Gameweek 29 is upon us and thanks to some FA Cup matches, there are only five Premier League games featured. Sorting through all the carnage reveals seven of the top-10 fantasy scorers this season will not be playing Premier League matches. Six of the teams featuring this week are in the bottom half of the league in terms of goals scored, including five of the six teams that have scored the fewest number of goals. The same six teams that rank in the bottom-half for goals scored are also in the bottom-half in terms of overall standings.
In essence, Saturday will be a key day for teams fighting to remain in the Premier League. Cardiff City and Fulham will face off in a match that features the two teams at the bottom of the table. The loser will be that much closer to relegation, while the winner will inch closer to climbing out of the relegation zone. Also playing in key matches this week are West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Norwich City, and Stoke City. Each are within six points of the drop zone and are faced with crucial decisions regarding how to handle their matchups. Do they play it safe and try to finish Saturday with a point? Or do they go for a win to try to ensure a spot in the Premier League for the 2014-15 season, but risk coming away empty handed?
Odds are, as fantasy lineups get set for Gameweek 29, many fantasy owners are faced with a similar dilemma. Is it best to play it safe? Should you keep your roster in tact? In the end, everyone plays the same number of games against the same competition. Or is this the time to take a chance? If teams have transfers still available, is now a time to try to make up ground and buy some extra games this week and in the upcoming double-game weeks?
The ‘safe play’ versus the ‘boom-or-bust’ mentality is always a struggle, and honestly, there really is no right answer. However, if you have been saving your transfers for just this occasion, the ‘boom-or-bust’ method can lead to some interesting options. Earlier, we mentioned that five of the teams playing rank in the bottom-six for goals scored this season. On the flip side, six of the teams playing Saturday rank in the bottom-half for goals allowed. Four of the teams playing are in the bottom five for allowing the most goals this season.
With that in mind, here are the Bargain Bin players for Gameweek 29:
John Ruddy has been doing his best impenetrable wall impression at home in 2014. In fact, the last time an opposing team came to Norwich City and left with a goal, it was still 2013. Ruddy has kept a clean sheet in four consecutive home matches, with Manchester City and Tottenham the two most recent teams to leave Carrow Road empty handed. This week, the Canaries play host to Stoke City, a side that have been held goalless in four of their last five away matches, and have scored the fourth-fewest road goals this season. Ruddy will look to make it a fifth straight clean sheet at home and is a good bet to do so.
Sebastien Bassong is a great backline option this week for all the reasons described with Ruddy. Not to mention, Bassong leads all Norwich City defenders in shots and shots on target this season, giving him slightly more fantasy potential than the rest of his defensive teammates.
Jose Fonte and Southampton will travel to London to take on Crystal Palace on Saturday. In the last five meetings between these two squads (all competitions), Southampton have kept a clean sheet in four of them. Sure, the Saints are on the road for the match, but they will be playing a Crystal Palace squad that have struggled to score goals this season. The Eagles have scored the second-fewest goals in all Premier League matches and the third-fewest number of goals in home matches. Southampton have played six matches against teams in the bottom half of the scoring table, and have allowed a total of two goals in those games. Fonte is a great play this week as well as going forward, as pointed out by our Rodric Richenberg earlier this week.
Robert Snodgrass was forced to leave last weekend’s match early and sat out Scotland’s friendly against Poland on Wednesday with a wrist injury. Odds are he will be suited up to play in the crucial match against fellow-relegation candidate Stoke City. The Canaries have had players score goals in bunches this season, and the player with the hot foot right now is Snodgrass. He’s been attempting plenty of shots all season, but his form has produced points recently with two goals and an assist in his last six matches. The Potters have allowed 13 goals in their last six away matches and Norwich will certainly be looking to jump ahead this weekend. Keep in mind that midfielders also gain points via the clean sheet, something that's already been touched on a few times.
Jordon Mutch returned to the lineup as a substitute for last weekend's match against Tottenham. Despite playing just 27 minutes, Mutch was able to find his way in the Cardiff City attack and even attempted a shot. Mutch has struggled in 2014 after scoring four goals and picking up an assist before the calendar year changed, however, much of that was due to injury. A healthy Mutch will certainly be playing a large role for Cardiff City in their fight to avoid relegation, and no match will be bigger than Saturday’s against Fulham. Cardiff scored twice at Fulham earlier in the year, including Mutch's first goal of the season. They will be looking to replicate their performance and will have a great opportunity to do so against a struggling Fulham squad.
Fernando Torres is a bit of a wild card, but it seems when healthy, he is Jose Mourinho’s choice up front for Chelsea. He was able to start last weekend and even picked up an assist, although Andre Schurrle stole the show. Schurrle would be the option here if his playing time wasn’t a bigger question mark than Torres’. Saturday, Chelsea will host Tottenham, and the Blues have scored 10 goals in their last six home matches against Spurs. During a week when many of the top strikers are out, Torres could end up being one of the more dominant options available.
Kostas Mitroglou is still looking for his first significant playing time as a member of Fulham. Despite missing out last weekend against Chelsea, Fulham manager Felix Magath hinted that Mitroglou could be ready to make an impact against Cardiff City. Mitroglou is a fantastic goal scorer and has proven his ability in Champions League play with Olympiakos. Against Cardiff City, he should have a good opportunity to net his first Fulham goal.