I’m glad that it’s time to start looking at game-week 8, because I need to put game-week 7 behind me. In NMA-11, a score of 77.5 placed me in 119th place for the round, and dropped me to 83rd overall on 723 points. In NMA-17 a return of 92 points put me in 103rd place for the week. On the year I sit in 65th place with 901.5 points. Ouch.
So that’s just about all the time I want to spend looking backward. Let’s look ahead at the best players to consider if you have spots on your rosters that need filling. Beware that like last week, we once again have an early deadline this week: Brighton hosts Burnley on FRIDAY when we should see confirmed lineups in the hour before the FRIDAY deadline. Come back tomorrow for NMA’s Pre-Deadline Chat to see those lineups and other breaking news.
Let’s dive into the picks.
Mat Ryan ($2.80, BHA vs BUR): Robert Sanchez got a surprise start against Tottenham but made just two saves in the 1-2 loss. I think that was nothing more than a rest for Ryan, who hasn’t missed a league game since January 2019. I therefore expect Ryan to take back his usual position between the sticks this weekend, and his cut-rate price makes him a low-risk option against Burnley. The Clarets are bottom of the league, having scored only three goals over six games.
Edouard Mendy ($9.35, CHE vs SHU): Three league starts and three clean sheets is the best debut for a Chelsea goalkeeper since Petr Cech in 2004. (Fun fact: In addition to his role as technical advisor, Cech is also rostered as Chelsea’s fourth-string GK.) This week Mendy and Stamford Bridge welcome the anemic Blades who average just 0.43 goals per game — the lowest in the league.
Hugo Lloris ($7.85, WBA vs TOT): Spurs are two points away from the top of the table, and their defense is joint-third. They haven’t lost a league game since opening weekend. Meanwhile the Baggies are winless with only six goals in seven games.
Bukayo Saka ($10.59, ARS vs AVL): Arsenal’s 19 year-old Englishman has strung together four double-digit performances in a row, and I see no reason why that streak should end against the Villans. (D, M)
Thiago Silva ($8.10, CHE vs SHU): At 36 years old, he may be getting a little long in the tooth, but the Blues have kept clean sheets in every league game where he has played a full shift. There’s every reason to expect that to continue when Sheffield brings its impotent attack to Stamford Bridge.
Ben Chilwell ($10.82, CHE vs SHU): A little more expensive than his Brazilian teammate, but with a goal and two assists over four games, he offers you a backup route to points in the event Chelsea can’t hold SHU scoreless.
Wesley Fofana ($6.75, LEI vs WOL): The youngster has been averaging nearly 11 ppg for Leicester since stepping in to deputize for Caglar Soyuncu. A clean sheet would be a nice bonus this week, but he collects most of his returns through blocked shots, clearances, interceptions, and other individual defensive stats.
Sergio Reguilon ($5.09, WBA vs TOT): The Spaniard has racked up assists in each of his last two games. And against West Brom he could add a clean sheet to the mix. Be aware that he is a slight doubt with the flu (he was ruled out for COVID-19), but he is expected to recover in time to feature on Sunday.
Fabian Balbuena ($7.48, WHU vs FUL): Matches against Liverpool and Manchester City broke his string of three straight double-digit returns. But this week the opposition is Fulham, which sits just a single point above the drop zone. The Cottagers are third-worst for goals scored, and they’re tied for second-worst for goals conceded.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($11.02, ARS vs AVL): I’ll be frank: PEA has been a disappointment this season. The player many thought could win this season’s Golden Boot has scored just two goals so far, averaging just 7.64 ppg in Fantrax. But sooner or later he’s bound to break out, and a home match against an Aston Villa side playing open football could be just the ticket.
Hakim Ziyech ($5.25, CHE vs SHU): On Saturday Ziyech was finally handed his first league start, and he responded with a goal and an assist. Hopefully you grabbed him on the barn door, but no worries if you didn’t: He’s still a steal at $5.25.
Wilfried Zaha ($13.77, CPL vs LEE): The problem with Wilf is that if he doesn’t score, you’re likely to be left empty-handed. Phantoms are something he simply doesn’t do. But the Peacocks’ defense is on average shipping almost two goals per game, so Zaha could be worth the spend this week. (M, F)
Andros Townsend ($12.57, CPL vs LEE): Perhaps the reason Zaha doesn’t score phantoms is because Townsend hogs them all. He has racked up virtually the same amount of points as Zaha despite scoring just a single goal behind Zaha’s five. Summary: much higher floor than Zaha, but lower ceiling facing the same leaky Leeds.
James Rodriguez ($15.91, EVE vs MUN): He’s simply a points machine. Yes his price is sky-high, but his average return nearly matches it. He missed Everton’s match against Newcastle United but is expected to return in time to face Jekyll & Hyde Manchester United (M,F)
Tom Cairney ($7.07, WHU vs FUL): Perhaps because he plays for the lousy Cottagers, many have overlooked Cairney as a fantasy asset. But he has quietly accumulated an average of nearly 12 ppg over his last three games. Against West Ham, he could be the answer if you’re looking to do something different this week.
Gareth Bale ($4.34, TOT vs WBA): To the delight of Spurs fans everywhere, Bale scored a super-sub game-winner against Brighton on Sunday. I’m still not certain that he’ll start this weekend, but given his price, his potential, and the opposition, he’s worth a shot if you need an enabler. (M, F)
Pablo Fornals ($9.84, WHU vs FUL): With the Hammers main-man Michail Antonio sidelined, Fornals will be front and center for the visit of the Cottagers.
Neil Maupay ($12.55, BHA vs BUR): The rift with his manager now apparently settled, Maupay should return to the S11 against Burnley this weekend. He’s priced reasonably and has been one of the league’s most productive goal-scorers this season.
Timo Werner ($13.84, CHE vs SHU): Chelsea’s best string-puller, Kai Havertz, has been ruled out with COVID-19, but Werner should still find a way to produce against a Blades side that is still looking for its first win.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin ($18.31, EVE vs MUN): He’s pricey, but he has failed to score in only one game this season. The Red Devils are all over the map right now; another poor showing could result in a banner day for DCL.
Callum Wilson ($13.56, SOU vs NEW): He’s priced reasonably for someone who is averaging nearly a goal per game, and this week he faces a Southampton defense that has conceded twelve.
Che Adams ($10.02, SOU vs NEW): Two goals in his last three games plus Danny Ings’ knee injury means Adams will be expected to step up against the Magpies.
What holes do you need to fill in your Fantrax rosters this week? Whom are you considering? And which matches do you want to watch as a fan? Remember that Europa League is playing today, so a few players still have a chance to go out an hurt themselves. Come back to NMA for our Pre-Deadline Chat to get the latest news before our FRIDAY deadline.