We're at the point in the 2013-14 Premier League season where what were supposedly early flukes may instead become year-long trends.
Paying attention to those trends—both short and long term—are important to a fantasy owner. Every matchday comes with a set of implications. Injuries can crush your squad's hopes. A red-hot player may emerge to make your high-priced disappointment expendable. Terrible players may, in fact, continue being terrible.
What's fun about Premier League fantasy is that it only takes a short time to manage your weekly roster, but those few hours where your squad is in action become life-altering. Throwing television remotes is not exactly frowned upon in these parts. (Special prize to the person who invents the equivalent of Otter Box for TV remotes.)
But, alas, with another matchday come and passed, it's time to take a look at these trends and highlight a few players worthy of discussion. With that in mind, here is a look at a few players who excelled on Saturday and could replace your underperforming starters.
Steven Gerrard (M, Liverpool)
If you had players going in Saturday's Everton-Liverpool match, odds are you're very happy with the result. Neither side is likely especially happy with their defensive efforts, which resulted in a 3-3 draw at Goodison Park.
But for fantasy owners, it was a goldmine. Romelu Lukaku scored two goals, and Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge found the back of the net to help out their owners. While it depends on your style of league and the number of teams within your side whether those guys were in your lineup—though it'd be pretty dumb to sit Suarez in any format—big numbers were boundless in the match. (Unless you had a goalkeeper. Whoops.)
Gerrard, meanwhile, proves to be among the most reliable assists men on the planet. He found Sturridge for an assist in the 89th minute, and Philippe Coutinho's goal in the fifth minute also came off a corner kick from the 33-year-old Whiston native.
While Gerrard was only credited with one assist, his positioning with the club will only give him more of those opportunities. If Gerrard is available for your squad and there's room on your bench, he'd definitely help—especially considering the need for a solid midfield in fantasy.
Plus, like, it's fun having a national captain on your team, no?
Loic Remy (F, Newcastle United)
Speaking of fun, it's probably pretty enjoyable to be a Magpies supporter lately. Newcastle have run off three straight victories and gotten points in five of their past six matches, a run that has folks thinking of a European league berth. Considering that comes a year after just barely escaping the grim reaper of relegation, there are high-fives and happiness all around.
Look no further than Loic Remy for the overarching reason why. The 26-year-old Frenchman scored in the second minute of Newcastle's 2-1 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, his third straight fixture finding the back of the net.
While Newcastle players are somewhat rare in the Premier League fantasy world—Remy is the only Magpies star with more than two goals this season—he might finally be coming into his own. Remy already has far more goals in 2013-14 than he did with Queens Park Rangers a season ago and is on pace to crush his career-best seasons with Marseille of Ligue 1.
It's unclear how long this hot streak will keep up, but Remy should have an opportunity to add to his goal total the next two weeks. Newcastle host West Brom in their next fixture on Nov. 30 before a trip to Swansea in a fortnight. Swansea's 16 goals allowed are among the worst for clubs not facing relegation, and while West Brom haven't shown an overriding propensity for allowing scores, their 4-1 loss to Liverpool proves they aren't immune.
Calling Remy a "sleeper" is a little inaccurate, but he's definitely becoming a sneaky good play on the cheap.
Olivier Giroud (F, Arsenal)
This essentially comes down to how much money you have in your budget. Everyone and their great-grandmother knows Olivier Giroud is a top-tier player in the midst of one of his finest seasons. The Frenchman added two goals to his season total to buoy Arsenal's 2-0 victory over a game Southampton side this week.
Arsenal are now four points ahead in the table, a lead that comes as a shock to many who were skeptical of Arsene Wenger's transfer strategy this summer. But the way Giroud has been playing, it's allowed Wenger comfort in not needing a new striker in the winter window.
What's interesting is where Giroud places on the hierarchy of fantasy forwards. He's outscored the likes of Robin van Persie, Suarez and Wayne Rooney despite holding a lower value, but he is still in the expensive enough range that it might make you hesitate making a switch. The previously mentioned trio have an established resume as yearly producers, whereas Giroud is typically looking up at them on the season-ending points list.
That being said, Arsenal are here to stay and so is Giroud. If budgetary concerns have you pinching pennies at other positions, perhaps a step down from van Persie to Giroud could free up enough room to make for a more well-balanced squad.
Either way, things are looking up.
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