For just one week, the Premier League will revert to its normal self. After an action-packed week featuring three gameweeks and 30 league matches in nine days, we’re back to the normal weekend programming; only, there’s a double gameweek on the horizon in Week 34.
But for now we can settle back into a sense of normalcy for the week and start steadily loading up on double gameweek stars from Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough. I would mention Arsenal as well since the Gunners have two games in hand, but maybe that's not such a good idea right now?
Despite all of the chaos surrounding the last week, I put together one of my best weeks of picks in the two seasons in this space. All four of my outfield players earned solid points this week: Phil Jagielka and Marc Albrighton each scored a goal in that thrilling 4-2 Everton win against Leicester City, Bournemouth’s Benik Afobe recorded an assist and Ben Mee earned a clean sheet for Burnley. Meanwhile, recent picks like Joshua King and Tom Davies scored and Jesus Navas recorded an assist at right-back.
We’ve filled up most of our Fantrax draft leagues, but it’s never too late to join or start up your own league with Fantrax. You can find them all here under “Rotoworld Draft League”. If they are all filled up, let us know on Twitter and we’ll add more leagues. For obvious reasons, we’re capping leagues at 10 users in order to encourage a higher level of competition. And if you’re bored of the attacking-based FPL.com or Perfect XI formats, our salary cap league on Fantrax (Rotoworld Salary Cap) mirrors the old Yahoo format that includes advanced statistics and defensive metrics. It’s not for the casual FPL.com player, and that’s why we love it.
Without further delay, here are the bargains for Gameweek 33. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column.
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.
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 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 the FPL.com game or draft leagues with limited waiver claims.
GK – Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
I’ll start with a clear disclaimer: This pick is reliant on injury news and it requires waiting until the team news before Sunday’s match. David De Gea was ruled out of the club’s 3-0 win against Sunderland at the very last minute after succumbing to a hip injury, which manager Jose Mourinho said will also rule him out for Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal. Mourinho said the hope is to have him fit against Chelsea on Sunday, but we just don’t know until the team news comes in, so keep an eye on Thursday’s post-match press conference and Friday’s update.
If De Gea is not cleared for the weekend, Romero would be an excellent fill, albeit a one-week buy for managers desperate for a starting keeper. Available in more than 90 percent of Fantrax leagues, the Argentine international has proven he has the chops as a starting keeper in the Premier League. On Sunday against Sunderland, Romero made four saves and led the team to a clean sheet. It’s not easy to find goalkeepers, especially ones starting for a top side, so if the team news works in Romero’s favor, he would be a steal.
DEF – Andrea Ranocchia (Hull City)
The winter arrival from Inter Milan says he missed Italian food and doesn’t like the weather in England, but it sure looks like he enjoys playing in the Premier League. Ranocchia has played in every league game since his arrival, and has played the full 90 minutes in every one but his debut as part of Marco Silva’s second-half turnaround and race to beat relegation—the Tigers are currently two points above the bottom three. And they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, meaning the odds are in Silva’s favor to avoid the drop.
It’s been a while since Hull City has recorded a clean sheet—a shocking 2-0 win against Liverpool in which Ranocchia recorded an assist—but that looks set to change in the near future. In its final six games of the season, Hull will face Stoke City, Watford, Southampton, Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Spurs; and are unbeaten at home since Ranocchia’s arrival. He has also shown a knack for scoring with two goals this season, his latest coming this past weekend against Manchester United. Ranocchia looks like a long-term (rest of the season) pick with just 22 percent of Fantrax leagues on board.
DEF – Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
I can never quite figure out Jose Mourinho; I don’t think anyone can. As a fantasy manager, that’s incredibly concerning since it makes team selection a nightmare. But maybe, just maybe, Mourinho has had a change of heart with Luke Shaw. Just last week, Mourinho said Shaw was leagues behind his competitors at left-back. Then he put Shaw in the team, and now an injury to Ashley Young has changed everything for the £25 million signing from Southampton, who actually got a rare start this weekend against Sunderland.
Not only did he earn the start, but he also earned praise from Mourinho for his performance, which featured a clean sheet and an assist in a 3-0 victory. That makes two assists in two appearances for Shaw, who suddenly looks like a legitimate starter in the Manchester United defence. I would still advice caution because we just don’t know how Mourinho will tinker with his lineup, but it’s safe to say Shaw will get his chances before the end of the season. At the moment, he looks like a solid short-term pickup, available in 42 percent of Fantrax leagues, with a double gameweek on the horizon in Gameweek 34.
MID/DEF– Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)
This looks like a bit of a cop-out, since Masuaku is a left-back more than a midfielder, but he’s also listed in Fantrax as a midfielder. And one thing inherent to fantasy sports is finding a way to make it work, somehow and someway. Masuaku has looked great this week with Aaron Cresswell out with an injury. There has been little news on the injury and the timeframe is uncertain, which technically means he could come back as soon as this weekend. So just keep a look out on the team news.
But let’s get back to Masuaku, who has missed months of his debut season in the Premier League to various injuries. The French defender helped the Hammers to their first clean sheet since Gameweek 21 in a 1-0 win against Swansea City on Saturday and now manager Slaven Bilic can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the club’s next three matches against Sunderland, Everton and Stoke. Masuaku is taken in only 15 percent of leagues and this weekend’s matchup with Sunderland looks promising, but we will label him as a one-week pick until we know more about Cresswell’s injury.
FWD– Victor Anichebe (Sunderland)
This pick took some time to find this week, and I still recommend recent forward selections like Joshua King and Benik Afobe over Anichebe. However, Anichebe can be a critical role player for a side in need of some forward help. The Nigerian international has missed the last two months with a knee injury, but manager David Moyes was so thrilled to see him back in the team that he started Anichebe in the same week he returned from such a layoff. And when you look at Sunderland’s recent scoring record, you can see why.
Top-scorer and unanimous team MVP Jermain Defoe has gone cold, scoreless in his last seven Premier League matches, and with his goals goes Sunderland’s chances of survival. The Black Cats haven’t scored in any of those last seven matches and Anichebe’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. There is still hope for Sunderland with a soft schedule in the next month: West Ham, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, Hull City, Swansea City all in the next five matches. And Anichebe, available in 87 percent of leagues, could be the man who takes the pressure off Defoe and starts scoring himself.