Community Special: Gameweek 18 Preview with Ross Mannus
Yes, yes, we know: we are too good to you people here at Fantrax! Not only do we give you the wise words of the Kickaround Pod, the astute analysis of Genie’s Waivers, the informed insights of the Chaps Sleepers XI, and the must-read musings of Totti’s Weekly Rankings, but NOW we are providing you a preview of your very own personal league.
Okay, enough of the alliteration. Hopefully, you know the score: on Monday we gave you the opportunity to win a written preview of your league’s matchups, and you got back to us admirably (by the way, a big thank you for this – we love reading all the retweets!). This time we picked Ross Mannus as our Community Special winner (spoiler: 90s football gifs as retweets go down very well at Fantrax HQ!), so here is that preview…
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Community Special: Gameweek 18
P.S. Even if this isn’t your league there should still be some useful tips for gameweek 18!!!
Note: This article was written on Friday and therefore is based on information available up until that point. For players who are classified as ‘doubtful’, I tend to go by the status report at premierinjuries.com, with anyone less than ‘75%’ generally not considered for the starting 11 (unless their inclusion is required in order to field a full 11).
Pepper Jacks Best vs Raaauuull Adama Adama is Away
The first of our heavily one-sided matchups (thanks a lot blank gameweek) is Pepper Jacks and Raaauuull. Unless changes are made, Raaauuull can literally only field 7 players, which is actually only tied for 3rd most tragic team decimation in the league this week. In fairness, changes can and should be made. They won’t affect the outcome of this matchup, but as Brucie would say: Points Make Prizes. And come the end of the season, an extra few points here and there might make the difference between the ultimate prize of winning the league and the spot that nobody cares about: second place. I mean, obviously, this isn’t the case for Raaauuull. For them, it will be whether or not they make it into the playoffs. But every team has its own definition of success, and the point is: don’t give up on this gameweek.
With that in mind, Thiago can go. He’s not a good fantasy asset and you can probably still pick him up on waivers afterwards if you still have the burning desire for a 6 FP/G player. Check the Newcastle lineup too, because if Joelinton isn’t in it, he can go as well. And whilst the win is already in the bag for Pepper Jacks, there’s no reason they shouldn’t go all out for points too. Meslier may be the 3rd highest scoring goalkeeper in the league (and owner of the two highest individual goalkeeper scores) but he’s not good enough to warrant not fielding a goalkeeper. Pickford (stop laughing) should be good for a few points this week.
Outside of this matchup, it’s interesting to see what appears to be a Manchester United stacking strategy By Pepper Jacks. With six players in the squad – five realistically starting at any one time – there is a lot of faith being shown in Ole’s squad…faith that I think is misplaced. This United team is not title challengers. The highlights of their good form in the league (8 wins and 2 draws from the last 10) is probably the 3-2 win over Southampton, in which they were truly shocking for 45 minutes and required a 92nd-minute winner*, and the 2-1 win over Aston Villa, a team who may be looking good this season, but are not a whole lot different personnel-wise from the one that stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year. And it took a controversial penalty to achieve that one. Oh, and between those league games, they’ve been bounced out of the Champions League in the group stage and sent packing on home soil in the semi-finals of the cup by their near neighbors. I’m not saying that they are frauds, but…
Pepper Jacks Best 76-48 Raaauuull Adama Adama is Away
*Please don’t give me the: “that’s the mark of champions though” rubbish. This is not a real thing.
Gangsters Allardyce vs Pulasicky
Big win for Allardyce this gameweek – something that you won’t hear often in real life this season. It helps when your opponent can only field five players. What’s more, just to rub it in, Allardyce actually have team selection options! Podence may not be fit enough to start, but if he does, he comes into the side. Likewise Shelvey. Some nice matchups too, with a slowly-growing-in-confidence-and-form Arsenal taking on the Palace side that give up the 7th most points to forwards. Could this be a rare double-digit return for Auba? He’s managed just one in his last eight starts. If he doesn’t, then you’d back Laca to. And if even he fails, then Arsenal’s player-of-the-season so far, Bukayo Saka, surely will. Surprise team selections aside, Gangsters should be one of only six teams that can field a full 11, and with the league’s best player Grealish part of it – assuming Villa can play their match, of course – they could well be heading to the top of the table by the end of this gameweek.
Now, where to begin with Pulasicky. Even though we are only at the halfway stage of the season (give or take depending on league format), there is a strong case to be made for going into “win now” mode during the blank and double game weeks coming up. Dropping decent players in order to get the W could prove pivotal for any title challenge, even if it weakens the squad slightly long term. Those bridges can be crossed later, and let’s be honest, this season there are very few players who can truly be relied upon week-in, week-out anyway (ASM is perhaps the epitome of this dilemma). All that said, Pulasicky – given their league position of 10th place – probably should think long-term as opposed to GW18. But that doesn’t mean giving up entirely. Mendy, Kante, Fornals, Giroud, and if he doesn’t start, Bergwijn, can all be dropped in order to bring that starting 5 up to a starting 9. Personally, I’d let Jimenez go too, getting the team up to 10 and creating a genuine chance of an upset if Palace were to stifle Arsenal and Jose produces a Jose-like masterclass to keep Grealish quiet.
