What a week that was: 11 days, three gameweeks, 30 games, too many goals to count, and one giant change atop the Premier League table. Whether or not you took some of my recommendations for bargain picks in your FPL Draft leagues, I hope you stuck by my advice regarding squad depth, because the festive fixtures are only just beginning.
Of my picks last week, I was happy to see both Robert Snodgrass and Ashley Young score goals and record a bonus point each. And some of my recent picks came to play sas well with Chicharito and Felipe Anderson each recording a goal and assist for West Ham, Richarlison and Lucas Digne scoring for Everton and Callum Paterson recording a goal and bonus point with Cardiff City.
Apologies at the dearth of goalkeepers over the last month of Premier League action, but surprisingly there just hasn’t been any new keepers added to mix. To give you an idea of the scarcity of keepers, Kasper Schmeichel is taken in 90 percent of FPL Draft leagues, but started in only 40 percent last weekend. There are similar numbers with Lukasz Fabianski and Wayne Hennessey. But the way around that, if you have a top keeper like Alisson, Hugo Lloris, Ederson or Kepa is to have their backup as your No. 2 keeper.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 17. 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 – Sean Morrison (Cardiff City)
Imagine if I told you before the season that you would have a serious debate between choosing Sean Morrison from Cardiff City and Manchester City’s Nicolás Otamendi, you would have stopped reading my column, if you haven’t already. But with Otamendi hovering around the 50 percent ownership mark, it was a serious concern. But the fact of the matter is he’s only started in two of the last nine Premier League matches due to injuries and form, and for defenders in the festive period, you have to at least be sure he’s going to start before anything else.
So that’s how we come to Morrison. The Cardiff captain had quite the week last week: an assist and two bonus points against Wolves, an assist against West Ham and a clean sheet against Southampton. The Bluebirds find themselves in their best form yet with three straight home wins and nine points out of 15. And with Watford, Crystal Palace and Leicester City as part of the schedule leading up to New Year’s Day, there’s some points to be had defensively, making Morrison a more reliable short-term pick than, say, Nicolás Otamendi.
MID – Lucas Torreira (Arsenal)
Speaking of a having a good week, it’s difficult to find someone who had a better time in the Premier League last week than Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira. It started with a massive goal to see off rival Tottenham in his first North London derby, then an assist and two bonus points against Manchester United and finished off with the match-winner and man of the match honors this weekend against Huddersfield Town to combine for 23 points in three games.
I usually have trouble picking a defensive midfielder, but the summer signing has looked more like Aaron Ramsey in recent weeks than Granit Xhaka, parlaying his impressive summer at the World Cup with Uruguay into a breakout debut season in the Premier League. If you’re hurting for a midfielder to fill out your team and add some depth, you can’t go wrong with betting on Torreira’s form given the Gunners’ light upcoming schedule. And you shouldn’t have much competition either—Torreira is owned in just 28.5 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues.
MID – Diogo Jota (Wolves)
If you’re more inclined to add a true attacker, albeit less consistent, to your midfield, then look no further than Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Diogo Jota. The winger is part of Wolves’ young Portuguese contingent that will only improve with more Premier League experience, and it seems that Jota is starting to rise up to the occasion. The 22-year-old turned it on in a shock 2-1 win over Chelsea with a goal, but his best performance yet came on Sunday when he recorded a goal and an assist to lead the way in a win against Newcastle.
Wolves are now starting to hit their stride and it’s mostly thanks to Jota and Matt Doherty, one of my recent picks. But with Jota available in more than 80 percent of FPL Draft leagues, he looks like an especially appealing pick against a Bournemouth defense that shipped four goals to Liverpool over the weekend and eight goals over the course of last week. By the end of this festive period, we’ll know a lot about Wolves with Liverpool and Spurs on the schedule amid multiple winnable games, and I expect Jota to be one member of the squad that emerges as a key figure.
FWD – Aboubakar Kamara (Fulham)
Kamara has been a popular pick in FPL.com circles mostly because he’s the cheapest forward in the game at £4.3, but that will soon change as now the Fulham frontman is starting to make himself a viable FPL Draft pick as well. New manager Claudio Ranieri sees something in Kamara that no one else has before, and Kamara has rewarded his boss with a goal in each of the last two matches, including a penalty against Manchester United in the absence of Aleksandar Mitrovic.
However, since he’s taken in just two percent of FPL Draft leagues, you don’t have to make the move for him right away: it’s probably wiser to sit back and wait to see if he continues his current form but some of us don’t have that luxury at the forward position. But I love the Cottagers’ upcoming schedule with West Ham, Newcastle, Wolves and Huddersfield Town leading up to the New Year’s Day fixtures, and my bet is that Ranieri is going to go all in during the festive period to bring Fulham out of the relegation zone.