The new Barclays Premier league season is just around the corner. That means it’s time to begin putting together fantasy teams. Having won both my work league, and the league among my friends last year, I’m going to consider myself qualified enough to give advice, on fantasy football. I will be using the official premier league fantasy football. If you are using a different website, this article will still be useful; the prices of players may differ however. I am going to look at different positions, and look at solid picks, picks to avoid, and some risks that could pay off.
Last season, I swapped between Petr Cech and Jack Butland, for the majority of the season. Goal keepers tend to come cheap, the most expensive is Cech, who costs just £5.5. Considering Cech scored 3 points more than Giroud last season, yet costs £3.5 less, it’s apparent how much value a good keeper can bring to your team. I’d recommend getting two quality keepers, that way you can swap them around, depending on who has the easier game that gameweek. With them being so cheap it’s really worth it – plus comes in handy to have two first team keepers when using your bench boost.
Solid Picks –
Petr Cech is undoubtedly a solid pick in fantasy football. He is no more expensive than Courtois, Lloris or Joe Hart, and scored the most points of any keeper last season. Arsenal are always good for a clean sheet – conceding the joint second least goals in the league last season. Another solid pick is David De Gea. A certainty to play is almost every United game, unless injured or suspended, and a fantastic talent. De Gea was the fourth best scoring keeper last season, and with Jose Mourinho coming in, United are sure to be more organised and will be hoping to concede less and earn De Gea more points. De Gea will also set you back £5.5
There are a few keepers that it would be smart to avoid this year, or at least with your first team, before form and manager favourites become apparent. Joel Robles played in goal for Everton for most of last season. However, new manager Ronald Koeman has brought in fellow Dutchman Martin Steklenburg. Both keepers will likely look to compete for the number one jersey, and rumours have floated around, that Koeman may be looking for another shot stopper. It will be hard to predict who takes the net for Everton on the opening day. Predicting if that keeper even manages to keep that spot will be tough too. Avoid Everton keepers as with both costing £5.0, they are not worth the risk. Joe Hart is another avoid. Pep Guardiola is known to like his keepers to play in a certain style. Having had a difficult Euro 2016 and not a standout premier league season preceding it, some have question if Pep will look to replace Hart or not. Time will tell, but spending £5.5 on last season sixth best goal keeper, when the best of last season is available for the same price, and has a much more secure position, seems silly.
Even though its small margins, some may prefer to spend low on goalkeepers, taking a risk, in the hope they can save even £1.0 to spend in other areas. If you aren’t keen on spending £5.5, you can always save yourself £1.0 and get Crystal Palace’s 31 year old, former France goal keeper, Steve Mandanda. Palace conceded 51 goals last season, which in the end wasn’t an awful tally for the position they finished in, conceding less than 9th place Stoke. Alan Pardew is clearly looking to tighten up a little though, signing Mandanda and defender James Tomkins. This is a risk, but possibly as a second goal keeper, for his price, Mandanda could earn a good amount of points this season.
Solid picks –
The two top scoring centre backs last season were Koscielny and Alderweireld. I’d consider the north London pair to be the two most solid picks this season as well. Both Arsenal and Spurs were solid at the back last season; Spurs conceded the joint least, Arsenal just one goal more. Both of these players will be some of the first on the team sheet for their teams, and both are goal threats from corners and free kicks – both scored 4 goals apiece last season. Both are expensive, at £6.0 and £6.5, so you may only decide to take one, however, both are well worth their price.
Wes Morgan and Robert Huth both had excellent seasons in 15/16. Huth scored 140, Morgan just one point less, and both are available for just £5.0. However, it’s important to remember that what Leicester achieved last season was incredible, and while it could, many doubt lighting will strike twice. With champions’ league football coming in, not only will it only get tougher for the Foxes, but squad rotation will be a must, especially for two players both over 30. This means fewer games, higher chance of injury and I am afraid likely less points for the two Leicester rocks. The loss of Kante is also likely to contribute to conceding more goals than last season – remember Leicester struggled to keep clean sheets in the early part of the season, until they found their rhythm. That rhythm may have been lost after the disruption of the off season.
