Three of the four top spots in our Watchlist rankings remain the same in this week’s refresh, although there is plenty of movement lower down, with mid-price assets still proving worthy options for the month ahead. Here’s a breakdown of the key movements this week, with the full listings in your right sidebar…
It’s no surprise to find Asmir Begovic remaining on top of the keeper rankings. The Stoke stopper returned a clean sheet against Sunderland last weekend and, with a continued run of favourable fixtures in his favour in addition to news that full-back Marc Wilson is now injured, Begovic is arguably the best option available to cover the Potters’ back four, although there remains clear alternatives.
Begovic’s fixtures are strong enough that a rotation option is hardly required until perhaps Gameweek 18; QPR’s Julio Cesar is one alternative (RDG QPR SOT FUL NEW AVL avl FUL), while Jussi Jaaskelainen – although a miserable choice for the next ten Gameweeks – offers home and away rotation with Begovic right to the end of the season; their next nine would afford you (nor QPR STO FUL NEW wba LIV EVE EVE).
Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet, in rotation with Newcastle’s Tim Krul is another attractive route for keeper rotation – albeit more expensive. Both have strong short-term fixtures and perfect home and away rotation. These two offer a particularly strong run over the next six Gameweeks (AVL WHM SWA WBA QPR WIG) before Gameweeks 16 and 17 pose a problem.
With form and fixtures still in his favour, it’s hard to see Leighton Baines being relieved of his mantle at the top of the defender rankings. While clean sheets have been scarce, Baines has returned goals, assists and bonus points in recent weeks to keep him simmering nicely and earn him further Fantasy suitors.
Rafael’s continued attacking impetus has him rise dramatically up the rankings ahead of United’s tremendous run of fixtures. The Brazilian’s ownership has been on a steady ascent in recent weeks and that should continue given his form, despite the imminent return to fitness of both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as options. Right now, it’s difficult to see Rafael surrendering the right-back role.
Stoke’s Robert Huth is the luxury option within Tony Pulis’ back four, with Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron available for those with tighter budgets. Arguably, coverage of the Stoke defence looks essential given their run over the next ten Gameweeks; on paper, Spurs away is their only real uphill encounter in that spell.
QPR’s Ryan Nelsen enjoys a big rise up the rankings off the back of improved showings from the R’s defence but mainly due to their opponents over the next three. Mark Hughes’ side is another that face an encouraging run of fixtures, with United away in Gameweek 13 their only big test until the trip to Newcastle in Gameweek 18.
Below the R’s man, both Newcastle’s Danny Simpson and Sunderland’s Carlos Cuellar offer the cheapest routes into their respective defences, and rotate perfectly home and away; both have strong fixtures in the next six Gameweeks.
Chris Baird also makes an appearance after back-to-back goals from his holding midfield role. We’re presuming that Baird’s start is at risk but, given his form in his new position in the Fulham engine room, it seems likely that he will hold in the short-term and offer potential for those looking to take a punt on further attacking returns: given his opponents, clean sheets look a big ask. Baird picked up a knock against Reading last weekend and was subbed off on 79 minutes but there’s no indication that he is a doubt for the visit of Everton this Saturday.
Juan Mata climbs from second to the top of the Watchlist off the back of a staggering run of scoring over the past five Gameweeks. While there’s a clear concern that acquisition would now be chasing points, the allure of the Spaniard is so strong and there is no apparent sign of his returns slowing – although that does seem inevitable at some point. Mata’s climb results in team-mate Eden Hazard taking a severe decline in the rankings: clearly there is only one contender right now for those looking for investment in Chelsea’s midfield. Hazard owners, meanwhile, continue to face the dilemma of swapping and risking a switch in fortunes.
Mata’s climb knocks Santi Cazorla off the top spot but he holds in second with Gareth Bale’s tougher short-term fixtures keeping him third – for now at least.
The sheer value of Raheem Sterling, playing up almost alongside Luis Suarez in Liverpool’s lineup, has him climb into our top five. While Brendan Rodgers’ side have difficult fixtures to come, Sterling’s price makes him a hot property as the fifth midfielder in our squads.
Steven Pienaar enjoys a rise, having served his one-match suspension – he ranks above team-mate Marouane Fellaini with the Belgian just one booking away from a ban.
There are a whole host of strong mid-price options available, with Adam Lallana, Kevin Nolan, Adel Taarabt and Michu all making strong cases for inclusion. Lallana and Taarabt have the advantage of fixtures, while both Nolan and Michu are enjoying advanced roles which could bring continued returns, despite their tough opponents to come.
Robin Van Persie continues to reign supreme in the forwards rankings and Sunday’s returns at Stamford Bridge only strengthened his position at the top.
Carlos Tevez’s winner against Swansea lifts him above team-mate Sergio Aguero and has him back in our thoughts as coverage of City’s attacking potential in the forthcoming weeks. While Tevez has just one strike in six Gamweeks, he has ticked along with assists and FPL bonus and continues to look assured of starts in Roberto Mancini’s lineup. His price tag of 9.4, compared to Aguero’s 11.1, is enough to earn him preference right now, with Aguero struggling to light the touch paper.
Demba Ba’s form also continued in Sunday’s matches and, with strong fixtures to come, he remains an exceptional option up front but injury concerns are now mounting following Alan Pardew’s comments today. As discussed earlier, Ba is rated as 50:50 for the Anfield trip which dents his investment potential in the short-term.
Nikica Jelavic and Peter Crouch are your mid-price option, with the Stoke man still perhaps the preferred route to cover the Potters’ encouraging schedule. Below that pair, Luis Suarez suffers from being perched on the suspension tightrope, despite outstanding current form. Dimitar Berbatov’s recent rib injury scare, allied with a schedule that is far from friendly in the coming weeks, keeps the Bulgarian’s ranking in check.
The budget market in this position is far from burgeoning right now, with Rickie Lambert’s form and starts in question. Pavel Pogrebnyak and Grant Holt offer alternatives for those on a budget.