Welcome to the very first edition of the La Liga fantasy transfer market! Each week I'll be providing you with my picks at all eight positions if you're filling out a La Liga fantasy team, and some players to avoid, too.
If you make it all the way to the end, you'll see my captain selection as well -- remember, your captain's points total is doubled, making this a critical decision!
Tier 1 Forward
Add: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
This is a no-brainer. Messi would have finished with 892.9 La Liga fantasy points last season, nearly 300 more than any other player! And all he's done through the first three weeks of this season is post four goals, two assists and 101.8 fantasy points -- he's more than 30 points ahead of Karim Benzema in second place.
Avoid: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
His team is off to a very disappointing start, winning just one of their first three games, including a 2-0 loss to Celta Vigo just prior to the international break. They've only scored two goals, and Costa didn't score either of them. He also withdrew from the Spain squad last week for personal reasons.
Tier 2 Forward
Add: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)
Aspas has scored only one goal so far this season, but it came last time out in the win over Atletico. More importantly, Aspas scored 22 goals last season -- only Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez scored more in La Liga -- and he also would have finished fourth among all outfield players in fantasy points. Aspas isn't just a goal-scorer, either -- he finished fifth in chances created last season with 69, and already has seven of them this year.
Avoid: Willian Jose (Real Sociedad)
He's off to a good start with two goals in three games, but injured himself while converting a penalty kick in a 2-1 loss to Eibar in their most recent game, and had to leave early in the first half. Plus, his team is up against Barcelona this weekend.
Tier 1 Midfielder
Add: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
He already has three goals and an assist in three games, and is third overall in fantasy points (65.6), just behind his teammate Benzema (68.8). With Ronaldo gone to Juventus, and manager Zinedine Zidane resigning after last season, Bale has a big opportunity to be the main man at Real Madrid this season. Zidane only played him in 26 out of 38 league games last year, including only 20 starts. Yet Bale still scored 16 goals, and would have been 14th among outfield players in fantasy points per game.
Avoid: Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico paid big money to sign Lemar from Monaco this summer, but he's yet to score a goal or record an assist this season. And manager Diego Simeone didn't even start Lemar in their most recent game, which is a concern.
Tier 2 Midfielder
Add: Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo)
I'm a little hesitant to double up on Celta attackers, especially when they're playing away from home (at Girona), but this looks like a really good deal. Gomez actually plays as a forward, and has two goals and two assists in the first three games of this season -- including a goal and assist in each of their past two games. He also scored 17 goals last season, seventh-most in the league.
Avoid: Andres Guardado (Real Betis)
Guardado is more of a defensive midfielder, who only scored two goals last season. He did have eight assists, but Betis have only scored one goal in their first three games this season, and face a tough away matchup at Valencia.
Tier 3 Midfielder
Add: Jose Luis Morales (Levante)
Morales already has three goals in three games, and is currently sixth in the league in fantasy points. He's also tied for third in chances created with nine. And he had 10 goals and eight assists last season, and would have been 24th among outfield players in fantasy points.
Avoid: Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao)
He certainly wouldn't be a terrible pick -- after all, he's got the highest fantasy points per game average among all the players in this tier (18.9 ppg), higher even than Morales. But, a few words of warning. Susaeta has done it over only two games -- Athletic Bilbao's last game against Rayo Vallecano was postponed due to issues with Rayo's stadium. He already has a goal and an assist, but only had three goals and two assists in 34 league games last season. And his team is up against Real Madrid this weekend.
Tier 1 Defender
Add: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
It pains me to write this, as a Liverpool fan, but Ramos is poised to be a fantasy superstar this season. He would have been 31st among all outfield players in fantasy points last season, and third among defenders. And with Ronaldo gone, Ramos -- the team captain -- is now taking penalties, at least for the time being. He's already scored two goals from the spot this season, and is fifth among all outfield players in fantasy points (55.5), just behind Suarez (58.5) and ahead of Morales (54.0).
Avoid: Stefan Savic (Atletico Madrid)
I know, it seems like I'm very anti-Atletico this week. But this is an easy one -- Savic is suspended this weekend, due to picking up a red card in that loss to Celta Vigo.
Tier 2 Defender
Add: Zouhair Feddal (Real Betis)
As mentioned above, Betis don't have an easy fixture this weekend -- playing at Valencia, who finished fourth last year. But Feddal is fourth among all defenders in fantasy points this season, despite not having a goal or an assist -- he's seventh among all outfield players in passes completed. Feddal only appeared in 15 games for Betis last season, but would have finished sixth among defenders in in fantasy points per game (10.43).
Avoid: Sergio Escudero (Sevilla)
Escudero is a name to keep in mind later on in the season -- he had an assist in Sevilla's season-opening win Unfortunately, he suffered a nasty arm injury the following week and is going to be out for a while.
Add: Fernando Pacheco (Alaves)
Pacheco is third among goalkeepers in fantasy points so far this year, and will be facing a Real Valladolid team that only finished fifth in the second division last season, but won promotion via the playoffs. They're also the only team yet to score in La Liga this season, so Pacheco's chances of a clean sheet look pretty good, even away from home. And Pacheco would have finished fifth among goalkeepers in fantasy points last season.
Avoid: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
Navas started Real Madrid's first two games, but then was replaced by new signing Thibaut Courtois for their 4-1 win over Leganes last time out. If Navas remains on the bench, obviously he's a bad choice. And Spanish sports newspaper Marca is already reporting that Courtois will start again this weekend.
It's Messi, and that will probably will be the case for many weeks this season -- especially with Ronaldo taking his talents to Serie A. When Barcelona face a tough matchup, I'm sure I'll at least think about others players in this spot. But not here, with Messi & Co. going up against a Real Sociedad team that have conceded five goals in three games -- only two teams have conceded more.