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Fantasy Premier League Week 20

Greetings, everyone! I have returned from Christmas to dispense more Fantasy Premier League knowledge. (And to give another reminder to join the We Talk Fantasy Sports 2nd Half League (code: 101853-723911). You have a chance to beat me. Join it.)

This isn’t an ordinary week. It’s the first week of 2015! After these games, everyone gets an additional wildcard (for those of you who don’t know, that means that you get unlimited transfers and thus lots of flexibility to stack your team with the best current options. Everyone got one at the start of the year, but most have already used it. We get a second one for January). This means that you can go short-term with your transfers here in Week 20.

I will thus list nine tips as we enter the two-thousand-and-fifteenth year since the invention of forward counting:

This article is mainly about the next two weeks, given the short-term nature of the pre-wildcard period. The only club with two games vs. bottom-5 opposition is Aston Villa, who head to Leicester next weekend after a home match against (currently manager-less) Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day. The point is this: I would not be shocked to see Villa do well in these next two weeks.

But which Villains will succeed? You can’t get teams in fantasy sports, just players (you can get defenses in fantasy NFL, but I digress). Well, pre-season favorite Ron Vlaar is a good candidate, given his low price (£4.4) and the fact that he’s coming off an 8-point game against Sunderland. The thing is, all of the Birmingham team’s attacking players have been too inconsistent to warrant an investment. The only real answer? Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, coming in at £4.7.

Oh, so you want me to give you the second best team, based on schedule in the next two weeks? Eh, okay, if you must. But don’t say I didn’t warn you! It’s…Liverpool. The Reds have had an erratic season, losing 7 this season already (compared to only 6 in all of last year). Lots of their players have largely been disappointments. But they play Leicester and Sunderland. Can’t be too hard…right?

Speaking of Liverpool, Raheem Sterling punched/slapped/hit/whatever another player (he needs to cut out that temper, by the way), but he seems to have (inexplicably) dodged suspension. Either way, it’s not unlikely he will get rest soon. How come I only remember that after I absent mindedly add him to my team? Here’s a great piece of advice: put thought into every move. Acquire all the context you can find.

My other transfer was West Ham’s Stewart Downing. Not counting their last two games, against Arsenal and Chelsea (I’m not cherry-picking, those are good teams), the former Liverpool midfielder has a goal or an assist in 4 straight. The Hammers’ next game? At home against lowly West Brom. At £6.5, Downing is a good pickup right about now.

Don’t drop QPR’s Charlie Austin just yet. Yes, he only got 2 points last game, but even including that he has 55 points in his last 6 home matches (60 if you don’t count the red card). That’s an incredible record. After his upcoming home game, vs. Swansea, the London side take a trip to Burnley, who are currently second to last. There should be points from Austin before the wildcard.

A team that I vouched for earlier was Southampton, due to their defensive expertise. But they played against some tricky opponents, and are thus on poor form. I don’t think you need to be that quick to get rid of Southampton players, but with Nathaniel Clyne’s injury, the 30.7% of people who own him should probably get rid of the defender.

While the Saints face Arsenal and then Manchester United, Stoke City face Manchester United before heading to Arsenal. Don’t get Stoke players. Especially Bojan Krkic, who is injured. I’m keeping him until the wildcard, because he’s cheap enough to sit on the bench, but I wouldn’t suggest getting him.

Remember when I suggested dropping Swansea City’s Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson? Well, he’s scored 2 goals and gotten 19 points in the last two games, and the Swans are about to play QPR, who are in 15th and should be a relatively easy opponent despite Charlie Austin’s recent form. Sometimes I’m right, and other times I’m wrong. Ever since I traded in my crystal ball…

Well, that’s all that I can put together for now. I’ll have something for the January wildcards next time. But for now, that’s about it. Make sure to join the We Talk Fantasy Sports 2nd Half League (code: 101853-723911) while it’s still open, follow me on Twitter (@DH3soccer) and check out Another MLS Blog, my MLS site, and be on the lookout for my contributions to Soccer Yanks, regarding MLS, the USMNT, and anything else related to association football. Stay tuned!