Greetings, and welcome back for another round of FPL captaincy debate, the most important decision of your gameweek.
Week 36, the penultimate gameweek of the 2021/2022 season, is officially in the books. Big results, bigger scores…points are flying thicker and faster than a locust swarm. Surely, your humble writer is ready to gush about the fifteen players he had playing twice and report with unabashed gLee about the significant rise in the rank he experienced…right? right?
After all was said and done, a teeny-tiny green arrow for yours truly. According to the “Live Rank” website, I scored just three measly points more than the “safety score”, the minimum amount of points to hold whatever rank one enters a given round with. Now, don’t get me wrong, a green arrow is a green arrow, and I have moved up from the 70ks to the 60ks, my highest position all season, but, when you play a bench boost in a double gameweek with 30 potential fixtures to profit from, a three point gain in the ranks simply does not cut the mustard.
Of course…we know WHY my week went the way it did…
captaincy. You may have heard about it. It is this aspect of one’s weekly fantasy game that carries just a bit of importance. A wise man once said that it is the most important decision of every gameweek. Could he be embellishing a bit?
You tell me. Week 36 had some huge swings in the ranks. Those who had a chip to use likely benefited greatly. Some may have had 30 fixtures to collect points from, some perhaps only 20 or thereabouts. But nothing factored into the success or failure of one’ gameweek more than the armband. Mainly, did you captain Mo Salah, like the majority of folks did, or did you find the courage to back someone else?
Depending on your answer should directly correlate with how your mood is heading into the next to last weekend of the season. If you captained Salah, like I did, you likely did not make up much ground in the rankings. In fact, there has to be a red arrow for every green arrow. I might be in the minority of Salah captains who saw green. It was likely red for many others. However, if you backed just about anyone else who was worth talking about, then odds are you saw a healthy green arrow.
If you read my column last week, you might remember in my small set of elite captaincy options, I listed one player that scared me because he was not in my side and I had no way to get him in without spending points. Boy, I wish I spent those points. That’s right, I was scared of Kevin De Bruyne and Week 36 reinforced a notion I already firmly believed – just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an actual threat.
Four goals. Not a brace. Not a goal and an assist. Not a brace and an assist. Not a hat trick of assists. Not a hat trick of goals and an assist. FOUR GOALS.
I mean, there you have it. There is the biggest moment of the season, and perhaps one of the biggest in FPL history. If you want to point to a reason, after all is said and done, as to why you finished so high or so low in the rankings, odds are, who you had captained in Week 36 will provide the evidence. It hurt not having a captained KDB. It hurt not having KDB at all. But it just hurt too much to then back Salah and his 3-point return, especially when I was so convinced about backing Joao Cancelo instead, but bottled it minutes before the deadline. I knew I already had KDB-FOMO, I could not risk further FOMO with an uncaptained Salah. Goodness me, I am so happy the round ended with a Spurs derby win with goals from Harry Kane and Heung Min Son. That helped turn a red arrow green and gave me something to celebrate in reality.
Right, I have one more chip to use and it is already activated, so fingers crossed I can get one more crack at a significant rank up. Season is winding down fast. Games start this Sunday and end next Sunday. Let’s take a look at the final double gameweek of the season, then, in this Week 37 edition of Captain Obvious…
Right, so with it being the last double gameweek of the season, I feel more compelled than usual to nail a double gameweek captain, if possible. But honestly, when you look at the players who go twice, they are all a tier below our typical armband candidates who are all playing once. So, when you weigh a double gameweek option with some single gameweekers, there really isn’t too much of a gap, so we will be looking at a couple from both camps among our elite choices, starting with the more exciting double gameweek candidates. Just so it is out there, the clubs playing twice this week are – Aston Villa, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton and Leicester City – five clubs currently sitting between 10th and 17th in the table. These are not the elite clubs, so elite players are hard to come by.
For me, I am looking for three things in a double gameweek captain this round: a club that has two attractive fixtures, a player who can be trusted to start both (no injury concerns or rotation worries), and that player has had a track record of fantasy relevance in the past. I see two or three players that fit those criteria and the first one I want to talk about is Wilfried Zaha.
Zaha has, somewhat quietly, scored seven goals in his last ten games. This includes a goal in a 26-minute shift off the bench in Week 35. He followed that up with a double-digit haul against Watford this past weekend. The form is there. When I am looking for a captain that depends heavily on goals (sparse assists, only one clean sheet point possible), I am looking for “brace or better” potential. There are a lot of consistent players who will contribute over the course of the season, and any attacking player is capable of a brace or better in a career-defining display, but there are only so many players, particularly in midfield, where you can nab a player who has a legit chance of scoring twice. Zaha is that kind of player. He has one brace already this season.
The Eagles do have to play both of their games on the road, and one will be against an Everton side, who, by midweek next week when they square off, may have way more to play for and making things difficult for Palace, but I am not concerned. In fact, the Eagles score pretty well on the road. They have scored two goals or more away from home many times this season, including against the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, West Ham and Wolves. Zaha is also the penalty taker for Palace, which is always appreciated when looking for a captain.
Speaking of Everton. Hey, the Toffees just might survive and avoid relegation after all! With a couple of wins and a draw in their last four games, Everton are walking the relegation tightrope but now have a game in hand, a two point cushion and a massive goal difference in their favor over Leeds, the only club that can knock the Toffees out.
Things change fast in this league. Seems like only a few days ago that when looking at Everton, I could not imagine backing any of their players for captaincy due to their inconsistent, and sometimes downright poor, play. But, not only is their form swinging in the right direction, both of their games in this double are at home and the Toffees are much, much better at home than away this season. In fact, there is a bigger discrepancy between their home and away form than there is with any other team in the league. So, solid recent form, games at home, and of course, much to play for. To me, that is the recipe for creating a captain, and for me, at least if you are looking at the traditional attack-minded player to wear the armband, then richarlison is your choice.
To no surprise richarlison‘s production this season has been pretty erratic. He had long periods of time where he did little to absolutely nothing, which was a running theme for all of Frank Lampard‘sweapons. However, there has been a more consistent output from the Brazilian international in recent weeks, delivering returns in two of his last three and five of his last eight games. He hasn’t exactly been explosive. He has had only one double-digit return since opening day and that came in the second game of a double gameweek against Burnley, which is when the “five returns in eight” started.
But richarlison‘s inconsistency could be contributed to a couple of factors that are no longer affecting him. For one, as last season showed proof positive, both players benefit when richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are fit. As we have seen this season though, DCL has had a nightmare campaign with lingering injury problems, and it seemed to wear on richarlison‘s ability to be effective. DCL is still not 100%, but he did return from his latest injury with a cameo in Week 36, so he could play a bigger role in Week 37. The other issue is just the atmosphere and mood with the club. It has been a grueling campaign, with Covid interruptions, one of their most polished players, Lucas Dignecut loose in the winter window, while the signing the DID make, Dele Alli and Donny van de Beekhaven’t exactly turned things around.
The Toffees will be hosting Brentford and Crystal Palace this week. Had this round come earlier in the season, I would not only be feeling cautious about backing a Toffee because of the inconsistency, but both the Bees and the Eagles can be tricky defenses to handle. Top tier clubs who are focused do not seem to have too much difficulty with these sides, but they can both be quite stingy if their opponent is not on top of their game. But that’s just it. Based on recent performances and what is at stake and the fact that the home crowd will give them everything they can ask for, I have to believe Everton WILL be focused and be able to score against both of these sides.
That being said, I do think that, because of the fixtures, looking for a captain from Everton should not only be considered with their attacking players. A little more on that later. Oh, one more thing to add…