What a fantastic Premier League season it has been. Every year we are treated to fantastic football with winding plot lines and suprises left and right, but this term has been particularly intriguing. Though Chelsea have taken a 5-point lead atop the table, there is practically an 8-way race for a spot in Europe and 9th place is separated from 18th by just 11 points. Everyone is still fighting for something and we are almost to February.
For the casual fan, this sort of league parity is incredible exciting. For fantasy managers, it creates all sorts of headaches. With several consistent players becoming fantasy essentials with 40%+ ownership, most teams look the same these days, making it increasingly important to select the right differentials. In the GW23 Preview, we take a look at some suitable candidates.
Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, and even now Harry Kane. Never before have I seen so many fantasy players with ownership exceeding 35%, and in Costa’s case, 60%! In past seasons there have been single players like Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo whose ownership has elevated to extreme numbers. But never before have SO many players garnered so much attention from seemingly everyone around you in your mini league. Interestingly enough, there are a few players, even in top teams, who have remained under-the-radar despite performing amazingly. Let’s take a look at 4 players who fit that mould.
Santi Cazorla | Arsenal- It feels strange investing in 2 to 3 Arsenal players in what has been an up-and-down season, but right now the Gunners are hot and boast quality options at every position. While Alexis Sanchez will remain Arsenal’s undisputed star, Santi Cazorla has really kicked it into gear lately with double-digit point hauls in 3 of his last 7 games. Over those 7 games Cazorla has 51 fantasy points, an average of almost 8 points per game, which betters Alexis’ tally of 46 points in that same span. Cazorla also comes at a modest price of £8.2 compares to his teammates price tag of £11.5. Having both players really isn’t the worst idea in the world, as Sanchez is deadly and influential and Cazorla is in-form, yet only 4% of fantasy managers currently own the Spaniard. Look for his rich vein of form to continue.
Oscar | Chelsea– He has gone about his business in a relatively quiet manner this season, but Jose Mourinho’s favored Chelsea son Oscar is shining bright yet out of fantasy sight. It’s a similar story to Cazorla’s in that Oscar must compete with other teammates for the spotlight- the Brazilian has 6 goals and 7 assists midway through the season and has been consistent throughout yet holds less than 6% of the fantasy communities faith. His price tag is very similar to Cazorla’s as well, £8.3, which is very affordable for a sure-starter in a championship-focused team. Given that teammate Diego Costa will likely be banned for his stamp on Emre Can in the midweek, Oscar’s goal prowess will be especially important on Saturday. On many direct free kicks and some corners, Oscar will continue to influence Chelsea’s play and may be one of the most under-appreciated players of the season.
Radamel Falcao | Manchester United– I’ve backed Falcao to come good so many times this season and he has rarely vindicated my faith. Yet, I still hold onto a glimmer of hope for the Colombian. His goal-scoring record is too much to overlook, 104 goals in 139 games in the Spanish and Portugese leagues surely has to start paying off in the Prem, right? His movement really does make the Red Devils more dangerous and he works his socks off every game. If he starts to find a rhythm this weekend against a weak Leicester City this weekend, he could turn into a quality asset in the FPL.
Stewart Downing | West Ham- It really is funny how this game works. Stewart Downing was a miserable failure at Liverpool, scoring only 7 goals in 91 appearances for the Reds and generally looking lost and out-of-sorts on the pitch. Under Sam Allardyce at West Ham, Stewart Downing is now playing possibly the best football of his career. He goes to Anfield for the second time since turning a Hammer and in West Ham’s current form, they could well defeat his former club. Andy Carroll is another player looking in-form, with 2 goals in his last 2 games. Don’t be surprised to see a West Ham victory orchestrated by the influential Stewart Downing on Sunday.