for the Fantrax NMA-11 league; YMMV. Five games kick off the game week on Tuesday, so 10 teams will have confirmed starting-XIs available before the Fantrax deadline: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brighton, Bournemouth, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Newcastle, Southampton, and Watford.]
THE DOUBLE GAME TEAMS
LIVERPOOL: at Wolves, at West Ham
WEST HAM: at Leicester, v. Liverpool
Two away games for Liverpool, and two very tough fixtures for West Ham. Neither is overwhelmingly appealing, but still, two games for the price of one? I’ll take it!
Alisson ($9.26) has been a points bonanza since his return from injury in Week 17, and he is not a rotation risk, so he is the super safe pick. The likelihood of him having two bad games is low. Even if he only delivers one good game, he should more than return value. If you can fit him in, you really should, and the chances are that you already have him at a huge discount anyway, right?
With Lucasz Fabianski out injured, that leaves Darren Randolph ($7.00) as the only somewhat cheaper Hammers’ option. But unlike David Martin or Roberto Jimenez, he isn’t cheap enough relative to Alisson to justify taking the chance. After all, coming in at the new player entry price, he’s actually more expensive than Fabianski who was averaging 7 ppg, and in two tough matches, any West Ham keeper could go negative. Yeesh! Avoid; it would be better to choose / stick with a good single gamer if you can’t get Alisson.
As Jurgen Klopp’s security blanket, Liverpool’s central defender Virgil van Dijk ($11.51) is the safest pick, the least likely player (after Alisson) of being rested on the team. Alert: He scored big this weekend, so get him on the barn door if you want him at all.
Wing backs Trent Alexander-Arnold ($20.27) and Andrew Robertson ($14.18) have a bit more worry involving rotation, but should bring better returns if they feature twice. Of course, they also cost more. As for VvD’s central partner, Joseph Gomez ($4.25) has been playing regularly lately, but Joel Matip ($4.00) and Dejan Lovren ($3.59) have both returned to fitness and leave too much uncertainty, so I’d stay away from that potential nightmare unless you already have him as an enabler and are content with a single-game return while putting cash to work elsewhere.
West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell ($8.92) is cheaper than any of Liverpool’s big three defenders, and he’s averaging 7.06 points, which is more than VvD and only slightly lower than Robertson’s output. Sounds like a bargain! Even better, Pablo Zabaleta ($1.83) is a cheap-as-chips enabler who has scored 7 and 8 points the past two games as fill-in for the injured Ryan Fredericks. Otherwise, though, it’s tough to feel great about the Hammers’ back line, especially against Leicester and Liverpool. Angelo Ogbonna’s production has fallen off a cliff, Fabian Balbuena was just benched for the Everton draw, Issa Drop has been in and out of the line-up, and Arthur Masuaka’s minutes have been up and down.
The Liverpool midfield is unattractive except for Sadio Mane ($18.85, dual M/F eligibility) who should be an automatic addition as both the Reds’ joint-leading scorer (with Salah) and second-leading assist provider (behind TAA, of course). Fabinho ($3.59) has recently returned from injury but averages just 3.58 ppg, and it’s tough to be sure about him being ready for two starts. The rest — Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Georginio Wijnaldum — are too much of a roll of the dice, offering poor production and/or limited playing time. In one of our 17-player formats, you might just grab Ox on the barn door because he’s so cheap and you don’t mind rolling that extra die at his price.
Robert Snodgrass ($9.17) is the stand-out in the West Ham engine room that has some of the points-earning issues. We can’t be entirely sure that he’ll get two starts, but even if he starts once and comes in from the bench the other time, he should be worth the outlay. Snoddy always seems to be at the center of the action in attack, providing wonderful service into the box while also offering the outside chance at a goal, too. Mark Noble ($6.00) could be an interesting shout as the team’s designated PK taker, but the hope for Noble getting a pen is much more speculative than for Mo Salah. Felipe Anderson ($10.43) is an injury doubt, while Manuel Lanzini ($6.67) has a poor fitness history and may not get two starts. The same story as far as start reliability is true for Pablo Fornals ($6.67), leaving them iffy propositions.
