Sky Sports is back with the weekly Fantasy Premier League column, bringing you essential tips from the best managers in the world.

In our latest column, Holly Shand and Sam from FPL Family discuss the big talking points following the Premier League restart ahead of GW18 including the best replacements for Reece James, what to do with the misfiring Darwin Nunez and the best strikers under £8m…

What caught your eye in GW17?

Sam Bonfield: Manchester United really caught my eye. They looked solid in defence as well as confident in attack. With two great fixtures in Gameweek 18 and 19, the double-up, potentially even the triple-up looks on.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Manchester United and Nottingham Forest

Luke Shaw (£4.8m) picked up a clean sheet and two bonus points against Nottingham Forest in Gameweek 17, he looks like the ideal defensive option for FPL managers, especially in Diogo Dalot’s absence and at his price tag.

Holly Shand: Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.9m) is firmly on the radar. I decided not to go with him in Gameweek 17 with Marco Silva stating in his press conference that he hadn’t been training with the group, but it seems like an error that I omitted him now.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Crystal Palace against Fulham in the Premier League

He had seven shots in the box against Crystal Palace, including five headed attempts and he also led the way for assists with two. He is still one yellow card away from a suspension, so I’ll likely wait for him to get through Southampton in Gameweek 18, before buying for Fulham’s Double Gameweek 19.

Who is the best Reece James replacement?

Reece James is forced off by injury during Chelsea's Premier League clash with Bournemouth
Reece James was forced off by injury during Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Bournemouth

Holly Shand: If you have some funds in the bank, I’d recommend going up to Andrew Robertson (£6.8m). He was never on the radar for me with unlimited transfers but seriously impressed against Aston Villa, taking five corners and grabbing an assist.

He now has four assists in his last four games and has been the more advanced of the Liverpool full-backs. He seems worth the extra outlay, especially with James now injured and Pep Guardiola using Joao Cancelo (£7.4m) as a substitute against Leeds United.

Sam Bonfield: If you don’t already own Shaw he could be the perfect option for two fixtures which look likely to bring clean sheets. He is also a bonus points magnet.

For managers who want to stay invested in Chelsea, Marc Cucurella (£5.1m) is a great alternative to James and has some good attacking threat. Cesar Azpilicueta (£4.8m) should also deputise for James and therefore could be a great budget enabler for FPL managers who then benefit from Chelsea playing twice in Gameweek 19.

If you can field a GW18 team without James, is it better to roll a transfer ahead of DW19?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Chelsea and Bournemouth

Sam Bonfield: I’m planning to bench James in Gameweek 18 and instead play Shaw. I’ll move him on ahead of Gameweek 19 as I am planning to bench boost and therefore need a fully playing squad.

I’ll likely move to either Tim Ream (£4.5m) in Gameweek 19 or stick with Chelsea and go for Cucurella or Azpiliceuta. For most managers, you should be able to play your budget defenders ahead of James in Gameweek 18 and that would be my recommendation.

Holly Shand: Absolutely, if you have two good options on your bench then I would save the transfer this week.

Making the move this week could lead to a benching headache, with most of the popular clubs having promising fixtures, and having two free transfers ahead of a Double Gameweek will be far more powerful. It’s another quick turnaround between fixtures which is important to bear in mind.

What would you do with Darwin Nunez?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Aston Villa against Liverpool in the Premier League

Holly Shand: Surely Darwin Nunez (£9m) can only improve his finishing!

He led the way for big chances in Gameweek 17, with four, but unfortunately missed them all. He had six shots on goal, five of them coming inside the box and he will continue to get opportunities as Liverpool’s number nine, especially with the injuries they have.

The concern is that another poor performance would see him dropped in favour of new signing Cody Gakpo and we could also see Mo Salah (£12.8m) move centrally. Give him one more game.

Sam Bonfield: He was unlucky not to return. As a Darwin owner I was disappointed to see him blank however, the underlined stats suggest he is worth the hold.

Is Grealish on the FPL radar now?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Leeds against Manchester City in the Premier League

Sam Bonfield: Jack Grealish (£6.8m) was particularly good in the second half of Man City’s Gameweek 17 match against Leeds. His two assists will put him on the radar of FPL managers, but he is a big rotation risk.

Man City could potentially play nine games in January and therefore Pep will likely rotate heavily. For me, I would rather spend the £6.8m on the likes of Marcus Rashford (£6.8m), Gabriel Martinelli (£6.8m) or Martin Odegaard (£6.4m) who will likely get more game time.

Holly Shand: He has to be, but Pep Guardiola will surely be disappointed with some of his finishing against Leeds United.

Grealish does seem to be in favour of Phil Foden (£8.3m) on the left of Manchester City’s attack. Foden has started just one of City’s last five Premier League games.

Grealish was unselfish in passing the ball to Haaland for City’s second goal which should see him in Pep’s good books after a frustrating first-half performance which saw him miss a couple of promising chances.

How do you rank the £8m and below strikers after Mitrovic, Havertz, Martial, Nketiah all scored?

Aleksandar Mitrovic salutes the supporters after putting Fulham 3-0 up against Crystal Palace
Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after putting Fulham 3-0 up against Crystal Palace

Sam Bonfield: Mitrovic will be at the forefront of FPL managers’ attention given he has two fixtures in Gameweek 19. Indeed he looks like a great captaincy option for Gameweek 19.

Kai Havertz (£7.7m) also plays twice in Gameweek 19 however there is more risk of rotation across that Chelsea squad and that slightly puts me off. I think I would rather invest in Mason Mount (£7.5m) from Chelsea rather than fill a forward spot with Havertz.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Arsenal against West Ham in the Premier League

I do really like Eddie Nketiah (£6.5m). He frees up all important budget and played fantastically in Gameweek 17. I think he will regularly start and bring returns for his managers.

Anthony Martial (£6.7m) would be last of these four for me, simply because Erik ten Hag often withdraws him on 60 minutes meaning that his minutes give less time for returns. Like with Havertz, I think Rashford in midfield is a better pick than Martial.

Holly Shand: This is a headache now with so many options to choose from and just two spaces. Mitrovic is the proven entity when it comes to consistency and with promising fixtures he should be the top priority now, bearing in mind he’s walking the suspension tightrope.

Beyond that, Havertz perhaps has a slight edge over the other two given the fixtures, especially with the Double Gameweek 19, but I don’t think it’s worth selling Martial or Nketiah to get him in this week.

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