As in prior weeks, each player is assigned a 'buy', 'hold/monitor' or 'sell' status. These do not necessarily reflect what I would personally do, rather what I suggest to be a decision based in logic. For example, I might feel that Rooney represents better value than van Persie, but I would still 'buy' the Dutchman's success and consider him very ownable. The different assigned statuses are summarised as:
Come the end of the season, barring any surprising developments, we will likely be able to make a fairly compelling argument for Fellaini being one of this year's MVPs. The only real knock on him has been the few games he's missed but assuming he can stay on the field for the rest of the year I see no reason why his myriad of owners would want to sell (other than the fact there are so many of them). Playing devil's advocate, his overall shot totals aren't quite what they were to open the year, but he's taking a huge proportion of them within the box and his nine SiB (eight SoT) are more than enough to justify his couple of goals and the upcoming games look good enough to keep the good times rolling.
Status: Buy, though as with all the widely held players, those looking to gain ground should at least consider looking elsewhere
Kebe isn't taking a particularly advanced position every week and despite his three goals over the last four gameweeks. Over the last six games those three shots are his only ones he has managed to register on target and there just isn't the volume of chances here to support a large and consistent points haul. At 4.6m he isn't bad value of course though he isn't someone I'd want to be targetting right now either.
Status: Monitor given his price tag but he's not as exciting a prospect as his latest haul suggests
I've liked Anichebe for a while as a player and commented during his impressive spell filling in for Fellaini that I almost he got a move away from Goodison so he could earn so consistent minutes. The thought of his permanently displacing Jelavic didn't seem too likely but that appears to have happened - at least in the short term. The underlying data during his run in the first team is probably best categorised as good rather than great as while the seven SoT over his last six games look promising, the fact they came on just 11 total shots suggests he could be in for a little bit of regression in the future. For 4.4m he's a great option though and if you have any confidence at all that he'll continue to start, he looks like a no brainer replacement for more fancied Le Fondre (who unfortunately can't seem to buy a start), Pogrebnyak or Petric. I wouldn't however be quick to rearrange my strategy around grabbing him though as if he's benched, you'll be left with few escape plans, other than paying for multiple transfers.
Status: Buy if he fits your team structure but don't move heaven and earth to fit him in
The model still puts Bale third among midfielders (behind Mata and Walcott), though it's close enough that Bale's relatively low ownership makes him an attractive pickup. Few, if any, players are as involved in their team's success (at least among the bigger teams) and if I had to pick one elite midfielder to guarantee me elite returns, it would probably be the Tottenham winger. Chelsea's excellent looking home fixtures make it somewhat tough to part with Mata but those holding any of the other elite midfielders (especially those more widely held than Bale) should certainly consider making that move.
I'm not sure what Benteke has to do to get some serious fantasy attention, but I'll continue to ride the undervalued forward until everyone realises how criminally underrated he is. I'd be remiss if I didn't at least point out that five goals from nine SoT looks a touch high but the fact he's generated 23 total shots (18 SiB) over that same six week period suggests that any regression would likely be slight and would not be sufficient to make him anything less than an excellent investment. Along with Sturrige, Benteke has, for the first time in a long time, made me consider the viability of not using two 'elite' forwards, especially with the likes of Mata, Bale et al showing no signs of slowing down.
Status: Buy as a long term investment though it might be sensible to hold off until after the Arsenal and City fixtures if you aren't already on board
One of the stories from this year I wish I'd make a bigger deal about is the return of Gerrard and Lampard to not to just relevance, but in Gerrard's case at least, fantasy glory. I'm vaguely on board with Gerrard, in that he offers high upside with low ownership numbers, but a closer look at his underlying data underlines a couple of well expected points which would make me nervous about making the kind of investment needed to acquire his services (and, of course, the opportunity cost of therefore missing out on the likes of Mata, Bale or Walcott). His 15 shots over the last six games look fine, comparable to players like Cazorla (15), Fellaini (14) or Silva (13), but the fact that (a) just five of Gerrard's efforts have come inside the box and (b) he's managed to add just seven touches inside the opponents box (compared to Fellaini's 43, for example) makes me very nervous about the sustainability of his future success. There is certainly merit in investing here and the same issues noted above can be applied to several other widely held assets (including Cazorla himself). Saying that though, if I'm going to take a risk somewhere to differentiate my elite options I'm not sure this is where I'd set my sights, even if I do have a tendency to show bias towards players who have enjoyed previous success.
