By AVI CREDITOR
Welcome to the first installment of Fantasy English Premier League on SBI. Granted, we're 27 weeks late, but not too late to help you finish at the top of your table or give you the advice you need to capture your head-to-head league or even the elusive Fantasy Cup.
CAPTAIN OF THE WEEK
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United, £12.1
This one's a no-brainer. Rooney is in the best form of his life and is in the discussion for Captain of the Week every week regardless of the match-up. But with two matches this week he commands the "(C)". An inspired Everton playing at Goodison Park on Saturday could give him fits, but the fact that he gets West Ham at Old Trafford on Tuesday removes all doubt.
Rooney has secured at least two bonus points in eight of his last 10 league games. He's scored 10 goals and had five assists in that time as well. He scored against West Ham in Gameweek 15 while playing 71 minutes in a 4-0 rout.
The wild card here is if Sir Alex Ferguson goes with a lighter lineup (think Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen) against West Ham. After Tuesday's Champions League game at AC Milan, he may be more inclined to do so to keep his star striker fresh.
Having said that, should Rooney play in both games, he's in for yet another huge week. Remember, the last time Manchester United had two matches in a week, Rooney totaled 32 points (64 if he was your captain), including a four-goal performance against Hull City. That's a little too good to pass up.
Other candidates: Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba (at Wolverhampton), Aston Villa's James Milner (vs. Burnley), Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (vs. Sunderland). UPDATE 2/19: Lampard (virus) and Manchester City's Carlos Tevez (compassionate leave) will not be playing this weekend. Reset your lineups accordingly.
BEST TRANSFER BUYS
Paul Robinson, Blackburn, £4.4
Robinson has three clean sheets in his last five games, and he faces a punchless Bolton team that he has already shut out this season.
Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea, £6.1
The injury to Ashley Cole means continued playing time for the moderately priced Serbian, and a match-up with Wolves is pretty tempting. Ivanovic has accumulated five assists on the season, and he can also be a threat to score off set pieces as he showed in Champions League play last year.
Carlos Cuellar, Aston Villa, £5.8
Often overlooked because of Richard Dunne, Cuellar has managed five straight games of at least six fantasy points. With a home fixture against Burnley looming, that streak should continue. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better weekly bargain on defense unless you snatch…
Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City, £5.3
Last-place Portsmouth usually means at least six fantasy points for an opposing defender, and that's the situation Shawcross finds himself in this week. With the second-most bonus points among defenders, Shawcross should be universally owned.
Alex Song, Arsenal, £5.3
The Cameroon international was a bonus-point machine prior to leaving for the African Cup of Nations, and he and the rest of the Gunners' defense regained its form with a shutout of Liverpool last week. Arsenal will have the motivation of avenging a shock 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light as it welcomes lowly Sunderland to the Emirates.
If Song, who missed Arsenal's Champions League match with Porto on Wednesday, is still injured, consider the Manchester United duo of Wes Brown (£5.6) and Jonny Evans (£5.2). They're in the same price range and could easily wind up with seven or eight points apiece given the Red Devils' two-match schedule.
Antonio Valencia, Manchester United, £8.4
Despite sporadic playing time as of late, Valencia still has the fifth-most fantasy points among midfielders. With two games this week, an injury to Ryan Giggs and a red-card suspension for Nani, there should be plenty of opportunities for Valencia to accumulate more points.
Damien Duff, Fulham, £6.2
Duff hasn't scored or assisted on a goal since Week 20, but as long as the Cottagers don't yield any goals – which they've done in three straight games – Duff is apt to pick up bonus points. He has the ninth-most fantasy points among midfielders and can add to your total at a discounted rate.
Adam Johnson, Manchester City, £6.0
City's recent acquisition has been a fantasy-friendly one. He has been busy in the midfield, assisting on one goal and creating other chances for Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez. He's attracted two bonus points in each of his last two games and should be in the mix yet again against Liverpool.
