The Scout Squad panel have assembled for the final time in 2019 to submit their player longlists for the coming weekend.
This recurring feature will take a mini-hiatus over the next three Gameweeks, given the short turnaround between fixtures, although the Scout Picks will continue as normal over the festive period.
In this article, our four regulars – editorial staff Paul, David and Neale plus community manager Geoff – each proposes an 18-man squad of Fantasy assets for Gameweek 18 and explain their notable inclusions/omissions.
The 72 nominations listed below will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of the deadline at 11:30 GMT on Saturday.
There are requirements for at least one sub-£5.0m goalkeeper, at least one defender under £5.0m, at least one midfielder priced £6.0m or below and at least one forward priced at £7.0m or lower.
Each panellist is restricted to no more than three players from the same team, as is the case in FPL.
We will again be adding a captaincy to the Scout Picks, with details of that revealed on Friday.
|GK||Vicente Guaita||Vicente Guaita||Martin Dubravka||David De Gea|
|Martin Dubravka||Mathew Ryan||Vicente Guaita||Aaron Ramsdale|
|Aaron Ramsdale||Nick Pope||Tom Heaton||Martin Dubravka|
|DF||John Lundstram||Matt Doherty||John Lundstram||John Lundstram|
|Matt Doherty||John Lundstram||Jetro Willems||Matt Doherty|
|Martin Kelly||Lewis Dunk||Frederic Guilbert||Fabian Schar|
|Diego Rico||Aaron Wan-Bissaka||Lewis Dunk||Matt Targett|
|Matt Targett||Jetro Willems||Martin Kelly||Diego Rico|
|MF||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Dele Alli||Richarlison||Raheem Sterling||Raheem Sterling|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Jack Grealish||Kevin De Bruyne||Son Heung-min|
|Jack Grealish||Wilfried Zaha||Jack Grealish||Anthony Martial|
|James Ward-Prowse||Joao Moutinho||Leandro Trossard||Jack Grealish|
|FW||Marcus Rashford||Jamie Vardy||Teemu Pukki||Marcus Rashford|
|Danny Ings||Marcus Rashford||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Dominic Calvert-Lewin|
|Raul Jimenez||Danny Ings||Jamie Vardy||Raul Jimenez|
|Jamie Vardy||Raul Jimenez||Raul Jimenez||Danny Ings|
|Teemu Pukki||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Chris Wood||Teemu Pukki|
Most popular picks: John Lundstram, Jack Grealish, Son Heung-min, Raul Jimenez (four), Vicente Guaita, Martin Dubravka, Matt Doherty, Kevin De Bruyne, Teemu Pukki, Marcus Rashford, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (three)
Despite conceding against Brighton on Monday night, the Crystal Palace defence still looks great for Gameweek 18.
They face a Newcastle side currently marred by injuries, the absence of Jonjo Shelvey, Miguel Almirón and Allan Saint-Maximin robbing them of any creativity or pace in their recent defeat to Burnley.
Therefore, both Vicente Guaita and Martin Kelly get into my Scout Squad submission.
2019 has finally peaked in the last month of the year as I’m selecting John Lundstram as the top defender for Gameweek 18.
I fancy Sheffield United for the clean sheet at Brighton while Lundstram continues to show how dangerous he is when operating as a very advanced attacking midfielder in Chris Wilder’s 3-5-2 formation.
Only Aston Villa have conceded more shots inside the box over their last four matches as Brighton so I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for Lundstram to get involved in further goals.
Meanwhile, Matt Doherty comes in as something of a nostalgia pick, although his chances this week look good. Over the last four matches, only one defender has registered more touches in the penalty area as Doherty ahead of a meeting with Norwich City.
I’ve gone with a bold Spurs double-up in midfield as Chelsea prepare for a trip to north London.
The Blues have looked shaky at the back since Fikayo Tomori picked up an injury and they are, of course, still waiting for their first away clean sheet of the season.
Meanwhile, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli have averaged 7.8 and 8.0 points per game since Jose Mourinho took over.
Kevin De Bruyne absolutely smashed it in Gameweek 17 and I expect him to provide his owners with at least one attacking return against Leicester.
The Foxes may have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season but De Bruyne is showing excellent underlying numbers again. In the last four matches, he is joint-second in the division for big chances created while no player has had more shots on target than him.
I think both Jack Grealish and James Ward-Prowse could be involved as Aston Villa host Southampton.
As already mentioned, Dean Smith’s men have conceded the most shots in the box over the last four matches, which bodes well for Southampton and Danny Ings owners.
Marcus Rashford may have blanked in Gameweek 17 but a meeting with Watford could be the opportunity he needs to get back in the goals.
I’m still a big fan of Jamie Vardy despite his failure to score against Norwich. There has been a slight dip in his numbers but the Leicester forward is still in the top three for shots in the box, big chances and shots on target over the last four matches.
Having championed their cases ahead of the trip to Arsenal, I’ve overlooked Manchester City assets for the visit of Leicester City this weekend.
City are more than capable of making a mockery of my omissions but they won’t face Arsenal every week, and Brendan Rodgers’ in-form side will likely provide a stiffer test at the Etihad.
The corresponding fixture at the back-end of 2018/19 was settled only by a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt, while no side has kept as many clean sheets or conceded fewer goals than the Foxes in this campaign.
