Well we’ve got one more week before that dreadful international break, the last of the season, which is sure to throw us one last loop before the sprint to the finish line.
With eight or nine games left in the season (Liverpool and Everton actually have 10 games remaining, so stock up soon), fixture lists are going to play a critical role in fantasy leagues everywhere. For example, a Norwich City defender going up against West Brom looks to be a better matchup than a Manchester United defender going up against Manchester City.
It is often these strategic risks that could prove the difference between a first and second-place finish in a competitive league. It works both ways however, so make sure to be conservative to the extent of pairing them with a Spurs defender going up against Bournemouth or likewise.
Meanwhile, I don’t want to talk about last week. Forever will be too soon to talk about my fantasy team and picks from last week’s miserable five-match gameweek. Moving on.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 31. 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)
Sunderland’s run of tough fixtures has now come to an end and that plays into the club’s favor in the relegation race. Sam Allardyce will surely know this and look to clamp down on a leaky defence, which has conceded the most goals of any team outside of the bottom three. But the upcoming schedule features a great chance to add some unique points that few others would garner if the club records a clean sheet. The Black Cats face Newcastle and West Brom in the next two matches, followed by a home match with Leicester and then Norwich City. Mannone has started 11 of the last 12 Premier League matches and is averaging more than three saves per match. Obviously a short-term buy, Mannone is valued at £4.3 in Fantasy Premier League.com and Fantrax says he is available in more than 91 percent of draft leagues.
DEF – Timm Klose (Norwich City)
Norwich City is one of those teams with an extremely favorable schedule, and I highly suggest adding a starting defender as a short-term buy. I think Klose represents the best option: reliable, cheap/available and consistent. The Swiss international has started the last seven games and played the full 90 minutes since arriving from Wolfsburg in the winter transfer window. Klose was an instrumental figure in shutting out Manchester City over the weekend. And that is sure to get the ball rolling with West Brom, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Watford leading up to the end of April. He’s taken in only 5.8 percent of Fantrax draft leagues, is priced at £4.2 in FPL.com and looks perfect for a cheap option in daily fantasy lineups.
MID – Bertrand Traore (Chelsea)
Depending on your league, Traore could be listed as a midfielder or as a forward. If he is registered as a forward, it is probably not the best decision to go after him just based on the chance he might not start. Granted, Diego Costa will miss at least the next two matches, but Guus Hiddink could also opt for Loic Remy. So this pick presents some risk—if you want more stability see the next selection. But here’s why it could be worth it: Traore has recorded two goals and an assist in his last three Premier League appearances, two of which were starts. Traore is best suited as a one-week or short-term buy in a draft league as Fantrax says he is available in more than 75 percent of draft leagues.
MID – Joshua King (Bournemouth)
Much like Traore above, King could be registered as either a midfielder or forward in different league formats. However, I think he is worth it regardless based on his form and price/availability. King could be a short-term buy, but Junior Stanislas and Harry Arter’s imminent injury return should be taken into consideration. In his last two Premier League matches, King has scored two goals and added an assist as a key part of this late-season Bournemouth revival. The club has scored eight goals in its last three games—it took them the previous seven to equal that figure. In FPL.com, King is valued at just £4.3. But he is being snapped in draft leagues as Fantrax says King’s popularity has doubled in the past week alone from 15 percent of leagues to 35, so get him now.
FWD – Dame N’Doye (Sunderland)
N’Doye looks to be a solid pick after scoring his first Premier League goal since arriving on loan from Trabzonspor for Sunderland in Week 28 against Crystal Palace. The Senegalese international has started in each of the last four matches and is a widely-available option as a forward in draft leagues as he is taken in only 11.2 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. I wouldn’t recommend him in FPL.com or other leagues with limited weekly transfers, but N’Doye is a good option coming off your fantasy team’s bench or in case of injury.