Riyad Mahrez, Harry Kane, Gylfi Sigurdsson could score high in Fantasy
Make the most of Gameweek 31. After it's done, the international break will starve us of ESPN FC Premier Fantasy action until early April. There are some stand-out fixtures to send us off, including both the Manchester and Tyne-Wear derbies, and a few match-ups that look good for big points returns. Here's the low-down.
As the season has progressed, it's become clear that the first port of call for Fantasy managers should be whoever is playing Aston Villa. This week that happens to be Swansea, who will host the league's third-worst away defence, with 32 goals conceded at just over two per match. Villa's recent form is no better -- the 15 big chances they've allowed is five more than any other team over the last four Gameweeks -- so investing in Swansea attackers looks a no-brainer.
Alberto Paloschi (£5.7 million) and Modou Barrow (£4.7m) started in a 4-4-2 against Bournemouth last week, with the latter scoring his first league goal of the season in the 3-2 defeat. However, Barrow does have a hamstring issue which will need monitoring. At the back, Ashley Williams (£6.1m) and keeper Lukasz Fabianski (£5.9m) will hope to keep only their third clean sheets of 2016 against a Villa side that's managed a meagre seven goals this year.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino laid his league title-chasing cards on the table by resting key players for the Europa League ties against Borussia Dortmund. That strategy will be severely tested by the visit of a Bournemouth side on an unbeaten four-match run.
Spurs have been exceptional at White Hart Lane -- only two teams can better their combined 46 home goals and assists -- and in Christian Eriksen (£7.8m) and Dele Alli (£6.6m) they possess two of the league's most potent midfielders since the turn of the year. The Dane has three goals and a further three assists in 2016, although he's drawn a blank over the last four Gameweeks. Alli has as many goals, and two more assists than his teammate, setting up both goals in last week's 2-0 win at Villa.
Tottenham haven't kept a home clean sheet since early February and Bournemouth have a strong enough away record to suggest the wait could go on for another week. But full-back Danny Rose (£6.5m) offers a lot going forward, with a goal and three assists since mid-January. The only uncertainty is Pochettino's consistent rotation of his full-backs.
Leicester City should relish a trip to Selhurst Park -- Crystal Palace haven't kept a home clean sheet this year and are on a 12-match winless run. The Foxes, by contrast, are the league's highest scorers on the road, with 28 goals, and their last-minute loss at Arsenal was their first away defeat since Boxing Day. Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) hasn't scored since that Arsenal loss, but he laid on the winner for Shinji Okazaki (£5.9m) last week, and both will fancy their chances against a Palace defence that's conceded at least two goals in each of their last five home matches. If Christian Fuchs (£6.5m) can keep the hosts' strikers quiet, it will be his fourth clean sheet in five matches.
Riyad Mahrez (£9.7m) continues to justify his Segment 2 price hike, with two goals and four assists from his last eight starts. Palace have allowed 10 big chances over the last four Gameweeks -- second only to Villa. They can't afford to allow Mahrez such leeway.
Harry Kane (£9.2m) has three goals in two matches and a league-leading 24 attempts in his last four -- form even a battling Bournemouth will struggle to contain.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.9m) has scored as many goals in 2016 -- seven -- as Villa have managed as a team. It would be no surprise if the Iceland international goes one better than his opponents this weekend.
A punt or two
Up until GW26, Chelsea's Bertrand Traore (£5.9m) had been given precisely eight minutes of pitch-time. Two starts and a substitute appearance later, he's scored twice and provided an assist. The midfielder is likely to be given a good run up front while Diego Costa (£9.2m) sits out his latest ban, making him a low-cost asset capable of high returns.
If Rafa Benitez is going to drag Newcastle from the relegation mire, Moussa Sissoko (£6.1m) could hold the key. The midfielder impressed in the narrow defeat at Leicester, with three attempts, nine penalty area touches and a team-leading three chances created. The Tyne-Wear derby could be the making or breaking of Newcastle's season now. Sissoko looks well-placed to make it the former.