Fantasy Premier League: Captain Picks for Matchweek 15
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. Last week we had two amazing performances by Kane and Sanchez, but our Agüero recommendation fell flat. Those of you who chose to captain him were rewarded with a negative two point performance thanks to his bone-headed decision in the closing minutes. Let's hope we don't see anything like that again for a while.
The top match of the week has to be Manchester United versus Tottenham. United have been in a rut lately, having only won one game in their past eight. The Spurs should have enough to win this road matchup, but maybe this is the week United get it together.
For fantasy purposes, Arsenal versus Stoke and Liverpool versus West Ham strike me as the best two games, and the home teams should have no trouble seeing out a victory.
But who should you be looking to captain this week?
Liverpool's current goal leader, Sadio Mané, makes his first appearance as a Captain Pick. After losing Coutinho two weeks ago, Liverpool's offense didn't miss a beat, scoring three goals against Bournemouth last week.
Unfortunately, their defense let them down, conceding three straight goals to lose 4-3. Mané had a very efficient performance, converting his single shot into a goal and his only key pass into an assist. Mané is a critical piece of the Liverpool attacking puzzle, and they will be leaning on him and Firmino to carry the weight while Coutinho is out.
This week, Mané gets to face West Ham, who have been in a bit of a slump. They haven't won a game since October, and they've conceded nine goals in their past two games (five to Arsenal and four to Manchester United in the EFL Cup).
The good news for West Ham is that their starting wing-backs should be returning from injury in time for Sunday's match. Whether they are ready to handle Mané is a different question entirely. West Ham allow the highest percentage of shots within their 18 yard box (68%) and has allowed the second-most goals in the league this season (29).
They also hold the third-worst goal differential. Liverpool, on the other hand, have scored the most goals in the league (35) and maintain the second-highest possession (58.7%). They also take the sixth-most shots within the 18 yard box (60%). Given their respective forms, this game should be a blowout, and it should come as no surprise that Liverpool has the best odds to win of anyone this weekend (-333).
Mané is in good form at this point in the season, having scored four goals and assisted three more in his past six games. At the moment, he is the Liverpool forward to own. He's got great odds to score this week (-150) and is flying under the radar somewhat on the FPL site.
He's only been added 35,000 times this week, for a medium-sized ownership of 19.3%. Given his form, West Ham's current lack of a coherent defensive setup, and Liverpool's offensive prowess, Mané looks to be a strong candidate for a multi-goal outing.
As regular readers of this series know, Alexis has been a top choice for captain most weeks this season. He's been red hot this past month, and last weekend against West Ham was no different. He scored a hat-trick on five shots, to go along with five key passes, which led to an assist as well. During Arsenal's Champions League match against FC Basel on Tuesday, Alexis assisted another goal, and hit the woodwork once, before being subbed off at the 69th minute.
Stoke comes to London this weekend to face the Gunners, and at first glance, this looks like an easy match for Arsenal. They have the fourth-best possession (55.3%) and take the second-most shots in their opponents 18 yard box (64%). Stoke allow the highest percentage of shots within their 6 yard box (9%).
While the odds definitely favor Arsenal (-295), there are some concerns with this game. Most important, Stoke have only lost one game in their past nine and haven't allowed more than one goal in a game during that stretch. They are coming off two consecutive clean sheets, against Watford and Burnley. Stoke have also given Arsenal some problems historically: they've won two of the past five matches. All that being said, with the way Arsenal is playing, it's hard to ignore Alexis.
Alexis has five goals and an assist in his past two Premier League matches, and he shows no signs of stopping. He's been given very good odds to score this match (-125) and is a very popular transfer this week. He's been added by 280,000 managers on the FPL site, bringing his ownership up to 31.9%.
He's also this season's leading fantasy point producer, with 110 points over the first 14 weeks. Alexis probably has the highest ceiling of any fantasy player this weekend, and he should be heavily captained. Fade him at your own risk!
Defoe is the cheapest player we've ever recommended in this series, but he definitely deserves to be here. Sunderland shocked the defending champs with a 2-1 victory. Defoe put together another classic Jermain Defoe line: three shots, two on target, one goal.
He isn't as involved in build-up play as the players we usually recommend, and Sunderland are definitely not a dominating team. Teams usually are throwing a lot of players forward to break-down Sunderland's defense, and Sunderland sit back and absorbs that pressure. A few times a game they'll put forth a serious counter, and Defoe is almost always the focal point of that attack.
Sunderland head to Wales this weekend, to face Swansea, a team who is barely afloat at the moment. They've allowed 9 goals in their past two games and 16 goals in their past five. Swansea allow the third-highest percent of shots within their 6 yard box (8%), and while Sunderland are not favorites to win (+260), we are just looking for a Defoe goal, which is a lot more likely (+137).
A big reason why I picked Defoe is due to his perceived "safety." He's scored four goals in his past five games, along with two assists. While he doesn't put up the mega-games like Alexis or Agüero, he does consistently put the ball in the back of the net.
He's now the second-most owned forward on the FPL site (24%) and has been added by 155,000 owners. Given that Mané is an attacking midfielder and the possibility of Alexis not lining up at forward this weekend, Defoe is definitely a safer alternative. I wouldn't be surprised to see him with a low captaincy rate, so he could prove to be an interesting pivot this weekend.