If you despised that international break as much as I did, there’s no need to worry. The double gameweeks are starting to accumulate, the Champions League quarterfinals start in the next two weeks and the title race is going down to the wire.
Luckily, we don’t have to worry about wildcards and bench boosts, but it is still a double gameweek for us FPL Draft managers. So I’ve put together a special column this week featuring only double gameweek participants in the hopes that you can double up on some points.
Of my last week’s picks, Youri Tielemans recorded an assist for Leicester City. Meanwhile, recent picks like Salomon Rondon and Ryan Babel each recorded a goal and two bonus points while Angelo Ogbonna also scored a goal for West Ham in the blank gameweek.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 32. 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 – Mat Ryan (Brighton)
Of the few starting keepers available in the majority of FPL Draft leagues, Ryan is the one I’m backing ahead of the double gameweek. Brighton is in the middle of a relegation race but has turned things around lately with two straight wins over Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace heading into the international break. In fact, after just three clean sheets in the first 24 matches of the season, Brighton has recorded two shutouts in its last five league games.
And then there’s the double gameweek, which has Brighton playing against Southampton at the weekend before heading to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. I think there’s real promise for Ryan to record a clean sheet against Saints, while he could rack up enough saves to score some points against Chelsea as well. Ryan is still available in 60 percent of draft leagues and could be a good way to double up on the points, while Brighton’s upcoming schedule should also entice you: Bournemouth, Cardiff and Wolves are up after the double gameweek.
DEF – Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Not that Chris Smalling is back from injury, which kept him sidelined for nine Premier League matches, the central defender looks like a bona fide bargain with clear potential to garner a big differential. The England international has quickly become a favorite of interim (for now) manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and even recorded two clean sheets in his first two games back last month. But the Red Devils schedule is what really makes me think the best is yet to come for Smalling and the Manchester United defense.
Just in the double gameweek, Manchester United has a solid chance to record consecutive clean sheets with Watford and Wolves. Then, after a blank gameweek in Gameweek 33, Manchester United will face West Ham and Everton immediately after with Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City later down the line, making Smalling a great option for the remainder of the season. And somehow, he’s taken in only 52 percent of FPL Draft leagues, which means there’s a top defensive option readily available on the waiver wire across the board.
DEF – Davinson Sánchez (Spurs)
In case Smalling is taken, you have too many Manchester United players, or you simply don’t like him, here’s another solid defensive option from a top-five club. With a double gameweek, Spurs players will be a popular picks for fantasy managers with Liverpool and Crystal Palace coming up. But the problem is Spurs starters are hard to come by in FPL Draft leagues, so getting a Tottenham player into your team this week it may involve taking a calculated risk.
But Sanchez looks like a safer bet as the center-back has started and played the full 90 minutes in nine of the club’s last 11 Premier League matches. And if he continues to start, Spurs look to have more than a few clean sheets lined up for them with Huddersfield Town, Manchester City, Brighton, West Ham, Bournemouth, and Everton on the schedule for the remainder of the season. I still recommend Smalling as the safe bet, but Sanchez could be just as good if you’re part of the 42 percent of leagues where he is still available.
MID – Diogo Jota (Wolves)
Most people are familiar with Diogo Jota after the Portuguese midfielder put together a 19-point performance in Gameweek 23 for his hat-trick against Leicester City. And in the last two games, Jota has found more of that form with a goal and assist in just 46 minutes against Cardiff City, and the assist on the club’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in Gameweek 30. He also scored in the club’s impressive 2-1 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals, giving Wolves a serious shot at the FA Cup final with a semifinal matchup against Watford approaching.
The only problem is that Jota is taken in about two-thirds of FPL Draft leagues, but he’s worth checking the waiver wire because he can be a fixture for the remainder of the season. In the double gameweek, Wolves will face Burnley and Manchester United (at home), but also have Southampton, Brighton, Watford and Fulham on their remaining schedule. Even if you can’t add Jota, Wolves players will be in vogue for the coming gameweek.