While most fantasy leagues will be conducting post-mortems following a brutal double gameweek, for us at Fantrax, the fun is only just starting. Not only is it a double gameweek, but it’s a powerhouse of a double gameweek with four of the top six participating.
The only trouble is most of the top six’s best players are already taken (nearly every consistent starter is taken in at least 90 percent of Fantrax leagues). But that’s what the Bargain Hunter column is for, so we’ll have to dig out some fantasy gems for the week ahead.
Last week didn’t go as well as we thought, with most double gameweek teams and players (outside of Christian Benteke) falling well short of the mark. Ander Herrera grabbed an assist as one of my picks, and I would recommend him again for this week, but otherwise it was a dry weekend. However, Phil Jagielka recorded a clean sheet and both Joshua King and Benik Afobe scored to add some credibility to my recent picks.
We’ve filled up most of our Fantrax draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join or start up your own league with Fantrax. You can find them all here under “Rotoworld Draft League”. If they are all filled up, let us know on Twitter and we’ll add more leagues. For obvious reasons, we’re capping leagues at 10 users in order to encourage a higher level of competition. And if you’re bored of the attacking-based FPL.com or Perfect XI formats, our salary cap league on Fantrax (Rotoworld Salary Cap) mirrors the old Yahoo format that includes advanced statistics and defensive metrics. It’s not for the casual FPL.com player, and that’s why we love it.
Without further delay, here are the bargains for Gameweek 35. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
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.
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 Picks (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 the FPL.com game or draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough)
Even though I picked him, maybe it was a good thing that Victor Valdes didn’t play last week, looking at the 4-0 thrashing the Teessiders took at the hands of Bournemouth over the weekend. I mentioned in the last column that Valdes had a rib injury and to watch the team news, but a minor injury turned into something that will rule him out for his third straight match when Middlesbrough face Sunderland on Wednesday, according to interim manager Steve Agnew. So let’s go with Guzan.
Middlesbrough didn’t stand much of a chance against the Cherries after Gaston Ramirez was sent off in the first 20 minutes, but Guzan still put together a solid performance with six saves while under a constant barrage of shots. As a short-term pick Guzan looks like a good option as long as you keep an eye on the team news in the future, but for now there’s no telling when Valdes will return and if he’ll get his starting spot back. First up for Guzan this week: Sunderland, a potential clean sheet if no one is sent off in the first half.
DEF – Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City)
In terms of a bargain from an ownership standpoint, you can’t do much better than Yohan Benalouane, a regular starter for the last month available in 98 percent of Fantrax draft leagues. Benalouane has finally received his shot with the defending champions after filling in for injured captain Wes Morgan, starting each of the last five Premier League matches for the Foxes. Morgan has been ruled out again this week, not with a back injury but a hamstring problem, so Benalouane will be the go-to man in central defense.
During those five matches, Leicester has recorded two clean sheets during the recent resurgence that has featured three wins and one draw since Benalouane’s first Premier League appearance of the season. Leicester will face Arsenal on Wednesday, followed by West Brom and Watford. There’s no indication of what will happen once Morgan returns, but for now, let’s count on Benalouane as a short-term pick.
DEF/MID – Jason Denayer (Sunderland)
When healthy, Denayer is one of Sunderland’s best players. A series of injuries has taken massive chunks out of the Manchester City loanee’s season, but the defender looks like he is finally hitting his stride as Sunderland face an uphill battle to avoid relegation. If the Black Cats have any real hope of surviving, it comes in their upcoming schedule. Their next four matches feature Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, Hull City and Swansea City, three of which are serious relegation candidates before matches with Arsenal and Chelsea close out the season.
Denayer has started and played a full 90 minutes in each of the last five Premier League matches, and is most valuable (both for David Moyes and fantasy managers) for his versatility at all three defensive positions as well as a defensive midfielder. With such a favorable schedule coming up, Sunderland will go for the jugular, and with such added focus, the hope is for clean sheets to come trickling down. Available in more than 90 percent of leagues, Denayer is a massive bargain as a long-term pick.
MID/DEF – Kieran Tripper (Spurs)
I’ve been toying with recommending Trippier for a while now and even mentioned him as a point-getter with massive potential, but a double gameweek looks like the best time to make the move if you want a Spurs defender. At this point, I would avoid making a move for Ben Davies as reports suggest Danny Rose is set to return this weekend in the North London derby against Arsenal. Despite Trippier’s platoon status with Kyle Walker, he may be worth the risk depending on your setup.
The former Burnley star right-back has finally made his way into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans and even got the start over Walker in the all-important FA Cup semifinal showdown against Chelsea last weekend, as 4-2 loss at Wembley Stadium. But in each of his last two starts Trippier has recorded a clean sheet, and Pochettino has applauded his forward runs and crossing ability as an attack-minded fullback. More importantly, he’s available in 89 percent of leagues, so consider the risk and (maybe) take a shot.
FWD – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Before we get carried away, let’s preface this: Rashford on a normal scale isn’t much of a bargain pick. But of all the teams (Leicester City, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Spurs) who have double gameweeks in Fantrax, Rashford—believe it or not—has the lowest ownership percentage among starting forwards at 87 percent ownership. So, on that scale, he’s a bargain, and we’ll leave it at that. If you’re lucky enough to be in the 13 percent on Fantrax leagues where he is available he’s a must-buy.
It shouldn’t be news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be around for the rest of the season, and a long time after the season ends, so look to Rashford to fill that role. Some managers are worried because Rashford didn’t start the first game after Zlatan’s injury, but that’s only because he played 120 minutes two days before in the Europa League quarterfinals. The forward has two goals in his last three matches and looks like an worthy pick in even the most powerful frontline now that he will get his shot as a consistent starter. It’s worth a look (and a waiver claim) at your free agency pools.