We’re three weeks into the campaign now, and there have been plenty of surprises so far. The team at the top of the table has “City” in its name, but it is not from Manchester. The only team with a perfect defensive record is the same one that conceded the second-most goals last season. Nearly relegated last year, Aston Villa currently sits in a Champions League berth. Moreover, Manchester United and Manchester City are both in the bottom half of the table with negative goal differentials.
And much to our delight, it has been raining goals. On average, less than 30 goals are scored in each round of league play. But we set a new Premier League record in game-week 2 with 44. That was followed by 36 last weekend. And after just three games, ten men have already scored three or more.
Guessing which players are going to hit it big has been crucial, then. To help you get it right for Round 4, I offer up my best ideas for those of you shopping for replacement players this week.
Good luck and Godspeed.
Bernd Leno (ARS vs SHU, $9.45): Leno is a talented goalkeeper, and Mikel Arteta is fielding an improved defense this season. But the main reason I like Leno this week is his opposition: The Blades are 0-3 and haven’t even scored yet.
Rui Patricio (WOL vs FUL, $6.85): Heavy losses to Manchester City and West Ham have right-sized Patricio’s price ahead of the visit by the basement-dwelling Cottagers, who have been far and away the league’s worst team.
Kieran Tierney (ARS vs SHU, $9.27): Tierney’s two blocked shots, two interceptions, and ten clearances in the Liverpool match were good enough for 13 points despite his team’s 1-3 defeat. This week I expect him to profit on the other end of the pitch, as SHU’s low-octane offense will allow the Scot much more freedom to bomb forward. A clean sheet could also be in store.
Tariq Lamptey (EVE vs BHA, $14.17): I’m usually loathe to recommend a defender at this price, but Lamptey is Fantrax gold. This guy is a real handful going forward — he has already racked up three assists, drawn two PKs, and suffered 10 fouls. It’s pretty amazing to consider that the young man celebrated his 20th birthday just yesterday. If you can fit him in, he could be the life of your Fantrax party this weekend.
Charlie Taylor (NEW vs BUR, $9.59): Taylor typically piles up points on both sides of the ball, and the match-up with Newcastle should supply him with ample opportunity to do just that.
Timothy Castagne (LEI vs WHU, $13.20), James Justin (LEI vs WHU, $13.64): Continuing on with the theme of fullbacks who get forward, these two men are among the best. I like them both equally for this week, since they cost the same and offer the same return potential. But if I were choosing between them I’d probably go with Castagne, since Justin will come under threat when Ricardo Pereira returns to fitness soon.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (AVL vs LIV, $12.07): Another marauding fullback, TAA is well-known to NMA managers as an established Fantrax stud (you already have him cheap, right?). Surprisingly, he’s actually priced lower than many of the other recommended defenders, including his teammate Andrew Robertson ($13.59). We all know TAA’s capabilities going forward, and this week another clean sheet could be in the cards.
Aymeric Laporte (LEE vs MCI, $3.60): Laporte has yet to feature for City, his self-isolation for a positive COVID-19 test resulting in a lack of match fitness. But after Leicester’s 5-2 demolition of the Sky Blues, expect the Frenchman to slot straight into the starting lineup this weekend. The Citizens probably can’t be counted on for a clean sheet, but for $3.60 that would just be gravy anyway.
Sergio Reguilon (MUN vs TOT, $3.60): José Mourinho granted new-boy Reguilon his full debut in the Carabao Cup win over Chelsea on Tuesday, and the Spaniard was easily the best player on the pitch. Pacy, dynamic, and exciting, he is everything that Ben Davies is not. If you don’t pick him up for the United match, then at least stay alert on the barn door — at $3.60 this guy looks like money. You heard it here first.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS vs SHU, $12.38): PEA blanked last week, but that was against Liverpool at Fortress Anfield. He registered attacking returns in each of the two games prior to that, and now the home tie with the hapless Blades will provide him a good opportunity to get back on the scoresheet. (M, F)
Mason Mount (CHE vs CRY, $10.54): Mount has started every Blues game of this campaign, and on the strength of a goal, an assist, and three shots on target, he blew up for 28 points against the Baggies last week. With presumptive starters like Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech still sidelined by fitness issues, Mount may feel like he needs to make hay while the sun shines. Go ahead and let him use that mindset to your advantage this weekend.
Kai Havertz (CHE vs CRY, $6.33): Chelsea’s No. 10 is nailed-on and starting to settle in to his new side. He’s more than $4.00 cheaper than his teammate Mount, but his potential is just as good.
Andros Townsend (CHE vs CRY, $12.62): With a goal or an assist in each of Palace’s games so far, he has actually racked up more points than his higher-profile (and more expensive) teammate, Wilfried Zaha ($12.75). But Zaha’s not a bad choice either.
