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Staff Picks: Most Essential Fantasy Player for the Run-in

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We’re in the home stretch. Which horse will you ride across the fantasy finish line?

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
Bruno Fernandes has transformed Manchester United since his January acquisition. Many of our staff are banking on him to carry his torrid form into the wind-up. Should you?
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

The 2019-20 EPL campaign has now entered its final month, and after the current game week finishes we will have only six rounds left to play. With little time remaining to recover from mistakes, it’s crucial that fantasy managers include the league’s form players in their squads.

But who are those players? We asked our staff members to name their single most important player for the run-in. Their answers are below.

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Stall

Pick: Bruno Fernandes (FPL and Fantrax)

With the crazy fixture congestion ahead, Liverpool having already wrapped up the title, and Manchester City prioritizing cup ties, it’s a tough ask to name an essential pick. But that’s what we are here for, so: Bruno Fernandes.

Manchester United face a mad run of games on the 13th, 15th and 18th of July, so we may see Bruno benched somewhere in that run. Still, he is by far United’s key player — a leader on and off the pitch and the main creative element to the attack. The return of Ken’s beloved Paul Pogba should help reduce the burden on Bruno whilst freeing up space on the pitch as the opposition struggle to cover the Red Devils’ patterns of play.

Bruno has dragged the team into a fight for the Champions League spots and he is clearly a personality who wants to play every minute of every game. I think he will come close to starting every remaining match, and when he’s on the pitch he’s a constant threat to return fantasy points.

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Paul

Pick: Anthony Martial (FPL)

This was certainly a tough choice and I constantly changed between Kevin De Bruyne, Raul Jimenez, and Martial (and even other Manchester United assets!). But Martial is very reasonably priced at £8.2M, which makes him an excellent value for a player listed as a midfielder who is actually currently deployed as an in-form lone center forward. We were reminded of how explosive he can be following his hat-trick against Sheffield United.

Second, Manchester United’s remaining fixtures are appealing — especially for their attackers — as 4 out of the next 5 defenses they face are among the league’s worst. This provides a great points opportunity for Martial.

Manchester United still have much to play for in the league as they continue the push for a Champions League place. They do have an upcoming FA Cup Semi-Final which theoretically could disrupt Martial’s league starts, but so far Odion Ighalo has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preference for that competition.

Finally, despite his recent performances, Martial’s ownership sits at just 16%, which isn’t nearly as high as other premium picks. This makes him an essential hold who can also serve as something of a differential! (BTW, at just 8.8% ownership, I’ll also be sticking with Son Heung-Min for the rest of the season.)

Manchester United v Sheffield United - Premier League
Anthony Martial slots in the third goal of his hat trick against Sheffield United
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

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Omar

Pick: Trent Alexander-Arnold (FPL)

Despite Liverpool having already claimed the EPL title, don’t expect the Champions to take their feet off the gas for the remainder of the season.

With the incentive of a record points tally still there to play for, the über-attacking right back should continue to score heavily with his crossing, set piece delivery and free kick goal threat (see video below from the recent Crystal Palace match) making him an essential factor.

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PPQ

Pick: Bruno Fernandes (Fantrax)

Manchester United haven’t lost since Bruno joined them in the January transfer window. He has 5 goals and 3 assists in those 8 games, with 5 of those games being played against top 8 teams. He has put up more than 20 points in fully half of the games he’s played, and has only tallied single digits twice.

Manchester United have a favorable schedule to end the season, including West Ham, Bournemouth, and Aston Villa (currently 17th, 18th, and 19th respectively in the table). The other matches are against mid-table Crystal Palace and Southampton, before the season finale against Leicester City.

But their fixtures hardly matter: Bruno seems to be matchup proof. Plus he’s on set pieces and penalties. And averaging over 15 ppg for just $6.24, Bruno still is amazingly affordable. If he’s not yet on your team, he should be.

