By AVI CREDITOR
This late in the season everybody's looking for something to provide a major boost to the point total. Look no further than Aston Villa's Matchweek 35 schedule.
The Villans get both Hull City AND Portsmouth in a relegation bonanza that could have a major impact on the fantasy landscape.
Playing teams fighting for their lives this late in the season isn't always as straightforward as it should be, but with Aston Villa playing for its European competition life, I think it's safe to put your trust in the Villans' major players, even with both games being on the road. Here are this week's picks, sure to make Martin O'Neill crack a smile:
CAPTAIN OF THE WEEK
Ashley Young, Aston Villa, £8.5
He's the healthiest attacking midfield option the team has, and he also happens to be in the best form among Villa's outfield players.
Young has scored at least five fantasy points in five consecutive games, amassing a goal and four assists over that span. Matching up against either Portsmouth or Hull works tremendously in his favor, but getting both in one week? That's a dream scenario.
Considering the clean sheet ramifications of both matches, every member of Aston Villa's defense is even worth a look this week, but Young is the best of the Villa bunch and deserves the captain's armband.
Other candidates: Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor, James Milner, Richard Dunne, Carlos Cuellar and Brad Friedel; Sunderland's Darren Bent (vs. Burnley); Manchester City's Carlos Tevez (vs. Manchester United); Liverpool's Fernando Torres (if fit, vs. West Ham).
BEST TRANSFER BUYS (owned by less than 10 percent of managers)
Mark Schwarzer, Fulham, £5.1 (8.1 percent owned)
The Aussie netminder is coming off his finest performance of the season in shutting out Liverpool and is likely to do the same to a Wolverhampton side that's visiting Craven Cottage.
Glen Johnson, Liverpool, £7.6 (7.5 percent owned)
He's become a regular in this space, and for good reason. Liverpool's defense has sharpened since his return to the lineup, and his offensive capabilities cannot be ignored. The Reds welcome West Ham to Anfield, and shouldn't have a problem keeping the Hammers down.
Aaron Hughes, Fulham, £4.9 (8.0 percent owned)
The Cottagers match up well with Wolves, and Hughes could pick up an easy six points because of that.
Stephen Warnock, Aston Villa, £4.9 (4.3 percent owned)
Villa's dream schedule is explained above. With two clean sheets a real possibility, Warnock could be looking at a double-digit output this week.
Abdoulaye Faye, Stoke City, £4.5 (6.7 percent owned)
Stoke's defense is on a roll with three consecutive clean sheets, and a visit from Bolton to Britannia Stadium isn't cause for a whole lot of concern.
Tim Cahill, Everton, £8.0 (5.4 percent owned)
Ride the Cahill wave while it's still building steam. The Socceroo has carried the Everton attack lately, as evidenced by his two-goal outburst at Villa Park on Wednesday. He has three goals and an assist in his last four matches, and he'll continue to run the show as long as Mikel Arteta remains sidelined.
Samir Nasri, Arsenal, £7.9 (2.2 percent owned)
With Cesc Fabregas sidelined with a leg injury, Nasri has stepped into a larger role in the home stretch for the Gunners. His playing time and performance have been quite erratic, but when he's on, he's capable of brilliance, and the Wigan defense is one that might bring it out of him.
Nani, Manchester United, £6.6 (5.4 percent owned)
The Manchester Derby should be an open, multiple-goal affair, and it wouldn't surprise to see the Portuguese winger be a big part of creating on the flanks for the Red Devils.
Adam Johnson, Manchester City, £6.1 (2.7 percent owned)
With four assists in his last two games, Johnson has really taken advantage of having the Tevez-Emmanuel Adebayor strike force in front of him. As stated previously, his style of play attracts bonus points, and the Citizens will be expected to unleash their best effort of the season at Eastlands while contending for a Champions League berth.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, £8.3 (7.0 percent owned)
Reopened his scoring account with a goal against Everton on Wednesday, giving him 12 for the season. That total should grow with contests against Portsmouth and Hull.
Cameron Jerome, Birmingham, £4.8 (7.2 percent owned)
With his goal against Manchester City last week, Jerome cracked double digits for the season. Birmingham gets Hull at home, meaning Jerome should be an active striker in the penalty area this week.
SLEEPERS (owned by less than 5 percent of managers)
Craig Gordon, Sunderland, £4.4 (0.7 percent owned)
The Black Cats are a more confident and dangerous team at the Stadium of Light, and a home fixture with Burnley is a fantastic shot at a clean sheet.
Bacary Sagna, Arsenal, £6.2 (3.3 percent owned)
The Gunners are in must-win territory if they want to have any shot at the league title, and a top-notch effort from the defense is the first ingredient to securing three points at Wigan.
Michael Turner, Sunderland, £4.4 (4.4 percent owned)
If Gordon is to have a clean match against Burnley at home, it's because players like Turner will be maintaining a steady back line in front of him.
Scott Dann, Birmingham, £4.1 (3.3 percent owned)
The Blues were thrashed by Manchester City last week, but perhaps a home fixture against Hull is just what they need to get back on track.
Martin Olsson, Blackburn, 3.9 (1.4 percent owned)
Blackburn hasn't given up more than one goal in a home game in the new decade (aka since Dec., 2009) and is coming off a brilliant shutout of Manchester United. The bonus with Olsson is that he plays midfield and gets defensive clean-sheet points when applicable. He doesn't have the best matchup with Everton, but he's worth the risk at that price.
Maxi Rodriguez, Liverpool, £6.9 (0.5 percent owned)
For whatever reason, I've got a hunch that Maxi will finally break through and score his first Liverpool goal this week against West Ham. He's become more acclimated to and involved in the Reds' attack as of late and is overdue for a strike that'll give his frustrated fans something to cheer about.
Danny Murphy, Fulham, £6.0 (3.7 percent owned)
Murphy hit for one of his five goals against Wolves earlier this season, and he'll try to replicate that as the Cottagers guide their way through the rest of the Premier League schedule with their real focus on the Europa League.
Jimmy Bullard, Hull City, £5.6 (2.4 percent owned)
The Tigers also have a double gameweek, though theirs is not nearly as appealing as that of Aston Villa. With an away match at Birmingham and a home fixture with Villa, it's possible that Bullard could break through this week.
Steed Malbranque, Sunderland, £5.5 (1.5 percent owned)
He has six assists on the season and will look to link up with Darren Bent to add to that tally against a sorry Burnley defense.
Robin Van Persie, Arsenal, £10.1 (3.6 percent owned)
The Dutchman returned to the Gunners on Wednesday, giving a potential-filled, 23-minute cameo against Tottenham and looking mighty dangerous in doing so. People may forget that he tallied seven goals in Arsenal's first 11 games before getting injured. He should get more run in Arsenal's away match at Wigan.
John Carew, Aston Villa, £7.7 (2.5 percent owned)
With four goals in his last five games, Carew is finishing his season on a high note, and he'll have multiple chances to embellish on that this week with Villa's two-game slate.
LAST WEEK'S PICKS
Lampard (3X2=6 points)
Soccer By Ives standings (Top 10)
1. the unholy passion………………2071 points
2. The Jackson 4……………………..2067
3. Preening Narcissists…………..2058
5. AC Vols…………………………………2056
6. Big Apple FC…………………………2047
7. Tick Tick Boom!…………………….2029
8. Maple Gooners……………………..2028
10. Sporting Club Delica…………..2024
What's your lineup looking like? Who do you think would make for the best captain this week?
Share your thoughts and questions below.