To us Fantasy Managers, spotting a bargain can be the difference between setting up your team with 4 as opposed to 5 of the so called ‘big-hitters’ – premium players that tend to eat the majority of our limited budgets.
Over the years many bargains have emerged – Mahrez at £5.0 in Leicester’s title winning season, Wan-Bissaka at £4.0 on his break-through season at Crystal Palace, or even Harry Kane at £5.0 in 2014/15, a season in which he scored 21 goals, providing 7 assists. We often look back and ask ourselves: How could those prices be possible?
The same could be said about this season’s tournament on FanTeam where you can buy in for €25 and compete for a prize pool of minimum €1,000,000!
Yet, every season new bargains emerge, and fast forward to the end of the season we will be questioning ourselves how we let those slips through the net.
In this article, I’ll highlight players that have a chance of making a mockery of their FanTeam prices come the end of the season. They can be very good enablers at low prices, or players who might still provide very good value vs. their point potential.
Hugo Lloris – TOT – £5.0m
You could be excused to have missed out on Lloris whilst looking through the list of goalkeepers for the new season – after all he accumulated less points than 17 of the goalkeepers in the Premier League last season (112), only keeping 6 clean sheets and 80 saves in total. The key here is that Lloris missed 15 games with an elbow injury, only managing just over 1,800 minutes of playing time. A full season of both Lloris in goal and Mourinho on the bench will more than likely double those clean sheet numbers.
Jordan Pickford – EVE – £4.5m
Pickford is a name that divides opinion. Some say the current England no.1 is not good enough to be keeping for Everton, let alone his country.
Yes Pickford has had his fair share of howlers over the last few years, but I believe Everton will be more solid defensively this season (the addition of Allan and Doucoure in midfield will solidify their unit), will end up winning more games and thus Pickford will benefit both from increasing number of clean sheets as well as a more positive net impact points on FanTeam (recall that players accrue +1 when their team wins and get penalized with a -1 when their team loses whilst they are on the pitch). Target:150-160 points.
Virgil Van Djik – LIV – £6.0m
What is the best defender in the Premier League doing in this list? The easy answer is exactly that – you are paying £6.0m for the best defender in the Premier League, playing for the reigning champions, with a chance of increasing their clean sheet numbers (with Alison fit for a whole season). He is as much of a sure starter as you can get, and will probably be pushing for 200 points again this season. A set and forget option – pick him and come back and collect your ‘winnings’ in 9 months’ time.
Basham/O’Connell – SHU – £4.5m
This is a bet on Sheffield United repeating last year’s defensive performance. With 13 clean sheets accrued in 2019/20 (only surpassed by Manchester City, Liverpool and Burnley), the judge is out on whether the blades can do it again, especially with Dean Henderson moving back to United – can Ramsdale step up to the plate?
I am of the opinion that there are 3 teams where you can look for clean sheets outside the usual top 6, largely based off the philosophy of their managers – Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley. If you are in agreement, facing Wolves, Villa, Leeds and Fulham in the first 5 game weeks of the season is surely a run too good to ignore.
Vinagre – WOL – £4.0m
Finding £4.0m starting defenders is akin to those first and second dates that go really well, only for it to fall off a cliff as you get to know the other person better. You are in cloud 9 as you are convinced you finally found what you were looking for. You ignore the risks, dismiss the warning signs and next thing you know you are stuck with a non-playing defender who is now worth £3.9m. You wished you hadn’t gone there but now it’s too late.
This year, I am looking at Vinagre to fill that duty. He plays wing back for a team that is good for clean sheets, so can return at both ends of the pitch. He only made 6 starts in the Premier League last season, but with Jonny expected to be out until 2021, this number can only increase. The risks are there – Wolves did sign Marçal, there’s talk about Vinagre moving to Porto and Jonny could also make an earlier recovery. I’ve been warned, but for now I remain convinced.
