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It happens every season at least once and the first one is just around the corner: the dreaded “blank gameweek”.
Unless you’ve not logged into your fantasy football team since November or you’re a West Bromwich Albion fan choosing to forget this season ever happened, you’ll probably know that Gameweek 31 sees only 8 out of the 20 Premier League teams in action as the FA cup takes centre stage once more.
Due to the caliber of teams will play League matches that weekend, most of us will get to the end of GW30, scroll through our draft squads and realise we have just three or four players who even have a fixture in GW31. Cue mass panic and a scramble for the remaining Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Watford players floating around on the waiver wire.
While most dread the thought of an empty gameweek, I see it as a chance to grab an easy win in draft formats by getting ahead of the game and grabbing the GW31 players before GW30 has even started. If you can fill your bench with these players and even find space to start a few this week, you’ll more than likely be well ahead of the game next week against a friend/enemy who is suffering from a severely depleted squad.
Here’s a rundown of the eight in action and the players to get hold of before it’s too late…
LiverpoolEmbed from Getty Images
If you’re a Firmino, Salah or Mane owner then you’re already well ahead of the game and will probably hold a huge advantage going into GW31. Liverpool are on fire at the moment largely thanks to The aforementioned trio and will be hot favourites to ease to another convincing victory at home to Watford.
If the fab three are available in your league…is there anyone else in your league? Although the majority of Liverpool players will be owned, a select few are likely to be floating around on the waiver wire. James Milner is available in a lot of leagues and can be a lucrative pick if Jurgen Klopp rotates that midfield three once again, expect Milner to get minutes and his listing as a defender plus his role on set pieces should mean a decent return.
Andy Robertson and Dejan Lovren also hold potential while Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Emre Can are in good form and may be available in smaller leagues.
WatfordEmbed from Getty Images
A trip to Anfield would normally make Watford a team to avoid but with the lack of options this week they can’t be ignored. Jose Holebas was their stand out performer in GW29, putting up an impressive 25.75 point showing in Togga. However, the Greek international went off with an injury late in their game against West Brom and, regardless, a third consecutive clean sheet for the Hornets seems very unlikely at Anfield.
Troy Deeney and Richarlison are likely to be owned in most leagues due to a hot run of form and past successes respectively, meaning the returning Will Hughes represents the best value and is worth holding on to for the future.
Hughes came off the bench to set up Deeney’s winner against West Brom and was also on sparkling form before picking up an unfortunate injury. His ability from set pieces and goal threat means he has a good chance of some sort of return at Anfield and is most likely available in most leagues.
Stoke CityEmbed from Getty Images
Stoke host champions elect Man City this week off the back three consecutive draws. I’m sure most at the bet 365 would celebrate a fourth like a win.
The Potters are in deep trouble and their home game against Everton in GW31 represents a big chance to get some more points on the board as big Sam’s outfit are also uninspiring.
Quite simply, Xherdan Shaqiri is the only Stoke player worth owning long term but will almost certainly be owned due to his fine recent form.
The majority of Stoke assets to look at are defensive ones, partly due to their lack of bite in attack and partly because Everton have similar issues. Ryan Shawcross and Kurt Zouma score well in Togga due to their aerial contributions while Moritz Bauer has won plenty of admirers since arriving in England due to his attacking and defensive involvements.
Going forward it’s slim pickings but Peter Crouch represents easy Togga points with all of his aerial wins. He might even grab a goal against a woeful Toffees backline who will also be without Ashley Williams thanks to his stupidity in the Burnley match.
Any Stoke assets are unplayable in GW30 with Man City in town but if you’ve got any bench space, GW31 presents a great chance for good points returns.
EvertonEmbed from Getty Images
Horrendously out of form but the next two games could easily bring two wins. Everton host Brighton before travelling to Stoke in the mini gameweek, meaning any Everton pick ups are playable in both gameweeks.
Theo Walcott has been a mixed bag since joining the Toffees but has scored well in Togga with his pace bringing plenty of successful take ons. There’s a slight chance he is unowned thanks to four scoreless weeks and represents their best attacking threat at the moment.
Cenk Tosun is more likely to be available and should keep his place in GW30 after bagging his first goal in English football at Turf Moor last week.
