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Gameweek 3 Takeaways: Fantrax EPL

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Every new Gameweek brings to light new information about teams and players that can influence our Fantasy decisions. Injuries, new signings, tactical shifts, new roles, young players emerging are all essential parts of the decision making process when a fantasy manager evaluates trades, waiver wire pickups or drops. In this new article, we aim to list everything that happened during the weekend and our takeaways through fantasy tinted glasses.

Jack Harrison recently completed his move from Leeds to Everton

Fantrax Takeaways Gameweek 3

Here we outline our Fantasy EPL Takeaways from the previous gameweek and how to interpret them for draft fantasy.

Injuries and Suspensions

Luke Shaw (MUN, DEF)

Prospects: Shaw is going to be out for some time. There are strong rumours the injury could be a while due to the fact United are looking to bring in a short-term LB. Assessments are still going on with United hoping it will be weeks not months, but the outlook can't be bright if they are already looking for short-term LBs before the end of the window. United will miss Shaw both offensively and defensively, with the defence taking a hit in terms of value for me without Shaw.

Replacement: For now, Dalot will slot in and play as an inverted LB. He was okay against Forest, but didn't exactly stake a claim to keep his spot. Alvaro Fernandez may get a chance after the break, but definitely not at Arsenal. There is also the chance of a new player coming in, whether it be a CB (moving Lindelof to LB), or a short-term LB. Keep your eyes peeled for transfer news.

Verdict: If you are in a league with 10 teams or fewer, I would drop Shaw with the news looking worse each day. In a 12-team league see if you can get any sort of value from a United fan, or just wait for more news. If news breaks that he is out for more than 6 weeks, I would drop him. Unfortunately, Shaw has a bad injury history and 6 weeks could well turn into 8 or even longer.

Julio Enciso (BHA, FWD)

Prospects: Enciso will be out for an extended period, according to De Zerbi. Rumours are circulating it will be at least 3-4 months, but assessments are still going on. This is a massive blow to Brighton to lose such a promising attacking midfielder.

Replacement: I expect Ferguson to be the biggest benefactor of this injury. Joao Pedro will get his chances as well, but I expect him to still be heavily rotated with Welbeck. There is a chance we can also see Gross pushed up to the 10 slot and Gilmour and Dahoud starting together in a pivot. Knowing how much Brighton rotate, I expect all sorts of combos to be tried.

Verdict: Enciso is an easy drop; he's already rotation prone but now that he's out for months he can't be worth a roster spot. Look to bring in Ferguson on the cheap given his still good performance despite the loss. Joao Pedro is also worth a bid to see if a manager is frustrated with his back-to-back benchings.

Mason Mount (MUN, MID)

Prospects: Mount is out until after the international break for sure, but should be back within 1-2 games after that. I expect Mount to be back around when predicted, but it's not like he was having a game changing impact for United anyway. United will miss his work ethic off the ball, but not much else. With Eriksen showing much better composure and creativity on the ball last week, a few more good performances could cause some serious rotation between the two.

Replacement: Eriksen is Mount's replacement as we saw in the Forest match, and he is more suited to United's style than Mount. Rotation could follow suit when Mount returns from injury.

Verdict: I was never high on Mount, but he still isn't worth a drop...yet. I would look to trade him out to any United fan or anyone thinking Mount will come back and improve his fantasy numbers. Look to bring in a solid MID3-4 if you can such as Bissouma or A. Doucoure.

Tomas Soucek (WHU, MID)

Prospects: Soucek had a clash of heads in the win vs. Brighton and it is unclear when he will be back. Soucek will go under concussion protocols, but will also need assessment on further damage to his skull and surrounding facial bones. The best case for Soucek is a return next gameweek with nothing more than a minor concussion allowing him to return to training Friday. Soucek has been immense both in reality and fantasy this season, and his presence will be missed in the midfield.

Replacement: Alvarez will continue to start in Soucek's absence, but Benrahma should be the benefactor should Soucek miss any time. If Soucek is back soon, It will be up to Moyes and his formation choice on whether to sacrifice Alvarez or Benrahma.

Verdict: I would hold Soucek unless news breaks he will be out long-term. If a return date of this weekend or just after the break ends up circulating on Twitter, look to buy low on the towering midfielder.

