We are still limited to subjective views on the captain picks for the week as stats for this season are too few while stats for last season are outdated for most players. Rather than arbitrarily focus on just one of two players, I've added some rough notes for all the main contenders below, including an overall summary of where my thinking is leading me for the week.
In terms of playing the fixture, it's City players - by a distance - who look like the best targets and with Aguero sidelined it has become a little easier to focus our attention on the key men:
Carlos Tevez . . . all but guaranteed the start with Aguero sidelines . . . looks fit and healthy and has earned the praise of Mancini over the past couple of weeks; doubts regarding his place in this squad are probably over . . . 2 goals in 2 games so far this season . . . (comparatively) budget price tag means Rooney or Aguero owners can bring him in and free up cash to use elsewhere (most likely on one of the number of emerging star midfielders) . . . 8 shots, 4 on target give him rates which should allow for sustainable success going forward.
David Silva . . . looked okay against Southampton but missed penalty which gave him 0 points for the week . . . unlikely to get another chance from the spot with Balotelli, Tevez et al around . . . rested last week so is highly likely to retake his place in the team . . . 4 chances created and 4 shots in just 90 minutes equals or exceeds all other elite midfielders on a per minute basis.
Yaya Toure . . . not as flashy as his teammates, but consistently delivers returns, particularly when allowed to push upfield . . . De Jong could be leaving the club which could indicate that Yaya will be stuck in a deeper role more often (though this is partly offset by the arrival of Rodwell) . . . has the manager's faith to help the team when needing a goal late, as oppose to players like Silva/Nasri who are often subbed like-for-like . . . 7 chances created leads all City players to date
Samir Nasri . . . looked much better this year than last . . . at risk of being rotated if Mancini brings in another forward like Balotelli for the home fixture (possible) . . . threat from set pieces has been significant already this year . . . 5 chances created and 4 shots only just exceeds Silva's totals but in almost double the minutes his price tag is still an issue.
After City, it's local rivals United and Spurs who look well positioned for success this week. These two teams are convenient to discuss together given the question marks raised after a number of their players' roles over the past couple of weeks:
Robin van Persie . . . more valuable now that Rooney is injured in that van Persie will now be sure to play up top and won't be eased into the team slowly . . . could assume penalty duties, particularly in Rooney's absence . . . only manager 1 shot this past week, but took it beautifully . . . sustained success in the short term will mean him gelling into the side quickly . . . tough to justify his price tag over, say, Tevez, but still has the potential to lead the league in points.
Shinji Kagawa . . . Ferguson has raved about him so far, also indicating he believes Kagawa can pickup double digit goals from midfield . . . Rooney's absence for a couple of weeks not only solidifies Kagawa's place now, but also gives him more time to impress and lock down future minutes in that lucrative role . . . 5 chances created and 4 shots in 160 minutes are solid totals which still have room to grow as he settles in.
Antonio Valencia . . . better player than fantasy option . . . potential to be deployed at right back has declined with Rafael looking decent last week and Young now sidelined for a couple of weeks . . . 14 crosses and 3 created chances this past week while playing in midfield are very encouraging . . . with the other injuries in the side Valencia looks like a safe bet to take a more advanced role and this could be the best chance in a while to get on the bandwagon early.
Emmanuel Adebayor . . . should be an asset at some point this season as he is one of a handful of players who in the right situation can simply be played every week without fear of being totally shut down by the better teams . . . Defoe seems to be an afterthought and thus regular minutes seem assured once he gets his fitness (this week is probably too soon to bank on that).
Gareth Bale . . . started quietly in terms of returns but his underlying stats still look good . . . 13 crosses, 6 chances created and 7 shots all tell the tale of a player very much involved in the team's offence again . . . addition of Adebayor, Dembele and possibly Moutinho will add some much needed edge to this team without stealing minutes from Bale so his place in the side looks stronger than ever . . . great fixtures coming up, starting this week, makes Bale a perfect buy option for those looking to ditch a benched Chelsea player or stuttering starter.
