Fantasy Premier League Tips, Gameweek 35

With the NFL Draft coming up this (Thursday) evening, I’m going to turn from issues specific to fantasy games to something that strikes at the core of the game.  The NFL Draft is an important day on the US sporting calendar because it represents hope and make no mistake, the reason that the NFL is wildly popular is that every team has hope.  This reason this finds its way into a column about the Premier League is that one wonders how long the league can continue to sustain its position in its core (UK) market when the majority of teams have no hope.

Internationally speaking, the Premier League will continue to grow revenue streams because those of us who weren’t born into a club affiliation by virtue of inheritance or geography can pick a club that DOES have a chance year in and year out.  There is little risk in this strategy and because we weren’t born into our affiliation there is also little shame in changing it from time-to-time as the balance of power shifts in the league.

The problem that the league faces and doesn’t really seem too intent on solving is what to do about the core fans that made the league what it is today?  What hope does the league offer to supporters for clubs like Fulham, Sunderland, Everton, or Blackburn?  The NFL, through the draft and salary cap, ensures that fans in outposts like Green Bay and Pittsburgh that aren’t known as major markets have a chance to compete for a championship.  The Premier League makes no such prevision.

Certainly, there are plenty of reasons that it is easier for the NFL than it would be for the Premier League with European law and the presence of alternative top tier leagues in other countries being the biggest.  Still, that won’t be of much comfort as a new generation of supporters of mid-table teams wonders why they are paying incredibly high ticket prices with no hope of EVER winning a championship.  As an Eagles fan in the NFL I haven’t experienced my team winning a Super Bowl in my lifetime but I retain hope because they have come close and there is nothing systemic preventing them from achieving that goal.  A takeover by a super-rich tycoon willing to lose gobs of money aside, fans of mid-table Premier League teams can’t say the same.

I’d love to hear from die-hard supporters of perpetual mid-table teams “what do you consider a good season?” Finishing in the top half? In the Europa Cup? Beating a “big club” or derby rival?  Is that enough to keep you going to matches or glued to the TV on days when your team plays a team at the bottom of the table?  Major League Baseball has the same issue as the Premier League and there is great danger of the game slowly dying in towns like Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Oakland.

As NFL teams and their fans prepare to renew hope this evening and over the weekend, I wonder what the fans of mid-table teams in the Premier League will content themselves with as the summer comes?  Will it be enough to keep future generations of fans interested after 20 or 30 or 40 years in a row with no hope of a significant accomplishment?


Where we evaluate the match-ups that improve the value of the players involved versus the ones that leave the player’s value unchanged.  The first note is to mention that all teams are back to having one match only this week.

Real Value

  • MAC vs. WHU – I’m not wild about Manchester City without Tevez but West Ham have clearly lost what momentum they had now that they’re playing a tougher schedule.
  • Stoke @ Blackpool – Another team that seems destined for the drop going up against a solid team riding some solid momentum.  I’m particularly interested in Stoke attackers – seems less likely that Blackpool will be shut out.
  • Fulham @ Sunderland – I’m not sure if any of Sunderland’s players are still healthy – my only hesitation here is that Fulham aren’t that great on the road.  I’m more interested in Fulham’s defense since Sunderland are missing all of their forwards.
  • Liverpool vs. NUFC – Predicting how NUFC will perform has made me nervous all season and this week is no different but Liverpool are playing well and are at home which makes me feel good about their chances.

Stay Away

I hate trying to figure out where the points are going to come from when teams at the top of the table face off so I’m staying away from Arsenal vs. Man United and Chelsea vs. Spurs.  I suspect that United and Chelsea will win but betting on their premium players is especially risky since the opposition isn’t the typical mid-table pushovers.


  • Suarez – The headlines will be about Carroll playing his old team but Suarrez is The Man and consistent best bet for Liverpool.
  • K Jones – More a “stick with him” than anything else but he’s a streaky scorer and he’s on 3 in 3 matches and playing against opposition that can’t keep the ball out of the net.
  • Odemwingie – The difference between WBA being safe and fighting relegation – he’s been a revelation.  Villa coming to town is hardly intimidating enough that it would dissuade you from having him in your side.
  • Beckford – Since I really don’t like any of City’s forwards, I’m recommending Beckford at Wigan over Balotelli (too unpredictable) and Dzeko (still not necessarily a starter).


