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GW9 Budget Player Picks: Happy Days away from Blade Runner

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Blade Runner 2049 is a wonderful movie, but if you’re an investor, a low budget flick can be a better way to go. In the theater of Premier League fantasy, let’s look at some less pricey player picks that should deliver a happy ending.

Tammy Abraham - Swansea City - Premier League
Grab Swansea’s new star at a discount price while you can!
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling
Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling
Photo by Dave J Hogan - © 2017 Dave J Hogan - Image courtesy gettyimages.com

Blade Runner 2049 made news recently by grossing $33 million* on its opening weekend in the US and Canada. Unfortunately, it was poor press as projections for the atmospheric, long-awaited sequel to the classic sci-fi-thriller ran more in the $45 - 55m range, leaving the expectation that it will fall short of making back its big budget, estimated in the $150m range.

Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day
Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day
Universal Pictures

Meanwhile, in the closer lead-up to All Hallows’ Eve, a little picture called Happy Death Day racked up debut weekend sales of $26m* against a production cost of only $4.8m. In other words, its budget was $145.2m less than that of BR2049, and its box office came within $6.5m on its first weekend. Or, looked at yet another way, BR2049’s weekend ROI was 18%, while HDD’s was 552%.

There’s one question when it comes to which you’d rather plunk 15 clams down to enjoy in the theater. (Easy answer for me: BR2049 all the way.) But it’s entirely another with respect to which you would rather have invested in as a Wall Street tycoon or shepherded as a studio exec. Who needs the lure of gold bullion, the stock market or star talent when there are hordes of high schoolers hell-bent on seeing cheap horror flicks?

In avoiding the risk of pricey Ryan Goslings and Harrison Fords of the Premier League (e.g. Kane, and Lukaku... and I really don’t want to imagine who Jared Leto should be in this analogy, but feel free to suggest candidates in the comments below), who are the Happy Death Day-esque bit players in FPL this weekend who can deliver strong returns for your teams?

KEEPERS

Jack Butland, Stoke v. Bournemouth ($3.00 Fantrax)

You should be gun shy after Butland gave up seven goals against a rampaging Man City. However, that game was at the Etihad, while this one is at bet365 Stadium. More importantly, Bournemouth is not Manchester City. Rather, the Cherries have scored one goal TOTAL in four away games. If you don’t have much to spend in Fantrax, beggars can’t be choosers.

Robert Elliot, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace (£4.1 Official FPL, $5.68 Fantrax)

Crystal Palace’s offense has rejuvenated after scoring its first two goals of the season against Chelsea, so the Eagles’ spirits will be flying high. However, let’s not get carried away with Palace euphoria here. We’ve got the ninth place team at home (where they’re allowing an average of only 1.0 goals per game) against the last place team which still has not scored away from Selhurst Park yet. There’s a pretty good chance at a clean sheet.

Lucasz Fabianski, Swansea v. Leicester (£4.6 Official)

Swansea has kept clean sheets in four of its eight games overall, while the visiting Foxes are only averaging 1.0 gpg scored away from King Power Stadium. Leicester will be looking to show well after the sacking of manager Craig Shakespeare, but the Swans will try to keep the score down.

Argh! Joe Hart Argh!, West Ham v. Brighton (£4.4 Official, $4.83 Fantrax)

I know, I know, West Ham has been horrible this season, particularly on defense. The Hammers have allowed the third most goals in the league. On top of that, this Joe Hart is a decaying replicant compared to the original model who played with the Citizens. Bear with me on this one, though: West Ham has allowed only 1.0 gpg at London Stadium, while Brighton has scored only one goal total in four away games, a la Bournemouth.

Wayne Hennessey or Julian Speroni, Crystal Palace at Newcastle (£4.4 or 4.0 Official, $2.57 or $1.00 Fantrax)

The Crystal Palace keeper will be very cheap, and could be worth a punt if you’re feeling frisky. But who will that keeper be? Will Wayne Hennessey pass fit? Even if he does, would he get the start over Speroni who kept Chelsea to only one goal in the shock victory last weekend? Be sure to check team news closer to the deadline if you want to dip your toes in this pond.

