At first, I thought it was just my FPL Draft leagues that seemed to be snatching up all the talent, but then I saw the latest figures from around the FPL Draft universe and was floored. Former picks like Nicolás Otamendi, Yerry Mina, Dani Ceballos, Nick Pope and Jannik Vestergaard have all crossed 70 percent ownership when just weeks ago they were readily available around 50 percent. That means the window for observation is not as generous as usual, and we might need to pull the trigger on things sooner than expected.
Of my recent picks, the most shocking return this week came from Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who recorded an assist on Friday in a win against Southampton. Meanwhile, Otamendi had a monster weekend with a goal, assist and clean sheet in that 8-0 win over Watford, while Lewis Dunk at Brighton recorded a clean sheet and assist as well.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 7. 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 – Dean Henderson (Sheffield United)
We’re steadily making our way through available keepers in FPL Draft, but Dean Henderson is one you may want to keep an eye on. With a game against Liverpool coming up this weekend, he may not look like the best pick unless you’re looking to record a ton of saves, but Sheffield United’s start to the season also shouldn’t be ignored. Despite being a newly promoted team, Sheffield United currently sit in 10th place and have only conceded six goals from six games. Shockingly enough, only Leicester City and Liverpool have conceded fewer goals so far this season than the Blades, who have also recorded two clean sheets.
That should be reason enough to consider Henderson among other Sheffield United defenders. The Blades have a mixed fixture list coming up with Liverpool, Watford, Arsenal, West Ham and Burnley next up, but Henderson could fill in as a No. 2 keeper in a platoon situation, allowing you to throw him in when the matchup is right. Otherwise, there is no harm in waiting to see how the 22-year-old develops considering that he is available in 83 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues. If Sheffield United continues to exceed expectations, there’s a run of games in December that look especially favorable.
DEF – Serge Aurier (Spurs)
After it seemed that he would be heading for the exit doors, Serge Aurier is now right back into the fold in North London. If his last two starts are any indicator of where the right-back is headed this season, you might want to jump on the Aurier bandwagon. In his first start of the season, a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, Aurier played the star with two assists and two bonus points. Then, in a disappointing loss to Leicester City on Saturday, Aurier looked to continue his roll with a goal, only to see VAR give a painful reversal as Heung-Min Son was (almost quite literally) a hair offside. But the signs are promising, as is the club’s upcoming schedule.
Before the October international break, Spurs face Southampton, Brighton and Watford. Given Tottenham’s lackluster start to the season, the next three weeks provide an optimal slate to turn things around with clean sheets aplenty. The only issue with Aurier is that, with only two games under his belt, you have to decide whether you want him in your team as soon as possible as the Ivorian international sits just at the halfway mark with 53.5 percent ownership. Personally, I think it’s worth the risk as having Aurier as a fifth defender is a fairly low-risk, high-reward scenario. And if the former PSG man continues his attacking tilt, it could be one shrewd early-season pickup.
MID – Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham)
There was a lot of promise surrounding Andriy Yarmolenko to start last season following an £18 million move from Borussia Dortmund. And with two goals and an assist in his first full month with the team, the Hammers looked to have a solid playmaker in the wings; that is, until a torn Achilles sidelined the Ukrainian international for the rest of the season. But after a full preseason to work back from a grueling recovery, Yarmolenko is right back to where he left off last season. The attacking midfielder has scored two of the club’s last four goals, including an impressive effort that earned him man of the match honors and three bonus points in a 2-0 win against Manchester United over the weekend.
With someone like Yarmolenko, who is taken in only17.3 percent of our sample of FPL Draft leagues, you could wait around and see how he continues to perform since it’s early in the season. But what I like most about fifth-place West Ham’s chances is their upcoming schedule for the next six weeks: Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, Newcastle, Burnley. That alone might have me jumping at the chance to add Yarmolenko off the waiver wire, even as a fifth midfielder, because I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ownership in FPL Draft double in the next week or two with scoring midfielders in high demand as always.
FWD – Chris Wood (Burnley)
It was only a matter of time before we featured Bargain Hunter favorite Chris Wood. Usually he makes his annual appearance in this column towards the middle of the season, but Burnley’s solid start and concerns over missing out on a solid forward have accelerated his cameo. After a highly impressive start from Ashley Barnes to start the year, the Clarets have now turned to Wood to lead the way as the two have never found a way to hit their respective strides at the same time. Against Norwich City over the weekend, Wood looked unstoppable with both Burnley goals and three bonus points as the clear man of the match.
Now, usually I wouldn’t recommend a player after just one strong performance, but forwards this season present a different case. Before the two-goal showing, Wood was already taken in 56 percent of FPL Draft leagues. In a forward market currently starved of goals, Wood will easily break the 60 percent ownership mark and likely near 70 percent, making this week your one real chance to add a solid starting forward with two straight 10-goal Premier League seasons under his belt. If you’re hurting for goals at forward, make the Kiwi international a priority this week before he’s gone.