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GW-32 Fantrax Player Picks

Round 32 is a return to normalcy, with each team playing only once.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Premier League
Vicente Guaita’s goal has been unbreachable lately, but this week he squares off against a red-hot James Maddison.
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

My wife and I don’t eat at fancy restaurants very often. Too frequently I leave the table with my wallet $200 lighter and feeling like the experience just wasn’t even nearly worth it. But we avoid the cheap, all-you-can eat buffets too, because they’re....well, gross. More typically we’ll choose a middle-ground solution, maybe enjoying delicious food-truck fare while sipping suds at a local brewery.

DGW-31 kind of presented us with similar options for our fantasy strategies. We could shell out for a gourmet meal of single-game studs and risk being disappointed by underperformance, we could gorge on mostly lousy double gameweek grub from 17th-place Everton and 18th-place Burnley, or we could choose a middle-ground solution that incorporated both quality and value.

I took the white-napkin approach and avoided double-gamers altogether. I finished on 108 points, enough to keep my rank in the NMA-11 league basically unchanged at 15th. Like so many times when I eat at expensive restaurants though, the experience was okay but not great.

I’d have been better off sticking with my usual approach to dining out, combining quality and value. That’s what week-winner MKH did, serving up seven signature entrees paired with four carefully-curated double-game side dishes. I’m sure he/she found that meal quite satisfying.

Even though I didn’t lose any ground on the leaderboard last week, consecutive middling results will make it increasingly difficult for me to finish the season in the top 10. Also, GW-32 is Round 5 of the Fantrax NMA Cup, so average won’t be good enough for me this week if I want to stay alive in that competition. I’m scouring for killer transfers then, and I’m happy to share my findings below.

Good luck to you this week, and remember that we open with Newcastle v Wolves. If you’re eying assets from either of those two sides, we should have confirmed lineups for them ahead of the Fantrax transfer deadline.

And don’t forget: That deadline is on Friday.


Goalkeepers

As a class, goalkeepers have become so expensive that it is increasingly difficult to find value at this position. Nevertheless, this is a Player Picks article, so pick players we must. But honestly, this may be the right kind of week to roll out the $1 deliberate-zero GK gambit often touted by Ken M.

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Vicente Guaita ($11.93, LEI v CPL): It’s been two months since Guaita last conceded a goal, and he’s averaged nearly 20 ppg over his last three starts. Based on those numbers, he should return value even if Palace fails to keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

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Nick Pope ($14.89, NOR v BUR): Pope is pricey, but he faces feeble Norwich this Sunday. The Canaries have scored a measly 18 goals this season — the fewest in the league. And they haven’t scored more than once in a single game since January.

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Tim Krul ($7.56, NOR v BUR): I just told you which team has the worst offense in the Prem. Want to know who’s second worst? It’s Burnley, who hadn’t scored a goal since February until yesterday’s match against Everton. So if you’re operating on a limited budget and would rather roll with a lower-priced starter instead of taking the deliberate zero route, then Krul is your man this week.


Defenders

Nathan Collins ($5.31, NOR v BUR): As outlined above, the Clarets have a solid shot at a clean sheet this week, and Collins is the cheapest route into the back four. He even popped up with a goal against Everton.

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Reece James ($9.64, SOU v CHE): The Blues’ 1-4 collapse against Brentford was shocking, but James’ explosive attacking potential offers a buffer should the Saints breach Chelsea’s goal line. Be aware that Chelsea is in the midst of Champions League quarterfinal play, and has a must-win midweek match on Wednesday. If fear of rotation deters you from James, then Antonio Rüdiger ($12.28) is virtually nailed-on and put up 16.5 in the Brentford game despite the loss.

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Nathaniel Clyne ($2.49, LEI v CPL): James Maddison is enjoying a resurgence for Leicester, but Palace has kept four straight clean sheets across all competitions. Clyne’s low price makes him a great enabler this week.

