The season is finally coming to a close, and those barren summer weeks lie ahead when there won’t be an opportunity to spend hours on our fantasy football teams. What will we do?
Enough of that depressing stuff — First we have the final weekend to navigate, clawing our way as high in the league as we can. There’s also the small matter of the NMA-11 cup final, and (slightly embarrassing since I’ve been organizing it) my team The Motley Crewe has made it through to face the current NMA-11 league leader 183168, a daunting prospect. I’m also hoping for my highest-ever Fantrax-11 league finish. I’m currently sitting in third place (subject to Thursday night’s fixtures) with second place in reach, so getting my team selection right for the final week is a must.
For the only time all season, all 20 teams play simultaneously, kicking off at 16:00 UK time. That plus all forms of rotation risk means you really want to be around in the hour beforehand to see the lineups. I’m expecting a few unusual starters because many teams have nothing left to play for. That means there will be some excellent bargain offerings to offset all the high-cost players you’ll be trying to fit in.
The last week or so has produced some surprising results, and you can expect more on Sunday. But there are a few teams who definitely have all to play for, none more so than Man City and Liverpool, so expect the strongest possible teams there — and surely neither will slip up... or will they? Add to them Tottenham and Arsenal fighting for the last Champions League place, the advantage now with Spurs. The Gunners put in a poor performance on Monday against Newcastle, but they’ve tended to bounce back after doing that, and they’ll be at home — whether their opponents Everton will still be fighting for their survival may have some bearing on this, as will news from Norwich, should Spurs coast into a comfortable lead.
I’m writing this before Thursday evening’s games, so possibly the relegation battle will be a two-horse race by then (if Everton wins on Thursday) — but certainly Burnley and Leeds will both be fighting for their Premier League lives on Sunday, and perhaps Everton too.
Here are my picks, but I may well change my mind after Thursday, and we should all be flexible enough to exploit the lineups on Sunday. Prices are pre-adjustment and are for F-11; F-17 prices will be a little lower.
Jack Butland (CRY vs MUN: $1.81)
Reliable starting keepers have mostly become very expensive, so if you can find a cheap one who may earn well, he’s worth going for. I’m not absolutely set on this pick, you never know which Man United will show up, but the price is very attractive.
Hugo Lloris (NOR vs TOT: $15.94)
If you want to go expensive, both Spurs and Liverpool have good clean sheet potential, but Lloris is a lot less expensive than Alisson. He’s still costly, though, and a Norwich goal would ruin his points big-time.
James Justin (LEI vs SOU: $3.49)
Assuming he makes it through Thursday unscathed, and also that he makes the team on Sunday, Justin could be a cheap source of points. Southampton is not finishing particularly strongly, always with the potential to ship a few goals. Justin’s returns have been decent for the past few weeks without any goal involvement, but he has the potential to get involved there too. His teammate Wesley Fofana could be an excellent pick as well if he’s playing, costing a mere $1.01.
Willy Boly (LIV vs WOL: $2.13)
This is where Fantrax differs so much from Official FPL, because it would be madness to pick a Wolves defender there. I am certainly not expecting a clean sheet, but he should get plenty to do, and that offers the chance to earn points. Again this is a budget pick — I’d prefer to spend my big money on attacking players.
Emerson Royal (NOR vs TOT: $8.39)
This is pricier pick, but against Norwich there is plenty of potential for attacking returns. He’s been scoring well, with 32 points in his past three games.
Man City and Liverpool Defenders: Keep an eye out for team news on Sunday, since there is plenty of scope for a real bargain playing in either defense. Also, Kieran Trippier might be back starting — Every time he has started, he has earned over 10 points, and after his lay-off he costs only $3.46.
Kevin De Bruyne (MCI vs AVL: $17.89)
It’s a must-win game, and who is City’s go-to man? He disappointed against West Ham (although he still earned 7.5 points), but had been on-fire previously. It would be a brave person who doesn’t find room for him.
Son Heung-Min (NOR vs TOT: $21.60)
Son is another player who has been in fine form, again with a slight dip (only 8 points) last time out. Spurs visit Norwich, which bodes well for attacking points returns, and of course they really need the win. Having Son and De Bruyne will take a fair chunk of your budget, but you’ll be sweating all afternoon if you don’t have them.
Christian Eriksen (BRE vs LEE: $5.25)
While Brentford doesn’t have much to play for, the Bees are still chasing a record high league spot, and Eriksen has just been sensational since joining them. There is talk that he might move on, and I’m sure he’ll be highly motivated to finish his time - -or at the very least this season — with a fine game in front of home fans. Leeds have it all to play for and will be a tough opponent, but they have conceded plenty and Eriksen is always likely to be involved. Many of you have him at a below-retail price, but even at retail his average return is well over double his price.
Fourth midfielder — there is a wealth of options, and I’m well aware that I’ve picked three fairly obvious ones so far. Chelsea has a very promising home game, and depending on Thursday’s result may need points to guard against Spurs. Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham players all appeal. Leicester has suddenly found attacking mojo, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes well in form.
Harry Kane (NOR vs TOT: $18.11)
It’s a must-win game. Kane has over 20 points in his last two games. And they were not against opponents as generous as Norwich. He’s another player hard to leave out of your team — but he’s also another who is very expensive.
Luis Diaz (LIV vs WOL: $4.55)
Budget is likely to be an issue, so Diaz offers a cheap way in to what should be an attack versus defense game. Mane and Salah might be back, and Jota could start, so he’s not 100% certain, so watch out for team news. Any of the other three I’ve mentioned could be great options too, but they’re much more expensive.
Phil Foden (MCI vs AVL: $11.75)
Foden has featured in most City games this season and is capable of a massive score. That’s true of all City attackers, so watch out for team news.
Other options: Jamie Vardy is back with two 20+ scores in his last two games (with Thursday evening to come), and he is a little cheaper than many. He’s currently at $8.12, but that will rise, so if you want him, get him pre-update!
Mason Mount has a nice fixture and it feels wrong not to include any Chelsea players at home to free-falling Watford. Other more budget-friendly options are likely to be on the Chelsea team sheet though.
I think I might have said ‘keep an eye on the team sheet a few times - you REALLY need to be around in the hour before kick-off on Sunday where you will see ALL TWENTY CONFIRMED GW-38 LINEUPS! I look forward to chatting with some of you then.
Whom did I miss? With all teams playing once, there’s a full pool of players available, so please let us know in the comments who you think should be in your team.