Last week, we detailed our Frustrating XI made up of bargain players that had been suggested here and never panned out. This week, we return to happier feelings, as we detail the players that have returned the most for their small investment.
The 2013-14 Bargain Bin Starting XI will take on a more natural lineup compared to the Frustrating XI. The 3-4-3 formation is made up of players that could have been purchased at bargain prices and were once mentioned here in the Bargain Bin.
Goalkeeper: Julian Speroni
Speroni has easily been the biggest surprise this season and he and fantasy owners might have new manager Tony Pulis to thank. Speroni currently ranks eighth among goalkeepers in clean sheets with 12, with 10 of those clean sheets coming in the last 22 matches Pulis has overseen. If you translate that out to a full season he would have 17 clean sheets, enough to put him at the top of the current clean sheet standings.
Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Jose Fonte, and Steven Caulker
These three defenders made the list not only for their contribution in their half of the field, but also what they were able to do on the attack. Coleman, Caulker, and Fonte are currently second, third, and fifth in goals scored among defenders this season. Coleman and Fonte both find themselves in the top-10 for most clean sheets to help inflate their numbers. Caulker and Cardiff City were unable to keep many clean sheets, but Caulker did his best not to lose any points as he has only been booked one time this season. His one yellow card is by far fewer than anyone else in the top-10 in goals scored this season.
Midfielders: Kevin Mirallas, Steve Sidwell, Adam Johnson, and Jason Puncehon
All of the midfielders listed here have had spurts in their play that rival all of the bigger and more expensive names in the midfield. Each of their “hot streaks” led them to be top-15 point scorers so far this season, ahead of players like Mesut Ozil
and Aaron Ramsey
Mirallas came on strong in 2014 thanks to an increase in shot attempts. By the end of 2013, Mirallas was averaging just 1.9 shots per match and netted just one goal in 19 appearances. Once the calendar flipped, so did the switch in Mirallas’ attack. He increased his shots to 3.5 per match, which subsequently led to six goals in 13 appearances. That run moved Mirallas up the player rankings and has him currently sitting fifth among midfielders despite missing six of the final 12 matches.
Sidwell has been sneaky good for fantasy owners despite seeing his Fulham squad relegated. He has managed to play in all 37 matches this season, which has been an asset when combined with the fact he has only been booked five times. He adds to that a team-high seven goals scored this season, which is good enough for 10th among Premier League midfielders.
Johnson may have been passed recently by teammate Connor Wickham
, but what Johnson was able to do earlier this season was even more impressive. Johnson had a stretch in January that saw him score six goals and add two assists in just four matches.
Puncheon is another midfielder that has flipped the switch in 2014. In Crystal Palace’s 18 matches since New Year's Day, Puncheon has seven goals and one assist in 16 starts. His barrage in April saw him score four times in three matches, while helping fantasy owners move up the standings and Crystal Palace avoid relegation.
Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Jay Rodriguez, and Wilfried Bony
The strikers here do not need much explanation. Lukaku has scored 14 times, while Rodriguez and Bony have found the back of the net 15 times. They are all in the top-10 for fantasy points scored by forwards this season, as well as in the top-10 for Premier League goals. Even more impressive is they have done it in limited starts. Lukaku had to deal with a transfer to Everton from Chelsea, Bony missed matches with a hamstring injury, and Rodriguez tore his ACL after 30 starts. All of these forwards have provided far more return than their initial bargain investment would have predicted.
With that list finished, we can get on to the final week of league play. Heading into the last gameweek of the season, all that is left to play for is the league title and possibly first place in your fantasy league. Some may be thinking, “Liverpool have no shot,” or “I’m too far behind to make up ground.” However, as we learned throughout the Premier League season, anything is possible. In fact, there is still plenty of opportunity to move up some spots in the fantasy rankings with a good showing in the final week. This is thanks to an increase in goals scored when many teams have little to play for and open up their attack. As you can see in the chart below, scoring has been very consistent at 2.8 goals per match during the first 37 gameweeks the past 4 seasons. In fact, we are at the same number this season through 370 matches. But when we hit the final week, scoring increases considerably. We can expect an extra four or five goals (possibly even more) to be scored this week, which can lead to some jumping in the fantasy standings.
||Avg Goals Weeks 1-37
||Avg Goals Week 38|
For players that can help you make a final push up the fantasy standings, here is Gameweek 38’s Bargain Bin.
Tim Howard - Hull City will be making sure to not hurt themselves ahead of the FA Cup final. Howard takes advantage.
Bacary Sagna - No team has scored fewer goals than Arsenal’s opponent (Norwich City). Plus, Sagna can contribute shots and assisted shots.
John Stones - Everton have struggled lately, but that has been against good teams. No one is mistaking Hull City for a good team.
Jason Puncheon - Puncheon has averaged over three shots per match over his last seven, and he will face a Fulham squad that have allowed nine goals during their last three matches.
Ross Barkley - Has scored two goals in the last four matches Mirallas has missed. With Mirallas still out, Barkley should continue to get opportunities against a porous Hull City.
James Wilson - With nothing to play for and on the road, Wilson should be given every opportunity to build on his spectacular debut. Expect lots of goals in this one.
Fabio Borini - Just because he hasn’t had a stretch of matches like Johnson or Wickham doesn’t mean he’s less productive. He’s scored three and assisted another in his last four matches.