GW-32 is nearly upon us (Friday deadline!), so there are now only seven game-weeks left in the season. Thanks to FA Cup matches, four teams don’t play this week: Man City, Man United, Brighton and Chelsea. Players from these teams have been popular picks over the past few weeks, but at this point in the season it is time to stop thinking about discounts and try to maximize the number of players you actually field. The F-17 league allows a little leeway here, but in F-11 I don’t recommend holding any players who won’t play, even a discounted Haaland, although I know that plenty will do so.
Of the teams that do play, Arsenal FC (home to woeful Southampton) and Liverpool (home to relegation-zone Nottingham Forest) have very appealing fixtures. Fulham FC is the next team to play Leeds, whose last three losses have gone 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, so could Fulham score seven? Crystal Palace has shown marked improvement under Roy Hodgson, and a home game against Everton offers more optimism. Aston Villa is the form team in the league, brushing aside Newcastle last week. The Villans next get to play Brentford in a game that is hard to call, but there are attractive options there.
Bournemouth at home to West Ham gives good options in both teams, as does Leicester hosting Wolves, although with both these games, the pressure of being near the bottom increases the chances of a niggly game with a lot of cards. The final game sees Newcastle, in danger of slipping from the top four, hosting Spurs who could be their main competition there, but who are so inconsistent. Newcastle will be desperate to avoid defeat, and Spurs will be desperate to win.
All this means that despite the four blank teams, there are plenty of fantasy options. Here are some of the best in my opinion.
Sam Johnstone (CRY vs EVE, $1.98)
He’s had two games in as deputy for the injured Guaita, amassing 41.5 points already. Home to Everton offers another opportunity for a big haul. His price has risen, but he’s still super-cheap.
Aaron Ramsdale (ARS vs SOU, $14.33)
If you want to spend a lot on a keeper, Ramsdale should be in for win points and has a good shot at a clean sheet. Southampton is looking increasingly desperate, so may give him some work, but as with any keeper in a potentially one-sided game, there’s always the risk of the one shot, one goal scenario and hardly any points as a result.
Daniel Iversen (LEI vs WOL, $1.00)
Michael Keane (CRY vs EVE, $4.41)
His last six games have seen him drop below 10 points only once, and that was 9.5 points, and he scored once in that series too. Everton is struggling, and form doesn’t favor them here, but he should be busy and that can be enough to generate a lot of points in Fantrax.
Felipe (LIV vs NFO, $6.22)
Another defender from a team who are likely to lose, he’s a remarkably consistent points accumulator. If you’re not on him yet, he’s still not all that expensive.
Rob Holding (ARS vs SOU, $1.88)
A dirt-cheap option who should continue playing since William Saliba is not expected back yet. A good clean-sheet shout.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV vs NFO, $13.35)
If you want to splash out on a defender, TAA and Liverpool are showing signs of a return to form (again, but this time they really mean it). He has 15.5 points in each of his past two games and could easily exceed that against Forest where he’s likely to be doing a lot of attacking.
Tosin Adarabioyo (FUL vs LEE, 6.75)
Ibrahima Konate (LIV vs NFO, $4.48)
Bukayo Saka (ARS vs SOU, $15.54)
He disappointed last time out thanks to his penalty miss, and that could mean he won’t take the next one, but his price has dropped a little as a result. Against Southampton he’s surely going to be attacking a lot.
Gabriel Martinelli (ARS vs SOU, $15.90)
Why not double-up on the Arsenal midfield, especially since all the interesting Liverpool attackers are classed as forwards? Martinelli is in great form, posting double-figures in six of the past seven games, including five goals plus three assists.
Michael Olise (CRY vs EVE, $11.42)
A player who is clearly flourishing under the new regime at Palace. Slightly disappointing last time out, but he’s still scored more than 50 points in the past three games.
Eberechi Eze (CRY vs EVE, $10.51)
He’s actually out-earned Olise over the past three games and is fresh off a two-goal haul.
Jacob Ramsey (BRE vs AVL, $6.75)
Pedro Porro (NEW vs TOT, $2.72)
Gabriel Jesus (ARS vs SOU, $11.44)
His minutes are still being managed, but he’s putting up some impressive points despite this. He could even get the next penalty after Saka’s miss. He’s this week’s must have player for me.
Mo Salah (LIV vs NFO, $14.16)
There are so many excellent options at forward for Liverpool, but Salah remains the most reliable. You could be forgiven for going for Gakpo and/or Jota and/or Nunez though, for considerably less outlay.
Ollie Watkins (BRE vs AVL, $17.28)
He’s on an amazing run, with nine goals in his past ten games, and fresh off a two-goal 36.5 point haul against Newcastle. I massively regret passing up on him because of that fixture. This is another fairly difficult opponent, but betting against him in this sort of form is risky.
Diogo Jota (LIV vs NFO, $3.67)
Jarrod Bowen (BOU vs WHA, $13.35)
The countdown hour gives us one match to show us confirmed lineups before our (FRIDAY!) deadline: Arsenal FC hosting Southampton. Come back to NMA for our Pre-Deadline Chat to see those lineups and decide whom to panic-buy!
Are you holding on to any zeros this week? Who have I missed - especially those budget options? Please log in and let us know in the comments!