Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 16: Hints, price rises and injury latest as Newcastle United take on Spurs
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Welcome back to our regular Fantasy Premier League advice column courtesy of our Top 1,000 manager – and even though Gameweek 15 is still kicking up dust with two matches left to go at the time of writing, it’s already time to run the rule over Gameweek 16 and see how we should handle our transfers and captaincy decisions.
Today we’re going to take a particularly close look at Newcastle United, because with Nick Pope out for four months they suddenly have quite a lot of very appealing FPL assets and with a maximum of three players per club, we need to think about how to pick and choose the guys we go for – and the way we handle those decisions will tell us a lot about how we make the same choices for other teams who have a ton of impressive assets available. But before we get into that, a reminder of your deadline for GW16 – we need to have all of our decision made by 11:00 BST on Saturday 9 December, ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Crystal Palace.
Sometimes teams almost have too many players who score big points in FPL, and right now the team producing the greatest volume of tricky decisions for managers is Newcastle United – who already had plenty of good transfer targets but are now adding even more as Martin Dúbravka comes into the line-up as a cheap goalkeeper and Sven Botman returns to training. So let’s look through the runners and riders at St. James’ Park and see who we think you should transfer in, who you should steer clear of, and why.
Let’s start at the very back – Nick Pope will be out for four months or so, and that means that Dúbravka will take the gloves for the immediate future. Given that he only costs £4.0m as a nailed-on starter, he looks like a player who should definitely be in your side – but there is a ‘but’. Firstly, Newcastle are likely to bring another goalkeeper in during the January transfer window, and that would displace the Slovakian stopper, so he’s a rather short-term investment even if he’s clearly an upgrade on one of the regulation back-up ‘keepers like Matt Turner.
Secondly, bringing in Dúbravka blocks other players, and this is where you need to be careful. With a maximum of three Newcastle players allowed, having him in your side means you can’t, for instance, have more than two of Kieran Trippier, Anthony Gordon and Alexander Isak – or, indeed, Jamaal Lascelles, who has been excellent of late, or Sven Botman, who was superb before his injury and may well take Lascelles’ place back. So the questions is not just whether Dúbravka is better than a different goalkeeper, but also whether he will really earn more points for you than any of those players.
Plenty of teams won’t be able to afford each of Trippier, Gordon and Isak without a wildcard, of course, which means that there will absolutely be some teams for whom Newcastle’s second-choice goalie is a good inclusion – especially because right now, we’re a little wary of both Lascelles and Botman given that we don’t have a definite return date for the Dutchman and we can’t be sure if he’ll get his spot in the starting XI back right away. We’re happy having Lascelles for now, but we’d consider how to move him on before too long.
As for Trippier, he seems like an essential player to have. He simply racks up too many goal contributions from the back to ignore and his price, although high, isn’t unsustainable. We’d keep him at practically all costs, especially given that Tino Livramento has yet to meaningfully threaten his gametime. The only player he arguably blocks is Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is also excellent but a whole lot pricier.
Moving up to midfield, Gordon has been one of the best budget players of the season and only four midfielders have outscored him - but will that change once Harvey Barnes is back? The former Leicester City man is edging closer to a return as well, and his presence will likely limit Gordon’s minutes. Right now, Gordon is perhaps the single best Newcastle asset available thanks to his price tag, which means he doesn’t really block anyone at all but actually opens space up for more expensive midfielders. We’d hang on until it’s clear that he’s back to being a rotation piece, at which point we’d move across to Hwang Hee-Chan or Cole Palmer. Not having him right now, though, is simply foolish.
The leaves us with Alexander Isak, who has been on fantastic form and is almost as productive per game as Erling Haaland. The only reason not to have him is simply that he isn’t the only striker at a broadly similar price point who is hauling on a regular basis – Ollie Watkins is doing the job, and assuming you aren’t making the mistake of going no-Haaland, you can’t likely afford Watkins and Isak as well. That makes Isak just that bit less indispensable, and that doesn’t seem likely to change much, especially given that he will share minutes with Callum Wilson when both are fit.
