This is it. Week 38, the final week of the 2013/14 season, the final chance to hit your fantasy target - be it a finish in the top 100, top 10000, winning your private league or just finishing ahead of your annoying mate. I hope the majority of you all have something to play for, no matter how small.
Before I get started, a quick word on the RW PL Final results from Week 37. The gameweek was still in progress as I began writing this column and it may take a few days to allow the points to settle, so my aim is to have the standings calculated and posted next Tuesday. Make sure you check back here on Rotoworld if you're one of the 102 teams still in with a shot of cup glory.
Now, Week 37 will go down as one of the most disappointing double-weeks in fantasy history, with injuries, rotation, difficult captain selections and no clean sheets for Manchester United having a big impact on weekly totals. I'd specifically like to apologise for recommending David De Gea as the "only keeper choice" - advice which hit me as hard as it hit you. AM FC had a bad one, ending on 90 points, dropping down to 647th overall, and with only one week remaining my target of a top 500 finish is drifting off in to the sunset.
But let us forget about Week 37, and instead look forward to the final fixtures of the 2013/14 Premier League season.
Week 38 Fixtures
Cardiff v Chelsea
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Hull v Everton
Liverpool v Newcastle
Man City v West Ham
Norwich v Arsenal
Southampton v Man Utd
Sunderland v Swansea
Tottenham v Aston Villa
West Brom v Stoke
Firstly, it's worth noting that all games kick off at the same time, 3pm BST on Sunday 11th May, which means a 12:00 BST Sunday deadline.
The important teams to focus on in the final week of a season are those with something still to play for, be it the title, European places or relegation avoidance. A team having something to play for doesn't guarantee the players from that teams will perform above and beyond those who don't have anything up for grabs, but it does mean we have a far better idea of potential starting line-ups, as you're likely to see the strongest XI possible out there on the pitch for the vital final game.
So who are these teams? Well, Manchester City and Liverpool can both win the title, so we can be sure that we'll see full strength teams, and they both have very winnable home games against West Ham and Newcastle respectively. The same can be said of Tottenham as they look to secure 6th place and Europa League football with a result against Aston Villa at White Lane.
And sadly, that's it really. Nobody else has anything specific to play for other than league position, and some don't even have that to worry about.
The relegation places are already sewn up, with Norwich doomed to join Cardiff and Fulham due to their hugely inferior goal difference in comparison to West Brom. At the top, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton are guaranteed 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively, while Manchester United's recent line-ups suggest they aren't too bothered about challenging Spurs for 6th, allowing them to avoid the slog of the Europa League and focus on league recovery in 2014/15. Southampton are guaranteed 8th, Crystal Palace can't move from 11th .... you get the idea.
So aside from Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, there isn't too much to get excited about. Chelsea have a great fixture at Cardiff, but nobody knows what sort of team Jose Mourinho will field. Crystal Palace are in form and travel to relegated Fulham, but the Cottagers are capable of pulling out a performance in front of their own fans as they say goodbye to the Premier League. Arsenal at Norwich would normally be worth a look, but Arsene Wenger will be tempted to rest players ahead of the FA Cup final. It's for this reason that Everton are quite interesting, as they visit a Hull side who will understandably have one eye on Wembley. I'd expect resurgent Sunderland to beat Swansea on current form, but Southampton v Manchester United and West Brom v Stoke could go either way.
One final thing to remember, is that this is the last opportunity for individual players to impress international managers before World Cup squads are finalised - English players in particular - so I've taken that in to consideration too.
With that rambling analysis in mind, click over to the next page to view the Week 38 player recommendations.
Joe Hart - Nothing complicated here. Manchester City are going for the title, they face a West Ham side that generally struggle for goals, and Hart isn't overly expensive. He's the top keeper choice and I'll be trying to fit him in my side for the final week.
Simon Mignolet - The three goals conceded at Crystal Palace have brought Mignolet's price down to the £10milllion mark, and that makes him tempting. It's true that Liverpool rarely keep clean sheets, but he's a keeper who makes saves, and Newcastle aren't the most threatening of Anfield visitors.
Hugo Lloris - Spurs host an Aston Villa side missing Christian Benteke and possibly Gabby Agbonlahor, so the home team have a decent chance of a clean sheet which would guarantee Europa League football (a draw is sufficient). Lloris only falls below Mignolet due to his slightly higher price.
