With another week of the English Premier League in the books, it was a week most fantasy managers are happy to see pass. A week that only saw half the league’s clubs participate in league fixtures due to Cup participation. A majority of fantasy managers were likely between a rock and a hard place. Do you burn your wild card? Do you burn multiple of your limited transfers? Or, just decide to suffer through the week and hope for the best? With no matches from world class players like Luis Suarez, Daniel Strurridge, Olivier Giroud, Yaya Toure and Christian Benteke, just to name a few, these were likely the questions you faced when settling on your starting XI. Fortunately, we saw some unlikely heroes step up in the limited action to save the matchweek and save fantasy managers’ hopes of the coveted fake title.
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United
The lone early match provided a good start for those who started the top man in the Fake Premier League’s forward rankings. Wayne Rooney provided a goal, assist and 90 minutes. The real story of this match came from Phil Jones(1.3% started) and Rafael(0.5%). Jones came into the matchweek with just a 50% chance of playing, but went on to play 90 minutes, grabbing a goal and a clean sheet to finish as the week’s second best performance from a defender with 14 points. Not too far behind with 11 points, was Rafael who was heavily involved down the right flank, adding an assist and a clean sheet, before being removed as a precaution in the 86th minute after taking a knock. Turning in your top goal keeper performance of the week at 7 points was David De Gea, who was rewarded with a third consecutive road clean sheet. A solid play at 5.7m for the 8.7% that selected him.
Norwich City 1-1 Stoke City
Stoke City was most likely content to come away from this match with a point after being forced to play the last 17 minutes down a man after Jonathon Walters was sent off for a high challenge on Norwich’s Alex Tettey. Just minutes before the send off, Walters converted from the spot to even the score at 1-1 to give the 1.7% who selected him only 4 points on the day after the 3 point deduction for the red card. The lone bright spot from this match came from the Canaries’ Bradley Johnson, 1.3% selected, with 10 points on a header from Robert Snodgrass.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton
Southampton came into Saturday on a two match losing streak and got back into the win column with the lone goal of the match coming from Jay Rodriguez. In the 37th minute, Rodriguez won a 50/50 ball with Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni to score from the turf to reward fantasy managers with a match high 9 points. Other value plays from this match came from defenders Luke Shaw, 19% selected at 5m, and Jose Fonte, 23.8% selected at 5.5m, with their 90 minutes on the pitch and the clean sheet. Also benefiting from the clean sheet was goalkeeper Artur Boruc at 6 points, who despite allowing six goals in the previous two matches, was 11.9% selected for a value play at £4.8m. Fantasy managers who stuck with their Southampton players benefited from the strategy of hoping for a clean sheet when facing a weaker opponent.
Cardiff City 3-1 Fulham
With the season winding down and the threat of relegation growing by the week, Cardiff City and Fulham faced off in a relegation zone battle seeing Cardiff win a much needed three points at home. This match brought great value to the minimal managers that selected Steven Caulker, 5.1% at 5.2m, and Jordon Mutch, 3.8% at 4.4m. Caulker hauled in 17 points for your top fantasy performance of the week, scoring two goals and playing the full 90. Lewis Holtby briefly equalized the match for Fulham with a goal of his own to finish with 8 points in 90 minutes played. But Cardiff regained the lead for good in the 67th minute when Mutch tallied his first of two assists to finish with 10 points on the day on a corner for Caulker’s second. Despite the three points, Cardiff is not out of relegation trouble just yet, especially considering Sunderland, who sits one spot below in the table, has three matches in hand due to Cup participation.
Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham
The final result of your main event of the evening is a bit deceiving. The 1st half of this match saw both sides go into halftime at 0-0, only to have Chelsea come out of the locker room for the second week in a row with a dominating 2nd half. Fernando Torres suffered a hamstring injury in warm ups, which forced Samuel Eto’o into early action and he did not disappoint. But, as Chelsea’s forward situation is a bit tough to figure out on a weekly basis, only 2.4% of fantasy managers were able to benefit from his 11 point performance. Eden Hazard, who has moved into must-start territory as shown by his 42.8% selection, had his fantasy day saved with a goal from the penalty spot and the clean sheet. With his price at 11.2m and climbing, now is time to grab him before the price tag climbs even further. As a bit of a shocker, Demba Ba came on to replace Eto’o for the final 15 minutes of action, only to make a run at fantasy player of the week, to add two goals of his own. At 0.8% owned with a high price of 7.4m, the stellar performance was a bit useless from a fantasy perspective. As Petr Cech has only allowed two goals in Chelsea’s last seven matches, he makes for a solid play with the hopes of a clean sheet each week, making himself worth the 6.3m price. This strategy proved to work once again this week, resulting in a decent 6 points for the 11.5% who selected him. Chelsea now sits seven points clear at the top of the table and despite Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City having games in hand, those points along with their brilliant form, could prove to be monumental down the final stretch of the Premier League season.
Note: All percentages selected and price values taken from Fantasy Premier League
You can follow Ryan on Twitter here: @Bagio23