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EPL Bargain Bin: Week 18 Value Players

Chris Mosinski

Chris Mosinski

Fantasy sports connoisseur and expert soccer prognosticator.

When setting your lineup each week, there are multiple factors to evaluate other than checking to see if the player’s name is Luis Suarez or not. Even with a player like Suarez, specific matchups can play a major role in how that player is expected to perform. Scheduling factors, such as location and opponent’s save percentage can increase or decrease a player’s expected production significantly each week. This edition of the Bargain Bin, we’ll take a look at how these numbers affect the goal scorers (forwards and midfielders).

“There is no place like home.” It was true for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and it is true for the players on your fantasy team. A quick look at the goals scored show that, in general, more goals are scored by the home teams. This is especially true for the Bargain Bin players on teams in the bottom half of the Premier League table. However, what about the players that cost more than most? Are they as productive on the road as they are at home? By studying the data on the top-10 forwards and midfielders in Premier Fantasy, we find that playing on the road can pose a significant disadvantage for even the players that are considered the most reliable in the game. On average, the top-10 forwards' and midfielders' fantasy scoring was down 20 percent on the road compared to their scoring average at home. A drop of that amount could be enough reason to consider a lower-cost option playing at home over a high-cost player on the road.

Although it is not as big as the home/road split, an opposing goalkeeper’s save percentage can also have a big impact on a player’s expected fantasy production. Top-10 forwards and midfielders see a nine percent drop in fantasy production when facing a team that has a goalkeeper with a save percentage in the top half of the league. Although not large, when combined with being on the road, a player can be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to fantasy production.

These factors are important with just three Matchweeks remaining in the first segment of Premier Fantasy. With teams like Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United playing two of the next three on the road, you may be better off considering some low-cost options for your starting lineup in those weeks. For recommendations on players that have a good opportunity to produce above-average fantasy point totals at below average costs, here are the Bargain Bin’s Week 18 recommendations:

Goalkeeper
Tim Howard
is tied for the league-lead in clean sheets with eight, and would have a league-leading ninth if not for an own goal by Bryan Oviedo in Everton’s most recent match. Own goals are fluky. Even flukier than own goals is Howard giving up goals at home, as he has allowed just seven goals in eight home matches (four clean sheets). And even flukier still, is Sunderland scoring on the road. The Black Cats have just two away goals and have not scored away from the Stadium of Light since August 31, a streak of six matches. Sunderland take the fewest number of shots and have the lowest accuracy rate while on the road. Howard should have an easy go to collect that league-leading ninth clean sheet on Boxing Day.

Defenders
Sylvain Distin
is still the unheralded defender helping Howard keep those clean sheets. He leads Everton in passes intercepted and passes intercepted in the box, and he will get you the same credit for a clean sheet than his higher-priced defensive teammates, at a fraction of the cost. In addition, Sunderland have given up the second most goals to defenders this season with four. Sure, he is not a real threat to score, but if there was a chance for him to get some bonus offensive points, this would be the match.

Mathieu Debuchy has the highest accuracy rate of any Newcastle player that has taken at least 10 shots this season. On Boxing Day, Newcastle will face a Stoke City squad that is tied with Sunderland in having allowed four goals to defenders this season. But not just a threat to score, Debuchy also has a good chance to help Newcastle keep a clean sheet. Stoke City score less than a goal per match while away from Britannia Stadium, and Newcastle allow the second-lowest accuracy rate to opponents while at home. Stoke struggle to convert goals on the road, posting a below-average rate of goals per shot on target, and the lower number of shots on target will not help this Matchweek. The Potters have been held scoreless in half of their away matches and Debuchy will look to help Newcastle keep a clean sheet .

Sebastien Bassong leads all defenders on Norwich City with nine shots this season. While that may not seem like a lot, he has taken two in each of the Canaries' most recent two matches. On Boxing Day, he will face a Fulham squad that have allowed the most goals to defenders (seven) this season. In addition, the Cottagers struggle to score on the road. They have just one goal in their last four away ties, while Norwich City have allowed just two goals in their last four home games. Fulham particularly struggle attempting shots on the road, and the low number of shots will not do well against the Canaries low accuracy rate allowed in their home matches. Bassong has a great opportunity to get clean sheet points, as well as some bonus offensive production against Fulham.

Midfielders
Ross Barkley
appears to have regained his place in Everton’s starting XI, as he has started five of Everton’s last six Premier League matches. Barkley is averaging three shots per match in those five starts, as he continues to push the Everton attack forward when he gets his chances. He is currently second on the team in goals and shots, and scored on a beautiful free kick in their most recent match this past Sunday. Sunderland have a below-average save percentage in road matches, ranking 15th out of the 20 Premier League teams in that category. The Black Cats have allowed 13 goals in their seven away ties this season, and will more than likely add to that total against Everton. Look for Barkley to be involved in some offense on Boxing Day, as well as have a good opportunity to pick up some value through a clean sheet.

Nathan Redmond leads Norwich City in shots and shots on target this season. His one goal and three assists mean the four goals he has been involved in also put him in a tie for the team-lead in that statistic. Fulham allow over two goals per road match and allow more shots and shots on goal than any other Premier League team. There will be plenty of opportunities for Norwich City to score against the Cottagers, and look for Redmond to be involved if they do.

Forwards
Gary Hooper
needs to be in any discussion involving Norwich City scoring as well. He has scored in four of the last six matches in which the Canaries have produced goals, and has also scored in the last three home matches. No one on Norwich City has a higher accuracy rate (minimum 10 shots) or conversion rate than Hooper. He will get his chances against a struggling Fulham defense on Boxing Day.

Yoan Gouffran has scored in four straight home matches for Newcastle United. On Boxing Day, the Magpies will face a Stoke City squad that allow the fourth most away goals, the third highest accuracy rate, and the second highest number of shots on goal. All of those stats add up to what should be fantasy gold for Gouffran. A good rule of thumb is to always go with the hot hand, or foot in this case, and Gouffran will have a great chance to extend his home scoring streak to five matches against the Potters.

Andre Schurrle has been featuring in the Chelsea attack more often, as his fellow Blue strikers have struggled. In the month of December, he has scored a team-leading two goals while putting four of his seven shot attempts on target heading into the Monday Night Football match against Arsenal. Boxing Day will give Schurrle and Chelsea an opportunity to score some goals against a Swansea City club that has the second lowest save percentage in road matches this season. Look for Schurrle to continue to put pressure on the goal, with there being a good chance for at least one of his attempts to find the back of the net.