The following Fantasy Premier League advice is tailored toward players of Togga's Perfect XI. It's a weekly game in which every Premier League player is eligible to be selected into a 4-4-2 formation. There is no salary cap, no squad restrictions and you pick a fresh XI every week.
Last week fantasy managers bore the brunt of politics and the transfer window as Dimitri Payet and Diego Costa were both omitted from their respective squads. The window remains open and with it the potential that other players may try to force a move–and force their managers' hand in the process. Losing Payet or Costa in FPL can be costly, but always remember when one player sits out, another gets a golden opportunity. Do not be afraid to make last-minute changes to your Perfect XI and capitalize on an unexpected name in the starting lineup.
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Selecting the Perfect XI each week isn't an easy task and even the best-laid plans can use a Plan B, so we've provided alternatives for each position. Those designated (d) are differentials–players we expect will be owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers this week.
Petr Cech (vs. Burnley)
Key Stats: Cech had gone eight league matches without a clean sheet before blanking West Brom in Gameweek 18. The Gunners' No. 1 has now kept it clean in three of the last four matches and been racking up the saves as well. His 10 saves in the past three games are the most he's recorded in a three-game stretch since he made 12 saves in Gameweeks 3-5. Facing the Clarets, who have only scored three away goals this term, Cech has the potential to post his eighth clean sheet of the season.
Plan B: Thibaut Courtois (vs. Hull); Kasper Schmeichel (d; at Southampton); Simon Mignolet (d; vs. Swansea)
Liverpool's Mignolet has re-established himself as Jurgen Klopp's No. 1. The 6-foot-4 Belgian has been a commanding presence in the box since his return. With three clean sheets in the last six, having conceded just four goals in that span, Mignolet would enjoy better ownership if other top options faced more explosive opposition.
Marcos Alonso (vs. Hull); Laurent Koscielny (vs. Burnley); Leighton Baines (at Crystal Palace); Antonio Valencia (d; at Stoke)
Key Stats: This season, no team has allowed more opposing defenders into the Perfect XI than Burnley. Ten times a defender lined-up opposite the Clarets and finished among the top four at the position in fantasy points. Just behind Burnley? Hull (nine times) and Watford (eight times). The Tigers have been held scoreless a league-high nine times (Burnley is right behind at eight). For Chelsea, which leads the league with 12 clean sheets–this means any, or all, of its starting defenders are quality additions to your FPL XI.
Plan B: Charlie Daniels (vs. Watford); Winston Reid (d; at Middlesbrough); Patrick van Aanholt (d; at West Brom); Danny Rose (d; at Manchester City)
When West Brom and Sunderland met earlier this season, Van Aanholt posted 16 points, netting a goal in the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light. Not noted for his defensive ability, the fantasy darling will likely continue to press the attack on the flank against the Baggies. While his three goals trail Gareth McAuley's four for the top spot among defenders, no defender has registered more shots on target this season than Van Aanholt's nine and only Nathaniel Clyne has recorded more key passes.
Eden Hazard (at Hull); Philippe Coutinho (vs. Swansea); Mesut Ozil (vs. Burnley); Ross Barkley (d; at Crystal Palace)
Key Stats: Liverpool's Coutinho is in line to start against Swansea after making a return from injury at Old Trafford last weekend. Despite playing only 996 minutes this season (just over 11 full matches), Coutinho has been involved in 12 goals (five goals, seven assists), which is third on Liverpool behind Sadio Mane (nine goals, six assists) and Adam Lallana (seven goals, seven assists). He will not be a differential, but his ownership is still very low compared to his fantasy production.
Plan B: Junior Stanislas (d; vs. Watford); Adam Lallana (vs. Swansea); Matt Phillips (vs. Sunderland); Sofiane Feghouli (d; at Middlesbrough)
In draft fantasy leagues, managers will often draft the back-up to their star player as an insurance policy for their top stars, such as drafting Kelechi Iheanacho to back-up Sergio Aguero. This is called “handcuffing.” Using similar logic in weekly fantasy, managers can find key differential values. Last week, Payet's absence opened the door for Sofiane Feghouli. The midfielder had not played more than 45 minutes in a league match but earned the full 90 against Crystal Palace. Feghouli rewarded Slaven Bilic with a goal. He now has a goal and an assist in his last four appearances and will likely earn the nod this weekend.
Key Stats: Coutinho's return is big news for Firmino. In the first 13 weeks of the season, when Coutinho was healthy, Firmino scored five goals with five assists. Since Coutinho's injury, Firmino's scoring touch has gone and he has scored just one goal over the last 10 matches. Despite the lack of goals, he remains a top-10 forward. When he is racking up goals and assists he is not just top-10 at his position, but a top-10 overall FPL player.
Plan B: Diego Costa (at Hull); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (at Stoke); Salomon Rondon (d; vs. Sunderland); Romelu Lukaku (d; at Crystal Palace)
The Baggies' Rondon is a tricky player to gauge. When he scores or assists a goal his fantasy value easily hits double figures (based on Togga scoring). In fact, Rondon has six matches this season in which he has netted, assisted or both. In the matches he scored: 22 points, 20.5, 13, 20.5, 39.5 and 15. When he fails to score or assist, however, he hasn't exceeded eight points and 12 times this season he has scored four points or less, including four matches when he “earned” negative points. A match at home against struggling Sunderland presents a good differential opportunity for any manager who likes to roll the dice.
Speaking of rolling the dice, Costa could have a point to prove should he get the nod after everything that's occurred in a soap opera of a week at Chelsea. If Antonio Conte dares put him back in his lineup, you can consider doing the same.