With five teams (Bolton, Fulham, Man City, Stoke and Wolves) not in action this week a few of us might be scrambling for one-week mercenaries this week. With the DGWs falling to Arsenal, Chelsea and Birmingham the one week filler pool is somewhat limited with the big boys tending to be largely overpriced. Saying that, there is some potential within both these teams and others with good fixtures if you need a quick fix.
Theo Walcott (6.9m) - he isn't extremely cheap at 6.9m but given his production I think he justifies a much loftier price. Over the season he ranks 4th among midfielders in aPoints and 9th overall. The downside, of course, has been his inability to stay on the field but Wenger tends to play him at home with Walcott starting the last 7 home games he was available for, so you should be able to avoid the dreaded 10 minute garbage time appearance. At worst I would expect 120 minutes and given the majority of that should be against a Liverpool side who have conceded 26 goals away from home, Walcott makes a great replacement for any of the mid range options missing this week (such as Dempsey, Silva or Milner).
Jack Wilshere (5.1m) - this pick is purely based on the fact that Wilshere should play twice this week, has shown an ability to catch the bonus judges' eye (12 BPs) and is available at a cost significantly below his teammates. With just one goal and three assists his upside is low but for this price tag you're buying into safety and I think Wilshere gives that as good anyone in this price bracket.
Jermaine Beckford (4.7m) - of all the non-double teams this week, Everton have the best fixture (Blackburn have conceded 2.4 GPG on the road) but not necessarily the players to take advantage. The silver lining could be the chance this presents Jermaine Beckford, who has quietly added 7 goals this year, despite playing just 1000 minutes (Torres has 2 more goals despite playing 2300 minutes). With Cahill, Arteta and Saha all looking to miss out again this week, the onus is once again on Beckford to lead the line for Everton and that could well lead to fantasy spoils for owners looking for quick replacements for Elmander or Davies. Normally his public spat with Moyes would scare me but with so few alternatives it seems likely Beckford will once again get the nod.
Thomas Hitzelsperger (5.1m) / Scott Parker (5.7m) / Mark Noble (5.3m) - the true definition of a one week play as West Ham get a very favourable fixture (Ast H) followed by two of the three hardest around (@Che, @MnC). The Hammers have been much improved of late with 8 goals in their last 3 home games despite entertaining Man Utd and Liverpool. The problem is picking which of this trio will have success in a given week. Each of the three have had a double digit game in the past few weeks but have also suffered through several 2 pointers. I really like Hitzelsperger's game but Noble's penalty duties and Parker's bonus ability makes him the odd one out here. I would advise Parker as the safer option likely to give you points in that 4 - 6 range with Noble having a slightly higher upside.
Charlie Adam (5.9m) - I'm sure anyone who reads this blog and takes a shred of notice of anything I say already owns the impressive Scot but just in case, Adam makes a particularly useful play this week as he welcomes a Wigan side who are yet to register a clean sheet in 2011.
Roger Johnson (5.3m) - Birmingham do enjoy a DGW but with one of those games at Stamford Bridge it's hard to get overly excited for any of their players. With little promise up front we need to look along the back line to find some value and I think it's Johnson who can best deliver (provided he proves his fitness in the next day or so). With Sunderland really struggling right now, Birmingham's first game of the week ranks as the second best around so anything they could pick up at Chelsea (likely appearance points at best) is a bonus. With a trip to Anfield on the horizon I see Johnson as purely a one week plug but a potentially valuable one nonetheless who can contribute across all categories (2 goals, 2 assists, 20 BPs this year).
There are obviously other bigger names who warrant attention this week (Van Persie, Lampard, Fabregas etc) but unless you're inexplicably holding a Torres or Gerrard, it's unlikely you have the cash to bring these players in at short notice. More focus will of course be placed on these players in the upcoming captain ranks later in the week. Until then, why not post your question below or at @plfantasy.