March Squad of the Month
The FA Cup quarter-finals and the international break have truncated the Premier League programme in March, with only two fantasy gameweeks.
Ordinarily you'd expect points to be at a premium, and while on the whole that is the case one player has still managed to break the 30-point barrier.
The runaway Player of the Month for March is Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman scored four goals in his two appearances this month, including his first ever Liverpool hat-trick against Manchester United, and he also provided an assist against Sunderland.
It's a turnaround in fortunes for a player who had been one of the most valuable fantasy performers of the last two seasons. Those four goals meant he doubled his season's tally to eight in the Premier League.
Fantasy managers have long since abandoned Kuyt, who scored only one goal in the opening 13 gameweeks of the season. He started the campaign at a price of £8.5 million and has since dropped down to £8 million. With Kuyt on penalty duty in the absence of Steven Gerrard, he could turn out to be a useful purchase for the remainder of the season. That said, Liverpool have difficult games coming up against Manchester City and Arsenal back-to-back.
Despite Liverpool's good form, winning both of their games in March, Kuyt is the only player from Anfield to make the squad.
There's a first appearance of the season for Chelsea's Frank Lampard, who is proving to be a driving force for Chelsea as the likes of Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka continue to misfire. Lampard missed three months of the season before Christmas but weighed in with 19 points in March, with two goals and an assist.
Lampard has scored four goals in the last six gameweeks to suggest he could be a fantasy asset as Chelsea look to cut the gap to Manchester United at the top of the table in the remaining eight rounds of games. And remember that Lampard will have a double gameweek with a fixture against Birmingham to be played in gameweek 33. As Chelsea also face West Bromwich Albion that week, giving the captaincy to a Chelsea player looks a certainty. Lampard has dropped in value by £1.3 million since the start of the season due to his injury problems.
Jean Beausejour had a productive World Cup, leading to his move to Birmingham City last summer, although he has struggled to get to grips with the English game. The Chile international has finally found some form to make the squad on 18 points, scoring two goals in gameweek 29.
Damien Duff, who like Lampard and Beausejour offered little before Christmas, has now found his form as Fulham battle for Premier League survival. Duff scored twice in the month.
Charlie Adam, now far and away the best value for money player in the game, still at £5.8 million, is in the squad despite playing in only one gameweek due to suspension. Adam scored twice against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.
A notable name to make the squad is West Ham United's Thomas Hitzlsperger - one of three West Ham players. It's a measure of the Hammers' improvement that they have a full complement of players among the top March performers, and it is no coincidence that the upturn in form has come about with Hitzlsperger in the team after being out injured all season.
Hitzlsperger made his first appearance in the final gameweek of February, getting an assist, and then scored a goal and provided another assist in the first gameweek of March. Add to that the two clean sheet points he has picked up and he makes the squad on 14, the same as Adam.
West Ham players take the Goalkeeper and Defender of the Month awards after not conceding a goal in the month. Robert Green scored 16 points for the month, seven more than his nearest rival, Simon Mignolet of Sunderland.
Manuel Da Costa has barely played this season, making just eight appearances before the start of this month, which explains why he is in just 164 teams: only 13 defenders are owned by fewer managers at this point. Da Costa recorded two clean sheets and scored a goal in March.
Along with Adam, Gary Cahill is one of only two players to keep their places in the squad from February. Bolton defender Cahill scored 17 points in March and but for Dimitar Berbatov's late goal would have scored more than Da Costa.
Two Chelsea defenders join Lampard in the squad, with John Terry on 15 points and David Luiz on 14. Is Terry too expensive to invest in at this point of the season with a £7.9 million price tag making him the second most expensive defender? The costliest defender is Nemanja Vidic who has shot up to £9 million from an opening price of £6.5 million.
That said, Terry moved above Vidic at the weekend as the top-scoring defender. There is little value for money in Vidic, and with Terry's price there looks to be a better return from David Luiz, who has already scored two Premier League goals and looks a menace in the attacking half of the pitch. David Luiz is priced at £6.9 million and he has already risen £0.3 million since being added to the fantasy game.
The final defender is Stoke City's Danny Higginbotham, who like David Luiz scored a goal and picked up a clean sheet.
The striker award is, on points alone, shared between three players. The strikers have struggled in the March gameweeks, with the top scoring players all picking up just 12 points. Tottenham's Jermain Defoe, Kevin Doyle of Wolves and David Hoilett of Blackburn Rovers are tied, but it's Hoilett who is named Striker of the Month based on value as he is the cheapest of the three at £5.5 million.