After a busy Christmas period, Premier League football welcomes in the New Year with a busy slate of eight games before the break next week for the FA Cup. Remember to check the lineups as there will be plenty of changes following the frantic week over Christmas.
Petr Cech – ($4,500) – Arsenal – Cech has an incredibly favorable match-up against Newcastle and is a gimme for at least 10 points on Saturday. The Czech keeper has the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League (eight) and is one of only two players at his position to be averaging over 10 fantasy points per game.
Kasper Schmeichel – ($4,300) – Leicester City – Leicester have dropped off ever so slightly on the attacking side of things but Schmeichel has been getting more impressive at the other end. The Dane picked up an impressive 15 fantasy points in the December 29 stalemate with Man City and has conceded just five goals in the last seven games, four of those games featuring a clean sheet. Bournemouth is a nice matchup and should guarantee a solid return.
Jack Butland – ($3,500) – Stoke City – Butland’s value has slipped back this week and that’s despite the fact his last two games have seen 20+ fantasy points. In the Boxing Day win against Man Utd, Butland made six saves on the way to a win, clean sheet and 22 fantasy points. West Brom aren’t a tough proposition and with Stoke’s impressive away form, Butland only need make a few saves to make the fantasy outlay worthwhile. His league leading 74 saves make this very likely.
Lukasz Fabianski – ($3,300) – Swansea City – Fabianski has had a solid few games between the sticks since Alan Curtis took caretaker charge and faces a United side on Saturday that has scored just three times in their last six games. The Pole now has three clean sheets in a row and is averaging a tidy 12 fantasy points per game across that trio of festive fixtures. United’s misfiring strikers is just the tonic for him to carry on that run.
Aleksandar Kolarov – ($5,400) – Man City – Still the only defender to be above the $5,000 water-line, Kolarov continued to show just why this is the case by clocking up 18 points against Leicester City. After a couple of quieter games against Arsenal and Sunderland, Kolarov put in 10 crosses and even had a couple of shots. Kolarov gets forward regardless of the opposition and his link up play with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling gives him plenty of chances to pick up assists. Watford have conceded four goals in the past two games and there will be more to come on the first match day of 2016.
Christian Fuchs – ($4,000) – Leicester City – Fuchs posted two double digit games over Christmas and will be happy to see an easier fixture in Bournemouth to kick off the New Year. The Austrian rarely fails to put in a few crosses and also averages 3.5 interceptions and 2.8 tackles per game, both of which add to his fantasy point potential this week. Jamie Vardy is due a goal and it would be no surprise were the assist to come from one of the many crosses that Fuchs peppers the box with.
Craig Dawson – ($3,400) – West Brom – Tony Pulis’ penchant for playing a centre half at right back means that Dawson is undervalued, especially in home games. Dawson actually floated in an unprecedented 12 crosses on Boxing Day in the loss at Swansea. Much of that was down to the fact West Brom were chasing an equaliser for almost the entire game and a similar trail of events could easily take place against Pulis’ old club Stoke. That would give Dawson another big afternoon.
Cuco Martina – ($2,400) – Southampton – Martina has been a revelation over Christmas since replacing the injured Cedric Soares and there’s every chance he’ll keep it going against Norwich. Martina loves to get forward and this is where the main opportunity to accrue points lies. Southampton are unlikely to keep a clean sheet but they conceded twice against West Ham on December 28 and Martina still managed nine points. Norwich are an easier matchup and Martina only needs to put his shooting boots on to make it a good afternoon all round.
Kevin de Bruyne – ($7,800) – Man City – de Bruyne continues to show Jose Mourinho he was wrong about letting him leave Chelsea and that trend will continue against Watford. de Bruyne didn’t score or get an assist on December 29 v Leicester yet still achieved 20 fantasy points and the only question right now is how he’s still below $8,000. After a quiet few weeks, the last three games have seen him average 25.6 fantasy points per game thanks to an average of 11.6 crosses per game. Only Mesut Özil has more assists than de Bruyne’s eight and with Agüero ready to return that number will mushroom, starting against Watford.
Mesut Özil – ($8,500) – Arsenal – Özil reached 16 assists in the win against Bournemouth on December 28 and will be licking his lips ahead of a clash against Newcastle. A goal and an assist in that game gave Özil 31 fantasy points and he even managed nine points in the 4-0 loss to Southampton on December 26. His 4.4 key passes per game is far ahead of most other players and Newcastle boss Steve McClaren will need to have quite the plan to stop him making it 17 assists on the season.
Jordan Veretout – ($4,300) – Aston Villa – Aston Villa have looked doomed from the start and Veretout is the one bright spot to emerge since Remi Garde took charge. The Frenchman has played every game since his arrival and takes care of all Villa’s set pieces thus meaning fantasy points totals in the double figures every week. Veretout scored 10 and 17 fantasy points against Norwich and West Ham respectively over Christmas, and has 1.9 key passes per game – Villa’s highest. Garde will have to replace the suspended striker Jordan Ayew and if Rudy Gestede starts, Veretout’s ceiling is immediately a lot higher thanks to Gestede’s aerial prowess.
Michail Antonio – ($3,400) – West Ham – Antonio has started four games in a row and, after scoring his first goal of the season on December 28, will want to cement his place in the team. Antonio is averaging a modest 11.75 fantasy points per game in those matches and, for a winger, doesn’t get a huge amount of crosses in. His points come from goals and assists, and Dimitri Payet’s imminent return will mean that Antonio will be looking to leave Slaven Bilic with a selection dilemma.
Odion Ighalo – ($7,100) – Watford – Ighalo goes into Saturday’s game on a six-game scoring run that has seen him score seven goals, half his total for the season. City without Vincent Kompany will hold no fears for the Nigerian forward and he has hit double digit fantasy points on his last six games. There’s little beyond goals and shots that Ighalo scores points for but on this run he’s a must pick.
Christian Benteke – ($6,100) –Liverpool – Benteke has scored in his last two games and will be confident going into Saturday’s early game against West Ham. Forwards have tended to be incredibly streaky this season and Benteke going on a scoring run of 5+ games would be no surprise. Benteke’s 6.3 aerial duels won per game is second behind Rudy Gestede (6.4) and, like Ighalo, he offers little outside goals and shots, and it’s worth checking the line-ups pre-game as manager Jurgen Klopp may decide to tinker.
Shane Long – ($3,700) – Southampton – Long has profited more than most from the injury to Graziano Pelle and Norwich is a particularly happy hunting ground for the Irishman. Long has scored six times in his career against the Canaries and, even though he plays as a centre forward, he often sees him drift out wide, which owes a lot to fantasy point scoring. He picked up 25 points in a two goal performance on Boxing Day against Arsenal and was unlucky not to be handed an assist on Southampton’s only goal against West Ham on December 28.
Fabio Borini – ($4,100) – Sunderland – Borini has a favourable matchup against Aston Villa and has put together a scoring run of two goals in three games. In the games against Man City and Chelsea, Borini scored over 20 points and posted a respectable eight points in the defeat to Liverpool, which is good for someone at this price level. Borini has a great chance to score at least once and his all round play deserves a place on your roster.