What a crazy final double gameweek to the season Week 35 turned out to be, not only from a fantasy perspective, but the reality of it as well. The two-team title race continues on as expected but the race for the last two Champions League spots remains wide open as Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all dropped points. Meanwhile, Brighton proceeded to troll countless managers by suddenly remembering how to defend again, giving up just one goal in two road games to two solid attacks. Why? Because, FPL.
It is only fitting that in a week with so much drama, I would be left with no time to talk about it. We are only one night free of football between the end of Week 35 and the start of Week 36, so the intro has got to be brief. In a nutshell, we have resumed normal FPL activities. The double gameweeks are over, barring an unforeseen cancellation that is rescheduled in the final two rounds, and most managers have now used up their wildcards and chips. So, we return to the old-fashioned method of management - one transfer at a time.
With three weeks to go, half the clubs have two at home while the other half play two away. That, along with current form and whether or not a club has something left to play for, weighs heavily in the thought process for this week's picks. One thing is certain - if you do not have the maximum three Liverpool players already, then that is where your transfer should come from, because at home to Huddersfield is as good as it gets and I would imagine all the star players will be in the XI. But, there are other players worthy of a transfer in and plenty to dismiss. So, let us dive right in and look at what's what in Week 36:
*Just as a reminder, keepers should always be the last position to think about using transfers for, unless there is an urgent need. So, when you see who I have listed here, bear in mind that my keeper advice does not carry as much weight as the outfield positions.
Player to buy: Ederson - Looking at the fixtures, both Liverpool and City are capable of finishing with three clean sheets in a row. Both sides warrant massive investment. I think Ederson makes more sense for this position, because Liverpool has your max three players set - one of Robertson, van Dijk or Trent A-A and then two out of Salah, Mane and Firmino. City's lineup is more prone to changes, but at least you know their keeper is set.
Player to sell: Kasper Schmeichel - With Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea the final three opponents for the Foxes, Schmeichel will own this spot for the rest of the season.
Player to hold: Angus Gunn - Those who took a shot with Gunn, pun intended, were not rewarded with a clean sheet or two in the double gameweek, but the seldom-discussed keeper still has value til the end of the season thanks to a kind schedule for the Saints. As usual, address another area of your squad before this one.
Player to avoid: David De Gea - I know what you are thinking - "Hey, that is easy to say ahead of a tough matchup against Chelsea" but, I do not mean avoid him only this weekend. I mean avoid him indefinitely. Considered the league's best keeper heading into the season, as his price tag would indicate, de Gea is a mediocre 10th in the FPL keeper leaderboard. Surely he is due a .5m drop in price next season. It will be interesting, should he still be in a United shirt, what kind of pre-season investment that will spark.
Player to buy: Lucas Digne - The Toffees have a tough opponent in Spurs in the final game of the season but Digne is coming off a cracking goal and Everton's defending has been on point, with six clean sheets in their last eight. Digne has already shown to be streaky in the attacking department so if last weekend's goal is an indicator, better get on the train now.
Player to sell: Ricardo Pereira - As mentioned with Schemichel above, Leicester's run-in is brutal, particularly from a defending point-of-view. I promise all four "sells" this week are not Foxes - if you want to back Vardy until the end, have at it. But I had to pick on Leicester twice at keeper and defender because a lack of returns for the final three looks imminent.
Player to hold: Patrick Van Aanholt - PvA owners were likely miffed to see the attacking fullback absent from the XI, replaced by Joel Ward. PvA was fit enough for the bench but I doubt he lost his place and simply got a rest or a minor knock was treated cautiously. I fully expect him back in this weekend and Palace have a decent set of fixtures to finish out the season.
Player to avoid: Matt Doherty - If you already own him, you keep rolling but despite a solid showing in the DGW for Doherty and fellow wingback Jonny, it may be a tricky run-in. Yes, the final home game against Fulham stands out, but a tricky trip to Watford, who are only a point behind them in the table, comes this weekend, then they finish the season at Anfield where, depending on how the top of the table looks, could see Wolves get annihilated.
