By AVI CREDITOR
The final stretch is here.
Three more weeks to go before a champion is crowned. Who will make the right decisions? Whose moves will not be enough to get his team over the hump?
No, we're not talking about Carlo Ancelotti or Sir Alex Ferguson, we're talking about you, the fantasy manager.
But not unlike Ancelotti and Ferguson, these final three weeks are when you can least afford to make an error in judgment that will cost your team crucial points. You can't bank on the teams ahead of you in the table making mistakes either, so you've got to be on top of your game. Trust your studs, play the matchup card (especially for defenders), and use your transfers wisely. Here are this week's picks:
CAPTAIN OF THE WEEK
Frank Lampard, Chelsea, £13.4
With Didier Drogba's inclusion in the lineup still uncertain, the onus will fall on Lampard to deliver an offensive punch for the Blues at home against Stoke City.
Chelsea can avoid a collapse that would allow Manchester United to potentially win the Premier League by winning its remaining three matches, and you'd expect Fantasy Premier League's top overall scorer, Lampard, to come out as focused as ever on Sunday.
In fantasy terms, Lampard has the best matchup out of all of the game's (remaining healthy) big hitters. With Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and perhaps Drogba on the shelf, and other top scorers facing more difficult opposition, Lampard is the safest bet to have a large fantasy week.
Other candidates: Chelsea's Florent Malouda; Everton's Mikel Arteta (vs. Fulham); Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (vs. Tottenham).
BEST TRANSFER BUYS (owned by less than 10 percent of managers)
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Bolton, £4.3 (5.5 percent owned)
A fixture at Reebok Stadium against last-place Pompey? Sounds good to me. Portsmouth isn't going to be shut out every week, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a team with higher odds of having that happen this week, especially on the road.
Glen Johnson, Liverpool, £7.7 (8.3 percent owned)
Johnson should be owned by so many more managers. Granted, his price tag is high, but with at least five fantasy points in each of his last six matches, he's about as good as there is among defenders. He's a threat because of his offensive ability, but this week he has a great matchup too, with drop-zone-dweller Burnley.
Ashley Cole, Chelsea, £7.2 (7.3 percent owned)
Expected to make his after about a 10-week injury layoff, the England international should fit right in to a back line that needs a boost, as captain John Terry will be forced to sit out the match against Stoke. Cole was one of the game's top-scoring defenders at the time of his ankle clash with Landon Donovan.
Matthew Upson, West Ham, £5.4 (8.3 percent owned)
With the Hammers desperately needing a home win over Wigan to remain clear of the drop zone, Upson becomes a good play. He's managed to secure bonus points in two of his last four matches, as well.
Gary Cahill, Bolton, £4.7 (4.6 percent owned)
The England hopeful is back, playing the full 90 in four straight games. He's got a great matchup against Portsmouth and was racking in the bonus points (and he scored five goals) before missing time with his injury.
Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool, £9.1 (9.1 percent owned)
Kuyt's responsibilities have expanded now that Torres is shut down for the season. The Reds will need him on his game to take road points at Burnley just a few days after their Europa League semifinal.
Tim Cahill, Everton, £8.1 (6.9 percent owned)
Another week, another nice fantasy output for Cahill. Arteta's return to the lineup only boosts Cahill's value, as another playmaker may be too much for a weary Fulham to deal with at Goodison Park.
Matthew Taylor, Bolton, £6.1 (2.9 percent owned)
Hard to ignore Taylor's two-goal outburst last weekend, especially when he can parlay that into another solid week against Pompey.
Chung-Yong Lee, Bolton, £4.9 (2.9 percent owned)
Lee's fantasy campaign has sputtered a bit over the last few weeks, but that's coincided with matches against Everton, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea. A home date with Portsmouth is a nice chance to snap back into form.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Manchester City, £9.5 (4.2 percent owned)
Think Adebayor's got a little extra motivation to score in his return to the Emirates? City needs a road win against Arsenal to stay on pace for a Top 4 spot, and Adebayor has already torched his former team for a goal this season.
John Carew, Aston Villa, £7.8 (3.4 percent owned)
With five goals and an assist in his last seven matches, Carew is finding his form when Aston Villa needs it the most. With a spot in European competition still possible, Villa could get a nice match from Carew at home against Birmingham.
SLEEPERS (owned by less than 5 percent of managers)
Marcus Hahnemann, Wolves, £4.0 (3.6 percent owned)
The front-runner to be the USMNT's No. 2 keeper, Hahnemann has a great shot at a clean sheet as Wolves hosts Blackburn. He's posted three shutouts in his last four matches.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Liverpool, £5.5 (0.5 percent owned)
Liverpool's packed schedule has called for reinforcements all over the pitch, and Kyrgiakos has played the full 90 in each of the last three matches. He's been a solid fantasy performer when given the chance, and has a nice shot at a clean sheet this week.
Martin Olsson, Blackburn, £3.9 (1.4 percent owned)
Wolves hasn't scored in four straight matches. That game has nil-nil written all over it.
Ronald Zubar, Wolves, £3.8 (2.2 percent owned)
A less-popular, less-expensive version of Jody Craddock can net you a similar fantasy output, as Wolves' defense has proven to be quite stingy over its recent stretch of matches.
Steven Mouyokolo, Hull City, £3.8 (0.4 percent owned)
Sunderland's attack on the road has been just terrible, and the Tigers are capable of a strong performance in a crucial game in their battle against relegation. At Mouyokolo's price, he has a low-cost, clean-sheet potential.
Theo Walcott, Arsenal, £7.7 (1.6 percent owned)
The Gunners could use his pace against Manchester City; Walcott has a goal and an assist in his last two matches.
Maxi Rodriguez, Liverpool, £6.9 (0.5 percent owned)
So he didn't validate my goal-scoring hunch last week, but he did come through with an assist and a nice fantasy performance, and there's no reason he can't do the same against Burnley.
Jimmy Bullard, Hull City, £5.7 (3.2 percent owned)
Hull has another favorable matchup this week, at home against Sunderland, and Bullard figures to be the Tigers' best bet at earning bonus points.
Scott Parker, West Ham, £5.3 (1.3 percent owned)
Expected to return to the lineup this week, and his timing is impeccable: A must-win home fixture against Wigan.
Kevin Davies, Bolton, £6.2 (2.3 percent owned)
Another Bolton player? Yup. Portsmouth's putting all its eggs in the FA Cup basket at this point, and its roster is unrecognizable at times. Bolton should tally multiple goals in this matchup.
David Ngog, Liverpool, £5.2 (0.5 percent owned)
With Torres out, Ngog should get another crack at Rafa Benitez' starting lineup, and that could prove to be fruitful with at Turf Moor.
LAST WEEK'S PICKS
Ashley Young (6X2=12 points)
KEEP IN MIND: Which teams have two matches in Matchweek 37 (NOT this weekend) and can save your season? Tottenham, Manchester City, Fulham and Stoke City. Plan accordingly.
Soccer By Ives standings (Top 10)
1. The Blues……………………..2138 points
2. the unholy passion……….2134
3. Preening Narcissists……2131
4. The Jackson 4………………2123
5. AC Vols…………………………2116
6. Big Apple FC…………………2113
7. Tick Tick Boom!…………….2103
8. aston villains………………..2101
9. Maple Gooners…………….2088
10. Sporting Club Delica….2086
Who would you make your captain this week? What's your lineup looking like?
Share your thoughts and questions below.