Fantasy football thoughts to start off 2018

By Azmin Mohd Khalib 5 January 2018 3329
Fantasy football thoughts to start off 2018
With the Premier League taking a break this weekend, here’s a quick look at how the 20 teams have fared in the fantasy football realm so far…
Before his injury, Aaron Ramsey was leading the charts as the best Arsenal player to have. Following his absence since Gameweek 17, Alexander Lacazette seems to have suffered the most, with not a single goal in the same period, allowing Alexis Sanchez to reclaim his fantasy throne thanks mainly to a brace against Crystal Palace. However, the Chilean’s ownership has not picked up, which is likely due to an inconsistent form and his potential January departure that make him difficult to be considered by fantasy managers. On the bright side, if Sanchez does leave, we could see a strong new fantasy option replace his star power.
Eddie Howe’s side have that never-say-die mentality, making them a fun team to watch. However, that does make their team unpredictable. In this season so far, Andrew Surman has proven to be a cheap solid midfielder at 4.7m, and should return to the starting line-up when the Premier League resumes after this week’s FA Cup games.

Brighton currently have the best value midfielder of the season in Pascal Gross (5.9m), who has picked up 101 points so far. Despite having only one goal and no assists in his past nine matches, leading to a significant drop in ownership, I expect him to recover his form in 2018. Team-mate Matt Ryan is also a good value in the goalkeeper department, costing only 4.5m.
Although their attack is too inconsistent, most of their defenders are value for money and I expect them to continue to pick up plenty of points. They may have had a relative tough December, which I feel was mostly due to fixture congestion, but I expect them to bounce back and become consistent once again.
The Blues’ best points producer is surprisingly neither Eden Hazard or Alvaro Morata, but Marcos Alonso, who has had six goals and an assist to go with his 10 clean sheets. Willian has also been turning up of late, but whether he gets to secure a regular starting spot remains to be seen especially after he did not start against Arsenal.
Despite their upturn in form after the arrival of Roy Hodgson, it is difficult to recommend anyone. If you think that Wilfred Zaha is their best player, consider the fact that he has not picked up a single bonus point this season. Meanwhile, Luka Milivojevic may be scoring penalties, but not much else unfortunately. 

Their defence has toughened up since Sam Allardyce’s arrival, but it is frustrating seeing the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson seemingly stifled by Big Sam’s refusal to play an attacking game, making them the side in the top 10 with the second fewest goals scored behind Burnley. Everton have the fantasy assets, but if Rooney continues to be the key player for them to turn to, their attack will never be as fast as it could be.
Once the fixture congestion eases up, Laurent Depoitre should be the striker of choice, having shown better consistency than Steve Mounie. He’s got potential and showed enough consistency before the fixture pile-up to be considered.
While Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy continue to lead the fantasy standings for their team, the latter has become that player who lifts his game against big teams. Out of his nine goals so far, 7 were against Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United. Meanwhile, rumours of Mahrez leaving during the January transfer window refuse to go away.
Last season picking Liverpool midfielders was frustrating because Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho pretty much divided fantasy points equally among them. However, this season has had no such problem, Mohamed Salah currently tops the ownership list at 50.5%. His points total of 169 points puts him 59 points ahead of Liverpool’s next best points producer, Firmino, who incidentally is now listed as a striker, easing last season’s problem even more.
The best fantasy approach to this team appears to be to ride on whichever bandwagon is happening at the time, as their players have taken turns to go on a run. First it was Sergio Aguero, then it was Leroy Sane. Kevin De Bruyne then took over, and now it’s Raheem Sterling. Look for the next trend closely. Either that, or pick Nicolas Otamendi, who has had a productive season, with four goals to go with his clean sheets, and plenty of bonus points to boot.

Despite their high position in the league, United have suffered from a lack of explosive attacking ability, and their attacking fantasy points are spread too evenly across players. Expect David De Gea to continue to be the best pick of the lot for a while, but Paul Pogba’s two assists against Everton could be the start of a strong 2018 performance for him and the team.
Rob Elliot was a good source of fantasy points as a second-choice keeper, despite a brief period of Karl Darlow taking over but failing to impress. Now with Elliot injured, Darlow has come back and secured two back-to-back clean sheets, making the goalkeeper spot up for grabs again.
Whereas at the start of the season there were decent picks in defence, right now they’re just too unpredictable. And just when Charlie Austin looked like positioning himself as a strong cheap pick, he gets injured. Avoid picking any players from this team.
Wait for a new manager before you do anything. The Xherdan Shaqiri train is over folks, move on.
It's still too early to gauge the Carlos Carvalhal impact as the new manager on the team, but their comeback against Watford in their final 2017 match showed promise. Probably best to wait and see for now.

No doubt Harry Kane has justified his place as the most expensive player in the Fantasy Premier League. Dele Alli also appears to be returning to form, providing a useful cheaper alternative along with Christian Eriksen should you choose not to go the Kane route.
For all the talk about Marco Silva’s quality and ambition, the reality is Watford have been frustratingly inconsistent in defence, having conceded a whopping 40 goals in 22 games, second to Stoke City. In attack, Richarlison remains their best pick, with Abdoulaye Doucoure not far away despite playing further back. Expect Silva to look for defensive reinforcements in January, whose starting prices might just be affordable for us to consider.
So far, new manager Alan Pardew has yet to secure his first win. Despite some recent strong defensive performances allowing them to pick up six draws in 10 matches, including against Liverpool, Arsenal, and Spurs, there are no real fantasy picks to be had here. The days of the goal-scoring Gareth McAuley seem like so long ago.
Earlier in the season, I felt that David Moyes did not have what it takes a lackadaisical West Ham side. But I have been proven wrong, with Marko Arnautovic being the key player behind their recovery. Andy Carroll is useful too, provided he stays fit and remembers he’s not in a kickboxing competition.

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Azmin Mohd Khalib