Virgil Van Djik will cost you £5.5, having been within the top ten centre backs for scoring points in the league last year – scoring 130, in his debut season no less. Being £1.0 less than Toby Alderweireld, he could be a cheaper option, which is not much worse. Van Djik is also a goal threat at set pieces – scoring 3 last season, having once scored ten in a season, across all competitions for Celtic. Van Djik, having had an impressive 15/16 season, should be on new Saints manager Claude Puel’s team sheet. Looking at Puel’s history at Lyon, it’s apparent his side were good defensively, however struggled going forward. A defensive coach such as this could mean even more clean sheet for Van Djik and co this season. Gareth McAuley is another good shout, costing just £4.5, having scored 97 points last season. Working under Tony Pulis at West Brom, McAuley is a solid pick as a fifth or fourth choice, as Pulis tends to be rather defensive, West Brom conceding fewer goals than any other team outside the top six last season. Additionally, McAuley doesn’t pick up a massive amount of cards, just four yellows last season.
Solids picks –
Hector Bellerin scored the most of any defender last season, and scored 20 more points than any other fullback with 172. Costing £6.5, Bellerin is almost guaranteed to be Arsene Wenger’s first choice right back. The pacey right back contributed 5 assists last season; he also provides the threat of popping up with a goal every now and again. Of course the Spaniard is also a large part of Arsenal’s tough defence. Another solid pick is Ryan Bertrand. The left back costs just £5.5, having earned 106 points last season, Bertrand, who can play on the wing also, should be one of the first names on the Saints team sheet. A good, relatively cheap, option if you’re looking for just three at the back, and stocking up in midfield and up front.
All Manchester City fullbacks. Last season the Man City full backs were rotated relatively often. Sagna and Kolorov were first choice; however, spending £5.5-£6.0 on either of them could be a mistake, considering they could be rotated out for 10-15 games of the season. Additionally to this, as with much of the City squad, all of the fullbacks could be replaced, depending on where Guardiola decides to spend his transfer budget.
Seamus Coleman only managed 94 points last season, and at £5.5 that is quite an expensive option not to at least be getting into the 100’s in points. However, the two seasons before 15/16 Coleman earned 130 and 180 points respectively. If Ronald Koeman gets the best out of his Everton side, Coleman could be hitting close to those figures again. Being the clear first choice right back, Koeman made Southampton rather strong defensively. Coleman provides a threat of assists and goals, on his best form he can produce well over 100 points in a season, which is well worth a £5.5 price tag. Obviously the risk is if Coleman can get back to his old form.
Most solid picks in the midfield and attack are very expensive, however, that is for an obvious reason, they can produce a lot of points. Kevin De Bruyne will set you back £10.5, however, having scored 131 last season, despite an injury layoff that cost him around ten games, De Bruyne can be worth it. Both a goal threat and a constant supplier of assists, De Bruyne also will pick up a decent amount of clean sheet points and bonus points. However, if you are going to pick such an expensive player, you may wish to keep all other midfielders a little bit cheaper, in order to really splash out on strikers. Christian Eriksen earned the third most points of all midfielders last season, and Ozil was the only central midfielder to earn more points. Ozil only scored 22 more points than his Spurs counterpart, yet the Danish international is a whole £1.0 cheaper at £8.5.
When looking at central midfielders it’s important to remember the distinction between fantasy football and actual football. A football player like N’Golo Kante is fantastic to have in a real football team, because it needs balance. A fantasy football team however, only picks up points on certain areas – none of which are tackles or interceptions. Kante scored just one goal, and assisted four last season. Kante still scored 108 points overall, which for £5.0 is a decent return, which would make him a good fourth or fifth pick. However, Kante only conceded three yellow cards last season. His Leicester side also managed to concede a rather low amount of goals. I’d predict that at Chelsea he will concede more cards and will not get quite as many clean sheet points – leaving him just under 100 points in fantasy premier league. Another player like this is Eric Dier. Dier can be rather deceiving, a midfielder, costing just £5.5, who earned 130 points in Fantasy football last season. However, while Dier played in midfield, in a holding role, last season. Dier was regarded as a defender in Fantasy football. This season that is obviously not the case, meaning his clean sheet points will be halved. Dier also picks up a considerable amount of cards. Again, Dier may still be a decent fourth or fifth pick; however, Danny Drinkwater who scored just one less point than Dier last season is available for the same price – and far more of a goal and assist threat.
