This article is part of a six-part series previewing all the teams in the Premier League from a Fantasy perspective. Check out our other articles here…
- The Top 4
- The Bottom Half (coming soon!)
- Promoted Sides: Leeds United
- Promoted Sides: West Bromwich Albion
- Promoted Sides: Fulham
A lot of our attention is given to the best clubs in the league, and deservedly so! But it would be short-sighted to overlook the teams just below the title contenders. The teams that finish between 6th and 10th place routinely supply a healthy amount of relevant Fantasy Premier League (FPL) options. In fact, ten of the top 25 scorers came from these clubs last season. If you know what to look for there are quite a few darkhorse candidates who could help propel your team to the top. In this article we will preview last season’s top half finishers and highlight their most relevant FPL prospects.
It’s hard to forget the Foxes’ disappointing finish to the season in which they wasted opportunity after opportunity to clinch a Champions League spot. However, it was still a season full of positives for the team. They scored 16 more goals and kept three more clean sheets than the previous season. Their star forward Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) also won the golden boot with 23 goals.
Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) left the club on a transfer to Chelsea and the Belgian full-back Timothy Castagne joined the club from Atalanta. Ricardo Pereira (£6.0m) is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season but is expected to rejoin the squad sometime in early October. Their opening ten matches see them travelling away to Manchester City and Liverpool, but they also face all three promoted sides. FPL managers might be tempted to test fate in the hope of some big returns.
- Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) – What is there to say about the golden boot winner? He seems to get better with age. In seasons past many believed it was impossible for him to score more than one goal in a game. Last season he had six multi-goal games, including one hat-trick. He also had an eight-game goal scoring streak. However, there were a couple of stretches in the second half of the season where his form fell off. Priced at £10.0m, he will have to find a way to repeat his remarkable season to make all that money worth it.
- Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) – With so much attention focused on James Maddison (£7.0m), Youri Tielemans (£6.5m), and the other Leicester midfielders, Barnes flew under the radar for most of the season despite finishing as the team’s third highest points scorer. Comparing his 3.7 points-per-appearance to his rate of 5.7 points-per-90′ tells us everything we need to know about him. If he gets more starts he has the potential to be a great value.
- James Justin (£4.5m) – With Pereira’s injury and Chilwell’s departure, the 22-year old has a window of opportunity to prove himself worthy of a starting role. He is also able to play in both the right and left-back positions. With so few good options at this price, FPL managers may want to take a punt on him for the first few Gameweeks.
It was perhaps not the season Spurs had envisioned for themselves, but after a poor start and the sacking of former manager Mauricio Pochettino, 6th place doesn’t look so bad. New manager José Mourinho used his first summer transfer window to strengthen the midfield, bringing in Giovani Lo Celso (£7.0m) and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg (£5.0m) on permanent transfers. Spurs will play eight games in 18 days between all competitions to kick off the season, but they also have one of the easiest opening set of fixtures in the league. FPL managers will undoubtedly have difficult decisions to make about this team.
- Harry Kane (£10.5) – How long until we see the Harry Kane return to his form of years past? It might be sooner than you think. Last season Kane averaged 5.4 points-per-game in 29 league starts. That is nearly the same as his 211-point haul from the 15/16 season. The talent is there and so is the team to support him. The only question that remains is about his fitness.
- Heung-Min Son (£9.0m) – Son appeared in only 30 league games last season due to injury and suspension. Had he played all 38 games at the same scoring rate, he would have finished as the 4th highest scorer in FPL with 212 points. That makes £9.0m sound like the bargain of the season. The South Korean international also had his best start-to-substitute ratio (28-2) since joining Tottenham.
- Matt Doherty (£6.0m) – His stellar performances with Wolverhampton earned the Irish right-back a move to north London. Among defenders, Doherty’s attacking output has only been bested by Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) over the last two seasons. However, there is some concern as to whether Mourinho will encourage him to push forward with the attack or sit back and defend.
