It seems that we’re finally settling into our Premier League seasons, more than just from afantasy perspective. Last week was the lowest wildcard usage in FPL.com this season, showing that fantasy managers have finally accepted, out of choice or necessity, the teams they’ll have for much of the season.
Even the schedule has seemed to settle down—this weekend will be the first week without a marquee matchup since Gameweek 6 more than a month ago. Sorry but Wolves-Spurs and Chelsea v. Crystal Palace just doesn’t have the same magnitude that we spoiled Premier League fans have become accustomed to.
This last weekend was by far my best week as Bargain Hunter when looking at my recent picks. From last week’s picks, Mat Ryan recorded 10 points in goal and Anthony Martial scored a goal and two bonus points. But recent picks like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Callum Wilson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Martin Dubravka, David Brooks were just a few of my recent picks who pulled in big hauls this week.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 11. 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 – Sergio Rico (Fulham)
I’d like to start off this week’s column by announcing a seminal moment in Bargain Hunter history: Never before have I selected a less popular player than Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico, so if you’re reading this you’re a part of history. 2018, what a time to be alive. I’m not necessarily saying to go out and take Rico right off the waiver wire, actually, I’m not so sure I would recommend him at all. But as the Bargain Hunter, I vowed to inform you of every goalkeeper change due to the dearth of starting goalkeepers available. Taken in just 0.02 percent of FPL Draft leagues, who these poor souls are I’ll never know, Rico is your newest starting Premier League keeper.
The Spaniard arrived on loan from Sevilla this summer and the consensus among fans is that it was only a matter of time before he took over for Marcus Bettinelli. However, there are likely better starting keepers on your waiver wires than Rico, mostly because you can’t get much worse than Fulham’s defense at the moment. The club has conceded a league-high 28 goals this season through 10 games, so if that’s somehow not enough to get you to dump Bettinelli, Rico’s arrival on the scene should.
DEF – Bruno (Brighton)
As I mentioned last week with a spot-on recommendation for Brighton keeper Mat Ryan, now is the time to add a Brighton defender into the mix. Enter the club captain Bruno, whose two percent ownership in our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues belies the fact that he is the most in-form defender in the league according to FPL.com’s form metric. With three straight clean sheets, the Brighton defense has looked sharp, and Bruno has added an assist and four bonus points, capped by this past weekend’s 12-point showing in a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The real reason I like the Seagulls’ defense so much is their upcoming schedule. Chris Hughton’s side has one of the most favorable fixture lists leading up to the festive period with Everton, Cardiff City, Leicester City, Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace, and Burnley in the next month of action. Given the club’s current form and schedule, I like Bruno, Shane Duffy, or Mat Ryan as short-term picks who can give your team a crucial differential advantage in your FPL Draft leagues.
DEF – Fabián Balbuena (West Ham)
I guess this is our super-under-the-radar week of FPL hipster picks considering the options, but don’t let their obscurity take away from their numbers. Since arriving from Brazilian side Corinthians this summer Fabián Balbuena has not missed a minute of Premier League action, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the club’s 10 Premier League games. The 27-year-old is also the Hammers’ top defensive point-getter on 28 so far this season despite only one clean sheet for the club.
However, I expect that to change between now and the new year. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever seen so many of those encouraging green bars on the FPL.com schedule when you look at West Ham’s upcoming schedule. The only club that will come into the game with West Ham as a heavy favorite between now and Gameweek 21 is Manchester City. Other than that, the Hammers will face every lower-half team from now until the first week of January. With Balbuena’s goal this weekend as encouragement, keep an eye on the Paraguayan center-half.
MID – Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
Enough with the small fries, let’s get to the real heavy hitters. Remember the promising years when Ross Barkley recorded 13 goals and 20 assists in two seasons at Everton? Well we’re starting to see that potential finally come to fruition at Chelsea , where most of us thought he would fade into oblivion (anyone remember Danny Drinkwater?). Instead, Barkley has reinvented himself under the direction of Maurizio Sarri and now looks like the threat we always wished he could be.
In the last three weeks, Barkley has combined for a whopping 36 points thanks to three goals, three assists, and three bonus points. Based on those three performances alone, he has more points than typical lockdown players like Leroy Sane, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sánchez have all season. And here’s the best part: Barkley is available in 58 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues. I expect him to be taken in the majority of leagues by this time next week, so get this lockdown free agent.