After a hectic week of fixtures (FA Cups and two matchdays in seven days), injuries to big names (Kurt Zouma and James McArthur, David Silva and Romelu Lukaku) and plenty of surprises (Leicester City, Leicester City, Aston Villa), we finally get the chance to step back and breathe for a moment.
My picks for Week 25 fared much better than those in Week 26 as Fraser Forster continued his impressive clean sheet streak—he still has not conceded a goal since returning from injury a month ago—and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored his fifth goal of 2016, putting him third in the league behind Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney since the start of the new year.
Loyal Bargain Hunter reader Derek Hamilton (@DHam14905) reached out to me on Twitter with an excellent question: Which winter transfers are worth picking up fantasy, specifically in the FPL.com game?
Last week I suggested adding Swansea City’s Alberto Paloschi and West Brom’s Sandro; however, Sandro’s skillset and poor service to Paloschi don’t really correlate well to FPL.com. This week I highlight Andros Townsend, who could be a solid FPL.com pick-up, but really, there aren’t too many winter transfers that will make a massive impact in FPL.com’s scoring system outside of Steven Naismith and Benik Afobe, who I featured in Week 24.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 26. 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 – Vito Mannone (Sunderland)
It doesn’t matter what format your league is, Mannone can help you in some way. If you are in FPL.com or a salary-cap league, Mannone can be the perfect backup keeper in case your No. 1 comes away with an injury or has an unfavorable matchup. Mannone is cheap and doesn’t have too daunting of a schedule in the coming weeks with Manchester United, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Southampton. The keeper is available in more than 90 percent of Fantrax draft leagues, which is strange for being a starting keeper. Either way, Mannone is simply a great bargain because he is widely (or cheaply) available and is a starting goalkeeper.
DEF – Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
This may not come off as too much of a bargain, but when you haven’t played in a month I don’t know what else to call it. Cahill just saw his first Premier League action of the new year on Sunday after Kurt Zouma was carted off the field. Now that we know Zouma will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, the starting spot returns to Cahill. At £6.1 in FPL.com, Cahill is a great way to break into a Chelsea defense that has only conceded once in the last three games and faces Newcastle, Southampton, Norwich and Stoke in its upcoming fixtures. If he is available on your draft league’s waiver wire, snap him up quick and you’ll have a long-term buy that will last you the rest of the season, barring, of course, another injury.
MID – Aaron Lennon (Everton)
I absolutely love this pick right now because Lennon comes as such a great bargain in any league format. The former Spurs winger has really found his stride, scoring in each of his last three appearances in all competitions. Lennon found the mark against Stoke over the weekend and recorded a goal and assist against Newcastle in midweek. In FPL.com, he’s valued at just £5.6 while also available in three-fourths of all Fantrax draft leagues. He’s still a short-term buy at the moment, but I think his value is best for leagues with weekly lineups like DraftKings as Lennon is in his best form at the moment for a streaking Everton side (10 goals in the last four Premier League matches).
MID – Andros Townsend (Newcastle)
If you want an attacking winger for the long term with more stability in terms of playing time, Townsend would be the man for you. In two starts with his new club, Townsend has looked dangerous with all the support in Newcastle’s attack. Available at just £5.8 in FPL.com, Townsend has the potential to be a season-changing transfer with his nose for goal and crossing ability, who can serve on the bench until he finds his scoring touch. But his real value lies in draft formats, where Fantrax says he is still available in the majority of leagues. It won’t be long before Townsend starts scoring, especially with a place in England’s Euro squad in mind, but the real question is will he be consistent with all of this added workload?
FWD – Emmanuel Adebayor (Crystal Palace)
I wouldn’t recommend Adebayor if you are in a format like FPL.com with limited weekly transfers and a maximum of three forwards. There are much better strikers who score more goals and earn more points. But Adebayor could be a sneaky pick in draft leagues, where low-risk, high-reward additions are the name of the game. Fantrax shows that Adebayor is available in just over half of its draft leagues, but my educated guess is that many of those are on teams that are no longer active after drafting him from Spurs in the summer. It looks as though Crystal Palace is betting its chips on Adebayor to turn around its scoring woes and the Togo man earned his first start against Swansea. We know what the guy can do in the Premier League (24 goals in 2007/08, 11 as recent as 2014/15), so take a chance if you have the roster space.