Patrick Bamford (£8.0m) will miss Leeds United’s clash with West Ham United this weekend, with an ankle injury keeping him sidelined.
No timeframe has so far been put on the striker’s return but over 260,000 of his owners in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) have seen enough, selling him ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Over two-thirds of the voters who took part in our on-site poll are also in favour of ditching Bamford:
We take a quick look at the options available to the managers who own the mid-price forward, focusing on alternatives at Bamford’s price point or cheaper. Owners could, of course, use the Leeds striker’s injury as a springboard for a team restructure and bring in Romelu Lukaku (£11.6m) for his favourable runs of games.
STRONG BENCH – KEEP BAMFORD?
Providing you don’t have other fitness doubts such as Raphinha (£6.5m) causing you sleepless nights, then the chances are that you’ll have the option of bringing a bench fodder option into the fray this weekend and retaining Bamford’s services as a non-playing substitute.
Some of the more popular budget options, such as Valentino Livramento (£4.2m), Javier Manquillo (£4.0m), Allan (£4.6m) and Shane Duffy (£4.3m), have decent Gameweek 6 fixtures, although Kostas Tsimikas (£4.0m) is far from assured of game-time and Yves Bissouma (£4.5m) and Josh Brownhill (£4.5m) are carrying irksome yellow flags of their own.
With Bamford having already risen in price once after Gameweek 5, the likelihood is that many of his existing owners won’t be losing any sell value even if he drops by £0.1m over the coming days.
He and Leeds also have some excellent fixtures to come, starting with a Gameweek 7 clash with a Watford side who are yet to keep a clean sheet in 2021/22.
Even a longer absence of, say, three weeks could see him return in Gameweek 8, thanks to the respite offered by the October international break.
Keeping the striker until a more concrete update from Marcelo Bielsa arrives has its potential upsides, then, but the Leeds manager isn’t too forthcoming with exact timeframes these days (instead taking a Darwinian approach) and there is a chance that we get week-to-week press conference palm-offs from the Argentinean in lieu of a specific return date.
Given that there wasn’t any doubt from Bielsa whatsoever about his non-involvement against West Ham, there is always the worry that Bamford’s problem is not just a one-week affair.
GAMEWEEK 7/8 WILDCARDERS – A SHORT-TERM PUNT?
Above: Gameweek 6 and 7 fixtures ranked by difficulty on our Season Ticker
Those Fantasy managers with Wildcards to burn might be eyeing up Gameweeks 7 and 8 with keen interest, with fixture swings about to catapult the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Southampton up the Season Ticker.
A one or two-week punt on a Bamford replacement is one route for these managers, who can reassess the Leeds striker when their chip is activated and potentially even bring him back in providing he gets the medical all-clear.
Looking at our image above, Newcastle sit top of our ticker over the next two Gameweeks – and Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.7m) is certainly one option as a replacment. Four attacking returns in five matches sees the Frenchman sit fourth among FPL forwards for points, and, having been part of a strike partnership with Callum Wilson (£7.4m) at the start of 2021/22, he is now spearheading a 5-4-1. Saint-Maximin is overachieving his expected goal invovlement (xGI) output, it has to be said, and ranks only 14th for xGI among forwards this season.
Watford probably ought to be higher up the ticker given that Newcastle and Leeds are in such dire defensive shape, without a clean sheet between them this season. Joshua King (£5.5m) and Emmanuel Dennis (£5.3m) are low-cost short-term gambles for Gameweek 8 Wildcarders: the Hornets had lost their last three Premier League games without scoring before Gameweek 5 but racked up six big chances and three goals against Norwich, a reminder – if we ever needed it – of the importance of fixtures and how they often dictate form.
Everton have a tricky-looking Gameweek 7 match at Manchester United but for anyone looking for a one-week, Hail Mary gamble before hitting the Wildcard button, then Salomon Rondon (£6.0m) may fit the bill. He didn’t show anything to encourage investment in a rusty run-out at Aston Villa but faces Norwich this weekend, and everything we said about the Canaries in the above paragraph holds true for the Toffees this weekend.
LONGER-TERM BAMFORD REPLACEMENTS
There are a number of mid-price forwards who fit the dual requirements of positive short-term fixtures and a longer-term bright schedule.
Adam Armstrong (£6.0m) and Southampton sit top of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 6-12, with only a trip to Chelsea before the October international break off-putting. Armstrong has already got two attacking returns to his name and also thought he’d won his side a penalty at Manchester City last weekend, only for it to be overturned after VAR intervention. Despite tricky opening fixtures, he ranks second aming forwards for shots (16), with 11 of those attempts arriving inside the box.
Teemu Pukki (£5.9m) is also riding high with Norwich in the above image. On penalties, the Finn sits above all other sub-£7.0m forwards in our six-Gameweek FPL points projections – although Josh Sargent (£5.4m) does pose a possible threat to his place.
There’s little wrong with Raul Jimenez‘s (£7.5m) fixtures or underlying stats, with Wolves continuing their favourable run of matches from Gameweeks 6-14 and the Mexican among the top five forwards for both chances created and efforts on goal. The fact that just one of his 15 shots has landed on target and none have found the back of the net, however, does mean that we’re overlooking a current wasteful touch and gambling on him rediscovering past glories.
There is one name we haven’t yet discussed: Michail Antonio (£7.9m). Still well clear at the top of the FPL forwards’ points table despite a red card in Gameweek 4 and an enforced no-show last weekend, he is first among players in his position for goals scored, attempts, shots in the box, efforts on target, big chances (BCT, below) and penalty box touches.
A Leeds backline missing four centre-halves looks like a juicy match-up for Antonio in Gameweek 6, and while West Ham’s fixtures are so-so thereafter, they don’t meet any of last season’s top six until November.