The English Premier League is underway and the Week 1 games set us up for another enthralling and unpredictable season. Ahead of Gameweek 2, I’ll look at the big talking points from a fantasy point of view.
What did we learn from Gameweek 1?
Man Utd’s problems continue – Louis van Gaal may be in charge but Man Utd’s struggles are far from over. With the possible exception of Wayne Rooney, United players are difficult to trust in fantasy leagues. They have added Marcos Rojo this week and expect a number of new additions before the transfer deadline, the question is will the big names still be willing to join them?
Courtois is Chelsea’s number 1 – If you picked up Petr Cech in your fantasy team, drop him quickly. The young Belgian Courtois, is now the man between the sticks for the Blues and could be their keeper for the next 10 years or more.
The promoted teams can compete – Let’s not get over excited from a fantasy standpoint but Burnley, Leicester and QPR all showed that they could offer some value to your fantasy roster. I’ll be watching with interest whether there is some unlikely value from the likes of Leo Ulloa, Scott Arfield and Junior Hoilett.
Home games do not guarantee clean sheets – I tend to pick the defense for my weekly lineup based on teams with home games. Last weekend was the first in Premier League history when all away teams scored and I might need to be a bit more thoughtful with my tactics!
Southampton’s reserves can still cause opponents’ issues – The Saints may have lost a host of big names to their rivals in the transfer market but their performance and unlucky defeat at Anfield can give their supporters and fantasy owners some heart. James Ward-Prowse, Nathaniel Clyne, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pellè could all turn out to be fantasy sleepers.
What can we expect from Gameweek 2?
Look to Chelsea for potential captains – Chelsea’s home fixture against Leicester looks like a home banker. Diego Costa, Eden Hazard or even Cesc Fabregas look could captaincy options.
Swansea streamers – Swansea face Burnley and the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wifried Bony could be two of fantasy’s biggest performers this week. Pick them up with confidence and consider them as captaincy options. After last week’s win at Old Trafford, the Swans should have too much for new kids on the block, Burnley.
Spurs’ London supremacy to continue – Harry Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane for the first time since his sacking and will be up against it versus Tottenham. Christian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor plus defenders Eric Dier and Younes Kaboul could be nice pickups.
Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool could have a quiet fantasy week – I’d be willing to bet that every EPL fantasy roster contains at least 2 players from Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool but I’d be surprised if they help you that much this week. Everton and Arsenal go head-to-head and Liverpool have a very tough task away at Man City. I’m not advocating dropping any of their players but defenders could be worth benching and I’d look elsewhere for my captain.
Best of the rest – The other games look hard to call but I expect there to be few goals between Villa and Newcastle and Hull and Stoke. Southampton and West Brom could provide more goalmouth action. I also expect Sunderland to make it hard for Louis van Gaal again and maybe take the victory.
The transfer window is open until the end of August so for the next weeks there will continue to be plenty of movement that could impact the fantasy game. This week, there’s not many that I would consider to be definite adds to your roster but here’s an overview:
Georgios Samaras – The big Greek has signed for West Brom but will surely struggle to make much fantasy impact. He works very hard but doesn’t manage many goals which are what count for a striker.
Victor Moses – Stoke have signed the Nigerian winger on loan from Chelsea and he will likely play a big role for them. However, they struggled against Villa on the opening Saturday and Moses only managed one goal last season for Liverpool. He has yet to live up to his promise.
Marcos Rojo – The Argentina defender joins Man United and should go straight into their side in place of young Tyler Blackett but he doesn’t solve all their issues so I wouldn’t throw him into your fantasy team yet.
Federico Fernandez – Swansea have signed another member of Argentina’s World Cup defense. Unlike Rojo, I think the Swans will introduce Fernandez into their side slowly and he may not even have all paperwork in place to play this week. Continue scouting.
Nani – Man Utd winger, Nani, moved back to Sporting Lisbon on loan as part of the Marcos Rojo deal and should be dropped from your roster immediately.
Leroy Fer – The Holland midfielder is back in the Premier League with QPR after leaving relegated Norwich. He does have the potential to get goals but only managed three last term. He could be a cheap source of goals if QPR have a good run of form but he is one to watch for now.
Mario Balotelli – How could I not mention Super Mario?! At the time of writing, his transfer to Liverpool has not been confirmed and he may not be in the squad against Man City on Monday. If he is signed and available, who would bet against him coming back to haunt his old employers and becoming a big fantasy player?
A quick look at some players who should be dropped from your roster due to injury problems:
Robert Snodgrass – The Hull midfielder is out for 6 months with an injury to his kneecap. A big disappointment for the big money signing who I had flagged as a potential sleeper.
Keiron Gibbs – The Arsenal defender is out for about 3 weeks with a hamstring strain and will be replaced in the Gunners’ lineup by Nacho Monreal.
Ross Barkley – The Everton starlet has a knee injury that could rule him out for between 2 and 6 months.
Mikel Arteta – Arsenal captain, Arteta, has an ankle injury that could rule him out for one or two games.