It was a week for the haves… and have-nots in fantasy. More specifically those who had Sergio Aguero (£11.1m) as captain and those who for some reason (Jamie Jackson… cough, cough) did not.
Still, while managers were left raging over their captain switch from Aguero let's take a moment to think about all the players who didn’t even have Sergio in their squads. Their weekend will have been traumatic to say the least. Worse yet imagine if you didn’t have him and your job is to write advice on fantasy football…
Thankfully our GW3 projections don’t require any of that pesky human thought but instead places our faith in cold hard science.
Last week's optimum squad fell foul of the rotation bug with Raheem Sterling (£11.0m), Kyle Walker (£6.5m) and Serge Aurier (£6.0m) all riding the bench. The remaining eight players did however perform admirably, combining to score 45 points between them (not including a captain).
Having run and analysed the numbers for GW3, our projected squad this GW follows a 4-3-3.
The most notable difference from last week's projected 11 are that the big hitters up top are back. Favourable matchups for Arsenal (home to West Ham) and Manchester City (away to Wolves) have meant large attacking returns are predicted for these clubs. Given last week's points haul, Aguero’s potential is obvious whereas Sterling, fresh from being rested in GW2, should be back in Pep’s thinking as City once again go in search of goals at the weekend. They should get some encouragement from Wolves who have conceded four in their opening two matches.
Arsenal meanwhile looked good going forward against Chelsea. In our article last week, we touched upon the value of preparing to bring in Arsenal players for GW3 and beyond. Given their run of favourable fixtures, it is perhaps surprising then that managers are jettisoning Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) in their thousands:
Despite his inauspicious start to the season, the Gabonese forward is the most likely beneficiary of Arsenal’s kind run and sure to find the net sooner rather than later. Options behind Aubameyang include Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.1m), who proved his worth as a potential differential with a goal and assist at the weekend, and Aaron Ramsey (£7.5m) who always looks threatening whenever he plays.
At the back, it’s a combination of Liverpool (home to Brighton) and Chelsea (away to Newcastle) players. Yet to concede a goal this season and having only conceded 22 goals in their last 31 league matches, Liverpool’s defence is looking imperious. With Virgil van Dijk (£6.0m) and Andrew Robertson (£6.0m) the slightly more expensive options, cheaper alternatives Joe Gomez (£5.0m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.0m) offer real value not only for this GW but also going forward.
From Chelsea, Marcos Alonso (£6.6m) and David Luiz (£5.5m) are the options selected. Still given license to go forward and a threat from set pieces, Alonso is fast becoming one of the must have premium defenders of the season (again).
Rounding out the squad is West Ham frontman Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m), who will see chances against an Arsenal defence which looked like a sieve against Chelsea.
The Rest – Goalkeepers / Defenders
After Chelsea and Liverpool, there does not appear to be many more fixtures where a clean sheet is predicted. In fact, no other goalkeeper or defender has a point prediction even as high as four points. The goalkeepers most likely to keep clean sheets appear to be Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m), Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) and Neil Etheridge (£4.5m), while Rui Patricio (£4.5m) and Mathew Ryan (£4.5m) make the list for their potential to rack the saves up.
Meanwhile, for the defenders Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi (£5.5m) and Hector Bellerin (£5.5m) lead the way followed by Everton’s Leighton Baines (£5.5m), Crystal Palace left-back Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) and Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker (£6.5m). While none of these players are predicted to collect a clean sheet they are the most likely to produce some attacking return in GW3.
The Rest – Midfielder / Forwards
Fresh off a goal last weekend, Theo Walcott (£6.5m) could be one to watch as he plays a leaky Bournemouth at home, while Eden Hazard (£10.5m) has looked electric each time he’s come on over the last two weeks. Fresh from committing his future to the Blues, if the Belgium starts against Newcastle he could reward fantasy owners willing to bring him in. As with every week, Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) is predicted to score points, and score heavily.
Up top, Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) returned to the starting line-up vs Brighton and repaid his manager with a goal. Spurs’ record at Old Trafford is up there with the worst in football and with a reaction expected by United, investment in the Belgium has the potential to reward. Burnley and Chris Wood (£6.5m) have a favourable fixture away to Fulham, while £7.0m forward Cenk Tosun (£7.0m) and Wilfred Zaha (£7.0m) could both be in the points this week when they face Bournemouth and Watford respectively.