Weekly Picks

The Bargain Hunter - Week 36

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

And then there were three.


There are stretches of the fantasy Premier League season that seem to drag on forever. Considering this is a game where you only get two full months off between seasons, and last summer was a World Cup year, it really hasn't felt like there has been a break in the action for me since June of 2013. I think I was just recovering from the Red Wedding scene in Game of Thrones at that time. 


Yes, fantasy Premier League can feel like a marathon at times, but with three weeks left to go, it is time to enter sprint mode.


Last week, you may remember how I went heavy on Manchester United in this column, with the belief that the Red Devils would bounce back with a fixture at Old Trafford. First, let me just get the suffering out of the way. I backed David De Gea at keeper. When you look at where he ranked on the leaderboard, how much better he is when at home, and how cheap he cost - I still believe it was a solid choice. And yet, West Brom had to go and get all Pulis-y on me. To add insult to insult, care to guess who my backup keeper was and has been for at least three weeks running? You got it - Boaz Myhill. He of the SEVENTY ONE points accumulated over the Baggies past three matches. 


The defender and midfielder picks did not go as hoped and shines a light on the perils of locking in picks on a Wednesday. There was no news of injury regarding Luke Shaw when last week's column was published and even Thursday came and went without a peep about him. Come Friday though, he went from "nothing to report" to "ruled out". I took to Twitter within seconds of that news hitting the headlines to advise followers to take Shaw out of their XI and offered a similarly-priced alternative. It is probably impossible to view this as anything more than shameless self-promotion, but I encourage you all to follow me on Twitter and to check in Fridays to see if any news has changed the Bargain Hunter landscape. My Twitter handle can be found at the end of the column.


I went Nathan Dyer at midfield last week. Had I been given word about Jefferson Montero's availability looking promising at the time of writing, I would have preferred him to Dyer. Not knowing and not wanting to recommend a player with a known injury issue, I opted for Dyer. I don't regret going with Dyer when I did, I only wish I had a bit more time to hear about Montero. I liked Montero enough to grab him in an expert's league the morning of the deadline. Naturally, I didn't start him though. But evidence exists that I saw something in him when 15 other managers didn't. 


You want results though, not excuses. Well, how about van Persie then? Yes, he didn't score and yes, he took a terrible penalty, but 14 points is 14 points and it underlies just how lethal he can be when he actually has a GOOD game. Compare that to Christian Benteke, who is on fire and scored twice last weekend - he only put up 16 points with that performance. Regardless of whether or not United improve before season's end, if you bought RVP cheap, you may have lighting in a bottle for the final stretch of the season.


So let's take a look at what has to be considered the final "normal" week of the season. Next week , we have a couple of clubs with a double, and of course Week 38 is always a gigantic question mark when many XIs will be unpredictable. Let's hope the predictions are on course for Week 36 though:




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Tim Howard (Everton) OK, this feels like a rather easy call. So did De Gea last week though, so let me try to convince you with the most glaring fact behind this fixture: The Toffees have been fantastic at home these days. They have registered four consecutive clean sheets at Goodison Park. That alone should make you consider Howard as long as the opponent aren't in the Top 6 or so. Well, Sunderland are far from top 6. Heck, they are not even Top 16. Right there, you have every reason to feel good about a potential win for the Toffees by way of a clean sheet. That makes Howard at 5.20m as good a bargain keeper play as you can ask for. If you need to save an extra couple of million in budget, then turn back the time machine and look to Shay Given, who has reclaimed the #1 shirt for Tim Sherwood's side. Less chance of a clean sheet in my view but another solid chance at winning. Tim, you and I have had our ups and downs this season. Let's say we wind things down on a high note, then?

Other Option for Goalkeeper 

Shay Given (3.22m, home to West Ham United) 






Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa) There cannot be many better rags to riches stories to define this season than Villa's. They began the season better than expected from a table position, gathering points mainly from keeping out the opponent. Then, the defense began to slip while the goals never came, sending the Villans into a tailspin that looked primed for relegation. Sherwood enters the picture, Benteke begins to score and now, not only have they become a difficult opponent to contend with in the league, they are heading toward an FA Cup final. Hosting West Ham this weekend, they have a solid bargain play in Vlaar available for only 6.11m. It has been just as much as an up and down year for Vlaar. He was looked at as the backbone of this Lions side, coming off of a summer where he was starting for the Dutch in the World Cup. He fell out of favor at times during league play this year though but has recently come back into the side for an extended run. An injury to Ciaran Clark certainly aids in guaranteeing minutes for Vlaar as well. The opponents, West Ham, have failed to find the net in their last two road games so it gives Villa hope for a clean sheet despite having conceded five over their past two. 


Other Options for Defense 

Paul Dummett (5.02m, home to West Brom)    Michael Keane (5.63m, away to Hull City)




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Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) Yes, he sports a hair style not all too dissimilar to that of Bud Bundy's in the classic sitcom Married With Children, but don't let that sway you away from the prospects of this exciting teenager. Grealish has now started four straight for Tim Sherwood and he is getting more and more involved with each passing week. It is hard not to admire the lad who has been with the club since the age of six. He is still a raw talent but you can see how he can mature into a dynamic fantasy player as he has set piece skills in his locker. Last week, he put up 10 points, a very good haul for a bargain player who is currently running for 6.89m. I suppose the key here is upside. We are at a stage of the season where we know what to expect more often than not from a given player, but in Grealish's case, he is rapidly developing week-to-week. The Hammers have a good defense, but considering they are doing the traveling and Villa are scoring regularly, I can see a couple of goals in this for the Lions. Let's make this the week Grealish gets his name on one.


Other Options for Midfield 


Jonas Gutierrez (6.96m, home to West Brom)   James Milner (6.93m, home to QPR)






Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City) A couple of veterans to this column make the list at forward this week. I have had good luck with Diouf this year. It seems like he never goes into a red hot run of form, rather he has a knack for spacing his goals out so that he never goes too long without one. In my view, he is due. And not to pick on my beloved Spurs, but they cannot keep a team out over the course of 90 minutes to save their lives. They have notched just two clean sheet in the second half of the season. Diouf is going for only 5.90m. Most of the year, I am avoiding taking a bargain at this position because it hurts too much not to invest in the premium options, but with the way things are going right now at striker for teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, there is more room than usual to take a chance on someone else. So if you are loading up on midfield weapons, Diouf can help you fill out your side.


Other Option for Forward 


Graziano Pelle (7.63m, away to Leicester City) 





Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Jeremy | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Rob | Aaron

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