I am going to have to channel the spirit of MacGyver in order to properly navigate through this edition of The Bargain Hunter.
Sometimes in order to work around a difficult problem, all you have on hand to help you is a plastic spork (you know, the spoon/fork hybrid), a cup of laundry detergent, three feet of dental floss and half a baked potato. I know MacGyver would be able to figure out how to combine those resources to get out of a jam and come out clean on the other side (perhaps that's what the detergent is for) but I will admit, I am no MacGyver.
You see, this is going to be a bit of an unconventional Bargain Hunter. The emphasis of my advice this season has been on draft leagues and I have come to find out that waivers in virtually all draft leagues have already processed some time during the international break, rather than keeping the process locked until this midweek. So right now, in draft leagues, everyone is a free agent, rendering any take on a player's waiver claim value or FAAB value a bit pointless. Add in all the movers and shakers from deadline day, and the fact that international play is still going on which allows for more potential injury issues, and what we have at the moment is a very unstable environment for bargain hunting.
Case in point, just as I transition between paragraphs, I happen to check my Twitter feed to see a fresh headline that Mame Biram Diouf has pulled out of his Senegal duty today and returned home to deal with a hamstring injury. My advice above all else this week, take anything you learn from what follows and check back later in the week on any players you have considered to see if something has changed in the fantasy landscape. I do my best to alert readers on my own Twitter account later in the week of any updates to players I mention in the Bargain Hunter column. Definitely apply that added resource this week.
Now, when it comes to all the new players that have been added to the game since my last Bargain Hunter, well, here's hoping you won the Kevin de Bruyne lottery game. Perhaps you took home the runner-up prize, Heung-min Son. I suppose Anthony Martial would be considered the bronze medal of the lot, though I had no sense of urgency to try and land him. I think his playing time is very much in question from the start, though to be fair, if he looks good with his first chance, United are in a position where they will need to roll with him. Playing time is a major concern for many of these new signings. How will Ramiro Funes Mori figure into Roberto Martinez's plans now that John Stones has been successfully held onto? How might Fabio Borini and Ola Toivonen figure into Dick Advocaat's thinking at Sunderland? Who stands to receive immediate playing time amongst the many signings made by West Ham?
Unless the situation is clear, I cannot begin to hazard a guess in many of these cases. Some of these new players may have been brought in with the idea that they are starters, but perhaps they are not yet up to speed with the club and need time to settle. To have the international break immediately follow deadline day is like putting all evaluation on "pause" for a fortnight. There are some new faces among the players listed below this week, but I have attempted to limit them to players I feel are 1.) in good shape to become a regular quickly and 2.) perhaps flew under the waiver radar and are still available in your league.
A reminder again of what I look for in my bargains and how I differentiate their value...
One Week Buys (OWB) - 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.
Short-term Buys (STB) - 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 FPL format as long as you are comfortable with possibly needing to transfer them out in a few weeks.
Long-term Buys (LTB) - 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 considerable FAAB for. Great for any format, but especially valuable in the FPL.com game.
GK - Anders Lindegaard (WBA) - Boaz Myhill hasn't been terrible between the sticks for West Brom and it stands to reason that Ben Foster will be doing his best to grab the #1 shirt back when he returns to fitness, but this much is known about the former Manchester United shot-stopper - he told Tony Pulis he would not sign with the Baggies to sit on their bench. So here is a chance to go out and snag what looks to be the #1 keeper for a Pulis-run club. That always spells fantasy production. Like many of these signings, we will have to see Week 5 team news before knowing how quickly a job has been won, but if you own Myhill, you need to make space for Lindegaard until the situation resolves itself. If you cannot afford to hold a second keeper, I would take the risk of cutting Myhill for Lindegaard now. Either way, he will emerge as a solid LTB that you can get right now for nothing in draft leagues and likely dirt cheap in salary cap leagues.
DEF - Virgil van Dijk (SOU) - Here's a new boy worth checking to see if he remains unowned out there in draft leagues. van Dijk figures to partner Jose Fonte at center back straight away, taking the position away from the likes of Maya Yoshida and Steven Caulker, both who's fantasy value take a massive hit. Coming by way of Celtic, the Dutchman should not feel too unnerved heading a bit south to the Premier League. Ryan Bertrand is perhaps another week away from returning and when he does, you will have a full strength Saints back line capable of lucrative fantasy production. If he is a free agent in draft leagues, you should be viewing him as a LTB for the season. Otherwise, you should be monitoring him in salary cap leagues and FPL, but do not feel the need to move for him straight away. Southampton are entering a tricky patch of fixtures that may not yield as many clean sheets as one would hope over a 4-6 week span.
DEF - Martin Olsson (NOR) - After Nathan Redmond, the two biggest fantasy earners for the Canaries in the early going have been the fullbacks, Russell Martin and Robbie Brady, playing out of position. Olsson is returning from injury and has completed a successful 90 minute shift with his country of Sweden during the international break, signaling a call to have him take back the left back spot and push Brady back to his more natural midfield role. Norwich have one of the kinder "Next 6" schedules in the league right now, so if you are an FPL player, perhaps sitting on an open Wildcard to take advantage of the two week layoff and influx of new players, Olsson can make for an adequate 4th or 5th defender option at his current 4.4m price tag and a potential STB for salary leagues where his price should be down from not yet making an appearance this season.
