The Best Bench Fodder Choices for FPL 2019/20

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is, at its core, a list compiled of the smelliest, barrel-scraped, talentless misfits in the whole of the footballing world. I really do mean you would be forgiven, as it’s correct.

But, I prefer to view this bunch of circus clowns in a brighter light. I see them as our enablers; facilitators for the greater good. The people we need, but don’t really want. Politicians, parking enforcement officers, the white van man. Irritating, but without them, nothing really works.

And yet, every now and then one of these questionable individuals emerges from nowhere. A diamond in the rough, like one of those really tasty crusty bits stuck to the plastic bottom of a microwave lasagne. Totally unexpected and frankly confusing, but very welcome.

Last season, a young £4.0m dreadlocked prince – who spawned a myriad of God awful team names – pocketed the best of the Premier League and won our affections along the way. Ahead of the 19/20 season, let’s sift through the slurry in search of another AWB…

£4.0m Goalkeepers for FPL 2019/20

Hands like swiss cheese, it’s slim pickings for our pond life between the sticks. Just five goalkeepers sit at £4.0m this season on Fantasy Premier League – so we’ll take a look at the few we have.

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David Button – Brighton (360 mins)

Topping the minutes with a colossal four starts and one clean sheet, he’s likely to be the runaway second keeper option for those not rotating. But don’t be fooled into expecting any minutes this season; first choice Matt Ryan was at the Asian Cup in December and January last season, which is where all four starts and every minute came from.

The Seagulls also still have Jason Steele who Button was forced to share bench time with last season.

Will Norris – Wolves (1 min)

No relation, unfortunately – I checked ancestry.com. In one of the most heartwarming stories of last season, big Willie racked up a single, solitary minute in FPL. That puts him in second for minutes played in the worst table ever created.

The third choice behind John Ruddy, he made the bench just twice. Unlikely to repeat the giddy heights of 1pt last season.

Maarten Stekelenburg – Everton (0 mins)

I can’t really see any starts this time around, but Maarten Stekelenburg is solidly planted on that Everton bench.

Pickford does have bouts of acting like a 9-year-old jumped up on blue Smarties, so it’s not unthinkable his No. 2 will need to be involved through suspension or a silly injury. I’m clutching at straws here.

Freddie Woodman – Newcastle (0 mins)

Frederick spent a good chunk of last season on loan at Aberdeen but still managed to get on the bench 15 times.

Apparently, Dubravka wants out of Newcastle, and because Mike Ashley, Darlow would almost certainly slip into that first choice spot as he did in 17/18. Woodman could see some minutes; he did get 3 FA Cup starts last season, after all. It’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.

Michael McGovern – Norwich (0 mins)

Another nailed-to-the-bench keeper, McGovern sat on the bench 43 times in the Championship last season and played five cup games. Unlikely to shift the resurrected Tim Krul but would certainly be chief deputy.

The obvious choice would be to pick Button, Stek, or McGovern if you’re picking the corresponding Ryan, Pickford or Krul as your starter. Button does share bench time with Steele so if Ryan did pick up an injury you might not have the cover you expect.

£4.0 Defenders For FPL 2019/20

The spiritual home of our OG £4.0m hero, our selection of bottom feeders has dwindled from 25 last season to just 13. Do we have AWB 2.0 anywhere in this sorry heap?

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Martin Kelly – Crystal Palace (1110 mins)

Again, Martin Kelly is going to be the runaway bargain basement fifth defender but all isn’t as rosy as it seems.

Almost all of Kelly’s minutes came at CB and coincided with injuries to one or more of Sakho, Tomkins and Dann toward the end of the last season, suggesting he’s their fourth choice CB. Sakho (knee ligament) and Tomkins (crotch issues) are still flagged on FPL, so he may well get minutes earlier on in the season, and with AWB at United he’s also the second choice right back.

Jack Simpson – Bournemouth (401 mins)

Another beneficiary of others’ misfortune, Jack Simpson started in all four of the last four gameweeks for Bournemouth.

A flurry of defensive injuries late in the season gave him his chance, and he seemed to be preferred to the highly touted new boy Chris Mepham at centre-back for those last few games. He could sneak into the back four if Akè continues to be used elsewhere or makes the City move. Lots of potential here, I reckon.

Diego Rico – Bournemouth (606 mins)

Bournemouth lost 11 of the 12 games that Diego Rico featured in as a starter or a sub, conceding 36 goals in the process. Eight FPL points in 606 minutes. I mean…just…wow.

With Charlie Daniels still out injured, he is an option at LB for them, but it seems Howe might be better off drafting his nan in to the starting 11. Or just playing with 10 players.