Other injuries/Suspensions:

  • Destiny Udogie: A minor non-contact injury scare. Postecoglou said he is fine - no time should be missed.

  • Joe Worrall: Will miss no time despite a red card; his suspension will be served in the cup.

  • Calvin Bassey: Bassey will be out for 1 game after his red card vs. Arsenal. Ream will probably replace him in the XI going forward though.

  • Ben Osborne: Osborne was subbed off just 15 minutes into the match due to injury. Not a concern for fantasy managers.

  • Hwang Hee-Chan: Hwang suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced at half-time vs. Everton. He is expected to have a scan and could be out for some time. According to Ben Dinnery, this is his 3rd hamstring injury of 2023 and has usually missed a month.

  • Eddie Nketiah: Nketiah scored another goal vs. Fulham, but apparently picked up a knee injury. He is being assessed currently, but with Jesus fit you would expect him to just have a bench role for now.

  • Raphael Varane: Varane was replaced by Lindelof at half time. Ten Hag said he needs to be assessed. If he isn't fit expect Lindelof to start against Arsenal.

  • Mykhalio Mudryk: Mudryk missed the win vs. Luton with a small issue. He should be back for the Forest game, but after a 3-0 win I doubt he gets into the XI.

  • Sven Botman: Botman will be assessed after coming off in the Liverpool loss due to injury. Targett could slot in for him with Burn + Schar forming the CB partnership. Hall is also in contention to get some minutes here once he is fully up to match fitness.

  • Virgil Van Dijk: Van Dijk will miss AT LEAST 1 game for his red card vs. Newcastle. Wait for official word, but his behaviour towards officials and his reluctancy to leave the field could result in an extra game or two being added.

  • Willian: Missed the draw against Arsenal completely. He was a doubt heading into the game, and it remains to be see if he will be back this gameweek. Regardless, he is an easy drop. He just isn't the same player as last year and his heart seemingly isn't at Fulham.

Tactical Discussions

Defensively Frail Teams to Target

Observation: The likes of Luton, Burnley, Everton, Forest, Bournemouth, Fulham, and Sheffield United look like they are the teams to target for attackers. Luton and Burnley are the two favourites here, having conceded 7 and 6 goals respectively in just 2 games. If you don't start your attackers against these two teams, there's no point in having them. If you are looking for streamers in the midfield or forward area look for starters (yes even defensive mids) who will play these two clubs, who are surely relegation bound. This week, Spurs and West Ham are the lucky teams to play these extremely fragile defences. Most of their starting attackers shouldn't be available, but if one is make them a top waiver pick this week!

Verdict: For now these are all great teams to target if you are looking to stream attackers, attacking full-backs, or even defensive midfielders.

Spurs Thoughts: Playing through the Middle

Observation: As discussed briefly in my "Maddison at pick 3 take" everything is going through the midfielders at Spurs. Maddison, Bissouma, and Sarr all linked up for the first goal, and almost every attacking play is started with one of them (mainly the first 2). Ange is really using Bissouma's dribbling ability more than anything to carry the ball forward and create space for his fellow attackers, especially chief creator Maddison. Bissouma is 3rd for successful dribbles this season, only behind the slick dribblers of Nunes and Eze. The wingers in Son and Kulusevski are being asked to stay very wide and not cut in as much as they would like (especially Son). Full-backs in Udogie and Porro/Emerson are the ones underlapping and cutting in more so than these wingers who almost look like diversions for the likes of Maddison to just carry the show. Unfortunately, Richarlison is really holding back the full effectiveness of this system, and will be on a short leash soon. Brennan Johnson is rumoured to be close to signing for Spurs and offers serious competition to his spot, as well as a quick shuffle seeing Perisic/Solomon out wide and Son through the middle. Son playing through the middle would be the best for him fantasy wise, and probably help even further improve the output of the players around him. Kulusevski is a tough one to judge given he was a 3rd-4th round pick he has been decent although not excellent for the value spent on him. I think both Son and Kulusevski will struggle to be serious top fantasy assets this year unless we see a personnel swap seeing Son at striker. They play Burnley next week which should be a chance for another good performance and then potentially a sell high after that. Unfortunately I just don't think Son will return round 1 value, but Kulusevski could return round 4 value.

