Now that we’re back to a normal routine, we can begin to look at the big picture again, which is a trend you’ll find in my picks with several long-term recommendations to get you through the new year. You’ll find none of that silly FPL Wildcard business here.
Of my last week’s picks, Lukasz Fabianski graciously came away with a big return thanks to his clean sheet against Bournemouth with manager David Moyes back at the helm. And of my recent picks, Jack Grealish, Chris Wood and Danny Ings each scored a goal while Joe Gomez continued his clean sheet run with Liverpool.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 22. 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 – Orjan Nyland (Aston Villa)
This first pick hurts because it means the loss of a Bargain Hunter hero in Tom Heaton to injury. At the end of the club’s 2-1 win over Burnley on New Year’s Day, Heaton suffered a knee ligament injury that the club confirmed will keep him out for the rest of the season. With Jed Steer also dealing with a long-term injury, the starting keeper gloves now fall to Orjan Nyland. And with the lack of starting keepers available on the waiver wire, any new starter becomes an instant bargain in the FPL Draft environment.
You won’t have to rush to acquire the Norwegian as he’s virtually untaken in FPL Draft leagues unlike the more popular Heaton, but now you have another option at your disposal if Heaton was your starter or if you’re looking for a new backup in your team. However, there are likely to be better options available in your individual draft leagues, so just have a look before you make the move. Better yet, it might be smarter to wait until after the Manchester City match this weekend, which throws Nyland straight into the fire from the start.
DEF – Jack Stephens (Southampton)
No defender outside of that formidable Liverpool back four is in better form than Southampton’s Jack Stephens. In the last four weeks alone, the center-half has recorded 29 points, which includes the goal and two bonus points he scored in a 3-1 win against Aston Villa. In fact, his form has run parallel to Southampton’s as the club finds itself on their best run of the season during this five-match unbeaten streak. More impressively, Saints’ last two clean sheets have come in the last three matches against powerhouses in Chelsea and Tottenham.
Despite his recent success, Stephens is taken in less than one percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, and that makes him a massive bargain. And while this upcoming weekend may prove to be a hearty challenge for Saints with a trip to Leicester City (a win would move them into the top 10), the schedule opens up with games against Wolves, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Burnley, Aston Villa, West Ham, Newcastle, and Aston Villa to take them well into March. For the moment, Stephens looks like a great STP and a valuable asset if used as a fourth or fifth defender.
DEF – Djibril Sidibé (Everton)
I may have already recommended Djibril Sidibé five weeks ago, but circumstances have changed and it may not be much longer before he is no longer available. In these last four matches, the right-back recorded 23 points including two clean sheets, an assist and five bonus points. And better yet, Sidibé is now being deployed as a right midfielder as Everton have switched to a three-man back-line, which will only benefit Sidibé as he looks to add to his four assists on the season. But the bigger problem is that he is now taken in the majority of FPL Draft leagues with 55 percent ownership.
With Carlo Ancelotti in charge, Everton now have the most accomplished manager in their history with the ownership and funding to back him, so there really is no excuse for this club not to excel. And now is that time in the schedule has come for the Toffees to take off with Brighton, West Ham, Newcastle, Watford and Crystal Palace until Gameweek 27. Sidibé looks like a real weapon and a potential long-term pick depending on how Everton attack this schedule. Given his history off assists and that upcoming schedule, I’d go all in on Sidibé this week and beyond.
FWD – Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)
While I’m sure it won’t be long before Troy Deeney finds himself in this space, Watford’s best forward at the moment is Gerard Deulofeu. The former Barcelona man has two goals and an assist in his last three matches including a magisterial performance against Wolves where he recorded a goal, assist and three bonus points. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, Deulofeu is one of those guys who is on fire when he’s in form and ice cold when he’s not; there’s no between, as evident in the six-game gap between goals before his strike against Sheffield United in Gameweek 19.
But now we find the Spaniard on a good run, and a trip to a Bournemouth side that just shipped four goals to West Ham makes me think Deulofeu will be eyeing the weekend to keep the good times rolling. However, after that performance against Wolves, expect Deulofeu to be one of the first picks off the waiver wire this week. He’s available in only 37 percent of leagues, and that’s before managers could react to the Wolves’ match, so my guess is Deulofeu won’t be around past this upcoming weekend. If he stays hot, Deulofeu is a long-term pick waiting in the wings, but you have to act fast.