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Wesley Fofana ($1.00, LEI v CPL): On Saturday the 21 year-old Frenchman made his long-awaited return from injury, posting 10 points in the 1-1 draw with United. He’s cheap as chips and sure to return value. His teammate James Justin ($1.96) is also a nice enabler.

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Sam Byram ($1.93, NOR v BUR): Byram has made two starts in a row, putting up double digits in both. He is yet another player whose low price can allow you to spend elsewhere.

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Matt Doherty ($5.73, AVL v TOT): Doherty’s revival under Antonio Conte continues: The left back’s goal against Newcastle was his fifth goal contribution in the last six games.

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Still not enough enablers for you? Then I’ll close with Jonny ($3.03) and Willy Boly ($1.00). Deployed on the right side of midfield, Jonny seems to have found his scoring boots as of late, and Newcastle just gave up five to Tottenham. And as part of Wolves’ back three, Boly is eligible for full clean sheet points and faces a Magpie offense that has scored only one goal over its last three matches.


Midfielders

Christian Eriksen ($2.34, BRF v WHU): The Great Dane has averaged more than 12 ppg since slotting into Brentford’s starting lineup, and he’s still dirt cheap.

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Jeffrey Schlupp ($6.62, LEI v CPL): He generally tends to quietly score pretty well for his price, and this week I just have a feeling he could do even better than usual.

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James Maddison ($15.57, LEI v CPL): The 23 year-old Englishman is firing on all cylinders lately, contributing to three goals over his last four games (and it would have been four goals had not a fine strike against United been disallowed). If the Foxes are able to breach Guaita’s goal line, Maddison will likely be involved.

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Kevin De Bruyne ($16.11, MCI v LIV): He’s expensive and the fixture is tough, but don’t let those things put you off the Belgian. He’s nailed-on to start this crucial match and lives for big games, posting 34 against United and 22.5 against Chelsea this year.

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Bruno Fernandes ($16.37, EVE v MUN), Jadon Sancho ($5.96, EVE v MUN): Both have been producing well lately. And I like the matchup: Although Man United’s form is a mixed bag, Everton are looking like legit relegation contenders now.

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Heung-Min Son ($19.34, AVL v TOT), Dejan Kulusevski ($4.86, AVL v TOT): Tottenham’s offense is on fire under Conte, producing 21 goals over its last six matches. Together these two guys have scored or assisted over half of those, so owning one or both for the Villa match seems wise.

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Cucho Hernández ($6.17, WAT v LEE): Three goals in his last four games, and this week it’s a home match against a Leeds side that has lost seven of its last eight.


Forwards

Maxwell Cornet ($7.98, NOR v BUR): His goal plus assist against Everton has probably locked down another start for him against Norwich, and if there was ever a time to own him it’s got to be that fixture, right? Also, Fantrax classes him as D/M/F, so it should be easy to find a spot for him somewhere on your roster.

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Kai Havertz ($6.94, SOU v CHE): He’s scoring for fun lately and is still priced within reach.

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Cristiano Ronaldo ($12.43, EVE v MUN): CR7’s hat trick against Tottenham seemed to signal a return to form, but then he missed the Leicester match through illness. He is back in training now, and I’m backing him to score against the Toffees.

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Harry Kane ($17.24, AVL v TOT): He only managed an assist in the 5-1 humbling of Newcastle, his eight points breaking a string of five consecutive double-digit returns. Villa have won only two of their last eight, so normal business should be restored this weekend.

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Fabio Silva ($1.16, NEW v WOL): Raúl Jimenez remains suspended, so Silva looks set to continue at center-forward. And with Rúben Nevez also absent through injury, the pecking order for spot kicks is all the way down to Silva. He could be a great differential/enabler this week if you have an available forward slot for him.


Are you disappointed that GW-32 features no doubles, or are you relieved that you don’t have to factor that into your player selections? Are you still alive in the NMA Cup, and how do you plan to get through to Round 6 if you are? Does the Man City/Liverpool matchup put you off, or are you investing in this marquee fixture? Please share your thoughts and strategies in the comments below!

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