The week in Fantasy Premier League: NavasGate, differential captains and rethinking extra Double Gameweek players

We’ve all seen some controversial points calls in FPL this season (mostly involving Gareth McAuley), but none matched ‘Navasgate’ for pure comedic farce.

Despite developing probably the most transparent bonus points system in the history of fantasy football in general, the FPL has endured its fair share of conspiracy accusations this season.

This reached new heights in GW30 when something of a statistical anomaly saw makeshift Man City right-back and all-round non-entity Jesus Navas (MCI, 6.1) collect maximum bonus points, courtesy of a few successful tackles and the like.

Needless to say, some in the FPL community weren’t too happy about it.

But life goes on, and a whirlwind week of fixtures seems to have thrown up a new problem for us to consider.

 

Time to start picking differential captains?

Despite his recent return to form, the age of #AlwaysCaptainKun is most likely over. Still, even without the Argentinean marksman at his best, a cosy consensus usually emerges from the FPL chatter (not always with the desired result).

However, the last two Gameweeks in particular have seen a noticeable lack of certainty among managers when it comes to who trust with that all-important armband, as can be seen in the recent captaincy stats for live teams.

Comparison courtesy of FantasyFootballFix.com

GW30 saw captaincy long-shots like Coutinho, Zaha and Benteke emerge as the outstanding choices. The week after it was the turn of Eriksen, Alli and Deeney to shine.

A perfect storm of circumstances has brought us here. Injuries to Harry Kane and Sadio Mané, Zlatan’s suspension, as well as a drop in form for the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku have us all second-guessing ourselves.

The one remaining traditional big-hitter, Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.2), remains a threat - but isn’t helped by Costa’s lack of goals.

The truth is that this temporary shove out of our captaincy comfort zone could be a blessing in disguise for many a struggling FPL manager.

Captaining the same player as your mini-league leader is the one tactic that practically guarantees failure to make up ground, and so it should be avoided anyway. The home stretch is the perfect time to roll the dice here anyway, because of its tendency to produce big scores from unexpected places.

So don’t be afraid to take a chance on that in-form player with the deceptively low pricetag - it could be the making of your season.

 

The false promise of the ‘Double’ Double Gameweek teams

As we probably all know by now, there are three teams with two Double Gameweeks on the way - Man United, Arsenal and Southampton - and we should know when those fixtures will be happening later today (Friday).

But with each passing week, the likelihood of finding a reliable points scorer (much less an obvious Triple Captain candidate) among this lot seems to be getting ever more remote.

A goal and assist have put Southampton defenders Maya Yoshida (SOU, 4.3) and Jack Stephens (SOU, 4.0) on the radar, but they remain part of a defence that looks so fragile it could conceivably finish the season without another clean sheet to its name.

Updates on the fitness of Manolo Gabbiadini (SOU, 6.7) remain suspiciously vague and despite flashes of brilliance, the likes of Long, Tadic and Redmond will only break your heart in the long run.

One intriguing under-the-radar option for your fifth midfielder spot has arrived, however, in the form of James Ward-Prowse (SOU, 5.0).

The 22-year-old has earned a regular place, as well as his share of free kicks and corners, and would be a welcome arrival off your bench for those Double and Bench Boost Gameweeks.

Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over a demoralised West Ham outfit offered some encouragement - but finding a player to hang our FPL hats on here isn’t getting any easier.

Unpredictable gametime sees Giroud and Welbeck effectively cancel each other out, and Gunners defenders are way overpriced for the points you could reasonably expect from them.

A smattering of recent goals has prompted some optimistic mutterings about Theo Walcott (ARS, 7.3) and Mesut Özil (ARS, 9.4), but these two are not easily trusted.

Of most concern, however, has been the alarming dip in the output of Alexis Sánchez (ARS, 11.7).

Inexplicably shunted out to the left and possibly playing through the pain of injury, the unsettled Chilean has gone from presumptive Triple Captain to a possible Eden Hazard (CHE, 10.2) placeholder. One more week, Alexis...

Elsewhere, GW31 gave those investing in Man United assets an unpleasant glimpse into the future as the supposedly undroppable Antonio Valencia (MUN, 6.0) was duly rested.

