The season is settling in, so you’re going to be paying full price for the better players at this point. Holding onto key players at discounts and looking for bargain enablers to raise cash for premium players becomes more and more a part of the game.
The Manchester Derby is the neutral observer’s game of the week, but it’s also one that portends fantasy uncertainty for me. Liverpool, Southampton, and Tottenham are the match-ups I’m looking to invest in.
Leeds vs West Ham on Friday is the early game (with our only confirmed lineups), so be sure you check in to our Pre-Deadline Chat for breaking team news ahead of the Friday deadline.
Let’s get to the picks.
Bernd Leno (ARS VS BUR, $8.35) I hope you already have a keeper in place for the season; Edouard Mendy or Ederson perhaps. If you’re looking for cheap solid options, there aren’t great ones out there. But Leno and the Gunners host struggling Burnley, who have only scored 5 goals for the season.
Alex McCarthy (SOU vs SHU, $12.99) Southampton get Sheffield who don’t yet have a win and also only have 5 goals for the season. Even without clean sheets, McCarthy is getting saves and points. He has a great chance at the clean sheet as a nice bonus.
Caoimhin Kelleher (FUL vs LIV, $3.66) Kelleher deputized last week and in midweek CL action, but Alisson might reclaim the starting slot this weekend, so you need to keep your eyes on the injury list. The youngster has performed well, so if he starts for Liverpool against lowly Fulham, then he’s a really good temporary option for anyone needing an inexpensive short-term play at goalkeeper this weekend.
Sergio Reguilon (CRY vs TOT, $8.37) He has become the starting left back (after shaking some of us off him in his early weeks), and he is now putting up solid points. Tottenham isn’t giving up goals, and while he may not get forward as much you’d hope, he has been steady. I’d love to offer you Matt Doherty in this place, but there’s a fight for playing time at right back, and I’m not risking a zero for him (in NMA-17 YMMV).
Ryan Bertrand (SOU vs SHU, $7.22) Anyone starting against Sheffield United, right? Bertrand has the best match-up of the weekend.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (FUL vs LIV, $9.10) Liverpool’s right back played a full game on Wednesday. He has had a disappointing season compared to last, but it’s a good match-up. I keep wondering when he’s going to break out, and Fulham could be just the tonic for that to happen.
JonJo Shelvey (NEW vs WBA, $4.10) JonJo returned from injury to put in 90 minutes against the Eagles on 27 November, and then had the unexpected benefit of some additional recovery time when the tie with the Villans was postponed. He put up 9 points against Crystal Palace, and at $4.10 he’s excellent value for money again this week when the Magpies welcome the league’s worst defense to St. James’ Park.
James Ward-Prowse (SOU vs SHU, $15.68) I’m sure you can sense a theme that I like Southampton against rock-bottom Blades this week. JWP is doing everything you want out of a fantasy midfielder. On corners and kicks, popping up for goals, doing all the little things. Oh, and Danny Ings is back to get on the end of his service.
James Maddison (LEI vs BHA, $9.79): Maddison finally put in his first full shift of the season on 22 November, and did the same in the two subsequent games as well. He hasn’t dipped below double digits in any of those three matches. This week he takes on Brighton, and only three teams have conceded more goals than the Seagulls. A good deal at under $10.
Callum Wilson (NEW vs WBA, $12.19) This one is simple. West Bromwich Albion ships goals wholesale. Wilson is back and on PKs. He’s a differential pick for me this weekend too.
Danny Ings (SOU vs SHU, $13.08) Ings played last week for the first time in a month. He scored, which is just something he does. He has six goals in eight appearances, and he’s playing against shambolic Sheffield (whose 1 measly point in the table after eleven weeks is the most abysmal start in the history of the Premier League).
Sadio Mane (FUL vs LIV, $15.94) If you can afford Salah, I would say go for it except that Salah played the full 90 last Wednesday right ahead of upcoming fixture congestion (Spurs next Wednesday). Mane is a cheaper option than Salah, and Mane came on as a late sub midweek in the Champions League fixture, so he should start against the Cottagers. Fulham gives up a lot of goals, and if you look at stats, Mane is usually good for double-digits even when he doesn’t score... And I’m thinking he’s going to score.
Don’t forget that our deadline is Friday! Also, league fixture congestion is upon us, so mark your calendar for GW-13’s Tuesday deadline. Don’t miss it!
How are your Fantrax rosters shaping up for GW-12? What holes do you have to fill? Are you churning players, or have you settled on a fairly steady set of growing discounts? And is your NMA-17 squad evolving differently from NMA-11?
Finally, GW-12 is the NMA Blog Cup Final. Good luck to all 30 of you who’ve managed to survive this far!