Mark Schwarzer - The Chelsea back-up keeper is certain to continue in net due to Petr Cech's shoulder injury and is well priced for the trip to relegated Cardiff. Schwarzer is a solid alternative to the obvious choices above.
Pablo Zabaleta - I made the error of advising you all to pick Martin Demichelis over Zabaleta for the double week based on the fact Zab always gets yellow cards, but he made me look foolish with two excellent performances and 24 points. He's expensive now but the likely clean sheet and the freedom he's being given to attack down the right wing, combined with a guaranteed start (unlike Aleksandar Kolarov) makes him the top defensive pick.
Vincent Kompany - The Captain will lead by example and remains the most affordable Manchester City defender for the match that should seal his side their second Premier League title in three seasons.
Martin Skrtel - The Liverpool defender has scored an extraordinary seven Premier League goals this season, and I have a hunch he will add to that before the season is out with a header against Newcastle. If the funds become available to add him to AM FC's Week 38 starting line-up, I will do so.
Leighton Baines - Is he too expensive? Perhaps, but Baines' recent fantasy returns have been very good, averaging 14 points per match over the past few weeks. The set piece taking, penalty taking left back comes up against a Hull side who are safe from relegation and who have an FA Cup final six days later, meaning they'll likely field a weakened side.
Ashley Cole or Luke Shaw - Following on from Baines, who is assured of a spot in England's World Cup spot, come the two reserve options for left-back. Both Cole and Shaw have been excellent recently, producing all-action displays and double-figure fantasy returns, and we should expect another monumental effort from both men in Week 38 in a final attempt to persuade Roy Hodgson that they should be the man on the plane to Brazil.
Michael Dawson - It's been a wretched season for Tottenham, but they can salvage some pride with a win over Aston Villa. As mentioned earlier, a clean sheet is possible and Dawson is a threat from set pieces, so he's a decent options. Vlad Chiriches, who should replace the suspended Younes Kaboul, is also worth considering and slightly cheaper.
Santiago Vergini - The Sunderland man has been excellent at right-back and put up a staggering 21 points in the double week. Despite this, Vergini's price remains at just £8million and there is a real possibility of another clean sheet at home to Swansea; we just need to check team news on Saturday states that he'll keep his spot ahead of Phil Bardsley.
Phil Jagielka - Another player looking to impress Roy Hodgson in the final game of the season. Jagielka is a near certainty to start the first game at the World Cup alongside Gary Cahill, provided he can show he's fully fit this weekend. Well priced if you fancy Everton to keep out Hull.
Mamadou Sakho - A very cheap way to cover the potential Liverpool clean sheet at home to Newcastle, provided we get confirmations Sakho will definitely start. The three goals conceded at Palace will concern Brendan Rodgers and Daniel Agger is a ready replacement if the boss decides to make a change.
Yaya Toure - Great sides - title winning sides - have leaders, and Manchester City are blessed that they have both Kompany and Yaya Toure driving them to the verge of another huge success. Toure's goal against Aston Villa sums up what a phenomenal season he has had, with 20 goals from midfield, and he's unlikely to let anyone down in the final week. He must be in your team.
Steven Gerrard - If, as expected, Manchester City seal the title on Sunday, you have to feel sorry for Gerrard, whose slip against Chelsea was the catalyst for Liverpool's collapse from odds on favourites to runners-up. Still, the England captain has never been a man to hide and he'll be looking to finish the season strongly.
Samir Nasri - It's clear that David Silva is being nursed through games and at the moment, so Nasri is the preferable option if you want to double-up on City midfielders. The ex-Arsenal man missed a sitter in the first half against Villa but is generally a good finisher and is getting in to good positions, so he should get further chances against West Ham.
Ross Barkley - There are worrying rumours on this side of the pond that the World Cup might come "too soon" for Barkley, which suggests someone in the media has heard Hodgson is planning to leave him out of England's squad. I really hope this isn't true, but the young man can give his chances a huge boost with a big performances against a weakened Hull side.
Christian Eriksen - From the seven signings made by Tottenham with the Gareth Bale money, Eriksen is the only one who can say he's had a successful first season in the Premier League. Seven league goals is a decent return, he's shooting from distance, taking set pieces, and is a good option for the game against Aston Villa as Spurs look to secure 6th.
Raheem Sterling - I'm not sure there's a more exciting winger in Europe right now, It's fascinating to compare Sterling's development with, for example, Aaron Lennon, who has barely improved in the past 8 years. Clearly Liverpool's players are excelling under Brendan Rodger's training methods and man management, and this bodes well for the club and for England. Sterling is terrific value for the game against Newcastle.
