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Weekly Picks

The Bargain Hunter - Week 20

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

Here we are. The midpoint of the season. The end of the calendar year. Hopefully, you will be spending tomorrow night with loved ones, singing "Auld Lang Syne" while drinking a cup of kindness, but remember, there is footy bright and early the next day! The only person with nowhere to be on the first day of 2015 is Neil Warnock. So in the spirit of the holiday, if you are hosting a get-together and have room for one more guest, reach out to Neil in his time of need.


In case you didn't notice, there was no Bargain Hunter edition for Week 19. This means there were no mistakes, but I didn't get anything right either. I do know that I would have suggested Ben Hamer at keeper, but only as a backup, which is exactly where he sat in my squad, mocking me with his 18 points while Courtois put up a -2. In fact, when I looked at my players points on Sunday, Hamer's 18 was as much as Courtois, Cresswell, Okore, Mangala, Silva, Toure, Costa, Fabregas and RVP combined. 

A 1m backup keeper scores as much as nine fantasy starters, seven of whom are at or near the top scorers at their respective positions and who's combined current market value is over 100m.....yeah, that's when you know the fantasy gods are too busy with their own holiday obligations and cannot be bothered to make any sense out of Week 19. I may have been blessed to not have even attempted a column under conditions that harsh. Keeping the faith with Eden Hazard at least saved my bacon somewhat, but I never would have been able to afford him and a bench with viable options if it were not for the weekly practice of Bargain Hunting and preserving as much cash as possible to afford Hazard in weeks when many couldn't afford to risk him.


Still, if Bargain Hunting means my benched bargain player scores as much as nine combined starters, that can be tougher to digest than those last remnants of Thanksgiving leftovers hiding in the back of my fridge. It's week 20, it's a New Year!  Time to wipe the slate clean and look for the first bargains of 2015:




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Jak Alnwick (Newcastle United) Maybe I am a bit overconfident in backing a 1m keeper after seeing the results of my gut instincts with Hamer in Week 19. I know I have made it clear more than once during these 1m keeper sales that have been going on for the past month that I would prefer staying away from the least experienced of the bunch in Alnwick. But the lad has made four starts now, along with the second half of the Chelsea match in which he was introduced. I am by no means suggesting he is now a polished, Premier League caliber keeper, but no matter what job it is you take, even if you may be in over your head, you learn on that job and you learn quick. What effect Alan Pardew's leaving the club will have on the player's motivation on New Year's, but when you wear the black-and-whites in front of the crowd at St. James', you better not be phoning one in. Hosting Burnley, I cannot promise a Hamer-esque score from Alnwick, but he has that ceiling for just 1m.


Other Option for Goalkeeper 

Joel Robles (3.52m, away to Hull)   






Kolo Toure (Liverpool) Toure appears nailed on for New Year's Day as Martin Skrtel is suspended for the Anfield clash with bottom-dwelling Leicester. Toure has been getting minutes in December but after playing only a half on Boxing Day and failing to feature on Monday, he is as close to a guarantee as you can get and going for just 5.21m in the Yahoo game. Heck, even in FPL, Toure is not a bad transfer in for a week if you plan on activating your January wildcard as soon as possible. Pool "should" be coming off two consecutive clean sheets. They kept out the Clarets in Week 18 and would have done the same against Swansea on Monday but the defense switched off for a moment after the Reds took a 2-0 lead and it cost them the cleanie. If it was not for some erratic play by Mamadou Sakho, Pool should be giving fantasy managers who have been watching reason to believe they can defend -- against the likes of Leicester at home anyway. If one Toure let you down over the weekend, perhaps another can lift your spirits early in the New Year.


Other Options for Defense 

S. Taylor (3.18m, home to Burnley)        Jores Okore (4.35m, home to Crystal Palace)




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Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) The big story of the week, the proposed move of Alan Pardew from Newcastle to Palace, has played a part in two of the four featured picks in this week's column. Whether Pardew will be manning the touchline for Palace's trip to Villa Park is yet unclear but should there be a caretaker in place, it stands to reason that the time for Zaha to be utilized begins now. Palace are going to have to prepare for the lack of Yannick Bolasie, who is heading off to ACON after this match. Bolasie also is carrying a knock, along with several other Eagles attacking players so a fit and idle Zaha, a Manchester United pedigree of talent, has to view this as a chance for an extended run in the XI for the first time with Palace and I am confident Alan Pardew will continue backing him should the young wide midfielder take advantage of this opportunity. At 5.14m, he can act as a 5th midfielder for your Yahoo side this week, and perhaps some good fortune will see him stick there for a while.


Other Options for Midfield 


Victor Wanyama (5.44m, home to Arsenal)  Charles N'Zogbia (2.72m, home to Crystal Palace)



Arouna Kone (Everton) So the last budget Toffee I recommended in the Bargain Hunter was Tim Howard for Week 18. You know, the week where he got injured, couldn't stop a penalty that probably shouldn't have been awarded, put up a negative score, and watched his price plummet even further as a result? So you may understand why between Howard's awful luck and the state of affairs with the Toffees that it is with much trepidation that I recommend one for you, especially at the forward position. The fact is though, Kone looked sharp, scoring just a few minutes into his first start of the season. With seemingly everything else going wrong for his side at the moment, I cannot envision a scenario where Roberto Martinez rewards his lone bright spot from Sunday's loss, a player who worked hard for a long time to get back into contention after a lengthy injury spell, by putting him right back on the bench. I think it would make sense for Martinez to shake up his formation. Kone has played in wing role before and if he can do it again, that would afford him a chance to start along with Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku didn't get the start in Week 19 and that would be the way to get him back in without axing Kone and shaking up the formation all at once to try and provide that spark to turn their season around. He is a paltry 4.47m in the Yahoo game and a strong 8th attacker on your bench if starting a 3-5-2. Otherwise, the more dependable Pelle below can be thought more of as an out-an-out fantasy starter for a bit more cash.


Other Option for Forward 


Graziano Pelle (6.69m, home to Arsenal)





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