I’ll be your crying shoulder,
I’ll be FPL’s strife
I’ll be helpful when you’re colder,
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life.
Whatever the results, All Things FPL will be there to drag you up from the sea of red arrows. With that in mind let’s dive into ATFPL’s Gameweek 16 preview and its captain picks, heavy hitters, clean sheets, punts, and the big ol’ rumbling gut.
Eden Hazard tops the Foreplay list thanks mostly to his fantastic home form. As pointed out in this Gameweek’s Captain Foresight, his overall points per game score jumps from 5.4 to 7.9 when playing at home. More importantly, the same applies to goal attempts (2.1 to 2.6), shots in the box (1.7 to 2.0), shots on target (0.8 to 1.4), and key passes (2.4 to 2.6). Chelsea face Hull at Stamford Bridge; Hull are not defending well, conceding a dangerous amount of shots in the box away from home. Thus, in an Agüero-less Gameweek Hazard comes to the fore.
Alexis Sánchez has become the Fantasy midfielder of choice with almost 40% ownership due to his consistency of attacking output. He’s second on points—only Agüero on 106 beats his total of 98— and has registered attacking points in six of his last eight appearances. Despite a tough game against a Newcastle team fresh off a famous win against Chelsea, Sánchez’s threat is such that Fantasy Managers can reliably expect points, especially at the Emirates.
QPR have been dreadful away from home, conceding 2.43 goals per game on average for a total of 17, three more than second worst Leicester. This Gameweek, Romelu Lukaku is poised to capitalise on this weakness as Everton welcome Harry Redknapp’s team to Goodison Park. Lukaku is providing Everton with an attacking threat up front in the last four fixtures with 13 goal attempts, eight of which have come inside the box and seven have been on target. However, be aware that captaining him is a big gamble; he is yet to deliver in the double digits this season.
The most popular player in the game just got more popular as managers have replaced the injured Agüero with Diego Costa. Almost 170.000 Fantasy managers have pounced on the Spanish striker in anticipation of Chelsea scoring big against struggling Hull. Amazingly, Costa hasn’t hit double FPL figures in three months so the attraction is consistency over explosive returns. With 11 goals in 12 league games and statistics to back it up he is the safe choice.
Yaya Touré’s name has popped up in FPL conversations in increasing numbers since Agüero’s injury, especially as the Ivorian benefited against Everton by converting a penalty that would have been Agüero’s. It’s now three games out of four with exactly 10 point returns so he’s enticing for Fantasy Managers looking for Manchester City coverage until the return of the Argentinian striker. If you have the cash he is a decent purchase, but know that he is on four yellow cards and will be leaving City for the African Cup of Nations. So you could at most get five games and only four in case of a booking.
Wilfried Bony is a pick for the player rather than the fixture. Tottenham have been defensively sound away from home—apart from the mauling they received from Chelsea and Manchester City—so it’s more the case of looking at Bony’s threat than Swansea’s attack or Spurs’s weaknesses. Bony’s having an impressive season and is, looking at the underlying numbers from an FPL perspective, comparable to Diego Costa. They have similar amounts of key passes, shots inside the box, and shots on target—Bony even has more goal attempts overall. Granted, Bony has played more games, but has also featured more on the bench so playing time has been similar.
Robin van Persie divides opinion in ATFPL’s Member Lounge. While he looked lethal against Southampton—pouncing on mistakes to score two goals in three attempts—he isn’t posting the underlying numbers to justify the price. Stoosher’s What We Learned points out that he is unlikely to ever return to the FPL dreamland so take this recommendation with a grain of salt. The Dutchman, while a fine pick this Gameweek against a flailing Liverpool defence, is too expensive to be considered a value pick.
There are other options than the aforementioned Touré for City coverage and one is the oft forgotten Edin Džeko. A feature of this week’s Differentials, he never fails to produce great underlying numbers—and indeed, goals—when getting regular playing time under Pellegrini. Thus, it is more a question of whether he’s back to full fitness and will start games during December.
Kevin Mirallas is seldom a popular choice as there always seem to other priorities when considering the tricky Belgian. But with 3% ownership and a price tag of 7.2 million, three goals and an assist in seven starts is nothing to scoff at. He’s a valid choice if you have money from your Agüero sale and want to upgrade from a bargain basement midfielder.
Bojan Krkić is starting to show the form Fantasy Managers hoped for at the beginning of the season. Now is the time to play him, but be wary of making the purchase just before Mark Hughes’s Stoke enters a difficult run of fixtures (cpl/CHE/eve/WBA/MUN/ars).
The ATFPL Clean Sheet Consortium likes the look of …
…Chelsea’s César Azpilicueta, ranked second in the ATFPL’s Defenders Watchlist.
…Leighton Baines for Everton whose QPR fixture offers a triple threat: clean sheets, assists, and goals.
…Andre Wisdom, a budget pick in a rotation strategy for West Brom’s home game against Aston Villa.
Big ol’ Rumbling Gut Pick
We try to stay away from the easy picks in the Gut. Take Yannick Bolasie as an example. Owned by less than 2% of Fantasy Managers, the Crystal Palace midfielder has scored a single goal this season (in Gameweek 5), one more than his goalless last season. Although he has delivered four assists, he has only shown decent Fantasy returns in four out of 15 league games and isn’t even the cheapest valid FPL choice at Crystal Palace—Mile Jedinak has five goals and an assist this season in one less game and for the price of 5.3 million. Nevertheless, ATFPL’s gut grumbles for Bolasie.