After 13 weeks, we are officially one-third of the way through the season. As expected, Manchester City is atop the table; not surprisingly, Sergio Agüero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lead the goal charts; Harry Kane and Manchester United have adhered to the Premier League seers predictions of a let down and Callum Wilson, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Andy Robertson have played the role of major FPL surprises.
I’ve received a couple of inquiries concerning the status of Benjamin Mendy. The Manchester City fullback has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, where he has been phenomenal when he’s on the pitch. But another knee surgery has ruled him out for up to three months. In the classic FPL.com format it’s and easy choice. In FPL Draft, where attacking defenders are at a premium, it’s more complicated since there is likely someone in your league who will jump at the chance to sign him and wait for your return. I’m inclined to say drop, but if you have solid defenders to hold out, it’s a harder decision to make.
My defensive picks from last week came up with some returns as Lewis Dunk recorded a bonus point and Lucas Digne nabbed a clean sheet. Meanwhile, recent picks like Yerry Mina (clean sheet and two bonus points), Andre Schurrle (goal) and David Brooks (assist and a wrongly cancelled goal) also showed up to the Gameweek 13 party.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 14. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL)— I would love to include your thoughts here in this column next week and throughout the season. If you don’t want your name mentioned, just let me know; otherwise, I’ll be sure to give your Twitter handle a shout-out.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the good folks at Fantasy Premier League on a weekly basis. Our friends at FPL.com take the data from a thousand private leagues, all of which consist of eight teams, in order to minimize the impact of data from public leagues where autopick drafting is more prevalent.
Of course, it’s just a sample size, so it’s not hard and fast; but it should give us a good idea of the tendencies of FPL Draft leagues and managers. Remember, the waivers deadline is a full 24 hours before the first game of the week, and the lowest-placed team in your league gets the first pick.
One-week Pick (OWP) - When a regular is suspended for a match, ineligible to face his parent club as a loanee, or his fill-in looks to deputize for only a week while the regular nurses a minor injury, this is where to find some replacements. They should only be looked at when you really need help at a position that week alone, and not looked at as long term plays. Best for salary cap leagues with unlimited transactions, not so much for draft leagues.
Short-term Pick (STP) - When a regular faces a multi-game suspension, an injury layoff lasting 2-5 weeks, international commitment, etc., this is where you look for players that can offer more beyond one week but do have a limited shelf life in most cases. Worth using a waiver claim or spending a bit more of your free agent budget (FAAB) than the One Week Buys. Can be useful in salary-cap format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks.
Long-term Pick (LTP) - When a regular is either facing a month or more out or has lost his spot seemingly to someone better, these are the players that emerge as potential long-term investments and are therefore the most valuable of the group and worth paying up. Great for any format, but especially valuable in draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GKP – Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)
When I took a look at the FPL Draft ownership numbers this week, one thing in the goalkeeper column caught my eye: Seventeen of the 20 starting Premier League keepers are taken in more than 50 percent of FPL Draft leagues (Ben Foster, Jonas Lossl and Alex McCarthy sit below the threshold). But a closer look shows FPL Draft managers hoarding starting keepers and sitting them on the bench as opposed to selecting the No. 2 backups to their high-profile starters. But in the coming weeks, I’m eyeing Martin Dubravka as someone that needs to make the move from bench to starter.
Dubravka is owned in 63 percent of FPL Draft leagues but was a starter in only 24 percent of leagues last weekend. The Magpies keeper has two clean sheets in the last four weeks as their defense has turned around the season, evident in a three-match winning streak. Surely, Rafa Benitez will be eyeing the upcoming schedule as a time to rocket up the table: West Ham, Everton, Wolves, Huddersfield Town, Fulham. So if you’re one of the managers benching Dubravka, it might be time to start him or, if you have Ederson or De Gea, consider dangling Dubravka as trade bait.
DEF – Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal)
I’ve been waiting for this pick to come good for the last couple weeks, but Sead Kolasinac is finally back and ready to score you some points. The versatile defender put together a solid debut season last year with two goals and four assists, but missed the first two months of the season due to a knee injury. But now that the Bosnian international is back, he looks like the type of mid-season addition that can give any team a hefty boost up the table in their FPL Draft leagues.
Mostly employed as a fullback, Kolasinac promises attacking differentials as well a starting spot in a top-5 club’s defense. While the Gunners need to clean up their defense—no clean sheets in the last six league matches—there will be plenty of chances with four games in all competitions in the next 10 days, including this weekend’s North London derby. But I like Kolasinac for what he did over the weekend against Bournemouth, setting up both goals for Arsenal with a couple of assists to net him 11 FPL points. And here’s the best part: Kolasinac is taken in only 12 percent of FPL Draft leagues to make him my bona fide pick of the week with long-term pick written all over him.
DEF – Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield Town)
Just as Newcastle have done in the last couple of weeks, Huddersfield Town has surged up the table after a shaky start that looked like the beginning of a relegation campaign. But seven points from the last nine has done wonders for the Terriers, including a 2-0 away win at Wolves that saw the club go from dead-last to mid-table in one day. And Schindler has been a major part of that resurgence with 21 FPL points recorded in the last three games alone.
Huddersfield has finally shored up its defense with two clean sheets in the last three games, and it doesn’t hurt his cause that Schindler has hoarded the bonus points in defense this season with seven total. And if you look at the club’s upcoming schedule, there are lots of green bars with only trips to Arsenal and Manchester United as daunting fixtures through mid-January. With a schedule like that, you may not have much time to decide on Schindler, who is taken in 49 percent of FPL Draft leagues.
MID – Stuart Armstrong (Southampton)
This weekend in a thrilling loss to Fulham, Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong put together a career performance with two goals. Unfortunately for Saints, it wasn’t enough to overcome Fulham’s three goals in Claudio Ranieri’s first game as Fulham manager, but the world took notice of Armstrong. Not to diminish his performance, as Bargain Hunter I can only hope he continues like this, but it looks more like a one-off than anything at the moment. Armstrong has only started three games this season for Southampton and those two goals were the first of his Premier League career, so the least we could do is give him time to adapt.
That being said, while some people will jump at any midfielder who scores two goals in a game, you’ll have plenty of time to sit back and observe in the coming weeks. Armstrong isn’t even taken in one percent of FPL Draft leagues, and while that figure will more than double in the next few weeks, you’ll still have time to keep track. If you’re more desperate for some midfield help, maybe another two-goal scorer from the weekend could help you: Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy.