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GW28 Fantrax Player Picks: Load Up on Bargains!

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Due to a glitch in the NMA Fantrax league pricing system, there’s no shortage of super cheap bargains to load up on, allowing you to afford the most expensive stars as well.

West Ham United v Crystal Palace - Premier League
If you were waiting to add West Ham’s Joao Mario to your teams, now’s the time.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Usually if there is a small pricing glitch in the NMA Fantrax league, and if we can catch it early enough, it’s easy enough to fix it without much impact. Unfortunately, this time it was too big, impacting a lot of players, and fixing it would have been very manually labor intensive (not only making the price changes, but also trying to see how many managers had added those players in and attempting to remedy the situation on that end as well), so we left it as is. So, don’t feel any guilt, go ahead and take advantage!

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What Happened? What’s the Glitch?

When players transfer into the Premier League with no history from this or the prior year, they start out at the default price, which is $7 in our NMA league. That was the case during the January transfers with most players, and that part went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, after a player’s first appearance, Fantrax forgets all about default pricing, allowing the lack of history to crash his salary down to the minimum, which is $1.00 in our league. Only heroic vigilance from the commish and tedious manual intervention on every recalc can override this aberrant price crash.

As you may remember, temporary price glitches (and subsequent uproar over the lucky few to capture them) used to happen periodically with Yahoo too. Those issues don’t seem to arise in Official Fantasy or Togga formats: Players’ prices are fairly static in Official, while in Togga there are no player prices. Players’ prices in Fantrax, as formerly with Yahoo, sometimes undergo radical changes resulting from some cracks in the Fantrax calculation algorithm. Ever wonder why the barn-door is so wide each week? It’s because allowing the recalc function to run automatically on partial results has done “bad things” in the past.

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Which Players Are Impacted?

A plethora of players who came in (or moved from one EPL team’s bench to another’s starting XI) during the January transfer window now have rock-bottom price tags, including:

  • Ross Barkley (M, Chelsea) $1.00
  • Moritz Bauer (D, Stoke) $2.19
  • Guido Carrillo (F, Southampton) $1.00
  • Gerard Deulofeu (F, Watford) $1.61
  • Olivier Giroud (F, Chelsea) $4.31
  • Kenedy (F, Newcastle) $1.61
  • Terence Kongolo (D, Huddersfield) $1.35
  • Aymeric Laporte (D, Manchester City) $1.59
  • Jurgen Locadia (F, Brighton) $1.00
  • Joao Mario (M, West Ham) $1.61
  • Badou Ndiaye (M. Stoke) $1.00
  • Emerson Palmeiri (D, Chelsea) $1.00
  • Alex Pritchard (M, Huddersfield) $1.00
  • Daniel Sturridge (F, West Brom) $3.54
  • Cenk Tosun (F, Everton) $1.00
  • Theo Walcott (F, Everton) $3.79

For Barkley, Giroud, Kenedy, Sturridge and Walcott, who were on Premier League rosters elsewhere this season and did not play much or at all, the low prices actually make sense. Meanwhile, some other big name players who came over very late in the window, such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lucas Moura, are priced at or around $7.00.

Of the above players, it’s not optimal to have one take a scarce forward spot. You only get three, and it’s tough to find room for anyone outside of the extraordinary, double-digit stars. That said, Walcott exploded for 39 points on Jan. 31, and Chelsea loaner Kenedy has averaged 8.3 ppg in his three appearances for Newcastle, as has Deulofeu for Watford. Those three forwards are providing plenty of bang for the buck and could be worthy options. For me, the most attractive players in the bunch are defender Moritz Bauer (6.8 ppg) and midfielder Joao Mario (8.33 ppg), so they are who I am building around.

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Which Other Players Look Good This Week?

GOALKEEPERS

Lucasz Fabianski (Swansea at Brighton) $6.84

Fab is averaging 8.8 ppg in his past five games, and this battle featuring two of the three lowest scoring offenses in the league is not expected to bring many goals.

Loris Karius (Liverpool v. West Ham) $3.60

Cheap as chips Karius is averaging 10.3 ppg over his past three Premier League games, is fresh off a clean sheet victory in Champions League play, and welcomes the 12th place Hammers to Anfield.

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham at Crystal Palace) $9.84

Lloris is only averaging 4.8 ppg away from Wembley, but while he has struggled against other top teams such as Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, he has scored double digit points when traveling to subpar competition such as Burnley, Everton, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Swansea.

