As usual, it might take some time to recalibrate your team after a long international break, but I’d advise you to take extra care after a slew of injuries to Premier League starters. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Luke Shaw, Danny Rose, Nemanja Matic, Wilfried Zaha and Antonio Rudiger are all doubts for the weekend after suffering injuries over the last 10 days.
Check our good friend Ben Dinnery’s Twitter page and Rotoworld injury update later this week—he’s my go-to for all injury news, especially from a Fantasy Premier League perspective. But you’ll see how those injuries even affected my key bargain pick this week.
The week entering the break was one of my best yet: Gameweek 8 picks Luciano Vietto (assist), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (assist, two bonus points) and Matt Doherty (goal, clean sheet, three bonus points) all put together big weeks. Meanwhile, recent picks like Callum Wilson (goal, two assists, two bonus points) and Glenn Murray (goal, three bonus points) also came through with some points.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 9. 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.
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 – Rob Holding (Arsenal)
I’m a sucker for under-the-radar defenders on big teams, so I wanted to bring Rob Holding to your attention. Holding looks like an especially strong pick in the original FPL.com format (priced at £4.4), but also could be a solid one-week to short-term pick in FPL Draft as a starter on an in-form Arsenal side. The Gunners aren’t just rolling, they’re dominating with six straight wins where they have outscored their opponents 17-5 in the process. And finally, the club’s defense has started to come around with only one goal in the last three games, including two clean sheets.
Holding, meanwhile, has started the last two games and played a significant role in defense in the two Arsenal clean sheets this season. Not even taken in one percent of FPL Draft leagues, Holding is only a short-term pick for now because the impending return of Sead Kolasinac worries me. But the Arsenal schedule in the next five weeks (Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Wolves, Bournemouth) makes for a promising stretch in the next month.
MID – Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool)
Here’s where the injuries come in. Sadio Mane is a doubt for the weekend with a broken thumb. Mohamed Salah is a big unknown due to a muscle injury. Naby Keita is likely out with a hamstring injury—all of these injuries happened during the international break. With so many options at his disposal, it makes sense for Jurgen Klopp to start Shaqiri on the wing this weekend either rather than risking Salah and/or Mane with a start. I’m counting on it so much that I’m even drafting Shaqiri into my own team as a short-term rental.
My hope is that Shaqiri can be a two-week pick: after a breakout weekend on Saturday evening against Huddersfield Town, he would surely earn another start the following week against Cardiff City, where he can do even more damage. As my fifth midfielder, a big couple of weeks could result in critical points that very well could change my outlook on the season. The Swiss international has show his quality this season with three assists in just 96 minutes. And since Shaqiri is available in more than half of our FPL Draft leagues, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding him on the waiver wire.
MID – David Brooks (Bournemouth)
The beauty of the Bargain Hunter is the thrill we get from betting on undervalued players and watching them shine while others have to play catch-up to your genius. Well, if you’re truly looking for a risk with a massive payoff in the soothsayer stakes, here’s a player who has come out of nowhere. Brooks entered the season without a single Premier League minute, only to start the first match of the season for Bournemouth; in fact, the academy product has only missed one Premier League game.
Eddie Howe has employed the 21-year-old Welsh international as an attacking midfielder to stunning results with goals in each of the last two league matches to go with two bonus points. Virtually no one owns Brooks in FPL Draft, meaning you can hang back and see if his attacking streak continues. But if he contributes another solid performance this weekend against Southampton, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
FWD – Sam Vokes (Burnley)
Every year, it seems like I make the same two picks concerning Burnley forwards: Sam Vokes in the beginning of the season, Ashley Barnes in the latter half. Well, after scoring in consecutive games for the Clarets, recording five bonus points and notching two goals and an assist in his last three league games, I think it’s about that time of year to mention Sam Vokes. As all of my recommendations this week, beside Xherdan Shaqiri, Vokes is taken in less than two percent of FPL Draft leagues, so you have will have your chance to add him in the next few weeks.
But having Vokes as a third forward, especially if you’ve been disappointed by some semi-big name to come through (Gabriel Jesus, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck), is a stable option in case you unexpectedly need a player to come off the bench in a given week. The Clarets’ next two games (Manchester City and Chelsea) may not be promising, but somebody’s got to do the scoring, and the Welshman has proven to be that guy in recent weeks for Burnley.