And we’re off. Like Christmas music on Thanksgiving, the Premier League holiday season is approaching. Starting this weekend, there will be no more international breaks, no more Champions League and a lot more of what the people want: more Fantasy Premier League points.
The only problem with such a busy period is that fantasy points are just about the only things around this time of year that don’t come gift-wrapped. And like any good Black Friday deal, we are looking for the real bargains that will bring just as much joy to our lives as the latest Turbo Man doll (Alexis Sanchez is most definitely the best FPL parallel to Turbo Man: lots of flair, tons of energy and but just too expensive).
Let’s start with looking back to last week. With their generous upcoming schedules, Dejan Lovren and Danny Rose look like excellent bargains as long-term options in defense. If you are searching for defenders, I would still highly consider them for the next month.
Meanwhile, that Brad Guzan pick last week sure started poorly. After recording a clean sheet against Manchester City, I don’t think too many could have seen a 4-0 loss to Everton coming. But I still think he’s a solid pick at home against Watford this week. Jesse Lingard continues to be a one-week buy in my eyes and could soon lose his spot with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney returning from injury and Memphis Depay returning to form.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains of Week 14. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
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 – Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)
Outside of a shock win against Liverpool in Week 12, Crystal Palace has struggled to emerge from an autumnal slump. However, the club’s defense has picked up the slack for a lack of goals. And with Joel Ward returning to the fold, I only expect the back-line to improve. That’s good news for goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, who would have recorded a clean sheet Monday night if it weren’t for Scott Dann’s defensive error. The Eagles don’t face a current top six club until mid-January and start with Newcastle at home this weekend. Coupled with a light schedule, Hennessey is valued at just £4.0 in FPL and is available in two-thirds of Fantrax draft leagues, making him a solid long-term buy as long as Alan Pardew doesn’t opt for a healthy Julian Speroni.
DEF – Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
Shawcross is a pick I really love right now. Since returning from injury, the Stoke captain has recorded a clean sheet in all three of his appearances. He’s available at just £4.8 in FPL, but is being snapped up quickly on the waiver wire in draft leagues. His battery mate in defense—Philip Wollscheid—may be cheaper, but Geoff Cameron’s return from injury makes Shawcross the safest pick. The Potters have Sunderland this weekend and play their toughest holiday fixtures at home. Shawcross would be a solid addition in any league format, but if he is available in your draft league, you should pick him up immediately.
MID – Joshua King (Bournemouth)
This next pick depends on how your league categorizes the Bournemouth attacker. Fantasy Premier League lists him as a midfielder, but Fantrax and Play Togga list him as a forward. If he is a forward in your league, I would recommend the next two forwards before King. But if he is a midfielder, I think there is definitely some value in picking up King. In FPL, he is valued at just £4.6 and has started the last two games as the club’s lone striker ahead of Glenn Murray. King scored his first Premier League goal against Swansea and got that extra point for scoring a goal as a midfielder. It’s these little points that can make all the difference, making King a good short-term buy.
FWD – Shane Long (Southampton)
Long has been a favorite of Ronald Koeman for the past year and just returned from injury last week to start ahead of Sadio Mane, who was rested after returning late from international duty. This week, Mane is likely to regain his starting spot, but Graziano Pelle’s suspension due to yellow card accumulation makes Long an excellent one-week buy, especially suited for the unlimited transaction, Draft Kings-style leagues. Manchester City showed how porous its defense can be last weekend and Long is expected to get the start ahead of Juanmi up top.
FWD – Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)
While Long is a good one-week buy, I think Wickham is a short-term buy who has the potential to be a long-term option at forward. The summer signing is finally fit after starting for the first time since August and will be the beneficiary of Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha sparkling wing play. With Dwight Gayle out for a month and Bakary Sako joining him in the attackers with injured hamstrings club, Wickham is the obvious option to lead the line and break the Eagles out of their scoring slump. There are better options in FPL for the same price, but I highly recommend adding him off the waiver wire in draft-style leagues (he’s owned in just 37.4 percent of Fantrax leagues).
FPL SELL OF THE WEEK:
FWD – Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
The man has been on fire lately, sure, but he has just suffered an injury. But that hasn’t stopped 60,000-plus managers from adding him in Fantasy Premier League in just the last few days. In a league-style where transfers should be regarded as precious, I just don’t understand the logic behind adding someone who just picked up an obvious injury and is doubtful for the week. Until we find out his status for the weekend, it’s not wise to take a risk on Coutinho with how finicky hamstring injuries can be. If you already have him, you shouldn’t transfer him out. But I would wait until transferring him in until we are sure that he will be available. The worst possible scenario would be having to transfer him back out next week and using two transfers just to beat a £0.1 price rise.