Premier League Week 8 EPL Fantasy Hot and Cold Players – Never Manage Alone

We’ve now had a fun seven game-weeks of action. Some players have been consistently poor or excellent, while many have seen a recent stretch of performance where they’ve exploded in a good or bad way. Should you add someone who is on fire, or is that fiery form unlikely to continue? Is it worth dropping a player who has turned into a wet blanket, or can things warm up again? Let’s take a look at whom you should be watching, with predictions going forward for those players.

Things started slowly for Wolves and their defense, as Patricio conceded five goals with only nine saves and no clean sheets in his first three games. Two of those games were at home, and only one came against elite competition ( Manchester City), so hopes were not strong. But Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have really locked down since then, conceding only once in the past four games.

Over that brilliant four game stretch, the Portuguese international has has saved 15 of the 16 shots on target and kept three clean sheets, returning 26 points in Official FPL and 60 in Fantrax.

Part of the reason for the recent success has been a kind schedule, featuring home affairs against Burnley & Southampton plus away fixtures at West Ham & Manchester United. So will things change? Can this recent run of Wolves’ defensive excellence be maintained? For the near future, yes. In the next three games, Wolves travel to Crystal Palace, are at home against Watford, and head to Brighton. It’s not until GW11 that things get tricky again, with three “Big Six” teams in the span of five games (v. Tottenham, at Arsenal, v. Huddersfield, at Cardiff, v. Chelsea). It may be tough sledding, but Wolves played Manchester City and Manchester United both tough (1-1 draws), and I don’t think they will wipe out against the other top teams.

You already read about the streak of clean sheets for Wolves with Patricio (three in four games). Doherty has also starred on the offensive end with two assists in that time. Added up, that’s 32 points in FPL over that stretch. That compares extremely favorably to the likes of Chelsea’s more heralded (and much more expensive) Marcos Alonso (19 points), Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson (18) and Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier (17). Like those players, Doherty is often more of a midfielder than a defender, streaking up the right flank almost at will, buttressed by a three-man central back line.

Left wing-back Benjamin Mendy started out like gangbusters but has been out injured the past three games (and has found himself in Pep Guardiola’s doghouse, to boot). But his counterpart on the right, Kyle Walker, has picked up where Mendy left off, boasting a goal and three clean sheets in the past four games. That has translated to 29 points in FPL and 41 in Fantrax over that period. However, the schedule gets rough over the next five games, with away games at Liverpool (GW8) and at Tottenham (GW10) along with a home affair against Manchester United (GW12). The other two games — home against Burnley and Southampton — are much more welcoming.

Headlined by the Week 5 hat trick against Cardiff, Chelsea’s superstar boasts six goals in the past five games. He is the #1 fantasy scorer in both FPL and Fantrax this season despite not starting the opening pair of games due to World Cup fatigue. However, Hazard has never scored more than 16 goals in any of his previous six seasons with the Blues, so we are entering uncharted territory here. Can Hazard keep things up and be this season’s Mo Salah, or at least somewhere in the ball park?

Impressively, young James Maddison has more than ably stepped up to the plate. The Madd Man has a goal or assist in each of the past four games, tallying 40 points in FPL and 93 in Fantrax so far this season. Meanwhile, the much more expensive Mahrez has been a bust for Manchester City, posting only 19 and 35 points, respectively (but showing recent signs of life).

After having only one assist and failing to score in the first four games, Siggy has exploded for three in three since, including a beautiful brace in the 3-0 win over Fulham (following a missed PK, to boot). This past trio of games has provided 23 of his 32 FPL points on the season, and 43 of his 70 in Fantrax. How impressive is it to score two goals from a fair distance — one from just outside and the other taken barely inside the box — and have the helpless keeper (Fulham’s Marco Bettinelli) not move an inch on either?

Things weren’t looking particularly better for the Frenchman at the start of this season, as Unai Emery had Lacazette on the bench for the first three games. However, in his subsequent four starts paired up front with PEA, Lacazette has two goals and three fantasy assists, notching 30 of his 36 total FPL points in that stretch. Meanwhile, PEA has tallied only two goals plus one assist in his seven games, all starts.

Etheridge started the season on scorching fire, with two clean sheets and two penalty saves in the first three games, leading to glorious tallies of 28 points in FPL and 40 in Fantrax over that time. Since then, Cardiff and Etheridge have crashed back to earth, conceding a catasrophic 14 goals in the past four games. That has sent his fantasy returns into a power dive, with only 6 points in FPL and a disastrous -15 (yes, that’s negative 15) in Fantrax over that time.

