It’s safe to say that gameweek 29 is going to be chaos. With just four matches scheduled it means that only 88 players IRL will start a game. So any fantasy league with more than 8 teams is going to have to field players that they will be hoping come off the bench. Get ready for some low scores this week.
So Where’s The Help?
Listing Areola, Tierney, Lingard, and Watkins as good options for this week isn’t going to do anyone any favors. These are obvious. Hell, anyone who is a starter this week is going to be gold dust in gameweek 29. Never have Paul Dummett, Harrison Reed, and Diego Llorente been such valuable commodities. This article is being published on Friday, though, which means that all the foreseeable starters have probably been snapped up in the waivers. So what to do? Well, the way I see it, you have three options: 1) hope whatever you’ve got already is better than your opponent, 2) give up now and enjoy watching England beat India in the Twenty20 instead, or 3) find someone – anyone – who might make a difference. Gameweek 29 is going to be low scoring, which means one or two extra players – and five or six extra points – could turn a loss into a victory.
Starting A Substitute
Rule number 1 in draft fantasy football is to never start a player who’s a substitute IRL. That goes for KDB, Bruno, Salah, and any other big dog who is rested (yes, I know Salah put up 30+ points off the bench against Palace earlier, but that’s the exception that proves the rule). Anyway, that rule is on hold for gameweek 29. You’re going to have to start some substitutes, but which ones? I’ve analyzed the numbers and come up with 10 to target.
Note, I have limited this analysis to players with ownerships (as of this writing) of 50% or lower. Additionally, any players who look guaranteed to start (e.g. Lallana, Fraser, Reed, Welbeck, Luiz) have also been excluded as this article is focused only on finding points from potential substitutes. Thus, the following players should be available in most leagues.
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10 Names You Should Never Normally Consider…But Should in Gameweek 29!
Ownership = 25%; FP/G = 6.26; 100% subbed on rate (from 7 matches as a sub); average of 20 minutes/sub appearance.
February and March have been tough for Cavaleiro, who has seen his normally assured spot in the starting lineup called into question. The forward has started five of his last eight, though that does include all of the last three. It’s a measure of Fulham’s improvement since mid-December that the 3-0 loss to Manchester City on the weekend was a little disappointing. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cavaleiro return to the bench. Regardless, this is one you should keep in your lineup. He has come on every time he’s been on the bench, and his average fantasy points as a substitute is a “doesn’t-sound-great-but-wait-until-you-see-the-rest” 4.2. He also has a couple of double-digit scores in there (11 in 17 minutes vs West Brom and 10 in 23 minutes versus Crystal Palace).
Ownership = 33%; FP/G = 5.50; 92% subbed on rate (from 13 matches as a sub); average of 16 minutes/sub appearance.
We’ll stick with Fulham and take a look at the enigma that is Aleksandar Mitrovic. This guy had an FP/G of 10 when Fulham were last in the Premier League two seasons ago but he just can’t find a way into Scott Parker’s starting 11. He does, however, find his way into the side from the bench very nicely, and has actually only failed to come on once when made a sub. That’s the good news. The bad news is that his highest score as a sub is just 4, and he averages a Conor-Coady-like 1.5. Look, I’m not saying all of these suggestions are winners. But if he’s on the bench, he’ll almost certainly come on. And 1.5 is better than nothing. Plus, you never know…in 2017-18 he came off the bench for Newcastle and scored 19 points in 18 minutes. So it’s do-able.
Ownership = 30%; FP/G = 5.45; 83% subbed on rate (from 12 matches as a sub); average of 21 minutes/sub appearance.
Benrahma’s ownership of just 30% surprised me – there are a lot worse fantasy options out there with higher numbers than this (see: Benjamin Mendy at 48% and Fabinho at 45%). After making seven consecutive starts at the turn of the year, Benrahma is back to fighting for his place and has started just one of the last five. From his sub appearances, he’s averaging 4 points per game but does have two scores of 9 and one score of 11.5 from the bench. You never know what you’re going to get with Arsenal, but this is a good West Ham team. Benrahma might get given the start, but even if not, he’s definitely one to gamble on if you’re struggling to find a player.
Ownership = 37%; FP/G = 5.92; 80% subbed on rate (from 10 matches as a sub); average of 23 minutes/sub appearance.
Trezeguet had a decent game against Newcastle, but if everyone is fit and firing, he doesn’t make the starting 11. That’s not the case at the moment though and so it’ll be interesting to see who Dean Smith fields against Spurs. If Trez doesn’t make it into Smith’s side, he should probably still stay in fantasy owners’ sides. An 80% subbed on rate with an average of 23 minutes is pretty good going given that only Manchester City have made fewer subs this season than Aston Villa and considering that only West Ham give fewer minutes to their subs than Dean Smith. Unfortunately, Trez is only averaging 2 points as a sub, so we’re in Mitrovic’s “better-than-nothing” zone here.
Ownership = 48%; FP/G = 7.25; 75% subbed on rate (from 8 matches as a sub); average of 20 minutes/sub appearance.
