Welcome to Week 3 of my player picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Premier League game. AM FC continued my solid start to the season with 112 points in Week 2, thanks mainly to a strong performance from the keeper and defence. Thibaut Courtois, Neil Taylor, John Terry and Ryan Bertrand all secured clean sheets, and once again there were good points returned by Cesc Fabregas, Aaron Ramsey and Diego Costa. I'm looking to build on this in Week 3, which is the last weekend of Premier League action for a fortnight due to the frustratingly positioned international break over the weekend of 6th-7th September.
Let's get straight in to the fixtures ...
Week 3 Fixtures
Aston Villa v Hull City
Burnley v Man Utd
Everton v Chelsea
Leicester City v Arsenal
Man City v Stoke
Newcastle v Crystal Palace
QPR v Sunderland
Swansea v West Brom
Tottenham v Liverpool
West Ham v Southampton
The first thing you'll notice is that there are a lot of closely matched fixtures this coming weekend, which always makes things a bit trickier. Saying that, Manchester City have to be big favourites to beat Stoke at home given their performance against Liverpool, combined with the Potters' poor showing at Hull despite playing against ten men for 85 minutes. Mark Hughes is trying to change the way his side play football by introducing the likes of Bojan in to the squad, but it will take some time for things to gel and I would expect City to win this one by a comfortable margin.
Beyond that there isn't really another "stand-out" fixture. Newcastle host a Crystal Palace side going through transistion, with a home win looking the likely outcome, while Swansea will be expected to continue their fine start to the season by recording a third consecutive win by defeating West Brom at the Liberty Stadium. However, neither side are nailed-on to pick up the three points, so approach with caution.
The two biggest matches of the weekend are Everton v Chelsea and Tottenham v Liverpool. The away team in both fixtures will be the marginal favourite to claim victory, but both Everton and Tottenham have shown they can score goals already this season, and Spurs in particular will want to avenge last December's 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool which ultimately led to the demise of Andre Villas-Boas. I'm tipping Chelsea to claim a narrow win at Goodison Park, and for the White Hart Lane match to end in a high-scoring draw, so attacking players will be worth looking at.
There are two matches that look good on paper, but I would advise against investing heavily in Arsenal or Manchester United players for their trips to Leicester and Burnley respectively. While the Premier League giants should win their fixtures against the newly promoted sides, neither has shown particularly good form in the opening two matches of the season, so be careful about putting too many eggs in either basket.
That leaves Aston Villa v Hull, QPR v Sunderland and West Ham v Southampton - would anyone be surprised if all three games ended as low scoring draws? I certainly wouldn't be, but that doesn't mean there won't be value in some of the defensive and attacking players on show.
With all that in mind, click over to the next page to view the Week 3 player recommendations.
Joe Hart -The majority of you will own Thibaut Courtois at around £5million, and you certainly shouldn't be selling him at that price, but that doesn't mean he's a top pick in Week 3 with a tough away game at Everton. That honour goes to Hart is an excellent option for Manchester City's home game against Stoke, provided you can find the £11million required.
Tim Krul - As mentioned in the fixture analysis, Newcastle are at home to a Crystal Palace side struggling to adapt to life after Tony Pulis, and Krul can be picked up for a very reasonable £6million.
Brad Guzan - Aston Villa didn't look remotely exciting going forward last weekend but the defence did look solid and Guzan is a dependable keeper, so he's a decent pick for the home game against Hull at a price of £7.68million.
Rob Green - QPR have had a horrible start to the season and as such we've seen Green's price drop below £2million as the defence have struggled to adapt to Harry Redknapp's 3-5-2 formation. A home game against a Sunderland team who don't score many goals gives the home side a chance to start their recovery, and don't be surprised to see a more solid 4-4-2. One for the risk-takers, but it could pay off.
Eric Dier - When is it too late to jump on a bandwagon? Well, this week is probably the last chance to invest in Dier before his price becomes unaffordable. Top fantasy points scorer in the Yahoo game with 44 in two games, the young defender has proved he can collect points for defending (six tackles won) and attacking (two goals), and Liverpool are known to struggle when defending set pieces.
