It was a rough week of rotations for my Fantrax team, especially with Pep’s spin of the Manchester City roulette wheel. With games coming so fast, deep-roster rotation is just going to be part of the season. Take your risk from guaranteed starters on lesser teams, or take risk that stars on deep squads lay goose-eggs.
Game-week 22 starts with a huge relegation six pointer. Sheffield United and West Brom need every point they can get (and Sheffield probably needs more points than that). A win here helps one against the other (though both may be doomed regardless). A draw helps everyone else but them.
The top three teams in the league have attractive match-ups, and it’s close at the top. The European spots are still wide open too. There’s a lot to play for, and every game matters.
There are key injuries that made last weekend even tougher.
So, good luck! On to the picks.
[ Note: Two matches are currently scheduled to kickoff the weekend together, so though they might not all be the most fantasy-point laden, we should see FOUR confirmed lineups (Sheffield United, West Brom, Wolves & Arsenal) in the countdown hour before our deadline :) ]
There are no bargain starter keepers, so I hope you already own one at a decent price. If not, here’s the best on offer:
Ederson (BUR vs MCI, $14.86) Ederson remains the best keeper with the best defense in the league. Even with some rotation, City kept yet another shutout. Burnley isn’t lighting up the scoreboard either.
Bernd Leno (WOL vs ARS, $12.51) Leno has scored double digits every game since Boxing Day. Even without clean sheets, he is getting saves and points. Plus, Wolves are struggling to score, so Leno’s a decent bet this week and a differential pick.
Lucas Digne (LEE vs EVE, $7.63) The Everton left back has returned and picked up right where he left off. He was dangerous going forward even if his crosses didn’t always find their intended targets. 9 points even with two goals against is a reminder that Digne is going to put up points. We can expect him to get forward a lot in an open game against Leeds.
Ricardo Pereira (FUL vs LEI, $1.00) Not to be confused with Matheus Pereira, Ricardo was once a fantasy favorite and key player week in and week out. He’s back after a long term injury and should start to see the field with Timothy Castagne and Wesley Fofana out for a game or two. He may be worth the chance at this price and against Fulham, especially in NMA-17 where we have cover against lineup surprises (Soyuncu found 44 minutes last time out).
Cédric Soares (WOL vs ARS, $2.23) Cedric is another wing-back who gets forward and has a decent match-up. Arsenal is stronger at the back than earlier in the season, so there is less worry about clean sheets and a continued upside for Cedric on the offensive end. Plus his price is right.
João Cancelo (BUR vs MCI, $10.43) Cancelo was disappointingly benched last game. I expect him back against Burnley. He was truly fantastic two games ago. He was a key force offensively and had a lot of freedom going forward. He is someone who can put up big points. But with Pep there is always a risk.
Jack Grealish (AST vs WHU, $21.89) He’s maybe the most consistent midfielder in the Fantrax format (with KDB out). He leads the league in assists and has a goal or assist in four of his last five games. With so many cheap options elsewhere, there are ways to get him into your squad.
Matheus Pereira (SHU vs WBA, $11.02) This midfield Pereira has four goals in four games. He is the one player making things happen for West Brom. He’s involved in everything. He’s playing with some confidence and a bit of a chip on his shoulder. While West Brom may not be in the EPL next season, Pereira will be somewhere. He is putting up points and West Brom really need the win.
James Maddison (FUL vs LEI, $14.19) It was a tough loss for Leicester City against Newcastle United. Maddison was his usual dangerous self, recording the assist on the goal. The Foxes need a bounce back game here and have an inviting match-up.
Christian Pulisic (TOT vs CHE, $6.14) The Blues looked better with him on the field. He got the assist and made an immediate impact on the game. I expect him to start the derby against their cross town rivals.
John Fleck (SHU vs WBA, $4.51) This is really more about West Brom having the worst defense in the league... by a lot. Fleck is the one “attacking” player I’m looking at for Sheffield. He won’t be in many squads (understandably) so if you’re looking for something different...
Martin Odegaard (WOL vs ARS, $1.00) The newest Gunner’s transfer got some minutes last game. You can see the Arsenal lineup before the deadline, so you have a chance to see if gets the start. I’m not quite sure I’m fully in yet, but my finger is on the trigger if he is involved, which I expect him to be.
Mohamed Salah (LIV vs BHA, $19.29) The touch and finish on his second goal were sublime (and that was not a bad ball by Shaqiri either). He hadn’t scored in six straight but is still the top scorer in the EPL. The Egyptian can get hot in a hurry. I’m looking at his scoring to continue when the lowly (but recently in-Spur-ational) Seagulls come to town.
Raphinha (LEE vs EVE, $9.79) If you missed him in previous articles, it’s time to pay attention. He’s putting up points every week. He is worth being permanently on your radar.
Raheem Sterling (BUR vs MCI, $11.80) Like so many other Citizens, he was also rotated last game; more than any of the others, he should be back in the starting-XI this game-week. Even without KDB, City is creating chances, so even against a much-improved Burnley side, I expect Sterling’s chances to be many. He scored in two of the last three games in which he played.
Alexandre Lacazette (WOL vs ARS, $11.17) Wolves haven’t won in eight games. Arsenal haven’t lost in seven. Lacezette’s play has been a part of that streak. Arsenal’s service forward has been much improved in recent weeks, and with a Wolves defense lacking confidence, the Frenchman could take advantage. Caveat: Laca is a slight doubt with a knock, so exploit the confirmed Arsenal lineup in the countdown hour before the Fantrax deadline.
Richarlison (LEE vs EVE, $10.31) The Brazilian has been a little quiet recently. I believe Leeds’ open style of play will mean more opportunities for Richarlson and Everton. I think he’s due.
Are you looking at players at both ends of the table? How much risk are willing you take? And which risk do you hate less, rotation or slaughter? Keep an eye on injuries and the four lineups that we confirm this week. Good luck!