Already prone to constant tinkering at the best of times this season, Mourinho’s comments about Europa League rotation are a further cause for concern.

Although you would think United’s lone goalscoring threat Zlatan Ibrahimovic (MUN, 11.4) should remain somewhat immune, we must face the grim reality that David de Gea (MUN, 5,4) is really the only risk-free FPL option available at Old Trafford.

The takeaway? Don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE to buy players with two Double Gameweeks - especially when there are some great options in the teams who can still look forward to one.

 

Standout picks in Double Gameweek teams

Top of the pile here are obviously Tottenham - the form team in the league are on a real title charge and have the fixtures to rack up some big scores.

Dele Alli (TOT, 9.0) and Christian Eriksen (TOT, 8.8) are looking more essential by the week.

Heung-Min Son (TOT, 7.0) and Ben Davies (TOT, 4.8) have rewarded those who jumped on the bandwagon early, but be warned - if you don’t already own them, now is not the optimum time to invest.

Another top team looking forward to an obliging run of fixtures - for the rest of the season, in fact - is Manchester City.

The Sky Blues have been off-colour this season, and their defence is a lost cause, but those who can say “Goodbye Gylfi” to fund an early move for Leroy Sané (MCI, 7.6) could have a real season-changer on their hands.

Sergio Aguero (MCI, 12.7) will continue to have his devotees, but we know what happens around Easter, right?

Over at Leicester, five goals in his last five league games has seen Jamie Vardy (LEI, 10.1) owners happily re-evaluating his status as their short-term punt, despite the daunting prospect of four away matches in a row.

Teammate Wilfred Ndidi (LEI, 4.9) is dirt cheap and scored or assisted in three of his last four games.

The last outstanding DGW candidate has to be Wilfried Zaha (CRY, 5.7). Still kindly priced and with a relatively low ownership, he’s been a real live wire for a resurgent Palace side.

He’ll need to be at his best in the weeks ahead though - even Big Sam is under no illusions about the uphill task facing them.

 

QUICK TIP

Try not to worry too much about price fluctuations at this stage - they become less relevant as the end of the season draws closer (by which time it won’t matter what your team value is!).

Perhaps it was the skewed sense of time created by the midweek fixtures, but thousands were transferring in players like Benteke, Coutinho, Origi, Sané and Eriksen for GW32 before they had even played their GW31 fixture!

Now is the time of the season to enjoy that cash you’ve (hopefully) built up and use it to buy fit, regular players on the morning of the Gameweek, with all that valuable injury and fixture information at your disposal.

 

BUY

Even a premature return for Harry Kane can’t dent the stock of Dele Alli (TOT, 9.0) at the moment. Scoring returns in his last five matches don’t even tell the full story, having narrowly missed so many chances along the way.

Ignore him at your peril.

 

TRY

Tipping a player who has blanked in his last three might raise a few eyebrows, but it wouldn’t do justice to the performances Pedro (CHE, 7.2) has been putting in of late. He still had six shots in the box during that recent barren run, and don’t forget those 28 points he scored in the three games before that.

Sure, he’s a poor man’s Eden Hazard, but he’s quick, direct and it’s surely only a matter of time before his effort is rewarded with those sweet, sweet FPL points.

 

GOODBYE

The absence of Seamus Coleman and Kyle Walker has led to a real dearth of premium-priced defenders - but do we really need them anyway?

The closing stretch of the season isn’t exactly known for its tense 0-0 scorelines - relegation strugglers and top-four contenders alike go for broke and everyone else switches off a little.

Chief culprit here though is Marcus Alonso (CHE, 6.8).

Clean sheets are a defender’s bread and butter - and there comes a point where those “attacking potential” magic beans just don’t cut it anymore.

Top of the League

Pressure? What pressure?

A healthy 63 points in GW31 has given Brian Haugh and his Hauzinho's Harriers a bit of breathing space at the top of the Official Irish Examiner League (join code: 251768-521616). As his opponents count their blessings that he didn’t shift the armband to Alli or Eriksen, what will it take for one of them to dislodge him?


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