With game week 4 coming on the heels of an international break that has seen a number of injuries we thought this would be a good time to start the “Play The Wildcard”. Each week we’ll take a look at the best players moving forward. We’ll take into consideration not just long term prospects but also incorporate some short term plays with the idea that your team will be benefit from some players immediately and be able to use routine transfers. One example would be the inclusion of Some Tchoyi this week. As we’ve written earlier this week, Tchoyi may play out of position as a striker with injuries limited Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie. While Tchoyi likely wouldn’t remain on a roster for the entire season, he is a good high risk, high reward play for the next week or two.
Goalkeepers: As you’ll see a bit later on, we’ve invest heavily in forwards. While we typically believe in a rotation system for goalkeepers, the play of Tim Krul coupled with the upcoming fixture list for Newcastle have us investing not only in Krul but also in both Taylors – Ryan and Steven. Krul is a good bet over the next 7 fixtures with his squad facing Villa (a), Rovers (h), Wolves (a), Spurs (h), Wigan (h), Stoke (a), Everton (h). That run of fixtures take us through to game week 12. While we infrequently count on player availability that far ahead, we’re loathe to waste too many transfers on ‘keeper changes. Therefore we’ve picked our backup, Mignolet, because as Krul faces Man City (a), Man Utd (a), and Chelsea (h) in game weeks 12-14, Sunderland’s schedule is Fulham (h), Wigan (h), and Wolves (a).
Defenders: Our two least expensive defenders also belong to Krul’s Newcastle and they will enjoy the same schedule. While there are some questions surrounding Newcastle following the departure of Joey Barton and the arrival of defender Davide Santon from Internazionale but we expect that at least one of these players will be a viable starter going forward. Coupled with Manchester City’s Micah Richard and Liverpool’s Jose Enrique we only need to rotate one of the three remaining defenders most weeks. The third of that trio is Wolves’ Steve Ward. Ward is a popular choice, now up to 11.9% owned in the Official Fantasy Premier League, as he has benefited from two clean sheets and a goal. Ward has already equaled his goals tally of a season ago and really shouldn’t be counted on to provide too many. Fantasy Gaffer has discussed the erratic nature of defenders scoring goals before, but the simple fact is defenders goals scored fluctuate wildly from season to season and relying on defender goals isn’t a strategy we endorse. However, Wolves are showing a dedication at the back and a tireless work rate and we like them to earn a couple more clean sheets here at the start of the season. Wolves can’t be counted on for too many over the course of the season, they kept just 5 all of last season, and the short term schedule isn’t favorable (Tottenham, QPR and Liverpool) for fantasy premier league purposes. We’re buying Ward specifically for weeks 7-9 and the hope that his price goes up another £0.1 or £0.2 in the next couple of weeks.
Midfielders: It may be a bit risky, but with the number of top forwards we’re investing in, coupled with two players in top sides who we feel are 90′ men in Silva and Arteta, we wanted to take an upside gamble with our mid level players. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adel Taarabt are certainly a risk, but for the price we feel they’re a risk worth taking. With top sides we frequently articulate that owning pairs of players at the same positon will lead to cannibalization of fantasy premier league points. Given that Adel Taarabt is still the best player on this team, and that Shaun has reportedly been handed a free role, they could each easily contribute, and do so in different roles. This may backfire, but we like QPR’s upcoming schedule, as well as the fact that their fixture list doesn’t provide many difficult back-to-backs until game week 15-16 with Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h). SWP has dipped in price from where he started this season and, at £6.4m, he is priced the lowest he’s been in 6 seasons. SWP has only broken 100 fantasy premier league points twice, in 2008/09 (117) and 2009/10 (103) but in each season he played 2437′ and 1752′. He scored 5 goals in 08/09 with 5 assists and went 4g 8a in 09/10. He has 35 matches to earn minutes now and should be able to top his best goals and assist returns in a side that faces Newcastle (h), Wovles (a), Villa (h), Fulham (a) and Blackburn (h) in their first five matches following the massive transfer deadline buying spree.
We wanted to make sure we’ve purchased two top tier midfielders and needed to get it done for under £18m. We have considered other pairs here, like Stewart Downing and Clint Dempsey, but with Fulham struggling and their Europa League matches taking their toll on the squads legs we’re not comfortable with Dempsey being one our two ‘top’ midfielders. Tim Cahill is another player we considered here especially with the transfer of Beckford and injury to Anichebe, however Cahill’s schedule sees him face Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea in order, and Machester United just two weeks later. Without a healthy Leighton Baines or Mikel Arteta to provide him service in the next two game weeks (home fixtures with Villa and Wigan) we’re more comfortable making a longer play and investing in Silva and Arteta.
With injuries to Rafa and Adam, and Juan Mata not established as a 90′ player for Chelsea, we feel the pair we’ve selected is the best. Arsenal have 4 home fixtures in the next 6 and their next three matches are Swansea (h), Blackburn (a), Bolton (h) while Manchester City play Wigan (h), Fulham (a), Everton (h), Blackburn (a), and Aston Villa (h).
Forwards: The core of this particular team is the trio up front. While Dzeko seems like he might have already hit his peak this season, this article at Back Page Football examines each of Dezko’s transfers and the difference between his first and second season with each club. While we have to believe that Aguero eventually takes a good amount of playing time, and Tevez has remained for at least the next few months, Dzeko is going to get minutes and his next 5 fixtures (listed in the paragraph above) set the stage for him to continue his amazing start. Certainly Dzeko will not maintain this pace, but if he’s able to post even a goal every other match over the next 5 he’ll be a solid return on the investment and earn additional value which we can use when we transfer him out. An interesting note is that are only 6 forwards within £0.5m of Dzeko in either direction: Chamakh, Defoe, Anelka, Balotelli, Gervinho and Berbatov. Were looking at either doing a double transfer later or selling Dzeko for a striker like Ade