It’s hard to believe that there are only three weekends left in the season, including the looming double gameweek in Week 37, which means we’re getting ever closer to the World Cup this summer. But for the moment, let’s focus on giving your FPL Draft squad a strong final push to end the season.
While none of my picks from last week put up any big numbers during the blank gameweek, my recent Burnley and Everton picks came up big. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman both recorded clean sheets in a 1-0 win against Newcastle on Monday while Ashley Barnes starred with a goal and two bonus points while James Tarkowski recorded an assist and a bonus point in a 1-1 draw with Stoke.
With the double gameweek next weekend, give your waiver claims a second thought and check if they play twice next week—you’ll want to maximize your opportunities for points, if at all possible, with everyone else doing the same at the end of the year.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 36. 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 – Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)
I picked up Wayne Hennessey a couple of weeks ago with the sole intent of having a goalkeeper for the blank gameweek last weekend and I was pleasantly surprised to see the return. The Welsh keeper garnered his best output of the season with 10 points from a single match after collecting a clean sheet, five saves and three bonus points for his man of the match performance in a scoreless draw with Watford on Saturday. And looking at Palace’s schedule to end the year, Hennessey continues to be a solid option.
Palace is inching closer to relegation with a six-point lead and a game in hand over Southampton in 18th, but the club should make its way to safety, barring a meltdown, with Leicester City, Stoke City and West Brom (two out of three at home) to end the season. In our latest sample, you can find Hennessey still available in 78 percent of FPL Draft leagues, making him a great bargain pick, especially if you’re in need of a number two option in goal.
DEF – Cedric (Southampton)
Things aren’t looking good for Southampton: The club sits in the final relegation spot, four points behind Swansea City in the race to avoid relegation, with four games left to play. After blowing a lead against Chelsea two weeks ago, Saints slogged to a scoreless draw with Leicester last weekend and now likely need to take the maximum points from its next three games against Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea City (the big six-point swing) before ending the season against title-winning Manchester City, where they can expect the worse.
Enter Cedric, who has been one of the club’s few consistent players in recent weeks and is the most in-form player at the St. Mary’s. The right-back earned the clean sheet against Leicester over the weekend and also picked up two assists in a 3-2 loss to Arsenal in Gameweek 33. With the next three matches, Cedric will look to put together a strong end to the season before heading to the World Cup with Portugal this summer. Available in 60 percent of FPL Draft Leagues, Cedric would be a solid option as a fifth defender.
DEF- Michael Keane (Everton)
On first glance, Michael Keane does not fit the typical bargain standards that we look for, but the fact that he is available in more than a third of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues says other wise. With a highly contested seat on the plane to Russia up for grabs, the summer signing from Burnley has turned it on of late with two clean sheets and three bonus points in his last three games to combine for 17 points from a non-attacking defender, which is quite the haul for a center-back without a goal this season.
When healthy, Keane has been one of the Toffees’ best players this season, proving to be a shrewd signing among the club’s reckless summer spending spree last summer. Along with the extra push from Keane for a place on the England national team, I am expecting the Toffees to finish strong with a couple more clean sheets with Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham to close out the season. If Keane isn’t available, move on and be wary of Phil Jagielka with both Ramiro Funes Mori and Ashley Williams back in the mix.
FWD – Danny Ings (Liverpool)
Ings has been an underground pick in FPL circles in recent weeks with Liverpool’s focus clearly on advancing to the Champions League final—but actually, the club drew with bottom-dwelling West Brom last weekend. With the second leg of the semifinals in Rome coming up on Wednesday, we should expect Jurgen Klopp to rest some of his key men and given his role players a chance to shine against relegation favorite Stoke City this weekend, players like Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke among others.
In a start against the Baggies over the weekend, Ings bagged his first Premier League goal since 2016 looked sharp, finally beyond (hopefully) his injury struggles since arriving in 2015 after an 11-goal season with Burnley. If you’re willing to risk it, mostly for teams with nothing to lose and need a big boost, Ings could provide a massive differential in the final weeks.