Even though it isn’t mentioned below please avoid expensive defenders this week. A tight budget this week will leave us utilizing every penny on hand for the plethora of attacking options to choose from. With this in mind, don’t expect a ton of shutouts or a ton of attacking contribution from any of the backs this week.
Some of the best attacking options are discussed below in what should be one of the most fun Sundays of the year.
Lock of the Day
Anthony Martial (Manchester United) Forward – Salary: $8,500:
All I keep picturing is a Koscielny-less back line and Per Mertesacker frantically being run in circles; wondering why he’s even still playing at this level? Seriously though, that wasn’t a joke. I think Arsenal have the edge in this one and it’s enough for me to gamble on the striker who is relatively inexpensive in contrast to some of his counter parts. Since six of the most talented squads are in action you’re going to have to be very selective to put together a squad with a 50K budget and saving every dollar you can at forward might have to be the way to do it. The kid is obviously been in fine form and Van Gaal seems to briefly have them playing like title contenders (at least in the league).
Second Choice: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) Midfield – Salary: $8,200:
A perfect storm hit Man City last weekend and Christian Eriksen was certainly as close to the epicenter as anyone in the side. He was out for a few weeks their and Tottenham did a decent job weathering the storm, but now that he’s back I think it’s clear that the revitalization of Kane is following close behind. While many attributed the striker’s slump to a combination of factors adding up to poor form, I’ve continued to hold my ground that not having Eriksen was the reason for his struggles. The Danish midfielder is one of the class acts of the league and might have the best service of any player on any side. His set pieces are delightful, vision impeccable and technique immense. As you know, I love a threat who can impact the game through multiple channels and this guy exemplifies that as well as anyone.
Worth Your Buck
Harry Kane (Tottenham) Forward – Salary: $10,000:
Now that he’s got his midfield engine back let’s see if he can get things going. Although all the teams on Sunday have an abundance of quality, Swansea are arguably the weakest in terms of talent alone. While it kills me to say that and there is absolutely no reason the Swans can’t take the result (we’ve seen them do it this season already); I think the numbers say this one might have the least risk. Sanchez is a bit more expensive in a tougher matchup and Rooney is playing further from goal now so I don’t know if he’s worth the investment. Overall, Kane seems like a good play coming off a goal last week and looking to string a run together now that his partner in crime is back.
Juan Mata (Manchester United) Midfield – Salary: $9,200:
A few weeks back I explained how Mata would be booted from the lineup in a matter of time. I am going to be the first one to tell you I was wrong. Juan Mata has been United’s best player to this point and I think most fans would agree with that. Although not exceptionally pacy, Mata has managed to be one of the first wide players I’ve ever seen to be successful in the EPL even without this attribute. I really thought he slowed the play down too much and killed United’s attack, and at times that certainly remains a fact. However, in the midst of his methodical play is a technique and intelligence of similar quality to Christian Eriksen who I raved about above. He’s on set plays so an assist is always an option and his lack of size has allowed him to slip in on the back side unmarked on countless occasions. His finishing has looked far better than I remember, but United don’t care how or why it happened, just that they can rely on it week in and week out it appears.
Arouna Kone (Everton) Forward – Salary: $5,500:
Everton are the side we will be looking at for the value plays this week. It just goes to show you how fun daily fantasy sports are when one week Everton are the top side to choose from and the next provide you with the cheapest options available. Arouna Kone has been one of the most delightful surprises of the season and has given Lukaku a steady stream of goals that the Belgian sometimes has needed to help keep the team winning games. He’s got a bundle of pace and the qualities of a striker coming off the wing. Both a threat over the top and through the air, he’s got enough abilities to score a variety of different goals. At this price on a week where money will be tight you might have to choose Kone to get a squad out there with players suiting up.
Brendan Galloway (Everton) Defender – Salary: $3,300:
The youngster has been a regular in my value picks for weeks because he’s worth every cent of his value. While not necessarily the most likely contributor to any forward movement Everton create, he has done his best to take space when it presents himself and at least try to be useful. Results have not come from this as of yet, but as a fantasy owner at least he’s adding some points to his game with crosses and fouls. This game is also an interesting one as Everton have obviously been the better side to this point and for me are the favorites. While I think the guy I’m going to mention below could prove to be the difference maker in the match, if Everton find a way to stifle Sturridge than it is very likely Everton escape with a win.
The In Betweeners
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) Forward – Salary: $7,800:
He’s back and no one is happier than Brendan Rodgers. Does anyone even remember that just two seasons ago Daniel Sturridge was scoring 20+ goals next to Luis Suarez? I know we haven’t seen him in a while, due to a series of injuries, but Sturridge has proved that when he dresses he’s a force to be reckon with. He got off the mark with a goal last week and for me is threat every week because that is just how talented he is. While his technique may not be of the highest order, no one does a better job at creating a multitude of chances with tremendous movement and extraordinary pace. We have seen him score a few on Howard before and there is a chance he does once again.
Erik Lamela (Tottenham) Midfield – Salary: $5,600:
I’m going with the Argentine over Chadli simply because I have been waiting for him to appear for a few seasons now and it seems he might be starting to figure it out. His goal vs. City was anything but composed and perfectly summed up the good fortune that followed Spurs on the day. With that said, he put together a nice performance overall and will have an expanded role with Son out of the side. Lamela is at a stage similar to Barkley last season where his talent is apparent, but we are waiting to see if he can put together consistent efforts. If the Everton man can do it (as shown this season) than maybe the Argentine phenom can as well.
Traps to Avoid
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) Forward – Salary: $8,800:
I’mnot a fan of Arsenal at the moment and I’m certainly not a fan of Giroud. I think some will say his matchup looks to be a good one with Daley Blind at centerback, but as far as I’ve seen, the Dutch defender has not once been beaten due to his lack of height. Giroud is always good for a plethora of errant mistakes and in a match with United those mistakes will give him a short leash if he gets the start. The quality in these matches is through the roof and that means the risk-reward on a striker like Giroud seems foolish with more trustworthy options around. If you want to spend big on a striker go with a more sure option.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Midfield – Salary: $8,400:
The inconsistencies of Ozil is one of the most frustrating things in football. To have so much talent and waste it so regularly is something I’ll never understand. I can’t respect a player who underwhelms as often as Mesut. While on his day he’s as sweet as they come, I don’t think against United will be seeing it. If Arsenal do get anything out of this game expect it to come from the wide areas where more determined attacking options will look to drive at United’s backline and cause danger in waves until the 90 minutes is up. However, I think it is important to note that Arsenal rarely come to play against the big boys so get ready for another whiny press conference from Wenger come Sunday.
Remember to hit me up on twitter with any questions you have @onthelaces.