Fantasy Premier League: Brighton not twice as nice

With their FA Cup run having come to an end, is there any reason to turn to Brighton and Hove Albion for fantasy options this coming Matchweek? EPA

Two Premier League teams will play twice in Matchweek 34, which probably sounds exciting fantasy-wise -- until you find out what teams they are.

Brighton is currently in 16th place, still mired in the relegation battle. Cardiff City is in 18th place, five points away from safety and heavy favorites to be the third relegated club, joining Huddersfield Town and Fulham. If you want to stock your fantasy lineup with Brighton and/or Cardiff players this week, good luck!

That said, picking Glenn Murray at Tier 2 forward wouldn't be totally crazy. He has 11 goals this season, and Brighton have two home games this week --against Bournemouth and Cardiff, who have conceded 61 goals apiece this season. Only Fulham and Huddersfield have conceded more.

However, there's a reason why Murray is ranked 15th among the 18 Tier 2 forwards in points-per-game. He's averaging just 1.4 shots and 9.1 passes completed, and has 70 fouls committed on the season -- 16 more than any other player in the league. Murray finished with minus-1.2 points in Brighton's first game against Cardiff, and 1.1 points against Bournemouth. Plus he's 35 years old, and unlikely to start both games this week.

I gave more serious consideration to Victor Camarasa at Tier 2 midfielder. He has five goals and three assists for Cardiff this season, and had scored in back-to-back games prior to the 2-0 loss at Manchester City last Wednesday. Unfortunately, Camarasa is averaging just 1.3 shots and 20.8 passes completed per game, and Cardiff have two away games this week. They're significant underdogs at both Burnley and Brighton.

Are you thinking about Mathew Ryan or Neil Etheridge? Stop right there! Not only are both near the bottom of the goalkeeper rankings, but Ryan finished with negative points against both Bournemouth and Cardiff the first time around. Etheridge finished with a combined minus-2.0 points against Burnley and Brighton.

The lone double-matchweek player who will be on my fantasy team is Shane Duffy. He's been bumped up to Tier 1 defender, but doesn't look out of place there. He checks in at No. 6 in the tier at 10.7 points per game, less than three points behind leader Virgil van Dijk (13.4).

Duffy was suspended for Brighton's first game against Bournemouth, but posted a solid 9.8 score against Cardiff. He's finished with 9.4-plus points in six of his past eight games, and is tied for second in the league in clearances on the season, with 195. Plus, Duffy is a center back with upside. He's already scored five goals this season, and is averaging more than a shot per game.

Better choices

In case you're wondering who I'm picking ahead of Murray and Camarasa, it'll be Jamie Vardy at Tier 2 forward, and Gylfi Sigurdsson at Tier 2 midfielder.

Vardy scored twice in Leicester City's 4-1 victory at Huddersfield last weekend, continuing his fine run of form under new manager Brendan Rodgers. He has now scored at least one goal in five of the past six games (seven goals in total) and is averaging 3.0 shots per game during that stretch. Also, Leicester has won four games in a row, and are favored at home facing Newcastle, against whom Vardy scored earlier this season.

Sigurdsson did not score in Everton's impressive 1-0 win over Arsenal on Monday, but he led the team in both shots (7) and chances created (4). He has 12 goals and four assists on the season, and is sixth in the league in chances created (62). Everton have now won three straight games, also beating Chelsea during that stretch, and are favored at Fulham, who have conceded 76 goals in 33 games --13 more than any other team. Everton defeated Fulham 3-0 earlier this season and Sigurdsson scored twice in that one, leading the team in shots (6) and chances created (5), finishing with 29.4 fantasy points, his biggest haul of the season.

Captain not-so obvious

Tottenham is the biggest favorite this weekend, at home against Huddersfield. Sadly, Harry Kane is out after suffering another ankle injury in their 1-0 Champions League win over Manchester City on Tuesday, so you can't pick him as your Tier 1 forward.

Sergio Aguero wasn't impressive on Tuesday. His only shot on target was a penalty kick, which he failed to convert. Mohamed Salah didn't score in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Porto on Tuesday. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hasn't even started Arsenal's last two league games. That rounds out the four best Tier 1 forwards in terms of points-per-game. Yikes!

I'm going to go with Salah over Aguero, even though Liverpool has a tougher opponent, hosting Chelsea. Salah finally ended his Premier League scoring drought in the 3-1 victory at Southampton last week. Even though he didn't score against Porto, he took seven shots -- nearly half the team's total (15). Salah also didn't score in Liverpool's 1-1 draw against Chelsea earlier this season, but took a team-high four shots, despite coming off in the 66th minute.

Man City is the bigger favorite, despite playing at Crystal Palace, but they lost to Palace earlier this season, 3-2. Aguero didn't start that game, coming on in the 50th minute. Yet, he did almost literally nothing -- zero shots, and just three passes completed.

I do want to take advantage of the lopsided-looking Tottenham-Huddersfield match at Tier 1 midfielder. Although Christian Eriksen is averaging more points per game, and is coming off a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Palace last time out, I'm going with Son Heung-Min instead. Son scored the other goal against Palace, and also scored the goal against Man City on Tuesday. He has 12 league goals on the season (twice as many as Eriksen) and will likely move to forward in Kane's absence. Plus, in the three prior league games in which Kane was out and Son started, he scored a goal each time.

However, I don't trust Son enough to captain him. He has far exceeded his xG (expected goals) total for the season (6.50) and, prior to the Palace win, he had averaged only 5.4 points-per-game in his past three starts. Not only is Salah second in the league with 18 goals, he's also second in xG at 18.58 and fourth in xA (expected assists) at 7.38 -- Son is only at 2.73. Salah is the safer captain selection.

Other picks

  • Ashley Westwood, Burnley (Tier 3 midfielder): He had a goal and an assist in last week's 3-1 victory at Bournemouth. The goal was fluky, and only Westwood's second of the season, but he's up to seven assists on the year. He's finished in double-figures in points in four of the past five games, and picked up 12.3 against Cardiff the first time around.

  • Harry Maguire, Leicester City (Tier 2 defender): He missed last week's game after becoming a father, but Maguire should be back in the Leicester lineup this week. He had finished in double-figures in points in four straight games prior to an early red card against Burnley on March 16, and had his biggest game of the season against Newcastle (24.5 points) the first time around. That was courtesy a goal, four shots (two on target) and 55 passes completed.

  • Hugo Lloris, Tottenham (Goalkeeper): Despite the big mistakes he's made this season, and all the criticism he's received, Lloris is second behind only Alisson in total points at his position. He's coming off back-to-back clean sheets against Palace (in the league) and Man City (Champions League). He will now be at home against already-relegated Huddersfield, who have scored only 19 goals in 33 games -- nine fewer than any other team.