Premier League Fantasy Football returns with Gameweek 26 that brings us our first taste of the Blanks with some huge fantasy names off due to the EFL Cup Final. Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Southampton are the teams without a game, so with a lot of the players from these teams highly owned, there could be some roster decisions for Draft Fantasy managers to make. One is easy though, like Klopp above, hold onto your stars, it is just one Gameweek after all. Now let's examine the matchups and see who could make up the slack for your benched stars.
Chelsea v Swansea
Chelsea are going to heavily relied upon this Gameweek as they have a solid home matchup. This lineup is pretty set other than trying to find a way to get Willian into it. Pedro is playing too well to be dropped it seems so unless Moses makes way the Brazilian will be back on the bench. Courtois has emerged as a doubt after picking up an illness. Everything else is fairly predictable and there is no reason not to start all your Blues confidently. For Swansea, they are playing much better but other than Sigurdsson, it is tough to expect much in return against the league leaders.
Hull v Burnley
Hull are improved in recent weeks no doubt, but to suggest backing their defense? Why not, they are at home and Burnley have a pretty poor away form. Jakupovic in net is a decent play with defenders Maguire and Robertson bringing the best attacking potential. While we are at, let's get crazy and back some more Tigers, I think they will go for this one at home. Niasse should continue up front and I like Markovic and Grosicki helping out. Burnley's road struggles have been widely spoken of but I guess it is still an ok spot to play your Clarets if you must, Brady could turn into a decent pickup.
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough
Dare I back Palace...uh....yes, to a degree. This game has low scoring written all over it despite Palace shipping 4 goals last time at home to Sunderland, so both defenses hold some value but keep in mind Barragán is out for Middlesbrough, while Chambers and Friend are doubts also. I will give Palace the edge at home offensively so Benteke, Zaha, etc could produce if they can finally get things going. If healthy, Dann is a goal threat in a game that could be decided by a set piece.
Everton v Sunderland
This looks like a good spot for Lukaku and crew. Confidently start the big Belgian, Barkley, Coleman, Baines, etc. Barkley in particular seems to have had a bit more license to attack in the last couple of games and could benefit if Sunderland try to focus on taking Lukaku out of the game. As for those Black Cats, I don't really fancy their chances in this matchup but Defoe can pop up and showcase his clinical finishing if given the chances on any given week.
West Brom v Bournemouth
West Brom and the Premier League made a few fantasy managers upset when McAuley was credited for that infamous tying goal last game but that won't stop us all from deploying our Baggies again this weekend at home to Bournemouth. If Evans regains a starting role then Brunt should get further forward which raises his potential value. All the other usual suspects are good starts including Chadli, Róndon, Phillips, etc. For Bournemouth, Daniels is a welcome sign back on defense and his stock could rise a bit if Stanislas continues to ride the bench as he could take over penalty duties. In attack, King looks like the safest choice as he has looked dangerous recently.
Watford v West Ham
Let's just start by going ahead and giving Holebas a yellow card right now. Ok, with that taken care of, I am going to recommend him regardless in this home game with West Ham, along with captain Deeney. I've got the feeling this game could be something on the lines of 2-2 maybe? For the Hammers, Carroll has a slim chance of making this one but unlikely, so Antonio, Lanzini and Snodgrass are the best options...throw Feghouli in there finally too.
Tottenham v Stoke
You know the drill, Spurs at home, all your options can be used. Kane, Alli, and Eriksen are the big names on offense as usual. On defense, Vertonghen is back but this one comes too soon for the injured Rose so Davies could get another start. Stoke are playing better thanks to the likes of Crouch and Arnautovic. Could we finally see Berahino get a start?, only time will tell.
Leicester v Liverpool
Well is Klopp ever happy to have Mané back and firing goals. This preferred lineup was electric earlier in the season so Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana could all see rises in their production moving forwards. A trip to Leicester should reap rewards on offense and possibly defense too but don't count out the defending Champions completely as they could pull a rabbit out of a hat like they did v. Man City. And if they do then the onus will fall to last season's heroes as Vardy and Mahrez will need to step up. Slimani could be the guy to save their season but he remains hampered by injury.
In closing, my personal philosophy is to do all you can to ensure you have a full lineup, so while you should not drop the big names, if your bench is full of blanks and you have a borderline player who is also going to get you a zero, then pull the trigger and go for the points! Enjoy the return of the Premier League and remember it going to be way worse in GW28 the way things are shaping up, more on that in the coming weeks.
Draft Fantasy Football 2015/16 Global Champion
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