Because it’s such a short week, we’re going to have loads of Rotoworld content flooding the site today and tomorrow ahead of yet another gameweek. That being said I’ll keep the intro short here, but be sure to check up on all of the injury news flooding the page and remember: Make sure your squad has plenty of depth this December.
Of my recent picks, Xherdan Shaqiri, Salomon Rondon, and Callum Wilson all scored goals and bonus points while Anthony Martial also scored another goal in the last week. And now keep an eye on Dejan Lovren now that Joe Gomez has been ruled out for a while with a fractured leg.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 16. 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.
DEF – Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
This is a pick I can really get behind, especially in the original FPL.com format but also in those hyper-competitive FPL Draft leagues where everyone is just looking for the slightest edge. But with Benjamin Mendy expected to miss up to the next three months following another knee surgery, meaning there is a giant hold at left back that Pep Guardiola continually refuses to fill in the transfer market. That means we can take advantage of that anomaly by considering Fabian Delph. My only concern is Guardiola’s preference for rotation with Oleksandr Zinchenko also waiting in the wings, but Delph absolutely looks like the No. 1.
With Manchester City only recording one clean sheet in the last five Premier League matches, I’m betting on Guardiola’s focus being on defense with a challenging away match against Chelsea this weekend before an easy festive schedule ahead: Everton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Southampton. With Delph available in 64 percent of FPL Draft leagues, the midfielder-turned-fullback looks like a shrewd pick for the near future with a chance to break into one of the best defenses in the league.
DEF – Ashley Young (Manchester United)
If we’re going to look at top defenses struggling to put together clean sheets, Manchester United has to be our main focus. The usually formidable Red Devils defense has only one clean sheet in the last three months but injuries in defense have been a major factor in the club’s production. The general feeling is that “it’s only a matter of time,” and now the back-four is starting to come healthy once again. So when I was reviewing the FPL Draft numbers, it surprised me to see Ashley Young’s name underneath the 50 percent ownership mark with the left-back available in 60 percent of FPL Draft leagues.
I still think Fabian Delph is going to be a better option, but we shouldn’t overlook Young and the Manchester United schedule. Through the New Year’s Day fixtures, Manchester United will face Fulham, Liverpool, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth and Newcastle, which will either make or break José Mourinho’s United career. If there’s a time for the club to excel and climb back up the table it’s now, so keep an eye on the United defense in the coming weeks. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to have a Manchester United defender as your fifth defender considering how important squad depth will be during the festive period.
MID – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
It’s great to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek finally getting a shot under new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Despite a wealth of talent and his standing in the England national team, the 22-year-old has not been given a fair shake at Stamford Bridge, leading to rumors of an exit next month. This week against Wolves, the attacking midfielder received his first start at Chelsea in nearly two years; and guess what, he scored and was awarded man of the match for his performance despite the losing effort.
It’s the second straight Premier League match in which Loftus-Cheek has scored a goal and the midfielder has now scored in each of his last three appearances for the club to give him a career-high in goals, just like that. I like to ride these bursts out from the start, but the fact that Loftus-Cheek is taken in only five percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues means that you have more time to sit back and observe him during the hectic festive schedule, including a primetime showdown with league-leading Manchester City this weekend. Let’s hope this is the start of the Loftus-Cheek legend.
MID – Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)
It’s been a rough couple of years for Robert Snodgrass at West Ham due to injuries, but now we’re starting to see the Snodgrass of old—remember his 2016/17 season where he recorded seven goals and six assists, or his first Premier League season with Hull City in 2012 with nine assists? Well maybe we’re in for a treat with the Scottish international recording three assists in the two games this week, including two assists in a 3-1 win over Cardiff City on Tuesday night, which is enough to jolt our curiosity as we look for fresh legs during the festive period.
I’ve focused on West Ham’s light schedule from a defensive perspective in recent weeks, but this could equally help the club’s attack despite the absence of top-scorer Marko Arnautovic for the next month due to injury. Through the New Year’s fixtures, the Hammers will face Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford, Southampton, Burnley and Brighton, meaning my eyes will be on West Ham as a whole to see who stands out during a period where I expect Manuel Pellegrini’s side to excel.