We are getting into the nitty gritty of the Premier League Fantasy Football season as we begin the final stretch which is littered with Doubles and in this Gameweek a Blank also. The first thing to note from GW34 is that West Brom do not play so you will have to decide whether your Baggies are worth keeping around on your bench. The three teams with a Double are Man Utd, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough, so let's look at the matchups to see if there is a potential big payday to be had for Draft Fantasy managers.
Bournemouth v Middlesbrough
It all starts with a solid home game for your Bournemouth players. King is the pick of the crop as he has had a great 2017 so far, with Afobe locking down more consistent minutes recently and contributing too. Stanislas is back, could he return to his earlier fantasy form down the stretch? The defense has a good shot at points here with Daniels and Smith getting forward the most. This is what I consider the bonus game for Middlesbrough of their two, so I will focus on their player options in the below matchup at home to Sunderland.
Hull v Watford
Hull have established a trend of sorts, poor away, then you get a free scoring home side, so why not favor them for 3 pts at home to Watford? Niasse is the preferred striker at the moment but the scoring could come from a variety of sources including Grosicki, Markovic and defenders Maguire, Robertson. The Spurs result aside, Watford have been a source of defensive points recently but I think Hull will score so your best options remain Deeney, Niang and Capoue.
Swansea v Stoke
Swansea's attack has struggled recently as Sigurdsson owners are starting to second guess their ownership, but he was still quite active last game so roll with him in a must win home game for the Swans. Llorente is back and still carries that goal threat at the Liberty Stadium. I am not convinced either team gets a clean sheet here as Stoke have a offense that is more dangerous with a healthy (for now) Shaqiri in the lineup along with the consistent threat of Arnautovic.
West Ham v Everton
This one looks to have goals I think. The Hammers are without Antonio for the remainder of the season and with Carroll ruled out then Ayew, Lanzini and Snodgrass are the best picks with Feghouli also in line to start again. Lukaku has not been as strong away from home but this West Ham defense is nothing to be scared of. Barkley and Mirallas have been getting most of the attacking midfield minutes and that should continue as Valencia is ineligible. Jagielka has scored in three straight games but this streak has to stop, right? Baines is still the best defender choice I feel.
Burnley v Man Utd
The first game of Man Utd's Double has many looking to take advantage but there are rotation issues due to their Europa League involvement. This is a situation where if you decide to load up then just be aware you may not get two starts. With that said, Ibrahimovic is the obvious one that jumps off the page but there is potential similar value in Mkhitaryan and Rashford. Pogba could be the one to get both starts. On defense, Bailly and Rojo are locked in while Smalling and Jones continue to be sidelined. Valencia is a high risk, high reward player as he may not start this one. While this is the better of Utd's matchups, there is the possibility Burnley sneak a goal at home and play spoiler.
[Update: With Ibrahimovic and Rojo picking up injuries, if both are ruled out then Rashford gets a bump plus Martial, Rooney and Blind become potential options]
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
The next team with a Double is Palace, and while neither matchup is very appealing, their offense is improving and has some players who can be dangerous in any scenario. The two main culprits are Zaha and Benteke, with the former having the pace and the latter with the aerial ability to trouble any defense. Other options could be Townsend and Cabaye. The defense is likely to get breached in both games but van Aanholt has that offensive upside assuming he is back starting. Note that Sakho is ineligible for this game so his value takes a hit. Liverpool players can be used in this decent home matchup, especially Coutinho and Firmino as both are in form.
Chelsea v SouthamptonChelsea are looking to bounce back after that sub par display versus Utd. Their FA Cup weekend lineup could have an impact but this is a team fighting for the title so the changes should be minimal. Alonso will need to recover from his recent illness to be involved and his presence has a big impact as it allows Conte to play his preferred formation the most efficiently. Southampton players will be in tough here but Chelsea's backline has made a bit of a habit of conceding recently. Gabbiadini is back and has showed up in other big games.
Middlesbrough v Sunderland
A battle between two teams that seem destined to be relegated turns out to have quite a bit of appeal in fantasy turns due to it being part of a Double for Middlesbrough. The consensus in the fantasy world is that Negredo and Gibson are the safest best bets as far as potential and lack of rotation goes. Ramírez has returned, and while his minutes could be unpredictable, he could surprise. Barragán, Downing and de Roon are others to consider. There is also a question mark about the availability of Valdes so be careful there as Guzan could get one or both starts. For Sunderland, Defoe and Anichebe are the likely scorers but I will be looking elsewhere myself.
Arsenal v Leicester
Let's get Leicester sorted first, they are out of the UCL so Vardy and Mahrez should be good to go. The only thing to watch for as the season unfolds is that they don't have much to play for now so some younger players like Amartey and Gray could start getting more minutes. Morgan is back so Benalouane likely drops to the bench, although I would avoid the backline for this trip to the Emirates. Arsenal are getting back to full health with the only notables questionable being Mustafi and Welbeck, which could give Holding and Giroud another chance at short term dividends. Sánchez and Özil are looking solid and Ramsey could finish strong.
Crystal Palace v Tottenham
We have already talked of the Palace options, mainly attacking ones due to the offensive prowess of their two opponents. Nothing changes here as high scoring Spurs come to town led by Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Son, and I am not about to bet against them. Their defense has been producing lately but the clean sheet chances take a hit as I think Palace will find a way to get on the scoresheet.
Man City v Man Utd
A special Thursday Manchester Derby finishes up the Gameweek. It is Utd's second game and is the one that a first choice lineup should be on the pitch for but Mourinho may make tactical changes. If you have decided to roll the dice on Utd players then cross your fingers for some goals. City have a big FA Cup game on the weekend but a few days off after so a full strength team should be picked. Pep has been frustrating Sterling owners with giving him breaks though. Agüero, Silva and Sané seem to be immune and De Bruyne is a good pick too. If Kompany gets a string of starts then this defense's value increases but his injury past makes it all very unpredictable. I foresee goals here anyway.
So there we have it, now the choice is yours. There is certainly the potential for some big scores but keep in mind there are more DGWs ahead so consider your moves very carefully. Enjoy the action, especially that last one!
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