Hello again! Amid all the Gaffr fixture chaos, we’re here to talk to you about some of the main talking points and who you should be looking at/away from in this period. So let’s dive right in!
Does anyone apart from Blackburn want automatic promotion?
Blackburn have been on a fantastic run recently, obviously headlined by their in form forward Ben Brereton Diaz (8.6m). Fun fact: Ben Brereton Diaz from Chile has scored more Championship goals in 24 games than Ben Brereton from England scored in 133 games. It’s amazing what a change of name and nationality can do for you! He has been ably supported recently by the likes of Brighton loanee Reda Khadra (5.8m) and John Buckley (4.6m). They have put together a great run and now sit only 1 point off automatic promotion and 3 points off top spot in the division. In Gaffr terms, the three mentioned are still the best attacking assets. The fact they’ve become much stronger defensively since moving to a back 3 makes the wing backs very strong options. The advice is probably still to go with Harry Pickering (4.7m) over Ryan Nyambe (5.5m) due to the notable price difference between the two.
The other three main contenders for promotion have struggled recently which will concern not only their fans, but owners of their Gaffr assets as well. Fulham haven’t won in their last 5, with a stretch of 4 draws being broken on Monday night by a home defeat to Sheffield United. They seem to have become easier for teams to stifle, with final third issues spreading through the rest of the pitch on Monday. They’ve also only kept one clean sheet in that time and that was against struggling Derby. Owners of Aleksandar Mitrovic (11.5m) will be concerned that the big Serbian has only scored 1 goal in those last 5 games. The team’s recent struggles have affected him, but we still wouldn’t advise selling him. Neeskens Kebano (6.8m) has continued to look busy and, particularly given his price, is probably a hold as well. The two popular assets that are probably more of an issue for managers are Harry Wilson (10.0m) and Fabio Carvalho (5.1m). Wilson has not been performing recently, seemingly more interested in playing “hero ball” or appealing for fouls than helping the team re-establish their rhythm in the attack. In the 4 games since goalkeeper Marek Rodak (5.4m) had to miss one due to contact tracing, he has outscored Wilson in all of them despite not keeping a full clean sheet in any of them. Fulham’s upcoming fixtures are great for attackers, but there has to be concern brewing over Wilson at this point. Carvalho has become less of a selection certainty now, while also not being as effective while he is on the pitch. If you have the luxury to do so, it may well be worth looking at moving the talented youngster on for a different cheap midfielder.
Bournemouth are having an even worse run than Fulham. In their last 5, they have three draws and back to back defeats now. They haven’t scored in their last two, although they have still looked like doing so, they just haven’t taken the chances. Dominic Solanke (11.6m) is doing a bit better than Mitrovic in that he has 2 goals in his last 5. He has also looked like scoring more in that time period, including missing a glorious headed chance against Middlesbrough last weekend. Poor Ryan Christie (8.2m) is having one of those runs that makes you think a player is never going to score for a club. He is still a decent creator and is getting in good positions to potentially score, but is not producing enough to justify his price tag. Philip Billing (7.4m) looks to be the pick if you want a midfielder from Bournemouth, still chipping in with attacking returns and now back following a recent injury issue. They haven’t kept a clean sheet for 6 games, so it is tough to advocate for defensive assets currently. Jordan Zemura (5.4m) has recently returned from injury, but he will shortly be heading off to AFCON, so he isn’t an option again yet. Jack Stacey (5.6m) is still getting forward to support the attack, but with little to no clean sheet points, it is hard to justify the price there.