  • Silva/Toure/Johnson – None of them have lived up to the hype but I’d suggest picking your two favorite of the three and assuming that West Ham’s visit will improve their outlooks.  Also a good idea to prepare ahead of time for next week’s two-gamer.
  • Dempsey – Easy to pick the guy coming off the brace but somehow that made Dempsey Fulham’s all-time scorer in the Premier League so who else would you bet on to score against teetering Sunderland.
  • Gardner – Still quietly having a strong fantasy season and gets to play at home to Wolves who have looked worse and worse as the season finishes up.
  • Meireles – Same logic as Suarez – he’s been exceptional during the Liverpool revival.
  • Pennant – With Eth hurt, Pennant will likely take all of the free kicks which will improve his chances for assists against goal-friendly Blackpool even further.


  • Kolarov – Solid chance of both clean sheet and attacking points against WHU and he’s still fairly cheap.
  • Kompany – More expensive and you’re probably over your limit of City players but he’d be my second choice.
  • Hangeland – With no forwards to face off against you have to like Fulham’s chance of a clean sheet even if the match is on the road.
  • Ridgewell – Same logic as Hangeland since it appears that Wolves forgot where the goal is away from home.


  • Hart – A no-brainer between this week’s match-up and preparing yourself to have him next week for the two matches.
  • Schwarzer – If you have him coming off of last week and don’t want to use a transfer here.
  • Foster – Home against Wolves seems like as solid a bet as you can find.


  • Suarez – I can’t say I’m in love with any of the choices for captain but Suarez is the best combination of a great match-up and exceptional talent.
  • Jones – He isn’t as talented but he’s in form and playing against Blackpool.
  • Dempsey – Also in form and playing against a crumbling Sunderland team (don’t let last weekend’s result fool you – it was at home against Wigan).

8 thoughts on “Fantasy Premier League Tips, Gameweek 35”

  1. A draft in football is impossible. And is probably illegal in a fair number of countries (restraint of trade.) A draft only works if you only have a single dominant league where the athletes have no other alternatives, like the NFL, NBL and Aussie Rules Football in Australia. A draft does not work where you have promotion and relegation and where you have ‘champions league’ type competitions between leagues in different countries.

    Sure, you might create a nice little competitive competition, but it would then never be competitive in the Champions League.

    I follow Fulham – was a season ticket holder while I was living there. It is much more fulfilling supporting them than it is following the Adelaide Crows (or NY Giants) – there is a blandness, a ‘next year we will get the draft picks and be better’. Try watching your team avoid relegation with a Danny Murphy header at the 80min mark on the last day of the season. Or seeing a very, very rare European adventure and being there when you score 4 goals against the giants Juventus. Sure, we might not win the League, but I much prefer the real emotion where pretty much every game actually has meaning.

  2. Competey agree with Lamby. The reason the baseball league is failing is because there is no relegation in American sports. Teams have nothing to play for. To remedy this, some leagues, like the basketball, add a huge number of teams to playoffs to ensure that the best team does not win. These kinds of playoffs make the long season worthless in these sports.

    No way that any kind of salary cap will be put in place. We would never be able to see the delightful Barcelona team or any of the great teams that have formed over the years. The side that wins the Champions League would be a side that just got lucky that year because all the teams would be reasonably more balanced.

  3. “As an Eagles fan in the NFL…”
    Go Birds!

    @Jtom,completely disagree with you about the NBA,I’d say the “best” team just about always wins.And the NHL has just as many playoff teams(half the league) and is definitely one of the more exciting post seasons to watch,-and arguably the toughest title to win.

    Do agree that a salary cap or draft will never work…what’s the solution?
    Got me…..

  4. Thank you for bringing up this topic. As a newcomer to following the EPL, I’ve often wondered “what’s in it for the lower teams who have virtually no chance in hades to uproot the big cash cows from the top of the table”. The gap between the have’s and the have-nots is even worse in La Liga and Serie A leagues. Those leagues are unwatchable in my opinion.

    What do the lower teams play for? Money? Pride? I suppose proud to be in the #10 spot instead of last year’s #11. But truly, to what end? What comes of spinning your wheels (or studs, as it were) season after season just to be slightly less mediocre than you were the year before.

    Perhaps for fans of the mid to lower table teams, the enjoyment is just watching their team play and avoid relegation. But then doesn’t it become more entertainment than sport? Sport to me means competitive battles to ultimately win the war. If there is no war to win, why battle? For the sake of battling, I suppose. As an American and a fan of the NFL, this kind of sports experience is decidedly alien to me. The fun is rooting for your team to be the ultimate winner, not just to survive.

