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EPL Barometer: Upgrades/ Downgrades For The Home Stretch

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird is the Senior Soccer Editor for RotoWire, as well as a fantasy football and college basketball contributor.

With a dozen or so matches left for each Premier League club, we asked our resident EPL writers, who cover all the teams and do the player notes on the site, for their upgrades and downgrades for the home stretch.

C.J. Radune, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Frank Lampard (F) Chelsea - Lampard has endured a very difficult season thus far. He has seen two coaches, in a long-running string, and hasn't been given an open door to return to Chelsea next season. For any player, just one of those hurdles could derail a season, but Lampard has taken it all in stride. Not only has he continued playing the reliable central midfield leader for Chelsea, but he has also put the ball in the net at almost every opportunity. He scored for England in the last international break, and that performance may have changed Chelsea's mind about keeping him on the payroll. Where Lampard ends up next season is still unknown, but fantasy owners should be able to rely on consistent points from this consummate professional.

Downgrade

Phil Jones (D) Manchester United - Jones has been a go-to for Manchester United's back line, filling in the sweeper role, while at times also playing as a defensive midfielder. The defender has been a solid addition to United's defense, but it hasn't been enough with the number of early goals scored against the side. Additionally, Jones has proven to be prone to injury. He recently withdrew from England's U-21 match with a bout of shingles, and seems to pick up some sort of knock each game he starts. For these reasons, Jones might not be the most consistent fantasy option for teams during the run to the finish of this season.

Nicholas Pitner, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Christian Benteke (F) Aston Villa - In his first Premier League season, the 22-year-old Belgian has powered in an impressive 11 goals and four assists, including six goals and one helper during his last six league games. Benteke has consistently been Villa's best player this season, causing interest from other clubs in the transfer market. However, as long as he is playing in Birmingham, the team's attack will be centered around creating chances for Benteke to add to his scoring tally.

Theo Walcott (M) Arsenal - After gaining notoriety from an early age, Walcott is now beginning to show large returns on his scary potential. With 11 goals and eight assists thus far, Walcott is enjoying his best season as a professional and is becoming a more complete player capable of clinical finishing. It's no wonder why Arsenal signed him to a new contract recently, clearing Walcott's previously uncertain future. Add in the fact that he has midfield eligibility in most fantasy leagues and it's easy to see why Walcott is on the rise.

Matija Nastasic (D) Manchester City - Coming into the season, if you told Manchester City fans that a 19-year-old would be starting in defense for the majority of the defending champs' matches, they probably would have cringed. However, with a roster full of big names and bigger contracts, Nastasic has emerged as a defensive rock and a very valuable summer addition. With City's defensive record, the young Serbian is always a threat for a clean sheet, boosting his fantasy stock given his generally low price tag.


Downgrade:

Carlos Tevez (F) Manchester City - This is no knock on Tevez's talents, which are evidenced by looking at his seven goals and seven assists in the league this season, but the Argentine has simply fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City of late. Credit Edin Dzeko, who has six goals in his past seven games, as the reason Tevez has not played as much recently. With Dzeko in good form, Tevez could lose opportunities and consequently his stock could fall.

Simon Mignolet (G) Sunderland - Mignolet has scored the most fantasy points of any goalkeeper in the league so far this season. While that is a great accomplishment for a player on a team whose defense is fairly average, don't expect Mignolet to end the season on top. It may be time to sell high or expect less of him moving forward.

Andrew Laird, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Gareth Bale (M) Tottenham Hotspur - Bale has been on a scoring tear as of late, knocking in four goals in his last three Premier League matches and then scoring two more in Spurs' Europa League win over Lyon on Valentine's Day. He now has 13 goals on the season (good for fifth in the Premier League) and is upstaging fellow goal-scorers Jermain Defoe and Clint Dempsey. Ride Bale while he's hot.

Christian Benteke (F) Aston Villa - Benteke is another player riding a recent hot streak, scoring five goals in his last four Premier League matches, plus another one against Bradford in League Cup play. His scoring seems to come in bunches and fantasy owners are advised to jump on the 22-year old who has drawn more than a few comparisons to Chelsea-great Didier Drogba.

Downgrade

Demba Ba (F) Chelsea - Ba's season has been very up-and-down and unfortunately for fantasy owners, he remains on the downward swing. After scoring 13 goals for Newcastle, Ba moved onto the bigger stage with Chelsea and has been virtually silent over the last month. After scoring two goals in his first Chelsea appearance (a non-Premier League match), Ba has scored only once for the Blues and is now trying to recover from a broken nose. Add in the fact that Chelsea are still trying to get something out of Fernando Torres and it's difficult to see Ba getting back to producing like he was at the beginning of the year.

Robert Trayah, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Edin Dzeko (F) Manchester City - Currently sitting with twelve goals in the league, Dzeko will find more time on the pitch after the transfer of Mario Balotelli. Since the Italian's departure, Dzeko has started twice and found the back of the net both times. His striking partner, Sergio Aguero, has still not rounded into the form that helped lead City to a title last season, and if they are going to catch Manchester United in the title race, they will need the Bosnian to continue his form.

Downgrade

Papiss Demba Cisse (F) Newcastle - You could argue that Cisse's season never really got started, but with Demba Ba leaving for Chelsea, Cisse is now the focal point of the Newcastle attack. However, this is where Newcastle will probably struggle as they look towards their midfield to supply their goals. It's a wide distribution and counting on Cisse for bigger production for your fantasy team is a bad idea. Look elsewhere.

Colin Hettinger, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Joe Cole, (M) West Ham - Cole has played well in his few games since landing at Upton Park and is getting all the playing time he wants, a big change since the first half of the campaign and the reason for his move from Liverpool. His crosses have been superb and as long as he stays injury-free, he should continue to get full games. Other than Kevin Nolan (who is already been playing great this season), Cole is West Ham's best chance at unlocking defenses and getting dangerous balls into the box.

Downgrade

Jussi Jaaskelainen (G) West Ham - Jaaskelainen has been a top-five keeper all year in terms of points and he's the cheapest option within that class. While there are a few other cheaper goalkeepers in the top-10, he's outscored them all and has been a great value this year. Unfortunately, West Ham's defense has been atrocious as of late and they have an extremely difficult schedule on the horizon with games against Stoke and Chelsea on the road and Manchester United and Spurs at home. The Hammers have been much better on their home pitch but it's tough to imagine they'll withstand the attacks of Spurs and United without giving up a few. Jaaskelainen and his defense are about to get bombarded in the next month.

Jason Torquato, RotoWire Staff Writer

Upgrade

Yaya Toure (M) Manchester City - Toure's absence from Manchester City's Premier League campaign as a result of his international duties has limited his fantasy value but also Manchester City's ability to close a gap to runaway league leaders Manchester United. While well respected within the league, Toure's true value has only been seen in the last few weeks when he hasn't been able to suit up for Manchester City. Toure finished the second half strongly last season and will be required to do so again if Manchester City are harboring any hopes of a second consecutive Premier League crown.

Downgrade

Frank Lampard (M) Chelsea - Lampard's 10 goals this season have come as somewhat as a surprise considering his limited role under both Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez. Four of them have been from penalties, which is probably an unsustainable rate given the fact that he is not on the field as much as he used to be. His goals per minute rate suggests he will score more than one goal per game, which for a midfielder is a rate that is guaranteed to slow at some point in the near future.