West Brom have had a better recent run with 2 wins and 3 draws bringing them back closer to the other 2 after having dropped away a little bit. Conor Townsend (6.4m) missed out recently due to Covid, but he was back as part of a clean sheet against Barnsley and is still a good asset. As is Darnell Furlong (6.3m) on the other side, while some have even been buying Kyle Bartley (6.2m) or Sam Johnstone (6.8m) as the defensive end is where the more reliable points are still coming from with them in Gaffr terms, with 4 clean sheets in their last 5. They have however only scored 3 goals in their last 5, hence why people are looking defensively. The attacking connection that has been so important for them has played a part in those goals again, with a Karlan Grant (9.7m) goal assisted by Callum Robinson (9.1m) and a Robinson goal assisted by Grant being 2 of those 3. These are still the two main assets to look at in the attack (let’s be honest, no one’s looking at Jordan Hugill (8.1m) really), but with Robinson still frequently coming off early, we would be recommending Grant if you want one of the attackers. West Brom are in the midst of a fantastic run of fixtures (Covid permitting), so having assets from them is probably a necessity at this point. The defensive double up is still the best way to go, although a triple up seems to be becoming an increasingly popular option as well.
Race for the playoffs
The race for the playoffs is looking increasingly open and interesting, particularly due to the growing number of good teams getting involved. QPR haven’t played their last 2 so are increasingly in the thick of it. Stoke didn’t play their last game and won’t play in GW24, so they are currently sitting precariously in 6th place. Their primary threat at this point is an in-form Nottingham Forest, who are being driven mainly at the moment by the attacking duo of Brennan Johnson (6.0m) and Lewis Grabban (8.2m), both of whom continue to be good options. Djed Spence (5.4m) has continued to produce well for them, but there remains a significant possibility that parent club Middlesbrough recall him in January, so that’s one to keep an eye on. Behind them are Coventry who, through no fault of their own, didn’t play GW23 and won’t play GW24. Their assets are still viable, particularly due to their prices, but it’s hard to recommend them while they’re not playing.
The other two really in form chasers at this point are Middlesbrough and Sheffield United. Chris Wilder’s arrival at Middlesbrough has really improved them, particularly at the defensive end of the pitch. Joe Lumley (4.6m) seems to have got the gloves back having started the last two in goal. Paddy McNair (6.4m) is still an excellent option, despite the dream of a defender being on penalties being shattered due to it becoming clear that Andraz Sporar (6.5m) is on them. The defensive double up looks potentially a good way to go now. Marc Bola (5.4m) missed their game in GW23, but could well be an option. Anfernee Dijksteel (5.0m) is the most reliable of the other defensive options to play, so he may be the way people should go if they want to double up on the defence but don’t have Lumley. The other player that needs to be mentioned here is pod favourite Isaiah Jones (5.4m). Listed as a midfielder, he is playing right wing back. However, he is playing it like a winger and is ticking over very nicely indeed, so he should be very much on the radar of Gaffr managers currently. Sheffield United are a tough one to recommend Gaffr assets for. The main man is clearly Morgan Gibbs-White (8.3m), with a couple of decent looking options in the attack recently alongside him of Iliman Ndiaye (5.5m) and Billy Sharp (8.3m). However, they are probably the most watch and wait team at the moment, especially as their game in GW24 has been postponed.
Covid postponements and possible DGWs
Obviously GW23 was massively affected by Covid postponements, with 5 games in all being called off. So far for GW24, there have been 4 games that have been postponed already (to timestamp this, it is currently 12:30pm on Thursday). These are Cardiff-Coventry, Barnsley-Stoke, Peterborough-Reading and Preston-Sheffield United. We are also still waiting for the latest on the Covid situations at QPR and Derby. Millwall had 12 players in training on Monday, with more due to return this week, so fingers cross for their game against Swansea. What this does mean of course, along with third and fourth round replays no longer happening in the FA Cup, is that we can start to get a clearer picture of when double gameweeks could be. This is what everyone really wants to know. The two most likely weeks for this are GW27 and GW28. Rob (@FPL_Panda) has very helpfully tweeted out what those could potentially look like, so go give that a look. This might alter a bit with further postponements now and depending on the Covid situation at a number of clubs, but these look to be the weeks where doubles will fall. So if you have boosts left, hold onto them for the moment!
That’s all from us for this week. Stay safe out there, have a very Merry Christmas and we’ll talk to you soon!
The EFL Fantasy Podcast (@EFL_Fantasy)