Stephen Hunt, Hull City, £5.6
Considering that he gives you about the same fantasy output as Andrey Arshavin at about half the price, Hunt is about as good as a buy as there is. His match-up with West Ham is favorable, as he picked up one of his five assists this season in an earlier contest with the Hammers.
Jermaine Defoe, Tottenham, £8.8
Defoe faces Wigan, a team he lit up for five goals back in Week 13. You'll likely have to give up one of your top strikers in order to acquire Defoe, but it could pay off big time.
Carlton Cole, West Ham, £6.4
When Cole is healthy, he's dangerous, and he appears to be fit after playing 90 minutes in his last two games. He has eight goals on the season, scored last week and plays two games this week. Saturday's contest against Hull is where he's likely to do his damage; but perhaps Tuesday he can sneak one past a Manchester United team that will be playing its third game in seven days.
Boaz Myhill, Hull City, £4.0
He's as inexpensive as they come and has a great match-up with West Ham. If you're looking to shed salary this week, you could do worse than picking up Myhill.
Gareth Bale, Tottenham, £5.3
Spurs have a decent match-up with Wigan, and Bale has achieved at least two bonus points in three of his last four games.
James Collins, Aston Villa, £4.4
Another under-appreciated member of the Aston Villa defense, Collins has a great match-up and is a cheaper alternative to Dunne and Cuellar.
Chris Baird, Fulham, £4.3
Baird comes at a nice value and is part of a defense that has notched three consecutive clean sheets. A more affordable version of the more-popular Brede Hangeland (£5.3).
Martin Olsson, Blackburn, £3.8
If you're looking for dirt-cheap and potentially effective, Olsson's your man. He's got a great match-up against Bolton and has scored at least six fantasy points in three of his last five games.
Darren Fletcher, Manchester United, £5.6
Like with Valencia, the two-game week and lack of Nani and Giggs should create openings for Fletcher, who scored against Everton in the teams' other meeting this season. He as
sisted on a sublime ball to Rooney against AC Milan on Tuesday and seems to be finding his rhythm.
Javier Mascherano, Liverpool, £4.7
It hasn't been the greatest season for the Argentine, but he has still attracted the sixth-most bonus points among midfielders, including the maximum of three in two of his last three games. There should be plenty of offensive chances in Liverpool's crucial match with Manchester City.
Jamie O'Hara, Portsmouth, £4.5
Like Mascherano, O'Hara also racks up the bonus points (ninth most). If last-place Pompey can break through against Stoke's defense, O'Hara will likely have something to do with it.
Glenn Whelan, Stoke City, £4.5
Coming off his strongest outing of the season, a goal and three-bonus-point performance against Manchester City, Whelan has a great match-up with Portsmouth.
Nikola Kalinic, Blackburn, £5.9
Blackburn hosts a floundering Bolton team missing its top defender, Gary Cahill. Kalinic has secured at least two bonus points in two of his last four games and could add to his goal tally Sunday.
Jozy Altidore, Hull City, £4.6
Altidore has played well lately, and Hull is in a relegation battle against West Ham. Both teams have 24 points, and Hull could actually shoot from 17th to 13th in the table with a victory and some help. Another goal from Altidore would not be a huge surprise.
KEEP IN MIND: Gameweek 28 only features eight fixtures, meaning four teams will not be in action (Aston Villa, Hull City, Manchester United and West Ham). When making your transfers this week, make sure to keep yourself in position to field a squad next week without costing yourself major points.
Soccer By Ives Standings (Top 10)
1. The Jackson 4……………….1566 pts
2. AC Vols………………………….1556
3. The Unholy Passion………1546
5. AdiosAde, HolaSlvrwr…….1523
6. Preening Narcissists……..1523
7. Grassington AFC……………1503
8. Big Apple FC………………….1500
9. Burrito Revenge…………….1498
What's your lineup looking like this week? Who do you think will be the week's top scorer?
Share your thoughts below.