After an extended 10-day break for the League and FA Cups, get ready for the Premier League to hit hard and fast with three gameweeks starting in the next 12 days. And in the final week of the transfer window, be prepared for sudden changes in your squad with players coming in and out and the impacts those moves can have.
We’ve already seen Philippe Coutinho jump ship, Alexis Sanchez move up north and Arsenal close on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. So over the next couple of weeks, I will analyze the bargains that will rise (see Alex Iwobi below) and the stars that could fall with all of these moves.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 25. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the Premier League on a weekly basis. Our friends at FPL.com take the data from a thousand private leagues, all of which consist of eight teams, in order to minimize the impact of data from public leagues where autopick drafting is more prevalent.
Of course, it’s just a sample size, so it’s not hard and fast; but it should give us a good idea of the tendencies of FPL Draft leagues and managers. Remember, the waivers deadline is a full 24 hours before the first game of the week, and the lowest-placed team in your league gets the first pick.
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, not so much for draft leagues.
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 Pick (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 draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK– Orestis Karnezis (Watford)
As I have done in the past couple weeks, I’m going to highlight new starting keepers to keep an eye on—but not necessarily pick right away—due to the dearth of bargain keepers. This week’s edition, Watford keeper Orestis Karnezis, comes from a complete unknown out of Watford; he’s so unfamiliar that no team out of our 1,000 league sample has him in their team, at least not yet.
After starting keeper Heurelho Gomes was ruled out with a back injury, the on-loan keeper from Udinese started in Watford’s 2-0 loss to Leicester City last weekend as well as the weekend FA Cup loss to Southampton. If Karnezis continues to start, the Hornets’ schedule opens up nicely in the next month with only Chelsea as a massive challenge with Stoke City, West Ham, Everton and also West Brom up in the next month. So keep an eye on Karnezis if you need keeper help.
DEF- Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Personally, I’m one of the happiest people you’ll find regarding the resurgence of Luke Shaw at Manchester United, mostly because of how much I rooted for him back in 2013/14, when, as a teenager, he recorded a 123-point season at Southampton. For some unexplainable reason, like many other players (Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne, etc.), he’s never been in José Mourinho’s good books, until he is all that’s left.
Well, Shaw is pretty much all that’s left now at left-back, and he’s actually been pretty darn good. Mourinho has turned to Shaw for 90 minutes in four of the last five Premier League games, and if he continues to turn to him Shaw can be one of the bargains of the new year considered he’s the only way to break into the United defense at 80 percent availability in our recent sample of draft leagues. Although be aware, because as volatile as Mourinho is, Shaw could soon find his way back in the doghouse.
MID – Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Fraser is a guy we’ve been waiting on since the young Scottish international broke into the Bournemouth team last season with three goals and nine assists as a 22-year-old. Despite showing signs of a sophomore slump at the start of the season, Fraser has turned things on of late with three goals, an assist and five bonus points in his last three Premier League appearances to give him a career high four goals on the season.
His best performance came in the club’s 2-1 win against Everton in Gameweek 21 with a two-goal outing to earn him man of the match, and Fraser has no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But you can afford to wait on the Cherries attacker since he is taken in only five percent of leagues in our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues. But if you can afford to take a chance on a young player with a high upside, there are not too many better than Fraser…
MID - Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)
…except possibly Alex Iwobi. The Nigerian international is a very similar player to Fraser: a quick winger with an innate crossing ability. He’s also taken in only 6.3 percent of FPL Draft leagues, so you have your pick of the litter in this case. Iwobi is an Arsene Wenger favorite and looks set to set a career high in minutes played and goals this season, and he will surely be called upon to fill in for Alexis Sanchez after the Chilean moved to Manchester United last week.
The winger has recorded two goals and two assists in sporadic playing time this season, but his best performances have come in the past two weeks when he recorded an assist against Bournemouth and a goal against Crystal Palace as a starter. Like Fraser, I would call him a short-term pick with long-term potential if he continues to get the playing time; and in this Arsenal lineup, he has the chance for even better numbers.
FWD – Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
It may just be personal bias, but I really want Batshuayi to succeed at Chelsea. The problem is Antonio Conte doesn’t hold him in as high regard as the club does, even when Álvaro Morata hasn’t scored in a Premier League match since Boxing Day. But since Morata has missed the last two weeks of the year with a back injury, Batshuayi has finally been given the chance to start, and it has only returned positive results for the Blues.
Against Brighton in a 4-0 win last week, Batshuayi recorded an assist and, more importantly, got a full 90 minutes. And then this weekend in the FA Cup, Batshuayi was the man of the match with two goals in a win against Newcastle. That success can only earn the Belgian international another start right? Well, regardless, we can only count on him as a week-to-week pick until Morata recovers from injury (keep an eye on that). If you want to take the chance, Batshuayi is a bargain available in 47 percent of FPL Draft leagues.