We’ve made it to the least exciting gameweek of the season: the FA Cup quarterfinal weekend. Usually it’s not quite this bad, with only four games this weekend, but it just worked out that with the schedule and the remaining teams in the FA Cup (including an enticing Chelsea v. Manchester United Monday night showdown).
Don’t worry too much about all of the missing fixtures, meaning try not to stretch your team too thin just for this week when there will be double gameweeks down the line. Someone, somewhere out there, has figured out a way to maneuver this mess—maybe. But in case you need some bargain options in an abbreviated week to shore up your side, here’s an abbreviated Bargain Hunter column for that very purpose.
Looking back at my last week’s picks, Mamadou Sakho earned a clean sheet for Crystal Palace in a 2-0 win against West Brom to bring the club out of the bottom three, Jordan Pickford made five saves against Sunderland and Kamil Grosicki picked up an assist in a loss to Leicester City.
Meanwhile, recent picks (all made within the last month) Joshua King, Manolo Gabbiadini and Martin Olsson each scored over the weekend. Olsson and King both play this weekend in the Premier League and I still highly recommend them, especially for a weekend like this when quality fantasy players are scarce; after all, these are guys who are long-term picks and not just a one-week fix.
We’ve filled up most of our Fantrax draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join or start up your own league with Fantrax. You can find them all here under “Rotoworld Draft League”. If they are all filled up, let us know on Twitter and we’ll add more leagues. For obvious reasons, we’re capping leagues at 10 users in order to encourage a higher level of competition. And if you’re bored of the attacking-based FPL.com or Perfect XI formats, our salary cap league on Fantrax (Rotoworld Salary Cap) mirrors the old Yahoo format that includes advanced statistics and defensive metrics. It’s not for the casual FPL.com player, and that’s why we love it.
Without further delay, here are the bargains for Gameweek 28. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
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.
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 Picks (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 the FPL.com game or draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Good fantasy goalkeepers are the toughest players to find in any league. Now add a gameweek where only eight teams play and we have a real conundrum. However, there are a couple of solid options that are still available in a good chunk of leagues (Artur Boruc, Lukasz Fabianski). Of the goalkeepers playing this weekend, only Tom Heaton and Mignolet are long-term picks, and Heaton is most likely not available in your league—and the leagues where he is available are probably not very competitive anyway. But Mignolet is still available in 35 percent of Fantrax leagues, which is a surprising percentage for a starting keeper in a top-six side.
At the beginning of this season, Mignolet lost his starting spot to summer signing Loris Karius, only to earn it back. Since Gameweek 15, Mignolet has been the sole starter in between the posts and has impressed manager Jurgen Klopp. In the last four weeks, the Belgian international has made 10 saves and proved to be a force in big wins against Spurs and Arsenal. And the club’s schedule to end the season is favourable: Burnley, Man City, Everton, Bournemouth, Stoke, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Watford, Southampton, West Ham, Boro. That will spell well for a Champions League push, and plenty of clean sheets as well.
DEF – Tyrone Mings (Bournemouth)
[Post-writing note: Mings has since been charged with violent conduct and faces a lengthy ban following an altercation with Zlatan Ibrahimovic this weekend.]
Most of the picks this week are designed to be more than just one-week fixes, but Mings might be the only one who doesn’t fit the profile; although we don’t know for sure, it’s completely out of his hands. That’s because captain Simon Francis has been on a week-to-week basis as he recovers from injury with Mings thrown into the fray for his first real Premier League experience since arriving last summer. If Francis is cleared to return, it really could be a one-week deal for Mings from here on out, but until we know for sure I’ll let you make the call based on how desperate you are for a defender, although the next defender in the list might suit you better.
Mings has started six of the club’s last seven Premier League matches: none of which have resulted in a clean sheet. In fact, the club is currently on an eight-match Premier League winless streak amid a slew of injuries to Francis, Callum Wilson and Jack Wislhere. But it looks like the Cherries’ fortunes could change with the fixture list with West Ham, Swansea and Southampton due up next. Keep an eye on Eddie Howe’s injury report this week with Francis recovering and reports that Mings picked up a knock in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United this weekend.
DEF – Stephen Ward (Burnley)
If you’re not up to the risk of a more widely available player like Mings, don’t worry; there are plenty of other options that are likely to be free agents in the majority of Fantrax leagues. For instance, try the entire Burnley back-line, minus Michael Keane. Since I’ve already featured Keane, Matthew Lowton and Ben Mee this season, I don’t want to disrespect the stability and versatility of Ward, who is taken in only 28 percent of Fantrax draft leagues.
It’s surprising to see a player of his consistency still available in nearly three-fourths of leagues given he plays for a defensive-minded club and has only missed one Premier League match all season. In fact, the Irish international has not missed a single minute of Premier League action since Gameweek 12. Although the club has Liverpool this weekend and Spurs upcoming, the rest of its fixtures for the next month are very manageable. It’s the stability of this Burnley back-line that looks to have kept the Clarets away from relegation this season, and Ward is a major reason why. He’s worth a look as a short-term pick.
MID– Sam Clucas (Hull City)
Speaking of stability and versatility, here’s a player that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The 26-year-old has started every top-flight match but two in his first season in the Premier League. Clucas has been used as a defensive midfielder, a winger and a full-back over the course of the season and has generally impressed. As the lone highlight in a 3-1 loss to Leicester City, he even scored his first-ever Premier League goal this weekend, assisted by last week’s pick in winger Kamil Grosicki. And the Tigers’ upcoming schedule promises some points with Swansea City, Everton, West Ham and Middlesbrough in the next four.
I’m not giving a strong recommendation for Clucas, given most of his responsibilities are defensive, but I wanted to give you the option of a reliable starter who is available in nearly 75 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. If you are desperate for a starter this weekend, Clucas could fit into your plans and serve as a bench player for the remainder of the season. But it’s all about how he fits into your side. I wouldn’t go out of the way to claim him off the waiver wire unless you have a definite plan in mind, but you here’s a starter that will get significant playing time week after week for the remainder of the season.
FWD/MID – Sofiane Feghouli (West Ham)
Feghouli is an option that works better in midfield, but can nonetheless be played as a forward as well in Fantrax. The free transfer arrived during the summer from Sporting Lisbon with plenty of hype, only to see injuries cut into his debut season. But since his return to action in Gameweek 18, the Algerian international has become a weekly starter since the departure of Dimitri Payet. Feghouli has started each of the last seven Premier League matches for the Hammers and was the man of the match in a 2-2 draw with West Brom in Gameweek 25 with a goal and assist.
Since his return, Feghouli has recorded two goals and two assists on the wing to earn the trust of manager Slaven Bilic. And things continue to look positive for West Ham with only one top-six opponent (Arsenal) in the next eight Premier League matches, starting with this weekend’s trip to face Bournemouth’s leaky defense. Feghouli is taken in only 32 percent of Fantrax draft leagues and looks to be a solid attacking option with the versatility to give you options in your team selection.