This week will likely see some huge scores and I think you need to be playing at least 5 players on a double to stay competitive. The chance of stealing points on your competition is probably less than in a week where only 2 or 4 teams have a double as less planning will have been required to get some double gamers in this week. Nevertheless, it's important to get your side right in a week where plenty of teams could top 100 points so let's look at the double gameweek sides for gameweek 31 and see where potential value might lie:
Opponents: Wol, Sun
Two better opponents than last week await the Villains and this is the real reason alot of us brought in Villa players last week. Both sides average less than a goal a game on the road while giving up around 2 per game. If you brought in multiple Villa players last week then it's a no brainer to keep them but be careful before bringing in a third player for this week only as Villa have no game (at the moment) in week 34 so you need to have decent strength in your squad to blow two transfers on that move.
Picks: Milner, Cuellar, Collins
Opponents: @Sunderland, @Blackburn
Both opponents here have pretty good home defenses and the inconsistent Birmingham front line looks like a risky play. We all know that Birmingham's best value is in their defense and I think they look like a good play again this week. Sunderland are sneakily good at home though (24 in 15 games) while Blackburn are pretty average (21 in 14 games). I think its very likely that one of those teams score and I can't see a double clean sheet for Birmingham this week. That said, the likes of Hart still represent good value and are worthy of a place in the side, if not really transfer targets this week.
Picks: Hart, Dann
Opponents: Chelsea, Birmingham
Two tough games for a side that offers little fantasy value at the best of times should set the alarm bells ringing. The Rovers defense has been okay this year and the two home games helps, but I can't see too much joy against a Chelsea side re-focused on the league after their Champions League exit. Going forward they offer even less though Gamst Pedersen got back on the fantasy scoresheet last week with another assist and I suppose he warrants some differentiation value.
Picks: Gamst Pedersen, Dunn
Opponents: @Blackburn, @Portsmouth
As noted above, be careful getting carried with what look like easy fixtures as Blackburn (0.86 GPG) and even Portsmouth (1.57 GPG) are solid defenses at home. That said, Portsmouth surrendered 4 goals a piece at home to both Arsenal and United so I wouldn't hesitate playing my Chelsea players this week (though I might hesitate paying 8 points to bring 2 in). It seems as if Chelsea will either pull together and win the league or lose control and end up 3rd with Ancelotti fired. Malouda insists the mood in the camp is okay but with Drogba's petulance, Terry's continued lack of form and Anelka's post-January disappearance, I find it hard to be totally sold on this team the way I might be if United had these fixtures. That said, Drogba is the only one of big three (Rooney, Drogba, Torres) playing twice and hence still makes alot of sense for this week.
Lampard will probably contribute again without actually doing a great deal and, like Drogba, is the only one of the big name midfielders playing twice this week (unless you count Milner). Malouda is the form man and has contributed 4 points in every game bar two in 2010 while still being held by just 6.2% of managers. The defense, whilst not in the best of form, have better fixtures and look like solid picks although I am concerned by the 'keeper situation and the form of Terry.
Picks: Drogba, Malouda, Ivanovic
Opponents: Bolton, @Man City
One great, one tough fixture makes it hard to be crazy over Everton this week though it is of course safe to start all the Toffees you already own. I think Arteta's ownership is one game away from exploding and with Bolton on the horizon he looks like a sound replacement for the likes of Valencia and Kuyt who only play once. Elsewhere, the defensive value is obviously based on the Bolton fixture as City have failed to score at home just once this season (GW 27 vs Liverpool). Again, go ahead and start Baines, Distin and co but I think your transfers can be better used elsewhere.
Picks: Arteta, Distin
Opponents: @Fulham, Everton
A tough trip to Craven Cottage stops Tevez being a great pickup this week but he still represents good value and is an upgrade over one-game players like Defoe, Torres and Berbatov. I don't like much in the City midfield and while he managed a very solid 9 points last week, it has to be noted that Johnson started on the bench and is not guaranteed to start one nevermind both games this week. Great talent: yes, reliable fantasy star: not yet.
Defensively I am massively skeptical of City though 3 clean sheets in their last 7 games is not too bad. Neither opponent averages more than 1.5 GPG so there is potential for returns from the likes of Zabaleta though who will replace Bridge causes me some concern.
Picks: Tevez, Zabaleta
Opponents: Hull, Chelsea
Granted Hull at home is about as good as it gets but with the other game being Chelsea you are basically buying into a one fixture team. Perhaps O'Hara is worth a flutter and even Piquionne if you're desperate but if you can move money around it warrants paying to get rid of these guys for anyone else playing twice.
The defense is actually a useful play as they aren't too bad at home, but again I'm not sure I would be spending points here but feel to use your defenders if you happen to own them.
Picks: Wilson, O'Hara
Opponents: Birmingham, @Aston Villa
Bent had been through a tough patch before exploding against Bolton and this unpredictability makes him all but impossible to bench or sell this week. Yes the fixtures looks tough (1.5 GPG and 0.71 GPG conceded) but Bent can be a streaky scorer and Sunderland appear to turned the corner a bit with just one defeat in the last seven. I don't trust the defense and with Reid injured and Cana suspended the Mackens offer little beside the English hitman.
Opponents: @Arsenal, Wolves
Much like Portsmouth above if you buy here you are really buying into a one fixture team as few rewards are likely to be found at the Emirates. The West Ham team is about as appealing in fantasy circles too with Cole being the star but in his unfit state even he is too risky. Not much value to be found here.
Opponents: @Aston Villa, @West Ham
Matt Jarvis is quietly having a solid season for a bench player and has even caught the bonus points judge's eyes in the past few weeks. Normally I wouldn't (and don't) start him but Jarvis, along with Kevin Doyle, warrants some consideration if you're comparing them to someone who is only playing once such as Matt Taylor, Damien Duff or Matt Etherington. Defensively Wolves continue to offer nothing but fantasy misery with little likely to change this week.
Clean Sheet Rankings
- Aston Villa*
- Man United
- Man City*
- West Ham*
- Didier Drogba
- James Milner
- Darren Bent
- Frank Lampard
- Carlos Tevez
- Wayne Rooney
- Gabriel Agbonlahor
- Florent Malouda
- Cesc Fabregas
- Mikel Arteta
I noted my concerns above over Drogba and Chelsea but a double fixture for one of the top teams when the others play just once is just too good to pass up. Lampard's love affair with the bonus pundits and Malouda's excellent 2010 form give Chelsea 3 players in my top 10. Despite the fixture being tough on paper, Rooney's single game against Liverpool could still provide goals and you'd be crazy to bench him or sell him just for one week. If you need to differentiate you need to move on for good, not blow 2 transfers on one player for one week.
As always post your thoughts and transfer issues below or tweet them @plfantasy, and of course, thanks for reading.