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Fantrax EPL GW-21 Player Picks

It’s a New Year’s surprise with almost every team playing (so far) and three teams scheduled to play twice.

West Ham United’s Michail Antonio celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with Said Benrahma - Premier League
West Ham (and two other teams) are on a putative double week. How many Hammers will you have in your lineup?
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Schedule continues to change in the EPL!

It looks like everyone but Newcastle will play in GW-21, and by the time all is done and dusted, perhaps even the Magpies will get a match shoe-horned into the late part of the game-week.

As I write, three teams are currently scheduled play twice: West Ham, Everton, and Brentford. With an away match at Palace and a home fixture against lowly Norwich, 5th-place West Ham is the most tempting at the moment.

Caveat: The later matches of this DGW are very late (Jan 11 & 12), with the January transfer window opening, and an entire slate of FA Cup matches in between, and the AFCON calling up its players... so player availability in those later matches is fraught with risk. There could even be another match added by the time we get there. You’ve been warned.

For pure sports-watching, the weekend is highlighted by two big clashes, the top four all playing each other: Liverpool vs Chelsea and Arsenal vs Man City.

We Fantrax managers get to see confirmed lineups for just one match before our deadline, but it could be helpful as we get to peer inside the minds of Pep and Arteta (well, sort of, as Arteta is sidelined with COVID), taking away all the “fun” (risk) of Pep roulette.


Keepers

Alvaro Fernandez - BRE vs AST, SOU vs BRE, 5.43

The Bees held their own against City, keeping them to just a goal, which isn’t an easy task. They are home to Aston Villa and away to Southampton. Neither are easy, but neither are TOO scary either. He’s not going to be in a lot of lineups, but Jonas Lossl is confirmed coming over in the January transfer window, so maybe Fernandez doesn’t start against Saints. You’ve been warned.

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Illan Meslier - LEE vs BUR, 9.07

Leeds have had a few days off, but before had a tough run against top teams. Meslier now faces Burnley which has scored only once in the last four games.

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Fraser Forster - SOU vs BRE, 3.50

With a rescheduled game now on, the Saints no longer blank this game-week (knock on wood!). Up from $1.04 after a 27 point outing against Tottenham last Tuesday, Forster is still cheap and still apparently the Saints’ #1 when healthy. At least have him on your barn-door watch-list so you can grab him later before his price goes up even more.


Defenders

Stuart Dallas - LEE vs BUR, 12.66

Dallas is a little pricey, but this is a decent matchup for him. And with the top four teams playing each other, I’m tempted to spend on this one. Check out his points production against mid-table opponents before his run of the last three vs top four teams. He was consistently putting up double digits. There are other cheap options for Leeds on the defensive end (because of injuries) if you’re looking for some bargains with a decent matchup, including Junior Firpo and Robin Koch. Just be sure to watch the injury reports.

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Craig Dawson - CRY vs WHU, WHU vs NOR, 9.99

He’s my top choice of the DGW defenders, which you’ll pay for. I’m considering at least one West Ham defender, and if I can afford the Hammer center-back, I will. Vladimir Coufal is my second choice as a player who gets down the wing when he can.

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Ben Davies - WAT vs TOT, 4.88

Spurs are playing well and haven’t lost in seven. During that stretch they have kept four clean sheets and conceded more than one goal only to Liverpool. Davies is a cheap and relatively safe play for this matchup with a history of high production when healthy in past seasons.

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Raphael Varane - MAN vs WOL, 4.60

Varane came on for an injured Eric Bailey, which means he could be back in the starting 11 with thin other options at center back for United. Wolves have been shut out six of their last eight games, not scoring a crooked number since November 1. Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot might find their places back in the starting 11 after being rested a game, but I’m less certain.


Midfielders

Jared Bowen - CRY vs WHU, WHU vs NOR, 19.01

He is very pricey, as maybe he should be as the top scoring mid in the game. But with two solid matchups and a pretty solid place in the lineup, he’s hard to pass up. Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek, and Declan Rice (back after his suspension) are worth a look too.

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Lucas Moura - WAT vs TOT, 8.15

Moura was rested after his huge output against Crystal Palace, which means he most likely gets the start here. He has become a key part of the Spurs attack. He has scored in each of his last two starts. Son Heung-Min is always an option too, but he’s about double Moura’s price.

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Kevin De Bruyne - ARS vs MCI, 12.66

City put five goals on Arsenal early in the season. Arsenal is much better than back then, but I still think I’m going to get at least one City attacker in my lineup. We will be able to see what those options are before making a final choice.


Forwards

Michail Antonio - CRY vs WHU, WHU vs NOR, 12.02

That’s a decent price for someone like Antonio in a DGW. I’d be looking at him if he was just playing Norwich, but with two games I feel he’s a must have.

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Harry Kane - WAT vs TOT, 10.31

Harry Kane currently costs less than Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Just saying. He has now netted in three straight games, plus Spurs are playing Watford who just shipped four to West Ham. Get him before his price rises even more.

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Ivan Toney - BRE vs AST, SOU vs BRE, 12.11

The Brentford frontman is averaging over 8 ppg. For a double game week that’s as solid a bet as the DGW itself (YMMV). Neither opponent has been stellar defensively either. He’s a nice differential pick. Sergi Canos (who can play in the mid) is a riskier pick as a double gamer, but also more affordable.

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Marcus Rashford - MAN vs WOL, 5.06

Rashford has shown some sparks of his former self. The price is right and with rotations he seems like a good fit to start. United is on a roll, and I don’t see that changing here.


How many double game week players are you going with? What other players are you looking at? Which matchups are most intriguing to you?

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