Diego Costa and West Ham offer value, but avoid the top four teams
This weekend, all eyes will be on Sunday's massive matches involving the Premier League's top four teams. But ESPN FC Premier Fantasy managers would do well to concentrate their focus on the seven Saturday fixtures if they want to maximise Gameweek 26's returns.
Here's our pick of the Saturday showdowns.
West Ham travel to a Norwich side displaying some serious relegation form. The Canaries have lost five on the bounce, conceding a league-leading 16 goals along the way.
They've also failed to score in three of those matches, so a West Ham defender could be worth investing in, with Aaron Cresswell (£6.3m) also offering an attacking threat.
Michail Antonio (£5.8m) is in excellent form, with three league goals and five assists since Boxing Day and a goal in the midweek FA Cup replay. Enner Valencia (£6.6m) continues to lead the line with authority -- he has four goals and two assists since the turn of the year.
Everton are home to a West Brom side taken all the way to penalties on Wednesday night. The Baggies will have to fight injuries, fatigue and form, having failed to win in five matches, scoring just three goals in the process.
Ross Barkley (£8.0m) has scored twice in Everton's back-to-back 3-0 wins, with Seamus Coleman (£6.3m) boosting his clean sheets tally and hitting a goal last week as well.
Chelsea entertain a Newcastle side that continues to struggle away from home. The Geordies have shipped 26 goals on their travels -- the third-worst record in the league -- so Guus Hiddink is unlikely to continue employing a system involving two defensive midfielders.
This should free up both Willian (£6.9m) and Oscar (£6.7m), with the latter's penalty duties making him particularly attractive. At the back, Branislav Ivanovic (£7.3m) looks back to his best, with four clean sheets and two assists since late December.
Bournemouth have a good run of fixtures that could see them nestled in mid-table very soon, with Watford, Southampton, Newcastle and Swansea to come before the middle of March.
They start with a home match against a stuttering Stoke side that is winless (and goalless) in four.
Bournemouth have been in and around the top six for goals scored, attempts and minutes per chance over the same period, with Matt Ritchie (£5.4m) firing in 10 shots to no avail, which suggests he is due a big points return sooner rather than later.
Fellow midfielder Marc Pugh (£5.3m) has a goal and an assist from those four matches, while defender Charlie Daniels (£5.8m) will hope to record his third clean sheet of the year, and also offers a strong attacking threat. He has been involved in (either scored or assisted) 21 percent of Bournemouth's goals when on the pitch this season and is also the side's penalty taker.
We described Romelu Lukaku (£8.9m) as drinking in the last chance saloon prior to the match against Stoke and the Belgian duly delivered, scoring his first league goal of 2016.
No player with one goal or less over the last four gameweeks has had more attempts than Lukaku (14), however, and a West Brom team that hasn't kept an away clean sheet since October looks ill-equipped to contain him.
This week's last chance saloon nomination goes to... West Ham's Dimitri Payet (£7.1m). The French international recorded a goal and an assist in his first start after a long injury lay-off but has produced absolutely nothing in the four gameweeks since then.
Two things still remain in Payet's favour. No. 1 is Norwich and No. 2 is the fact that no player has created more chances (14) without securing an assist during his personal four-match barren spell.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa (£8.3m) is back to his bristling best. Three goals in four matches, and six since Boxing Day, point to a man very happy with his post-Jose Mourinho lot.
He also has three assists since the start of the year and Newcastle don't look up to the task of stopping him. With Chelsea facing seven of the league's current bottom 10 teams before the end of the season, Costa could be a worthwhile long-term investment. If he can stay fit and out of trouble, that is.
A PUNT OR TWO
Wahbi Khazri (£5.1m) was the star of the show in Sunderland's dramatic comeback at Anfield last week, with assists for both the Black Cats' goals.
A home match with Manchester United looks tough on paper, but the Red Devils have kept only one away clean sheet since the end of October.
Benik Afobe (£6.5m), who has three goals in his first five Bournemouth appearances, will go up against a Stoke defence that's conceded 12 times in their last four away fixtures. The odds look weighted in Afobe's favour.