Three-time top 200 finisher Lateriser weighs up the appeal of the numerous in-form premium Fantasy Premier League options in his latest Pro Pundits column.
The hectic December period is upon us. As we approach a phase of the season in which there are six Gameweek deadlines in little over three weeks, I just want to talk about a few things that Fantasy managers should keep an eye on.
If you haven’t already seen it, this image that Fantasy Football Scout site regular Legomane has produced is incredibly useful (click to expand):
In the last four Gameweeks, Manchester City have been improving from an attacking standpoint. What’s more, they have good fixtures coming up as well.
Focusing on their prime asset, Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), it is worth noting that he’s shooting a lot more this season than he was in 2019/20. In the last four Gameweeks, no midfielder has had more shots in the box than the Belgian. At the moment, he’s only owned by under 25% of the game. Him playing alongside two more defensively minded midfielders is definitely helping his output and in my opinion, he looks an even better asset than he did last season.
Looking at his Christmas schedule, it is worth noting that in the last few weeks, he’s been fully rested in the Champions League. This bodes well for his playing time in the compressed schedule this month. That said, I’d be a little wary of his home fixture against West Brom in Gameweek 13. That game is sandwiched between two more difficult matches (away at Manchester United and Southampton) in a period in which Manchester City play three games in seven days. In an ideal world, he would be rested in the Carabao Cup tie after the Southampton match and play all three Premier League fixtures but it’s worth thinking about.
De Bruyne is the standout captaincy option in Gameweek 13, with Bruno Fernandes (£10.9m) playing away to Sheffield United potentially the next best option. There might also be a case to target a Manchester City attacker who doesn’t feature in the Manchester derby for this fixture against West Brom at home. This may be a case of overthinking at my end because De Bruyne wasn’t really rested in the congested Christmas schedule last year but again, I just thought it was something worth pointing out.
That’s the one advantage with Tottenham Hotspur assets in this congested schedule. You would have to think that both Harry Kane (£10.9m) and Son Heung-min (£9.6m) will play most, if not all, of Spurs’ games in this period. The stats don’t seem to matter with Jose Mourinho’s side at the moment because they are so clinical. After their game against Liverpool in Gameweek 13, their fixtures also ease up quite considerably. As for reliable starters, we would have to assume the same is the case for Bruno Fernandes in this period given Manchester United’s reliance on him – look what happened when he was benched at West Ham last weekend.
Speaking about the congested schedule, Liverpool’s Gameweek 12-14 matches fall within a six-day period. What makes it worse is that they only really have 1.5 days of rest between the Spurs and the Palace games, the latter of which is the dreaded early kick-off that Jurgen Klopp has spoken about. I think Diogo Jota’s (£7.0m) emergence in the Liverpool team does put Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) at a slight risk but I get the feeling he’s had his rest for now and given his upcoming fixtures, you have to buy the ticket to win the lottery.
In the next five Gameweeks, Liverpool play Fulham, Palace, Newcastle and West Brom. On a separate note, should your team structure be able to afford it, I also think they are good fixtures from a defensive point of view. None of the premium Liverpool defenders have an ownership of more than 20% at the moment.
Compared to the other teams with premium attackers, Chelsea’s schedule doesn’t look very compressed. In addition, Hakim Ziyech (£8.2m) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.7m) are both injured at the moment and ruled out until Gameweek 16 at the earliest. That should make both Timo Werner (£9.5m) and Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) more secure options for this congested schedule.
I would like to offer my commiserations to Werner owners. Being one myself, I know how frustrating it has been owning him especially given that he has had the highest number of big chances (and big chances missed…) amongst all attackers in the last four Gameweeks. I still think it’s better than not having opportunities and my plan is to be a little more patient with him, give him a game or two more and then reassess whether he’s doing as much damage as before to my blood pressure. Everton’s defensive numbers have been fairly poor so I would definitely give him Gameweek 12 at least and then take it from there.
When it comes to Pulisic, I think he’s one of the best differentials in the game at the moment and he offers £10.0m+ big hitter potential in the next few weeks for little more than £8.0m. He’s owned by less than 2% of FPL managers right now and I think it is worth rolling the dice when it comes to the American. It seems to me that Lampard has been very careful in terms of bringing Pulisic back from injury this time around and his current price makes him worth the gamble. Chelsea are one of the most potent attacks in the league at the moment and if Pulisic is starting and injury-free, he’s underpriced in my opinion.
There are a lot of consistently performing big-hitters at the moment in the game, which is why I’m not confident about whether switching them around is going to be fruitful.
One tweak I’ve made to my strategy recently is to pay more attention to goal involvement, a metric that can be found in the ‘Involvement’ tab in the Player Stats section. While before I always used to look at the potency of teams and how many goals they are capable of scoring, the recent output of Spurs’ attackers has made me pay more attention to goal involvement. Given the nature of how Spurs play, it is very difficult to them scoring a goal without either Son or Kane being involved. For them to blank, you’d be wanting Spurs to blank – which isn’t something you can bank on. I spoke about these big hitters and the state of play at length on this week’s episode of The FPL Wire, which is always a good listen when Tom Freeman joins us.
It’s been a frustrating season so far and I am still sitting on an overall rank of 2.97 million. This weekend was a roller-coaster one for me as I mention early in the podcast (I needed that rant) but sitting here writing this article on Wednesday, I really have no other option but to process information and make informed decisions. That is all there is to the game really and you have to keep on. I’ll be keeping it simple this week by selling Sterling for Salah and see where that takes me (that is my intended transfer as of today).
Good luck for the Gameweek guys and thanks for reading!
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