With under a week of the transfer window remaining and there stills seems to be an air of flux about many clubs in the Premier League. No doubt caused by the effects of the World Cup and the league’s decision to shorten the transfer window by three weeks, it seems like most clubs are somewhere short of where they want their squads to be, will have players still tired and a heap of business still to do.
This sort of uncertainty doesn’t bode well for Fantasy Football managers looking for something of a sure bet with their picks. So, with the above as a caveat to keep in mind for any last-minute market moves, here are my thoughts about how the start of the season will go.
Predicted table after 4 Game Weeks
If you can afford the likes of Allison (£5.5m) and Ederson (£5.5m) in your overall team picks for the first few game weeks, you’re going to see a decent return on that investment with likely clean sheets, but those are easy spots and a TON of players will pick them for being marquee names.
For those of you value hunting and looking for a Keeper that’s going to build a score through saves then you could do a lot worse than looking at Newcastle’s Dubravka (£5.0m), who is rate number 5 overall in points per match after joining in January. With games against a World-Cup-weary Spurs and Sarri’s Chelsea, he’ll see plenty of action and, hopefully, the structured approach Benitez’s team employs will mean the quality of shots will be low.
Another decent shout, albeit a riskier proposition, is Arsenal’s Leno (£5.0m). Judging by pre-season it’s looking likely that he will be Emery’s #1 for the opening few games and with opening games against Man City and Chelsea followed by West Ham and Cardiff, there is a lot of potential for saves and perhaps a clean sheet or two.
Goalkeepers to watch:
Fabianski (WHU 4.5m)
For the stats-boffins in the know, Leicester City’s Pereira (£5.0m) has been described as a top 6 ready talent, so for Leicester to get hold of him is very much a coup, one to watch. If you’re looking for something more certain from a defender early in the season, then Liverpool’s Robertson (£6.0m) should be high on your list, the left back averaged 5 points per match last season and given Liverpool relatively easy start to the season, if you can afford him, he’s a banker. The same goes for Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m) at City who had a terrible time with injuries but is a dual threat assist and clean-sheet point scorer, he has the potential to take on the Chelsea full-backs as top-defensive point scorer this season.
Other players that look to represent value for their price are few and far between, especially when you take into account players with tired legs after the World Cup, but there are some that are guaranteed minutes that don’t break the budget. Another Newcastle player, Lascelles (£5.0m) is a great trade-off for minutes played and points per game, his performance will depend on whether the Magpies can continue their form from February onwards into the new season. Along with Cresswell (5.5m) at West Ham who should have more opportunities to shine as part of a dramatically improved squad.
Defenders to watch:
Alexander-Arnold – (LIV £5.0m)
Mawson (FUL £5.0m)
Boly (WOL £4.5m)
Coleman (EVE £5.5m)
Stones (MCI £5.5m)
Bednarek (SOU £4.0m)
Rice (WHU £4.5m) * A midfielder listed as a defender 🤔
This tends to be where I spend the bulk of my budget each and every season. Mainly because there are so few teams whose strikers even come close to the 200 point mark (only Kane managed it last year). With so many of the top midfielders still recovering from the World Cup, it’s not easy to pick out certain starters but Mahrez (£9.0m) is easily the best value player in the game this season. With 12 goals and 13 assists last term, what his numbers could look like in this City team are genuinely frightening, if he recovers from his ankle knock in time to face Arsenal, don’t bet against him opening or closing the scoring.
It’s also difficult to look beyond last season’s breakout star Salah (£13.0m), even at a new inflated price tag. Chances are his goal output will more than likely reach the mid-20s rather than breaking the 30 mark, but that will still make him the top scoring midfielder. With a favourable set of games to start the season, it’s sensible to find a way to shoehorn him into your squad.
Another player I’ll be picking is Salah’s new teammate Naby Kieta (£7.5m), a player that can basically do everything on the pitch. He’s a better than average passer, a great dribbler, an aggressive tackler and can hit them from range. Expect early gains and a return of between 8-10 goals and 7-10 assists, coupled with the clean-sheets Liverpool should pick up along the way, you’re going to get a lot of points for his price tag.
The last main pick I want to highlight is Richarlison (£6.5m). Involved in a mega-money move to Everton, as this StatsBomb article explains he actually underperformed his expected goals (xG) target last term by 7 goals (he scored 5). Now either he’s just a crap finisher or he has a crap-tonne of improvement coming this season. Get onboard early because his 6.5m price tag won’t be around for long.
Midfielders to watch:
Jota (WOL 6.5m)* often plays as a striker, the only reason he won’t be in my team right away is because of the fixtures Wolves have in the first few game weeks.
Kennedy (NEW £5.0m)
Cairney (FUL £5.0m)
Sessegnon (FUL £6.5m)
De Bruyne (£10.0m)
Ramsey (ARS £7.5m)
Pogba (MUN £8.0m)
Andersson (WHU £7.0m)
Jahanbakhsh (BRI £7.0m)
Gross (BRI £7.0m)
Now we come to what I’ll admit is a bit of an Achilles heel of mine in Fantasy EPL. While it’s exceptionally obvious (and sensible) to have Kane in your team as captain when he gets on a role it’s also a huge expense when he has a duff game or two. So with that in mind, I’m seeking value elsewhere. First up we have the much-maligned Morata (£9.0m), who has become something of a joke to Chelsea fans despite scoring 11 and assisting 6 last season, he’s the right age and with the Higuain deal now off, Chelsea should look to build their attack around a goalscorer proven in two of Europes top leagues. He’ll come good.
Another great option is Mitrovic (£6.5m) at Fulham, who in my opinion is one of the best young target men in Europe. He’s a player that needs a little love from his manager and doesn’t always put in the effort on the training pitch, but he’s a devil in the air, aggressive and Fulham play the sort of football that will bring out the best in his game. Somewhere between 10-14 goals this season wouldn’t be a stretch for a player that already has EPL experience.
Last of my top picks at forward is Arnautovic (£7.0m). Arnie transitioned to playing as a central striker for the Hammers last season and will be helped by the influx of new talent on the wings in the form of Andersson and Yarmolenko it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he’d score more than the 11 he bagged in 17/18.
Forwards to watch:
Firmino (LIV £9.5m)
Sorloth (CRY £5.0m)
Zaha (CRY £7.0m)
Tosun (EVE £7.0m)
Aubameyang (ARS £11.0m)
Lacazette (ARS £9.5m)
Austin (SOU £6.0m)
Iheanacho (LEI £6.0m)
To anyone that reached the end of this monster post, well done, hopefully there won’t be too many transfers that makes me look any more foolish than I’m likely to already.