The curtain comes down on Gameweek 4 with the Digest round-up, capturing the player, the team and the topic of discussion to stand out from the previous ten fixtures.
We focus our attentions on Spurs all-conquering wing-back and the much-improved Magpies, before assessing the continued armband dominance of two-big hitters up front.
After four rounds of fixtures, Spurs’ Ben Davies leads the pack at the top of the Fantasy Premier League standings.
The Welshman’s 14-point return away to Everton – his second such haul in the opening four Gameweeks – helped him clamber to the summit on 32 points, one point clear of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.
Davies has wasted no time in reminding us of the explosive potential offered by raiding wing-backs in the Premier League.
Unleashed down the left, he’s produced more crosses and successful crosses than any player in the top-flight.
Indeed, Davies has even emerged as Spurs chief creator – a total of 13 key passes is more than any team-mate and bettered only by Man United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, with 15 apiece.
Over 196,000 FPL managers have already acquired the Wales international since the weekend – making him the number one transfer target ahead of Gameweek 5.
A glance at the upcoming schedule suggests that Davies’ momentum will continue to build – the north London outfit offer home clashes with Swansea and Bournemouth and trips to West Ham and Huddersfield in the next four rounds of fixtures.
With new arrival Serge Aurier set to challenge Kieran Trippier for the role on the right of Spurs’ defence, Davies is easily the most secure and potentially profitable route into a rearguard that conceded the fewest goals of any side last season.
The general assumption was that Davies started the campaign as second to Danny Rose for the role on the left. But the Welshman’s recent displays indicate that the wantaway Rose may well have to settle for a back-up role – if he ever finds a way out of the treatment room.
In retrospect, it seems that Jonjo Shelvey’s moment of Gameweek 1 madness clouded many a Fantasy manager’s assessment of Newcastle United.
Let’s not forget that, before the midfielder received his marching orders for kicking out at Dele Alli, Rafa Benitez’s men were all square at 0-0 with Spurs early in the second-half at St James’ Park.
Twelve minutes later, the Magpies were 2-0 down and unable to contain Spurs’ one-man advantage.
Yet since then, Newcastle have conceded just one goal in three fixtures, racking up back-to-back shut-outs against West Ham and Swansea City.
Just three sides have conceded fewer goals than the Tyneside team’s total of three against, while they also rank fourth most resilient when it comes to shots allowed inside the box after four rounds of fixtures.
At 4.0, stopper Rob Elliot could barely be more enticing as a fire and forget option between the posts. He’s earned one save point in three of his first four outings and even picked up a single bonus point against the Swans – despite only making three saves.
Essentially, Elliot is benefitting from his defensive team-mates’ inability to complete 30 passes per appearance and therefore boost their bonus point system prospects; we saw similar with Burnley’s Tom Heaton last year.
Further up the field, Matt Ritchie’s back-to-back assists could also bring the Scotland international into contention for our five-man midfields as Benitez’s side prepare for a strong run of home matches.
Between now and Gameweek 16, five of their upcoming six at St James’ – STO CPL BOU WAT LEI – look good for Fantasy returns.
While set-pieces and spot-kicks strengthen Ritchie’s appeal, Christian Atsu is another to monitor. Yes, he dropped to the bench last Sunday for the first time this season, but there’s a felling his omission was simply down to long-haul flights after international duties.
At 5.0 to Ritchie’s 5.9, Atsu is one of the few viable attacking options in the midfield budget bracket.
Yet that pair may well be surpassed by the value on offer from new arrival Joselu up front. Handed a debut off the bench in Gameweek 2, he’s since registered nine shots on target – joint-top among all players with big-hitters Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Mohamed Salah.
Having found the net on his home debut already, the 0.4%-owned Spaniard now has the opportunity to take advantage of that favourable schedule and emerge as our budget frontman of choice.
The Talking Point
Four Gameweeks into the season, Lukaku and Kane continue to dominate the captaincy plans of FPL managers.
In each of those rounds of fixtures, the Belgian was the top armband choice, with Kane claiming runners-up spot – last week, the United man was captained by 37% and 11% opted for Kane.
Such is the confidence in this pair, no other player gained more than 4% captaincy backing for Gameweek 4.
Lukaku may sit fourth in the forward standings and Kane thirteenth, yet for FPL managers, they remain the undisputed top choices when it comes to selecting the captaincy.
Arguably, such is their stranglehold, going without both means you run the risk of a slide down the rankings should they deliver.
If you break the bank for both, you have the opportunity to cover at least 50% of their captain haul and remain in touch.
With those two dominating, it leaves the selection of our third forward all the more crucial.
Looking at the top of the FPL standings, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is the second most popular candidate, yet he’s produced half the number of shots in the box than midfield team-mate Salah.
The goals have dried up from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, while Jamie Vardy will struggle to extend a 50% goal conversion rate that’s seen him score with all three of his shots on target.
Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck have excelled as mid-price options, but their pitch-time continues to remain in question. And neither player’s cause is helped by reverse out of position roles.
Typically, it’s only really the heavyweights Alvaro Morata and Gabriel Jesus that perhaps warrant attention. But slotting one of that pair alongside Kane and Lukaku is surely a stretch too far for most.
That consigns them to the role of compelling, but perhaps risky, alternatives to the big two, and leaves us still pondering the route for our third striker.
If Firmino can flourish in the coming Gameweeks, he will surely put the debate to bed. However, should he falter – as he has been known to do in the past – then his 30.9% ownership will begin eyeing the latest mid-price or budget alternative to offer a hint of form.