We've finally made it to the infamous Blank Gameweek. Due to the FA Cup quarterfinals this weekend, there are only four Premier League matches (all on Saturday) that affect us. While the classic FPL.com format managers get the “Free Hit” chip as a bailout, we in FPL Draft have to do things the hard way.
Nonetheless, this column should be able to help you in from an FPL.com viewpoint as well, with players like Junior Stanislas and Seamus Coleman also going into my FPL.com team. But for this week alone, we have to enter into that Daily Fantasy mindset (meaning load up on Liverpool and Everton players and hope for the best).
Last week was a second straight massive week for my bargain picks. Ashley Barnes recorded a goal and bonus point for Burnley while Jonas Lossl and Matthew Lowton earned clean sheets. Meanwhile, recent picks like Kenedy scored two goals and three bonus points while Kyle Naughton earned a clean sheet and bonus point.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 31. 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.
DEF- Seamus Coleman (Everton)
It’s so great to see Seamus Coleman back in action after a year out following that horrific double leg break while on international duty with Ireland last March. The right-back has been eased back into the squad over the last month but played the full 90 minutes in two consecutive games for the first time since the injury, recording an assist and clean sheet in the two weeks alone. I don’t want to say he’s fully back yet, but I can’t help but think back to the Seamus Coleman of the last five years, where he averaged nearly three goals and more than three assists per season in addition to double-digit clean sheets.
In a blank gameweek, goals and assists are going to be hard to come by, and adding Coleman to your squad can only up your chances. In our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues, Coleman is still available in 44 percent of leagues, which makes him a long-term steal for the remainder of the season. That figure is sure to only raise in upcoming weeks, and especially this week, but after a double date with Manchester City and Liverpool, the Toffees’ schedule really opens up to end the year.
DEF- Florent Hadergjonaj (Huddersfield Town)
Florent Hadergjonaj is not a name I expected to write about (or even knew) heading into the season, but the on-loan right-back from Ingolstadt has made his mark in recent weeks in David Wagner’s defense. Over the weekend, in a scoreless draw with Swansea City, the Swiss international put together his best performance of the season with a man-of-the-match showing that saw him earn three bonus points to go with a long-sought clean sheet, the club’s first since Gameweek 21.
And things should only get better for Hadergjonaj, who is fighting for a spot on Switzerland’s World Cup roster this summer. The Terriers’ upcoming schedule is extremely favorable with Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton and Watford due up in the next month. So if you are looking for a defender for the upcoming blank week and beyond, Hadergjonaj is an untouched option on the waiver wire, while I also recommend last week’s goalkeeper in Jonas Lossl for the next month.
MID – Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth)
I’m going to start with a stat that has been the cause of some excitement in FPL circles today: No player has recorded more attempts on goal over the last four gameweeks than Junior Stanislas’ 16. That number alone should convince you to move for the winger over the weekend, especially during the blank gameweek. The former Queens Park Rangers midfielder has made his impact known in recent weeks with three goals in his last six appearances for Bournemouth, including a goal and an assist against Chelsea.
Last weekend, in a 4-1 loss to Tottenham, Stanislas scored the opening goal to give Spurs a brief scare, and I fully expect him to continue that form in the coming weeks. In a blank gameweek, Stanislas looks like an undervalued choice, selected in just 12 percent of leagues in our FPL Draft sample, with a good chance of collecting some points against bottom-of-the-table West Brom this weekend. He’ll be in my team for the weekend, that’s for certain.
FWD – Cenk Tosun (Everton)
Everton’s newest forward is starting to find his feet in the Premier League and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Tosun arrived during the winter transfer window in a £27 million move from Besiktas and struggled mightily to adapt, which even lead to doubts from his own manager in Sam Allardyce. However, in the last two weeks, the Turkish striker has scored two of the club’s last three goals while also recording five bonus points for the Toffees.
That’s quite the turnaround, and now that Wayne Rooney has been taken off of penalty duty following his miss over the weekend, there’s a slight chance that Tosun could be in line with only one penalty miss of his 25 chances throughout his career. Regardless, if you need to fill out a team for the blank gameweek, Tosun looks like a solid option available in nearly 80 percent of our latest draft sample.