Frank Lampard - A few Chelsea fans I know reckons this could be the veteran's final Chelsea appearance, as he turns 36 in June. I'm not so sure of that, but it's definitely vital he puts in a performance at Cardiff this weekend to secure one of the "experienced" places in England's World Cup squad. Jose Mourinho will surely give him that opportunity, and it would be typical of the man to put on a match winning display.
Sebastian Larsson - The set piece specialist has come from bench obscurity to key first team member in the past month, featuring prominently in Sunderland's remarkable escape act. At a price of less than £9million Larsson is an excellent pick for the home game against Swansea.
Jason Puncheon - A key turning point in Palace's season was Puncheon's goal-scoring run at the beginning of April, and the midfielder can count himself unlucky that he missed out on the Eagles player of the year award. He's had a couple of quiet weeks but is on penalty duty, remains a danger from distance, and Fulham are rarely solid in defence.
Adam Lallana - Please Adam, play well this weekend, but don't get injured. England need you on that plane.
Luis Suarez - The experiment of dropping Suarez, hoping for big points from other players in the double week, was not successful. I'm now forced to buy him back for £31million, but he's worth every penny as Liverpool look to end a terrific season in style, with or without title. You could see from the tears at Selhurst Park that this means everything to the striker, and there must be that fear amongst Reds fans that this could be his last game at the club if the Real Madrid rumours turn to reality this summer. Expect a massive points haul from your fantasy captain.
Edin Dzeko - Cometh the hour, cometh the man; although it's not the Manchester City striker we were expecting to stand-up and be counted. Dzeko has scored a hatful of vital goals over the past few weeks in the absence of Sergio Aguero, and he'll be looking to cap off a fine campaign with some more goals on Sunday. Even if Aguero is fit, I'd still be concerned about that groin injury forcing him off early.
Daniel Sturridge - You should all have Suarez as captain, and I wouldn't blame anyone for doubling up with Sturridge given Liverpool's fixture and situation.
Emmanuel Adebayor - It's been a season of two halves for the striker, who spent the first few months injured or training with the reserves, and the last few months scoring a decent number of goals. The game against Aston Villa is likely to be Tim Sherwood's last in charge and Adebayor will want repay the faith shown in him with a goal and a salute for his gaffer.
Robin van Persie - I was able to grab van Persie for £10million before prices went up, and he's still ridiculously affordable for a player of his quality. Wayne Rooney is still out, so Ryan Giggs should give RvP a start at Southampton now that he's shown he's back to fitness, and with penalty duty in his locker he's a steal at £13million.
Romelu Lukaku - The Chelsea man at Everton is in limbo as the season reaches its conclusion, not knowing what the future holds, but whatever happens over the summer Lukaku will want to finish this loan spell with a bang, and Hull won't be close to full strength.
Connor Wickham - Finally added to the Yahoo game ahead of the double week, Wickham played well in both of Sunderland's victories but those performances didn't translate in to fantasy points, with Fabio Borini stealing the show. However, I'm backing the young man to score this weekend at home to Swansea provided he's set to continue leading the line. If not, go with Borini.
Ricky Lambert - Another England hopeful who will be hoping he can seal his seat on the plane with a trademark powerful all-round display against Manchester United. I have a horrible feeling Hodgson will take Andy Carroll regardless, and that would be desperately harsh on Lambert, who has been excellent all season.
Peter Odemwingie - Rejuvenated at Stoke cutting in from the wing, Odemwingie is the wildcard striker pick for people looking to do something different, coming up against his old side West Brom.
So those are the players I'm considering for Week 38. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited Rotoworld PL to read my player picks this season, especially those of you who have got involved in the discussions via the comments section. It's been a great first year on Rotoworld, and we're looking forward to even better things in 2014/15!
My own Week 38 team looks like this:
Starting XI: Hart, Bertrand, Sakho, Kompany, Nasri, Lampard, Sterling, Yaya Toure, van Persie, Dzeko, Suarez (C)
Subs: £1million fillers
The team is being hurt by paying £31million for Luis Suarez, so it's probably the best I can do unless I downgrade Hart. That move would allow me to upgrade the likes of Sakho or Bertrand, so I'll need to decide if those are moves worth making.
Check back here on Saturday for Neal's team and injury news post ahead of Sunday's deadline.
How's your team shaping up for the final week?
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