Status: A very speculative buy based more on past glories but in all likelihood better value will exist elsewhere for the remainder of the season.
Ah Sergio, my fantasy kryptonite. This week's game makes me slightly nervous about his longer term prospects (though his amazing finish serves as a nice reminder how insanely talented he is) but I still can't quit the Argentian star. Over his last six games he's still managed to rack up 25 total shots (second only to the free-shooting Suarez), while his 19 SiB and 13 SoT again only trail his South American rival. With Balotelli gone, the pathway is slightly less cluttered for Aguero and with City only now involved in the league and the FA Cup, the threat of rotation which has clouded his prospects all year should at least in part be alleviated. Admittedly, Aguero hasn't always shone as brightly this year as last but on a points per game basis he's still right there with everyone other than the United front men and given his talent and low ownership numbers, he represents a rare opportunity to genuinely get elite production not enjoyed by the majority of managers in the league.It goes without saying that he comes with more risk than some of his other elite peers but simply dismissing him based on the events of the past x gameweeks is not an advisable position to take.
Suarez is obviously the better option for the double gameweek and the next five or six games are going to make it very hard to part with either of the United duo, but if you trail your opponents it's those kind of decisions that will make the difference and if I'm zigging while others zag for the home straight of the year, Aguero would be my first port of call.
Carroll is a good player who got a raw deal with joining a highly scrutinized team for a price that wasn't really justified (though that's hardly his fault). His sometimes bruising style of play probably does him no favours either but in fantasy of course, we care not for a players appearance, only for his end product. Unfortunately, those discussions end quickly for Carroll given his lofty price tag which just ins't justifiable in this side, but hopefully he can secure a long term deal away from Anfield over the summer and make his mark next year with a new team and a lower price tag.
As the chart shows, Gutierrez's production this week wasn't really supported by the underlying stats and that can really be extended to a wider sample size. This Newcastle side looks promising for the remainder of the year yet I don't see too much of the end results coming Gutierrez's way.
Your best bet here is to find another 0.5m and grab Puncheon who boasts a 15-6 shot advantage over the last six games.
I suggested that Fellaini could make a pretty solid argument for fantasy MVP and we should therefore offer Lambert the same courtesy here. He's delivered consistent returns on a very high level all year, playing in every game and notching five or more points an impressive 11 times on the season. The mid level forward group has gotten much deeper of late and if pressed I would probably rank Sturridge, Benteke and Lukaku ahead of Lambert in terms of upside over these coming weeks. Yet, Lambert keeps ticking along and brings an excellent assist threat not offered by most of his peers and thus we shouldn't sleep on the Saints front man when picking that 3rd forward spot. Of course, his substantially higher ownership number leads me to personally lean towards someone like Benteke, but I still advise caution about not ignoring reliability when making decisions.
Status: Buy, though I do feel better options exist in that price bracket
The penalties are a nice bonus but generally Noble has not put up anything like the kind of numbers we'd like to see to support any kind of sustained production.
My personal plan - if you will indulge me for a minute - was to grab van Persie with my wildcard then quickly shift out to Rooney to take advantage of the past few games. After enjoying a couple of healthy weeks which saw my ranking improved I suddenly became protectionist and overly risk averse, stuck with the Dutchman and watched Roonet outscore him 21-7. Rooney's P90 of 7.1 is fairly close to van Persie (7.6), as is his goal rate of one every 129 minutes (van Persie is one every 113). His ownership number has fluttered up to 7% over the past few weeks but that is still a huge differentiator compared with most of the elite talents and like Aguero above, represents one of a handful of options who can help close a large gap in your mini leagues without taking a ridiculous risk. Indeed, After Suarez's double gameweek, my own personal plan is still to install this duo for the season run in.
Dzeko's playing time has been improved of late but with a fully fit Aguero now back in the fold I wouldn't be feeling too comfortable owning him. I understand that he's been good when he's played and his underlying data is pretty comparable to Aguero, yet at 7.4m he's too pricey to have him rotate every couple of weeks and though I hate to ignore such great potential I can't condone getting involved here unless you believe Tevez is virtually done.
