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EPL Bargain Bin: Week 9 Value Players

Chris Mosinski

Fantasy sports connoisseur and expert soccer prognosticator.

For the past four seasons, goal scoring has held pretty consistent at 2.8 goals per game. In fact, there was only a 13-goal differential between the highest and lowest outputs during that time. The numbers were very consistent. So when scoring averages dipped below two goals per game earlier this season, there was plenty of talk about a goal drought. Less goals were being scored and thus it was making it very difficult for fantasy owners to get regular value from their players. Defenders were ruling the landscape thanks to the abundance of clean sheets.

However, goal-scoring has been back on the rise in recent weeks. Last week saw 34 goals scored, which easily became the highest total of the season. An important thing to note with goal scoring is where the goals are coming from. Not only are the Olivier Girouds and Robin van Persies scoring this season, but 91 out of the 146 goals scored (46 percent) have come from Bargain Bin eligible players. Players like Romelu Lukaku and Darren Bent have provided similar value as some of the bigger names at fractions of the cost.

In addition to the players, there have been some very Bargain Bin friendly teams this season. Squads like Stoke City and Norwich City have seen all of their goals scored this season by Bargain Bin eligible players. In addition, all three newly-promoted teams have provided very useful players at minimal cost to your budget. Because of this, we see match-ups like the one this week between Norwich City and Cardiff City, which offers plenty of options for high upside-low cost players. Odds are there will be goals when teams like this face off, and finding the player to provide the points can provide a major payoff in the end. Not only will you get their points, but it gives you the ability to afford the likes of Giroud and van Persie.

Who is likely to score from the Norwich versus Cardiff match? Who else can provide your team with good value at minimal cost? Just keep reading for Week Nine of the Bargain Bin:

Artur Boruc
makes his triumphant return to the Bargain Bin this week. Southampton return from a difficult match up at Manchester United to host Fulham. Sure, Fulham are coming off a game in which they scored four goals, but that was not against the Southampton keeper. Did you know that en route to scoring four goals last week, Fulham managed only nine shots? They currently rank 20th in shots and 17th in shots on goal on the road this season, and a low shot quantity is not the way to slip one past Boruc. In the three games in which Boruc has allowed a goal, teams have averaged 15 shots (two of the three games were above 17 shots). In the games in which Boruc has kept a clean sheet, opposing teams have averaged only 11.8 shots (none more than 15). In addition, Boruc and Southampton have not allowed a goal at home since August. This week is a match up tailor made for Boruc to keep another clean sheet.

Jose Fonte
and his fellow Southampton defenders continue to be a major reason why they are leading the league in goals allowed this season. They do a good job of preventing quality shots, as Southampton ranks second in defensive shot efficiency and third in allowing shots on target this season. So then the question becomes why Fonte over his fellow teammate, Dejan Lovren, who managed to score a goal last week? If we take a deep look at the numbers, we see there is a big discrepancy between the two teammates in home and away matches. Fonte is averaging 1.25 shots per game during home matches and has yet to take a shot on the road. The exact opposite is true for teammate Lovren, who is averaging one shot per game during away matches and has yet to take a shot during a home match. While both have good value for clean sheet purposes, Fonte is the choice for Southampton at home this week.

Phil Jones and Manchester United play host to a Stoke City squad that ranks dead last in goals scored this season. In fact, no one has been blanked more often this season than the Potters, who have been held scoreless in five of their eight Premier League matches. It does not get easier for them this week, as Manchester United have kept two clean sheets in their four home matches this season. While Jones won’t provide you with much offensive production, his chances are looking good to collect value from keeping a clean sheet this weekend.

Andros Townsend
has been gaining attention for the past couple of weeks. Whether it is critics detesting his shot selection or it is his supporters pointing to his ability to create chances, Townsend is beginning to get dissected by the media and fans. It is important to remember that Townsend is just 22 years of age and is being asked to fill the shoes left behind by arguably the most famous midfielder in Tottenham history. But it appears he is beginning to fulfill some of his expectations. He came through with a goal last weekend in Premier League play to go along with a goal for the national side during the international break. While his decision-making can still leave people scratching their head, it has improved, which should help his conversion rate to begin to rise. Townsend is tied for the league lead in shots so far this season, so it is a bit surprising to see he has only converted one goal. This week, Townsend and Tottenham play host to Hull City, who ranks 17th in shots allowed through eight matches. In addition, they are allowing over one goal per game to opposing midfielders in road matches this year. Look for Townsend to take advantage of a high shot selection and convert a goal this weekend.

Jordon Mutch is beginning to establish himself in the Cardiff City attack and he will be taking part in the aforementioned Bargain Bin matchup of the week. Since coming on as a sub three matches ago, Mutch has two goals and an assist. The midfielder earned his first start last weekend and is solidifying his place in the lineup. This week, Mutch and Cardiff travel to Norwich City to take on a Cannaries squad that ranks 19th in allowing goals to opposing midfielders. Norwich have only kept two clean sheets so far this season, and those came against Stoke City (road) and Southampton (home). Southampton has struggled to score goals on the road and we’ve already discussed Stoke City’s inability to score at all, so the Canaries’ clean sheets are not all that impressive. Cardiff City have fared surprisingly well in scoring this season and that number is bolstered by the performance of Mutch. Look for Cardiff to score at least once against Norwich and for Mutch to be involved.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel
is another player that will be playing in the Bargain Bin matchup of the week. He is coming off a toe injury, but is expected to be in the lineup when Norwich host Cardiff City. The Canaries have had some issues scoring this year, but they are a much more efficient team at home than on the road. When playing at Carrow Road, Norwich City have scored twice as many goals than they have when playing away. And just like his team, van Wolfswinkel seems to play better at home. He has taken more shots and scored more goals at home than on the road. This week’s match against Cardiff City should give him a great chance to score his second goal of the season. The Bluebirds rank 17th in shots allowed per game and 16th in goals allowed per game when playing on the road. Van Wolfswinkel needs to start proving that he was worth the money this off season and this weekend will be as good a time as any.

Jozy Altidore is another player that had high expectations coming into the season. His success with the US Men’s National Team has been great, but he has always struggled in Premier League play. There was hope that his time spent in the Netherlands would help with his development and he had begun to show flashes of his goal scoring ability. But now that he is back in the Premier League with Sunderland, he has yet to score a goal through eight gameweeks. This week’s match up against Newcastle United will provide Altidore with a great opportunity to break his scoreless streak. Only one other team has allowed more away goals than Newcastle this season. In addition, no one allows opposing forwards to take more shots than the Magpies. If Altidore is unable to score this week, he may begin to be close to his Bargain Bin shelf life, but this could be a good week to buy-in on the American striker.