GW-16 is almost upon us, and that means we’re almost at the mother of all international breaks, the World Cup! Be sure to join our World Cup mini-league!
It also means that 20 Fantrax EPL NMA-11 managers are competing the Blog Cup Final. At the time of writing, it looks like Erling Haaland is fit, so we may see plenty of Cup teams actually able to field 11 players this week!
There are some nice-looking fixtures on tap, and we will also get to see confirmed lineups for Man City and Brentford before our deadline since they have the early kick-off (at 12:30 GMT). Immunity to Pep roulette could be a huge factor this week, so make sure you join the community here at NMA in the countdown hour before kick-off to see who starts for the Citizens and to discuss your final team selections.
In addition to Man City’s nice match up, we also have Liverpool hosting Southampton, Arsenal at Wolves, and Tottenham hosting Leeds. Leicester can continue a resurgence at inconsistent West Ham, although I wouldn’t bet too heavily on that road trip. All the other games could go either way, with home advantage perhaps being the key.
I don’t know what to make of Man United after last week’s heavy loss to Aston Villa. The Red Devils certainly have a chance to redeem themselves at Fulham, especially if Mitrovic remains out, but the defense that had begun to look so secure was blown apart spectacularly last week.
Most Fantrax assets that are widely-held were probably purchased at bargain basement prices, like Newcastle’s Trippier and City’s Haaland, so if you don’t already own them I’d take a pass at their current full prices. Their high costs means you’d have to save too much elsewhere.
So for this edition of our Fantrax buying guide, I’m looking at players who might be worth bringing in specifically for this week. There are still some great values out there.
Danny Ward (WHU vs LEI, $7.24)
Once a liability, Ward has completely turned his fortunes around. After beginning the season allowing 22 goals with no clean sheets in his first seven matches, he has let in only three in the last seven. His price is starting to climb into mid-table range (as is his team), but he’s still decent value for now.
Edouard Mendy (NEW vs CHE, $4.34)
A pick based purely on price rather than fixture, since stumbling Chelsea visits red-hot Newcastle. But Mendy looks likely to continue to deputize for the injured Kepa and should get the opportunity to make plenty of saves, which is how he could justify selection.
Ederson (MCI vs BRE, $11.28)
Ederson looks like a decent clean sheet shout, but that’s because he isn’t likely to have much to do. The flipside is that the dreaded one-shot, one-goal scenario could scupper your investment.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (WOL vs ARS, $5.58)
He’s back from injury and his price has dropped while he was out, making him a nice option, especially against goal-shy Wolves. There’s potential at both ends of the pitch here.
Manuel Akanji (MCI vs BRE, $3.59)
As above, City’s lineup will be public knowledge ahead of the Fantrax transfer deadline, so this will be an unusual opportunity to plunder Pep’s starting-XI. Akanji has been a regular over the past few weeks, and while his fantasy returns haven’t exactly shot out the lights, he should return value and then some. Hey, he out-performed Cancelo last week! (Sorry, too soon?) Really, most of City’s defenders are bargains, Aymeric Laporte ($2.02) in particular (another worth grabbing if he starts).
Clement Lenglet (TOT vs LEE, $4.34)
Lenglet has been earning fairly well without the benefit of clean sheets — always a good sign for a Fantrax defender. It’s always difficult to predict which Tottenham will turn up, but Leeds is generally not so good away from home.
Ethan Pinnock (MCI vs BRE, $7.03)
Ken’s latest man-crush should have plenty of work to do at the Etihad, but he’s been scoring well even though his team has been conceding. Perhaps counterintuitively, it’s not crazy to pick Fantrax defenders playing against top teams, and Pinnock is one well worth considering.
Phil Foden (MCI vs BRE, $14.85)
I’m guessing at Pep roulette here, but you won’t have to. Keep an eye on the team news and fit in whichever City attackers you can. There’s no Champion’s League match this week to muddy team selection (but there is an EFL Cup tie against Chelsea), so Foden could be ready to go from the start, and he’ll be keen to leave for the World Cup in goal-scoring form.
Dejan Kulusevski (TOT vs LEE, $4.36)
Kulusevski’s return last week was welcome news with Son out, and his price has dropped to make him an attractive option this week. Surely Spurs will do plenty of attacking in this one. Ivan Perisic is also worth considering; he has been playing further forward lately, although this may be impacted by Kulusevski’s return.
Eberechi Eze (NOT vs CPL, $11.21)
Eze has quietly been putting up some decent figures, and a game against Nottingham Forest could be a chance to improve them even further.
James Maddison (WHU vs LEI, $15.67)
Maddison is desperately trying to force his way into the England squad, and this is his last pre-tournament chance to shine. West Ham is not an easy opponent, but Maddison has the talent and the motivation.
Mo Salah (LIV vs SOU, $13.26)
I’m still not sure how much I trust Liverpool, hence the scarcity of picks from them so far, but this match looks like one they ought to win comfortably. With their new manager Nathan Jones still learning players’ names, Southampton may be a bit more defensive-minded, but that should give the Liverpool attack plenty of possession to work with. And having gone above 20 points in each of his last two games, who would bet against Salah making it three?
Darwin Nunez (LIV vs SOU, $7.81)
It might be hard to squeeze in two Liverpool forwards (at least in NMA-11), but it could be worth it if you can find a way to pull it off (and if you can’t afford Salah...). Darwin isn’t putting up the points quite as well, but he’s a lot cheaper. In fact, he’s one of the few players in the game whose price is still less than his average return.
Gabriel Jesus (WOL vs ARS, $17.04)
Jesus could be the pick of the week for me. He’s visiting stuttering opposition, and he has been picking up points really well even when not actually scoring goals. I fancy him to find the net this week.
Which players are you buying this week? Which are you selling? Are you holding onto lots of discounts - Newcastle players maybe? Are you eyeing any other differential options? Are you in the Blog Cup Final, and is that affecting your thinking? Please log in and share your thoughts in the comments!