Well here we are again, another season starts and the FPL campaign is alive and well. Ah the first weeks of August, full of promise and reactionary threats to use the wildcard, let’s enjoy these FPL Draft leagues before some people stop caring and leave our draft leagues in shambles. I don’t know about you, but this feels like it’ll be the best season yet…at least until September rolls around.
If you’re an old friend, welcome back to The Bargain Hunter; if you’re new, we’re thrilled to have you. In addition to a list of the most available waiver wire players at each position, you can come to this spot every Tuesday for all the latest, exclusive draft stats straight from the good folks at FPL.com.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 2. 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 – Adrián (Liverpool)
As The Bargain Hunter, I remember the frustration I felt toward the end of last season at the lack of keeper picks, which is obvious given that there is a very limited amount of keepers. So to the start the season and see the plethora of keepers at my disposal makes me smile, even if I know that I’ll exhaust nearly all of them in the next two months. While I had my sights originally set on Aston Villa’s Tom Heaton and Burnley’s Nick Pope, all of a sudden there’s a big fish in the waiver wire pond that everyone will be fighting to get their hands on now: Liverpool backup goalkeeper Adrián.
The No. 1 ranked keeper in the game in Liverpool’s Alisson, whose average draft position was the 25th selection, lasted all of 38 minutes before suffering a calf injury that manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed will keep him out for the next couple of weeks. Now fantasy managers will look toward Adrián to break into the Liverpool defense with Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley and Newcastle up through mid-September. Unless you have other more pressing holes to fill in these critical first few weeks on the waiver wire, have a go at Adrián as the former West Ham keeper looks like an excellent short-term pickup for any FPL Draft team.
DEF – Lewis Dunk (Brighton)
What a performance Lewis Dunk put together against Watford over the weekend. The English international was named man of the match for his tidy defending in a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road, which included a clean sheet, an assist and three bonus points. This isn’t just a reactionary pick either: Dunk has proved to be one of the most stable presences in the Premiership after two straight seasons logging more than 3,000 minutes (he also has 17 clean sheets combined in those two seasons). Given his ranking close to the top of the list of FPL defenders after that 11-point outburst, I’m most concerned about Dunk not being around much longer on the waiver wire while Brighton’s schedule is favorable.
The Seagulls face West Ham, Southampton, Manchester City, Burnley and Newcastle in the next five weeks with only that trip to the Etihad as a daunting fixture through mid-September. So for now, Dunk looks like a great mid-to-long-term pick off the waiver wire who can slide right into any team as a third or fourth defender. But don’t expect to see him anymore at the current 17.7 percent ownership level, taken from our most recent sample of FPL Draft leagues. While the majority of leagues should still see him on the waiver wire at this point next week, it might be better to snap him up now while you still can.
DEF – Yerry Mina (Everton)
Yerry Mina and the Everton defense have heard their fair of criticism over the preseason, while the Toffees flashed the cash primarily for midfielders and attackers, only for Mina to earn man of the match honors in a scoreless draw with Crystal Palace in the season opener. Mina never got a real shot to showcase his talent in the Premier League last season due to a series of injuries that saw him thrust in and out of Marco Silva’s team, but now the Colombian international is healthy and ready to be a bona fide starter in an Everton team that has the talent, youth and experience to disrupt the top end of the table this season.
But more than Mina himself, right now looks like an excellent time to have a starting Everton defender. The club’s schedule through the end of November is all clear with just Manchester City and Tottenham as speed bumps in the next 13 matches, which continues this weekend against Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves before the international break. Such a favorable schedule would cause a fantasy manager to dip into any defense, let alone a strong setup like Everton’s. And with Mina available in 67 percent of FPL Draft leagues, he’s your most available way to have a piece of that defense.
FWD – Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
The odds of Ashley Barnes leading all FPL forwards in points had to have been somewhere near the 2015/16 Leicester City title odds, yet here we are. As most of us know, the only thing more difficult in FPL Draft than finding a bargain goalkeeper is finding a bargain forward midway through the season, so we might as well start here. The Austrian international was man of the match against Southampton in a 3-0 season-opening win over the weekend thanks to his two goals, which saw him earn 13 points.
Typically, Barnes is a late starter but after his 12-goal season last year, there’s more expectations than before. That’s left his pre-Week 1 ownership in FPL Draft at 49 percent of leagues. So by this time next week, Barnes will surely be taken in the majority of FPL Draft leagues, meaning you should jump on him now if you can (and even that might not be enough to nab him if you’re not close to the bottom of your league table). While the Clarets schedule for the rest of the month is not great, Barnes is more of a long-term pick who could do wonders as a third forward.