Defensively, I really like the look of Michael Keane going into the next two fixtures. Despite conceding twice at Burnley, Keane registered a respectable 10.25 thanks to 8 aerial wins and 15 clearances. Facing up to Glenn Murray and Peter Crouch / Eric Maxim Chuopo Moting in consecutive weeks should give him similar opportunities for point scoring in Togga.
Dare I say it…Wayne Rooney? The talisman has endured a horrible run and there’s a chance he’s even available in 12 team leagues now. He’s due a big haul. Surely…
HuddersfieldEmbed from Getty Images
I’m going big on Huddersfield over the next two weeks as they represent a really good opportunity for points. Two home games against fellow relegation fighters Swansea City and Crystal Palace represent great value, meaning any pickups are playable in both games. I’d even be tempted to stack Huddersfield players ahead of a nice run in.
Aaron Mooy is the player I’m hyping most ahead of these two games as he tends to be the centre of most good things that Huddersfield do and dominates set pieces. He delivers them well too. His last game before his recent injury yielded a double assist, 30 point haul and he’s capable of producing similar in the next couple of weeks, providing he recovers from his knee injury in time. Reports are that he’s returned to training this week.
Apart from Mooy, Christopher Schindler should also enjoy a couple of good scores. Schindler belongs to the Shane Duffy / Michael Keane “head it gang” and should be in for a bumper haul up against Christian Benteke. I won’t be surprised if Huddersfield manage at least one clean sheet either. If Schindler is unavailable, Zanka is a more than acceptable replacement.
Steve Mounie has seen his stock rise once again in recent weeks and will fancy his chances of bagging a couple more in GW30 and 31. Failing that, Alex Pritchard has looked good since moving up from the Championship and Rajiv Van La Parra scored 18 and 30 before the trip to Wembley last week.
No shortage of good options ahead of two nice fixtures and the vast majority should be available.
Crystal PalaceEmbed from Getty Images
Palace were excellent for an hour against United on Monday before their collapse. Roy Hodgson has instilled a belief in his previously beleaguered squad and has also got them playing some excellent football.
As previously mentioned with Stoke, Palace face a tricky GW30 task away at Chelsea, although with their current form I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hodgson’s side at least score at Stamford Bridge.
Any Palace assets should still be picked up with a view of holding them for GW30 before integrating them into the starting lineup for their trip to Huddersfield in GW31.
Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke are both in superb form but neither should be available in any leagues, meaning Alexander Sorloth is the best available attacking option.
Despite failing to register a goal or assist in the Premier League so far, Sorloth has averaged 12 points per match over three games thanks to three shots on target, six chances created and 15 aerials won. Don’t be surprised if he scores his first Palace goal at Huddersfield. I’ve managed to get him on a waiver in one of my leagues.
Defensively, Patrick Van Aahnholt reminded everyone of his attacking potential with a goal against United while James Tomkins is on excellent form at the moment and is another who fills his stat sheet up nicely. Well worth a pick up in deeper leagues.
BournemouthEmbed from Getty Images
Bournemouth have been gifted the best fixture possible in GW31, meaning pretty much any available player is worth a go. Eddie Howe’s side host the beleaguered Baggies and their fans will be expecting a convincing win.
As a frustrated Callum Wilson owner myself, this is his last chance saloon for me thanks to a series of low scores since the shock win at Chelsea. He may even be muscled out by Jermaine Defoe before then.
Ryan Fraser and Jordon Ibe will expect good returns while any of the back line will be a good bet against a shot shy West Brom.
Bournemouth host Tottenham in GW30 but that doesn’t mean any advance pickups are unplayable this week. Expect a fearless Bournemouth to have a good go at a Spurs side that may be fatigued by their midweek Champions League exploits.
West BromEmbed from Getty Images
Saving the worst until last. Last week’s defeat at Watford means West Brom look all but down. They’ve pulled off the great escape before but any repeat of that looks close to impossible while Alan Pardew is in charge.
Having said that, Baggies players shouldn’t be written off ahead of two fixtures they should be targeting six points from in order to kick start a miracle against Leicester City and Bournemouth.
Despite a horrible run of defensive form, Craig Dawson represents decent Togga value through aerial duels and a goal threat from set pieces.
Speaking of set pieces, deliveries from Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips are often on the money, leading to easy key passes and assists with the former claiming five assists in the last ten weeks.
They may be tasting relegation in nine weeks (or less) but West Brom do at least represent a little fantasy value over the next couple.
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