The dreaded AFCON initials rise again!
Every other year the AFCON frustrates and infuriates fantasy owners as it rips away some of the best players in the premier league for anything from a couple of weeks to up to a month.
What is AFCON I hear some of you ask? It is the African Cup of Nations and it lasts in total just over three weeks. For those who are massive fans of some EPL clubs or have played fantasy football for a while this comes as no surprise but more like a horrifying repeating nightmare.
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Unfortunately, the effect is worse than ever for two reasons. Firstly, AFCON clashes with the AFC Asia Cup meaning that it’s not just the African players but also the Asian and Australian (Australia are too good for their own continent so have been moved into Asia for footballing purposes) ones! The second reason is that the premier league is growing ever more global and now it isn’t the major teams who have the bulk of the African or Asian players but the mid-level and smaller premier league teams.
This second reason is the real crux of the problem with more African, Asian and Australian players becoming key fixtures for clubs that cannot afford the top level European or South American stars, meaning that the hearts of teams are going to be ripped out. This doesn’t just impact the player themselves but also those around him as well.
Fortunately, for fantasy owners there are not too many major names who will be missing but in some cases those who will be missing are cheap fodder who have made for great injury replacements or bench warmers at an economic price.
I intend to go through each player briefly looking at them before trying to identify alternative players at a similar price in salary cap leagues and players who may benefit from extended playing time in their absence for those people in draft leagues.
In draft leagues players in the top 3 categories should not be dropped under any circumstances! In salary cap leagues all need to be replaced ASAP
AFCON dates: 17th Jan until 8th Feb (GW22, GW23, Possibly GW24 if their team gets that far)
Asia Cup dates: 9th Jan until 31st Jan (GW21, GW22, Possibly GW23 if their teams gets that far)
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Toure (Man City) 83 Points £10.9 (4.88 Points Per Game, 17 games, 1.35 Fakepremierlg Rating)
There was a great deal of stress over Yaya earlier in the year when he got off to an extremely slow start coming off his stunning 2013/14. However, in the last eight weeks he has scored five-plus more than six times and 10-plus points three of those times. For those of you who rode out the first nine games where he scored a measly 25 points you have been handsomely rewarded for your patience. However, now is the time to cut those ties and find an alternative. There are three guys who are immediately jumping off the page in salary cap leagues with Hazard, Fabregas and Silva all currently available at a lower price so if you own Yaya then these are your more than adequate stand ins.
For draft leagues I see Fernando and Fernandinho being the main guys who should see more regular playing time with Lampard being a longer shot. His absence will also help to ensure that Navas, Milner, Silva and Nasri do not see significantly reduced playing time once the strikers return. Frankly Yaya’s departure is good news for everyone except well the owners of Yaya himself!
Bony (Swansea) 76 Points £8.5 (4.00 PPG, 19 games, 1.26 FPR)
Another man who had a quiet start to the season but Bony has been a solid contributor in the most part for fantasy owners averaging four points per game and an FPR of 1.26, making him a top striking option at the position.
Salary cap alternatives: Pelle, Austin, Ulloa and Welbeck have all scored similar amount of points for a cheaper price. Austin, Ulloa and Welbeck offer a significantly lower price which could be used elsewhere in an upgrade.
Draft league bump: Gomis becomes a solid add with Emnes potentially seeing a boost too
Jedinak (Crystal Palace) 71 Points £5.3 (3.95 PPG, 18 games, 1.44 FPR) Asia Cup
A real under the radar fantasy gem and perhaps the biggest loss of all going forward, given that he is available at a dirt cheap price he has been the best points per pound fantasy producer in the game. Averaging nearly four points per game across 18 games he has been the perfect cheap midfield option that can contribute. Where Jedinak is head and shoulders above even Yaya is that he is virtually impossible to replace.
Salary cap alternatives: Fer is the closest in terms of points scored but even he is £0.2 more expensive. Ki is the only alternative that has scored within 10 points of Jedinak but you will find his name further down this list! The other person I quite like is George Boyd but even though he will play regularly he will be highly frustrating.
Draft league bump: Barry Bannan is the man I think will see a bump, but I am not counting on it so I wouldn’t rush to grab him.
Cisse (Newcastle) 70 Points £5.7 (5.38 PPG, 13 games, 5.38 FPR)
It took a while for him to get on the pitch but Cisse has been back to his roaring best this season and your fantasy team will feel his loss the next few weeks. However, where the loss of Cisse is not a disaster is in the alternative!
Salary cap alternatives: Harry Kane and Danny Ings should be solid replacements. Kane is on a great run with 57 points in the last 10 games and my pick to replace many more expensive players going forward. If you already own Kane then Ings is a solid bet for consistent time and scoring potential.
Draft league bump: Ayoze and potentially Riviere should each see a bump. Ayoze is potentially more owned of the two so Riviere may be a sneaky investment.
Sakho (West Ham) 66 Points £5.7 (5.08 PPG, 13 games, 1.46 FPR)
Had a good run earlier in the season but injuries and the return of Andy Carroll have derailed him a little lately. Hopefully he can return from AFCON fit and ready to go.