- Hugo Lloris (5.5m) – The French goalkeeper missed about half of last season due to a broken arm. However, when he played he was outperforming all goalkeepers with 4.67 points-per-game—a season-long pace of 177 points! Much of that is coming from his 3.8 saves-per-game, so imagine how much better it could get if Spurs can (and they should!) keep more than eight clean sheets this season.
Wolves managed to finish in 7th place for a second consecutive season. However, they will now have to find a way without one their stars, Matt Doherty (£6.0m), who joined Spurs over the summer. Ruben Vinagre (£4.5m) is also rumoured to be on his way out, possibly to FC Porto in exchange for Brazilian left-back Alex Telles. The record signing of 18-year old star Fábio Silva (£5.5m) is not likely to have an immediate effect on the starting squad, but we could see him feature later as he settles into the club. For now FPL managers are left with familiar options from last season.
- Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m) – Some didn’t believe he could match his 181-point total from the 18/19 season, so the Mexican forward went and put up 194 points to prove them wrong. His new price tag puts him in a tier with the likes of Anthony Martial (£9.0m) and Timo Werner (£9.5m), which may dissuade some FPL managers. However, no one can question his value if he manages to put up point totals like these for a third-straight season. Oh, did I mention he faces some of the league’s weakest defences between Gameweeks 3-7?
- Adama Traoré (£6.5m) – He looks like a superhero and plays like one too. But this might be the case where our eyes are fixed on the muscles and flash rather than the stats. Last season Traoré averaged 3.5 points-per-game—that’s in the same ballpark as Burnley’s Ashley Westwood (£5.5m) and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard (£6.0m). Rotation is also a concern and limited minutes per appearance is also a concern, with manager Nuno Espírito Santo seeming to favour the Spanish winger in the super sub role at times. If Traoré can lock down a regular starting role, he becomes a decent option. But if not, there might be better midfielders within his price tier that we can pivot to. He is also currently out of the Wolves squad due to a positive COVID-19 test.
- Romain Saïss (£5.0m) – Saïss is expected to start the season on the left wing and could provide great value if he manages to increase his attacking output. Wolves kept eight of their ten clean sheets between Gameweeks 25-35 last season and will hope to pick up where they left off.
Arsenal showed signs of life post-break after what had been a hugely disappointing season up to that point. Their wins in the FA Cup final and Community Shield proved they can still hang with the top clubs in the league. One would expect a bounce-back season now that manager Mikel Arteta has had a proper off-season to work with his team.
The Gunners have had a nice transfer window, bringing in the likes of Gabriel Magalhães (£5.0m) and Pablo Marí (£4.5m) to plug the holes in their leaky defence, as well as ex-Chelsea veteran Willian (£8.0m) to compete for a starting role in the midfield. However, the emergence of some younger talent in their squad is what has captured the FPL community’s attention.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m) – Despite Arsenal’s struggles, Aubameyang still managed to finish as the 6th highest scorer in FPL with 202 points. Now reclassified as a midfielder, that points total from last season would have been closer to 237 points with the extra awarded point for clean sheets and goals (not counting adjustments to bonus points). One can only imagine what he is capable of if his teammates manage to perform at his level. The Gabonese winger could very well finish this season as FPL’s top scorer and is a prime option for captaincy, especially with two easy fixtures against Fulham and West Ham to open the season.
- Kieran Tierney (£5.5m) – The Scottish defender impressed post-break, averaging 5 points-per-game and collecting one goal and two assists between Gameweeks 31-38. But for him to be considered a great FPL option Arsenal need to keep more clean sheets than the ten they had last season.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£5.0m) – The 23-year old is believed to be Arteta’s first choice at left wingback to open the season. His inexpensive price and attacking prowess could provide FPL managers with a nice differential at only 1.8% ownership at time of writing.
