It’s only been a couple of hours since the end of Gameweek 15, but that’s how quick things are going to go over the next month. Friday will have a flood of Rotoworld content coming your way, so let’s get right to it.
Of my Gameweek 15 picks, James Ward-Prowse procured an assist for Southampton. Meanwhile, Gameweek 14 pick Vicente Guaita recorded his second straight clean sheet for Crystal Palace while Tottenham’s Serge Aurier recorded an assist and a bonus point.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of Gameweek 16. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL)— I would love to include your thoughts here in this column next week and throughout the season. If you don’t want your name mentioned, just let me know; otherwise, I’ll be sure to give your Twitter handle a shout-out.
All of the stats used in this column come straight from the good folks at Fantasy 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 – James Tomkins (Crystal Palace)
For but one day, Crystal Palace had a whiff of the top five thanks to their inspired 1-0 win over Bournemouth despite playing down a man for 70 minutes due to Mamadou Sakho’s red card. This is a team with the second-fewest goals in the Premier League but Roy Hodgson has worked his magic at getting the most out of this team, and it has all started in defense. One look at the club’s defense for the upcoming week could be worrisome; Sakho is suspended for three matches while Joel Ward, Patrick Van Aanholt, Scott Dann and Gary Cahill are all dealing with various injuries. But James Tomkins and Martin Kelly remain in front of Vicente Guaita as Palace currently find themselves with consecutive clean sheets.
Having survived a brutal five-game winless stretch against Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, Palace have won two straight and the schedule opens up over the festive period with Watford, Brighton, Newcastle, West Ham, Southampton and Norwich City through New Year’s Day. Despite their lack of bodies in defense, the club’s schedule and form is enough to convince me that a Palace defender (I still like Guaita as a backup keeper, by the way) warrants a look as a short-term pick if you need reinforcements, with Tomkins as your best option amid the injuries.
DEF – Reece James (Chelsea)
The Chelsea youth movement continues. We’ve seen the rise of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori; now Frank Lampard has introduced us to Reece James. The 19-year-old has onto come onto the scene in recent weeks by becoming the club’s youngest Champions League scorer ever and now seems to be Lampard’s starting right-back. And while it’s only a few games into his Chelsea first-team career, FPL Draft managers are already holding the defender in high regard with 19 percent ownership despite just three league starts.
But James rewarded those managers with an assist in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday and the upcoming schedule of Everton, Bournemouth, Spurs, Southampton Arsenal, Brighton, Burnley and Newcastle suggests a few clean sheets are on the cards for the Blues over the holidays. If you have a defense that is pretty much locked down and have room to take a small risk, James and his penchant for contributing goals could be just the move, especially as he will only become more popular with every start. I see James as an STP for the time being, but the risk is that Lampard opts for a bit of rotation over the festive period .
MID – Joao Moutinho (Wolves)
Don’t look now but Wolves are doing that thing they do so well, where they come out of nowhere and silently move into fifth place. But that’s what happens when you go unbeaten in 10 straight Premier League games. Wolves have only five wins, but their league-high eight draws (seven have ended 1-1!) have buoyed them ahead of United and Spurs while they sit just six points out of the top four. In the past month, Wolves have made a serious push up the table with three wins in their past four, and Joao Moutinho has been the driving force behind their success.
After contributing just one assist in the first 10 games of the season, the Portuguese international has contributed to half of the club’s eight goals in the last five games with a goal and three assists. Despite his form, Moutinho is still widely available in 53 percent of our latest sample of FPL Draft leagues as the top playmaker on the fifth-best team in the league at the moment. The 33-year-old looks like an excellent STP option as a fifth midfielder over the festive period where you’re going to want more midfield depth and consistency coming off the bench.
FWD – Divock Origi (Liverpool)
I still can’t decided if Divock Origi is a potential bargain or a risk, but really he’s both. I’m still amazed at how as a forward, where consistent playing time and feel for the game is so crucial, Origi can jump right into some of the biggest games and remind us all of his pure talent like in last year’s Champions League comeback over Barcelona. The Belgian international got the surprise start in the Merseyside derby (remember his bizarre last-minute goal off the crossbar last year?) and starred with two goals in the first 31 minutes on yet another big stage. Yet, when we put a fantasy lens onto him, is he worth it? In salary-cap leagues like the original FPL.com format, no, but in FPL Draft it’s a bit more complicated.
I’m only talking about the next month where Liverpool will have to rotate with the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup, FA Cup and Club World Cup all on the schedule, which would make Origi a OWP or STP at best. If you already have two all-star forwards (e.g. Jamie Vardy, Tammy Abraham, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marcus Rashford), then you can afford a bit of a risk with your third forward. But I think adding Origi (available in 70 percent of FPL Draft leagues) works best with Roberto Firmino owners, knowing that if Firmino is rested, you’ll have the starting striker in your squad. The Origi dilemma is certainly a case-by-case decision, but I’m heavily considering him as my Kane/Vardy backup.