Welcome to the AM's Players To Watch for Gameweek 9 of the 2019/2020 Premier League season. As long-time readers of my columns will know, the advice in seasons' gone by had revolved around games that would allow you to make unlimited transfers each gameweek, selecting an entirely new 11 players if you so wished. Unfortunately Yahoo Fantasy Premier League is a glorious but distant memory, as is Togga's Perfect XI game which inspired my previous Rotoworld column.
Starting in August 2018 I made a point of mixing things up by generalising the player recommendations given each week. So now, whether you're playing Official FPL, FPL/Fantrax Draft, Fantrax Salary Cap, Sky Sports, The Sun, The Telegraph or any number of other the fantasy games available to fans each season, I'll now be offering my top picks for the week ahead, mixing "must-haves" with hunch picks and players flying under the radar. Hopefully this will offer something for everyone, whether you're considering captain options, looking to make a transfer or picking up a free agent in draft.
It's good to be back after the two week break for internationals, so let's not waste any time and get straight in to the fixtures for Gameweek 9 ...
Saturday 19 October 2019
Everton v West Ham
Aston Villa v Brighton
Bournemouth v Norwich
Chelsea v Newcastle
Leicester v Burnley
Spurs v Watford
Wolves v Southampton
Crystal Palace v Man City
Sunday 20 October 2019
Man Utd v Liverpool
Monday 21 October 2019
Sheffield Utd v Arsenal
Gameweek 9 brings us another regulation 11:30am BST (British Summer Time) Saturday FPL deadline as Everton host West Ham in the early kick off. As always our main focus will be on players from the teams that look set for comfortable wins, with goals and potential clean sheet points on the cards. This hasn't always worked so far this season due to some unexpected unpredictability, but it's still the way to go in the long term and we should reap the benefits over the course of the campaign.
Chelsea hosting Newcastle look to be the pick of the bunch closely followed by Leicester at home to Burnley and possibly Tottenham at home to Watford, although concerns remain over Spurs players' mentality. Bournemouth are worth a look as leaky Norwich visit the south coast and I fancy Wolves to overcome Southampton at Molineux. While we shouldn't ignore Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, their away fixtures don't stand out for me this weekend and so their players don't feature below.
With that in mind, here are the guys to keep in your thoughts ahead of Gameweek 9 .....
Mason Mount (MF - Chelsea v Newcastle) - What a season it's been for young Mason Mount so far. The 20-year old showed his promise on loan with Frank Lampard at Derby last season and has picked up where he left off in his first three months in the Premier League, bagging four goals, an assist and making his international debut for England. When the season began the media predicted Ross Barkley would be the most advanced midfielder for the Blues but Mount's performances in that position means he is undroppable and a cracking home fixture against Newcastle in Gameweek 9 makes him difficult to ignore, especially with a price-tag sitting south of £7million.
Callum Wilson (FW - Bournemouth v Norwich) - You have to feel for Norwich. Manager Daniel Farke has an entire starting XI out injured, with his defensive unit in tatters, and his patched up squad is starting to show the strain. No side has conceded more goals in the Premier League this season (21 in eight games) and no side is conceding more chances. It's probably not a good time for them to be travelling down to Bournemouth to face one of the country's most in-form strikers. Callum Wilson has five goals in his past six league appearances and will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing the fragile Canaries in front of the Cherries' boisterous home fans.
Lucas Digne (DF - Everton v West Ham) - Back in August many of us were making the case for Lucas Digne to be considered up alongside the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson as a premium defensive option. And it started so well, as Everton's left-back picked up two assists and two clean sheets in the opening four gameweeks to sit at the top of the FPL points chart. It's been a steep decline since then for both Digne and the Toffees with a return of just four fantasy points across four consecutive defeats as the bandwagon has come to a screeching halt. But the underlying stats show the Frenchman is still creating chances (16 - second only to TAA) and a home clash with the Hammers presents a chance for both player and club to get things back on track.
James Maddison or Jamie Vardy (MF / FW - Leicester v Burnley) - You could toss a coin to decide between Leicester's two most important attackers for the home clash with Burnley and wouldn’t go far wrong. Jamie Vardy has a better points per game return thus far (5.8) and takes on penalty duty, but James Maddison is the Foxes' set piece maestro, has been returning a respectable 4.8 points per game and costs £1.8million less than his teammate. This tips the scales slightly in the midfielder's favour and is further enhanced by the fact Sean Dyche's Clarets commit on average 12 fouls per game, more than most sides in the Premier League. More fouls = more free-kicks = more opportunities for Maddison to deliver his trademark deadballs
Adama Traoré (MF - Wolves v Southampton) - This could be seen as points-chasing after Adama Traoré put in an unlikely match-winning performance at the Etihad in Gameweek 8, but there are plenty of valid reasons to add him to your watch list. Firstly, the Wolves man is priced at just £5million in FPL which puts him firmly in the affordable 5th midfielder category. Traore has been playing out of position, listed as a midfielder but essentially playing as a wide forward in support of Raúl Jiménez for the past four Premier League matches, bagging two goals, an assist and all three FPL bonus points on two occasions. Too add to that, Wolves' upcoming fixtures are attractive, starting with Southampton at home on Saturday and so while Traore has flattered to deceive in the past, he's worth a short-term punt on current form.
Captain Choice: Tammy Abraham (FW - Chelsea v Newcastle) - Hands up, who saw this one coming? Certainly not me! Lampard's decision to give every member of the Chelsea squad a clean slate when he joined the club has started to pay dividends, with fringe players given renewed motivation and hope that they could have a future and wouldn't simply be farmed out on loan. Tammy Abraham is personifying the benefits of this new approach and is repaying his manager in a big way - leading the line perfectly with superb hold up play, intelligent movement and top class finishing. Eight goals in seven starts could easily become double figures this weekend as Newcastle visit Stamford Bridge and so he's currently taking the armband for my own FPL side.
* It's worth noting that if I owned Harry Kane he'd be very high up my list of captaincy considerations for Tottenham's home clash with Watford, but Abraham would remain #1 choice.
That's it for Gameweek 9's Players to Watch. Check out the Rotoworld Features page to access a host of fantastic content to get you ready for the weekend. If you have any questions about a specific player or your own fantasy team then feel free to post them in the comments below or hit me on Twitter (@nikarg) and I will get back to you.
Thanks for reading - good luck to all managers this weekend and for the rest of the season.