Scarily, he’s probably the best FPL enabler option for minutes thus far.

Winston Reid – West Ham (0 mins)

This one is actually semi-exciting. Winston Reid missed the whole of last season with a knee injury, hence his price.

But if he has fully recovered (returned to full training in Feb), it’s not unthinkable he gains a starting spot in a defensively struggling West Ham side.

He’s still only 30, and it was only a couple of seasons ago that United, Arsenal and Liverpool were in for him. Loves a banger. If he starts/looks decent in preseason, he could be our guy.

John Lundstram – Sheffield United (411 mins)

John’s sister apparently appeared on Desperate Scousewives. Yeah, I just did a little sick in my mouth too.

More importantly, he’s our first out-of-positioner (OOP). He’s definitely not a defender and has never played there for Sheffield United. He played 36 games in 17/18 but only managed 5 starts and 5 sub appearances in 18/19. Doesn’t look like a starter, but definitely one for the watch list.

Grant Hanley – Norwich City (573 mins)

Club captain.

Grant Hanley started the first six games of the season (as captain) before picking up an injury. He was out until Christmas and fell out of favour as Norwich went on an incredible run.

He’s a gravy-loving girthy lad with Premier League experience. If Norwich find themselves getting outplayed he could be called upon to bring more of a presence than the young Godfrey. It’s doubtful, though.

£4.5m Midfielders For FPL 2019/20

The midfield situation is considerably more positive. As in, there are football players that might actually play football.

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Isaac Hayden – Newcastle (1857 mins)

Currently the highest selected £4.5m mid, starting every single one of the last 20 games of the season. Picked up four assists and a goal in his holding midfielder role. While he seems a surefire starter, he overachieved his expected assists by almost three. Probably our best option for a guaranteed two-pointer week-in-week-out.

Leander Dendoncker – Wolves (1465 mins)

According to urban dictionary a Dendoncker ‘is a naughty naughty chops’, which sounds about right to me. That said, he started 15 of the last 16 games of the season for a very strong Wolves side, scoring two goals. Both his xG and xA per 90 is double that of Hayden’s, too.

He’s much more of a threat in a much more creative team. Having just signed a permanent deal with Wolves, he could be our guy if he’s a regular in preseason.

Todd Cantwell – Norwich City (1598 mins)

21-year-old Todd plays on either wing or in behind the striker and was probably in One Direction at some point. Managed 18 starts and six sub appearances last season, bagging a goal and two assists.

Keep an eye on his minutes in preseason, he’s just signed a new long term contract so they seem to have some faith. A £4.5m attack-minded midfielder with potential minutes is as rare as rocking horse poop. He could be a cheap way to get in on the Pukki party.

Oriel Romeu – Southampton (2131 mins)

‘Unhinged’ would be polite. The man is an absolute nutter, picking up four pretty shocking yellow cards in the last five games of the season.

Fell victim to some youth experimentation by Hassenhuttl at the back-end of the season so might be at risk, but should be a starter long-term. Romeu has an average of one goal involvement per season, so unless you’re a sadist who gets off on late yellows, it’s probably best to steer clear.

Grady Diangana – West Ham (600 mins)

Another winger at £4.5m, but much less likely to get starts with Snodgrass and Yarmolenko back in contention. Diangana impressed when he did play and could well be given more minutes to develop by Pellegrini. He has 11 returns in 50 games in the for the reserves, so worth a watchlist space.

£4.5m Forwards For FPL 2019/20

Well, this is kinda awkward. I was really looking forward to researching the forwards. There has to be slice upon slice of fried gold here, right?

Nope. Only one £4.5m forward played over 90 minutes in the whole of last season; Mason Greenwood. But let’s face it, even if Lukaku was £4.5m he probably wouldn’t make this list. No sneaky £4.5m forwards from newly promoted teams. Nada.

There is one special tidbit though, that you undoubtedly will have noticed when tinkering…

Vincent Janssen – Spurs (36 mins)

Ominously underpriced. He was injured for the vast majority of last season, and made three sub appearances in the last four gameweeks.

Janssen hasn’t settled in at Spurs at all so far, but with a move for Llorente heavily rumoured, Janssen might well be the only backup to Harry, King of the Mouthbreathers, first of his name, Ligament Tormentor and Sacrificer of First Borns.

He’s very likely to get at least some minutes off the bench, which for £4.5m in a top four, Champions League final side is absolutely unheard of. Keep an eye on Spurs transfer news.

FPL 19/20 Bargain Players By Position:

Goalkeepers
Defenders
Midfielders
Forwards


Marc Dowding

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