If you weren’t a Harry Kane or Mohamed Salah owner, chances are you had a subpar gameweek over the weekend. Don’t worry, you were not alone in your struggle for points; it especially wasn’t a good week for bargain picks.
None of last week’s picks did much of anything. My premier pick of the week in Virgil van Dijk was a late scratch against Manchester City, although he wasn’t needed in the end. However, if you can still pick him off the waiver wire, he’s a must have as a long-term pick for the rest of the season.
At least some of my former picks managed to put some points on the board. West Ham attackers had a massive week with Marko Arnautovic recording a goal, two assists and three bonus points while Manuel Lanzini scored two goals himself. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey recorded a clean sheet and two bonus points while Newcastle forward Joselu recorded a goal and two bonus points.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 24. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the 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– Loris Karius (Liverpool)
As I mentioned last week, we’ve already gone through nearly every starting keeper not named David De Gea, Thibaut Courtois, and Petr Cech this season, who are in no way bargains. So, rather than repeat keepers for the sake of repeating them, I’d rather highlight new starters who could be bargains if they continue to start, as with Alex McCarthy last week. This week’s version is Loris Karius, who earned the surprise start over Simon Mignolet in a 4-3 win against Manchester City on Sunday.
With Virgil van Dijk set to join that defense, Liverpool will surely add to their nine clean sheets already recorded this season, not to mention Manchester City somehow only managed four shots on target this weekend. Karius has now started two of the last three Premier League matches, and if he continues to start, the club’s upcoming schedule (Swansea City, Huddersfield Town, Spurs, Southampton, West Ham, Newcastle) makes the German keeper a solid pick available in nearly 80 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues. Just keep an eye on him, because with Mignolet, he is not necessarily a stable pick.
DEF- Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
After Harry Maguire, Christian Fuchs is Leicester City’s next most reliable defender. Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson and Robert Huth have all struggled with fitness this season, but Fuchs has been his usual reliable presence despite a series of minor knocks. If Maguire is a free agent, as he is in 30 percent of our FPL Draft sample, then nab him now, but Fuchs isn’t a bad alternative especially after two straight clean sheets for the Foxes.
Despite playing a man down for the last part 20-plus minutes at Stamford Bridge, Leicester City put together a formidable defensive performance in holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw. The defense’s current form bodes well for its upcoming schedule with Watford, Everton and Swansea City due up next. Taken in only 21 percent of FPL Draft leagues, Fuchs looks like a solid short-term pickup who can be your first defender off the bench.
DEF- Daryl Janmaat (Watford)
I’ve always been a big Janmaat fan, especially in FPL where he can make a big impact as an attacking defender—I’m still hopeful he can channel that 2014/15 wingback who recorded eight assists in his first Premier League season. Yet he had trouble breaking into the Watford this lineup under Marco Silva’s leadership. But the Dutch international has finally been given a chance over the last month, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the last eight Premier League matches.
His best performance of the season came over the weekend in a 2-2 draw with Southampton as Janmaat recorded an assist and a bonus point. There is some hope in the Hornets’ fixture list with Leicester City, Stoke City, Chelsea, West Ham, Everton and West Brom through the start of March, but this is also a club that hasn’t recorded a clean sheet since Gameweek 13. In Janmaat, we’re holding out for some bonus attacking points.
MID- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool)
Despite a slow start to life in Liverpool, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has turned on the jets over the last month during the club’s 14-match Premier League unbeaten streak. And he saved his biggest performance of the season for the club’s biggest match of the season: a 4-3 win over previously undefeated Manchester City in the club’s first match without Philippe Coutinho. But Oxlade-Chamberlain showed he could be the club’s answer to filling those shoes with a goal and assist (and two bonus points).
In a highly competitive midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain has excelled of late with two goals and three assists in his last four Premier League starts. With this added responsibility, the club’s current form, and the club’s upcoming schedule (see the Loris Karius blurb above), I like Oxlade-Chamberlain to continue building his case as a short-term pick with long-term potential. Given that he is taken in only 30 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, the former Arsenal winger can be a dangerous option off the bench at the very least.
FWD – Jordan Ayew (Swansea City)
I only recommend Jordan Ayew if you are in desperate need of a third forward in case of injuries or a drop in form. The Ghanaian international has been a solid contributor for Swansea City this season, but his role has only expanded under new coach Carlos Carvalhal, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the last four Premier League matches. And in the last five matches, Ayew has recorded three of his four goals on the season including four bonus points.
The former Aston Villa forward is available in nearly 80 percent of FPL Draft leagues, meaning you have time to consider your options if you are on the fence or are considering a switch at forward. Ayew is well on his way to setting a Premier League career high in goals, and given his recent form, he could do it by springtime.