Andrew Gastelum

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The Bargain Hunter - Week 8

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Usually you’ll find me lamenting the international break in this space, both before and after, but here you’ll find one of the two occasions every World Cup cycle where I couldn’t be more excited. After all, these final World Cup qualifiers are everything we love about soccer and sports in general: underdogs, playoffs and the highest stakes possible.

 

For that, I will gladly pause my grumbling to embrace the spectacle at this point in the year when there isn’t anything of the sort on the domestic slate. Tonight alone will be a get-your-popcorn ready showcase with Lionel Messi’s international legacy potentially on the line and the USMNT closing on a berth. However, I prefer the November European playoffs, and so I will save that spiel for later.

 

Finally, let’s get back into the swing of the Premier League season. From a defensive standpoint, my last picks were a success with both Harry Maguire and Nick Pope (also two bonus points and four saves) recording clean sheets. Not to mention, recent picks Aaron Cressswell and Phil Jones each recorded clean sheets while Richarlison and Eric Choupo-Moting each contributed to goals.

 

Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 8. 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.

 

 

BARGAINS:

 

GK – Matthew Ryan (Brighton)

He may not look like the greatest pick in goal, and surely there are better selections in each of your individual leagues, but Ryan looks to be a steady force in the coming weeks, if he continues to start. That’s really my only concern, with the long flight back from Australia’s World Cup possibly giving Tim Krul a chance to break into the starting lineup. So on that note, it might be best to wait a week just to be sure—don’t worry, Brighton’s favorable fixture list isn’t going anywhere.

 

Until the end of November, the Seagulls will have a chance to vault up the table, and accrue some clean sheets along the way, with the following schedule: Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Swansea City, Stoke City. The club already has two clean sheets this season and has conceded nine in seven matches, which is a solid figure for a newly-promoted side after facing Manchester City and Arsenal. If you are desperate for help or a backup goalkeeper, I would give Ryan a serious look.

 

 

DEF – Stephen Ward (Burnley)    

Ward is the leading point-getter in a revamped Burnley side known for its defensive tactics, which alone should make him a valuable pick. The versatile defender has played every minute of every match this season so far, recording a goal and an assist to go with seven bonus points. And best of all, Burnley has put together quite the season: six impressive results that include three clean sheets, all in the last four weeks, a win against Chlesea and draws with Spurs and Liverpool.

 

Yet Ward is taken in only 7.4 percent of our FPL Draft sample, an oddly low figure for such a consistent player (he played in all but 200 minutes of all of last season). But with the Claret’s upcoming schedule until Christmas week—only Manchester City and Arsenal are the only two opponents from last year’s top seven in the next 11 matches—it looks like Ward could be an excellent long-term option.

 

DEF – Jose Fonte (West Ham)

I hopped on the West Ham bandwagon a couple of weeks ago by picking Cresswell, and so far it has worked out pretty nicely. Despite a 3-2 loss to Harry Kane in Gameweek 6, the Hammers have three clean sheets in their last four matches with a series of strong performances led by an experienced and hard-nosed back-line. That defense is led by former Southampton captain Jose Fonte, who has performed at his highest level heading into a potential World Cup summer for Portugal.

 

The veteran center-back has two assists and three bonus points to go with those three clean sheets, and his heading prowess on corner kicks and set pieces makes him an aerial threat. Fonte looks like a long-term pick available in more than 80 percent of FPL Draft leagues due to the club’s upcoming schedule through the end of November: Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace are up next.

 

 

MID– Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)

I’ve held off long enough on Doucoure, who has established himself as this year’s, well, Etienne Capoue despite playing on the same side as the Frenchman. Under the new leadership of Marco Silva, Doucoure has played in a more advanced role that has seen him score three goals and eight bonus points this season, making him the sixth-highest point-getting midfielder in FPL so far.

 

Yet Doucoure has not tickled the fancy of most FPL Draft managers; despite being tied for third-most goals among midfielders, he is taken in only 22 percent of our most recent sample of FPL Draft leagues (although that figure has risen from 16 percent in Gameweek 6). At his worst, Doucoure could be a fifth midfielder that comes off the bench, but he looks like a long-term option at the rate he is scoring, which may soon take him off the table in your free agent pools.

 

 

FWD– Joselu (Newcastle)

Forwards have been at a premium this season—there are only seven with more than three goals, all of which are taken in more than 90 percent of FPL Draft leagues. So, chances are you have at least two go-to forwards, and possibly three. However, if you are lacking severely at the position or recently suffered an injury, Joselu could be worth a look. The Spaniard has started each of the last five matches for Newcastle, relegating Championship star Dwight Gayle to the bench.

 

Rafa Benitez’s newest forward already has three bonus points and two goals this season, half of his 2015/16 total as a backup for Stoke City. The forward has come into form lately, scoring against Liverpool last week, and has a favorable schedule ahead of him, with only Burnley and Manchester United boasting stalwart defenses in the next three weeks. Available in more than 80 percent of draft leagues, I’d consider Joselu a short-term pickup at the most, but maybe that suits your side.






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