Gameweek 3: Apologies, International Breaks, and Contrarian Calls…
Firstly, we’d like to address the elephant in the room. We apologize for our call on Harry Kane last week, though in hindsight, it was still a 4pt out-performance relative to captaining Lukaku (and on a week where the average is in the low 40s, that’s worth +10%). Not surprisingly, Kane has already seen a price drop to 12.4MM as we head into Tottenham at Everton.
And with all of that, we still think he’s worth keeping in most squad formats. In fact, he’s probably better from an asset perspective vs. Lukaku on a go forward basis because of 1) his relatively lower ownership (Romelu quickly approaching 60% ownership), 2) his underlying stats – still averaging a disgusting 8 shots per game vs. 4.7 for Lukaku and 4 from the likes of Pogba and Salah, and 3) fixtures: Everton, Swansea, West Ham, Huddersfield, Bournemouth = Money. Alli is still a cheaper surrogate/proxy for accessing the Kane potential with the added bonus that he is still suspended from competing in Europe.
Secondly, this week we are recommending a couple of out-of-consensus options which will immediately cause half our readers to feel nauseated. A quick glance at Lacazette and Sanchez in our squad (yes, both from Arsenal) is almost as discrediting as a university ranking without Harvard as #1. We think there is reason to be constructive on Arsenal especially heading into Bournemouth who are nipping at relegation.
And finally attractive fixtures this week: Arsenal (H) vs. Bournemouth, Southampton (H) vs. Watford, and United (A) at Stoke. A couple of power teams face up against each other: Man City/Liverpool, Everton/Tottenham, and Leicester/Chelsea. On balance, we find these are harder games to call with diminishing fantasy potential. Said another way, we would rather own Lacazette into Bournemouth than Morata into Leicester.
Forwards: Lacazette, Vokes, Lukaku. Lacazette/Sanchez (midfield) – Perhaps the most Wenger thing Wenger has ever done, signing a brand new striker in order to play second rate Danny Welbeck. Head scratcher for sure. Regardless, we believe the 4-0 shakedown by Liverpool was a rude awakening to Arsene and a reminder that sometimes getting fancy and playing bad players can cost you. Expect a full squad to be fielded with best talent. Sanchez, Ozil, and Lacazette to feature. Should they not, expect #wengerout to be among top 5 tending hashtags (probably sitting at #9 right now). It’s hard to make a statistical assessment of Lacazette since we’ve seen him play so little. What we can offer you is some reassuring statistics: BOU are one of three teams yet to pick up a point this season, Arsenal have won their last 6 home matches, and Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in 7 of their last 8 home matches. We expect Sanchez to start and think it’s worth a shout for managers looking to rotate out of KDB with a couple extra dollars to spare. Arsenal will be better, they must be better.
Vokes. Burnley have actually fared pretty well given their difficult fixtures so far this season. A Chelsea win and a Tottenham draw, are results teams dream of when they face these two club giants.
While Wood came on as the super sub late in Burnley’s 1-1 result vs. Spurs, in our view, Vokes remains the starting striker for the side. As we see it, any side that is up against Palace has a seemingly good chance to rack up fantasy points. Crystal Palace have lost 7 of their last 8 matches AND have failed to score.
Lukaku. With each passing week, Lukaku’s performance both in BPS and statistically has declined. With that said, his ownership and price have only risen. Yes, it’s hard to ignore United’s ability to play as a squad right now particularly given 1) offensively they are disgusting scoring 1/3 of what they put away last season, and 2) defensively – they are clicking with 9 cleans in the last 12 matches. Still, Lukaku’s ownership is becoming more of a headache with each basis point rise. At some point, rotations into Morata, Lacazette, and the likes for Firmino, will make better financial sense and from an overall differential perspective.
Mids: Mhkitaryan, Antonio, Redmond, Sanchez. Mhki is probably the most pound per point valuable player in the league given his team, fixtures, positioning, etc. Remains the centerpiece behind Lukaku and plays more forward than Pogba. Cheaper than Alli and Mane. Hold till something changes. Antonio has seen some reemergence as a fantasy option and we expect him to be deployed to the left of Chicharito, mirroring Sakho. West Ham will be desperately looking for a turnaround game and Huddersfield at home will provide that opportunity.
Surprisingly, Southampton are still unbeaten after three games but sadly have only managed to win one game. A lackluster set of attacking options have kept most fantasy managers focused on their defense which have held up nicely and have, in fact, added new (Hoedt) assets. Watford are without Miguel Britos due to suspension and have been relatively shaky in the backfield. We expect Redmond to be integral in any attacking opportunities Gabbiadini might pickup.
Finally, defensively this week we like United, Southampton, Burnley, and Alonso from Chelsea. We still view Alonso as primarily a 7MM midfielder in which his price tag becomes much more justifiable (above average midfielder with a clean sheet kicker). United have kept cleans in 9/12 matches and face an opponent devoid of attacking options (Crouch?). Southampton have managed to hang onto two cleans so far this season and are up against a Watford time which has probably underperformed expectations to date. Watford are near the middle of the league average for shots per game. Burnley face a directionless Palace who rank near the bottom quartile of every offensive measure.