And we’re rolling. The games will be coming fast and furious in the next few weeks. It’s almost (almost but still not quite) worth waiting out the brutal international break to know that we have Leicester City-Chelsea, Bob Bradley’s Swansea debut and Manchester United-Liverpool on the slate ahead of a Champions League week.
It’s difficult to remember where we left off even though it has only been 10 days since the last Premier League match, but Week 7 saw Spurs roll over Manchester City, Laurent Koscielny’s controversial last-gasp winner against Burnley and impressive fantasy numbers from Roberto Firmino, Claudio Bravo and Nacer Chadli, among others.
Chadli was one of bargain picks in Week 6 and he is starting to assert himself as a legitimate long-term buy. Meanwhile, in Week 7, Jose Holebas came through for me with the usually elusive defensive assist. I also suggest sticking with my recommendation of Charlie Daniels in the coming weeks with a favorable schedule.
We’ve filled up most of our Rotoworld draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join. 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 Week 8. 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 – Lee Grant (Stoke City)
Most, and by most I mean just about all, fantasy managers have their goalkeeper situation set. But in case your keeper faces a daunting few weeks (West Brom’s Ben Foster) or is injured or doubtful (Tom Heaton) and you need cover, Grant is the man for you. The 33-year-old arrived on loan from Derby County on deadline day as cover after starting goalkeeper Jack Butland was ruled out for an extended period after suffering an injury setback. But now Grant looks to have beaten out backup Shay Given after starting the last two matches. The keeper was superb in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United last week, where he made eight saves. Grant is available in 93 percent of all Fantrax draft leagues, although he is a short-term buy at best as his loan deal expires in January.
DEF – Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)
With the news that Bacary Sagna will miss around a month after suffering a hamstring tear while on international duty with France this week, Zabaleta is now the easiest way to break into the Manchester City defense. Unless Pep Guardiola decides to turn John Stones back into a right-back, Zabaleta will surely start in Sagna’s absence. Despite only recording one clean sheet, the Sky Blues have a favorable schedule ahead with Everton and Southampton at home followed by West Brom and Middlesbrough. The Argentine right-back is available in nearly three-fourths of all Fantrax draft leagues and would be an excellent short-term buy during Sagna’s recovery. Who knows, maybe this will be a now-or-never moment for Zabaleta to prove his worth to Guardiola in what is surely a make-or-break season.
DEF – Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)
This is definitely a pro-active pick, but isn’t that what bargain hunting is all about? Cresswell has been one of the most sought-after fantasy picks in defense over the last few seasons, recording exactly two goals and four assists in each of the past two seasons since arriving in the Premier League. But due to a summer knee injury that was set to rule him out for four months, fantasy owners decided against drafting him, for the most part. But West Ham co-chairman David Gold said last week that Cresswell very well could be back for this weekend against Crystal Palace, six weeks ahead of schedule. The left-back played 50 minutes in a training ground match this week and, barring any setbacks, will be available in the coming weeks. And the best part: this long-term buy is available on the waiver wire in more than half of all Fantrax draft leagues.
MID – Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth)
You can’t help but root for a guy like Stanislas, a former West Ham academy product who helped Burnley into the Premier League in 2014 only to reunite with Eddie Howe in the Championship and help the club to its first promotion into the Premier League. Now Howe is repaying the winger’s faith by choosing him over Max Gradel and Benik Afobe among others. Stanislas missed the first month of the season due to injury, but has started every match since recovering. In his past two matches against Watford and Everton, Stanislas has contributed to two of the club’s three goals with a goal and an assist and looks critical to the Cherries’ attack. I’m expecting his form to only continue against Hull City this weekend, and now would be a good time to pick him out of free agency, taken by only 30 percent of Fantrax draft leagues, as a short-term buy with a potential for more if he continues to put up numbers.
FWD – Borja Baston (Swansea City)
I’ve been waiting for Baston to recover from injury and get his big shot at the Premier League this season, which finally happened in the final week of Francesco Guidolin’s tenure. The former Atletico Madrid striker picked up an assist last week against Liverpool and looked sharp as the club’s main forward in dealing with a physical defense. Bradley is going to have to rely on a proven goalscorer to get Swansea out of its funk, and who better than a man who scored 18 goals in La Liga while on loan at Eibar last season. For now, let’s view Baston as a short-term buy, but he has the physical tools to be a real success at Swansea and is taken in only 33 percent of Fantrax leagues.