What a battle we have atop the Premier League table. The top three are all locked on 23 points (Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are all 7-2-1, respectively) while just three points separate first place and fifth place. It certainly looks like this Premier League season is living up to its preseason billing as being one of the most competitive ever.
And it doesn’t just apply to the live action on the pitch and the scramble in the table. Fantasy leagues are tight, and it’s getting more difficult by the week to find quality bargain picks—it’s not just goalkeepers who are hard to find anymore—that haven’t already been snapped up in mass quantity.
I’m still riding the high of my career-best Week 8 picks and while I’ll hold off on a new bumper contract, I have to try to keep my game at a consistent level so the gaffer continues to select me. Week 10 turned out to be a solid defensive performance with Victor Valdes recording a clean sheet in goal for Middlesbrough and Marcos Alonso and Chelsea continuing to blank their opponents, but the attacking picks fell short. On to next week.
We’ve filled up most of our Rotoworld draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join. You can find them all here under “Rotoworld Draft League”. If they are all filled up, let us know on Twitter and we’ll add more leagues. For obvious reasons, we’re capping leagues at 10 users in order to encourage a higher level of competition.
And if you’re bored of the attacking-based FPL.com or Perfect XI formats, our salary cap league on Fantrax (Rotoworld Salary Cap) mirrors the old Yahoo format that includes advanced statistics and defensive metrics. It’s not for the casual FPL.com player, and that’s why we love it.
Without further delay, here are the bargains for Week 11. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
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.
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 Picks (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 the FPL.com game or draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – Loris Karius (Liverpool)
It’s been a brilliant season for Liverpool so far: seven wins in 10 Premier League matches and a shared seat at the top of the table, for the time being. But the one thing that has plagued Jurgen Klopp’s side is the defense. Only one team in the top 10 has given up more goals than Liverpool this season. While 13 goals in 10 matches is not much to fret, the club has only recorded one clean sheet this season (a scoreless draw with Manchester United in Week 8) and that is cause for some concern.
However, I expect Liverpool’s fortune to only continue given its upcoming schedule, which is very generous leading all the way up to New Year’s Eve: Watford, Southampton, Sunderland, Bournemouth, West Ham, Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke City. With Karius established as the Reds’ No. 1 keeper, he looks like an excellent long-term bargain pick given the immediate schedule since he is available in more than half of Fantrax draft leagues.
DEF – Danny Simpson (Leicester City)
Speaking of favorable upcoming schedules, let’s take a look at Leicester City. The reigning Premier League champions currently sit 11th in the table with only 12 points from 10 games, but I fully expect Leicester City to end its early-season struggles in the coming weeks and continue all the way through the festive period. Here’s what the next months looks like for the Foxes: West Brom, Watford, Middlesbrough, Sunderland. That upcoming slate screams “clean-sheet pizza party” to me
With three already this season, Leicester hasn’t been poor defensively, and that same defensive setup from last year’s title still holds strong. Simpson is the most available in Fantrax draft leagues, taken in 56.5 percent of leagues, and he would be a good short-term investment at the very least. Don’t count Leicester out as a one-and-done team, there is still plenty of season left to make a top-four push and it starts now.
DEF – Matthew Lowton (Burnley)
If you’re looking for a more under-the-radar pick for the upcoming month, I’ve dug deep for this (hopeful) bargain pickup. Lowton, available in 73 percent of draft Fantrax leagues, has played every minute of every game so far this season at right-back and his Premier League experience has endeared himself to Sean Dyche. A part of me is still somehow hoping Lowton returns to that glorious 2012/13 season with Aston Villa where he recorded two goals and four assists in his first Premier League season, but I think I’ll just have to settle for the clean-sheet points this time around.
But those too, could come in bunches in the upcoming weeks. Outside of a Week 13 meeting with Manchester City, each matchup for the next month tempts me to write in clean sheet with Crystal Palace and West Brom up next. And after shutting out Manchester United this weekend, I don’t think this Burnley defense fears lining up against anyone.
MID – Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)
I can’t believe we’re only just getting to Cabaye at this part of the season, not to mention I can’t believe he is still available in 40 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. But that is what bargain hunting is all about; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and this treasure just happens to take penalty kicks. For that reason alone, Cabaye is worth adding to your team as a long-term pick.
The Frenchman has struggled this season to stay fit, with multiple knocks keeping him out for weeks at a time, but Palace is only just starting to benefit from his stabilizing presence in midfield. Now that he is back healthy and starting, it’s a no-brainer to pick him up if Cabaye is on the waiver wire in your league, considering he averages 5.5 goals per season in his Premier League career. He already scored one two weeks ago against Leicester City, and you can only assume there will be more with the dangerous Eagles attack sure to draw penalties.
FWD – Ahmed Musa (Leicester City)
That Ahmed Musa is finally starting to show what he can do in the Premier League, and he’s been a real treat to watch in recent weeks. Seeing what he did at CSKA Moscow, Musa was one of the new players I was most looking forward to watching this season. However, he hardly got a chance at the beginning of the season to find his feet in the Premier League with manager Claudio Ranieri going with the trusted setup that won the title last season.
When that failed and the offense dried up, Musa got his chance, and has now scored two goals in the last two games for the Foxes after receiving three straight starts. Ranieri is finding a way to get Musa’s unique blend of pace and power into the lineup, whether as a wing or a forward, and he looks like a short-term buy as he is available as a free agent in more than half of all Fantrax draft leagues. If he continues like this, this potential long-term pick won’t be available for long.