With one more matchday before the international break, it’s important to end the current stretch on a high note; there is always that sense of starting over and rebooting when the Premier League resumes.
Chances are, if you have a Manchester City attacker, you’ve been doing pretty well in you FPL Draft league. The SkyBlues have scored 11 goals in their last three league matches, all clean sheets as well. If you don’t have one, chances are you won’t be able to pick one off the waiver wire—no City attacker is below 90 percent taken in our FPL Draft sample.
Meanwhile, of course the only player from last week’s picks to record anything other than participation points was Joshua King, the only player I said to drop. However, I would still trust that, since he is classified as a forward, he won’t put up solid numbers playing as a midfielder. But at least former picks like Phil Jones and Zanka recording clean sheets and bonus points, while Richarlison scored a goal.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 7. 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. Also someone used as a
Long-term Picks (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 – Nick Pope (Burnley)
A Burnley without Tom Heaton is like cereal without milk: Something is clearly missing. With Heaton set to miss a couple of months after undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Pope comes onto the scene for the Clarets, meaning that the goalkeeper actually has a pretty good situation going for him. The club is known for its defensive fortitude and already has two clean sheets this season.
Pope recorded his first ever Premier League clean sheet in his first top-flight start last week in a scoreless draw with Huddersfield Town. Only Manchester City and Arsenal appear as probable losses on the schedule in the next two months, but even then, the Clarets have taken five points from games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham this season already. Let’s consider Pope a short-term pick until Heaton’s return, so I would only add him if you need goalkeeper help.
DEF – Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
I’ve already suggested Maguire as an option earlier in the season, but now I’m practically begging you to take him. With a goal and two assists, the summer signing from Hull City has been one of the most productive attacking defenders this season (only Cesar Azpilicueta has contributed to more goals with his four assists). And the best part is he is still available in more than 65 percent of FPL Drafts leagues, making him an appealing pickup off the waiver wire.
The center-back earned his first call-up into the England national team last month and I would expect another call next week after his recent performances as Leicester’s best defender, playing 90 minutes of every match this season. While the Foxes may only have one clean sheet this season, I fully expect that to change in the coming weeks with Bournemouth, West Ham, Swansea City, Everton and Stoke City due up in the next six weeks. Given his performance so far, I would consider Maguire a long-term pick and a no-brainer pick for just about any defense.
DEF – Kieran Gibbs (West Brom)
While I think Maguire is one of the best value defenders you can ask for in FPL Draft at the moment, Gibbs represents another solid option in defense. The former Arsenal defender has started the last two matches at left-back in Tony Pulis’ three-man back-line and is an easy way to break into that efficient Baggies defense, given that he continues to start with Chris Brunt also a possibility.
But Gibbs’ potential is what makes him an exciting pick. Combined with being a member of a West Brom defense that already has three clean sheets this season, Gibbs has recorded five assists in two seasons throughout his career; and that bodes well for a team featuring aerial center forwards like Hal Robson-Kanu and Salomon Rondon. Taken in just three percent of FPL Draft leagues, Gibbs could be a valuable short-term pick. But if you need just one defender, Maguire should be your guy.
MID– Robbie Brady (Burnley)
Taken in just 22 percent of our sample of FPL Draft leagues, Brady looks like a clear steal, especially given the current pool of available midfielders. This season Brady has been the club’s primary playmaker, recording two assists and leading the Clarets in important playmaking categories like key passes and crosses as a winger in Sean Dyche’s system.
The only problem is that the Clarets scored half of their season goal total in the first game, a stunning 3-2 away upset of Chelsea. In the five games since, Burnley has scored only three goals, two of which are Brady assists. The club is clearly struggling to account for the loss of Andre Gray, but the schedule begins to open up after the international break. As a versatile player who should be in every starting lineup, barring injury, Brady looks like a long-term pick who can fill your final midfielder spot if you need a more reliable option.
FWD– Oumar Niasse (Everton)
Now, I’m not one to recommend a player based off his performance in just one match, but what Niasse did in just 35 minutes against Bournemouth this weekend was pretty remarkable. Upon manager Ronald Koeman’s arrival last season, Niasse wasn’t even given a locker in the dressing room and was relegated to train with the U23s. On Saturday, he came off the bench to single-handedly bring the Toffees from a losing position to a 2-1 win with two late goals.
Not a single team in any of our FPL Draft samples has selected the Senegalese international; and for good reason as the forward was expected to leave. Surely, his selection percentage will rise this week, but I think it’s worth waiting to see if he will be a starter from here on out, especially with a two-week international break coming to interrupt his form. Keep an eye on Niasse, because forwards are hard to come by right now, but I would wait on him unless you are extremely desperate.