Daryl Janmaat - One of the few bright spots from the extremely dull 0-0 draw with Villa in Week 3, Janmaat's price has unfortunately shot up as a result but the Dutchman's attacking prowess combined with a potential Newcastle clean sheet against Palace means he could be worth the outlay.
Vincent Kompany - The most affordable Manchester City defender guaranteed to start (until new signing Eliaquim Mangala becomes a regular), Kompany has had a quiet start to the season from a fantasy stand-point but Stoke at home could bring a clean sheet and the captain is a danger in the opponent's box when going up for set-pieces.
Alan Hutton - I'll admit I'd forgotten that Hutton was still at Villa until his name showed up in the line-ups on opening day, but the Scotland defender has already started making up for lost time after rebuilding his relationship with Paul Lambert. He was excellent in the win at Stoke and followed that up with a man-of-the-match performance - and 16 fantasy points - against Newcastle, so should be considered for the home game against Hull.
Aaron Cresswell - West Ham's summer signing remains extremely well priced and the Hammers have a decent home fixture. You can read all about the other reason's Cresswell should be considered for Week 3 in Steve Rothgeb's Bargain Hunter column.
Aly Cissokho - Another Villa defender putting in some impressive displays in the opening two weeks, helping his new side to back-to-back clean sheets. Cissokho is slightly cheaper than Hutton but we'll need to monitor Friday's team news to ensure the left-back has recovered from the knock picked up last weekend.
Neil Taylor - Despite a great haul of points for Swansea in Week 2, Taylor still costs below £5million and he'll start again for the home game against West Brom.
Martin Kelly - Starting on the right-hand side of the Palace defence, Kelly already looks like he'll be a prolific point scorer in the Yahoo fantasy game. The 24-year-old picked up eight fantasy points in Week 2 (despite defeat) thanks to a host of tackles won and passes intercepted, and he can still be added to your fantasy team for less than £2million.
Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal seemed destined for defeat at Everton before Ramsey popped up with yet another vital goal to trigger the fight-back, and the midfielder will be fresh after missing the exhausting Champions League victory in midweek due to suspension. Expect another inspired display against Leicester in a game the Gunners need to win to ensure they don't start dropping behind the early pace-setters.
Yaya Toure - Do not adjust your screens; Yaya has scored two big fat zeroes in a row in the opening two weeks of the season after playing a slightly deeper role in comparison to last season. However, I expect him to get forward more often against Stoke and that usually brings fantasy points.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - An early assist in Week 2 suggested another huge week for Sigurdsson, but a yellow card and a couple of off-target shot meant disappointing fantasy returns. He'll get a chance to put that right at home to West Brom, playing in a free role just behind the main striker.
Raheem Sterling - As a Spurs fan I still have nightmares about Sterling at White Hart Lane last season, when he tore the home side apart in a coming-of-age performance. The 0-5 score-line seems unlikely to be repeared on this occasion, but the winger can still have a big impact up against Danny Rose, who isn't the best when it comes to defending.
Cesc Fabregas - Running the Chelsea midfielder, creating chances, taking set pieces and generally looking pretty darn awesome, Fabregas has been hugely impressive so far and will be looking to continue that excellent form despite an away game at Goodison Park.
Erik Lamela - Daniel Levy will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that his club's £30million investment is finally showing signs that he could settle in the Premier League. Lamela was bright against QPR, dribbling past defenders at pace and creating two goals, but it was his work-rate that caught the eye. The winger won three tackles and intercepted two passes to help boost his Yahoo returns to 15 points and he remains extremely affordable. Grab him now, because his price won't stay this low for much longer.
Dušan Tadic - Southampton's summer signing from FC Twente is already showing signs of promise with a 12 point haul against West Brom in Week 2, containing a smattering of successful crosses and a couple of shots on target. Tadic is classed as a midfielder but had an excellent goal-scoring record in Holland and is lining up as a left-sided forward in Ronald Koeman's current system, so he's well worth a look for the Saints' trip to West Ham.
