Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 15: Injuries, bans open door for plenty

John Wallin
Thursday December 8th, 2016

The following Fantasy Premier League advice is tailored toward players of Togga's Perfect XI. It's a weekly game in which every Premier League player is eligible to be selected into a 4-4-2 formation. There is no salary cap, no squad restrictions and you pick a fresh XI every week.

Big names have started to fall as the season wears on. Be it injury (Diego Costa, Philippe Coutinho, Dusan Tadic) or suspension (Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Wayne Rooney), many teams are missing their biggest stars. All the real-life drama opens the door for big fantasy performances from unexpected players, though, and this week's Perfect XI will have a handful of names who have not appeared before but should shine in Gameweek 15.

Selecting the Perfect XI each week isn't an easy task and even the best-laid plans can use a Plan B, so we've provided alternatives for each position. Those designated (d) are differentials–players we expect will be owned by fewer than 5% of FPL managers this weekend.

Goalkeeper

Thibaut Courtois (vs. West Brom)

Key Stats: Courtois' only appearance in the Perfect XI this season occurred in Gameweek 9 when Chelsea hosted Manchester United. The Red Devils managed five shots on target and Courtois saved all five in an exceptional clean-sheet effort. While Manchester United (5.5) has averaged two more shots on target per game this season than West Brom (3.5), the Baggies have found form in the four matches since their loss to Manchester City. Salomon Rondon and company should test Courtois a few times Sunday.

Plan B: Jordan Pickford (at Swansea City); Petr Cech (vs. Stoke City); Maarten Stekelenburg (d; at Watford)

Petr Cech is perhaps the finest goalkeeper in EPL history. His clean sheet record is unmatched, and his decade of service for Arsenal and Chelsea has produced many memorable saves, but this season those haven't linked-up. In his four clean sheets, he's posted one, two, one and four saves, with the four unexpectedly coming against Middlesbrough (2.57 shots on target per match) at home. He's a fine play home against the Potters, but he may not be pressed into service enough to post a big fantasy score.

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Defenders

Marcos Alonso (vs. West Brom); Leighton Baines (d; at Watford);  Danny Rose (d; at Manchester United); Laurent Koscielny (vs. Stoke City)

Key Stats: Leighton Baines is back on penalties this season, and he's back to scoring them after having missed his chance against Stoke in Gameweek 3. The England international is no stranger to scoring from set pieces and could get several opportunities against Watford.

Plan B: Cedric Soares (d; vs. Middlesbrough); David Luiz (d; vs. West Brom); Shkodran Mustafi (d; vs. Stoke City); Steve Cook (d; at Burnley)

Always the bridesmaid to Alonso's bride this season, Chelsea's bountifully quaffed Brazilian David Luiz is without a goal or an assist year and hasn't created a chance in four weeks. But he's a possible differential play with a chance to post double-digit fantasy points–a feat he's accomplished in five of his 10 starts this term. An uninspiring selection, perhaps, but this is about winning. Hate his hair? Go with Mustafi, who's averaging 10.86 points per match.

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Midfielders

Wilfried Zaha (at Hull City); Sofiane Boufal (d; vs. Middlesbrough); Eden Hazard (vs. West Brom); Gylfi Sigurdsson (vs. Sunderland)

Key Stats: Boufal posted 10 successful take-ons in Gameweek 14. That was the most of any player last weekend, the single best return of his season, and a calling card for Fantasy Premier League success. Boufal may get a chance to duel with Adama Traore (12 successful take-ons in Gameweek 12) this weekend, with FPL managers and ball-watching neutrals the biggest beneficiaries.

Plan B: Willian (d; vs. West Brom); Mesut Ozil (vs. Stoke City); Kevin De Bruyne (at Leicester City); Jason Puncheon (d; at Hull City)

Willian made an impact coming off the bench against Manchester City to play 41 minutes and score. The time on the field was the most for him in the league since Gameweek 7. In the opening seven fixtures he was ever-present in Antonio Conte's side, but he wasn't part of the team, which went a remarkable six matches without conceding, tallying a paltry 114 minutes in the six games combined. If he's in Conte's XI, he's a value play and provides extra value in a Chelsea stack with Alonso, Luiz, Eden Hazard and whichever forward is named to start.

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Forwards

Christian Benteke (at Hull City); Alexis Sanchez (vs. Stoke City)

Key Stats: Benteke has bossed the Eagles' last two matches, hitting for a brace against Southampton and firing in a goal and an assist in the 5-4 loss at Swansea City the week before. Hull City last kept a clean sheet on Oct. 22 and has conceded a league-high six penalties this term. Likely on penalty duty, Benteke will be a popular choice this weekend, and rightly so: he's scored seven goals. That's more than Theo Walcott and Charlie Austin (six) and Roberto Firmino (five). Alexis, meanwhile, is arguably in the best form of any player, and you'd be wise to ride the wave.

Plan B: Kelechi Iheanacho (at Leicester City); (Michy Batshuayi (d; vs. West Brom); Jermain Defoe (d; at Swansea City); Romelu Lukaku (at Watford)

Manchester City (Aguero, suspension) and Chelsea (Costa, muscle tightness) may both turn to their second-string forwards this weekend. With Kun suspended, Iheanacho is more likely to start against the floundering Foxes. But with Chelsea set for the early match Sunday, Fantasy Premier League managers who play on Togga will have the benefit of seeing if Batshuayi starts. If he's in Conte's XI, start him. If he's not, swap him for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Harry Kane, Austin, Firmino or Alvaro Negredo; all of those players are scheduled to kick off after Chelsea.

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