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Chris

Pick: Bruno Fernandes (FPL and Fantrax)

I reckon United’s winter transfer from Sporting CP is the most essential player for our fantasy teams both in FPL and Fantrax. In my January Transfer Round-Up article, published on 2 February, I wrote: ”The key for whether or not the newcomer can deliver for fantasy managers may hinge on if he can earn the team’s #1 PK duty. The Red Devils have had notable problems this season converting from the spot, as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba have not inspired much confidence. Bruno has converted 20 of 22 chances in all competitions over his career, so with Rashford out injured at the moment, the newcomer may seize the chance to take over the mantle.” Well, Fernandes has grabbed the honors with gusto, slotting home both of his chances so far, as those have accounted for two of his five goals in the EPL.

The Red Devils’ playmaker will face some rotation risk the rest of the way due to the FA Cup, but I still think he’s a must-have. In his eight games so far, he’s played 80+ minutes in each, averaging a robust 7.75 ppg in FPL and 15.38 ppg in Fantrax. Many fantasy managers hold the Mancunian midfielder at or near his entry price of £8.0m in FPL and his post-entry low of $1.00 in Fantrax, but even if you need to grab him at his current cost of £8.7m and $6.24, respectively, he’s still a bargain. Through 32 games, Manchester United leads the league with 11 penalties drawn, so we can expect two or three more PK strikes from the Portuguese star the rest of the way. Sprinkle in another goal or two from open play and/or a set piece outside the box, along with a few assists, and fantasy managers should keep on reaping the rewards.

(penalty kick stats via www.transfermarkt.com)

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Jeff

Pick: Matt Ritchie (FPL and Fantrax)

Everyone already has Bruno Fernandes on all teams in all formats with discounts dating from before the Covid-19 lock-down, so I’ll just treat him as just part of the landscape (if you don’t have him, please explain how and why that happened so we may send police to arrest the criminals who sabotaged your Internet or hacked your computer).

So assuming you already have Fernandes at a deep discount, my essential run-in man for both Fantrax and FPL is Matt Ritchie, which is why his doubt this week has spilled so many electrons in fantasy discussions across the Internet.

If not for his knock, everyone would already have him in every roster in every format. The trick this week is to provide bench cover for this doubt and pray for a speedy (and complete) recovery. If he heals successfully, then those who have kept the faith will pull away from those who folded at the first sign of risk.

Newcastle United v Sheffield United - Premier League
Heading into the run-in, there’s a lot of love for Matt Ritchie.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

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Ali

Pick: Raul Jimenez (FPL)

Can a player be considered a “club legend” after just two seasons? Well, Raul Jimenez might: He has already become Wolves’ all-time top scorer in the Premier League.

The Mexican international is having a magnificent season, notching 24 goals with 10 assists in all competitions, with six EPL fixtures and the Europa League still to play! It’s no wonder that many of Europe’s elite clubs have him on their radars.

With Wolves’ relatively friendly fixture list for the run-in, and with a budget friendly price tag of just £8.3M, fantasy managers can be confident that investment in the Mexican striker will pay dividends for the run-in.

(stats sourced from whoscored.com)

Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Raul JImenez celebrating his winner against Bournemouth on 24 June.
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

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David

Pick: Bruno Fernandes (FPL and Fantrax)

In my game week 31 Fantrax Player Picks article, I had this to say about Bruno: “Averaging 18.5 ppg over his last four, this guy just oozes class. He’s the best player in Ole Gunnar Solskjaier’s squad right now, and he belongs in your side too. He creates, he finishes, (and) he takes PKs)”.

In the two games since I wrote that, all he’s done is put up two more goals and 31 more Fantrax points. He’s been a force of nature in FPL too: His 15-point return yesterday was his third double-digit FPL haul over the eight games he’s played, and he has accumulated 10 bonus points over that span.

Frankly, I have little to add to what the authors above me have already said about Manchester United’s scintillating Portuguese string-puller. We’ve been recommending him for weeks. If you still haven’t done it, then get him in. Like, now.

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What do you think of our picks? How many of them do you already hold in your sides? Will you be adding any of them? Who do you think is the most essential fantasy player for the run-in? Take our poll, and then share your thoughts in the Comments below!

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Poll

Who is on your buy-and-hold shopping list this week?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Bruno Fernandes
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    Trent Alexander Arnold
    (2 votes)
  • 20%
    Anthony Martial
    (9 votes)
  • 9%
    Matt Ritchie
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Raul Jimenez
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Other (explain in Comments)
    (5 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now

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