If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That old adage always seems to hold true, and it’s time-tested advice that certainly holds true to this space here. How do you fix what is already so great?
When new ownership takes over a restaurant, we hope to all that is good the special sauce still tastes the same, the refills are still free and the new owner keeps things running like they always have, but maybe with a few tweaks here and there behind the scenes.
That’s all I can hope to do after Steve pioneered and perfected the vocation of Fantasy Premier League Bargain Hunter. While I still hope to keep your business and attention, I want to add something a little bit different to the mix. Rather than taking the Tottenham approach to losing our Gareth Bale of Bargain Hunters to the Real Madrid of columns, I want to bring in another five-star talent to try and fill these big boots left behind. That five-star talent is you, the reader.
There can’t be any way to individually make up for such a loss, but I think together we can make this space just as good. Every week, I want to make this column ours. Find me on Twitter at @gastelumEPL and shoot some suggestions my way. Make a case for who you think is the latest bargain. Let me know what was your cheap pick-up that has been paying off this season. And most importantly, tell me when you think I’m right and wrong (most likely the latter) about a particular player.
Each week, I’ll feature the best suggestions here (and don’t worry, I’ll give you a shout-out as well) and analyze why some of the others wouldn’t work out so well. Lastly, I think you’ll enjoy the last little bit I’ve added after the bargains to add some kick to that secret sauce.
Because it works oh so very well, I’m sticking to Steve’s rating system.
One Week Buys (OWB) - 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.
Short-term Buys (STB) - 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 Fantasy Premier League format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks.
Long-term Buys (LTB) - 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 considerable FAAB for. Great for any format, but especially valuable in the FPL.com game.
GK - Jack Butland (Stoke City): The future of England goalkeeping is Stoke’s go-to man in goal now that Asmir Begovic is gone. And under Mark Hughes, Stoke City has done a pretty good job of keeping clean sheets and limiting its opponents’ attack. Only four teams this season have given up less goals than the Potters, but somehow, they waited until October to record their first clean sheet. After consecutive 1-0 wins against Aston Villa and Swansea, Stoke City now have two clean sheets this month and has a generous schedule with Watford and Newcastle up next. Butland is an excellent long-term buy in any league format, considering he leads the Premier League in saves and is under no danger of losing his starting spot.
DEF - Martin Olsson (Norwich City): Now is the time for Norwich’s talented left-back. Owned by just 3.1 percent in the Fantrax draft leagues and valued at just £4.4 in FPL, Olsson has tremendous upside that he put on display against Newcastle. With two assists, Olsson provides a valuable attacking flair coming out of defense, where he will surely regain his starting status at left-back now that he’s fit. But Norwich’s showing against Newcastle would make me consider him a short-term buy since the Canaries did give up six goals. The Norwich defense still has not recorded a clean sheet and face a tough schedule through the end of 2015, but Olsson has some firepower to counteract that.
DEF - Jonny Evans (West Brom): Jonny Evans is a must-have in any league format. He’s owned in just 37.9 percent of Fantrax draft leagues and his price is just £4.8 in FPL, making him an excellent long-term buy. West Brom are led by Tony Pulis, a defensive mastermind who probably favors a 1-0 win over a 5-1 victory just for the clean sheet. West Brom already has five clean sheets this season, tied for top in the league, and Evans is the most reliable and experienced defender on that back-line. He and the more expensive Craig Dawson are the only locks in that system, which is a gold-mine for defensive points.
MID - Manuel Lanzini (West Ham): The young Argentine is an excellent one-week buy for the week at hand. Lanzini is coming off his breakthrough week in the Premier League after picking up a goal and assist (and three bonus points for you FPL managers) in a win against Crystal Palace. In addition, Victor Moses will be ineligible for the Hammers this week since they face his parent club, Chelsea. While Lanzini might not be an optimal pick in FPL, there is definite value for this weekend.
FWD - Bojan (Stoke City): It may seem to be a more obvious pick, and one that has been suggested before, but I’ve been waiting for the right time to suggest picking up the former Barcelona forward. It’s been more than a month now since Bojan made his return from injury, but he has not looked back to himself until this past weekend. Aside from being the club’s penalty-taker, which resulted in the match-winning goal against Swansea, Bojan looked confident and energetic, much like he was in the peak of last season. At just £5.3 in FPL, he’s a bargain for a starting forward with a proven goal-scoring record. And if he’s available on your waiver wire in draft leagues, I suggest picking him up ASAP.
SELL OF THE WEEK:
MID/FWD - Raheem Sterling (Manchester City): Welcome to a new addition to the Bargain Hunter column. To me, much of being a bargain hunter is knowing when to buy low. But another part is knowing when to sell high and also when to lay off. With that being said, I will provide one name a week that applies to the latter.
This week’s candidate is Raheem Sterling. While many are heralding Saturday’s hat-trick as the breakthrough moment for the winger, I’m not buying the hype. While Sterling will certainly have more of an impact without Sergio Aguero in the lineup, David Silva is due to return soon (maybe in the next week) and City aren’t going to be playing Bournemouth every week. While I’m not saying to cut him loose (especially in a draft/waiver league), FPL managers should be wary of spending £8.8 on a winger who came into the weekend without a goal or assist since August while Dimtri Payet and others are available for much less.
Thanks for seeing through this transition with us, and please send me your bargain suggestions and debates to @gastelumEPL on Twitter. I’m looking forward to building this column with you all pulling the strings.