Alonso was a monster the first four weeks of the season, with one goal, five fantasy assists and two clean sheets which translated to 44 points in FPL and 58 in Fantrax. No goals or assists and only one CS in the past three games have meant only 10 and 14 points in that time, respectively. He’s the most expensive defender and still has the most points at the position on the season, but you wouldn’t know it by that recent form. Given that he’s the most-owned at the position (by over 45% of managers) in FPL, how he fares from here on out is quite important.

Jose Holebas (a.k.a. Cholevas) started out on fire, with one clean sheet, one goal and four assists across the first four games, which gave him 34 FPL points in that stretch. Since then? Two points total in the past three games (ouch). It’s not quite as bad in Fantrax, where he went from averaging about 10 ppg down to 5 ppg. But if you got in on him too late, you’re definitely feeling the pain. However, two of those games were away, and they were against tough competition (v. Manchester United, at Fulham, at Arsenal). The schedule gets much more favorable in the next five games: v. Bournemouth, at Wolves, v. Huddersfield, at Newcastle, at Southampton.

Lucas Moura finally got his chance to shine this season with the absence of Son Heung-Min at the Asian Games, and the dashing dynamo made last winter’s transfer from Paris Saint-Germain look like an absolutely brilliant piece of business ( as is so often the case with Spurs) by scoring three times and adding an assist in the first four games, including a memorable brace at Old Trafford. However, even with Dele Alli suffering from injury and keeping Moura’s spot in the XI safe, the Brazilian blur has not contributed to any of the team’s six goals in the past three weeks. Only 8 of his 37 Official FPL points have come in the past trio of affairs, and just 5 of 52 in Fantrax.

The Gauge: For a midfielder who does not provide assists, Moura does not shoot enough to be a truly reliable fantasy performer, failing to exceed two shots in any game so far. He converted three of his first five shots into goals, but has not scored on any of his past five attempts. Given the lack of shot volume, I am wary of relying on future goal scoring returns.

The Gauge: If you’re interested in the Liverpool offense, Salah and Roberto Firmino are more reliable than Mane, who has never scored more than 160 points in an FPL season. With Kevin De Bruyne rumored to return somewhat ahead of schedule, KDB could be an attractive transfer in the same price range if you are willing to wait, or perhaps a different target as part of a double switch now.

Neves burst onto the scene with a beautiful free kick goal plus an assist in Wolves’ season-opening draw with Everton. He scored 12 points in FPL in that game. Since then? He has scored 13 points in the subsequent six fixtures, with no goals or assists (yikes!). It’s a similar story in Fantrax, where he has followed up a 21 point opener with 28 points total since. His price in FPL has risen from £5.0 up to £5.2, but will likely drop back down as managers dump him.

The Gauge: Neves has taken 17 shots, but only 3 have been on target (and only one hit the net), so I don’t trust him to score much going forward. Wolves are in the bottom half in terms of team goals scored, so I also don’t see Neves contributing many assists. In FPL it’s a good idea to either pay a bit more for someone more productive (such as Ryan Fraser), or go down to the bare minimum for someone to banish to the final spot on your bench.

We all know the topsy-turvy Richarlison story this season. The monumentally expensive transfer from Watford netted three times in the opening two games, and fantasy managers made a run to add him. Then after his rash red card in the third game, there was a panic to sell. After he returned from suspension, some managers got back in on him, while others avoided him after being burned. So far the latter approach has proven wise as Richarlison has failed to score or assist in two matches.

Salah started out well, scoring and assisting twice each in the first four games. Of course, he had to do so for his fantasy managers, since he was (and still is) by far the most expensive player in the FPL game. The problem since then is that the Egyptian superstar has only one goal with no helpers in the past four games. On top of that, many of you have likely captained him regularly, which is what you do when you allot such a big chunk of your budget on one player. Salah was above 50% ownership early in the season, but that level has dropped to about 40% at the moment as a chunk of fantasy managers have turned to Hazard.

Wilson started out with two goals and three fantasy assists in the first three games, producing 22 points in FPL and 49 in Fantrax. Things have dried up a bit, with no goals and two assists in the four fixtures since then as Joshua King, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks have stepped up to supply much of the Cherries’ offense. Notably, King and Junior Stanislas have taken over PK duties after Wilson’s spot kick effort was saved in Week 1.