The week in Fantasy Premier League: Trying to pick a captain after the match that changed everything

Last Sunday, Fantasy Premier League managers everywhere learned a valuable lesson as they watched one match throw season run-in plans into chaos.

It was the classic gambler’s fallacy - just because something has happened nine times in a row, doesn’t mean it will happen again.

West Ham’s defeat of a seemingly imperious Tottenham side turned the FPL landscape on its head like no result before it this season, instantly devaluing those very Spurs and Chelsea assets that had seemed so unquestionably essential a mere two hours earlier.

Now, a win against West Brom tonight will see Chelsea secure the title, almost certainly provoking wholesale rotation from Antonio Conte as he prepares for his assault on a league and cup double.

It would also have us dreading a repeat of last year’s late-season collapse from a despondent Spurs side.

Tony Pulis and West Brom will have something to say about that of course, but just as was the case last week, most of us will plough on and plan for what we believe must be the most likely scenario.

That means casting a more critical eye over our FPL squads as we search for some late-season glory - beginning with that all-important Double Gameweek captaincy pick.

So let’s take a look at the candidates most FPL bosses will putting the armband on, before inevitably realising they would have been better off going with a goalkeeper.

 

 

Eden Hazard

An obvious choice for armband until that fateful Friday night, predicting the Belgian’s minutes is now riddled with uncertainty.

What we do know is that Chelsea have an FA Cup final around the corner, six days after their final league match. We also know that whether they secure enough points for the title tonight or not, Sky Sports say the trophy will be presented on the final day of the season (and they should know).

Some rotation is a given, but when it will happen and to whom is really anyone’s guess.

If the title is secured, Conte could rest players against Watford and allow something resembling the first team enjoy a victory lap against Sunderland. Conversely, he could opt to rest key players in GW38 with the cup final in mind.

Given their form and what should be some real cannon-fodder fixtures, it’s certainly not the time to be selling any Chelsea players, but the threat of substitution and rotation means that captain’s armband won’t look quite as good on Eden Hazard as we thought it once would.

 

 

Alexis Sanchez

The Arsenal midfielder has provided yet another example of how fickle our outlook on players can be.

Before his expertly-taken goal against Southampton, many were contemplating sacrificing the Chilean to fund moves for other premium-priced midfielders. Now, with Arsenal’s campaign for a top-four finish seemingly back on track, we can look upon their kind fixture list with renewed optimism.

 

The main upside Alexis Sanchez (ARS, 11.6) offers over rival captaincy candidates is security of starts.

If he’s fit, he plays - even if it’s not where we’d like him to.

His stats remained frustratingly decent throughout his barren spell, but far as the “eye test” goes, he certainly looked more interested than in proceedings than he has done for quite some time this week. Whether that’s enough to trust him to make or break your season remains to be seen.

 

 

Kevin De Bruyne / Gabriel Jesus

Unlike Arsenal, Man City are a team with form, as well as fixtures and motivation, on their side. They really turned on the style against Palace, and have the firepower to do the same if West Brom and an injury-hit Leicester aren’t at their best.

A 17-point haul from Kevin De Bruyne (MCI, 10.4) has seen him top of the Transfers In column this week.

 

He’s disappointed since his explosive start to the season, but the baby-faced Belgian has been unlucky not to score more, hitting the woodwork nine times in all.

As nailed-on they come under Guardiola, he’s created 20 chances in the last four Gameweeks, well ahead of second-placed Eriksen’s 15. He’s not known for taking many shots, but offers a constant threat from free kicks.

What’s more, he’s owned by less than 4% of live teams, so a successful captaincy could help his owners rocket up the rankings.

Since his return from injury, teammate Gabriel Jesus (MCI, 8.9) has yet to produce double-figure returns, which could make him a slightly under-the-radar captaincy pick.

It hasn’t been from want of trying - his eight shots in the box in the last two Gameweeks has him joint-top with Jermaine Defoe.

He’s facing two games in four days however, so Pep may choose to manage his minutes - especially given Aguero’s likely availability from the bench.

