Welcome back for another round of FPL captaincy debate!
It is a bit unfortunate, but a combination of Europa League group stage play on Thursday nights, involving a club who is prominently featured in the armband discussion nearly every week, along with an early Friday deadline for the upcoming FPL round, there is the smallest of windows here to dive in to this week’s best options. Also, there is another event going on this week that you might be aware of. It is kind of demanding everyone’s attention. Things are a bit hectic, I am not going to lie. But, the good news is, after the upcoming international break, this column should only see a couple of rounds where the timing is later than preferred for the remainder of the season. We will just have to plow through things for this round.
Last weekend, if you backed any of the five top-tier options I presented, you had an 80% chance of getting a solid return from your captain as Mo Salah, Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all delivered while only Heung-Min Son, the highest-scoring player heading into last weekend, blanked. This weekend, my shortlist is shorter than usual – only three names I feel that belong in a tier of their own, so that can be seen as good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it. Some may think it bad to have a small amount of options to choose from, but it can also be seen as good, as less options could be seen as an increase in one’s chances of picking the right player.
Why is the shortlist even shorter than usual? Well, one fixture eliminates some big names – Manchester City v Liverpool. We will address that in the “honorable mentions” area, so instead of getting ahead of myself, let’s get straight to the point with this Week 8 edition of Captain Obvious…
Harry Kane (11m)
Rostered % – 44.6% (rising quickly)
Total points – 71 (6 Gs, 8 As, 9 BPs)
Opponent – West Brom (away)
All aboard the Kane train. Kane found the net yet again last weekend and it is pretty clear that managers can no longer afford to go without him as he has risen nearly ten percent in rostered percentage and has had two price rises since this time last week, costing a full 11m now. He has certainly been worth his lofty price tag for quite some time and, with West Brom next on the schedule, this fixture appears to me to be the overwhelming favorite to dominate the armband selection rate. I would imagine somewhere between 2.5-3 million managers will be backing Kane this weekend. So if it is safety in numbers that you like, Kane offers you that as well.
As alluded to at the onset of the column, captaincy talk needed to be delayed because of this standout fixture, and it only felt responsible to allow for Spurs to get their Europa League tie last night out of the way first, making sure he and the rest of the group came out of the match unscathed.
Well, good news: No bad news to report. Kane did start the match, which FPL managers probably hoped he wouldn’t, but all went well. He scored a goal just 13 minutes into the game and was subbed off early enough to preserve him for Sunday. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said about Kane at this point. His production for two months running right now speaks for itself, involved in fourteen goals already on the season. Opponents, West Brom, could be in for a rude awakening here. In their last four league games, they had a nice run of fixtures in which to add points to the table, but they could only draw twice and lose twice to the likes of Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Fulham. Their defense was not split apart completely by any of these opponents, giving up two goals or less along the way. But they did cough up three against Everton and five against Chelsea earlier in the season, and I would expect a month of playing weak attacks only to be jolted by the attack they will face in Spurs may result in a lopsided score. Anything less than three goals from Tottenham, for me, would be a surprise. Of course, if that is how one sees the scoreline, then naturally you have to assume Kane will get a piece of the action.
Timo Werner (9.3m)
Rostered % – 22.5% (rising steady)
Total points – 36 (3 Gs, 2 As, 4 BPs)
Opponent – Sheffield United (home)
Even though there are only three players I see deserving of “elite” status for this week’s armband, one of them is still providing a major differential in all likelihood, if you want to go against the herd for whatever reason this week, and that is Timo Werner. Werner had made the shortlist for Captain Obvious straight out of the gate when Chelsea were facing Brighton in Week 1. He did manage an assist in that game, but then went the next three games with blanks. So after zero goals and one assist in the opening month of FPL, Werner’s stock plummeted massively. Well, this appears to be the case of a very common occurrence in the Premier League: some players need a bit of time to adjust. With three goals and an assist spread over the last three games, Werner has warmed up and this looks the perfect matchup to exploit if you want to ignore Tottenham’s options this week.
