Fantasy Premier League heads into its 30th Gameweek this coming Saturday, with many players facing a serious captaincy conundrum.
As most astute fantasy football managers would point out, there's always a lot riding on this choice. A lot can be salvaged from a seemingly bad gameweek if you get your skipper selection right.
A captain's points double up, so goofing up the big decision can have dire consequences, with the possibility that you take a major tumble down the global ladder. By contrast, if your selection is sound and your captain yields returns in double figures, you set yourself up very well to chase the pack ahead of you.
I suppose an overwhelming majority of his owners would've had Sergio Aguero earmarked for captaincy, had he not sustained a muscle injury in the recent Champions League clash with Barcelona. With the Argentine sidelined, there are a number of promising candidates that fantasy aficionados out there ought to consider for the armband.
Opponent-Manchester United (A)
Selected by-48.3 percent
Has there ever been a gameweek ahead of which Luis Suarez owners haven't have the Uruguayan under consideration for captaincy?
A return of 23 goals and 19 assists in 2,063 minutes of game-time is no mean feat. Only three times since GW 10 has the striker failed to score or set up a teammate in a match. Suarez is miles ahead of the next highest point-getter for the game this season, Eden Hazard. In fact, the gap presently stands at 38 points.
While Liverpool visit Old Trafford this weekend, Manchester United are hardly the most fear-evoking hosts imaginable right now. The Red Devils have conceded 31 goals in 28 league games, while the visitors currently are the top-scoring side in the Premier League, with 73 goals.
Liverpool are the favorites to win, and a double-figure point tally for Suarez seems plausible.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Opposition-Aston Villa (A)
Selected by-42.9 percent
Hazard has already bettered his tally of league goals from last term, and sits on 13 as of now. He's got 10 assists to go with that, and there's no doubting his immense captaincy appeal this week. The Villans have a poor defensive record at home, having shipped 22 goals in 14 games in their own backyard.
The Belgian wing wizard's price in fantasy football has seen an astronomical rise; before the commencement of the season, it was set at £9.5 million. He has achieved double figures in points eight times this season, and thus a considerable chunk of fantasy owners now have Hazard in their side.
I'd expect many to captain the Chelsea man on this occasion, as he's one of the safer choices available for the coming weekend. Perhaps needless to say, a big points haul is expected of him again.
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)
Selected by-18.0 percent
Jay Rodriguez's unforeseen goalscoring exploits this term have made him a quality budget option for some. In fact, only five Premier League front-men have been more prolific than J-Rod. He has also garnered as many as 19 points in bonus.
Now, while the Englishman went goalless between GWs 25 and 28, we might be set to witness the onset of another purple patch. He netted the winner in Southampton's visit to Crystal Palace last week, and now the Saints host Norwich City, a side with the second-worst away defensive record. The Canaries have leaked 32 goals on their travels.
It would reasonable to expect the attacking triumvirate of Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to have a field day at St Mary's come Saturday. Given that very few fantasy players will actually have the audacity to captain J-Rod, the ones who do could receive rich dividends.
Adam Johnson (Sunderland)
Opposition-Crystal Palace (H)
Selected by-8.7 percent
Between Gameweeks 21 and 24, Adam Johnson was well and truly in bullish, imperious form. A tally of six goals and two assists in that period made the Sunderland winger a very appealing fantasy proposition then. Over that particular period, the Englishman's price rose from £6.4 million to £7.1 million.
Due to cup engagements over the last few weekends, the Black Cats have been absent from GWs 26, 28 and 29. With that, Johnson's price has fallen down to a rather reasonable £6.5 million.
Crystal Palace are to visit the Stadium of Light this coming Saturday, and with a place on the plane to Brazil with the national team still to fight for, Johnson can be expected to deliver big this week. The opposition have lost on 10 of their 13 travels there this season.
With a considerably lower ownership than every other player on this list, Johnson could offer a real differential for those brave enough to captain him this time 'round.
Others Worth Considering
Adam Lallana (Southampton) vs. Norwich City (H)
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) vs. Manchester United (A)
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) vs. Cardiff City (H)
*All statistics courtesy the official Fantasy Premier League game