January in the EPL runs hot then cold then hot again then cold again. We’ve just finished hot as the festive period wrapped over the New Year’s weekend. We’re now in the cold, waiting through some cup ties (EFL semis and FA Cup binge) before we heat up again in GW-18 + GW-19. That stretch will feature at least one EPL match each day for 11-days straight. In FPL it will be a whipsaw with a transfer deadline in the middle. In Fantrax it’ll be one long monster game-week in which every team plays at least twice, but four teams will play thrice. And then the schedule slows down again, and then there will probably be a little madness as the transfer window closes (there usually is anyway).
But all that scheduling and planning is subject to more Covid news, the weather report, and possibly even another make-up match that could be added. And hanging over all squads now is the Winter transfer window that can steal away some players even while parachuting in others from around the world.
Despite that uncertainty, the intrepid bloggers of NMA stick their necks out to offer their best thinking on what players fantasy managers need to have. Buckle up, it could be a bumpy ride!
FPL: Kevin De Bruyne
Fantrax: Kevin De Bruyne
Maybe I’m just being lazy, but I can’t help but laser focus for both fantasy formats on the Manchester City maestro, Kevin De Bruyne. Yes, he and the Manchester City offense have put forth a sluggish season so far, but KDB is still averaging 5.8 ppg in FPL and 14.1 points in Fantrax, not too shabby for “under performing”. The hope is that the dazzling 3-1 victory at Chelsea has now finally kickstarted the attack with creative confidence, and forwards Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus should soon have full returns to fitness that will help take the defensive focus off KDB (and Raheem Sterling), allowing them to return to their usual prodigious roles.
One reason I view the dazzling midfielder as vital for fantasy managers is simply that Pep Guardiola views him as essential. While you may worry a bit more about stars on other teams being rested during the congested fixtures, Pep seems to view KDB (and Sterling) as sure starters every game as long as there’s no injury or suspension. Additionally, with the Sky Blues unexpectedly in 5th place and needing to climb up the table, there’s absolutely no cushion for leaving their key playmaker on the bench.
The main reason I’m picking the Belgian superstar over the other usual suspects is due to City’s deliciously mouthwatering fixture list for the rest of January: v. Brighton, v. Crystal Palace, v. Aston Villa, at West Bromwich Albion, and v. Sheffield United. That’s four home games out of five, and four bottom-half teams out of five (17th, 14th, 8th, 19th and 20th place, respectively). I’d have a boiling ulcer if I didn’t hold KDB in my fantasy teams. (And yes, I would be only slightly less petrified going without Sterling.)
FPL: Bruno Fernandes
Fantrax: Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne
There is no shortage of FPL all-stars whom I would love to have in my team for the next few weeks (or even for the rest of the season). Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne, Heung-Min Son, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, and Jamie Vardy are all sought-after heavy-hitters who would no doubt serve my team well. But I think the single most essential FPL player to own for the rest of the month (and beyond) is Bruno Fernandes.
No other player generates points in FPL’s system at a pace that matches his — on average he generates just over a point for every 10 minutes he’s on the pitch. He scores (11 goals), he creates (8 assists), and he has accumulated more bonus points (22) than any of the other men I mentioned above.
Nailed-on ever since he joined Manchester United in last January’s transfer window, he is injury-resistant and demonstrably capable of playing on little rest, important characteristics since United is scheduled to play five matches before the month is over. And those five fixtures are relatively favorable: Burnley (A), Liverpool (A), Fulham FC (A), Sheffield United (H), Arsenal (A), and Southampton (H). Don’t be deterred by all those away matches either — he’s actually more productive on foreign soil than he is at Old Trafford.
Since the day Bruno played his first game in a United shirt, no player in the league has been in finer form. Barring injury or illness, I fully expect that to continue, and that’s why the Red Devils’ Portuguese penalty-taker gets my vote for January’s most essential FPL asset.
It’s not hard to make an argument that Bruno is the most essential Fantrax asset to own as well. Over the last thirty days he is joint-first for goals and assists among the usual suspects, and second for shots on target. It’s therefore no surprise that, on the season, he is second only to Harry Kane for overall points, and ranks third for points per game.
I wouldn’t take issue with anyone proposing Kevin De Bruyne though. We all know he is a perennial Fantrax beast who thrives in that platform’s elaborate points system. But he is especially attractive right now. Pep has recently been using him to fill in at striker, and that paid massive dividends against Chelsea, with the Belgian netting and providing a helper.
And although Gabriel Jesus has completed his period of COVID isolation, Pep had this to say about the Brazilian’s recovery: “It’s a mystery. Nobody knows what happens when you pass COVID-19. Some guys recover well, some guys recover really really badly. Nobody knows.” (Source: fantasyfootballscout.com) [ Notably, COVID has knocked Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin out of commission since November, sidelining them for seven league games so far as they struggle to shrug off its lingering effects. ]
Manchester City enjoys the best January fixtures of any club in the Prem, and provided he can avoid injury and the COVID outbreak that has swept through his clubhouse, the Sky Blues’ Belgian talisman looks primed to profit no matter where he lines up.
FPL: Bruno & Dias
Fantrax: Bruno & Grealish
Both could play 5 times in January and both should start every game assuming they dodge the Covid risk.
Bruno is still producing numbers people said he couldn't continue with but he still is. We are surely at the point you just have to accept the need for him in your team, regardless of fixture, until he either fades or misses games with injury/Covid.
Grealish isn't the same player in FPL as he is in Fantrax, but every time I watch him he looks an ever improving player. His FPL returns week in and week out may need a move to a side with more weapons in attack to get there, but at Villa he remains a match-winner.
