FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT: Maximum Man City assets are a MUST now

FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT: Back-to-back double gameweeks for Man City make maximum assets a MUST HAVE so it’s time to use the wildcard (and look to Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a captain to make a difference!)

  • The condensed Premier League fixture list has thrown up a double gameweek
  • Manchester City also have two matches that fall inside the following round
  • Maximum City assets, even with Pep Guardiola’s rotation policy, is a must now
  • There are lots of strong options for captain but look at Dominic Calvert-Lewin
  • Everton have their groove back and boast two very favourable fixtures this week 

Who knew a Jack Grealish injury would cause so much drama in the world of Fantasy Football?

After it emerged a number of Villa’s players had taken a soon-to-be revealed injured Grealish out of their FPL teams prior to the deadline, leaking to Leicester prior to their trip to Villa Park, Dean Smith’s moved to ban players from playing Fantasy Football as a result. 

It is widely known that many players like to dabble with Fantasy Premier League teams and inter-squad mini-leagues but given it is not possible for users to make their accounts private, anyone who knows where to look can see their activity. 

Aston Villa’s players saw a Fantasy Football ban put in place after news of Jack Grealish’s injury was leaked on the platform days before they played Leicester – a match they went on to lose

It was a famous week for Everton as they ended their Anfield hoodoo to win away to Liverpool

And so Villa’s stars will have to get used to life without FPL – for the rest of us the season goes on.

Patrick Bamford gave more than two million of us a scare but did net in the 3-0 win against Southampton to redeem himself with so many trusting him as their captain.

Raphinha proved a smart transfer but Timo Werner appeared much more ill-advised and rash, as he failed to deliver any return away to Southampton. Just got to dust ourselves down and go again.

As always, in this column I’ll be breaking down what we learned from the latest round of games, how best to utilise the free transfer for our squads and the differentials that can make the biggest difference week-to-week. 

Biggest takeaways from GW25

Moyes 2 Men is a better band name than Backstreet Moyes for Jesse Lingard’s new band at West Ham.

The on-loan midfielder went viral for his team celebration after scoring the winner against Tottenham as he took the clarinet, Declan Rice assumed responsibility on the drums and Pablo Fornals was on guitar duty. 

Manager David Moyes will just hope his side continue to sing from the same hymn sheet in pursuit of a top four spot with an incredibly tricky run ahead, begging the question of how long to stick with multiple West Ham assets?  

Jesse Lingard (centre) produced the best celebration of the week with his own Hammers band

Not only are the Hammers one of the few sides without a double gameweek in GW26, they also take on Man City, Leeds, Man United and Arsenal in their next four. 

They have proven they are the real deal by sweeping Tottenham aside but nonetheless, there is a growing sense that the value of West Ham’s assets could well deteriorate fast if the next four games go awry. 

Another side riding a wave right now is Crystal Palace after they left it VERY late to steal victory against rivals Brighton.

The 95th minute flashed across the scoreboard at the AMEX Stadium and there was Palace striker Christian Benteke to rifle in the winner.

Brighton have won plenty of plaudits for their style, dominating matches but it all comes without many points to show for it. They need to start winning or risk being cut adrift.  

Christian Benteke broke Brighton’s hearts in stoppage time to win the derby for Crystal Palace

Elsewhere, Takumi Minamino became the first opposition player to score past Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in Southampton’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s. 

Having recommended Antonio Rudiger there was a tinge of disappointment but Chelsea still remain an elite defensive team under the ex-PSG boss, often refusing to give up shots on target never mind goals. 

But Werner did disappoint – again – and with Man United, Liverpool and Everton in the next three, there will be no freebies to improve the striker’s non-existent confidence. 

It’s a peculiar one but maybe next season he returns to the form that he showed with such regularity in Leipzig. The acclimatisation process in England has caught out many more players than just Werner. 

And then there was Bruno Fernandes, again rewarding his millions of owners who trusted him with the armband with his 12-point return at home to Newcastle.

What a season he’s having.  

Takumi Minamino became the first opposition player to score against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea

Best use of free transfer this week

Harvey Barnes (Leicester) – £6.9m 

To be totally upfront – I am a big believer in using the Wildcard this week and while the priority needs to be on maxing out Manchester City assets, Barnes was one of my changes and he has been on my radar for a number of weeks. 

An injury to James Maddison, Leicester’s favourable next four games as well as their Europa League elimination providing plenty for them to prove, Barnes feels a great pick-up heading into GW26.    

Many are clearly on a similar wavelength with more than 540,000 bringing the Leicester winger in. Form is on his side, too.

Barnes has produced a goal and an assist in each of his last two games, totalling 25 points and games against Arsenal and Burnley should offer plenty of moments to impress with goals or assists.

The Gunners are far from secure at the back and will give up chances in what could be a high-scoring game while Burnley are not hitting the heights of recent seasons. 