Joey Barton - Despite QPR's two defeats, Barton has been scoring well in the Yahoo format thanks to his all-action displays in the heart of midfield, combined with set piece duty. A home game against Sunderland gives him the chance to continue his promising form.
Mile Jedinak - Another excellent fantasy display from Jedinak in Week 2 brought him a further 13 points to add to the 13 he picked up in Week 1. Once again it was defensive points that brought the majority of returns, but Palace's captain also picked up an assist for Marouane Chamakh's goal. For now consider Jedinak fixture-proof, as he seems to be able to grab points no matter the opponent or result.
Cheikhou Kouyaté - West Ham boss Sam Allardyce reckons Kouyaté reminds him of Patrick Vieira, and the new man at Upton Park has put in two powerful midfield performances already. He's intercepting passes, winning tackles and has registered an assist and two shots on target in his first two games, suggesting he could prove a very handy fantasy option.
Sergio Aguero - Two substitute appearance have brought two goals and Aguero is looking sharp, so it could be time for Manuel Pellegrini to give him a run-out from the start. He may only get 60 minutes but that would be enough for the Argentinian to do Stoke some serious damage, and remember he'll take back penalty duty from Yaya.
Stevan Jovetic - Displayed his class against Liverpool to back-up the superb performance put in throughout pre-season. In this form Jovetic will be a starter for the foreseeable future and he can be added to your Yahoo team for almost half the cost of Aguero.
Robin van Persie - The return of van Persie is likely to have a negative impact on Wayne Rooney's fantasy returns as the two men share attacking points, but you cannot ignore RvP at £12million when he has a match against Burnley. The Dutchman will also take penalty duty back from Rooney.
Diego Costa - Jose Mourinho sorely lacked a goal-poacher last season, but it's taken just two matches for Costa to show he could be the missing piece of the Chelsea puzzle. He has two "striker's goals" in his first two Premier League performances scoring from pretty much his only opportunities, so it would be a brave man who doesn't hold on to the Spaniard despite a tricky trip to Everton. PLEASE NOTE - there are strong rumours of a Costa hamstring injury filtering through as I'm writing this article. If he's out, could it be time for Didier Drogba?
Emmanuel Adebayor - We all know Adebayor can blow hot or cold, but when he's happy and enjoying his football he remains one of the most complete strikers in the Premier League. An assist, a goal and a couple of shots on target, as well as a whole lot of hard work for his team against QPR, Adebayor was rewarded with 19 points in the Yahoo game, and it could be a prolific season if he remains the focal point of an exciting attacking line-up.
Wilfried Bony - The Swansea frontman wasn't able to grab a goal in Week 2, but three shots on target against Burnley brought decent fantasy returns and he's certainly due one against West Brom if he keeps trying his luck. Once again, it's important to note that Bony is assigned spot-kicks.
Emmanuel Riviere - It's been a slow start to his Newcastle career, but anyone who saw Riviere in Ligue 1 knows the striker possess plenty of quality. He remains a bargain price and could prove an interesting alternative to the obvious big names for the home game against Crystal Palace.
Alexis Sanchez - Withdrawn at half-time against Everton in Week 2, but Sanchez was much improved playing as the main striker in the Champions League victory over Besiktas as he grabbed the goal that took Arsenal through to the group stages. In the absence of the injured Olivier Giroud the Chilean may lead the line again at Leicester and he can be picked up for less than £5million in the Yahoo game.
So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 3 Yahoo team. Here's what I currently have saved on my team page ...
XI: Courtois, Cissokho, Janmaat, Kompany, Fabregas, Lamela, Sigurdsson, Ramsey, Sterling, Costa, Aguero
Subs: Sanchez, Cresswell, Kelly, Gazzaniga
The starting XI is packed with players held at discount making them very difficult to sell at this early stage, and this means I can't include all the guys I'd like to for Week 3. However, one thing to work on is finding some extra funds to bring in a better goalkeeper for my bench to start over Courtois this week. This could mean a downgrade in defence, while Aguero's starting status and Costa's injury status will need to be monitored. Some additional Manchester City attacking representatives would be nice (Toure and / or Jovetic), but squeezing either of them in will be difficult.
How's your Week 3 team looking?