So our conclusion? Right now, any team worth its salt should have Trippier and Gordon. The query is over the third slot – if you have Watkins, there’s no pressing need for Isak, but he’s still a great player to have on current form, and Newcastle do have some very winnable games in December. Every team should have triple Newcastle right now, and for most teams the best combination in terms of building around would be Trippier and Gordon plus either Dúbravka or Isak, depending on your set-up. The key is to remember not just to think about how many points and individual player will get you, but who you miss out on by including them, and whether they’re simply a better player to have.
Hopefully that helps to clear questions up for players who are interested in triple Arsenal, for instance, or who want to be on triple Spurs once their injury crisis is resolved. Always plan ahead and see not just who the player you want to buy is up against, but whether the alternative might be just as good.
Injury worries and captaincy picks
We’ll keep or usual ‘news’ section fairly brief, partly because Newcastle and Spurs still haven’t played and that seems to all but guarantee fresh injuries – and potentially ones which could immediately invalidate all of the advice we just offered up. Such is life in the FPL.
Heading into next weekend it’s worth being aware that Jérémy Doku is currently a doubt to face Luton Town, which may explain why his price has just dropped slightly, Bryan Mbeumo has picked up a twisted ankle and may not be able to play against Sheffield United, and Luton’s Issa Kaboré, a popular bench-riding option, won’t play Manchester City because they’re his parent club. Not that many people were going to start Kaboré against City anyway, of course.
In terms of upcoming price changes, we’d keep an eye on Cole Palmer, who seems to be heading for another £0.1m price rise after bagging against Manchester United, as do Vitalii Mykolenko, João Pedro, Mohammed Kudus and the aforementioned Gordon. Dúbravka, Dominic Solanke and Scott McTominay are outside bets to rise by the weekend, and Trippier is slowly trending towards a jump too – all players you might want to move on before Saturday morning.
It's been tough to predict who’s dropping down a price point recently, with a lot of players teetering on the brink for an age without tumbling, but Alisson, Jarrod Bowen, Axel Disasi and Cody Gakpo seem the most at risk, although we’ve been saying that about Gakpo for over a week now. Still, if you have him and want to bin him, don’t hesitate too much.
As for your captain’s chip this week – well, it’s really hard to look past Haaland away to Luton, even if Kenilworth Road hasn’t been the easiest place to go and City’s form hasn’t exactly been at its best. He’ll certainly be the most popular choice by a country mile, so we’d recommend picking him if you’re in a good position in your work leagues.
If you do need a differential – it’s a bit early for that, but it’s not the worst shout if you’re really struggling – we don’t mind going for Mohamed Salah against Palace, but it gets pretty hard to make a case for anyone else given that the more usual deputies like Son Heung-Min and Bukayo Saka have trickier fixtures than average. This is a week to play it safe, we’d say.
3 Added Minutes FC
Finally, a rare mid-gameweek update from our example team, which went into GW15 firmly ensconced in the global Top 1,000 – a status which may well slip away, however, after a pretty rough start to the week, although at least it’s a low scorer so far.
If you recall, we essentially ignored our own advice and moved to double Arsenal defenders and have learned the hard way that we probably should have listen to ourselves, although we should admit that our reasoning didn’t include shipping three goals to Luton. Kostas Tsimikas failing to get off the bench also won’t help, as we have a big fat zero coming in from Yoane Wissa, who has been stinking our team out for a while now. We still plan on a GW17 wildcard, so at least the Brentford man won’t be hanging around for much longer. Hopefully Son, Gordon, Trippier and bench rider Alphonse Areola (dodged a bullet there!) make up for the slow start and keep our lofty status intact.
For next week, we’ll certainly make one transfer to avoid wasting one when we wildcard, and barring injury we may well just get rid of one of our Arsenal defenders – although we might consider Doku if he does look likely to play, just to maximise our potential returns from City’s trip to Kenilworth Road.
That’s all for today – best of luck in Gameweek 16 and may all your Newcastle players turn out to be precisely the right choices.