 

 

Harry Kane

Remember him?

Another player who seemed an obvious captaincy pick for the last few weeks has lost his sheen after that blank against West Ham.

It’s difficult to gauge what kind of challenge their opponents - Man United at home and Leicester away - will offer. Despite their Europa League focus, we can expect United to keep things tight. Leicester have also their defensive injuries to contend with, but stand-in centre back Yohan Benalouane (LEI, 4.0) has still kept four clean sheets in his seven games.

Nevertheless, overtaking a disinterested Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot could provide Harry Kane (11.7) the motivation he needs, and reward those brave enough not to allow one bad game sway their opinion of a top-drawer striker.

So, once your captaincy pick is out of the way, it’s time to look at another method of climbing the league - that late-season differential.

 

 

Low-owned players with big points potential

 

Man City again lead the way again here, with Leroy Sané (MCI, 7.7) and Raheem Sterling (MCI, 7.5) convincing armies of eager FPL managers to invest.

Anyone watching their game against Palace would have seen just how thrillingly greedy Sane was when given a sight at goal. He’s hardly been a prolific shooter before then, but if Pep has given him greater licence, the goals will surely come.

He has had more touches (27) in the penalty box in his last four matches than any midfielder in the league, with Sterling just behind him on 25.

 

Despite scoring in all but two of his last nine games, Sergio Aguero (MCI, 12.7) is owned by just 9.1% of active teams. That pricetag remains difficult to stomach, but will we all be scolding ourselves for not taking what could seem like an obvious option when the dust settles on GW37?

Elsewhere, managers will be looking to capitalise on Chelsea rotation to spring a surprise on their mini-league rivals.

Cesc Fabregas (CHE, 6.9) is just 2.4% owned despite registering four assists in his last 175 minutes in a Chelsea shirt, while Pedro’s (CHE, 6.8) performances have started returning points at last.

Incidentally, anyone looking to generate funds for big hitters could do worse than picking up Nathan Aké (CHE, 3.8).

Leicester remains one of the form teams in the league and if free-scoring Jamie Vardy (LEI, 9.9) doesn’t appeal, Riyad Mahrez (LEI, 8.9) has impressed of late as he looks to put himself in the shop window.

 

Don't dump your single Gameweek stars

Don’t let the clamour to have 11 Double Gameweek players convince you to sell players that you shouldn’t.

Josh King (BOU, 6.2) has been rewarding his owners with consistent returns since his move to the Bournemouth’s forward line visiting Burnley are unlikely to buck that trend on Saturday.

Although he’s about as likely to be seen playing for Swansea as you or me next season, Gylfi Sigurdsson (SWA, 7.4) will not want a relegation on his CV. He has recaptured some form of late, and could reward loyal owners as he prepares to face relegated Sunderland and West Brom.

Just don’t forget to hit that Bench Boost or Triple Captain button if you still have them, and beware of that early transfer deadline!

 

 

QUICK TIP

Having a successful launch of its first issue (available free online), it looks like the new Fantasy Football Magazine is here to stay - and in glossy print format too - thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that has really snowballed in recent weeks.

Thanks to widespread backing from the FPL community over the last few weeks, it looks like the four million players worldwide finally have dedicated, professional magazine to call our own.

 

BUY

There would be a certain symmetry to a big finish to the season for Kevin De Bruyne (MCI, 10.4).

He certainly has the quality to produce the returns, and the prospect of clean sheet and more bonus points gives him the edge against forwards in the captaincy stakes.

 

TRY

Another player who really likes getting assists…

It’s a risk to be sure, but Cesc Fabregas (CHE, 6.9) has one of the best points-per-minute rates in the game this season. He has big scoring potential and could start getting the minutes he deserves in the weeks ahead.

 

GOODBYE

No goals in his five games since returning from injury has put Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU, 6.6) right up there alongside the most disappointing FPL players in recent memory. The prospect of him playing a Double Gameweek is now the sole remaining reason to keep him, and even that is far from certain.

Sometimes, there’s a good reason something looks too good to be true...


 

By Ken Rooney

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