Salary cap alternatives: Kane and Ings. Same price as Cisse means same replacements should be sought
Draft league bump: Carroll and Valencia are the main two who will benefit but Carlton Cole should be looked at for a long shot for more playing time.
Ki (Swansea) 64 Points £5.0 (3.37 PPG, 19 games, 1.26 FPR) Asia Cup
Has quietly been almost as dependable as Jedinak. Consistent throughout the season and has chipped in with the odd goal. Another guy who will be hard to replace like for like
Salary cap alternatives: This is tougher than Jedinak even! Within 15 points and £0.1 cheaper are: Elmohamady and N’Zonzi (Dorrans is the same price and within 10 points also). The guy I would turn to is either Ward-Prowse or Wanyama who figure to see plenty of action with the loss of some other key peices
Draft league bump: Tom Carroll or Leon Britton should slot in and could be useful but unsepctacular
Bolasie (Crystal Palace) 60 Points (3.16 PPG, 19 games, 1.26 FPR)
Has been really exciting this year and if Palace get a finisher he could have a great second half in terms of assists.
Salary cap alternatives: Fer and Larsson are my best bets if you want to keep a similar value to points ratio.
Draft league bump: Zaha and Gayle should see more opportunities out wide.
Diouf (Stoke) 60 Points £6.1 (3.33 PPG, 18 games, 0.94 FPR)
Has been on and off throughout the season and has split time with Crouch making him a tough option at a price slightly too high for what you have got. In draft leagues I consider him to have been a really decent flex option as he has played every game and chipped in with goals.
Salary cap alternatives: Kane and Ings once again
Draft league bump: Crouch should see more consistent 90 minutes and there may be some young guys who they turn too. There is a chance that Walters may get the chance to lead the line occasionally.
Mane (Southampton) 55 Points £ (4.23 PPG, 13 games, 1.15 FPR)
Has been relatively hot the last two weeks and scoring against Chelsea certainly helped his value. Hold him for one more week and hope you gain a small price rise is possible. There are two easy replacements here!
Salary cap alternatives: Downing has been a monster for a £6.5 price tag. Henderson is the other easy choice at a poultry £6.0
Draft league bump: Shane Long and potentially Ward-Prowse may see more time in his place.
Under The Radar
Mahrez (Leicester) 54 Points £4.9 (3.60 PPG, 15 games, 1.13 FPR)
A bright point in an otherwise poor situation in Leicester. Losing him wont damage your fantasy team but he is yet another decent low scoring midfielder and when you need 5 of them they are always handy.
Salary cap alternatives: N’Zonzi, Colback, Wanyama and Boyd are all alternative. As I said with Jedinak I like Boyd’s upside potential.
Draft league bump: Knockaert could benefit here. An exciting player who I would love to see get more time!
Kouyate (West Ham) 44 Points £4.9 (2.93 PPG, 15 games, 1.20 FPR)
A decent little run of consistency going on currently and at that price that will be missed especially in draft leagues.
Salary cap alternatives: Same as above (N’Zonzi, Colback, Wanyama, Boyd)
Draft league bump: Noble, Poyet and Zarate could all see a boost in value in his place.
There was some Value
Diame (Hull) 43 Points £5.2 (3.62 PPG, 12 games, 1 FPR)
Has been out since week 15 so it is unlikely he is owned in many salary cap leagues but there was some early season value so he may be owned in draft leagues. He had a hot stretch after joining Hull so if he is dropped he may be worth considering.
There is no bump for anyone in draft leagues due to his injuries.
Schlupp (Leicester) 45 Points £4.5 (2.8 PPG, 16 games, 0.94 FPR)
A defender! O.K. Schlupp won’t get your heart racing but he was playing regularly and that may have been enough for people at a £4.5 price tag. I doubt he is overly owned in draft leagues where defenders are streamed a little more but here goes.
Salary cap alternatives: Shackell, Coloccini, Vergini, O’Shea, Dawson (WBA), Dummett, Wisdom, Hutton. Yeah you get the point there are plenty of options.
Draft league bump: De Laet may see something but there must be better options unless your league is insanely deep.
Jones (Liverpool) 4 Points (1.33 PPG, 3 games, 0 FPR) Asia Cup
Was starting to be first choice instead of Mignolet but now Mignolet has the chance to claim his spot back.
Toure (Liverpool) 21 Points (3 PPG, 7 games, 0.86 FPR)
Has been in and out of the team. This helps Sakho and Lovren as there is one less warm body for a couple of weeks.
Tiote (Newcastle) 21 Points (2.33 PPG, 9 games, 0.89 FPR)
Potential opportunity her for Anita or Aarons if they can get healthy and get on the field but otherwise this shouldn’t really affect you.
Abeid (Newcastle), Herd (Villa), Guediora (C.Palace), Atsu (Everton), Yun (QPR), Mayuka & Yoshida (Southampton), Bentaleb (Tottenham), Davidson (WBA), Mulumbu (WBA)
Yoshida was relevant earlier in the season until Alderweireld stole his spot and Southampton hasn’t looked back since. We may see some youngsters fill in if Alderweireld or Fonte get suspended.