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Weekly Picks

The Bargain Hunter - Week 12

by Steve Rothgeb
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Our second international break of the season is wrapping up and as most international breaks tend to do, it leaves quite the headache for fantasy PL managers as the deadline approaches. The international break is notorious for causing an injury report overflow, as players, through some bizarre circumstance that may or may not be caused by a wormhole in the space-time continuum, suspiciously bounce up with a plethora of injuries ranging from the conventional tweaked hammy to the always-helpful "knock". 

 

Some of these injuries are completely legitimate, if not, the majority of them. But there is a fickle relationship between club and country, and if a club has a key player with international obligations showing up on the training ground with so much as a hangnail, it is the club's best interest to put that player in carbonite until international play is over. Then there are the rare occasions where the player themselves develops a convenient cough just a day before a plane he is set to take leaves for Moscow, to play in a match with little implication and a whole lotta cold.

 

To be fair this time around, with European players anyway, there are Euro Qualifiers going on during this break, so there is much more incentive to shake off any knocks and lace up your boots for your country. So unlike international breaks that are filled with low-impact friendlies, one should give the benefit of the doubt that players who can play, want to play. Still, we are left as fantasy managers picking up the confusing pieces as we look at the player pool for the upcoming week in the Premier League and there are more cautions, flags, and exclamation points next to player's names than you would find at the base of an active volcano. It is a land mine this week if you are planning on using a player with any sort of injury designation as we head into Friday evening. I know I am sweating on the fitness of Leighton Baines, Dusan Tadic and Angel Di Maria myself, so I feel your pain. The best advice would be to lean conservative if faced with a choice between two players and if you do decide to invest in some players with doubts, no matter how minor, make sure you have at least budgeted yourself enough cash to fill up your bench with viable options.

 

A quick reminder - two weeks back in this column, I dared to back Tom Heaton in the Yahoo game. He gave you 12 glorious points for chump change. I think I have some relatively safe budget options for you to consider this week so let's stay positive and take a look at the potential bargains for Week 12:

 

 

 

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Goalkeeper

 

 

Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland) Remember the race to nab Thibaut Courtois at his unavoidable 5m price tag in the Yahoo game when the season began? Perhaps you were like me and thought, "Regardless of fixtures, I must have him at that price and never let him go." Well, after about a half dozen gameweeks, having noticed his price didn't ascend the way I figured it would, I saw Chelsea had Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool in their next five, and with Fraser Forstser available for a similar price, I made the switch. I am glad I did - Courtois has only risen to his current 7.14 price and I feel like I can pick him up and stash now. With the way Forster has served me, I will be happy to spend that extra 2m to bring Courtois back. In the Yahoo game, with the Saints schedule about to get tough for a stretch, there is no better value than Courtois. When possible cheaper alternatives are only about 1m less, there is no reason to get thrifty at this position. There is one candidate though that looks worth a gamble, especially in fantasy games where he is much cheaper than Courtois, and that is Pantilimon. Having just claimed the #1 shirt from Vito Mannone, Pantilimon got his feet wet in a respectable 1-1 draw with Everton in Week 11. Rarely do I back a budget keeper on the road, but with a game under his belt and wanting to prove it is his job to keep, I expect Pantilimon to be mentally prepared to make good decisions and keep out a Leicester side who have failed to register a single goal since Week 7.  At 5.44m, it may be just enough a discount over Courtois to afford that one extra lethal attacking weapon.

 

Other Option for Goalkeeper 


Thibaut Courtois (7.14m, home to West Brom)   

 

 

 

Defender



Massadio Haidara (Newcastle United) What a difference a month makes. Between the Magpies' defense tightening up and the attacking exploits of newborn legend Ayoze Perez, everything is coming up roses for Alan Pardew right now and with a home match against relegation-zoned QPR, it is time to start reaping in the fantasy points while they are there to be had. This week, there is a bittersweet scenario in which you can get a cheap defender. With Fabrico Collocini already ruled out, Pardew's is all but guaranteed to hand Haidara a start. For 5.10m, he can do more for you than just the good shot at a clean sheet. In fact, Haidara had a couple of memorable hauls last year in spot starts, providing bargain treasure once before. The downside though is that Coloccini is the captain of the defense and his absence will likely push Paul Dummett into a center back role resulting in what will likely be a less organized back line. Still, with their current form and upcoming fixture, there is a good chance Pardew makes things work again

 


Other Options for Defense 


Marcin Wasilewski (5.07m, home to Sunderland)        Patrick McNair (2.25m, away to Aston Villa)

 

 

 

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Midfielder



Robbie Brady (Hull City) Speaking of bittersweet scenarios - let's talk about Robbie Brady. When Hull gained promotion last season, no one made more noise coming out of the gate than Brady, who scored three goals in the opening month and change and had bargain hunters like myself scrambling to make him their fifth midfielder. Then, the injuries hit, and they hit hard. Brady wound up missing most of the season and much of the opening two months of this season following hernia surgery, a procedure where recovery time for an athlete is almost impossible to put a timetable on. Steve Bruce had made the mistake of bringing him back too soon once already and was very delicate in handling Brady's re-introduction. Well, the moment has arrived, or did arrive yesterday in fact, to officially anoint Brady as being back to full fitness as well as showing us the kind of form that endeared us to him last year. Coming off of his third straight league start, Brady made the most of his international duties by scoring a brace against the United States. Bruce has been struggling to find goals from some of his other weapons lately so expect Brady (6.89m) to be the first name on the team sheet as the Tigers get set to host a Tottenham side that have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine league matches.

 

Other Options for Midfield 

 

Charles N'Zogbia (3.17m, home to Southampton)  Aiden McGeady (4.07m, home to West Ham)

 



Forward



Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City) First thing's first. Like Coutois is to the keeper position in the Yahoo game, so is Graziano Pelle at the forward role. You would think as being one of only half a dozen forwards who are sitting on triple digit fantasy points on the season, Pelle's price would eventually catch up to the league leaders. Perhaps not as expensive as Aguero...but is there any reason Pelle is only the third most expensive forward...on his own team? This includes one Jay Rodriguez, who has seen a grand total of zero minutes of pitch time and is still over 2.5m more than Pelle. But again, like Courtois, I cannot simply repeat what has already been said. With that in mind, Southampton have a few tough fixtures coming up. You may not see his name around for a while after this week. Let's focus on who I pick to click this week that can be had for peanuts - Diouf at 5.6m continues to go undervalued in the Yahoo game and should be had for a fair price in other formats. While Bojan gained the plaudits with a sublime strike in the Potters' recent win over Spurs, Diouf did his part, notching an assist in a match in which he went the distance. In fact, in the five PL matches so far this season where Diouf plays a full 90, he has scored or assisted in four of them. That shows he can be productive and consistent when given a full shift. Assuming I have Baines, an expensive midfield, and Costa/Aguero up top, I can live with Diouf as my 3rd forward this week.

 

Other Option for Forward 

 

Graziano Pelle (7.87m, away to Aston Villa)

 

 

 

 

Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob | Aaron

Steve Rothgeb

Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for NBC Sports Edge and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.