Finally we’ve made it to end—no more double/blank gameweeks and waiting games, just three more matches to go in three straight weekends. But with this being our last short gameweek, I’ll make things quick so you can enjoy all of our Rotoworld coverage in the next two days.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 36. 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 – Sergio Rico (Fulham)
I would have never thought that in the third-to-last week of the season, I’d recommend the starting keeper from a team that is already relegated, but here we are with a very good reason for doing so. Until the past week, Fulham had not recorded a clean sheet since Gameweek 20 against fellow relegated side Huddersfield Town. Now the Cottagers have two clean sheets in two games with wins over Everton and Bournemouth (half of the club’s clean sheet haul) despite having nothing but pride to play for under interim manager Scott Parker, their third coach of the season.
Sergio Rico has recorded 14 points in the last two weeks including two bonus points at the weekend for his five-save performance. And now the Cottagers face Cardiff City, Wolves and Newcastle to end the season and those are odds that I would like to take a crack at. With Rico available in 98 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, Rico can be a great backup keeper with a chance to platoon if you have an unfavorable matchup.
DEF – Joel Matip (Liverpool)
As a starting defender for the best defense in the top flight (20 goals conceded from 35 matches), Matip is my bona fide pick of the week and through the end of season after becoming an everyday starter in Jurgen Klopp’s setup. Even with Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren back, the Cameroonian international has played the full 90 minutes in each of the last 13 Premier League games, which resulted in six clean sheets including four straight in March.
With Liverpool right in the thick of the title race, it looks like a wise decision to have a defender in their starting lineup, especially with Huddersfield Town, Newcastle and Wolves in the final three games to end the season. Even three clean sheets wouldn’t win Liverpool the title without some help, but I fully expect them And somehow, Matip has been mostly ignored in FPL Draft circles with just 50 percent ownership despite his recent consistency. Make the move for Matip, you won’t regret it.
DEF – Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
I’ve been waiting on Southampton to record another clean sheet with Ralph Hasenhuttl turning the club around. I thought it was coming in midweek against Watford until Saints conceded in the last minute of the match after Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history. But with Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town remaining on the schedule, I think they’ve got at least one in them before the end of the season, and that’s why I’m going with Maya Yoshida after recommending Angus Gunn as a keeper last week.
Earlier this season, Yoshida had his role severely reduced mostly due to injury and the Asian Cup, but now he’s back in the thick of things as the leader of the Southampton backline. More importantly, he’s widely available in more than 90 percent of FPL Draft leagues with a decent chance of providing a solid differential before the end of the season. And with Southampton on the brink of narrowly avoiding relegation for another season, I think Hasenhuttl will have his troops in good form for the final weeks.
FWD – Chris Wood (Burnley)
I’ve recommended Chris Wood earlier this season, but never before has he found himself performing at this level in the Premier League. The Clarets currently find themselves in great form to end the season with 10 points from their last four games, and it’s mostly due to Wood. The New Zealand international has contributed to a goal in each of his last four games with three goals and four assists (enough for 34 fantasy points) coming against Wolves, Bournemouth, Cardiff City and Chelsea, playing a part in six of the club’s last nine goals.
Against Cardiff City in Gameweek 34, Wood scored both of the club’s goals, tying his career high of 10, and recorded three bonus points to essentially ensure the club’s survival after a rocky start to the season. And even with a schedule that features Manchester City, Everton and Arsenal to end the season, there’s nothing to suggest that Burnley will slow their attacking roll in the final weeks after drawing Chelsea 2-2 at Stamford Bridge. Wood is available in 42 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, and there’s not a better option for a third striker available.