FPL Barometer: Is the Magic Gone?

FPL Barometer: Is the Magic Gone?

This article is part of our FPL Barometer series.

The ebbs and flows of the 2015/16 Premier League season continued in Matchweek 22, as some of last year's biggest stars continued to trend upward, while some of this season's early surprises continued their noticeable downturns. January is a unique time of year for fantasy Premier League owners, as some important players struggle to rebound from the busy holiday period, while the transfer market provides another added variable, creating value out of nowhere for clubs who feel the need to address certain areas of their roster.

While things have been relatively quiet on the transfer front thus far, there has still been plenty of fluctuation in fantasy value in recent weeks because of the reasons previously mentioned. All of these factors have played a part in the FPL Barometer for Matchweek 23.

RISING:

Benik Afobe
A proven goal scorer in the Championship with Wolverhampton, Afobe has made an immediate impact for Bournemouth, scoring a goal on three shots in last week's 3-0 demolition of Norwich. The 22-year-old is set to occupy the center forward spot for the Cherries and should benefit from service provided by the likes of Junior Stanislas, Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh. Afobe left the Norwich match in the 84th minute because of a knock, but his availability this weekend is not believed to be in jeopardy, and he should be a good value option versus the hapless Sunderland defense.

Matt Targett
Targett returned to the starting lineup in Matchweek 21 after an absence of over two months and has played extremely well for Southampton, earning an assist in the win over Watford before his Man of the Match performance versus West Brom on Saturday. The youngster is eligible as a defender in most formats, yet he has been deployed as a wide midfielder, which has enabled him to average nearly six crosses per match since returning. Targett's universally low price tag makes him an intriguing option to fill out a roster heading into Saturday's fixture with Manchester United.

Wayne Rooney
Big things were expected from Rooney heading into the season, and while he undeniably underperformed during the first half, he has enjoyed a noticeable uptick in production of late. The captain has five goals and two assists in his last four matches in all competitions, more than tripling his season output before that stretch. Rooney's revival has resulted in one of the better stretches of the season for the Red Devils, and he should be heavily relied upon once again versus Southampton this Saturday.

FALLING:

Jamie Vardy
Vardy was the story of the season's opening stages, playing a part in 18 goals through his first 17 league matches, but his production has taken a significant downturn of late. The speedy striker has failed to factor into a goal in his last five matches, which also corresponds with the extremely condensed schedule during the holiday period. Vardy has also played through a niggling muscle injury which required a minor surgical procedure, begging the question of how fit he truly is at the moment. Leicester as a team have managed just three goals since Vardy began to cool off, and this weekend's matchup versus a formidable Stoke back line hardly presents a good opportunity to turn things around.

Yohan Cabaye
Cabaye began to command attention from fantasy owners when he scored in three straight matches earlier this season, but he has failed to consistently produce since then, with just one goal and no assists in his last 11 league matches. Three of the 30-year-old's five goals this season have come from the penalty spot, artificially padding his totals, and his viability is largely limited to formats that reward peripheral stats as long as he is not contributing assists. Palace will face a Tottenham side this weekend that has allowed the fewest goals in the league this season.

Thibaut Courtois
Courtois' return in December seemed to have helped solidify a struggling Chelsea side, but the Blues have regressed of late, allowing five goals in their last two matches. The gangly 'keeper stopped fewer than half of the shots he faced in those two matches, hardly inspiring confidence from fantasy owners heading into this weekend's away match at league-leading Arsenal. Courtois should eventually round into form, but there are certainly better options among the high-priced goalies this weekend.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tate McIntyre
Tate is a soccer writer for RotoWire who focuses primarily on the Barclays Premier League and La Liga. He also contributes to NFL, MLB & NBA coverage. He is a former college soccer player as well as an avid supporter of Arsenal, FC Dallas and America's team: The Dallas Cowboys.
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