Verdict: Maddison is the player to roster for Spurs, and it's really not close, I would give up almost any player not named Haaland or Bruno for Maddison. Bissouma will be offering every week MID3 value, but will need to offer a bit more on the offensive front to be considered a MID2. Son and Kulusevski will suffer time to time, and could be considered sell high candidates after this week or after the Burnley fixture.

What to do with Everton players?

Observation: Everton look lost, from front to back to the manager to the fans. This club is in turmoil and needs a turn around to avoid relegation this year. That loss to Wolves will have been heartbreaking, and surely will take a toll on them emotionally. Everton are the ONLY team to have not scored a goal this year, yes, even Luton and Burnley have scored. For a club that has played Fulham, Wolves, and Villa, this is very worrying. They have a somewhat friendly schedule coming up for the next few weeks with Sheffield Utd, Luton, and Bournemouth on the cards between now and early October. These will be three must win games in what will surely be relegation 6 pointers. Their defence has given up more chances than I could have imagined under Dyche, especially when Keane was in the XI. Branthwaite is a small upgrade, but he's not exactly a top defender that will all of a sudden keep attackers quiet. Their fullbacks - horrendous! Young is past it other than his "cross-and-inshallah" style offering some key passes, and Patterson just isn't EPL quality. In terms of Everton assets - Doucoure, Garner and Tarkowski are the 3 current starting assets that you want to start during the time, with Onana offering the odd MID4-5 value here and there. Other than Tarkowski, I'm not streaming or going near any defender except maybe when they play goal shy Luton on September 30. Young offers a solid floor, but I think Everton will just concede too much to give him any upside. The likes of Harrison, McNeil, and DCL are all on the injury list, but still seem quite far off a return. Personally, I just don't think Everton have it this year, and these aren't exactly world-class players that will significantly change that. I would look trade out those three injured players to someone who believes they will turn Everton around; they just simply aren't worth a roster spot.

Verdict: Everton are in trouble, and their defence looks lost as ever. Avoid defenders not named Tarkowski, and look to ship out their injured trio.

West Ham and Villa are Here to Impress

Observation: Despite shaky GW1 performances, where West Ham drew with Bournemouth, and Villa were hammered by Newcastle, both these teams have looked more than up for it this season. Both teams are looking very dangerous offensively and can really score multiple goals against any team in the EPL this season. West Ham have something special really cooking with Kudus about to join. Ward-Prowse, Bowen, Kudus, Paqueta, and an Antonio that doesn't know his own age is really looking like one of the best attacks in the league. Under Emery, Villa themselves have built a really dangerous attack with Diaby adding the extra dribbling flair they have been craving since the loss of Grealish. Both these teams are no longer good teams to stream defenders against, and will battle for a top 6 spot this year. If you can somehow get a piece of the main attackers here, I would do so. Both teams have some tough tests coming up which should prove if they can contend for that top 6 spot.

Verdict: Hold the top assets such as Watkins, Diaby, Bowen, and JWP. If you can "sell high" on defenders such as Cash, Digne, and Emerson I would do so due to the mixed schedule.

Arsenal Personnel Changes

Observation: Despite Arsenal having 7 points in their first 3 games, they haven't looked like the same top team of last year. Obviously, the likes of Rice and Kai entering the XI will take some time to gel, and the loss of their main striker Jesus was surely felt. Jesus is back, though, and Rice and Kai will have had 3 full gameweeks to start to gel. Narrow wins at Palace and Forest and a draw at Fulham is not what Arsenal fans or even neutrals would have expected before gameweek 1. They come up against a United team that is also struggling next week, and as always that will be a fiercely contested battle. Arteta has some big decisions to make, both offensively and defensively, with his XI. Raya, Zinchenko and Gabriel are all pushing for inclusion in what will be the toughest game so far for Arsenal. Gabriel hasn't started a match for Arsenal all season, and maybe that is the reason for their lone clean sheet of the year. With Partey playing as a makeshift full-back, it seems the new system doesn't allow for Gabriel nor Zinchenko. Saliba has been good, but has also made quite a few mistakes that could end up costing Arsenal if he continues that way. The Gabriel + Saliba partnership was solid when they started together - so there is every chance we see Ben White return to RB with these two at CB and Zinchenko given a chance at LB. The midfield is another issue with who will play alongside Odegaard and Rice. The likes of Partey, Havertz, and Trossard are all fighting for one spot if the defence shakes out how I think it will. Kai has been awful for Arsenal, picking up right where he left off, he is probably better left on the bench for the United clash. Trossard looked a lot more dynamic and effective in his preseason cameos he got in a midfield role, while Partey is an ever reliable defensive work-horse. I think it will be a 50/50 between Partey and Trossard while Kai gets a well deserved benching. Finally, you have the attackers which really pick themselves. Despite Nketiah being in good form, his injury plus the return of Jesus should mean a front 3 of Jesus, Saka, Martinelli.

