It’s a quick turnaround this week with games starting Tuesday, ending Thursday and a new gameweek starting against on Saturday, so I will keep things brief ahead of the flood of Rotoworld content expected tomorrow.
Of last week’s picks, Vicente Guaita earned of the week’s two clean sheets along with a bonus point while Sheffield’s George Baldock recorded an assist as a defender. Recent picks like Jetro Willems (goal), Mesut Ozil, Matt Targett and Leandro Trossard (assist) and Martin Dubravka (seven saves, bonus) also excelled over the weekend.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 15. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL)— I would love to include your thoughts here in this column next week and throughout the season. If you don’t want your name mentioned, just let me know; otherwise, I’ll be sure to give your Twitter handle a shout-out.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the good folks at Fantasy Premier League on a weekly basis. Our friends at FPL.com take the data from a thousand private leagues, all of which consist of eight teams, in order to minimize the impact of data from public leagues where autopick drafting is more prevalent.
Of course, it’s just a sample size, so it’s not hard and fast; but it should give us a good idea of the tendencies of FPL Draft leagues and managers. Remember, the waivers deadline is a full 24 hours before the first game of the week, and the lowest-placed team in your league gets the first pick.
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, not so much for draft leagues.
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 Pick (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 draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – David Martin (West Ham)
As I often mention it’s not easy to find goalkeepers available on the waiver wire, so any new starting goalkeeper who isn’t an obvious one-week replacement due to a red-card replacement (like Adrián this week) or a loan-restriction (like Dean Henderson two weeks ago) should be considered a bargain. David Martin is the newest Premier League keeper and he’s got quite the story. At 33 years old, Martin made his first Premier League appearance over the weekend for West Ham, where he played as a kid and where his dad was a pro. Martin only signed with the club as a backup to the backup following Lukasz Fabianski’s injury but finally got his first chance against Chelsea over the weekend where he ended the match in tears.
It was quite the scene as Martin made six saves against an upstart Chelsea side, helping drag West Ham out of a horrid eight-match winless streak that even put manager Manuel Pellegrini’s job in jeopardy. Now Martin looks like the club’s short-term keeper over Roberto until Fabianski’s return, which Pellegrini said should be by Christmas. But that’s still three matches, which puts Martin as somewhere between a one-week pick and an STP. The good news is he’s not taken in any of the one thousand FPL Draft leagues we’ve sampled, a first in FPL Bargain Hunter history.
DEF – Jack O’Connell (Sheffield United)
I’m still amazed at the lack of clean sheets and defensive points from this season so far. Originally I though it was just an anomaly, but in Gameweek 14, fresh off of an international break, we witnessed only two clean sheets courtesy of Crystal Palace and West Ham of all teams. And as we enter the busiest period of the season where rotation is as heavy as defenders’ legs, I’m going to single out teams with proven defensive records and an easy schedule ahead, which is why I have another Sheffield United defender on the docket. Last week I mentioned that the Blades somehow have six starting defenders on FPL, so it would only behoove us to take advantage of the variety.
The center-half has not missed a single minute of the season and has played a critical role in the club’s five clean sheets while only conceding 13 goals this season. And the Blades’ upcoming schedule (Newcastle, Norwich City, Aston Villa, Brighton, Watford) should be plenty to convince you of adding a Sheffield defender. Even if you already have a Blades defender, for the next month O’Connell could be a perfect fifth defender in FPL Draft: reliable, consistent, favorable schedule, good defensive record. Call him a short-term pick for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see O’Connell become an LTP available in 46 percent of draft leagues.
MID – James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
It looks like the JWP fantasy bandwagon is arriving just in time to take us through the Christmas fixtures. Every year, Ward-Prowse finds his form and chugs away on a goalscoring run that mostly come from free kicks. And every year, we find Ward-Prowse widely available on the waiver wire despite being one of Southampton’s main contributors. At the moment, you can find the midfielder taken in only 38 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, which is strange given his current form. Last season, Ward-Prowse scored a career-high seven goals and he’s now well on his way to another career high with already four goals this season.
The 25-year-old is not the blossoming future star we though he could be after recording eight assists in 2014/15 at 20 years old as he followed in the shoes of Adam Lallana. After six full Premier League seasons, Ward-Prowse seems to be embracing his role as a free-kick specialist (Harry Wilson, Bournemouth’s free-kick magician was another serious candidate for this week’s recommendations) and his winner against Watford this weekend to break an eight-match winless streak could have a serious impact on Saints’ fortunes this season. I see Ward-Prowse as an STP for the next month with such a favorable schedule and an ideal choice to be your last midfielder off the bench.
FWD – Lys Mousset (Sheffield United)
More than a month ago, desperate for forward help, I took a chance on Sheffield United forward Lys Mousset. It was a small risk as I was simply trying to ride out a relatively unknown forward’s form until he fizzled out and a new one came along. After all, the Blades were a newly promoted team who got a couple of lucky wins as they maneuvered a tricky opening schedule. But now as we enter December, the club sits in seventh place with a slate of favorable matchups ahead of them before the new year. Meanwhile, Mousset has worked his way up to become Sheffield United’s top choice at forward with an impressive run of games since being named the starter.
Since his first start in Gameweek 9 against Arsenal, the 23-year-old Frenchman has contributed to seven of the club’s 10 Premier League goals while the Blades have not lost a single league match. The streak continued today in a 1-1 draw with Wolves where Mousset scored his fifth goal of the season (already two more than his entire Premier League career) and earned three bonus points. It’s safe to say Mousset no longer looks like a risk and he’s still somehow available in 40 percent of our sample of FPL Draft leagues. Heading into the game against Newcastle, I would make Mousset a priority as a long-term option who could even become your No. 2 forward option.