Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 18

Samir Handanovic: the match-up against Napoli is not that inviting fantasy-wise, but Inter boast the best statistical defence in the League by a decent margin and the Partenopei had not bagged two goal in a game in a long while before the last fluky one versus Sassuolo. It could be a low-scoring affair, giving an edge to defences and goalkeepers.

Chris Smalling: Roma have not conceded more than once in the past five fixtures and they will tangle with Torino this weekend, which are not a very explosive side. Smalling is also always a threat on set pieces.

Theo Hernandez: Milan will be asked to bounce back after the debacle against Atalanta and they have a nice opportunity to do so against Sampdoria at home. The Spanish left-back is one of the main driving forces of their offense and has already found the target four times this season.

Timothy Castagne: he seems to have leapfrogged Hans Hateboer in the hierarchies on the right flank and he is set to be, as always, a significant factor in the final third. Atalanta have tightened it up a bit in the back, so any of their defenders is worth considering, especially Rafael Toloi, since Parma will be undermanned.

Riccardo Orsolini: he is finally breaking out after a slow start of the season, as he has tallied three goals and two assists in the last five matches. More importantly, his almost cocky assertiveness is back to top levels and he is poised to lead the way for the Felsinei against the reeling Fiorentina. He is considered a mifielder differently from Nicola Sansone and Rodrigo Palacio.

Rodrigo De Paul: he buried a gem versus Cagliari and perhaps that will finally get him going in an underwhelming campaign. He and Udinese could take advantage of Lecce’s ultra-shoddy defence Monday. Seko Fofana picked up bonus points in the last two, finally faring better.

Gabriel Strefezza: SPAL have something close to a must-win game on hand versus Verona. The exuberant wing-back is coming off his first ever Serie A goal and had posted two assists prior to that, de facto surging to third banana in their pecking order, behind Andrea Petagna and Jasmin Kurtic.

Josip Ilicic: when he is on his day, he is one of the most majestic players to watch and he dazzled in the last home game against Milan. He has already notched seven goals and four assists and being listed as a midfielder makes him very appealing.

Cristiano Ronaldo: he has scored five times in the last four rounds, looking completely healthy and could be re-energized after the break. The Cagliari bout is far from a gimmie, but the opponents have allowed multiple goals in the last six matches and will not be at full strength in the back.

Ciro Immobile: he has failed to hit the net in the last two Serie A games, three including the Supercoppa, after doing that for uncountable tilts in a row. Brescia are pesky but enemies have more often than not found ways to pierce their defence, so the capocannoniere could be back in the stat-sheet.

Francesco Caputo: it does not look like Domenico Berardi has fully recovered from his ailments, so Caputo could be again the tip of the spear for the surging Sassuolo. Even if the teammate makes it in time, he is fine to deploy against Genoa’s league-worst back-line. Among their midfielders instead, Hamed Traore has delivered twice in a row.

Honorable mentions: Roma’s offense is a who’s who of good choices, with Nicolò Zaniolo’s perhaps being the most intriguing one because he can be streaky. Lazio will be depleted in the midfield and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will have to shoulder major responsibilities, but he has been up to the task recently.

SPAL are not very prolific, while Verona used to have a stingy defence at the beginning of the season and now everybody is healthy and available, with Marash Kumbulla quarterbacking it. It is a bit hard to pick the right Lecce attacker game in and game out, but Marco Mancosu is back and he has been the most consistent one. If Genoa and Fiorentina are going to get from a new coach’s bump, then their main guys, Domenico Criscito and Federico Chiesa, will likely be the top gainers.

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