As of this writing, PremierInjuries.com has set gameweek 29 as a potential return for the injured Almiron (though his status is only 25%), so to help things out I will throw in another Newcastle name; that of Dwight Gayle. Gayle played the full 90 in gameweek 28 but didn’t do much so could see himself back on the bench this weekend. Both he and Almiron, though, do have excellent “sub conversion” rates (75% for Almiron, 60% for Gayle), with only Saint-Maximin being used off the bench by Bruce at a greater percentage. Almiron averages 3.8 when used as a sub and was generally improving as a fantasy asset before his injury. If he’s on the bench, he is one of the better names in this article. Gayle’s average sub score is 2.2, but this is skewed by the 17 points he got in 21 minutes against West Brom – he’s actually come on and scored zero in seven out of nine games. For what it’s worth, Carroll averages 2.5 but only comes on in 52% of the games in which he’s a sub.
Ownership = 41%; FP/G = 8.02; 67% subbed on rate (from 6 matches as a sub); average of 19 minutes/sub appearance.
Antonee Robinson is Fulham’s 4th highest scorer and has the 3rd highest FP/G, but he’s been on the outside looking in recently thanks to the form of fellow fullbacks Aina and Tete. Scott Parker likes to use subs (Fulham has the second-highest this season), though admittedly not for that long (their average mins played by subs is second lowest). Nevertheless, Robinson seems to be one who does tend to get the nod more often than not, having come on in four of his six bench visits. It actually wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him recalled to the starting lineup in gameweek 29; Aina had a tough time dealing with Cancelo on Saturday (though that Cancelo guy isn’t bad I suppose). Either way, if you’re looking for a way into this Fulham side in their nice-looking matchup against Leeds, Robinson might be it.
Side note: Mario Lemina and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – both starters in gameweek 28 but potential casualties of the disappointing defeat – have excellent subbed on rates of 90% and 80%, respectively.
Ownership = 10%; FP/G = 3.23; 78% subbed on rate (from 9 matches as a sub); average of 22 minutes/sub appearance.
Alioski was back in the Leeds side after four games on the bench and given that he was part of a defense that shut out Chelsea, you’d expect he would stay there again for the trip to Fulham. But it’s definitely not guaranteed, so he warrants a place on this list. The out-of-position “midfielder” has started a game from the sidelines on nine occasions and been brought on in seven of those, averaging 3.1 points when he does come on. I like Fulham, but it’s hardly a daunting matchup in gameweek 29. He should start, but either way, I’d keep him in during these desperate times.
Ownership = 3%; FP/G = 0.50; 75% subbed on rate (from 8 matches as a sub); average of 17 minutes/sub appearance.
Nobody said that these names were going to be ones that you wanted to read. Sanson, though, is the second most reliable Villa player in terms of coming on as a sub, and that sad stat actually counts this gameweek. Is he going to do something when he comes on? Probably not. But as they always say, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. Morgan Sanson is that lucky dip ticket. I can see it clearly now: subbed on for a disappointing Barkley in the 75th minute with Villa 1-0 down, Sanson finally makes a name for himself with a 30-yard curler into the top corner. Or not.
Side note: Jacob Ramsey has started 3 of Villa’s last 4, but could be back on the bench in gameweek 29. He has a subbed on rate of 60%, so could also be a nice option here.
Ownership = 23%; FP/G = 3.09; 63% subbed on rate (from 8 matches as a sub); average of 26 minutes/sub appearance.
Okay, curveball time. Bergwijn appears to be in Mourinho’s often-crowded doghouse at the minute – he hasn’t even been in a Premier League matchday squad since Tottenham played West Brom back on February 7th. But Son’s injury, Lamela’s suspension, and Tottenham’s uninspiring defeat to their North London rivals could force Jose to shake things up. Once upon a time, Bergwijn seemed to be a Mourinho favorite, starting 10 out of 13 between November 21st and February 4th, and it could be that he returns to him in a bid to get Spurs back on track. He may only average 1.4 as a sub, but his subbed-on rate is considerably higher than that of Sissoko, Ndombele, Winks, and Vinicius, so if those are your alternatives, it probably has to be the Dutchman.
Ownership = 1%; FP/G = 2.58; 73% subbed on rate (from 15 matches as a sub); average of 12 minutes/sub appearance.
If Bergwijn was a curveball, Jahanbakhsh is some sort of Bill Lee Eephus pitch. Recent history does not bode well for this pick – nine minutes of football in 2021 is going to make this a tough sell. But hear me out. One, a 73% subbed on rate is an impressive number – even more so given the larger sample size than most. Two, Brighton take on Newcastle, and Newcastle are awful. And three, this guy is still Brighton’s record signing at £17million. Okay, I was stretching for another reason, but the point is, once upon a time, this guy was considered good. Maybe he was good. Could a 10-minute cameo on Saturday night rekindle those former glories?
I think when you’re promoting the fantasy value of Alireza Jahanbakhsh it’s time to call it a day. Good luck in gameweek 29!
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