MID - James McArthur (CRY) - Admittedly not the sexiest name you will ever see mentioned in these parts, but there is reason right now to feel a bit of excitement about McArthur. He has had two assists in the first four weeks of the season, already matching his best output over the course of a season in that area. Perhaps that can be viewed as somewhat of a fluke, an aberration...but now he has gone and scored a goal for Scotland against Germany during this break, which can do nothing but boost his attacking confidence. Sure, the man to own in the middle for Palace is unquestionably Yohan Cabaye, but a player of his ilk cannot be measured by his own stats alone, it is how he can open things up for others and right now it looks like defenses are too busy trying to stop the pace the Eagles have out wide along with Cabaye in the middle, and it appears to be affording McArthur a couple of opportunities per match to get more involved. So far, he has been capitalizing. In the FPL game, there aren't many other prospects doing the business at his 5.0m price and in draft leagues, his 41.7% current ownership is steadily beginning to creep up. If you need help rounding out your midfield, give him a look as a STB if you missed your chance at one of the more headline-grabbing deadline signings.
MID - Manuel Lanzini (WHM) - I am liking the prospects of Michail Antonio and Victor Moses more over the course of the season for West Ham, but with Antonio new to the league and Moses still getting back to full fitness, I think if for no more than a OWB, managers in salary cap leagues ought to take a look at Lanzini. West Ham will be at home to Newcastle United, a club who look like they are improving defensively but are still not very good, languishing already in the relegation zone. Lanzini scored in his previous match where he was handed a start by Slaven Bilic and found the net against a Liverpool side that had kept three clean sheets prior to getting "Hammered". If he is deployed wide right again, then it stands to figure he will have a chance to take on the Magpies' Massadio Haidara, who has not looked very good at all in the first four weeks. If Lanzini can make the best of his start, perhaps he can retain his spot long enough
MID - Marc Pugh (BOU) - It is hard to believe that just two weeks ago, I was writing about Max Gradel in this very space, only to see the threatening wide man go down with a major injury in Week 4. It is a shame too, because I noticed Gradel was picked up in every league I participate in during that Week 4 waiver period, and now all of those managers have to go back to the drawing board and decide what to do with him. Well, while the two are classified at different positions in most fantasy formats, one person to consider as a result of the Gradel injury is Pugh. Pugh was a regular for the Cherries out wide during their promotional run in the Championship last season. He was resigned to a substitute role once Gradel was signed, but in his two cameo appearances, he has managed a goal with three shots on target and has somewhat shockingly outscored Matt Ritchie on the season in every fantasy format. While that may be more of a sign of a slow start for Ritchie than a comparison of fantasy potential, it does indicate that Pugh will get a couple of looks each game. I am not so keen on his potential in the FPL game but, like McArthur mentioned earlier, he can make for depth as a 5th midfielder in salary cap leagues and even a STB worth using in draft leagues if your midfield is a current mess, with AFC Bournemouth getting Norwich, Sunderland, Stoke and Watford over their next four games.
FWD - Papiss Cisse (NEW) - Is anyone out there an owner of Alexsandar Mitrovic, as I am, and cannot help but laugh at the absurdity of his disciplinary issues? I really like his game outside of getting card happy, and he showed flashes of it in his first start Week 3. Well, he scored for Serbia during the international break but he will not be able to build on that form for several weeks as he serves a 3 match ban for his straight red infraction. In steps Cisse. Surely it hasn't been long enough for you to have forgotten him? If you are needing help over the next three weeks at the position in any format, one always has a reason to feel optimistic about Cisse finding the net and is worth a STB. He had an outstanding goal/minutes played ration last season and in general since joining the Premier League, occasionally displaying the sort of form that one can only define as "fixture-proof". Give him a shot for the first two of the three-match Mitrovic ban. The Magpies face West Ham and Watford in that time.
FWD - Bojan (STK) - And finally this week, a player whose potential I salivate over and have been patiently waiting to return to action. While Bojan has yet to make his first appearance this season in league play and I in no way guarantee he will start Week 5, there are two or three very good reasons why we may finally get his 2015 debut. If you recall in Week 4, the Potters had a bit of a card problem. Both Ibrahim Afellay and Charile Adam are suspended in Week 5, while Mame Biram Diouf has emerged as adoubt ahead of the weekend with an international knock. So with two, possibly three attacking players missing for Stoke, and Bojan's ability to play up top, in the hole or out wide, one has to think Mark Hughes views this as the right time. Regardless, if he is still sitting out there unowned in draft leagues, he needs to be owned now and looked at as a potential LTB that may help you win your league.
So that is what I have to offer at this stage of the Week, ahead of Week 5. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @FuzzyWarbles, as I will update during the week any other prospects that may emerge or to alert you of prospects I have already promoted, who for one reason or another, suddenly has lost their appeal. International games are still in progress as of this writing, so much can change between now and your next deadline.
Good luck to you all, my fellow hunters. May your arrows be green.