Looking for some Fantasy EPL hints and tips to help you through the reduced Gameweek 18 fixtures? The Draft Society are here to help with a one-off article detailing helpful advice for navigating a weekend with only five fixtures going ahead!
Essential reading before the Friday waiver requests process!
Gameweek 18: The State of Play
The UK has reported its highest number of daily infections since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with the Omicron variant quickly spreading throughout the nation. We’ve seen a few Premier League games postponed during the last week, but this weekend sees a major dent in the fixture schedule. Five games have been called-off due to high numbers of cases at the clubs, and therefore Fantasy EPL managers are left with some tough decisions to make this weekend.
The five games going ahead are: Aston Villa v Burnley, Leeds v Arsenal, Newcastle v Manchester City, Tottenham v Liverpool, and Wolves v Chelsea.
The five games postponed are: Everton v Leicester, Manchester United v Brighton, Southampton v Brentford, Watford v Crystal Palace, and West Ham v Norwich.
We’re here to run through the best players to pick-up, whether to hold or drop your current players, as well as highlighting some players without a fixture who could be good to stash for future weeks. It’s also worth noting that although we do love playing Fantasy EPL on Fantrax, try not to take things too seriously at the moment. It’s increasingly unpredictable and there are more important things in life; losing sleep over how the fixture postponements impact your Fantrax roster is not one of them!
***Further games could be called off. Recommendations up to date as of 10:00 GMT on Friday***
Gameweek 18 Pick-Ups
Our Gameweek 18 Pick-Up recommendations are essentially our Waiver Wire picks for this weekend. Here you’ll find low rostered % players who have an all-important fixture!
Arsenal: Surely time for Pepe (49% rostered), one might hope, but alas, with ESR scoring in his return from injury, I highly doubt we will see the Ivorian featuring. Even Nketiah seems to be ahead of him in the pecking order. Partey (33%), Xhaka (10%), Sambi (10%) and Nketiah (1%) are the prime waiver targets for this week.
Aston Villa: Aston Villa are a team with quite a few high-ish upside streamers. Ramsey (25%) did very well against Norwich, so he would be my first target. Konsa (46%), Young (26%) or even El Ghazi (27%) could feature, so all three are worth a pickup. If somehow Ings (84%) is on your wire, I would look to jump, as he’s back from injury.
Burnley: A lot of sub 50% players here and all are worth an add this week. Out of the players possibly available, Taylor (50%) and Gudmundsson (5%) are on the top of my priority lists.
Chelsea: One thing seems to be for sure with Chelsea, they have left the free scoring team they were a few months ago behind for a while now. Any new faces featuring in attack should therefore be taken with the caveat that against a very plucky Wolves side, I guarantee a difficult day up front for them. Chalobah (43%), Barkley (5%), Saul (5%), and Sarr (1%) are the players who could feature and out of those, Barkley seems to have the highest upside if starting.
Leeds: What a horrible run Leeds are on! Arsenal, although steady recently, are always only one game away from imploding, so I would not shy away from starting my Leeds players. Gelhardt (4%) is my top suggestion as the young forward looks to build on his first EPL goal from last weekend. Ayling (44%) and Roberts (17%) are good targets for waivers and look out for young Summerville (0%), who is a high upside streamer if given the chance on the wing.
Liverpool: Ox (32%), Keita (26%), Milner (6%) are the prime suspects for midfield rotation and they all are below 50% rostered. I personally would give Milner the highest chance of starting at the weekend, so I would target him with my highest priority claim, but bid for all three just in case.
Manchester City: Aké (7%), Dinho (4%) and Palmer (1%) are the only three players who are under 50% rostered and have played EPL minutes this season. I would start any and all starters, but none of these three are likely featuring. Only pick up and play from the bench if you have free spots (not worth wavering).
Newcastle: Don’t let the spirited display against Liverpool fool you. Only two players from this team scored above 6 points against Liverpool and one of them was Shelvey (15 with a goal). I would only look to pick up Newcastle players (no defenders) if you do not have to drop anyone for them and, even then, only if you have a chance to win.
Spurs: A lot of players available to pick up due to the fact that they didn’t have fixtures in the last few weeks. Liverpool have been efficient but not bulldozing their opponents, so I would not expect such a scoreline that would warrant sitting defenders. Start everyone who is starting and get everyone off waivers. I would look to secure the likes of Sanchez (39%), Davies (29%) and Royal (35%) even if it takes a 2–5$ FAB bid as likely doubles for a solid defense will have great value in the long run. I would not pay FAB for anyone ranked below these aforementioned players, but get in anyone who has a decent chance of featuring.
Wolves: Podence (46%) looked lively and involved and with Hwang possibly out for a while, getting Pod could reap long term benefits. Marcal (16%) looked terrible in real life, but scored pretty well for Fantrax and could continue at LB if Ait-Nouri is sidelined. This might be the inaugural gameweek where we are suggesting picking up one Connor Coady (26%)… The horror! THE HORROR!
Gameweek 18 Hold or Drop
This section details the teams without a game this weekend, and if we would hold or drop their players. You may need to make some tough decisions in order to gain a Fantrax victory this weekend, so we’re here to help!