Brighton and then Sheffield United are the games that follow this week’s double-header and if Leicester are to bolster their top four bid it is in this next four. Losing out in the Europa League to Slavia Prague will sting but it may prove a blessing in disguise – particularly for FPL owners. 

Harvey Barnes has been picked up by more than 540,000 Fantasy Football managers this week

The injury to James Maddison has seen Barnes’ importance in the side become even greater


Saturday February 27  

Man City v West Ham

West Brom v Brighton

Leeds v Aston Villa

Newcastle v Wolves 

Sunday February 28 

Crystal Palace v Fulham  

Leicester v Arsenal

Tottenham v Burnley 

Chelsea v Man United 

Sheffield United v Liverpool

Monday March 1

Everton v Southampton  

Tuesday March 2

Man City v Wolves  

Wednesday March 3

Burnley v Leicester

Sheffield United v Aston Villa

Crystal Palace v Man United 

Thursday March 4

Fulham v Tottenham

West Brom v Everton

Liverpool v Chelsea 

Three differentials that caught my eye

Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) – £6.5m [Selected by 25.2%]

Two goals in his last four games is hardly knocking the door down to be brought in but Watkins is value heading into GW26.

Despite keeping a shutout against Southampton last time out, Leeds are generally pretty accommodating when it comes to opponent’s strikers and clean sheets are not all that common as part of. Marcelo Bielsa-ball. 

Watkins has two games this week where he will expect to have multiple chances to end his two-game goal drought with Sheffield United the second game of the week. 

Grealish’s ongoing injury situation is not ideal but defeat to Leicester needs rectifying and expect Villa to come out with a point to prove at Elland Road.  

James Rodriguez (Everton) – £7.7m [Selected by 10%]

A mixture of Everton’s fixtures and the fact he seems to have his mojo back is why Rodriguez gets the nod here. 

He was incredibly popular on FPL to start the season but injuries and a subsequent drop off in point returns saw it quickly fall to the 10 per cent mark. 

Chelsea, on paper, looks the only tricky game in their next six and if Everton are going to make a late push for a spot in Europe, now is the time for Rodriguez to discover his early season form. 

His assist at Anfield was only his fourth this season with the other three coming in the first five games of the season.

Momentum is clearly a big part of Rodriguez’s game and now looks to be the time where his wave starts to peak once again – beware Southampton and West Brom.  

Lucas Moura (Tottenham) – £6.6m [Selected by 1.1%]

There was plenty for Jose Mourinho to scowl at as his side were beaten by West Ham last time out in the league but Lucas Moura’s performance was not among them.

The Brazilian did brilliantly to head in Gareth Bale’s corner to kickstart a fightback and while the Welshman also impressed, seeing a spike in his FPL ownership, Moura has deserved the chance to face Burnley from the start on Sunday. 

He did not make any attacking returns until GW23 but appears to have found a way to be effective and co-exist with Son and Kane in this interchangeable attack.  

Tottenham’s bid for Europe has stalled but winnable games against Burnley and Fulham can quickly flood some much-needed positivity through the ranks.

A start against Burnley will say plenty about where Moura is in Mourinho’s thoughts right now with Bale improving. 

Such a low ownership makes him fascinating heading towards the business end of the season.  

Ollie Watkins (left) and James Rodriguez (right) both boast promising fixtures in GW26

Lucas Moura stood out in defeat to West Ham and has deserved another start this weekend

Captaincy advice

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – £7.7m

Now, Fernandes is and always will be a popular captaincy pick, especially away from home but if you have a gap to close like me, it’s time to roll the dice with the armband.

There’s a lot to like about Calvert-Lewin with a double header against Southampton, who have conceded a joint-second worst 43 goals, and West Brom, who have shipped a league high 55 goals.

Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he is fit to start and off the back of Everton’s win at Anfield against Liverpool, in which Calvert-Lewin won the penalty, he’s an attractive differential captaincy for those not trusting Tottenham’s dream team of Kane and Son to deliver. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a nuisance against Liverpool and is one to watch for gameweek 26

It is also worth considering that Calvert-Lewin’s tally stands at 25 points in his last three games and when he has been selected, he’s been involved in a team-leading 58 per cent of Everton’s goals this season.

A mixture of his impact, Everton’s revival after that Anfield win and the teams they are up against in this gameweek make the England striker very interesting indeed.

Particularly the second game against West Brom.

Sam Allardyce’s side have kept just one clean sheet in 11 games under him and his expected great escape is fast becoming a rubbish entrapment. 

Calvert-Lewin is fit and now it’s time to fire again. 

Fernandes, Kane and Son will sweep the majority of armbands for GW26 but it is Calvert-Lewin where the real value could be hiding. 

He won a penalty at Anfield and the Everton ace could deliver handsomely in upcoming games

Team of the Week  

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