Be warned that he is one booking away from a suspension, but in Fantrax I would recommend holding at any significant discount simply because there may be no better player at providing weekly consistent returns without the consistent goals and assists of his rivals. In the last 10 fixtures, despite scoring just two goals and adding four assists, he has eight double-digit scores. His two lowest scores were eight points, so he averages 17 points per game-week.
I wanted a differential pick in here somewhere so I will go with Dias at Manchester City. I’m not sure he will be back for game-week 18, but if he is, then he gets five games in January: Brighton (H), Crystal Palace (H), Aston Villa (H), West Brom (A), Sheffield United (H) and Burnley (A). Bar Villa right now, you couldn't ask for a better set of fixtures for any defender. Assuming there’s no Pep roulette and that he escapes the Covid outbreak again, you have to like your chances of four clean sheets and the odd goal in there somewhere. Cancelo is the obvious better one-off play, but we can be sure he is rotated somewhere along those fixtures, hence Dias gets my nod. I would even be open to a double up with Ederson if you have the money.
FPL: Bruno Fernandes
Fantrax: De Bruyne
Bruno Fernandes is just too hard to ignore at the moment. He’s certainly the first name on my FPL team-sheet and has been for some time now. Manchester United has been in great form recently, and Fernandes is the undoubtably at the heart of every good thing that side does. In the last four games, Fernandes has strong form with four goals and three assists. He is also well-favoured by the bonus points system, with eight bonus points out of a possible twelve recently. He has registered points (and big hauls!) consistently this season and will feature in the blank GW-18, as well as twice in DGW-19. He has performed strongly on the road, which bodes well as he has five fixtures to come in January still, with three being away. Appealing fixtures include Burnley, Sheffield United and Fulham; although he’s worth backing against any opponent.
Another player who is a great investment in FPL is Arsenal’s teenage sensation, Bukayo Saka. Saka has previously attracted suitors due to his cheap price tag (currently at £5.3Mil) and offers tremendous value now that he’s scoring goals as well as creating them. He has two goals and two assists in his last three matches and has relatively low ownership at under 10%.
Manchester City also has great fixtures coming up, which is the reason why Kevin De Bruyne is my pick in Fantrax. He is currently priced at $17.80, considerably cheaper than other premium picks (Salah, Fernandes, Kane, Son, Grealish). De Bruyne is essential to his side and will have many attacking opportunities with the Citizens’ lack of fit strikers. He scored heavily in the last GW and will be backed to continue his form with appealing fixtures against Brighton, Sheffield United, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
FPL: Harry Kane
Harry Edward Kane MBE is East London born but is adored in North London. Kane is one player I feel is rotation-proof. Managers have come and gone on White Hart Lane, but none have ever benched the England Captain. His quest to take back the golden boot has eluded him since 2016-17 season when he netted 29 goals. The January fixtures not only help his cause, but his form too (don’t forget he has Son Heung Min by his side). If Kane is not scoring, then he’s assisting and always in line for bonus points. When captained, these points add up; this provider upgrade to his game has driven him to new heights, making him a must in any FPL team.
I can hear you guys screaming at me saying he doesn’t have a double game week, but I feel he can outperform many who do. In GW-17 he was joint highest point earner among strikers, and he is Mr reliable. Did I mention he’s on penalty duty too?
On 29th December 2020, he finished the year and welcomed his baby boy into the world, and I bet he is itching to do a baby celebration in his honor.
If you don’t like my pitch then just go for KDB lol!
FPL: Andrew Robertson
The Liverpool left-back is in my opinion the best player at Liverpool this season. I agree that Salah has been scoring most of the goals, but Robertson is a constant danger. In the defeat against Southampton, he delivered at least ten potential assists that were missed by his targets in the 18 yards box. Liverpool fixtures in January are not at all easy, but Robertson has the potential to return high points if he continues at the same pace and his teammates can convert.
FPL: Raheem Sterling
Since everyone is aware that I have started playing FPL since GW-14 only, I did not dare get into Fantrax yet. This makes me inclined to pick another player in FPL. Sterling has played only 8 minutes less than Kevin De Bruyne. His form is picking up in recent weeks as well. Within a match or two, he has the potential to rediscover his best under Guardiola’s unorthodox all-attacking midfielders formation. Plus, Manchester City has the best fixture run in January.
Fantrax: Anwar El Ghazi
I don’t play FPL, so I can speak to Fantrax only. Looking at the last 30 days, El Ghazi has earned more points than any other outfield player, and it’s not even close: 115.5 to Bruno’s second-best 89.5 (Fun fact: There are two keepers in between). That’s double-digits six game-weeks running, his most recent 12.5 points against Man United despite neither scoring nor assisting.
A recent phenomenon, El Ghazi is still relatively affordable at $10.50. And he can be slotted into either midfield or forward to afford maximum flexibility.
If Aston Villa can clear up its Covid outbreak, then El Ghazi will not only have a triple game-week in GW-18+19, but he will have more make-up games to come before the end of the season. So barring injury, Covid etc, he is a long-term buy and hold. Hopefully you already have him in your Fantrax squad(s) and are watching the news to see if Villa will postpone upcoming league matches.
The most essential FPL asset for the month of January is:
This poll is closed
Kevin De Bruyne
Other (specify in comments)
The most essential Fantrax asset for the month of January is:
This poll is closed
Kevin De Bruyne
Anwar El Ghazi
Other (specify in comments)
The bloggers at NMA have shared their thoughts on the most important fantasy assets to own for the rest of the month, but what do you think? Please take our polls and then share your thoughts in the comments.
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