A couple of things regarding Werner: first, due to injury issues in the winger roles, Werner was pushed out wide, allowing Tammy Abraham to get a start in the center forward role. They each got a return, Werner a goal and Abraham an assist. Frank Lampard then stuck with Werner playing wide left of Abraham for the midweek Champions League tie against Rennes, and the results were even better, as the duo combined to score all three Chelsea goals, including a pair for Werner. Second, (and for me, this is what makes Werner a top-tier armband option) since last weekend, the German striker has taken over the role of penalty kicks from Jorginho, converting against Burnley in Week 7’s win and both goals against Rennes came from the spot. He also has more assist potential in him than most strikers. He did have a dud against Manchester United in a 0-0 grinder of a result in Week 6, but Werner has otherwise been heavily involved since his breakout 2 goal/1 assist game against Southampton a few weeks back. The matchup exploitation potential is also too much to ignore, as visitors Sheffield United limp in to Stamford Bridge with just a single point earned on the season and a defense that is only a shell of last season’s version.
Heung-Min Son (9.6m)
Rostered % – 59.9% (rising slower this week)
Total points – 71 (8 Gs, 2 As, 10 BPs)
Opponent – West Brom (away)
A week or two ago, I had made a distinction between Kane and Son in terms of what their armband value was and that, even though Son was leading in FPL points at the time, Kane was the more dependable option. One reason being, Kane was the penalty taker and, in today’s game, that role means more than ever. We saw it play out last weekend as Kane’s lone attacking return came from the spot while Son had a rare blank. The other factor to consider, and I said then that it may take some time, but that time looks to be inching closer and closer, was that once Gareth Bale is up to speed, it feels likely that it could eat a bit into Son’s production. We cannot simply add Bale goals on top of what Spurs would have done without him, he has to eat a bit into someone’s potential, and for my money, Son is more prone to suffer than Kane is.
That said, between explaining Son’s armband value in comparison to Kane’s along with coming off a disappointing round, one might think I am begrudgingly nominating the South Korean international here. That is far from the case. While I do maintain that Kane is a better captaincy choice, and if I were to have both in my side, he would be the preferred option, Son is still a solid pick in my view, for the time being, especially in a matchup like this where, again, I am expecting three or more goals for Spurs. Son did NOT start the Europa League fixture last night, but did make an appearance off the bench and, with his first touch of the game, provided an assist for Tottenham’s third and final goal. The form is still there folks. Even the best have a blank in this game. If you are looking to manipulate the numbers game, I would expect Son to be behind Kane in the captaincy rate this weekend, but considering he is now 60% rostered while Kane is still below 50%, Son’s armband investment won’t be too far behind and he will be the second-highest captained player of Week 8.
Other options – Yes, the Manchester City v Liverpool fixture has me looking elsewhere for a captain, but for heaven’s sakes, I am not going to omit Mo Salah from the armband conversation entirely. As long as he is fit, he is an option. He would most certainly have made the shortlist in previous matchups with the Citizens, because City’s defense in recent times has not been very impressive. But, they are looking in as good a shape these days as they have in some time, and they need to, because their attack is not firing on all cylinders either. Outside of Week 2, where Leicester hammered City for five goals, Pep Guardiola’s side has yet to concede more than a single goal in any league game so far this season. I just see this as being one of those 1-1 affairs where the goal-getters are from the unexpected source, say Gini Wijnaldum and Bernardo Silva or something along those lines. Some folks have a set it and forget approach to captaincy and it is hard to argue that approach with Salah.
Much buzz is growing around West Ham options as they are the latest side to have the benefit of playing Fulham, an opponent who has a knack for providing players from the opposition huge fantasy days. Michail Antonio, were he fit entering this weekend, might have made my shortlist, but the question marks around his fitness and return this weekend makes that idea a hard pass. That leaves Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen as the most attractive, in-form options to look at and, while they might be nice transfer additions for your squad this week, I simply do not trust West Ham enough to double down on them. I tried to play the “exploit Fulham” game once already this year with Raúl Jiménez, and he blanked, and Jimenez is a far more trustworthy captaincy option than what West Ham have in their midfield.
Everton v Man United and Arsenal v Aston Villa features some players who are no strangers to this column, but I am no thrilled with either of these head to head matchups. I am looking for something more predictably one-sided. In saying that though, I will wrap up with a somewhat hypocritical take: Leicester v Wolves could also be argued as another tricky matchup, but if I really wanted to feel independent and ignore some obvious options this week, I would have both Jamie Vardy and Jimenez thoughts floating in my head. Both are so vital to their sides’ attacks, both have a solid track record of scoring in tougher fixtures. I am really looking forward to this one.
Hit me up on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles and let me know your thoughts on who you’ve nominated for captain and why. Good luck with your selection this weekend and may your arrows be green.