If last week was a down week for your team, I wouldn’t worry too much; FPL.com tells us the average score was a dismal 38 points (before Arsenal and Manchester City play), so don’t be concerned, my picks last week suffered the same fate.
But of my recent picks, Xherdan Shaqiri continued to shine with a goal and two bonus points for Stoke City. Meanwhile, Marc Albrighton recorded an assist and a bonus point while Jesse Lingard also recorded a goal in Manchester United’s 2-1 win against Chelsea.
One side note for the week: Because Manchester City and Arsenal have yet to complete the gameweek (they play again on Thursday), we won’t have this week’s FPL Draft league sample until after the game; so we will just go off last week’s stats as none of my picks will suddenly skyrocket to being widely unavailable.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 29. 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- Nick Pope (Burnley)
Nick Pope owners beware: Tom Heaton’s return is imminent. The Burnley No. 1 keeper has been out since September since suffering a dislocated shoulder, but Heaton recently played for the club’s U23 side in his recovery bid. While Sean Dyche recently said he has no intention to start a keeper competition over the weekend, it’s imminent in the next couple of weeks.
I don’t think it means you should get rid of Pope, because he could very well continue on as the club’s starter given his track record this season with nine clean sheets (just one off Heaton’s Premier League career high). But if Pope is your primary keeper, I would have a reliable backup that starts every week, because the job could return to Heaton’s at any moment.
DEF- Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
With all of the attention on Virgil Van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool, Andy Robertson has been quietly making a name for himself at left-back. The former Hull City phenom has become Jurgen Klopp’s go-to full-back, starting 13 of the last 14 Premier League games. In that time, Robertson has recorded five clean sheets and two assists while providing stability at a position previously manned by the unstable Alberto Moreno.
While the club fell just short of a clean sheet over the weekend, Robertson still recorded an assist to make him the fourth most in-from defender in the league, according to FPL.com’s stats. The left-back is still widely available in FPL Draft leagues, taken in under 30 percent of leagues. And better yet, the club has Newcastle, Watford, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, West Brom and Stoke on the schedule in the next two months.
MID – Alex Pritchard (Huddersfield Town)
When the move from Norwich City to Huddersfield in the middle of the January transfer window, I was thrilled to see the former Spurs academy product back in the Premier League. Pritchard is an exciting young English talent who was one of the brightest talents in the Championship this season and has totaled eight goals for Norwich in the past two seasons. Since leaving Tottenham in 2016, it has always been clear that Pritchard had his eyes set on the Premier League, and Huddersfield shelling out £14 million for him shows the club is ready to give him a serious shot.
And Pritchard has taken advantage of his chances in the last two weeks. In his last two starts alone, the 24-year-old has recorded a goal and two assists to go with three bonus points, including his stellar performance against Bournemouth that saw him contribute to two of the Terriers’ four goals. Pritchard is virtually untouched in FPL Draft leagues due to his recent arrival, but that could slowly start to change. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to keep an eye on him, but if he continues this form you might want to make a move soon.
MID – Michail Antonio (West Ham)
He’s finally back, and Michail Antonio is definitely making up for lost time. West Ham’s breakout star over the last two years has been hampered by a couple of injuries this season, limiting him to only 13 starts. But after posting two quality seasons back-to-back (2015/16: eight goals, seven assists; 2016/17: nine goals, eight assists) Antonio has found that form once again after missing six games due to an injury suffered just before Boxing Day.
But in the last two games, Antonio has recorded a goal and an assist, including the club’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss to Liverpool over the weekend where he came off the bench. While it’s still early in his return, Antonio is available in nearly 60 percent of last week’s FPL Draft sample, but that figure will only continue to dwindle in the next couple of weeks. Someone of Antonio’s caliber is extremely difficult to find at this point of the season, and even having this long-term pickup as a fifth midfielder would be a tremendous asset.
FWD – Glenn Murray (Brighton)
Glenn Murray has an MO, and he’s in the middle of showing it off at the moment. The Premier League journeyman disappears for spurts and then returns with a streak of top-quality performances that reminds us he’s still around. Well, with four goals and five bonus points in the last four Premier League matches, you could say that he is at the peak of his powers at the moment; the highlight came over the weekend with a two-goal, man-of-the-match performance against Swansea City.
His latest showing gives the former Bournemouth and Crystal Palace forward a career-high 10 Premier League goals on the season, using his depth of Premier League experience to help keep the Seagulls away from the relegation zone with only 10 matches left in the season. Murray is still available in around 60 percent of FPL Draft leagues, but he will surely be on fantasy managers’ radar given his recent performance. Prone to explosive bouts of form, Murray is a guy who could provide that massive differential for your team.