Nick Pope (Burnley v. Southampton) $11.06

With Chelsea at Manchester United and Manchester City at Arsenal, the high-priced keepers from Big Six teams are at risk. That leaves Nick Pope as the best expensive option, as Burnley welcomes 18th place Southampton and one of the league’s most anemic offenses to Turf Moor. If fit, Tom Heaton, could possibly take the starting job back, so be sure to check team news as the deadline approaches.

Mat Ryan (Brighton v. Swansea) $5.86

Ryan scored 14 points in the reverse fixture, and this time he’s at home.

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DEFENDERS

Chris Smalling (Manchester United v. Chelsea) $8.04

It will not be easy for the Red Devils to keep another clean sheet, but Smalling has averaged 9.4 ppg in his past five appearances, so he seems like the best bet in the game for defensive joy along with Ashley Young.

Mason Holgate (Everton at Watford) $5.47

The Toffees’ youngster is averaging 8.1 ppg points away from Goodison Park this season, including scores of 15, 9 and 14 in his past three trips.

Alfie Mawson (Swansea at Brighton) $7.26

Mawson has a good shot at the CS bonus, plus he’s been contributing on the offensive end lately with a goal and an assist in the past four games.

Jack Stephens (Southampton at Burnley) $6.95

Stephens is averaging 8.8 ppg on the road this season, including 14, 8, and 15 points in his past three trips away from St. Mary’s Stadium, so you should expect a fine return on his affordable price at Turf Moor.

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool v. West Ham) $5.72

The Notorious VvD has averaged 7.0 ppg in the past two games, and has tallied five shots (two on target) in his past three, so returning value at his low price is very likely.

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MIDFIELDERS

Pascal Gross (Brighton v. Swansea) $11.49

Gross has averaged 11.2 ppg in his past four home games, with two goals and an assist. All five of his goals and four of his six assists this season have come at home. As it happens, he’s at home this weekend, and the competition is not exactly scary on its travels.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley v. Southampton) $11.65

Gudmundsson is averaging 13.7 ppg in his past three home games, which have come against Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, and now a team currently standing in the relegation zone comes to town.

Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth v. Newcastle) $9.13

Ive is averaging 12.8 ppg in his past four home games, and now 13th place Newcastle visits Dean Court.

Sadio Mane (Liverpool v. West Ham) $9.13

Mane will be full of confidence after his Champions League hattrick, offering an inexpensive way into the Reds’ dangerous attack.

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton at Burnley) $7.72

JWP has been getting starts and returning good results lately. He certainly seems like a better value than the rest of the midfielders in his price range. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out Santiago’s Spotlight piece on the young Englishman.

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FORWARDS

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City at Arsenal) $21.03

Kun is absolutely on fire with 11 goals and two assists in his past nine games. He also scored in the reverse fixture, though this comes at the Emirates where Arsenal has been tough this season.

Marko Arnautovic (West Ham at Liverpool) $9.26

Arno’s exploded for seven goals and three assists in his past nine games, and a lot of that damage has come on the road where he has four scores and two helpers in his past three away games.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal v. Manchester City) $7.56

After scoring 15 points at home against Everton, PEA disappointed with a single point at Tottenham. Coming back to the Emirates should help, and he’s an inexpensive lottery ticket.

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool v. West Ham) $14.15

Firmino has eight goals and four assists in his past 13 games, and Liverpool won the reverse fixture 4-1 in London.

Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur at Crystal Palace) $22.19

As close as you can get to a sure thing, the Spurs talisman has scored double digit points in his past six games and eight of his past nine. He doesn’t always explode, but he rarely disappoints. Against Palace...

Mo Salah (Liverpool v. West Ham) $24.50

Salah has returned double digit points in 15 of his past 18 games, with 18 goals and six assists in that time. So that explains why he’s the most expensive player in the game. With so many good enablers around, there’s no reason you can’t pony up for the best.

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MY TEAM (at the moment):

  • GK: Karius
  • DEF: Bauer, Schindler, van Dijk
  • MID: Hazard, Mario, Shaqiri, Ward-Prowse
  • FW: Aguero, Kane, Salah

Which cheap players are you adding this week, and which expensive ones does that allow you to afford? Are you blowing up your teams or keeping things fairly similar? Let us know in the comments!