We are almost through the gauntlet with the last matchday approaching in a week that will feature 28 matches in the course of eight days. I don’t know about you, but I could really get used to all of these mid-week matches to add some spice to hump day.
But maybe not from a fantasy perspective. The big stars have seemed to disappear almost entirely. There have been no goals this week from Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in two matches (I encourage you to show me a winning fantasy team without one of these three up top).
There was so little star power that only two players in Fantasy Premier League’s dream team (a collection of the top point-getters on a weekly basis) were selected by more than 10 percent of the site’s 3.6 million users—those players being David De Gea and Roberto Firmino.
That being said, you can count on me including some of those selections in this week’s picks. Last week I promised to get on the offensive, so I offered up Connor Wickham as my only solid pick from last week as the former Sunderland man scored two against his former club.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 29. 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 – Adrian (West Ham)
You’ve heard enough about my disclaimers for bargain goalkeepers at this point in the season so I’ll come off it. But Adrian is starting to look like a great option for fairly cheap. You could spend a little bit more in FPL.com than the £5.0 for Adrian on Hugo Lloris or Jack Butland, but Adrian could be a good option in your draft league on the slight chance that he is available on the waiver wire. The Spaniard has recorded two consecutive clean sheets, including Wednesday night’s impressive 1-0 result over title-contender Tottenham, and three in the last five matches. But beware of West Ham’s upcoming schedule, which features a bye in Week 30 that will likely turn into a double gameweek somewhere down the line.
DEF – Steve Cook (Bournemouth)
Believe it or not, Cook was the top-scoring player in all of Fantasy Premier League in Week 28 after playing the game of his life in a shocking 2-0 victory against Southampton. The defender scored his first goal since Week 5, recorded a clean sheet and earned man of the match honors for his performance. The defender, who has played the full 90 minutes in every league match but two, is a good short-term buy in any league format, especially in the next two weeks as the in-form Cherries face fellow relegation candidates Newcastle and Swansea City. In FPL.com, Cook is valued at just £4.2 while he is available in more than 70 percent of Fantrax draft leagues.
MID – James Milner (Liverpool)
There’s very, very, very little chance that Milner is available in your draft league, but this looks like a great addition to a weekly salary-cap league like DraftKings or even a short-term buy in FPL.com (valued at £6.5) if you want to differentiate yourself from everyone picking Marko Arnautovic and Dele Alli in the same price range. To put it simply, Milner has been tearing it up lately. No team has scored more league goals in 2016 than Liverpool and Milner has been at the heart of it. Not only does he take penalties, but the midfielder has recorded three goals and four assists in the last seven Premier League matches, including two goals and two assists in the last three games. He may not be the most appealing pick, but have no doubt about his consistency at putting points up on the board.
MID – Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth)
Ritchie is another midfield option that has fallen below the radar since he doesn’t display the flashy tendencies of Philippe Coutinho or have the breakout numbers like Arnautovic. However, Ritchie is another model of consistency that quietly reels in points as the fulcrum of the Bournemouth attack. Only Charlie Daniels has more FPL.com fantasy points for the Cherries. But Ritchie, who is available at just £5.3, is in his best form of the season. The winger has contributed to four of the club’s past five goals (one goal, three assists) in the last month since returning from injury. He might not be available in draft leagues, but have a look as Ritchie truly is a long-term option in any format.
FWD – Salomon Rondon (West Brom)
I recommended Rondon a couple months back, but now is the time to return to him. Rondon has been at the center of West Brom’s peculiar, offensive resurgence this week—two games, five goals against Crystal Palace and league-leading Leicester City. The Venezuelan has scored in three of his last four Premier League starts and has contributed to a goal in each of those matches. The forward is also in his best form of the season and has developed quite a nice partnership with Saido Berahino. Fantrax says he’s available in 40 percent of your draft leagues while his £6.5 asking price in FPL.com makes him a short-term buy with a tough two weeks ahead.