Verdict: I would look to ship Kai out as soon as possible. He just isn't going to be a fantasy asset even if the minutes come - he was taken in the 4th/5th round in many leagues and I would look for round 6-7 value if possible. Jesus is a target that is a MUST BUY for me. The dude is needed badly and will ball out - I still think ROS he can be a top 10 asset so use that as guidance for offers.

Bournemouth Rotation Chaos

Observation: Who would have thought that Bournemouth assets would be a such a rotation risk? Other than Solanke and Billing for now, no-one that is worth rostering is nailed on. The likes of Brooks, Christie, Hamed, Kluivert, Semenyo, Anthony, Tavernier, and Dango are all fighting for just 2-3 spots.. Other than Semenyo, none of these attackers have started the season well. Christie is a reliable player, but I expect long-term for him to be benched. While I was very high on Brooks in preseason, he seemingly is just another piece of the puzzle, and any time one of these wingers fails to drop a goal, assist or a piece of attacking brilliance they will be dropped. I think at best all these players are streamer level, and it's just about picking up who starts on the day in a good matchup. Bournemouth are still a relegation contending team, so don't get too excited if you see Hamed getting a start against Man City.

Verdict: I would drop EVERY Bournemouth attacker not named Solanke and Billing. I am willing to hold Semenyo for now given his two bright attacking displays, but if he doesn't start: instant drop.

Liverpool Defensive Woes, and Striker Conundrum

Observation: Liverpool looked woeful defensively against Newcastle even before the Van Dijk red card. Newcastle were very unlucky not to win the game, with Almiron the most unlucky of all - hitting the post and forcing a world-class save from Alisson. Alisson was the saving grace for that back-line today, and who knows what the score could have been without him. This has been the story for the last few weeks; this defence just isn't good enough to contend for a title. Trent and Robertson continue to show they are liabilities on the defensive end, with the CBs prone to errors game after game. The midfield doesn't offer enough of a shield either to protect this back four, and will need an improvement from their midfield three defensively to help keep clean sheets. I do expect Liverpool to still keep some clean sheets given they dominate possession and can just keep teams on their heels. Klopp needs to find some way to fix this, and fast. For now, I am avoiding trading in all Liverpool defenders. I don't believe this is even a "buy low" time for Trent unless you can really get him dirt cheap. With Konate injured and VVD out for at least 1 game, this defence just got a whole lot worse.

On the flip side, this attack looks like it can score plenty this year, once they pick a striker that can score. Sorry Gakpo, that isn't you. Nunez and Jota should be the ones battling to partner Diaz + Salah. Nunez was incredible in his cameo, single-handedly winning them the game. Jota has been great as well this season and deserves more chances at the 9. I think Klopp needs to give Nunez a run at the 9 and see what he can do. It has been a while since Liverpool have had a striker as physical and dominant as Nunez can be. The window to trade in Nunez has surely passed, but I would strongly urge you to trade out Gakpo while you still can. Szoboszlai is the last player I want to mention here. He has looked incredible since coming to Liverpool - like he's been in the EPL for years - and will only get better. It seems like he can ghost a lot better than previous Liverpool midfielders, and his added attacking threat and set-piece duty gives him a good ceiling.

Verdict: I would avoid trading in any Liverpool defenders right now, but if you can get one of Diaz, Salah, Jota, Nunez, or Szobo without overpaying I would try to get them in.

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