At the time of posting, we are in the midst of all the deadline day action with transfers flying in left and right. So it only makes sense that this week’s selections feature new arrivals that have been off to a great start in their new colors. Expect more in the coming matchdays.
Due to the League Cup semifinals and FA Cup fourth round, we’ve had to wait a little longer than we are used to for some Premier League action. But now we’ll get two matchweeks in the course of five days, when we are sure to see plenty of debuts from new signings.
Meanwhile, Week 23 happened to be one of my best since coming on as the Bargain Hunter. Aston Villa keeper Mark Bunn secured a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Midlands rival West Brom, while Matt Targett also managed a clean sheet in Southampton’s 1-0 win against Manchester United.
Benik Afobe also provided some fantasy points with a goal in his second straight Premier League match since arriving from Wolves earlier in the transfer window. With his status as the club’s clear No. 1 option at forward, Afobe looks to be a great bargain.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 24. 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. Great for any format, but especially valuable in the FPL.com game.
GK – Ben Foster (West Brom)
Foster made his first Premier League appearance of the season in Week 23 after returning from a long-term injury layoff and jumped right back into the thick of things. Four saves, 90 minutes played and one clean sheet against a rival club made for an impressive return, and now it looks as though Foster is going to be West Brom’s first-choice. Swansea and Newcastle are the club’s next opponents and if Foster can overcome a minor knock, he will be in good position to defend his spotless record in 2016. While there are cheaper options in FPL.com than his £4.9 price-tag, Foster would make a great short-term addition off the waiver wire in any draft league.
DEF – Aly Cissokho (Aston Villa)
Going up against Foster’s defense last week was Aly Cissokho, who also benefitted from the 0-0 draw. The left-back has played all 90 minutes in each of the four matches since being recalled from his loan at Porto and has secured two clean sheets for Aston Villa. The Frenchman would make an excellent defender for your bench in draft leagues considering he is selected by just 8.6 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. Everyone has that reliable bench defender that you throw into the lineup only in favorable matchups, and Cissokho looks perfect for such a case. It’s probably best to avoid in leagues that have limited transfers per week like FPL.com, but Cissokho looks to be a nice long-term selection if he is a free agent in your draft league.
MID – Nacer Chadli (Spurs)
Chadli has exploded onto the scene in the past week of action, showing the same goalscoring form that we saw in his breakout season last year. The Belgian recorded a goal and assist against Crystal Palace in Week 23 and followed that up with a two-goal performance against Colchester over the weekend in the FA Cup. While you should pick him up immediately if he is available in your draft league, I especially like Chadli in FPL.com, where he is available for just £6.6 due to an injury that saw many managers ditch him. But Chadli looks to have reclaimed a starting spot in the lineup of a very dangerous Spurs attack. If you are transferring out Kevin De Bruyne, Chadli is a solid replacement that has the possibility for a big payoff.
FWD – Steven Naismith (Norwich City)
Naismith is a player that will be moving quickly out of the free-agent pools in draft leagues everywhere, mostly because we know what he is capable of doing (see: Week 5 hat-trick against Chelsea). We saw that same ability in his first game with Norwich City when he recorded a goal and assist against Liverpool in Week 23. His arrival seems to have rejuvenated a struggling attack and he will surely be one of the club’s main options going forward. In FPL.com, he is available as a forward for just £5.0, which is an absolute steal. If he is still available in your draft league, pick him up now. It doesn’t matter what format, Naismith is definitely a long-term fantasy buy.
FWD – Charlie Austin (Southampton)
For some of us fantasy managers, Austin was a godsend for his 18 goals and eight assists for a relegated side in Queens Park Rangers. Well, Austin picked up right where he left off, scoring the match-winner for Southampton against Manchester United as a second-half substitute in his club debut in Week 23. Draft leagues are surely snapping him up quick, so check to see if he is still available in yours. Meanwhile, I would wait to see how he does before spending a transfer on him in limited transfer leagues like FPL.com, considering his £7.0 value. But at Saints, Austin has incredible service from the wings and other attackers to share the load. Let’s consider him a short-term buy for now with definite long-term potential.