Ross Barkley was not considered to have lit the world on fire last season. However, having earned 158 points last season, at £7.5 Barkley could also work as a decent alternative to the more expensive Ozil. Barkley has the potential to score even more points this season, should Ronald Koeman get the best out of him New Southampton signing Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is a former Bayern Munich player. At just £4.5 the 20 year old is an excellent pick for a fifth choice midfielder. In the bracket of least expensive midfielders, it’s likely you will need to pick one or two choices from that bracket, depending on how you spread your funds. It’s certainly worth having Højbjerg on the bench, just in case he breaks into the first team and begins to pick up some points.
Solid Picks –
At just £7.5 Willian could be an excellent choice. The Brazilian scored 135 points last season, despite Chelsea having an abysmal season. Both a goal threat and a chance creator, Willian is worth his fee, any midfielder who can win over 130 points, costing under £9.0 and has potential to produce more, is certainly worth considering.
While he could be considered a solid pick, as he will produce points, Alexis Sanchez would be a player I’d avoid. At £11.0, Sanchez does produce, although for his price, Sanchez did not manage to break into the top five midfield scorers of points last season, and is also an injury risk. Sanchez would need to produce over 200 points to be worth this price. Ozil and Mahrez both broke into 200 points last season, the only midfielders who did, they are £1.5 cheaper than Sanchez.
Eden Hazard has been a guarantee of scoring over 100 points, over the course of a season, since he joined Chelsea. Although last season, he failed to score even half of his previous seasons points tally. Costing £10.0, Hazard will need to score more than his 104 of last season to be worth it, although, seeing as last season was considered a disaster, he won’t even need to be back at full form to hit 150 points. Hazard under Conte would certainly look worth the £10.0, if his form for Belgium at Euro 2016 is anything to go by.
Solid picks –
Sergio Aguero has hit over 150 points in all but one of his five premier league seasons. Simply put, if Aguero is fit, he will earn points. This is why he costs a massive £13.0. Scoring 184 points last season, if you stick in Aguero on the first day of the season, make him captain, and leave him there for the entire season, he’ll probably win you somewhere between 350 and 400 points. He is also a prime candidate for using your triple captain chip on. Sticking on Aguero as triple captain in a double game week could earn you a massive amount of points. Sadly, basically everyone in fantasy football picks Aguero. So he won’t give you the edge in any leagues, it’s just essential that you have him, or you’ll probably find yourself left behind.
Diego Costa has had two full seasons in the BPL now. The first he scored 150, the second, he scored 129. Funnily enough, despite the horror show that was Chelsea’s season, he still wasn’t far off his title winning form. This was, however, mostly down to playing a whole 300 minutes more last season than in his first. For a striker, Costa is far too much of a card threat, picking up eight yellow cards in both his seasons at Stamford Bridge. Plus he was probably lucky not to have seen red a few times too. With Conte’s addition of Michy Batshauyi, Costa will be competing for his position more now than he did before. The younger, less hot-headed forward might leave Costa on the bench. At a price tag of £9.5, there are far safer picks than Diego Costa for your team.
Harry Kane’s last two seasons combined have seen him score 46 goals, contribute 20 assists and earn over 400 points in fantasy football. At £11.0 he is an expensive addition to your team, and if you’re looking to put him next to Aguero, that’s just under a quarter of your budget spent on two players. It may end up being worth it, if Aguero picks you up around 300 points over the season, Kane can add another 300, if he is on his best form. After a difficult Euro 2016, Kane’s form going into the start of the season could go either way, and he didn’t start last season particularly brightly either, tending to come into it as the season progresses a bit. If you’re picking between Harry and Sergio, my money is on Sergio, but maybe you want to take the gamble to save £2.0 and possibly outsmart some others. My final risk is Callum Wilson. Wilson only managed just over 750 minutes of Premier league football last season, due to a serious injury. However, he began that season with five goals. Costing just £6.5, Callum Wilson could be a fantastic third striker in your line up. He’ll be pushing to make what could have been last season, a reality, and for £6.5 anything after 10 goals is a bonus.
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