Let the race for Marcus Rashford begin! I’m only (half) kidding, but no one can deny the composure and grit he showed against Arsenal in his first-ever Premier League start—not to mention his endearing childish giggle in the post-match interview. However, I’ll tell you below why he’s not the best choice for everyone.
We have a quick turnaround this week, which includes three Premier League matchdays in the course of a week, after the FA Cup delay from last week, so make sure you hit your transfer deadlines with matches split between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Last week, I did well to advise you defensively, which seemed to be the trend of the week without Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton and with a lack of star power (no scoring points for Dimitri Payet, Alexis Sanchez, Harry Kane, Riyad Mahrez etc.).
Week 27 picks Artur Boruc and Robert Huth each secured a clean sheet, but the biggest highlight from Wahbi Khazri was a failed Rabona (worth Googling) while Emmanuel Emenike was pulled before the hour mark after receiving his first start. You’ll find this week’s picks have more emphasis on some attacking flair, so hopefully things go in that direction.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 28. 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 – John Ruddy (Norwich City)
Disclaimer: This is not a pick for managers who need a new starting keeper. If you are looking for a reliable, starting, clean-sheet-wielding keeper, it’s probably best not to look for a bargain pick outside of Kasper Schmeichel. However, this being wild-card season, FPL.com/salary-cap users are always looking for ways to cut costs while draft-league managers often need backup keepers in case their first-choices are benched or injured. If that’s the case, Ruddy could be your man. The long-time Norwich keeper has regained his starting spot from Declan Rudd over the last two matches and Norwich has some relegation candidates thrown into its remaining schedule. In FPL.com, he’s valued at just £4.1 while Fantrax says he is available in 90 percent of its draft leagues.
DEF – Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
Fuchs is a pick that I really like at this time of the year because he’s a veteran defender with enough big-game experience and savvy to lead an inexperienced team into the home stretch of a title race. And that’s why I am recommending him even after the return of Jeff Schlupp, who I think Claudio Ranieri will prefer in a wing role as opposed to a position on the back-line. Fuchs is unlikely to be available in your draft league, but I think he would be a great addition at £4.9 in any limited transfer/salary cap league like FPL.com (where multiple teams can have the same player). Leicester picked up a clean sheet this past weekend and has West Brom, Watford and Newcastle as clean-sheet material in its upcoming fixtures. Without a doubt, Fuchs is a long-term buy in your fantasy league.
DEF – Danny Rose (Spurs)
An attacking full-back is definitely one way to gamble for some extra points. For the most part, Rose hasn’t lived up to expectations due to competition from Ben Davies and inconsistent playing time. However, the left-back has a career-high six Premier League assists (according to FPL.com) and scored his first league goal of the season for the match-winner against Swansea City on Sunday. He could even earn some clean sheet points with West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth coming up in three of the next four matches. It’s a bit of a risk because we don’t know when Mauricio Pochettino will opt to return to the platoon with Davies, but it could pay big dividends as a short-term buy, and especially this week as a one-week buy for your weekly DraftKings lineup.
FWD – Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)
I’ve recommended Wickham once before this season, but injuries have gotten the best of the former Sunderland prodigy. However, the forward looks back to his usual self as a secondary striker roaming in from the wing. Wickham is at his best when he has a center-forward that can hold up play to allow him to make runs in behind the defense and overload the back-line. Now that he has Emmanuel Adebayor, Wickham is starting to shine. The forward scored his first two Premier League goals in a breakthrough performance against West Brom this weekend to pair with an assist in Week 26. He’s likely a short-term buy at best as Jason Puncheon and Bakary Sako recover from injury, but Wickham is best suited for a draft league where forward options are scarce. Fantrax says he is available in nearly 70 percent of its leagues, which makes him an appealing option for any attack.
FWD – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Alright, here it is. We’re not going to go all Reece Oxford-crazy over this guy, even if his impressive performance against Arsenal is worth plenty of praise. But for Fantasy Premier League, I would avoid the forward for the time being. In a draft league, Rashford is definitely worth a waiver claim if you have the chance because he will likely be snapped up out of any free agency in the next week; Fantrax says he is taken in 15 percent of draft leagues but that number will grow fast. With Wayne Rooney out and Anthony Martial nursing a minor injury, it’s worth having Rashford as an option if you are low on forwards. But not in FPL.com, at least not yet. Transfers are so important to the format that it would be a waste to jump on the bandwagon only to see Martial return and Rashford head back to the U21s. Only if Rashford keeps scoring on a weekly basis will we consider him for a fantasy league with limited transfers.