Setting your Premier League fantasy lineup won't exactly be easy this week. While the marquee matchup between Liverpool and Manchester United might scare some off of their players, their defenses don't look bulletproof. The same can be said for the big Tottenham Hotspur - Newcastle United match. Arsenal have a tricky one against Sunderland, while Chelsea and Manchester City players could be good bets.
Unfortunately, everyone needs more than just marquee players from big teams. Filling out your roster is the real challenge, and there are no obvious mid-table picks this week. The schedule has made it rough on the quality roster fillers, as Neal Thurman at Never Manage Alone explains.
Sadly, there isn't even a great match-up featuring a strong mid-table team playing at home against a real bottom-feeder. Bolton and Wigan are facing off against each other while Rovers and Wolves are at home against modest opposition in the form of underwhelming-despite-the-reinforcements QPR and West Brom respectively.
Perhaps the most interesting match of the weekend for me will be the mid-table clash between newly-promoted surprise packages Swansea and Norwich which will be fascinating for those neutrals like me who have been captivated by both teams' ability to thrive despite a lack of big name acquisitions last summer or even in January. The excitement aside, this match doesn't involve a clear mismatch so it doesn't really inspire investment over-and-above the norm.
They still have plenty of player picks for you, both in the way of stars and affordable mid-table guys. Two of their picks are value strikers -- Swansea's Scott Sinclair and Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who doesn't have the hefty price tag that he had pre-suspension.
Scott Sinclair - I like both Sinclair and Danny Graham against Norwich but Sinclair is the better value at 10.54 (vs. 12.46 for Graham). The combination of Norwich giving up goals even when it collects points and Swansea's home dominance give me some modicum of hope for the Swans in this match-up.
Luis Suarez - His price has dropped during his absence and then the punchless return so far. My sense is that he's had enough time that he should be returning to sharpness and it isn't like United shut down Chelsea in last weekend's big match up.
NMA also has a rundown of all of the important injuries, suspensions and international absences for this week in the Premier League. Among the absent are the injured Rafael Van der Vaart, the suspended Yohan Cabaye and all of the Cote D'Ivoire internationals playing in the Africa Cup of Nations final. That includes Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho, among others.
For more on fantasy soccer, head over to fantasy blog Never Manage Alone.