By AVI CREDITOR
Gareth Bale is getting awfully close to Cliff Lee/Chuck Norris territory.
After overwhelming Maicon, of all defenders, to put forth a second straight stellar performance against Inter Milan, Bale's stock is at its highest. His fantasy value? Not nearly as high.
Last season, owning Bale was a boon for fantasy managers. He was listed as a defender, even though he was playing primarily on the wing for the latter half of the year, and as a result, he received full credit for clean sheets in addition to his offensive exploits. Now rightfully listed as a midfielder, he needs to contribute goals and assists with regularity to justify playing him, something that he has hardly done in league play.
He's only scored in one game (albeit a two-goal performance against Stoke City) and has only assisted in one other. The bonus points will be there over the course of the season because of his overall influence on the game, and at £6.7 he is a relative bargain, but the expectations from a fantasy standpoint need to be tempered a bit. Is Bale a great player? Yes. Is Chuck Norris wearing his Gareth Bale jersey to bed? Not yet.
Here are a few more Fantasy Premier League notes along with our captain pick of the week and an SBI league standings update:
Mario Balotelli has regained his fitness for Manchester City, and with Carlos Tevez likely out another week, the mercurial summer acquisition could find himself in Roberto Mancini's starting XI again this weekend against West Brom.
At £8.6, he's definitely not a low-cost gamble, but his matchup is solid and his talent has never been in question. Balotelli is definitely a candidate for the high-risk, high-reward play of the week.
Clint Dempsey turned in the top performance by an American thus far with his 16-point effort against Wigan Athletic last week. Dempsey has been on fire from a fantasy standpoint and currently ranks as the eighth-highest scoring midfielder in the game. At £6.7, he's worth adding to your roster and starting on a weekly basis.
Should Dempsey continue his scoring charge this weekend, he would do so at the expense of Aston Villa goalie Brad Friedel, who is the fourth-highest scoring fantasy keeper. Both Friedel and Tim Howard (at Blackpool) are worth starting this week. Wolves' Marcus Hahnemann (at Manchester United) is not.
Those four and Bolton's Stuart Holden are the only Americans worth stashing on your roster at the present time.
INJURY QUICK HITS
Florent Malouda is the latest high-scoring fantasy stud to be hit by the injury plague, as he'll miss Chelsea's match at Liverpool with an ankle injury…Frank Lampard is expected to return to action for Chelsea…Joe Cole (hamstring) has been ruled out and won't get to face his former team…Nani was deemed out for the weekend by Sir Alex Ferguson after the winger injured his groin in mid-week Champions League play. Nani has since declared himself ready to play. Considering the opponent (Wolves) and the short rest in between the weekend's game and the Matchweek 12 Manchester derby, Nani doesn't figure to see a 90-minute shift…Carlos Tevez is expected to be out again this weekend but his return for the Manchester derby is looking likely…Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor are out for Aston Villa, making life a bit easier for Fulham defenders…West Ham's Mark Noble had an appendectomy and will be out for the next month.
LAST WEEK'S CAPTAIN PICK
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal (3×2=6 points)
WHAT I REALLY MEANT TO SAY WAS…
Kevin Nolan, Newcastle (20×2=40 points)
THIS WEEK'S CAPTAIN PICK
Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United, £9.4
As much as I'd like to take the risk and anoint Nani, the likelihood of him playing all 90 minutes after picking up his groin injury is not strong, especially with the Manchester derby taking place just a few days later. Should the Portuguese international start, he would be the top pick considering his form and matchup. Instead, we'll take a look at Berbatov, who has cooled down considerably after his hot start but is still the second-highest scoring fantasy forward. He has managed to snag bonus points in six of his 10 matches and should be in line for plenty of goal-scoring chances at Old Trafford this weekend.
Other options: Manchester United's Nani and Javier Hernandez; Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri (vs. Newcastle); Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (at Liverpool); Everton's Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill (at Blackpool); Tottenham's Rafael Van der Vaart (at Bolton); Wigan Athletic's Charles N'Zogbia (at Blackburn); Sunderland's Darren Bent (vs. Stoke City)
Soccer By Ives League Standings (Top 10)
1. typos by ives………………………610 points
2. fighting relegation……………..588
3. Austin Killbotz!!………………….583
4. The 14ers FC…………………….581
6. Ft Mudge Possums…………..578
7. De Jong's Right Boot…………577
8. Very Special Ones……………..577
9. scoobys doos…………………….577
10. Abomb FC………………………..574
LAST WEEK'S SBI LEAGUE TOP SCORER
Ranger's Rangers (98 points)
Are you expecting big things from Bale the rest of the season? Who are you making your captain this week? What's your lineup looking like?
Share your thoughts below.