This week we will take a look at the current bottom three – West Ham United, Swansea City and Crystal Palace – and their fantasy relevance. Are they going to find their way out of their current predicament, and which of their players are going to be key to their recovery (so that we can pick them for our fantasy teams)?
West Ham United
Right now the only fantasy relevance West Ham have is you need to have goal-scorers playing against them every week – they have kept just three clean sheets and conceded the most goals (25) in the league. The defensive reinforcements that the Hammers brought in, Pablo Zabaleta (4.9m) and Joe Hart (4.4m), were expected to bring some leadership and experience to their backline, but they have been poor.
At the other end of the field, the London side also spent hard money bringing in Marko Arnautovic (6.8m) and Javier Hernandez (6.8m), but after initially showing promise, they have gone astray. As for their other attackers, Andy Carroll (5.9m) would’ve had a better goal output if he focused his energy on trying to score instead of getting violent on his opponents and arguing with officials. Past seasons proved that he’s capable of finding the back of the net, yet this season he has none to his name so far. And with Michael Antonio (7.4m) out injured, it could be up to Manuel Lanzini (6.8m) and Andre Ayew (6.9m) to salvage their sinking ship, but the whole team needs to work together.
However, even after a change of managers, I do not think David Moyes will be able to change the situation at West Ham right now. With the team in disarray, you should avoid their players for now until something incredible happens.
Although they are the only team in the bottom five to have the manager they started the season with (Paul Clement), the feeling of discontent should be surging after losing their last four matches. This is due to them failing to wisely strengthen their team with the funds available after making a tidy sum with the sales of Gylffi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente. Roqua Mesa (4.4m), Renato Sanches (4.8m) and Wilfred Bony (5.7m) all arrived in the summer, but none have managed to make a consistent positive impact on the team. Instead, Swansea have had to rely on Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham (6.0m) to keep them afloat.
With his cheap price tag, the young England international is one of the most popular striker picks, but his suspected injury has seen some fantasy managers switching him for last week’s hat-trick star, Callum Wilson (6.0m), whose Bournemouth side coincidentally will visit the Welsh side this week. Swansea’s next fixtures aren’t that great either, facing Chelsea and Manchester City in two of their next five matches.
Other than Abraham, there is no real standout star. If he is unavailable, Bony should start after missing the last few matches due to injury, but he has yet to score since joining from Manchester City. In defence, Alfie Mawson (5.0m) scored a fair bit in the second half of last season, but only has one goal to his name so far and his price feels too steep for a defender in the relegation zone.
Out of the three teams in the relegation zone, Crystal Palace are the most likely to get themselves out of trouble. Besides having a very friendly schedule up till Christmas – (Stoke (h), Brighton (a), West Brom (a) Bournemouth (h), Watford (h), Leicester (a), and Swansea (a) – they seem to have the right personnel. It says a lot about the team holding up the Premier League table when winger Wilfried Zaha (6.8m) tops the points tally despite playing only six games. It makes picking him a lot easier because they are clearly relying on him. Having said that, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (4.5m) actually has the most ownership among all Palace players at 5.5%. His central playing position has helped, and his budget price makes him a perfect fifth midfielder.
Don’t forget Christian Benteke (7.6) either, who will be coming back after a five-match injury spell. He may not have been in the best of form this season, but with the right service, he can score. Zaha and Benteke have only started one match together so far this season, but this weekend should be their second. Eyes will be upon them.
There’s not much to be had in picking a defender, but Roy Hodgson appears to have stabilised the defence, as they have only conceded seven goals in the past five games (after getting bashed by five and four goals by Manchester City and Manchester United respectively). Scott Dann (4.7m) is the best option to consider if you really think clean sheets will start coming. He is also their best defender with a goal threat. While yet to score, he has had numerous attempts, typically from set-pieces, with five shots in the past two games.