Brentford: Toney and Pinnock are the only Brentford players who are over 50% rostered, and these are the only two players I would definitely recommend keeping. Potentially Mbeumo, Jansson, Janelt and Norgaard too, but anyone else is an easy drop.
Brighton: Brighton are a tough team to analyse here, as they have some really strong Fantrax assets, but are on pretty poor form. They haven’t won a game since September!! We would recommend keeping hold of Trossard, Gross, Lamptey, Cucurella, and Sanchez (playing with no GK this week is a valid tactic). The likes of Duffy, March, Veltman, and Burn can be dropped, as well as Maupay, Dunk and Bissouma who would have been unavailable this weekend anyway.
Crystal Palace: Gallagher is obviously a player you will want to keep hold of, as well as Zaha and Benteke. You may be surprised by the Benteke recommendation, but he does usually score well when he starts, so I would personally keep him in my roster through this weekend. Edouard may be worth keeping if you’re struggling for forwards; he did score really well in GW17. Elsewhere, the likes of Eze, Kouyate, Ayew, Guaita, Mitchell, Hughes and Olise are easy drops. They are streamers in any case, so if they are not without a fixture you can drop them no question.
Everton: Now this is a hard team to comment on. Everton have an insane number of injuries to top players at the moment. DCL, Townsend, Gray and Richarlison are all currently listed as injured on Fantrax, and to be honest I’m not sure when they will return. We haven’t had concrete data on any of these injuries. Digne is also currently ‘injured’, but he may just be biding his time for Rafa to be relieved of his duties! I’d be tempted to keep hold of all of these players, as they are strong Fantrax assets to roster. Keane is the only other player I would keep hold of. Doucoure, Iwobi, Gordon, and the rest of the defenders are easy drops.
Leicester: Tielemans, Vardy, Maddison, Barnes, and probably Daka are the players from Leicester I would keep through this weekend. Pereira, Schmeichel, Ndidi, Castagne, Iheanacho, and Lookman are all streamers who I would happily drop for a player with a game.
Manchester United: From United, I would try to keep hold of pretty much any of their good assets. And right now I think that probably includes the likes of Dalot, Telles, Varane, and Fred. De Gea might even be worth keeping and rolling out with no GK this weekend. Lingard, Cavani, Martial, McTominay, Lindelof, Van de Beek, and anyone else with low rostered % can be dropped.
Norwich: Drop them all! No, seriously. I’d maybe keep Gilmour or Rashica if you’re short on midfielders, but anyone else can be dropped.
Southampton: From Southampton you’re obviously going to keep hold of JWP. I would also keep hold of Salisu and the on-form Broja. Redmond is a player I would potentially keep too, but only if you’re short on midfielders. I would happily drop Livramento, Adams, Armstrong, Bednarek, and anyone else with low rostered %.
Watford: Dennis and King are the only Watford assets I would hold through the weekend. Everyone else is a streamer, so drop them for a player with a fixture if you can!
West Ham: I would hold a lot of West Ham players; Antonio, Bowen, Rice, Soucek, Fornals, and Cresswell. The high profile players I would happily drop are Benrahma (scoring poorly at the moment), Coufal (suspended for GW19), Fabianski, Masuaku, Lanzini, and anyone else not mentioned.
When deciding on which player to drop, you will do well to consider that the players you decide to let go will be going into a player pool with players dropped from all the teams from your league, so although dropping someone like Masuaku, Ndidi, March, Eze or Janelt might feel like they will instantly become top waiver targets, you need to keep in mind that the pool you are seeing will be instantly filled with players of similar (and maybe of even higher) value after this gameweek. Keep in mind, it is not the WW before GW18 that will see the biggest spending, it might be the one AFTER GW18, next Tuesday, which will see everyone trying to pick up the players dropped.
Gameweek 18 Stashes
Our final section highlights the players who we would recommend stashing away for future weeks. These players are without a game this weekend, but they are worth bringing in if you have the luxury of a spare roster space or two, or if you’re abandoning Gameweek 18 due to most of your roster being without a game already!
Our first piece of advice regarding this section, is that your normal methods of waiver wire and free agent pickups might be worth tweaking for this week as for stashing purposes, there will be a lot of hidden gems out there on free agency. Therefore I would suggest building a “database” or watchlist (you can do that by clicking the little star icon in Fantrax of players who are available and of interest), so you can look for them quickly. To do this, I would start not in the “Players” section, but in the “Transaction History” section to look through the drops that were made since the end of GW17. This method will ensure you do not miss players who might have high upside, but who have not been performing well enough so far to feature in the first few pages of available players sorted for overall points or for FP/G.
Without necessarily going into player specifics, it is a good rule of thumb when determining “stashable” players to consider which player you might bid the highest on if it were a waiver scenario. For this, you obviously have to determine player value, but also roster considerations. For example, although you might find that you see a high value defender free to pick up, but he would be your 8th DEF, you should probably go for the highest valued MID.
Going strictly by fixture consideration, Manchester United players (a lot of them dropped and facing Newcastle on Boxing Day) should be highest on your stashing priority. If any of the ‘hold’ players mentioned above have actually been dropped in your league, these are good candidates for stashing away if a fellow manager decided to drop them.
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