When Premier League play resumes Saturday, it will have been 10 days since the last set of fixtures. Sure, the FA Cup third round took up last weekend and the Capital One Cup semi-final occurred Tuesday and Wednesday, but teams are starting to treat those matches like glorified scrimmages. After the whirlwind that is the holiday fixture list, the 10 days off provided a brief break to soak in all that happened in the first half of the season.
With players going down with injuries, the transfer window reopening, and David Moyes still managing Manchester United, radio shows and message boards have had plenty of material to discuss as the second half of the Premier League season continues along. For the fantasy ramifications of everything that happened in the first half, be sure to check out the Yearly Player Rankings (updated every month), as well as the new Weekly Rankings. Nick Pitner also does a wonderful job with his weekly Best XI. All three articles are good places to turn to when looking for players that will provide the most production each week.
However, none of the articles take into account the cost of the players in the standard fantasy leagues. With budgeting being important in crafting your team each week, low cost options become just as important as the Luis Suarezes and Romelu Lukakus. That is where the Bargain Bin comes in.
Christmas Day for the Bargain Bin was not the traditional December 25, but rather January 6. That was the day ESPN Premier Fantasy rolled out the new player costs for Segment Two and the Bargain Bin was able to unwrap all the new toys…er… low cost player options.
Matchweek 21 could provide good opportunity to use bargain players, as some of the high-profiled players remain injured, such as Robin van Persie (thigh), Wayne Rooney (groin), Theo Walcott (knee), and Sergio Aguero (calf), while other big names have road matches. Think being on the road does not matter? Luis Suarez, who is leading the world in goal scoring right now, has scored 15 goals in seven matches at Anfield. In his eight away matches, he has just five goals. With players from Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Chelsea all on the road this week, there could be better options on your bench or worth purchasing at small costs.
Here are Matchweek 21’s Bargain Bin players:
Hugo Lloris will face Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Eagles have scored the fewest goals in the Premier League this season and are also tied for the fewest away goals. They are converting shots-to-goals at rates considerably worse than the rest of the league. Against the three other teams with similarly low conversion rates (Sunderland, Norwich City, and Aston Villa), Lloris had two clean sheets and allowed a total of one goal in the three matches. Lloris should be up to the task of preventing Crystal Palace from scoring this Matchweek.
Kyle Walker brings to mind the great Fantasy Soccer proverb, “If it is good for the goalkeeper, it must be good for the defender.” In addition, Walker leads Tottenham defenders in shots attempted, shots on target, and crosses, making him the defender for Spurs that is most involved in the attack. With Crystal Palace also struggling on the defensive end, if a defender were to contribute to some sort of goal this match week, Walker would be a good bet to do so.
Kevin Mirallas should be all recovered from the illness that caused him to play fewer minutes during the holiday match period. A healthy Mirallas will face a visiting Norwich City on Saturday and the Canaries are allowing more than two goals per road match they have played. Mirallas is currently third on the team in shots attempted and with teammate Ross Barkley (one of the two players ahead of Mirallas in shot attempts) dealing with a toe injury that could limit or force him to miss the match, he could be in line to provide some scoring Saturday. Even if he fails to find the back of the net himself, he has a good opportunity of helping out on a goal and picking up an assist. No Everton player has more assists than Mirallas, as his five assists have provided good fantasy value when he has not scored a goal. With the Canaries not doing a good job protecting their net on the road, Mirallas will have good fantasy value this match week.
Moussa Sissoko is a sneaky fantasy option for Matchweek 21. In the last three matches that Newcastle United have managed to score multiple goals, Sissoko has contributed either a goal or an assist. Saturday, the Magpies will host a Manchester City squad that has struggled defensively on the road. City have allowed multiple goals in 60 percent of their road matches this season and Newcastle put plenty of pressure on goal, averaging more than 17 shot attempts in their home matches. Sissoko should be in line to help Newcastle rack up some goals against Manchester City.
Yoan Gouffran is another Newcastle player that should benefit from Manchester City coming to town. The striker saw his streak of four consecutive home matches with a goal end just before 2013 concluded, but that was against an Arsenal defense that is playing as good as anybody right now. The same cannot be said for Manchester City’s defense and Gouffran’s high conversion rate shows that even the Manchester City goalkeepers should be no match for his fine shooting.
Emmanuel Adebayor is one of the hottest players in the Premier League right now. The Tottenham striker has three goals and one assist in the four matches since he was released from the Andre Villas-Boas dog house upon the former manager’s sacking by the club. When Crystal Palace come to town Saturday, it should provide a good opportunity for Adebayor to continue his fine play. Adebayor has been asserting himself as the go-to striker for new manager Tim Sherwood, and will look lead Tottenham on the attack against the visiting Eagles.
Dimitar Berbatov has at least one goal or assist in four straight Premier League matches that he has played for Fulham. He will look to continue that streak against a visiting Sunderland squad that have allowed the second most goals and third most shot attempts this season. The fact that Sunderland opponents are able to take a high number of shots should play well for Berbatov who has been very accurate with his shot selection this season. With the striker regaining his form and overcoming injury recently, he seems to be back to the goal-scoring option he was a year ago.