Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 12: Hints and tips as Chelsea prepare to host Man City
Our resident Top 10,000 FPL player offers up hints, tips and captain picks ahead of Gameweek 12.
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Welcome back to 3 Added Minutes' weekly strategy guide to the Fantasy Premier League, with Gameweek 12 under the microscope - and we've got plenty of hints and tips for transfers and captain picks ahead of a week in which plenty of players will be left scratching their heads after a string of injuries changed the course of the coming weeks, especially for managers who were relying on Tottenham Hotspur to keep the points coming...
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of our advice for the week, our usual reminder that the transfer deadline is on Saturday at 11:00 BST, ahead of Spurs' visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the lunchtime kick-off. So sort your team out on Friday if you know you're going to be hungover, basically. No judgement, we've all been there.
Injuries and suspensions as Spurs make everything complicated
Spurs' unbeaten start to the season came to a rather ignominious end in the 4-1 defeat to Chelsea on Monday evening, but that knock-on effects of that match extend beyond putting Manchester City back on top of the table and straining Ange Postecoglou's cheery demeanour - they've also given a lot of FPL managers a pretty huge headache.
Christian Romero and Destiny Udogie were both sent off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while Micky van de Ven and James Maddison were both injured, with the former very unlikely to feature at Molineux and the latter doubtful. All four are popular cornerstones of many FPL teams, and their various travails meant that an awful lot of people endured some extremely low scores in Gameweek 11, especially given that very few high-ownership assets produced anything. It also means that many players will have a lot of red triangles dotted about their Pick Team screens this weekend.
To make matters worse for Spurs, Richarlison has announced that he will soon have surgery on a pelvic injury that has apparently been impacting him for eight months - meaning that he will be out for the long haul, too. That probably means that stocks in Brennan Johnson rise, but for a lot of players a more pressing issue will be sorting out their defences, especially when you add in the spate of defensive injuries that Newcastle United have suffered, too. So let's dive into our suggestions for which defenders to move onto for the near future.
Let's start at the top with some good news - Brighton & Hove Albion wing-back Pervis Estupiñán is back in full training and could very well be back in the starting line-up to face Sheffield United. The Ecuadorian defender picked up a couple of big hauls at the top end of the season before injury and a lot of players will no doubt be bringing him back in at £5.0m, especially given that the Seagulls have a relatively generous run of games. He's one of the most reliable defenders in the FPL when it comes to attacking returns, but one note of caution should be raised - Brighton haven't kept a single clean sheet yet this season, and Roberto di Zerbi's style of play means that those four-point scores won't come around very often. We like Estupiñán if you can slot a defender at that price point in easily, but the high upside comes with a lot of downsides, too. Keep an ear on Di Zerbi's press conference to check if he's likely to start, as well. At the other end of the price spectrum, there are two £4.0m defenders who have been picking up some traction lately - Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite and Newcastle's Jamal Lascelles. Branthwaite has impressed so far this year and is now firmly ensconced in Sean Dyche's starting line-up, but we still don't love him for the FPL. Everton simply don't keep enough clean sheets and as tall as he is, he isn't a goalscoring threat from set pieces as it stands. Lascelles we like more as he seems nailed on to start for as long as Sven Botman is out - and while Newcastle have up-and-down fixtures, they've proven that they can keep their sheets clean against teams like Arsenal. If you want a cheap defender, he's your man.
Elsewhere, we like the Gunners' defenders for points in the coming weeks, although they don't come cheap - William Saliba and Ben White are both comfortably over the £5.0m threshold, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is in and out of the side. Gabriel Magalhães is probably the safest bet at a sane price. We don't mind Crystal Palace defenders, either - they have some nice fixtures coming up and don't ship many goals at all. Two players we'd advise against getting excited by are Brentford's Ethan Pinnock and Vladimír Coufal of West Ham United. Both have seen a lot of transfer activity after a couple of good weeks, but neither are regular contributors in the final third and neither play for teams who keep a lot of clean sheets. Best avoided, in our opinion, as they simply aren't reliable source of points.
And on the subject of defenders we'd avoid - City's backline have been unusually porous this campaign, and the single goal conceded against Bournemouth was the final straw for us, especially when you add on the ever-present danger of Pep Roulette, which means any defender you take from the champions will miss out every once in a while at unpredictable moments. Given that all of those defenders are at least £5.0m, we're steering clear for the foreseeable future.
Injury updates, price changes and captain picks
Apart from that slew of injuries and suspensions over at Spurs, the biggest update has been the news that Burn is unlikely to be back until the new year - but there are some lingering and unresolved question marks over a couple of Arsenal players. Martin Ødegaard has missed the last two matches and is a doubt for the game against Burnley, while Bukayo Saka also limped off in the midweek win over Sevilla. Wait and see what Mikel Arteta says before deciding what to do with either player. Erling Haaland, who got 45 minutes' worth of rest last weekend against Bournemouth, seems to be fine.
Despite which, he isn't our favourite choice for captain this weekend - Chelsea may not be the best team in the game but they do seem defensively sound enough not to ship a bunch of goals, even if Stamford Bridge hasn't been the happiest home for them lately. We prefer Mohamed Salah, who plays at home to Brentford, or Ollie Watkins, with Aston Villa up against Fulham. If you don't have either, Saka is a perfectly good pick if he's definitely fit to play, while Son Heung-Min's returns probably won't be impacted too badly by all the missing Spurs players on Saturday. If you end up circling back to Haaland, though, we certainly don't blame you.
As for price changes, it's fairly quiet at the moment, which is usually the case when we reach the stage of the season when most players have used their wildcards and plenty of less successful players have started to drift towards inactivity. Son looks likely to jump again, to £9.7m, but it's not certain whether that will happen by Saturday. Diego Dalot, David Raya and the aforementioned Branthwaite are all candidates for a jump as well. Dango Ouattara is the most relevant player likely to lose some value by the weekend.
3 Added Minutes FC
Finally, a quick word on our example team, which went into Gameweek 11 in 5,400th place worldwide - but which drops after a stinker of a week which saw three players hauled off at half-time with various injuries and ailments, on top of all the other issues everyone else had with big-name players struggling. A woeful 29 point-haul is by far our worst of the season so far, but at least pretty much everyone had a bad week, so we only drop down to 6,410. Could have been a lot worse...
Unfortunately, we do need to keep an eye on the presser this week for updates on Matty Cash and Mark Flekken, both doubts for the weekend's action. We also want to move Joško Gvardiol on if at all possible, following our advice about City defenders - we're leaning towards Estupiñán if we're sure he's playing, and Lascelles if we're not.
That's all from us this week - we'll be back after the international break with advice for Gameweek 13. Until then, may all of your players stay fit and healthy for a change, and may the withdrawal symptoms that kick in when England play Malta not be too severe.