Well done if you’ve made it to week 3. Nothing bursts the fantasy football enthusiasm a new season brings like a low scoring game week. But whether you were cursing Mo Salah’s quiet afternoon or cheering John Lundstram’s heroics, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into game week 3. Dave Black takes a look at the weekend ahead…
Game week 2 was a bit of a roller coaster. If you had Teemu Pukki, things probably seem a bit brighter but for the other 80% of us there wasn’t as much to cheer. Aubameyang, Sterling, Mane and Aguero did well out of the premium assets but with only two clean sheets across the whole weekend the average ended up being just 41. Much more is expected this weekend.
With Tottenham hosting Newcastle and Manchester United at home to Crystal Palace, there are two fixtures which look very favourable for the home sides. Once again though we’re going to shift focus to trying to find those budget options.
This week, I’ve had a look at the players who are the most transferred in ahead of game week 3 and assessed whether they are just a flavour of the week or if they are a serious consideration for your team in the long run. These figures are as of Wednesday evening. For those that are not aware, the value of players changes based on transfers in and out rather than form.
1) Teemu Pukki (Norwich, Forward, £6.8m. 760,808 transfers in)
If you score a hat-trick and you are valued at £6.5m, you are going to be the subject of a lot of attention. Whenever any goal scorer makes the step up from the Championship they are immediately compared to Robert Earnshaw, Dwight Gayle and many other second tier hot-shots who have gone before. It feels different with Pukki. For starters, he’s in a team that actively want to attack whether they are home or away. He’s clearly in the form of his life and has so far outperformed most others in his price range, with only Ashley Barnes coming close so far. However, it is only two games. Can he keep this up?Embed from Getty Images
Plenty of people seem to think so. His value has gone from £6.6m to £6.8m since the weekend and there’s a chance it’ll go up again as managers start to alter their teams ahead of the weekend. Norwich play host to Chelsea on Saturday lunch time and in normal circumstances you would avoid such a fixture for a newly promoted club. However we’ve seen Frank Lampard doesn’t exactly set up for a draw and this has the potential to be another basketball match. It doesn’t look like a good run of fixtures on paper for the Canaries with their only home game in the next four after this against Man City, but that probably won’t stop Farke’s attacking style.
Verdict: If you’re going to get him, get him soon. His price is going up all the time
Alternative: The similarly priced Ashley Barnes’ fixtures clear up from week 5.
2) Dani Ceballos (Arsenal, Midfield, £5.6m. 400,041 transfers in)
Ceballos was always an interesting option being priced at just £5.5m but this price reflected his playing position. Arsenal’s teamsheet was therefore greeted with some interested eyes when it showed the on-loan Real Madrid man as playing in the number 10 role, the most advanced of a midfield three. He went on to claim two assists, including one from a set piece which in itself is valuable information. What’s not to like?Embed from Getty Images
Clearly a regular starter in a top 6 side at such a low price is worth considering. My only concern is whether he will always play that advanced. Where will Mesut Ozil fit in? My own personal opinion is that I don’t think Ozil is particularly high up on the priority list for Emery and with Ceballos in this sort of form, why should he be? A slight drawback is it’s Liverpool away this weekend and then Spurs at home, but the price is right…
Verdict: It’s not a great week to bring him in so it might be worth seeing if Arsenal have found a way to play in the big games and then bring him in.
Alternatives: Mason Mount seems to have the attacking midfield shirt at Chelsea ahead of Ross Barkley. He’s only £6.1m but there are a lot of competition for places at Stamford Bridge.
3) Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Midfield, £9.6m. 361,348 transfers in)
Two assists for De Bruyne has gone a long way to convincing FPL managers that the Belgian is back to his very best. His previous campaign was ruined by injury but he looks to have made a full recovery and that makes him a real FPL asset. At £9.6m, he is a cheaper alternative to Raheem Sterling (£12.2m) but carries the same rotation risk as every other Manchester City player.Embed from Getty Images
Whether you would be brave enough to go with both De Bruyne and Sterling is another matter. De Bruyne is a walking assist but this is “only” worth 3 points. Sterling carries the far greater goal threat which yields 5 points, but can you spare that £2.6m? Man City are basically fixture proof but they have four appetising fixtures on the way, starting with Bournemouth away this weekend.
Verdict: With so many players vying for central midfield berths at Man City, De Bruyne is the most in form and will play the majority of the time. Prepare for occasional disappointment if you pick him and it’s his turn to sit out.
Alternatives: De Bruyne is in a bit of a unique price range right now although Son (£9.5m) and Pepe (£9.4m) may emerge as contenders once they get regular game time.
4) John Lundstram (Sheffield United, Defender, £4.1m. 325,610 transfers in)
The enabler! Lundstram was the popular choice to be the “fifth defender” as he started the game priced at £4m and played pre-season in midfield. An FPL dream became a reality on Sunday when Lundstram netted the only goal to pick up a massive 14 points. My commiserations to anybody who left him on the bench!Embed from Getty Images
The reason Lundstram is known as the enabler is that his cheap price allows you to fill a squad place with somebody who will get regular football as it stands. I doubt weekends like this will come around too often but if you need to free up some budget, Lundstram looks like the man.
Verdict: If you are playing your wildcard, you would pick Lundstram to make budget available elsewhere. I wouldn’t waste a free transfer on him unless it is part of a grand plan.
Alternatives: £4m defenders who play are like gold dust. Martin Kelly of Crystal Palace has played both games so far but will likely lose his place to Gary Cahill or Mamadou Sakho once they return to fitness.
5) Anthony Martial (Man Utd, Midfield, £7.7m. 316,306 transfers in)
A midfielder playing up front is as good as it gets in FPL terms. When it’s somebody with the talent of Martial, £7.7m does not look a bad outlay at all. He added the opening goal against Wolves to his strike against Chelsea in game week 1 to underline his credentials and it’s no surprise he is being drafted in to so many teams.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United have a nice run of games, starting with Crystal Palace at home this weekend. Even if Martial and Rashford switch positions, there’s been enough evidence of the chaos these two can provide and I’d say Martial is bordering on a must have.
Verdict: Sign him up before it’s too late.
Alternatives: Lucas Moura (£7.5m) is slightly cheaper but had to settle for a place on the bench last week. Will his goal earn him a starting place in an increasingly congested Spurs midfield?
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Looking at the table this early in the season is nice for those at the top but entirely optional for everybody else. Well done to Saleem for taking top spot with a big score of 75, overcoming the Salah captaincy pick with the likes of Pukki, Lundstram and Mane all doing well.
That’s all for this week, don’t forget there is Friday night football so the deadline is Friday 7pm. Good luck!
You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798