We’re back to a normal gameweek, for now, before next week’s blank gameweek. Hopefully, you’ve been preparing for a couple weeks now, anticipating form and planning your waiver wire pickups accordingly, but it’s never too late to start with only one week to go.
Of last week’s picks, only Angelo Ogbonna at West Ham made any immediate returns with a clean sheet and one bonus point. But my recent picks came to play: Shane Duffy and Declan Rice each recorded a clean sheet and three bonus points, Ashley Barnes and Michy Batshuayi both scored, Jeff Schlupp continued his roll with his third consecutive game with an assist from a defensive position.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 30. 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 – Angus Gunn (Southampton)
Angus Gunn made a brief cameo earlier this season where he held Chelsea to a scoreless draw in his first-ever Premier League start, only to not be rewarded with another chance until the last month. But since then, Gunn has proven himself to not only be a contender for the starting job, but to win it outright from Alex McCarthy. In his last two appearances, Gunn has recorded 15 FPL points, including a clean sheet, a penalty save and a bonus point—all good enough to see him break into the top five in form for goalkeepers in FPL. And he’s done it all with a schedule that has featured Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks.
Saints just have to clear Spurs and Liverpool in two of their next three gameweeks (no match in gameweek 31) before the schedule opens up for the rest of the season with Wolves, Newcastle, Bournemouth, West Ham, Huddersfield and Watford remaining. At this rate, Gunn could be a solid option especially for teams that have been running on a platoon keeper basis based on matchups. Gunn is widely available in FPL Draft, taken in only 1.6 percent of leagues, so you can even wait until after the Liverpool match if you want more time to deliberate.
DEF – Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)
All of the competition in the Manchester City defense has seen Nicolás Otamendi pushed to the bench in a bit-part role; he’s already guaranteed his lowest minutes season total since arriving at the club in the summer of 2015. However, with injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, now it looks like Pep Guardiola will need the enigmatic Argentine center-back more than ever to help protect Manchester City’s one-point lead in the table to secure another Premier League title.
Regardless of the injuries, the Manchester City defense has taken its game to the next level with four straight clean sheets, in which Otamendi has contributed to three. Against Bournemouth, Otamendi particularly stood out with three bonus points to go with the clean sheet and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same with Watford, Fulham, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace in the club’s next four matches before a difficult double gameweek 35. But with Otamendi already taken in 59 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, this week might be your last chance to bring him into your team.
DEF – Seamus Coleman (Everton)
In case you cannot afford to have another blank gameweek defender in your team ahead of next week, Seamus Coleman is a widely available consistent option for the final stretch of the season. Despite his past proficiency, the Irish international is taken in only 27 percent of FPL Draft leagues in what looks to be his worst year since 2011/12. But now it looks like he has returned to the form that has always endeared him to us fantasy managers (as recently as 2016/17, Coleman recorded four goals, four assists and 10 clean sheets for 133 points.)
In his last four matches, Coleman has combined for 25 points in FPL with three clean sheets, an assist and three bonus points following the weekend’s scoreless draw in the Merseyside derby. The Everton schedule is hit-or-miss with Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham, Arsenal and Fulham in the next month, but having Coleman as a fifth defender looks like a shrewd choice to bank on a possible differential.
MID – Ryan Babel (Fulham)
While Fulham’s fortunes have not fared well as they face another relegation from the Premier League, Ryan Babel has been a lone bright spot. It’s been more than a decade between his first Premier League start and his last, but since arriving from Besiktas in the winter transfer window, Babel has become the club’s main source of production. In his six league starts, the Dutch winger has contributed to four of the club’s six goals in that time with a goal and three assists despite only one win during that time.
After playing Liverpool and Manchester City in consecutive weeks later this month, the Cottagers’ schedule in the final two months of the season is one of the league’s most favorable: Watford, Everton, Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Wolves, Newcastle. That’s when I plan on having Babel (or some Fulham attacker) in my team, but for those of you that need players for the blank gameweek next week, it can’t hurt to jump the gun and get Babel early. Don’t worry though, there’s not much competition for him at the moment given his nine percent ownership.