Well then, here we are: Gameweek 38, the last matchday of the season. Looking back, we get all the usual clichéd responses: “Where did the time go? How long until the start of next season? Why didn’t I pick up Joshua King?” And they’re all true, especially that last bit.
But at least for us at Fantrax, we get one last firework for our final matchday of the season: a double gameweek. Oddly enough, the gameweeks were set well in advance—they’re not adjustable like the official FPL.com game—giving us four teams with a double gameweek for the final week, starting today. So if you haven’t done so yet, or if you haven’t read the column in a couple of weeks, load up on Southampton, Manchester United, Spurs and Leicester City players before the game today.
Last week’s batch of double (even triple) gameweek picks didn’t turn out all too well. Only Kieran Gibbs recorded any significant points with two clean sheets, although Wenger infuriated some of us by resting Gibbs for the weekend match. But I still think Chris Smalling is a great pick for this week.
However, my recent picks came to play: Gabriel Jesus had two goals and two assists, Phil Jagielka recorded a clean sheet and an assist, Joshua King picked up a goal, as did Divock Origi, while Luka Milivojevic added a penalty-kick goal as well.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to all those who kept coming back on a weekly basis to this space, and especially to those who have reached out to me via email and Twitter. Your thoughts are always welcomed and it’s been a pleasure to be able to help in any capacity in my first full season as the Bargain Hunter. Best of luck in your final week of action and I hope to see you back here next season!
Without further delay, here are the bargains for Gameweek 38. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column….next year.
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 – Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)
Fabianski doesn’t have a double gameweek this week, but chances are the keepers who do have a double gameweek are unavailable. Petr Cech, Fraser Forster and Hugo Lloris are surely taken in most leagues, while we just don’t know who will start in goal for Manchester United with Jose Mourinho saying Sergio Romero would get one of the remaining two matches while Joel Pereira may see his Premier League debut. But Fabianski seems like a safe pick who is still available in 35 percent of draft leagues.
You probably shouldn’t waste any waiver claims on a goalkeeper in the final week of the season, but in case you’re really desperate, take a look at Fabianski as well as last week’s pick in Willy Caballero. Fabianski has been in stellar form lately with three clean sheets in the last four matches to help secure Swansea City’s future in the Premier League. And with a West Brom side that has scored only four goals in the last eight league matches, the Swans have a good chance of closing out the season on a high not in front of their home support.
DEF – Ben Davies (Spurs)
Although I suggested adding him earlier this year, I’ve held off a bit on recommending Ben Davies lately because of Danny Rose’s impending return, which should have been weeks ago. But Rose suffered a couple of setbacks that resulted in him having surgery this week, meaning Davies’ starting status looks guaranteed for the final two weeks of the season. And lucky for us, the Welsh international is still available in nearly half (46 percent) of all Fantrax leagues despite starting every match since Gameweek 24.
Over the last two months, during a nine-match winning streak that lead to Mauricio Pochettino’s Manager of the Month award in April, the Spurs defense locked down for six clean sheets, including four straight. Both streaks ended in a shocking 1-0 defeat to West Ham, but with Leicester City and Hull City to end the season, there’s got to be another clean sheet in the final two matches. And for an added bonus, Davies picked up an assist against Manchester United over the weekend.
MID/FWD– Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)
Jay Rodriguez hasn’t seen too much playing time recently—only 30 minutes combined in the previous seven matches entering the weekend—but the winger showed no signs of rust in a 2-1 win against Middlesbrough. Rodriguez was gifted a rare start by Claude Puel as the manager switched out some starters needing rest, but he may have no choice but to start Rodriguez for the final two matches of the season given his outstanding performance and Southampton’s struggles to score (only three goals in the last six entering last weekend).
The versatile attacker contributed to both goals over the weekend in a 2-1 win against relegated Middlesbrough with a goal and assist, earning Man of the Match honors for his inspired effort. Rodriguez is still widely available in Fantrax leagues at 78 percent and he has a double gameweek starting tonight with Manchester United and Stoke City due up. Rodriguez makes the most sense as a midfielder, where you can maximize your points and keep your forwards in the lineup.
FWD/MID – Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City)
Since returning to the starting lineup in Gameweek 35, Okazaki has rediscovered his form with a goal and assist in three matches for the Foxes, including a highlight-reel effort in a 2-1 loss to Manchester City over the weekend. His presence and work rate has clearly rejuvenated the Foxes’ attack and the Japanese international looks certain to remain a starter for the final two matches starting with Tottenham on Thursday before Sunday’s finale.
I especially like Okazaki for his versatility, meaning you can shove him into your midfield or play him as a forward much like Rodriguez. In fact, I would have a hard time choosing between the two this week. But Fantrax managers have already taken their side: Okazaki’s ownership has risen six points to 27 percent in just the last week alone. Rodriguez has more attacking potential, but Okazaki seems guaranteed of more playing time. I’ll leave you with the facts, the decision rests with you.
FWD – Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Now if you’re looking solely for forward help, I would ignore both Okazaki and Rodriguez in favor of Batshuayi. The £33 million man from Marseille arrived this summer with plenty of promise following the Euros, only to see minimal playing time. In fact, despite making 18 appearances and playing backup to the suspension-happy Diego Costa, Batshuayi made his first-ever Premier League start on Monday against Watford, where he returned Antonio Conte’s favor with a goal, his second in his last two appearances.
However, it’s his goal in the final minutes against West Brom, after coming on as a late substitute, that will be remembered in Chelsea lore as it clinched the Blues their second Premier League title in three years. With Batshuayi likely to start and wanting to prove his quality before the offseason, the club’s season finale against Sunderland will make fantasy managers’ mouths water. Available in 68 percent of Fantrax draft leagues, there doesn’t look to be a more in-form forward available at such a rate.