We are officially more than a third of the way through the Premier League season after completing Week 13 and now we will be starting the festive period in no time with December right around the corner. Whether your season is going well or not, you can still look at it with the glass half-full at this point, unless you were counting on Philippe Coutinho to lead you to a title (sorry Liverpool).
People have asked me in the past few days who I think will replace the playmaking Brazilian, and as you can see below, there aren’t any Liverpool players. That’s because I don’t think it will be one person. This week, it could be Divock Origi, then Daniel Sturridge when he’s healthy and ultimately (long term) Adam Lallana when he makes a full return from injury, which means Klopp would then keep Emre Can in central midfield.
Much like Manchester United, I haven’t had had much luck since the international break. Well, at least on a weekly basis, meanwhile some of my recent short-term picks (Leroy Fer, Alvaro Negredo, Lee Grant, Victor Moses) put together some impressive performances this past weekend. So check out some of my past columns in the features toolbar above to hide my current shortcomings!
We’ve filled up most of our Fantrax 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 14. 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 – Fraser Forster (Southampton)
On the surface, it’s tough to see Forster as a bargain pick, but then you realize he is still available in 30 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. For a starting goalkeeper on a good defensive team, that’s eye-opening, not to mention he is always near the top of the goalkeeper list in points. Unless you have David De Gea, Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris or Petr Cech, you should be checking to see if Forster is available in your league, because he should be your starting keeper. Forster has five clean sheets this season, including two straight at the moment, and his upcoming schedule is the most favorable in the Premier League during the busy festive period. If this long-term pick is available, it should take no more convincing than that.
DEF – Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Ake is finally getting his chance in the Bournemouth setup, earning praise from manager Eddie Howe after two straight starts of 90 minutes. In Week 12, Ake ended up with the match-winning goal and a clean sheet to boot. With Week 13 came a start in central defense, moving in from left-back with Adam Smith back in the lineup. It remains to be seen what will happen when Charlie Daniels returns from a hip injury, so let’s label Ake as a short-term buy for the time being. But the Chelsea loanee is showing why he belongs in the starting lineup with a pair of solid starts in addition to last year’s stint with Watford. Ake’s available in more than 80 percent of Fantrax drat leagues, and he could be a solid option over the festive period with the schedule opening up after this weekend against Liverpool.
DEF – Calum Chambers (Middlesbrough)
Jack Wilshere is not the only Arsenal player impressing on loan away from the Emirates this season. Chambers has been a steady presence on the Middlesbrough back-line, playing the full 90 minutes in eight of the last nine Premier League matches (the one game he missed came against parent-club Arsenal). Until this weekend against Leicester City, the Teessiders had not conceded more than a single goal in a match since Week 6 against Spurs, and that includes matches against Manchester City and Chelsea. Middlesbrough has Hull City due up this weekend followed by Southampton and the club’s festive fixture list is light minus a home match against Liverpool. Chambers is easily a short-term pick for the next two months (January’s fixtures are all winnable), and he is readily available in nearly 70 percent of Fantrax leagues.
MID – Matt Phillips (West Brom)
That Matty Phillips is on fire right now for West Brom. Make sure to pick him up while you still can; Fantrax managers have taken notice of late, although he is still available in 45 percent of draft leagues. In the past three matches, Phillips has recorded two goals and three assists, contributing to five of the club’s seven goals over that span. The former Queens Park Rangers standout is showing that same form he had in the second half of the 2014/15 season, one that ended in eight assists for a relegated side. Now, Phillips is the fulcrum of the Baggies’ attack, and we can only expect more of the same against Watford. Easily a short-term pick, Phillips could very well be a long-term option if he continues anywhere near his current pace.
FWD – Dieumerci Mbokani (Hull City)
Mbokani may not be the big bargain buy you’re looking for, but he is a starting forward available in 90 percent of Fantrax leagues. At the moment, that’s about as big of a bargain as you can find in the Premier League with a surprisingly subpar selection at striker this season. But since Will Keane has been ruled out for the season and Abel Hernandez is still recovering from injury, Mbokani has been Mike Phelan’s go-to guy up top to lead the Tigers’ attack. Against West Brom, the former Norwich City striker recorded an assist and gave the Baggies’ back-line plenty to deal with in a 1-1 draw. However, Mbokani should only be considered a short-term buy at best, and only for those desperate for a striker. And yet, last week’s pick in Victor Anichebe would be a better option for those in that category. (UPDATE: Mbokani earned a red card in the League Cup. Check to see if the club appeal, but it could mean a three-match ban).