Now we’re really in the thick of it with the Boxing Day games preceding another Premier League weekend. So since it’s a short week, I’ll keep my intro short. Be sure to check Rotoworld throughout the week for updates as we’ll have all of our usual content for you. Wishing all my readers happy holidays and a prosperous Boxing Day for your fantasy teams!
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 19. 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.
DEF – James Tarkowski (Burnley)
We’ve always been aware that quality goalkeepers and forwards are pretty hard to come by at this point of the season, but I never thought I’d see the day when defenders are as scarcely available as they are now; and the ones that are have tough schedules to maneuver during the festive period. At a time when we are going to need more depth than ever in our fantasy squads, that’s going to be a problem. But despite the club’s recent struggles, I’m counting on Burnley defender James Tarkowski to be a diamond in the rough
That’s because Burnley have arguably the most favorable schedule in the Premier League for the upcoming month: Everton, West Ham, Huddersfield Town, Fulham, Watford (through Gameweek 23). If there’s any time for Sean Dyche to turn things around for Burnley, who finished seventh last season, it’s now—if not he may not be around to see the Clarets through the season. With Tarkowski available in 35 percent of leagues, you’ll have some time to track the club’s progress and decide if you need a fifth defender. If Dyche does what we expect him to do, there could be quite a differential in Burnley defenders this festive season.
MID – Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
This gameweek is definitely the week of the attacking midfielder with three bargains in this column this week all hitting their form at the right time. We’ll start with Nathan Redmond, the most undervalued of the three but with the most potential. Redmond’s ownership has dropped to under three percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues after going 17 straight starts without a Premier League goal, but that is sure to change given his man of the match performance against Huddersfield Town last weekend.
The former Norwich City prodigy was once a hot pick in FPL circles and looked back to his old self with a goal and assist over the weekend, which came after giving Arsenal problems the week prior with an assist in a back-and-forth 3-2 loss. But under the tutelage of new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, Redmond has all the signs of a breakout second half of the season. If you want to take a risk that has a chance to provide a big return, Redmond is worth a look with West Ham, Leicester City, Everton, Crystal Palace Burnley, and Cardiff City on the schedule in the next two months.
MID –Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)
If you’re looking for more of a consistent midfielder, you might want to check out Andros Townsend if the final option below in Jesse Lingard isn’t available in your FPL Draft league. Townsend could become a more popular pick following his goal-of-the-season strike in Crystal Palace’s stunning 3-2 upset of Manchester City on the road (it’s worth a couple of replays even if you seen it already), but it’s not like the former Tottenham man hasn’t been producing this season.
Townsend has recorded two goals and two assists in the last five weeks, including consecutive games where he has contributed to a goal. On Boxing Day against a Cardiff City defense that just shipped five goals to Manchester United, I’m betting on some kind of Townsend return as he has taken over the role of Crystal Palace playmaker with Wilfried Zaha now playing up top. Available in more than 70 percent of FPL Draft leagues, Townsend looks like a solid short-term pickup with long-term potential.
MID – Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Now here’s the bona fide pick of the week, the one that everyone is going to try to get into his/her team this week after an incredible 18-point return, so add him to your waiver claims and hope that it works. The odds are already against you in FPL Draft as Lingard is already taken in 60 percent of leagues, but those aren’t the worst numbers to go up against in the free agency scrum for a player of his caliber. Surely though, after this week, he’ll be long gone in at lest more than 70 percent of leagues.
That’s because Lingard has recorded four goals and one assist in the last four games, including two goals and an assist against Cardiff City this weekend that saw him earn man of the match with United fans everywhere heralding the return of attacking football with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm. Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth and Newcastle are due up next for the Red Devils, and they’re now expected to blow the top off of all three of them. If that’s the case, Lingard will have something to do with that.