We also have the players whose team may not come with the almost inevitable goals you get with one of the big sides in the league, but individually they account for a large enough percentage of their team's success to warrant consideration here.
Demba Ba / Papiss Cisse . . . based on prior year data the fixture this week is good, but based on what we've seen to date from Villa, the fixture could be excellent . . . not too much to split between this pair hence why Ba looks to be much better value . . . 6 (3 on target) shots for Ba and 4(1) for Cisse backup this point so far . . . at just 7.6m Ba can be a very good second striker or an amazing third front man and should be a strong buy candidate for anyone needing to free up cash and currently stuck with one of the pricier but less effective forwards
Hatem Ben Arfa . . . not great stats so far from Ben Arfa with just 2 chances created and 3(1) shots . . . 18 touches in the final third is also a concern, as is his average position, which is about as deeper as it ever was last season . . . Spurs have played two tough games thus far though with the fixtures very much opening up from here on . . . still represents a risk at this point if we're talking about captain duty though.
Michu . . . great success so far, looking sharp in front of goal, adding a level of composure rarely seen at his position . . . some caveats to be found in his underlying stats with 24 final third touches and just 3 shots on target (all hitting the back of the net) suggesting his that not only is his current level of production unsustainable, but the fall may be sharp unless he can get a bit more involved . . . 26% ownership makes him tricky to deal with as every goal leaves you further behind the pack, but grabbing him essentially wipes out one spot of 7m from your team as you just break even with everyone else . . . underlying stats don't put me off owning him (indeed I liked him in the preseason) but captain status is a bridge too far for now.
Finally, we have the elite names whose fixture isn't overly kind for the week. If you want to 'play the fixture' stay away, if you believe in form and class trumping everything, dig a little deeper:
Santi Cazorla . . . hasn't made the splash in the headlines like Hazard but the process has been just as impressive with only the end product differing (largely due to more clinical finishing from Torres) . . . underlying stats are off the charts with 10(3) shots and 9 chances created both leading all midfielders . . . very safe option in terms of minutes with few legit options to take regular minutes away from him . . . if you believe anyone in this Arsenal team will finish chances, Cazorla has Fabregas like potential yet is still relatively unfancied (8% ownership) . . . Liverpool still represents a fairly tough game and we may not have seen Arsenal play well enough to start captaining the Spaniard
Luis Suarez . . . one of the players who consistently messes up any shots per goal formulae, generally, as they say, buying plenty of lottery tickets to try and win the prize (league leading 13 shots already this term) . . . better finisher than people credit him with, though it must be accepted that output is going to be erratic . . . Liverpool have looked better in possession and should only improve as Rodgers' system is embedded . . . genuine threat from set pieces is a plus over many of his rivals . . . tough and price tag still make him tough to own and/or captain.
Regular readers will know I skew conservative with many decisions, including the awarding of my weekly armband. Players like Michu and Adebayor can help separate you from the pack but your 'wins' are generally remembered (and retold) more than the more numerous losses and thus I tend to prefer the more boring but reliable picks from the elite players in the league. If you believe in the data even a little, City make an irresistible play this week and that will likely lead to Tevez and his 39% ownership earning the captain's nod most often this week. Silva is also a very strong option for me and having had the week off last week is probably a touch safer to start here (Balotelli and Dzeko are still lurking in the wings remember).
If you're scared of Mancini's penchant for rotation, or don't own any City players, the bridesmaids for the week are Bale and Kagawa, both all but locked into very good sides who enjoy good fixtures. They probably lack the upside of Tevez and Silva but they also bring a touch more security so make nice options for those with an aversion to those in sky-blue.
I've been promising a reader question column for two weeks now, but I assure you one is due this afternoon (eastern time) so fire the questions/comments below or @plfantasy and I'll get to them all before this week's deadline.