As we saw during a busy December, the bench in the Yahoo! Fantasy Premier League game can actually be quite useful. Plenty of managers were forced to tinker their lineups to rest star players and to account for injuries. Many of the changes were unexpected and I ended up with two different zero pointers because I lacked a quality bench.
With a £150M budget, fantasy managers can afford to stash a few options on the bench to avoid getting blanks. I’ll recommend some extremely cheap players below, many of which I would not start in my first XI. These players will most likely get playing time in the near future and be able to give you a few points subbing in for players rested or left out of the lineup unexpectedly. Expect players on this list to cost no more than about £5-6M and don’t expect double-digit point returns. If you have leftover money, I would strongly recommend getting someone who costs a little more than the players below and is an actual consistent performer for your top bench spot.
Kelvin Davis (goalkeeper) – The Southampton backup’s last two outings were discouraging, negative four and negative seven points, but they drove his price to the minimum - £1M. Southampton played at Everton and then against an on fire Chelsea squad, both superior teams. They were missing Nathaniel Clyne and Victor Wanyama in both games, both of which were a big part of the Saints’ good defense at the beginning of the season. Clyne and Wanyama are expected back for the next Premier League match and Davis should have a relatively healthy defense in front of him. Artur Boruc still has no timetable to return and the Saints next five Premier League opponents are West Brom, Sunderland, Arsenal, Fulham, and Stoke City. Considering the price, there is no better bench goalkeeper at the moment.
Kolo Toure (defender) – Toure is filling in for the injured Mamadou Sakho and will be a good option while Sakho is out. Sakho’s has a chance to return this weekend, so make sure you check his status before spending the money on Toure. (£5.57M as of Jan 5).
Steven Taylor/Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (defenders) – Mathieu Debuchy is suspended for two more games for the red card he received against West Brom and Fabricio Coloccini is out for up to six weeks. These are the most likely replacements but they come in the £6-8M price range and that’s quite a bit to spend on a bench player, certainly more than I’m willing to spend. If you have the extra cash, don’t be afraid to spend it here and have a reliable backup for the near future.
John Obi Mikel (midfielder) – Another player who is filling in for an injury. Mikel will be Frank Lampard’s main replacement and Lampard is expected to be out until at least January 29th. Mikel gets most of his points from defensive stats but can also add a goal from time to time as he showed in Chelsea’s latest FA Cup match. With the expected regular role, Mikel can be a very good bench option at £5.38M. You can also choose to go with Michael Essien, who is less than half his price, but whether or not Essien gets any playing time is a toss up, making him very unreliable.
Alou Diarra (midfielder) – Diarra just returned from a bad knee injury to make his second appearance of the season (the first one was in week one). He is currently filling in on defense, where West Ham are fighting a series of injuries, but can also play in the defensive part of midfield. The Hammers just signed defender Roger Johnson, meaning Diarra’s playing time could decrease quickly, but I think he is a must own player for your bench considering he is currently the cheapest midfielder at £1.64M.
Tomas Rosicky(midfielder) – I know Rosicky’s record speaks against him with only 20 points in 12 games, but five of those were him coming on as a substitute. Arsenal are going through an extremely rough time with injuries and Theo Walcott was just ruled out for the season. Rosicky will be partially relied upon to create plays and score a few goals and considering he is only worth £3.37M, I wouldn’t mind keeping him on the sidelines.
Victor Wanyama(midfielder) – Wanyama has been out with injury but is expected back this weekend or next. His price is a little higher than most players on this list (£6.84M) but he averaged 6.8 points per game in his last five games and will be a full-time starter as soon as he returns. He can be a “first off the bench” type of player.
James Ward-Prowse (midfielder) – A bit expensive at £6.82M but probably best player under £7M. He had a bit of a rough stretch recently but schedule gets easier and I’d expect to see improvement.
Hopefully you find some of these players useful and strengthen your bench. Personally, I don’t like to spend more than £3-4M on a bench player and will probably only keep Alou Diarra and Thomas Rosicky from this list, along with the cheapest possible player I can find in the third bench spot. If I have leftover cash, I will look at putting Wanyama or Ward-Prowse in my top bench spot.