Jamie Vardy makes the cut for my squad, though – I’ve visions of him running in behind Nicolas Otamendi as Leicester, with the likes of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans providing the slide-rule passes, exploit the sort of gaps that Manchester United found all too easy to come by a fortnight ago.
Speaking of United, the Red Devils are without a clean sheet in 12 games.
A defender starved of shut-outs and who doesn’t carry much attacking potential is an odd candidate to nominate, then, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been evoking memories of last season with his recent scores on the Bonus Points System and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are facing a Watford side who have scored just one goal (a penalty) in their last five home fixtures.
The Hornets’ impressive – but ultimately profligate – display at Anfield last weekend makes me slightly less confident of a return for Wan-Bissaka but I have fewer concerns about Marcus Rashford, who poses such a threat even when United are at their mediocre worst.
In a Gameweek where there don’t look to be too many clean sheets around, we can be grateful for Newcastle United v Crystal Palace.
Those two teams are in the bottom three for everything from goals scored to shots in the box this season, so the form of Vicente Guaita and the attacking threat of Jetro Willems make them routine picks for a potential stalemate.
If there is to be someone who breaks the deadlock, it seems likely to be Wilfried Zaha: the Ivory Coast international is hardly setting the world alight with his underlying stats of late but Newcastle have allowed more chances and crosses from their right flank than any other club this season and Zaha could potentially exploit that weakness on Tyneside.
My Wolves triple-up sees Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty (who has had more touches in the opposition box than any other FPL defender over the last six Gameweeks) joined by Joao Moutinho.
Moutinho’s monopoly at dead-ball situations could come in useful against a Norwich side that has allowed more chances from set plays than any other Premier League side in 2019/20, with Doherty and Jimenez able to exploit the Canaries’ weakness in the air.
Everton and Arsenal may have new managers lined up by the time the two teams meet at Goodison Park on Saturday but it could still be Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg taking the reins in the early kick-off, which prompts my selection of Everton front two Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
The ‘out of position’ Brazilian has four goals in the last six Gameweeks, while the physical Calvert-Lewin looks a player reborn under his interim manager.
And while Everton have shown plenty of bottle under Ferguson, Arsenal have looked so submissive under Ljungberg. Regime changes at both clubs, however, could change the landscape by the time Gameweek 18 arrives.
As four of the top five go head-to-head, and Liverpool are without a fixture, budget defenders could be the way to go in Gameweek 18.
Such a schedule promotes the likes of Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa as cut-price contenders at the back this weekend.
Villa’s Frederic Guilbert is a case in point at home to Southampton.
Sitting in a mere 0.8% of squads, he has been one of the most consistent FPL defenders when playing at home this season.
The right-back has produced attacking or defensive points in all six of his starts at Villa Park. Indeed, 34 of his 40 points for the campaign have come in those matches.
Leandro Trossard is another player who has excelled in front of his own supporters.
When selected, the winger has been involved in 71% of Brighton’s home strikes.
Both the Belgian’s goals for the season, and three of his four assists, have come at the Amex Stadium.
Trossard has started just four home matches, featuring off the bench twice, and has delivered 31 of his 41 points in those fixtures.
Yet he sits in only 0.3% of squads for the Seagulls’ clash with Sheffield United.
Duncan Ferguson’s spell as Everton head coach has lifted the attacking potential of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The Toffees’ forward scored twice in their previous home clash against Chelsea, and look set to punish Arsenal’s porous defence at Goodison this Saturday lunchtime.
Over the last two Gameweeks with Ferguson at the helm, Calvert-Lewin’s nine shots ranked third among all players in FPL, while his five shots on target were bettered only by the seven of Mohamed Salah.
Despite his cost of £5.7m in FPL, just 1.2% of managers currently hold the 22-year-old.
In a difficult Gameweek to call, I looked to David de Gea to start a run of clean sheets, against Watford’s poor finishing. Aaron Ramsdale is my first choice goalkeeper at home to Burnley, while I’m backing Martin Dubravka to keep out Crystal Palace for another Newcastle win.
The defensive options look weaker than many weeks, allowing a range of often overlooked options to get a look. Matt Doherty, Fabian Schär and Matt Targett are all options, though it’s John Lundstram and his double-digit haul potential who takes top spot.
The Liverpool blank gives me the opportunity to double up on City players, with both Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling making my squad.
Son Heung-min plays a Chelsea defence improved, but not fixed, by the return of Antonio Rudiger.
I expect Anthony Martial to start for Manchester United this weekend but the risk from Mason Greenwood puts Jack Grealish above him in my picks.
Up front, Marcus Rashford’s form and fixture at Watford make him a clear captaincy front-runner.
With two straight starts and against a suspect Arsenal defence, I look to re-energised Dominic Calvert-Lewin, while Raul Jimenez has attacking returns in eight of the last ten Gameweeks and plays at Norwich City.
Danny Ings and Teemu Pukki round out my Gameweek 18 picks.
THE COMMUNITY CHAMPION
Each week, one of the Fantasy Football Scout community takes on the Scout Picks by pitting their chosen XI against ours.
The community member who beats our picks by the biggest margin over the campaign will win a £100 Amazon Voucher and a place in our Moderators and Contributors League for the following season.
Last week, the Scout Picks defeated THFC4LIFE 68-55.
Irfansheikh and AK’s 17-point winning margins from Gameweek 6 and 10 remain the current targets to beat.
Our Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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