I’m not going to try to hide the fact that the Liverpool-Manchester City showdown on Sunday looms over this entire weekend and season, but from an FPL perspective it’s just a piece of a bigger gameweek and a longer season. In the long scheme of things the Wolves-Aston Villa undercard could have just as much impact on your FPL league as the main event.
Of last week’s bargain picks, Lys Mousset had himself quite the week by assisting on all three of Sheffield United’s goals. Meanwhile, recent picks like Aaron Ramsdale (clean sheet, two bonus points) John Lundstram (two goals, clean sheet, three bonus), and Çaglar Soyuncu (goal, clean sheet, three bonus) all shined over the weekend.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 12. 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 – Ben Foster (Watford)
Not much has gone well for Watford this season. In 11 games, the Hornets have not won a single match and have scored only six goals to put them right at the bottom of the table on five points total. It’s pretty simple: When your goalkeeper is your leading FPL scorer, that’s usually not a good thing; but that doesn’t mean you should ignore everyone on the bottomfeeders. As I mentioned last week, new/old manager Quique Sanchez Flores has focused on defense first in his return to the club since Javi Gracia’s exit, and Foster has been the biggest beneficiary of that in FPL.com.
In the last four matches, Foster has really come into his own with two clean sheets and two 10-point performances thanks to man of the match showings against Sheffield United and Bournemouth. And with Norwich City, Burnley and Southampton coming up in the next three weeks, Foster and this Watford defense have some clear chances to secure some more clean sheet points. Despite Watford’s struggles, Foster is still taken in 54 percent of our most recent sample of FPL Draft leagues, and that figure is only steadily rising.
DEF – Sergio Rico (Bournemouth)
Rico seems to have become a hipster pick in the original FPL.com format given his initial £4.0 pricetag as a starting defender, but his 13.6 percent ownership isn’t too far off his 12-percent mark in FPL Draft. With a long-term injury to Charlie Daniels, Rico got his chance in Eddie Howe’s system and has not disappointed, playing the full 90 minutes in every game he has played this season. Better yet, Rico has shown his attacking vision with assists in consecutive weeks earlier this season and it’s only a matter of time before he secures his first career Premier League goal.
But the best news of all is that it seems this notoriously leaky Bournemouth defense seems to have finally found a solution, evident in three straight clean sheets against Norwich City, Watford and Manchester United and have only conceded once in the last month of the season (a figure marred by only one goal in that timeframe). And with Newcastle, Wolves, Spurs and Crystal Palace up next, there seems to be plenty of opportunities to add to those clean sheet numbers. Earlier this season I recommended Nathan Ake, and I would still go for the former Chelsea defender over Rico, but the latter isn’t such a bad fifth defender to have either.
MID – Dwight McNeil (Burnley)
I can’t remember a Premier League season where midfielders are this scarce in FPL.com at the start of November. It’s tough to pinpoint the dearth of starting midfielders on the waiver wire but there’s clearly been a lot of turnover in the midfields of top teams and a lack of star power (former stars like Dele Alli, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wilfried Zaha and Paul Pogba have underachieved and/or struggled with injury) have certainly caused FPL managers to look elsewhere for points in midfield. That leads us to a player like Dwight McNeil who typically in years past wouldn’t warrant a spot here quite yet but is product of demand in the midfield market.
That’s not to say McNeil isn’t a good player; in fact, at just 19 years old, he looks like he could be one of the future assist kings of the Premier League. In his first full season last year, McNeil recorded a goal and four assists, and in just 11 games this year he has already equaled that assist total to lead the Clarets this season. Meanwhile, McNeil scored his first goal of the season in the club’s 4-2 loss to Chelsea in Gameweek 10. All signs point to McNeil continuing his development and setting a solid career high, but you may have to pull the trigger sooner rather than later in this market as he sits on the 50 percent ownership threshold, taken in 51 percent of our sample.
MID – Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
This summer Brighton made some serious investments to try to stay out of the relegation zone by breaking their transfer records twice in as many months, and it’s shown with the Seagulls currently sitting in eighth place on 15 points. Leandro Trossard was one of those signings, arriving in a £18 million deal after the club paid a similar fee for winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh the year before. Trossard arrived with a lot of hype after contributing to more than 30 goals last season as Genk captain, but his debut campaign got off to a slow start after a groin injury sidelined him for five games.
But in the two games since his return, both coming as a second-half substitute, Trossard has recorded a goal and two assists, including an impressive showing against Norwich this weekend where he contributed to both of the club’s goals. Due to that injury, Trossard has mostly fallen under the radar in that hectic midfield market, which is why he looks like such a solid pick available in more than 85 percent of FPL Draft leagues. Sure, picking up a young player new to the Premier League will come with some growing pains, but now that the Belgian is healthy it can’t hurt to have him on your bench as he blossoms into Brighton’s premier playmaker.