What an awful, terrible, miserable week for my fantasy team—said just about every sane fantasy Premier League manager. I say sane because you have to be some sort of crazy to have picked a solid team for the past week. The only good news is that chances are everyone else probably had just as bad of a week.
In FPL.com, none of the 11 Dream Team members were owned by more than nine percent of fantasy managers. With names like Rooney, Defoe, Lescott and Howard, it looked more like a 2010 Dream Team than anything else.
If you’re like me last week, I feel sorry for you, because no one in my FPL.com team had a goal, assist or clean sheet. The same went for my bargain picks for Week 21 as it turned out to be a pretty uneventful week beside the two thrilling 2-2 draws.
Good thing we have a fully-loaded weekend of Premier League action in just two days, although that also means there will likely be a fair amount of substitutions. But I have you covered with some fresh legs below.
Without much more delay, here are the bargains for Week 22. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
One Week Buys (OWB) - 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 Buys (STB) - 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 Fantasy Premier League format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks.
Long-term Buys (LTB) - 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.
GK – Fraser Forster (Southampton)
Welcome back Fraser Forster! It’s been nearly 10 months since we last saw the Southampton keeper, who was the top point-getting goalkeeper in FPL.com last season before suffering an ACL injury. But the keeper earned a clean sheet in his return to the starting XI for Saints on Wednesday and looks set to reclaim his starting role for good. In FPL, he’s valued at just £4.8 (a whole £1.0 lower than his peak last season) and Fantrax says he’s available in more than 60 percent of leagues. But that figure won’t last for long. I expect Forster to be a long-term buy in any league format, and he has a good chance for another clean sheet with West Brom this weekend.
DEF – Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
Fuchs has been a pleasant surprise this season, leading the Leicester City defense in points this season in the FPL.com game. With Jeff Schlupp’s injury, Fuchs has filled in reliably over the festive period and recorded an assist on the match-winner against Spurs on Wednesday. And don’t look now, but Leicester City has recorded three consecutive clean sheets—the same Leicester City that took 10 matches to earn its first clean sheet earlier this season. Fuchs is a short-term option (available in more than half of Fantrax draft-leagues) who could become a long-term member of your defense in any format and is a good pick this week in your weekly salary cap league with Aston Villa on Saturday.
MID – Michail Antonio (West Ham)
I may be a little late to this pick, although Fantrax says he is still available in more than half of draft leagues, but I have a reason. With Manuel Lanzini back and a growing waiting list at forward, I thought Antonio’s starting run may soon come to an end. But Lanzini has been ruled out for another month, Victor Moses has yet to return and Andy Carroll will also miss some time. In FPL.com, Antonio is valued at just £5.2 and has two goals and three assists in the last three weeks, contributing to five of West Ham’s seven goals. A good short-term buy until the injury absentees return, Antonio is also a great one-week pick for the weekend match against Newcastle if you are into DraftKings-style lineups.
MID – Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Lingard has somehow emerged as a Louis van Gaal favorite when there aren’t too many who hold that title in the United team at the moment. But now that he is back from injury, expect Lingard to see a good amount of playing time. The 23-year-old was a key part of Manchester United’s three-goal outburst against Newcastle on Tuesday, scoring one and missing a sitter in front of goal. But Fantrax has him available in more than 75 percent of draft leagues, meaning he is likely available in yours. I wouldn’t necessarily waste a valuable transfer on him in FPL.com unless you are using your wildcard and need a benchwarmer, but consider Lingard a short-term buy at best with a high upside in the goals category.
FWD – Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)
What an incredible spell it has been for Jermain Defoe. He has started in just over half of the club’s league games, but has nine goals to go with his 13 starts. Five of those have come in the last two matches, and he’s making a strong case for Player of the Month as the most in-form striker in the league. His hat-trick against 10-man Swansea City justified the reports that even at 33 years old, he is a legitimate transfer target this winter. It’s unlikely Defoe is available in your draft league, but £5.1 in FPL.com makes him an excellent buy if you want an Odion Ighalo replacement. One thing is certain, Defoe will be a hot pick in the weekly salary cup leagues, and for good reason.
FPL SELL OF THE WEEK:
Crystal Palace attackers
It’s been a real bummer to watch Crystal Palace lately. One of the fastest, high-octane attacks in the league has simply turned to rubbish. The club has no goals in the last four Premier League matches, dropping points to bottom-feeders Swansea City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth. I’ve never been a big fan of Yohan Cabaye in a fantasy format, but he’s not the only one to apply to this category. Yannick Bolasie and Dwight Gayle have been injured, Connor Wickham and Bakary Sako are only just returning from injury, Patrick Bamford left them and Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon are struggling. It’s just not a good time to be a fan of goals or Palace at the moment. Stay away.