For someone who doesn’t follow a Premier League club, Fantasy Premier League is a great way to invest yourself in the weekly top-flight scores. I’m constantly asking ‘who got the assist?’ in order to get as many points as possible. This year, I’m planning to document my decision making as I go along in a regular blog.
First, I look at the process of building a team ahead of the Premier League opening weekend.
So, how do you pick your team in a season that promises to be the most exciting in years? (See my Premier League Preview.) The arrivals of Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola should mean a more predictable year in Fantasy terms when compared to 2015/16 which saw Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy unexpectedly score the most points.
Choosing my Goalkeepers:
Normally, an attacker with high-returns is my first fantasy pick ahead of a new season. This season, though, there was only one choice. David de Gea won 142 points last season and this season Jose Mourinho will make United much more resilient in defence which should only see more points for de Gea. Similarly, Thibaut Courtois would be a worthy investment due to Antonio Conte’s defensive tendencies.
In the past, I’ve gone with two mid-range keepers to allow for rotation. In this case, I’d recommend Burnley and England goalkeeper Tom Heaton, Middlesbrough signing Victor Valdes or Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey – all £4.5m. At £5m is Stoke’s Jack Butland, West Ham’s Adrian, and Southampton’s Fraser Forster. These keepers won’t provide as many clean sheets, but are more likely to accumulate points through saves and bonus points.
My pick – David De Gea (£5.5m), Tom Heaton (£4.5m)
Choosing my Defenders:
Any starting defenders from Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea will provide points this season as they are all looking like they will base their title challenges on a solid defence. There is still opportunity to save money here though – new City signing John Stones is £5.0m, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma is £5.5m, and United’s Eric Bailly is £5.5m after an impressive Community Shield debut.
Alternatively, attacking full-backs are perfect opportunity to score points too. Everton’s Seamus Coleman (£5.5m) will surely thrive under Ronald Koeman, while Hector Bellerin (£6.5m), Luke Shaw (£5.5m) and Kyle Walker (£5.5m) are set to continue their form from recent seasons.
Finally, I needed budget options to fill the five spaces. Patrick van Aanholt (£5.0m) was one of Sunderland’s better players last season, providing crucial goals and assists, while Hull full-back Andy Robertson (£4.5m) impressed in the Championship and is worth inclusion at a cheap price. Craig Dawson of West Brom (£5.0m) always has a goal in him, and a super-cheap option could be Burnley’s James Tarkowski (£4.0m) – although set to start the season on the bench, Tarkowski is a young defender on the rise who will be an able deputy with an eye for goal if called upon.
My picks: Christian Fuchs (£5.5m), Kevin Wimmer (£5.0), John Stones (£5.0m), Patrick Van Aanholt (£5.0m), Andy Robertson (£4.5m)
Choosing my Midfielders:
There are some expensive options in midfield this season, but at least one high-profile midfielder is probably needed to stay competitive in Fantasy Premier League this season. Saying that, there are some tempting mid-range options to support your big name.
Last year’s top names Riyad Mahrez, Dimitri Payet and Mesut Ozil are all priced at $9.5m, while 2014/15 top-scorer Eden Hazard is £10.0m. Players like Alexis Sanchez (£11.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (10.5m) and David Silva (£9.5m) are all set to score highly again, while Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m), Dele Alli (£8.5m), and Giorginio Winjaldum (£8.0) should continue where they left off last season.
I was very tempted by a collection of strikers who are classed as midfielders this season. This gives more points for goals and clean sheets. In this category, expect Sadio Mane (£9.0m), Phillipe Coutinho (£8.0m) and Anthony Martial (£9.5m) to score highly.
In reserve, goal-scoring midfielders from mid-table teams can reap rewards and complement the high-value options. I’d look at Max Gradel (£5.5m), Nathan Redmond (£6.0m), Andros Townsend (£6.5m) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.5m) for a low-cost option with decent returns.
My picks: Dimitri Payet (£9.5m), Paul Pogba (£8.5m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m), Andros Townsend (£6.5m), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (4.5m)
Choosing my Forwards:
The golden boot contenders are always expensive, but it’s difficult to compete without a regular goalscorer. I tend to always pick Sergio Aguero who is worth every penny of his £13.0 price-tag, while Harry Kane (£11.0m) and Romelu Lukaku (£9.0m) are sure to be regular point-scorers. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a proven goalscorer but I’m unconvinced by his chances of regular playing time, especially at £11.5m.
As a secondary striker, I went with new Chelsea signing Michy Batshuayi (£9.0m), who should add goals to Antonio Conte’s title contenders. Meanwhile, Jamie Vardy (£10.0m), Daniel Sturridge (£10.0m), Ahmed Musa (£7.5m) and Vincent Janssen (£8.0m) will be looking for 15-20 goals this season.
For a low-cost option, I chose former Man City and Middlesbrough loanee Alvaro Negredo (£6.5m). He is a natural goalscorer and should thrive in a lower-position team. Also in the relegation picture is Jordan Rhodes (£6.5m), Andre Gray (£6.5m) and Benik Afobe (£6.0m). All three options have been prolific in the Championship and will surely continue their goalscoring records in the Premier League.
My picks: Sergio Aguero (£13.0m), Michy Batshuayi (£9.0m), Alvaro Negreao (£6.5m)
With all these players and tips in mind, I’ve chosen what I think is a balanced fantasy team with potential to score points all over the pitch. I’ve tried to include some new Fantasy Premier League additions (like Pogba and Batshuayi) in the hope that they will hit the ground running at their respective clubs.
(Note – I made a late change by putting Burnley’s Tom Heaton as my reserve goalkeeper. Heaton is guaranteed more playing time than Jordan Pickford and will be an able option should de Gea get injured.)