Player to buy: Christian Eriksen - Misfortune hit here last week, just in time for a DGW. Apologies for those who went out and got Kevin De Bruyne on my advice, as we injured himself in the first game against Spurs and may be done for the year. Speaking of Spurs though, Eriksen is the attacker you want in terms of current form, though Heung-Min Son is capable of a strong finish and Dele Alli could find late-season magic. One of these three are needed. Eriksen is my top choice but one of Son or Alli has my blessing.
Player to sell: Eden Hazard - Hazard has been getting sold off like crazy this week despite averaging just a hair under 10 points per game in his last four. Seems to me, owning United and Chelsea assets, considering their recent struggles, a player from one of those sides facing each other this weekend has to go. So, I look at the final two weeks and see United get Huddersfield and Cardiff plus the Chelsea match is at home. The Blues have just one home game left before finishing away to Leicester. Advantage - Man United. Player to go - Hazard. That is the Fuzzy Formula.
Player to hold: Nate Redmond/James Ward-Prowse - These were the two budget midfield options from Southampton that were popular over the double gameweeks. Redmond outperformed JWP, but I would be holding either til the end of the season. Likely a 5th mid that you may usually bench, the final three include two at home with opponents Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield. There will be goals in those even if the Saints guarantee safety this weekend.
Player to avoid: Ryan Fraser - You may remember Fraser's goal and two assist game two rounds back? There is no doubt he has been one of the more pleasant fantasy surprises this season, but I am avoiding him and the rest of the Cherries due to a tough run-in - two on the road and the home game is against Spurs - and the fact that Bournemouth have very little to play for. Eddie Howe is a sound manager, so I don't think the Cherries pack it in in embarrassing fashion, but, certainly for the next two of the final three, their opponents will have much more to play for.
Player to buy: Roberto Firmino - Two of the final three at home, including last-place Huddersfield this week, everything left to play for and a nailed-on starter in decent form. This pick pretty much writes itself. Have Robertson and one of Salah or Mane already? No problem. As long as you have space for a third Red, make it Firmino.
Player to sell: Marcus Rashford - Rashford has gone four straight without a goal and that streak along with United's recent results has me thinking there will be some shake up in the final three weeks. Even Paul Pogba has some starting risk I would imagine but Rashford in particular feels susceptible to a benching.
Player to hold: Alexandre Lacazette - Not often a player gets nominated as a "hold" in consecutive weeks, but such is the case for the Frenchman. No one is feeling more disappointed about the last round than the Gunners, who dropped both games and damaged their top four chances somewhat. Lacazette did not produce in either game, so owners understandably are ready to put him up for the chop. It could be the right thing should Arsenal implode until the end, but if they straighten things out, which I think is more likely, they have three attractive fixtures left.
Player to avoid: Christian Benteke - I really want to be wrong about this one so it should make for an interesting reaction either way in hindsight, but Benteke's goal/assist combo, the first of either he has earned all season long, needs to be ignored for now from a fantasy perspective. Yes, Palace have a nice little three-game fixture finish, but they have run out of reasons to give it 100%. That said, I can keep rolling with a Luka Milivojevic or an Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but taking the plunge on Benteke is a bridge too far.
TOP CAPTAIN CHOICES
1) Mo Salah
2) Sadio Mane
That's it from me this week folks. Please, bear in mind much can change between the publishing of this column and the FPL deadline on Friday night. Remember, some injuries are not revealed until just before the deadline. Always try to refrain from executing your transfers for as long as possible to avoid wasting it on a player who turns out to have had a problem in training. That said, if you only have just enough money for the player you are looking to bring in and that player is at risk of rising in price, then sometimes you need to take a calculated risk and hope the fantasy gods will be kind to you.
Good luck, and may your arrows be green.