Now that there is no more transfer business or short gameweeks (with the exception of Manchester City-Everton on Wednesday), we can get back to a normal routine. And for us in FPL Draft, that means not having to worry about triple-captaining Sergio Agüero or using your wildcard. We just push on with business as usual.
Last week’s bargain picks returned a pair of assists with Fernando Llorente and Joao Moutinho (bonus point) contributing to the scoresheet. Meanwhile, recent picks like Jan Vertonghen (clean sheet, two bonus points), Nathan Redmond (goal, three bonus points), and Luka Milivojevic (goal, three bonus points) all put together massive weeks.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 26. 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 – Mat Ryan (Brighton)
Ryan has missed four games over the last month after reporting for international duty with Australia at the Asian Cup, which ended in a shocking quarterfinal loss to the United Arab Emirates. Otherwise, he’s been a reliable goalkeeper in the past two seasons, starting every game other than his international leave. In his stead, David Button filled in, but Ryan has immediately taken back the starting job and recorded a clean sheet this weekend in a scoreless draw with Watford.
And we should expect more clean sheet points from Brighton in the coming weeks; Burnley, Leicester City, Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Southampton are next up through the end of March, which should almost certainly keep the club in the top flight for the third straight year. Given that schedule, Ryan looks like an excellent backup goalkeeper in a platoon situation, as he’s available in more than 60 percent of last week’s sample FPL Draft leagues. Consider him, or any starting Brighton defender for that matter.
DEF – Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
I’ve been waiting all season for this moment to recommend Laurent Koscielny as a bargain pick. The guy has had a rough year, putting together another solid season last year only to tear his Achilles just weeks before watching his French national team go on to win the World Cup without him. But now, the Frenchman is finally back and playing consistently after taking some time to build up his fitness and recover from what was feared to be a broken jaw. All things considered, Koscielny has been one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders in the last five years, and that makes him incredibly valuable.
On top of averaging more than 10 clean sheets per season since arriving at Arsenal in 2010, Koscielny has show a penchant for scoring as the club captain has now scored in each of his last two Premier League starts. And with Huddersfield Town, Southampton and Bournemouth preceding the North London derby, there should be plenty of clean sheet points for the Gunners. Available in about 70 percent of FPL Draft leagues, Koscielny looks like one of the best bargains you’ll find this season.
DEF – Jeff Schlupp (Crystal Palace)
With a goal this weekend against Fulham, Jeff Schlupp set a career high with four Premier League goals, and more could be around the corner. Listed as a defender in FPL, Schlupp has mostly been deployed as a left winger, leading to more goals and more points. The only problem has been his inconsistent playing time. But after scoring this weekend and with Wilfried Zaha facing an improper conduct charge for his sending off against Southampton, Schlupp could see a lot more time.
Looking to the Ghanaian international is a bit of a risk, so only make a move for him if you already have four stables defenders. Regardless, it might not be a bad idea to have a Crystal Palace defender (Mamadou Sakho is another option) with the club set to face West Ham, Leicester City, Burnley and Brighton through Gameweek 30. And if he continues to score, Schlupp could very well become a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
FWD – Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace)
As a longtime Michy Batshuayi admirer with a soft spot for Crystal Palace, I couldn’t be happier with the Deadline Day loan he made. And in just eight minutes in his Crystal Palace debut against Fulham on Saturday, the Batsman recorded an assist to open his Premier League campaign. Somehow, the talented Belgian international has logged less than 600 minutes in his two Premier League seasons with Chelsea, with a career high of five goals in 2016/17. I expect him to set career highs in both this year, as he’s already met his previous season-high in assists.
With Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend providing service for Batshuayi, the 25-year-old has a massive opportunity to revive his career back in London. I would have loved to recommend Gonzalo Higuaín as another winter transfer arrival, but FPL Draft managers have already snapped him up in 77 percent of leagues, which will surely continue to rise. Check to see if he’s available, but chances are Batshuayi will do just fine as a long-term replacement.