    When the Patriots were rolling in their dynasty, leaving little doubt they were going to crush all who crossed their path, it detracted from my overall enjoyment during that season. Watching them stomp all over hapless teams was boring. However, upon the beginning of the next season, my hope was renewed that not only would the Patriots fall but, more importantly, my team would be victorious instead. Why? Because the NFL is basically set up for every team to succeed, unless bad coaching, meddlesome owners (*cough* Snyder, Davis, Jones *cough*) and poor player execution derail them. And every new season brings with it a realistic chance for your team to win it all. That’s the excitement of watching a competitive sport versus entertainment.

    I know there is no magic bullet fix. Perhaps many others would say nothing is broken. But my fingers are crossed that sometime in the not so distant future something is changed so that more teams in the various leagues have a realistic chance to win the league rather than being means to an end for the top dogs.

    1. @Nickster
      When 1/2 the teams make the playoff a fair proportion of the games have no meaning in the scheme of things.

      For the EPL, every team is in AT LEAST 3 competitions – the League, the FA cup (which involves EVERY football team in the nation at all levels) and the Carling cup, the top 6 or 7 is also involved in a European competition. Birmingham, who could get relegated, are in the FA cup final. The top 4 finishing teams make Champions League, the next 2 or 3 make the Europa Cup (next tier of European competition.) The bottom 3 teams get relegated (and can be relegated completely out of the top 4 leagues!) THIS is the magic of Football – no matter where you are on the ladder there is something to play for.

      My 3 seasons as a Fulham season ticket holder:
      1) The Great Escape – certain relegation at xmas, Roy Hodgson get appointed, stay up with goal in last 10 minutes of season.
      2) Finish 7th – best ever EPL finish, qualify for Europa League
      3) Play in Europe, make Europa League final – getting to play against Atletico Madrid, Hamburg, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Basel.

      That is excitement.

      I got to go to some of the most famous stadiums and see some of the best teams in the world. A NFL fan cannot ever see his/her team play anywhere besides your own stadium.

      That is excitement.

  5. First time I’ve read this blog and very surprised to see that I actually agree with most of your picks for the Fantasy Premier League (doesn’t happen very often). I am currently in the top 300 overall in Fantasy (Team Name – HseyirP ; Username – priyeshxi ; Points – 2026) so I do know a little bit of what I’m talking about.

    Like I said, most of it I agree with. Some of the things I don’t agree with I’ll mention below:

    – I think you’re taking Sunderland too lightly. Yes they have 0 fit forwards, but they have enough creativity in their team to open up Fulham at home atleast once. Fulham Defenders looking a bit iffy for me, because they don’t end up scoring/assisting many (Besides Hangelaand, who is a bit too expensive to bring in right now). I was actually looking at it as an advantage, them not having a fit striker. It means you get Sessegnon as a midfielder for 5.8 and he is going to play upfront AND take penalties. Considering their remaining games are Fulham, Bolton, Wolves and West Ham – he looks brilliant value!

    – Avoiding Arsenal-United I agree with, Chelsea v Tottenham less so. Both the teams clearly need a win and a point doesnt do anything for either. Both teams like attacking football and with Torres scoring and Drogba in the form he is, I can see a lot of goals in this one. I, for one, am surely keeping Lampard captain this week considering every time I watch Chelsea play, he seems to bein the penalty box while attacking (First 70 mins or so and then he plays only in midfield if they’re leading). I actually have two players from this game. Both the penalty takers – Lampard and VDV (I can see atleast one penalty given in this game + lots of goals)

  6. Thanks for the tips last week I really did well because of it. I don’t mean to critisise but I think hernandez,RVp,Drogba and or torres will score . kurt will also do well at home against a out of form newcastle team

  7. @ Lamby

    I dont know what you are talking about when it comes NFL fans not being able to anything but thier own stadium. NFL fans can travel anywhere in the United States to see a game…and your team you cheer for plays many different teams all over the country…In the NFL, half the teams dont get into the playoffs…only 6 do from each conference.

    The only sports where there are alot of teams making the playoffs are basketball and hockey. And in basketball usually the best teams win the championship because they play best out of 7, just like in baseball and hockey.

    You say that half the games have no meaning when half the teams make the playoffs. That is absolutely not true…usually only a few games separate most teams for different seeds in the playoffs.

    What meaning do games have when you are playing at the bottom of your league…? Not to lose again? When you really are playing for nothing with no chance to ever play for anything in that league…Sounds thrilling

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