DEFENDERS

Kieran Gibbs, West Brom at Southampton ($3.32 Fantrax)

Gibbs is averaging 5.5 ppg over his four starts, which is not too shabby for the price along with an unimposing match-up.

Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace (£4.7 Official)

Lascelles has been a nice surprise this season with two clean sheets and two goals. On paper, this may be the most favorable match-up Newcastle will have this season, considering the locale and the opponent.

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal at Everton (£4.9 Official, $4.70 Fantrax)

No, he’s not going to net a goal every game. But even without the score against Watford, Mertesacker still would have racked up plenty of points in Fantrax, since here are his other contributions: 13 aerials won, 12 clearances, three blocked shots, two interceptions and one tackle won. In Official, despite Arsenal’s loss, Mertesacker still took the three bonus points as Man of the Match. With Shkodran Mustafi out for a while, the big German should serve as a fine fill-in.

Kyle Naughton, Swansea v. Leicester (£4.6 Official)

Naughton has contributed nicely at both ends with four clean sheets and one assist, and now he’s got a good chance for another solid return as the 18th place Tigers venture to Liberty Stadium.

Virgil van Dyk, Southampton v. West Brom ($6.08 Fantrax)

VVD has earned 24 Fantrax points in the past two games without the benefit of a clean sheet, goal or assist. Ken’s in on him. Are you?

MIDFIELDERS

Christian Atsu, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace (£5.1 Official)

Man U’s injured Marouane Fellaini is the only cheaper midfielder in the Official game with more points than Atsu. Meanwhile, you’ve got to love the locale and opposition.

Tom Carroll, Swansea v. Leicester ($6.69 Fantrax)

Averaging 9.5 ppg at home, compared to just 2.25 ppg away. Clearly TC loves the cozy confines of Liberty Stadium!

Fabian Delph, Man City ($6.00 Fantrax)

Delph is averaging 12.0 ppg in Fantrax for the past three games, and the midfielder turned wing-back is not surprisingly getting up the field often: He has a goal and an assist from three shots (two on-target). You never can be sure if he’s going to be eligible for CS points, but even without them he offers good value. (Note: Delph is listed dually as D/M in Fantrax.)

Manuel Lanzini, West Ham v. Brighton ($5.68 Fantrax)

It’s not a bad time to get in on the forgotten, now-healthy Hammer. Lanzini, who averaged 7 ppg in 2015/16 and 6.5 ppg in Fantrax last season earned seven points in his return to action, right on cue. With Brighton coming to town, he’s a fair bet to exceed that baseline.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Stoke City v. Bournemouth (£5.6 Official)

EMCM’s two goals and one assist have all come at Pottersville this season. Where’s he playing this week? You guessed it... home sweet home, baby!

Matt Ritchie, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace (£6.0 Official, $7.83 Fantrax)

Three of his four assists this season have come at St. James’ Park. And as we’ve been saying for a while, he’s due for a goal, too... make that over-overdue now!

FORWARDS

Tammy Abraham, Swansea v. Leicester (£5.7 Official)

The loaner from Chelsea may not outperform the likes of much more expensive Jermain Defoe, Roberto Firmino, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Alexandre Lacazette, Wayne Rooney or Daniel Sturridge in Official fantasy all season, but the fact that he’s doing it after eight games is nothing to shrug your shoulders about.

Mame Biram Diouf, Stoke v. Bournemouth (£5.4 Official, $6.90 Fantrax)

On fire with two goals plus an assist in his past two games, the Potters’ striker has been active of late, taking three shots in each of the past four fixtures. The Cherries are allowing 15.8 shots per game away from Dean Court.

Joselu, Newcastle v. Crystal Palace ($5.71 Fantrax)

Joselu is hit or miss in Fantrax, with four games at 9+ points and three at <=3. If you feel like flipping a coin, it probably has a better chance than not of coming up in your favor this weekend.

Which bargains are you grabbing for this weekend’s action to complement your more expensive players? Who in the EPL represents Jared Leto? Let us know in the comments below!

*Movie box office/budget figures from www.boxofficemojo.com.