This article is part of our FPL Bargain Bin series.
"Oh my god, it's him. Crank it Jerry!" For those of you not familiar with the quote, it comes from the 1994 film Major League. As a kid growing up in Cleveland, this was one of my favorite movies and this was one of my favorite parts. It comes right as Ricky Vaughn is emerging from the bullpen dressed in his "bad-boy" gear reminiscent of his "Wild Thing" persona. The lady running the scoreboard sees Vaughn and excitedly runs to turn on his original theme music. For a lot of you, this probably does not make much sense, but what I am trying to convey is that glee and excitement you feel when something you expected to be gone returns.
This is exactly the feeling at the Bargain Bin this week, as our favorite star has seemingly made an appearance. After missing the start of the season due to injury and struggling to find his shot upon his return, Ross Barkley stirred up social media with his fantastic goal and played an all-around impressive 90 minutes last weekend against Queens Park Rangers. He showed flashes last season, but injuries prevented him from seeing extensive minutes. Now healthy, he's seen a good amount of playing time lately but has yet to put it together. Maybe it was the change in position that provided him more room for movement and more touches to get into a rhythm? Regardless, this is the Barkley we touted in the beginning of the season and much of last year. Now the question remains: can he sustain that level of play for you to use in your fantasy lineups?
In the movie, Vaughn comes in to strike out his nemesis and help the Indians advance in the playoffs. You never know what happens next. I suspect his next outing saw him give up a few home runs and cost the Indians the World Series (it is Cleveland afterall). Typically follow-up performances of the unexpected fall back toward the expected. But what is the expected with Barkley? His numbers this season are slightly behind what he did last season when he averaged 2.3 shots per match, was accurate with 24 percent of them and converted 32 percent of his on-target shots into goals. This season those numbers are 2.0, 22 percent, and 25 percent, respectively. Slightly behind, but nothing drastic. In fact, you could argue he is basically the same player. What does that mean for the rest of the season? Last term saw him score goals in just six matches and provided times of frustration as he went periods of nine, nine, six, and four consecutive games without scoring a goal. Basically, be happy but do not get too excited. He's probably just not quite ready to vault up into the upper echelon of midfielders, no matter how much the Bargain Bin would like to predict it to happen.
Last season, five of Barkley's six goals came against teams in the bottom half of the goals-allowed table. Look to Barkley when the matchups are right. Despite their current form, I would say Southampton would not be the right matchup. There are other available cheap midfielders that could provide a better matchup and opportunity than Barkley this weekend. For those and the other positions, here is the Gameweek 17 Bargain Bin:
Robert Green ($4,100 DraftKings, $6.0M Mondogoal) v. West Bromwich Albion
You are going to sense a trend here very quickly. Queens Park Rangers are this season's Jekyll and Hyde team, as they are significantly different home and away. While QPR are rubbish away from Loftus Road, they are fantasy rubies while playing at home. Over their last four home matches they have come away with 10 points (WDWW) and kept two clean sheets. They play markedly better at home and this will magnified with West Brom coming to town. The Baggies have just three away goals this season, tied for the fewest in the league, and have been shut out in their two most recent away matches. If you are looking for bargains in goal, look no further than Green.
Notes:Jak Alnwick ($4,300 DraftKings, $4.9M MondoGoal) is the only semi-healthy keeper available for Newcastle this weekend. I could see the Magpies going conservative so as not to lose to rivals Sunderland, which could help Alnwick come away with the clean sheet. Not to mention, Sunderland have managed just five away goals so far this season.
Ben Davies ($3,700 DraftKings, $8.5M MondoGoal) or Federico Fazio ($3,800 DraftKings, $6.9M MondoGoal) v. Burnley
We praise clean sheets are the most important stat for defenders. It still applies here, but what that means is you want to start by singling out the team with the best opportunity. That is likely Tottenham, who get to face Burnley and their 0.57 goals per away match. Once there, you want to look for who is the cheapest and Davies qualifies for you DraftKings players while Fazio fits the bill if you are playing MondoGoal. Pay for the clean sheets on defense so you can pay for the goals in midfield and forward.
Notes: Stock up on QPR players while they are still valuable. Yun Suk-Young ($2,900 DraftKings, $6.4M MondoGoal) is the play there.
Leroy Fer ($5,600 DraftKings, $8.7M MondoGoal) v. West Bromwich Albion
Keep the QPR train rolling along. Fer has goals in the last two QPR home matches and is a big part of their home success. No reason to think the trend ends this weekend against a West Brom team with one win in their last six matches.
Notes:Ryan Mason has seen a decrease in his shot attempts recently, but I think that number gets a chance to bounce back up against Burnley and I like his matchup more than Barkley's against Southampton this weekend.
Andy Carroll ($8,300 DraftKings, $9.1M MondoGoal) v. Leicester City
Since returning from injury Nov. 8, only two players have attempted more shots than Carroll's 23 (3.8 per match). If you take out his one minute appearance in his first match back, he's only surpassed by Wilfried Bony in that category. He's had to deal with injuries in recent seasons, but for the time being he is healthy and putting pressure on the opposing goalkeeper with the best of them. At home against Leicester City, he should see plenty of opportunities and that is all you can ask for from your players. Lots of shots mean lots of chances to score.
Notes: Charlie Austin ($8,400 DraftKings, $12.0M MondoGoal) will be back from suspension this weekend.