This time last year most were predicting the Blades to yo-yo back into the Championship. Instead, they nearly qualified for Europe and provided a treasure trove of high-scoring budget players for FPL managers. They boasted four players among FPL’s top ten defenders last seasons, a feat only matched by Chelsea in the 16/17 season. Many of the familiar names are back for another season, but with higher price tags to more appropriately match last season’s Fantasy output.
The big change for Sheffield United in the off-season was between the sticks. Ex-Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (£5.0m) was purchased to replace Dean Henderson (£5.5m), who returned to his parent club Manchester United. Manager Chris Wilder also brought in Ethan Ampadu (£4.5m), Jayden Bogle (£4.5m), and Max Lowe (£4.5m) to add depth and competition to their defence. It will be a challenge for the Blades to match their stellar performance last season, but several names are still worthy of our attention.
- Aaron Ramsdale (£5.0m) – Ramsdale is transferring from one of the league’s leakiest defences to one of the stingiest, so it will be difficult to predict how well he will perform in FPL this season. But here’s what we do know… Ramsdale saved 67% of shots on target while Henderson saved 75%. Ramsdale allowed 62 goals from an xGC of 62.1 while Henderson allowed 33 from an xGC of 37.6. Perhaps these numbers tell us that Henderson was a fantastic talent more than they disparage Ramsdale’s prospects. Whatever his true level of talent may be, he will be surrounded by a much better defence this season, which will surely boost his points total.
- Defenders – The game priced the Sheffield United starting defenders into two clumps this season—Enda Stevens and George Baldock at £5.5m, and John Egan, Chris Basham, and Jack O’Connell at £5.0m. They outperformed their xGC and xCS last season, so we can probably expect some regression. However, they have proven themselves to be serviceable at these price tags during a good run of fixtures. There is not much separating them, but Egan could provide the best value if he can continue to provide quality attacking threat in the box from corners as he did post-break.
- John Lundstram (£5.5m) – The game reclassified the “Lord” as a midfielder this season, which is only fair considering that he often played in the most advanced position of any player on his team. Had he been a midfielder last season, he would have scored 114 points (or less when bonus points are accounted for). That is hardly an eye-raising total. And now with some competition in the midfield, Lundstram seems destined for FPL mediocrity this season. It was good while it lasted.
For all the hustle and bustle of the shortened off-season, the Clarets come into the new season with no meaningful changes to their squad. However, the perennial overachievers will have to persevere while they wait for several of their regular starters to recover from injury. Their blank in Gameweek 1 means most managers will want to avoid Burnley players for now, but they are worth keeping an eye on as they have an easy run of fixtures beginning in Gameweek 3.
- Nick Pope (£5.5m) – Pope finished as the highest scoring FPL goalkeeper last season with 170 points. He also nearly won the golden glove with 15 cleans sheets, which is even more amazing considering that Burnley had a xCS of 9.94. He was rewarded with a hefty price tag that will turn away most managers in search of the next Nick Pope. However, those with some room in their budget might consider the money well spent on the reliable shot stopper.
- James Tarkowski (£5.5m) – Tarkowski has provided a small but consistent amount of attacking returns two seasons in a row, which helped him finish last season as the 6th highest scoring defender. But as the case with most centre backs, his FPL relevance depends on clean sheets.
- Chris Wood (£6.5m) – The New Zealand forward was on pace for 161 points had injury not hindered his season. His 4.25 points-per-game is a much higher rate than any forward in his price tier, with Jordan Ayew (£6.0m) as the next closest at 3.6 points-per-game. If he keeps this up he will be a near-essential player in teams with two or three starting forwards.
- Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) – An injury-riddled defence and lack of depth has given Taylor the opportunity to reclaim his spot as the starting left-back this season. Erik Pieters (£4.5m) is also competing for the spot and provides more attacking threat but is 32-years old and may need to make way for his younger counterpart. There are increasingly fewer options among defenders priced at his price tag, so whichever of these two emerges as a regular starter could be a crucial budget asset for your team.
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