It’s incredible to think that another year has passed us by, and the highlights from 2018 are pretty epic. There was a dominant Manchester City title campaign, a star being born in Mohamed Salah, a France World Cup, the implosion of José Mourinho and Liverpool exiting the year as title favorites. Thanks to all our readers for your endless support—there will be plenty to read today on Rotoworld ahead of tomorrow’s games—and here’s to another epic year.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 21. 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.
GK – Tom Heaton (Burnley)
It’s been a long journey back for Tom Heaton, but as manager Sean Dyche said over the weekend, his professionalism has been rewarded. The long-time Burnley keeper made his first Premier League start in more than a year. Last season he came back from a long-term injury and but had to play backup to Nick Pope after his fabulous season that included 11 clean sheets and a seventh-place finish, and then ending in a spot on the England World Cup team. But Heaton looks like he’s here to stay after getting the nod over Joe Hart this weekend.
Earning a clean sheet and two bonus points for his four saves, Heaton was one of the star’s in a much-needed 2-0 win over an upstart West Ham side to bring the club into a tie with Southampton for the final relegation spot. With that momentum, Burnley go do some damage in the next few weeks with only Manchester United as a tough test before mid-February, with Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Watford due up next. If Burnley can garner some clean sheet points, Heaton will almost certainly go from short-term pick to long-term lock as a potential second keeper widely available in FPL Draft leagues.
DEF – Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace)
Not too many mid-level teams have as favorable a schedule as Crystal Palace to start the new year with Wolves, Watford, Liverpool, Southampton, Fulham, West Ham and Leicester City through Gameweek 27. And, believe it or not, not too many teams have been as solid defensively at home as Crystal Palace has been in the last month or so—Roy Hodgson’s side has only conceded two goals in its last five games at Selhurst Park. Both of those factors lead me to consider a Crystal Palace defender for the next month or two.
Previous Bargain Hunter pick Aaron Wan-Bissaka (more bonus points) and Patrick Van Aanholt would be my first suggestions, but Mamadou Sakho could work just as well, since he is taken is less FPL Draft leagues with his ownership under 40 percent. And the former Liverpool and PSG center-half has yet to miss a minute of Premier League action this season. Four of the club’s seven clean sheets this season have come since Gameweek 13, and that bodes well for a club with a veteran manager with defensive emphasis and favorable upcoming schedule.
MID – Víctor Camarasa (Cardiff City)
While I still prefer some of my more recent midfield picks like Jesse Lingard, David Brooks and Abdoulaye Doucoure, what Víctor Camarasa has been doing for Cardiff City needs to be highlighted and at least put on a watchlist. And, depending on your league, he could be the most available, in-form midfielder. The Spaniard, on loan from Real Betis, has started every game since the second week of the season, but he’s just now starting to show that he’s figured out his role in the team and how to approach the Premier League.
In his last four games, Camarasa has combined for two goals and an assist for a total of 24 points. He’s also contributed to three of the club’s last four goals and hit the match-winner against Leicester City this weekend to give the club it’s first away win of the season. Since he’s not even taken in one percent of FPL Draft leagues, you have plenty of time to monitor him in the coming weeks, but if he continues to excel, you might want to consider Camarasa for your fifth midfield spot.
FWD – Jurgen Locadia (Brighton)
We knew it would happen eventually, but Glenn Murray is starting to show his age, and that should concern Brighton fans. However, despite Murray’s five-match goalless streak during which the Seagulls have scored only three goals, the club has a 10-point cushion between itself and the relegation zone. And two of those three goals have come from Jurgen Locadia, who has seemed to pick up the slack in his last two starts. Against Arsenal, Locadia’s goal earned Brighton a critical point, and then he topped that with the match-winner against Everton over the weekend for the club’s first win since Gameweek 15, the last time Murray scored.
Locadia is only just now getting a look from manager Chris Hughton, so he still doesn’t look like the most stable pick at the moment, especially for a side that is averaging just over one goal a game. But there could be some benefit to taking a chance on Locadia in the short term, given the form that he’s in. Regardless, FPL Draft managers will not be in any hurry to take him off the waiver wire, so you’ll have plenty of time to consider him as a third forward in case of any injury emergencies.