My gut reaction here was instant dismissal as other than Gardner's solid free kick ability, I didn't feel he was bringing a great deal to the table. His underlying data is better than I thought though and borderline puts him in a range where we might be interested. Saying that though, this interest would be limited at best and so with a 4.9m price tag it's still wiser to look to the ever reliable Puncheon or take a risk with someone with greater upside like a Shaun Maloney.
We've already discussed one former fantasy great in Steven Gerrard, and now we can look closer at Lampard. He hasn't risen as high up the charts as his England teammate but on a per game basis both his production and underlying stats are significantly better and the only real knock on him is the potential loss of playing time with several other options available to the rotation-happy Benitez. Lampard has averaged a stunning 7.9 P90 for the season and has been simply dominant of late, trailing only Bale in total shots with 22 over his last six games, with half of those coming inside the box (Gerrard remember had just a third from close range). We'd like to see him hit the target with a bit more consistency before we can suggest he can continue his current rate of scoring, but even if he slows down quite considerably, he'd still be a formidable player to own.
The model isn't in love with Lampard's fortunes at all, mainly due to a long stretch of games to open the season but if you were to skew his share of Chelsea's fortunes to only reflect more recent times, his forecast points jump up closer to some of the elite names. I say close because I don't think we should get carried away here and push him in line with the Bales and Matas and the world, but it's not unbelievable to suggest he might be able to hang with the likes of Michu or Walcott who each come with substantially higher ownership numbers.
Status: As with Gerrard, my enthusiasm here is a touch luke warm, though the fact that Lampard is getting more chances inside the box does make me more interested. Still, this remains a very speculative buy for those looking to take a chance.
Maloney surprisingly fell out of favour for a while at Wigan but he's been back with promise of late, notching 15 shots (seven SiB) over the last six gameweeks along with a useful 12 created chances. The only players above him are a who's who of fantasy stars (plus the mercurial Taarabt, of course) and given his price tag (4.8m) he stands out about pretty much everyone (other than the somewhat one dimensional Puncheon) in that mid-low price range. Kone's return from the ACN is a potential blessing and a curse, as it gives Maloney another target to aim for, yet it also makes him rotatable. The deciding factor for me is that fixture list which sees Wigan travel to Chelsea, Reading and Man City in the next four weeks.
Status: I like his prospects for the longer term but those fixtures make it very hard to invest right now
Southampton's team looks to be back to full strength with Lallana close to full fitness and that will likely spell some pine riding for Rodriguez.
Johnson had some interesting stats for a while but he's really been limited of late racking up meagre shot totals without adding much by way of created chances.
Over a longer period Mata's stats have been just fine so I don't believe there's too much cause for concer, though it does bear mentioning that his numbers over the last six games have been underwelming with just six total shots, though at least five did come inside the box and one of those games saw him play just 18 minutes. Still, for an elite player we'd like to see a lot more than that and continued production at this level will surely see his end results decline. The good news however are his fixtures, particularly those at Stamford Bridge, which see him face Wigan, West Brom and West Ham over the next five gameweeks. The trip to City is a blow but it's hard to get a run of five or six games without at least one tough fixture so overall we would class Mata's fixtures as a boost to his prospects.
Status: He's still a buy, perhaps even a strong one, though be sure to monitor those underlying stats for signs of a return to a deeper role as we saw earlier in the year.
Milner has played really well of late, justifiably earning extra playing time and a handful of bonus points to accompany his increased fantasy production. However, his underlying stats just aren't very impressive and with Nasri lurking on the bench, even an increase in playing time is likely to see him play more games rather than all the games.
Podolski has consistently outperformed his underlying stats this year to the point that he could possibly considered a genuine outlier rather than someone who is simply getting lucky. However, four SiB in six games just isn't going to get it done however clinical you are and with a number of very good looking mid level options it looks like it's time to move on from the German, despite him offering good value to date this season.
Walcott shifted back to the right wing this week so it was encouraging to see him rack up a number of shots despite this deeper role. His upside is of course lower when deployed in midfield rather than up front, but he is still very ownable at either position and there's certainly no reason he has to be sold right now. If however you are chasing points he is one of the widely held options who is probably a touch overheld as his future after GW27 look good rather than great, so I might start putting in a plan to look at someone like Bale or even a riskier bet like Lampard after Arsenal face Villa at home the week after next.
Status: Hold for now but he is sellable