Richarlison (EVE vs BHA, $17.00): Very expensive, but he has amassed 50 points in just three games. Even in the one game in which he didn’t score or assist, he still returned 13.5 points. High price, but also high ceiling and high floor. A word of caution: Although Carlo Ancelotti thinks he will be OK for the weekend, the Brazilian did tweak his ankle in last night’s Carabao Cup victory over West Ham. (M, F)
Kevin De Bruyne (LEE vs MCI, $16.71): His blank against Leicester makes it easy to forget the 32.5 points he posted the week prior. Well, don’t. He was subbed off after an hour of EFL Cup action yesterday, so he’ll be ready to perform when the Peacocks come to visit.
Bruno Fernandes (MUN vs TOT, $14.74): United’s string-puller seems to be getting back to his best, even if his team still looks poor. And crucially, he takes PKs. Be aware that Bruno is a slight doubt for the weekend with a thigh issue, but he is expected to pass fit.
Allan Saint-Maximin (NEW vs BUR, $5.97): Missed the Spurs game with a twisted ankle, but he’s back in training and should be fit to start against the Clarets. Big-time value at under $6.00.
Giovani Lo Celso (MUN vs TOT, $5.85): Looked bright in the win over Newcastle, and should take on an even more important role in Tottenham’s attack now that Son Heung-Min is on the disabled list.
Sadio Mané (AVL vs LIV, $18.61): When the Reds hit the road, I tend to prefer the Senegalese over his Egyptian strike partner. Mané is pretty pricey, but he is averaging more than 17 points per game. That’s better than Mo Salah, who posted a hat trick on opening weekend but then went quiet in the next two matches.
Riyad Mahrez (LEE vs MCI, $9.89), Raheem Sterling (LEE vs MCI, $9.25): Mahrez was one of the few bright spots for the Citizens during their 2-5 humiliation at the hands of the Foxes, scoring one goal and providing the helper for the other. Sterling has been slower to get off the mark in the league this season, but he did net twice in yesterday’s Carabao Cup win over Burnley. Pep Guardiola will demand a response after the embarrassing Leicester defeat, and Leeds aren’t exactly tight at the back. With his side depleted by injuries, I think Pep names both of these men to his starting lineup, so pick either (or at their prices, even both).
Danny Ings (SOU vs WBA, $15.22): Three goals and 41 points across three games, and now it looks like he has taken over as the Saints’ #1 spot-kick taker too. West Brom has shipped 11 goals so far — the most in the league — so by all measures Danny Boy should be set for success this weekend. I think he’s still a relative bargain even at $15.22.
Harry Kane (MUN vs TOT, $20.80): He’s expensive, but the difference between Kane and a lot of other strikers is that Kane gets phantoms. That’s a nice safety net for fantasy managers. Just look at his last game: He returned his current price without any goals and just one assist. He has been playing a deeper role lately, but that may have to change now that Son is sidelined by a hamstring injury. And make no mistake: José Mourinho will not want to lose to the man who replaced him at Old Trafford. With Son out, Mou may route his attack through Kane.
Raul Jimenez (WOL vs FUL, $13.22): The Mexican scored in each of his first two matches before blanking against the Hammers on Sunday. But this week he welcomes the hapless Cottagers to Molineux Stadium, and Fulham have conceded 10 goals across just three games. The pointy tip of Wolves’ spear and their PK taker, Jimenez is one of my favorite forwards this week.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (EVE vs BHA, $19.31): He has scored in each of his EPL games this season, and is currently joint-first in the race for the Golden Boot with five. Sounds like a pretty nice hot streak, right? Well, what if I told you that on top of all that, he notched a hatty in last night’s Carabao Cup win over a strong West Ham side? There are purple patches, but right now he’s laying it down like Deep Purple.
So that’s it then. Be sure to join us for the Pre-Deadline Chat tomorrow, where we should have confirmed lineups for Chelsea and Crystal Palace before the Fantrax transfer deadline. And after that, of course, you should stay with us for the Matchday Live Chat that opens right before the first kickoff and continues throughout the weekend.
Between now and then though, keep an ear open for team news, especially from Fulham, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Arsenal, who all play EFL Cup Round of 16 matches today. Similarly, Tottenham hosts Maccabi Haifa in Europa League play-off action today, having just played their EFL Cup match on Tuesday (defeating Chelsea on pens). Keep your fingers crossed that injuries and rotation resulting from these games don’t throw us any lineup surprises for this weekend’s league matches.
Whose turn will it be to explode for a brace, a hatty, or better this weekend? Do you see a crash in store for any of the league’s hot players? Which under-the-radar differentials are you eyeing? Which of the league’s unbeaten clubs will still boast perfect records when the game-week is over? Please tell us your thoughts in the Comments below!
Which player is most likely to explode for multiple goals this week?
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Kevin De Bruyne
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