Let’s start with a couple of guys named Mo Salah ($17.93) and Roberto Firmino ($14.60). I don’t think I have to tell you much about them, but one thing I will mention is that amazingly all seven of Firmino’s goals have come away from Anfield this season. As mentioned, Liverpool heads out on the road twice. Do with that what you will.
Continuing the theme, West Ham’s Sebastian Haller ($10.68) is cheaper than his Liverpool counterparts, but like Rudolph in goal, Haller is not discounted enough to make him enticing. He only has two goals in his past 14 games, and you won’t expect him to crack the net against the Foxes or Reds.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD... AND TO GRAB
Of course, there are some enablers we may want to mix in so that we can easily afford all of the Liverpool and West Ham stars we want, along with some cheap productive players we might want to hold onto. After all, the next round of double game weeks will likely not start for a while, and it will be valuable to have players providing double (or more) value in the upcoming slate of boring old single game weeks.
PLAYERS YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE
I have the following players at deep discounts, so they’re returning more than double value, which means I’ll strongly consider keeping them. You may have similar.
- Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne ($5.90, averaging 12.95 ppg)
- Bournemouth defender Diego Rico ($3.63, averaging 8.78 ppg, though not nearly that good recently. Hmm...)
- Norwich defender Christoph Zimmerman ($1.35, averaging 5.08 ppg)
So if you have Jack Grealish at his week-1 price, do hold onto him.
ENABLERS YOU MAY WANT TO ADD
Some other players have emerged recently offering excellent value at low, low prices!
If you don’t feel like paying up for Alisson, you could try Paulo Gazzaniga ($4.92, Tottenham v. Norwich). Gazza is averaging 4.59 ppg this season, and he’ll be expected to outdo that mark by a wide margin as the Canaries’ offense is absolutely atrocious away from Carrow Road (5 goals scored in 11 away games, information via Soccer Stats). Just watch for Lloris’s return (he’s back in training).
Reece James ($5.59, Chelsea at Arsenal) has scored 9+ points in each of the past three games. 9 again wouldn’t be bad, but hitting double digits would be even better.
Kortney Hause ($2.59, Aston Villa v. Watford) is averaging 5.29 ppg, and has cracked double digits twice in the past five games.
Matt Ritchie ($2.09, Newcastle at Everton; dual D/M eligibility) scored 4, 11 and 10 points early in the season before suffering injury, then disappointed by only returning 3 points in the 1-0 victory over Chelsea. In all, though, he’s averaging 7 ppg, which is an outstanding return at defender for about two clams. And he might be on PKs.
Bernardo ($1.17, Brighton at Bournemouth) isn’t a bad option if you need someone in your final spot for around the bare minimum. He’s started the past four games, averaging 4.0 ppg in that stretch.
Japhet Tanganga ($1.00, Tottenham v. Norwich) is an intriguing alternative. The youngster surprisingly has started the past two games at wing back, returning 6 and 10 points. It’s impossible to say whether he will remain a reliable starter going forward, but for a one-buck lottery ticket you sure could do a lot worse.
Gabriel Martinelli ($3.50, Arsenal at Chelsea, dual M/F eligibility) has two goals and three double digit point hauls in his past five appearances.
Given recently long-term injuries suffered by Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane, Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho (yes, I just threw up in my mouth again) has given more playing time to Erik Lamela ($5.42) and Giovani Lo Celso ($2.42). They haven’t really done much so far this season, but home against Norwich gives them a good chance of going big.
Troy Deeney ($5.34, Watford at Aston Villa) has three double-digit point efforts in his past six tries, and amazingly delivered 7 points in the nil-nil affair v. Spurs where he missed a PK. Now he gets another chance to impress on the cheap against a poor Villa back line.
Callum Hudson-Odoi ($3.67, Chelsea v. Arsenal) has started the past two games following the injury to Christian Pulisic, averaging 8.0 ppg over the pair. The Blues have been struggling a bit, but nobody’s scared of the Arsenal defense, that’s for sure.
[NOTE: Player prices and stats came from the Fantrax site unless otherwise mentioned.]
Are you all-in on Liverpool and West Ham, or are you spreading cash around? Take the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section below!
How many Liverpool and West Ham players do you plan on having in your Fantrax starting XI?
This poll is closed
None, I go against the grain
One or two
Three or four
Five or six
Seven or eight
Nine or Ten
All eleven, baby!