It’s hard to believe there are only three weeks left in the Premier League season; however, there is still plenty of action with two of those being double gameweeks. While most leagues have a double gameweek this week with Arsenal and Southampton playing a makeup fixture, Fantrax will see the final two weeks turned into double gameweeks with no wildcards to worry about.
This week will feature the return of the odd Friday match, the Premier League’s failed experiment of the year, so make sure you get those lineups set in time for the West Ham v. Spurs kickoff. Other than that, it’s a very normal week, the last of the season for Fantrax players.
I saw my bargain picks bounce back nicely last week with Yohan Benalouane and Kieran Trippier each recording clean sheets while Marcus Rashford recorded an assist for Manchester United. Meanwhile, recent picks in Robert Huth and Andrea Ranocchia recorded clean sheets, Leroy Sane picked up an assist and Joshua King continued to score to make it a well-rounded week of action from the bargain picks.
We’ve filled up most of our Fantrax draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join or start up your own league with Fantrax. 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 Gameweek 36. 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 – Jack Butland (Stoke City)
He’s back; he’s finally back. After more than a year away, countless injury setbacks and teases of an imminent return, Jack Butland is back in the starting lineup for Stoke City. A serious ankle injury last March saw him miss the rest of his breakout season, the Euros in France and all but the final month of this season, but Saturday showed that Butland really hasn’t skipped a beat. The future England No. 1 made a series of tough saves in just his second game back, recording a clean sheet and four saves in a scoreless draw with West Ham.
While Lee Grant has been a stalwart addition in a move from Derby County, there is no denying that Butland is the club’s starter. In the two games since his return, the keeper has made eight saves and displaced Grant, who manager Mark Hughes calls one of the club’s most valuable players this season, from the second he was deemed fit. And he is widely available in Fantrax leagues for the final run-in against Bournemouth, Arsenal and Southampton with only 34 percent of leagues opting for him. If you need keeper help, look no further than this proven talent.
DEF – James Collins (West Ham)
I can’t believe James Collins is actually making an appearance as a recommendation in fantasy Premier League, but to ignore his recent efforts would be foolish. After West Ham endured a seven-match league winless streak, the club has turned things around with a four-match unbeaten streak. Manager Slaven Bilic was feeling the heat earlier this season, but his decision to switch to a back-three has paid immediate dividends with three clean sheets in the last four matches, although the club has only recorded six points in those four matches.
While the attack has plenty of issues that need addressing, the defense has looked pristine with Collins benefiting from the switch to the three-man back-line. Collins has always been considering a role player and veteran substitute at West Ham, but defender has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the last six matches, proving to be an instrumental part of the Hammers’ setup. And luckily for us, he’s taken in only 25 percent of Fantrax draft leagues with Spurs, Liverpool and Burnley left before season’s end.
DEF – Matteo Darmian (Manchester United)
Look up Manchester United’s team and filter through the club’s defenders for one constant theme: red flags. The club is currently without Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah for the rest of the season, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are still recovering form injury and Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw were the latest to sustain injuries at the weekend. That leaves the club with three fit senior defenders in Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian, along with youth defender Axel Tuanzebe, far from Jose Mourinho’s ideal back-line. But for fantasy managers, Darmian looks like an ideal fit.
The Italian defender has had his fair share of ups and downs under Mourinho, but he will surely be relied upon now. Darmian actually started the previous four league matches entering Sunday against Swansea City, but then came on anyway for the injured Bailly (check the team news later this week to see if Bailly recovers). I would expect Darmian to start most, if not all, of the remaining matches this season (Arsenal, Spurs, Southampton, Crystal Palace). And in the last week of the season, the Red Devils will have a double gameweek, so Darmian looks like a definite bargain available in 62 percent of leagues.
MID/DEF – Emre Can (Liverpool)
Just a look at Can’s sizzling overhead-kick goal from Monday night’s 1-0 win against Watford will make you want to add him to your fantasy team. But Can is much more than that. Despite his career-high five goals this season, he’s not know for his goalscoring ability—any attacking points from him should be considered a welcome bonus. But it’s his versatility that makes him most valuable in Fantrax draft leagues. He can play as either a defender or midfielder, but it’s the former where he should be to capitalize on clean sheet points with the Reds earning two in their last three matches.
Can has also started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the last 10 Premier League matches, showing how important he is to Jurgen Klopp’s side in the pursuit of a Champions League spot. Yet he is still available in a third of all Fantrax draft leagues with the likes of Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough in the club’s final three games of the season. I like the odds of Can picking up a clean sheet or two there, and maybe he’ll get a goal or assist along the way too.
FWD – Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
I almost didn’t even check on Gabriel Jesus’ availability, being convinced the Brazilian would be taken in nearly every league. After all, it took just two weeks to see him go from being taken in 15 percent of leagues to being available in only 15 percent of leagues after recording three goals and an assist in his first two Premier League starts. However, it seems that Fantrax owners prepared for the worst when it was announced that Gabriel Jesus could miss the remainder of the season with a broken metatarsal. Well, because of that two-month layoff, you can still find a healthy and hungry Gabriel Jesus in 33 percent of Fantrax leagues.
The winter arrival has already found his form, scoring at the weekend against Middlesbrough in his first start since returning from injury (he also saw a late goal against Manchester United called off last week). And now the forward spot could be all his after Sergio Aguero left Sunday’s match with a groin injury, so check on the team news before the Crystal Palace match this weekend. The Sky Blues have a double gameweek next week and an excellent schedule to end the season with Leicester, West Brom and Watford following Palace; and Gabriel Jesus will be determined to remind everyone why he is the next big thing.