Fantasy Premier League: Captain Picks for Matchweek 12
If you are going to win your leagues on the Premier League's official fantasy website, it's imperative to pick the right captain. That's why we'll be detailing the top captain choices for your teams each and every matchweek.
You'll construct a roster of 15 players with a £100 million salary -- two keepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards -- and choose a starting XI each week.
A key part of the process is selecting your captain and vice captain. Your captain will have his points doubled for the week, and your vice captain's points will double in case your captain doesn't play.
As usual, an acceptable game for our captain is either scoring or assisting one goal, preferably scoring. We continued our 100% hit rate over to matchweek 11, as all three of our captains scored. Let's see if we can make it three weeks in a row!
After what felt like an incredibly long international break, we are back to our regularly scheduled Premier League action. It's really a no-brainer to pick out this week's top match, Manchester United versus Arsenal. A storied rivalry, not to mention some manager animosity, should make for quite a few quality highlights.
But who should you be looking to roster at captain this week?
I know I sound like a broken record here, but the fact is that anytime Agüero has even a decent matchup, he's going to be my top captain choice. The combination of his ability, team play style, and fantasy ownership make him an easy choice most weeks. In his last Premier League match against Middlesbrough, he was a menace in the opposition's third. He took eight shots, four of which were on target, had three key passes, and scored one goal. He only played 45 minutes during his international matches, and they all came in Argentina's loss to Brazil. He's had over a week to recover, so he should be fresh as ever for Saturday's game.
This weekend, Man City heads to London to play Crystal Palace. Palace is in a bit of a funk lately, having allowed 10 goals over the past three games, and they've yet to keep a clean sheet during this season. City, on the other hand, have the second best away team rating in the Premier League (7.11), not to mention the best possession (61.1%), and the most amount of time spent in their opponent's third (34%). It doesn't appear this is the week that Palace will turn their season around, and the oddsmakers agree with this, giving City good odds to win (-187).
Agüero is starting to put together a nice little run of form, having scored three and assisted one goal over the past two games. As he's the favorite to score in this match (-150), it seems likely that his run will continue at least one more week. Sergio has only been added by 39,000 teams this week, which does feels a little low. The only explanations I have for that are that he's already owned by 46.6% of owners, and the remaining owners are finding his salary too difficult to transfer in. Everything is pointing up for Agüero this week, and that makes him a strong choice for captain.
Lukaku makes his return to our series, with a juicy home matchup against slumping Swansea. Everton looked abysmal last week at Chelsea, but I think we can all agree Swansea is a much lower caliber team. Chelsea smothered the Everton attack the entire game, only allowing them to take one shot (none on target). Lukaku did look the best of the Everton attackers, but that's not saying much. On the bright side, he did score two goals against Estonia during his break with Belgium. He played 116 minutes across the two Belgium games, but will have had six days of rest between the last Belgium game and Saturday's fixture.
I had been hoping that appointing Bob Bradley as manager would help Swansea turn their season around, but so far Mr. Bradley is 0-1-3 in the Premier League. They are currently tied for last place, and it's very likely they'll be the sole owners by Saturday night. Swansea have allowed two or more goals in five of their past six games, and their metrics show this is no fluke.
They allow the second-highest amount of shots inside their six yard box (8%), along with the fourth-most shots allowed inside their 18-yard box (63%). They also spend the fourth-least time on the offensive, with only 26% of the game in their opponent's third. Everton is taking the second-most shots inside their opponent's six-yard box, at 8%. It appears like there will be quite a lot of shots from dangerous areas, and Lukaku should be in line to take many of them. As a result, Everton has been given one of the highest odds to win this week, (-166).
While Lukaku did have a dud performance last week against Chelsea, I think most people were not expecting Everton to win that game. Even with that blank, Lukaku has three goals and two assists in his past five games and seven goals in his past eight games. If he puts up another dud this week, then I will start to worry.
With 85,000 adds this week, he's the second-most added forward. He's now up to 34.9% owned, making him the third-highest owned forward on the FPL site. Most owners are not panicking after one week, and you probably shouldn't either. He's the favorite to score in this match (-120), and this is the exact kind of game he needs to get back on track. Agüero is definitely the top choice this week, but Lukaku is a solid second tier option.
I had considered writing about Hazard last week, given the hot streak he is on. I was concerned that Everton would be able to limit Chelsea to only a goal or two, but boy was I wrong. Chelsea ended up putting five goals past Everton, and Hazard was a key part of that attack. With three shots on target, resulting in two goals, along with a key pass, he earned a 9.76 rating on WhoScored.com and was Man of the Match. Hazard played the most of our three captains during the international break, with a total of 163 minutes on the pitch, and also scored a goal against Estonia. Luckily he will have had seven days off before he kicks off against Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Antonio Conte have Chelsea ticking right now. They are on a five-game win streak, having outscored their opponents 16-0. That's right -- they've kept five consecutive clean sheets. It shouldn't be a surprise that they have the top average team rating on WhoScored.com, at 7.15.
Chelsea take the highest amount of shots within their opponents 18-yard box (65%), which is a big reason why they also average the most shots on target (6.4). That being said, Middlesbrough has been very solid defensively as of late. They haven't allowed more than one goal since September, holding Man City to one and blanking Arsenal during that run.
This feat is more impressive as they spend the second-most time in their own third (32%) and the second-least time in their opponent's third (21%). The oddsmakers think that Chelsea have enough form and firepower to break through the Middlesbrough defense, giving Chelsea the best away odds on the slate (-175).
After reading all that, it certainly seems like taking a captain from Chelsea wouldn't be a smart choice. The oddsmakers would agree with you, giving Hazard okay odds to score (+160), a significantly lower number than we usually like to see. Make no mistake: this is a risky captain choice, but Hazard is in amazing form right now, having scored five goals and assisted two in his past four games.
He's also collected the max bonus points the past two weeks. A player scoring 49 fantasy points over four weeks just doesn't happen that often. He's far and away the most transferred in player this week, with 252,000 managers adding him to their team. He's also the third-most owned midfielder, at 28.6%.
While I put Lukaku before Hazard in this article, they really are more like 2A and 2B captain choices this week. If you have both in your fantasy team, it comes down to whether you want a player in good form with a great matchup, or a player in great form with an average matchup. Hazard is much more likely to give you a two- or three-point outing than Lukaku, but he also has a higher ceiling. If you are falling behind in your league this year, a gamble on Hazard could help close the gap.