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Fantrax EPL Player Picks: Game-Week 21

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Step inside for your Fantrax buyers’ guide, GW-21 edition.

Raphinha - Leeds United - Premier League
If you haven’t bought into Raphinha’s scorching form yet, then now could be the time.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Round 20 of the 2020-21 EPL campaign brought us all the drama that fans of the English Premier League have come to expect. Manchester United was stunned by the last-place Blades, allowing Manchester City to leapfrog to the summit. Liverpool rediscovered its magic and put Tottenham to the sword, dropping Spurs out of the European qualification zone. West Ham United continued an impressive run that has seen them rise to fifth. And Thomas Tuchel’s inaugural match ended in a scoreless draw, leaving Chelsea seven points adrift of Champions League qualification.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to game-week 21. After setting up your squads for the Fantrax super game-week, you may now need to rebalance, or perhaps your hand has been forced by injuries to players such as Harry Kane. Whatever the reason, if you’re in the market, you’ll find my best ideas for replacement players listed below.

Keep in mind that the EVE-NEW match is the week’s opener. Tune in to NMA’s FPL & Fantrax Pre-Deadline & Live Chat for confirmed lineups for that game ahead of the Fantrax deadline (as well as team news and injury reports).


Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford ($12.31, EVE vs NEW): Everton has lost only one of its last seven matches, and Pickford has averaged nearly 12 ppg over that stretch. Although only two of those seven games ended in clean sheets, his chances for a shutout look pretty good as he welcomes a Newcastle side that is winless in its last eleven (including losses to bottom-dwellers Sheffield United and Championship side Brentford). And although Carlo Ancelotti has hinted at the need to rotate Pickford over a schedule that will see the Toffees play five games before Valentine’s Day, it’s likely that he’ll accomplish that by continuing to start Robin Olson between the sticks for FA Cup matches.

Ederson ($14.19, MCI vs SHU): Although the Blades have begun to bare their teeth of late, getting any kind of a result from an away match against an imperious City side seems a bridge too far. Indeed, with Ederson on six straight clean sheets, I can’t even see SHU — the league’s worst offense — scoring a goal on Saturday unless some unfortunate Citizen scores it for them.


Defenders

Cedric Soares ($1.69, ARS vs MUN): Cheap as chips, he has piled up 22 points while deputizing for Kieran Tierney over the last two games. Tierney is approaching fitness, but if Saturday comes too soon for him, Cedric makes a fine enabler.

Ben Mee ($12.92, CHE vs BUR): Averaging just shy of 16 ppg over his last five games, this guy is a fantasy monster you probably already have at a much lower price. We don’t really know what to expect from Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel on Sunday, but it hardly matters. Win or lose, clean sheet or no clean sheet, any match-up means more points for Mee.

Gary Cahill ($2.11, CPL vs WOL): A good enabler facing a Wolves side that lacks fangs.

Lucas Digne ($7.17, EVE vs NEW): The Frenchman is a crossing machine who should profit at both ends of the pitch when the sorry Magpies come to call.

Joachim Andersen ($6.36, WBA vs FUL): With double digit returns in four of his last seven, this week he’s in the unusual position of playing a team that is even worse than his own. He’s an under-the-radar play if you’re looking to do something different.

João Cancelo ($10.73, MCI vs SHU): The league’s best defense will host the league’s worst offense tomorrow, and among City’s defenders Cancelo looks the best combination of price and potential provided he survives Pep roulette.

Yan Valery ($1.04, SOU vs AVL): The 21 year-old put up 11.5 points in the 1-3 loss to Arsenal while deputizing at right-back for the injured Kyle Walker-Peters, and he looks set to continue in the side against Villa tomorrow.

Kieran Gibbs ($2.91, WBA vs FUL): It has been six games since Gibbs returned fewer than six points, claiming clean sheet points in none. But Fulham is joint-third for the worst attack in the league (tied with the Baggies themselves!), so if West Brom can hold the Cottagers scoreless, then Gibbs should hit double digits.


Midfielders

Christian Pulisic ($5.75, CHE vs BUR): Don’t be put off by Pulisic’s benching in Thomas Tuchel’s first game in charge of Chelsea: That was only so Tuchel could see what other guys had to offer. The German gaffer already knows, respects, and trusts the American who previously played for Tuchel at Dortmund, so Pulisic will be a centerpiece of his retooling project.

James Rodriguez ($10.93, EVE vs NEW): “Hammess”, as TV talking heads call him, is back to his best, and just in time for a delicious home fixture against Newcastle.

Raphinha ($9.32, LEI vs LEE): His last six games have brought six SoTs, three assists, and two goals. And his best performances have come away from home.

James Maddison ($13.92, LEI vs LEE), Harvey Barnes ($13.34, LEI vs LEE): Both of these guys are crushing it lately. Take your pick, or pick both.

Ilkay Gundogan ($10.35, MCI vs SHU): Right now he’s the best player on the league’s best team. He has returned double digits in eight games straight, and it’s difficult to imagine that Sheffield United can find a way to bring that streak to an end. In fact, overweighting City assets makes a ton of sense for this match, so consider bringing in Raheem Sterling ($12.15) and/or Phil Foden ($8.40) too.

Paul Pogba ($8.63, ARS vs MUN): Pogba has registered three double-digit returns in 2021, and they’ve all come away from Old Trafford. He seems to be in the mood to play football again, and you should consider taking advantage. Be sure to let Ken know if you buy him.

Steven Bergwijn ($3.41, BHA vs TOT): Liverpool held him to just four points, but he did manage an assist before Jose hooked him early, presumably to preserve him for the weekend. He posted double digits in both of his two starts prior to the ‘Pool match, and he seems to have secured his spot as a regular starter, especially with Harry Kane’s injury now creating even more room in Tottenham’s attack for the Dutchman.

Matheus Pereira ($10.12, WBA vs FUL): Over his last three, Pereira has returned nine against MCI, twelve against West Ham, and 21 against Wolves. I really like him for the home match against the Cottagers.


Forwards

Ollie Watkins ($12.81, SOU vs AVL): Watkins has sprung back to life, notching a goal in each of his last two and posting more than 40 points.

Riyad Mahrez ($9.81, MCI vs SHU): Had a goal and an assist last time out, and this weekend Sheffield United is on the menu.

Danny Ings ($10.35, SOU vs AVL): Southampton’s talismanic hitman looks a good bet for the home match against the Villans.

Richarlison ($10.01, EVE vs NEW): The Brazilian costs two-thirds the price of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who hasn’t scored since November. Richarlison hasn’t exactly been setting the league on fire either, but the form of both men was affected by the absence of Rodriguez. Hammess is back now, and a home fixture against the Magpies is a perfect opportunity for their fortunes to turn.

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Have Harry Kane’s glass ankles forced you to make changes? Whom are you bringing in to replace him? What other purchases are you contemplating? Which players are you thinking about shipping out? Please tell us your plans and share your lineups in the comments!

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