After what seemed like the longest international break in the history of international breaks, things are about to get über serious in Fantasy Premier League circles. But before we get into that, one more note on international breaks: The next international break will be the World Cup, so that’s pretty cool, I guess.
But for now, our focus remains on FPL with a series of double and blank gameweeks in the near future. However, our focus in FPL Draft should remain on the week-to-week for now, especially with the chance to make multiple claims off the waiver wire when the time comes.
In Gameweek 31, a blank gameweek, my attacking picks turned out wonderfully with Junior Stanislas recorded a goal and three bonus points and Cenk Tosun scoring two goals and three bonus points. Meanwhile, recent picks like Theo Walcott and Andy Robertson each recorded assists while Luka Milivojevic scored on another penalty kick.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 32. 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 – Joe Hart (West Ham)
Just a quick reminder before I get into my goalkeeper pick: This late in the season, I’m highlighting goalkeeping switches rather than goalkeepers you absolutely must have, since I’ve already covered nearly every one out there. So with that, let’s talk about Joe Hart, who has seen his England No. 1 gloves removed in favor of Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. But his recent reappearance might be cause to take a look at the on-loan keeper from Manchester City.
Hart hadn’t played in the Premier League since Gameweek 14 against Everton, where he conceded four goals, until Gameweek 30. It won’t help him much that the Hammers were blown out 3-0 by Burnley in their last outing, but at least we know that Adrian’s starting spot wasn’t a given either. But if you’re looking for a backup keeper, look elsewhere as West Ham’s schedule to end the season is brutal: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton make up five of the final eight matches.
DEF- Serge Aurier (Tottenham)
There are few players in the Premier League in better form at the moment than Tottenham fullback Serge Aurier. Mauricio Pochettino has taken a rotational approach to his fullbacks this season with Aurier switching in and out with England international Kieran Trippier, which has been incredibly frustrating to FPL managers, but he has had no choice in recent weeks with the way Aurier has been performing,
The Ivory Coast international has recorded 26 fantasy points in the last three weeks alone, including a 13-point performance in a 4-1 win against Bournemouth that saw Aurier put up a goal, assist and two bonus points. The fact that Aurier is taken in only 32 percent of our most recent sample of FPL Draft leagues should make him an obvious long-term pick, but the potential for a platoon situation under Pochettino makes him less appealing. Still, if you have the depth in defense and the patience, adding Aurier could be a major late-season boost to your squad.
DEF- Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace)
Year after year, I’m tempted to make a move for Patrick van Aanholt, who is someone still considered a defender despite spending nearly all of his time in the attacking half of the pitch, which is what makes him such a tempting option in fantasy circles. After two solid attacking seasons over the last two years (five goals and one assist last season, six goals and four assists in 2015/16) van Aanholt is starting to turn on the jets once again right when Crystal Palace needs it most.
The left-back scored in consecutive games against Manchester United and Chelsea earlier this month and recorded a clean sheet and a bonus point last week to give him 20 fantasy points in the last three games. With Roy Hodgson ready to trust the streaky Dutchman and a favorable schedule to end the season, van Aanholt looks worth of a waiver claim with 56 percent ownership and rising.
FWD – Chris Wood (Burnley)
Chris Wood is up there with Cenk Tosun as one of the hottest forwards in the Premier League at the moment. With the Clarets looking for a replacement for Andre Gray, the club record signing arrived from Leeds in a £15 million move this summer after a monster year that saw him rack up 27 goals in the Championship. And now Wood is finally showing that potential after struggling for playing time for much of the season despite scoring in the first two games of the season for Sean Dyche’s side.
In his last two Premier League games, Wood has recorded three goals and an assist, which includes a monstrous man-of-the-match performance against West Ham in Gameweek 30 where the New Zealand international contributed to each of the club’s three goals. With Burnley finally finding an in-form striker, expect Wood to get his chances with a fairly easy schedule to end the season. And since he’s available in nearly 80 percent of FPL Draft leagues, Wood looks like a long-term pick through the end of the season.