Now that we’ve had this fantasy Premier League mountain of a week thanks to the double gameweek, now it’s time to dig ourselves out of the valley that it has left us.
With the FA Cup semifinal this weekend, Watford, Manchester United, Everton, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich City won’t be playing this weekend in the Premier League, meaning there could be a crisis in some of your lineups.
For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to play in a league like The Guardian, where Cup fixtures count for fantasy points in addition to league games, I’ve selected players in my picks this week who are actually playing in the Premier League.
My double gameweek picks from last week were fairly successful. Divock Origi scored, Samir Nasri assisted and Albeto Moreno picked up a clean sheet. But this week is sure to be a much bigger challenge.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 35. 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 – Shay Given (Stoke City)
The good news is we have another goalkeeper to add to the starting mix. The bad news is he gave up four goals in Monday night’s massacre at the hands of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Despite the result, Stoke City still has a solid defense in front of the keeper and I like the club’s chances against Manchester City this weekend as the Sky Blues will likely rest some of their starters ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal with Real Madrid. While Given is not a good pick for FPL.com and other leagues with limited transfers, I think he could be a short-term backup keeper in a draft league; that is, as long as he remains the starter ahead of Jakob Haugaard.
DEF – Cuco Martina (Southampton)
The same Southampton that was a defensive fortress last season doesn’t have a clean sheet that run of six straight shutouts following Fraser Forster’s return ended in late February. But the weekend match against Aston Villa provides the Saints with their best chance since. And Martina is your best chance at breaking into the Southampton back-line for next-to-nothing. The right-back has played a full 90 minutes in five of the last six Premier League matches and looks to have displaced Cedric Soares in the starting XI. He’s readily available (like, almost everywhere) in draft leagues and he’s only valued at £4.1 in FPL.com, making him an excellent short-term pick for his value. Even more so, I like him as a one-week buy for daily fantasy lineups on Saturday.
DEF – Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)
A defender who was rumored to be on his way out under Brendan Rodgers has really found his niche during the Jurgen Klopp reign. The midweek fixtures was one of his best games in a Liverpool shirt, recording the club’s first clean sheet since early March while also scoring the second goal of a 4-0 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby. The former Paris Saint-Germain center-half is priced at £4.7 in FPL.com and Fantrax says he is available in more than half of all draft leagues. And with the club’s final fixture list (Newcastle, Swansea, Watford, Chelsea, West Brom) and a double gameweek in Week 37, Sakho is a legitimate long-term buy. Just beware of the club’s team news during the week, because Klopp could rest Sakho for the Europa League test like he did last weekend.
MID – Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)
Now Sissoko is a guy who I usually stay away from in a fantasy setting. He’s an incredibly versatile workhorse and often finds himself in the trench battles of central midfield, but he’s just not a typical fantasy pick. Until now, well maybe. Rafa Benitez has moved the Frenchman onto the attacking wing instead of playing him up the middle, and it has paid dividends. Sissoko notched a goal and an assist in the double gameweek, including the equalizing assist against Manchester City that stole a crucial point. Sissoko is still available in 40 percent of Fantrax draft leagues and is a sure short-term buy who will be relied upon to bring the club out of the bottom three. Maybe stay away from him in FPL.com, but daily fantasy looks like a solid bet against Liverpool this weekend.
FWD – Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester City)
Due to the limited week, some of us will be missing Dimitri Payet, others Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku, but most of us will be missing Jamie Vardy. Vardy was sent off at the weekend and will miss Sunday’s match against Swansea City and possibly more after accepting the FA’s charge of misconduct for his reaction to being sent off. That can only mean Leonardo Ulloa will be relied upon to pick up the goalscoring slack after saving the club against West Ham with his game-tying penalty-kick goal. Don’t go after him in FPL.com where there are better players for around the same £5.2 pricetag. But Ulloa is a sure one-week buy in DraftKings or other daily fantasy games against the Swans.