Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 31: Picks to combat quick turnaround
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.
With less than two full days between Gameweeks 30 and 31 in the Premier League, fantasy managers will need to make decisions without the usual lead time.
Expect EPL managers to make minor adjustments and rotate a couple of players in each match. FPL managers must also temper expectations for banged-up stars like Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. With everyone playing on short rest, expect natural talent to take a backseat to current form while physical sides may struggle to maintain intensity in the midweek matches.
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. Togga has added “Own %” to its app so differentials are based on players' ownership percentage at the time of writing. You can check for updates when you set your squad.
Ben Foster (at Watford)
Key Stats: Foster has been outstanding this season, sitting third in the EPL with 93 saves (Tom Heaton, 115; Jordan Pickford, 96). When Watford visited West Brom in Gameweek 14, Foster recorded five saves and allowed just a goal. West Broms's defense is quite good, having allowed only 20 goals in 15 minutes and should be able to suppress a Hornets attack that has only five goals in their last five games–three of which came in a loss to Southampton.
Plan B: Wayne Hennessey (d; at Southampton); Eldin Jakupovic (d; vs. Middlesbrough); Tom Heaton (vs. Stoke)
Crystal Palace has been exceptional since signing Mamadou Sakho on loan from Liverpool. The Eagles' goalkeeper may have been the biggest beneficiary of their recent form. After managing only two clean sheets in the open 24 weeks, Hennessey has posted three in his last five, notching 19 saves in that span. Coming off a 10-save win over Chelsea, Hennessey's confidence should be soaring as he faces a Saints squad with just one goal in its last two matches.
Robert Huth (d; vs. Sunderland); Gareth McAuley (at Watford); Ben Mee (d; vs. Stoke); Kyle Walker (at Swansea)
Key Stats: Mee and Burnley have been exceptional at Turf Moor this season. Only five teams have allowed fewer home goals, and the Gameweek 30 loss to Spurs was just the fourth suffered at home this term. For Mee, defensive performance–not pressing the attack–is the cornerstone of his fantasy value. He has made 50 clearances in the last five matches. In that span he doesn't have a shot on target or a chance created, but he has won 28 aerial duels and made 10 interceptions.
Plan B: Mamadou Sakho (d; at Southampton); Martin Olsson (d; vs. Tottenham); Andrea Ranocchia (d; vs. Middlesbrough); Antonio Valencia (vs. Everton)
In the 0-0 draw with Boro, Olsson posted 18 fantasy points. The tally marked his first score over 1.75 points when he did not score a goal. Olsson created a chance, won four aerial duels and made six clearances. Against a Spurs side that attacks without a defined focal point in Harry Kane's absence, Olsson will have many opportunities to rack up the stats that power big fantasy returns.
Philippe Coutinho (vs. Bournemouth); Dele Alli (at Swansea); Kamil Grosicki (d; vs. Middlesbrough); Riyad Mahrez (d; vs. Sunderland)
Key Stats: Grosicki is on fire. Since joining the Tigers he has recorded four assists in seven matches and made 11 key passes. Though his four shots on target do not portend much presence in front of goal, he is a the brightest spot in an attack that has just six goals in their last five. Despite being mired in a relegation battle, Boro has the fourth-best road defense, having allowed only 16 goals. Should Hull score, expect Grosicki to be involved.
Plan B: Gylfi Sigurdsson (vs. Tottenham); Christian Eriksen (at Swansea); Ryan Fraser (d; at Liverpool); Mark Albrighton (d; vs. Sunderland)
Last week Wilfred Ndidi and Cesc Fabregas both made Plan B and each promptly scored a goal. Sigurdsson had scored or assisted in seven straight before coming up empty in each of his last two. Perhaps the combination of a revenge game against his former club and an appearance here will jump start another seven-match fantasy scoring tear. (It is worth noting he also failed to score or assist in Gameweek 14 at White Hart Lame, which stopped a four-match run. He promptly scored and assisted week 15 against Sunderland).
Roberto Firmino (vs. Bournemouth); Alexis Sanchez (vs. West Ham)
Key Stats: West Ham has not kept a clean sheet since Jan. 14. In the nine matches since they blanked Crystal Palace, the Hammers have allowed 19 goals, including eight in the last three. Alexis sits third in the race for the Golden Boot with 18 goals; add in his nine assists and he is tied for best in the EPL with a hand in 27 goals (with Everton's Romelu Lukaku). Unless he's rested by Arsene Wenger, he deserves a place in your squad.
Plan B: Jamie Vardy (vs. Sunderland); Christian Benteke (d; at Southampton); Sergio Aguero (at Chelsea); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (vs. Everton)
Both Benteke and Aguero have considerable fantasy potential, but each faces a tricky midweek opponent. Benteke has just two goals in his last 14 league appearances but took his goal well against Chelsea over the weekend. While Southampton has allowed only 14 goals in 13 clashes at St. Mary's, Benteke twice breached the Saints' defense when he led Palace to a 3-0 win in Gameweek 14.