The first week after the international break is always the hardest; and then, there was this past week. Due to the format, FPL Draft managers had a much better week than our FPL.com brethren, but even then, it certainly wasn’t a week to celebrate.
Of my last week’s picks, Xherdan Shaqiri, the biggest risk, turned out to be the biggest reward with an assist on Mohamed Salah’s goal against Huddersfield Town. But some of my recent picks were some of the few to show up at the Gameweek 10 let-down of a party: Andre Schurrle scored a banger, Roberto Pereyra recorded another goal for Watford and Michael Keane recorded an assist, a clean sheet and two bonus points.
Since this week sees us arrive at the double-digit marker of the season, I thought it’d be fun to look at some FPL Draft surprises, who 10 weeks ago, we could have never seen as being this popular. Bernardo Silva and Richarlison are each owned in 99 percent of FPL Draft leagues, Ryan Fraser is taken in 90 percent, and the once-unknown Aaron Wan-Bissaka is available in only 32 percent of leagues. Let’s hope that in 10 weeks’ time, there’s a couple more of my bargain picks to talk about.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 10. 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.
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)
There is no goalkeeper in better form at the moment than Brighton’s Mat Ryan, according to the FPL.com form metric. Thanks to the club’s recent form, Brighton has managed to double its win total in just the last week following two straight shutout wins in large part due to Ryan’s performance in goal. Against West Ham before the international break, the Australian recorded a nine-point performance thanks to his two bonus points. But last weekend against Newcastle, Ryan out-did himself with an 11-point effort that secured him Man of the Match honors.
But the best news is yet to come: One look at the Seagulls upcoming schedule will have you jumping at Ryan, at least as a backup keeper. Through the first week of December, Brighton will face Wolves, Everton, Cardiff City, Leicester City, Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace and Burnley before the festive period. And with Ryan available in more than half of FPL Draft leagues, he looks like a phenomenal platoon keeper at the very least and potentially much more.
DEF – Kurt Zouma (Everton)
I was back and forth on picking Zouma last week, but ended regretting my decision to trust the potential of the Arsenal defense and an under-the-radar bargain rather than my instinct. But after Everton recorded another clean sheet over the weekend in a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, it’s time to consider Zouma as a critical part of a deep Everton defense that will also see their summer signing from Barcelona Yerry Mina begin to feature upon his return from injury. But at the moment, Marco Silva will be obliged to play Zouma given the club’s form.
The on-loan defender from Chelsea has 20 points in his last three Premier League matches, all Everton wins, with two clean sheets, one assist and three bonus points. The club’s upcoming schedule is a bit hit-or-miss with trips to Manchester United and Chelsea mixed into home games against Brighton and Cardiff City, but it won’t hurt to have an Everton defender in your team for the long run. I would first look to Michael Keane and Seamus Coleman before making a move for Zouma, who should be available for quite some time considering his five percent ownership.
MID – Erik Lamela (Spurs)
Erik Lamela is one confusing case this season. The winger is averaging a goal every 54 minutes for Spurs this season, but only just made his first start in the club’s 1-0 win over West Ham this past weekend. With three goals to go with his one assist, Lamela has already equaled his Premier League goal total from the last two seasons combined, but the Argentine international has only seen playing time due to injuries to Dele Alli, Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen in the past few weeks. But Alli remains injured for the near future and the club eases Eriksen back into the fold, I’m betting on Lamela.
His consistency under Mauricio Pochettino is unquestionable as Lamela has contributed to a goal in every Premier League games he has appeared in this season but one. And after this weekend’s match against Manchester City, trips to Wolves and Crystal Palace bode well for the former AS Roma playmaker before a pair of London derbies. At least for the short-term, if you’re not inclined to take my next recommendation, Lamela looks like a steal available in more than 80 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, as long as he gets the playing time he deserves.
MID – Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
And now for my pick of the week, who will surely see his ownership skyrocket in the next couple days alone due to his recent form. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a more prolific scorer in the last two weeks than Anthony Martial. Just a few months ago, after a loaded French national team won the World Cup without him, we wondered where the once “future-Thierry Henry” would start the season given his tumultuous tutelage under José Mourinho. But Martial was directly responsible for the club’s two biggest results of the season.
The forward-turned-FPL.com midfielder led the Red Devils’ dramatic comeback with a goal, assist, and three bonus points against Newcastle before the international break that quite possible saved the job of the very man who has tormented him. Then, last week against Premier League title contenders Chelsea, the Frenchman scored both of United’s goals in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. Given his form, Martial looks like a must-have in midfield, especially in FPL Draft where quality midfielders are hard to come by. But beware, he may not be available for long given he’s already taken in 53 percent of FPL Draft leagues. Let the waiver race begin.