Gangsters Allardyce 97-38 Pulasicky
Jurassic Park Rangers vs Abbeyhill Rovers
Jurassic Park should feel aggrieved at the fixture fairies here. It’s not so much that they’ve lost a bunch of players; more a case of who they’ve lost. Arguably the three best defenders in Fantrax will be twiddling their thumbs on the bench this week, whilst Mane is usually good for double-digit points every gameweek. Throw in some tidy B-listers in the form of Barnes and Armstrong, and you’re basically taking away 60 points right there…an amount that would have sneaked a win in this one. Unlike many of the other clubs destroyed by the blank gameweek, JPR doesn’t really have anyone that I’d consider dropping. Perhaps Dallas is one, though if this is a league that rewards tackles and interceptions more than normal, then the Leeds man is actually a very valuable asset. Nevertheless, I’ll reiterate the theme for this week: don’t give up on it. If Trezeguet and Coleman don’t start, drop them for players and get a few points. In fact, I’d be tempted to do that with Maupay right now, given that he’s taking on a City side that suffocates opposing forwards.
Blank gameweeks usually – not surprisingly – make points tough to come by, and so this week will be a rare one without any centuries being hit across the league. Abbeyhill will come closest though. Very close, in fact, with a couple of clean sheets in defense and then a forward line consisting of Sterling and Son. It’ll be a welcome win for a side languishing in 9th, and a look at the midfield options probably explains that current position. They will need Smith Rowe to cement his spot in the Arsenal 11 otherwise it’s basically just Zaha there. Like Gangsters Allardyce, Abbeyhill finds themselves with a couple of decisions to make. If everyone starts, then I’d go with Mings and Welbeck on the bench, however, if the win somehow isn’t looking as straightforward as it should be (perhaps Darlow gets a 20+ pointer and Jurassic Park brings in Carroll who bags a hat-trick), then it might be best to play it safe with the later games. That means Mings in to cancel out Targett and Welbeck in to counter Maupay. But it really, really shouldn’t come to this.
Jurassic Park Rangers 43-99 Abbeyhill Rovers
The Pecan Sandies vs Borussia Munchin
Finally! We have ourselves a game! These two sides can technically field a full 11, though in each case it’s reliant on a few unlikely team selections. In fact, one side will have to make some sort of amendment here, as they each hold a United left-back (side not: is the Shaw-Telles conundrum becoming a B-list but nevertheless workable handcuff??). All eyes will be on this one as a loss for Borussia could make it a 3-way tie atop the table (and put a further 2 teams within a win of the lead). The neutrals won’t be disappointed. This one will be a cracker, with the result in the balance all the way up until the final whistle of the Arsenal-Palace game. And that’s where Eze is going to sneak it for Pecan. Needing 8 points for the win, he’ll fire in a SOT in the 93rd minute that Leno will comfortably collect. The resultant 2 points just enough to get them over the line. This, of course, is on the proviso that the lineups fall kindly for Pecan. It is quite conceivable that all three defenders could see the bench IRL, as well as pretty much everyone else in the team for that matter. I’m predicting a nail-biting victory in one of the all-time classics of this 7-year league, but there’s an equal chance that Pecan fields three players and gets hammered by 70 plus points. There are at least five managers who will be hoping that’s not the case.
The current league leaders also have a few concerns with regards to starters (Taylor, Aguero, Rodriguez, and the aforementioned Telles in particular) but should still feel confident heading into this one, despite my prediction of an agonising defeat. Whilst four of the bench are top-tier assets, Partey is an absolute must-drop if a defender is needed. An Aguero start would be huge for the manager, not just because of the obvious, but because it almost certainly means one or more of Pecan’s City players won’t be starting. And in a strange set of coincidences, the same is true for J-Rod’s starting spot. If the Colombian returns, it could lead to Ancelotti resting/dropping Sigurdsson – another Pecan player. The IRL lineups are always important, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a matchup that is so dependent on them as this one. Telles/Shaw, Aguero/Other City, and J-Rod/Sig…all of these choices are going to swing the balance of this one strongly. Let’s hope it’s not all in one direction, otherwise, this could be as lopsided as the rest of the matchups in the league this week.
The Pecan Sandies 92-91 Borussia Munchin
Monkey Madness vs Barbra de Bruyne
Wow. I’ve seen a lot of different leagues whilst writing these Community Specials this season, and so often I have dubbed the one holding Kane as a “one-man team”, given his insane start to the season. But this week, we are so close to literally seeing a Kane-led one-man team. I have Bale in the 11 because he can be, but he’s almost certainly not starting, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t feature at all. That leaves just three players for Monkey Madness. I kind of want to see Mee and Lloris get a surprise rest just to see Kane on his own (sorry Monkey Madness). It is terrible luck for the club because it isn’t even that they’ve gone and stacked players from a team that is blanking (like Jurassic Park has done with Liverpool); they just happen to have two players from pretty much every team that isn’t involved this gameweek. Operation ‘Avoid-Embarrassment’ is going to be tricky, but at the very least, Stephens, Henderson, and Milner can hit the bin in order to bring in some points. Sheffield United and Newcastle no doubt have a ton of players available, and that game has 0-0 written all over it, so grab a few clean sheets there and a respectable total could be within reach.
If Monkey Madness opts to throw in the towel, then we could have history in the making this week. In the last Community Special, I discussed the lesser-spotted ‘Opponent Double’, where one team scores twice as many points as their opponent. Well, this week we might go one further and get a glimpse of the never-before-seen ‘Opponent Triple’. City are starting to look dangerous, so a KDB-Foden pairing against Brighton has 40 points written all over it. Throw in two clean sheets (I don’t think Mendy starts) and a goal from either DCL or Martial and we could actually be knocking on the door of 100. Barbra sit 4th behind Madness by virtue of having scored 115 fewer points. A win puts them clear outright, but this is the perfect opportunity to cut into that deficit – something that could prove critical come the end of the season in this very competitive league. As such, I’d be waving goodbye to Martinelli, and bringing in someone like Ciaran Clark.
Monkey Madness 28-84 Barbra de Bruyne
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