Ben White – BHA – £4.0m
All that was written about £4.0m defenders in Vinagre, applies to Ben White. The silver lining here is that whichever one you pick, you might get away with moving to the other one if needed, without having to rejig your whole team. Ben White was a key member of the Leeds team that won last year’s Championship. With just a single goal in more than 40 games, it is likely returns will only come from clean sheets. Now at Brighton, and after signing a long-term contract, there is a high chance Ben White will start, particularly if Potter opts for playing with 3 centre backs.
Ziyech/Havertz – CHE – £8.5m
Prices for these Chelsea assets remind me of Manchester United assets last season – Martial and Bruno Fernandes. On the back of very good performances, they saw their prices jump considerably for the current season (Bruno is now £11.0m and Martial £10.5m). I am expecting the same to happen to at least one of Ziyech or Havertz, and possibly both of them. Frank Lampard is building a very exciting young team on paper, who I expect to score goals for fun. Over the last 3 seasons in the Bundesliga, Havertz has amassed a total of 51 goals and assists in 94 appearances, a goal involvement better than in every other game.
As for Ziyech, that’s 78 returns in 84 appearances in the Eredivisie over the past 3 years. Whilst we should take the Eredivisie numbers with a pinch of salt (Afonso Alves anyone?), due to the vast gap in quality vs the Premier League, Ziyech is also proven in the Champions League, with 7 returns in 6 appearances in 2019/20 and 6 returns in 11 appearances in 2018/19 (excluding qualifiers).
Dele Alli – TOT – £8.0m
Yet another Englishman that divides opinions. I am personally a big fan, ever since that first season back in 2015 – an unknown player for many, at £5.0m then, achieving a ‘double-double’ ( 10G+12A) and being able to surpass that the season after, with 18G and 11A. That player has largely been absent over the last couple of seasons – talent is not the issue but consistency and motivation are.
With Mourinho’s arrival, we saw glimpses of the old Alli – between GW13 and GW29 he scored 6 goals and assisted a further 4. If you have watched ‘All or Nothing’ featuring Spurs on Amazon and are aware of Alli’s performances in the (now seemingly distant) past, you understand the potential. If not, I suggest you go and watch his goal vs Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park back in 2016 – that might just convince you.
Soucek – WHU – £4.5m
You’ve come here for cheap players and this is what I am giving you now. Soucek, the currently quarantined West Ham midfielder, is primed to be the go-to enabler, that first sub in a large majority of teams. And for good reason – ever since his move from Slavia Prague in the January transfer market, Soucek started every match when fully fit, completing the 90 minutes in 10 out of those 12 matches. He also scored 3 goals after lockdown, being a big aerial threat from set pieces. If West Ham can manage to win more matches this season, Soucek will be an unrivalled source of ‘impact points ‘in FanTeam at this price point.
Grealish – AVL – £6.5m
‘Boring’ – I hear you say. Sometimes in Fantasy you have to keep it simple. This is what I am doing here – Grealish had a fantastic season, helping Villa secure Premier League status for 2020/21. He is their talisman, their most important player. Villa escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth (or by a very controversial VAR decision – take your pick), so they know they need to strengthen their team to avoid another edgy season. That will benefit Grealish and more wins results in more ‘impact’ points in FanTeam. With 36 starts out of 38, and completing the 90 minutes 35 times (only James Ward Prowse and Declan Rice boast a better number), you can rest assured Grealish can contribute points week in week out.
Adams – SOU – £5.5m
We can thank Adams’ erratic start to life in the top flight for this price. After scoring 22 goals in 46 appearances for Birmingham in the Championship in 2018/19, Adams immediately made the starting XI for Southampton’s opening game of the 2019/20 season. He went on to start a further 5 games in a row, without being able to break his duck. X-Mas and lockdown came and it was (blank) business as usual. And then, after almost one year, everything changed with a great goal vs. Manchester City just 2 months ago.
Over the following 5 gameweeks he scored a further 3 goals, and finished the season looking like a rejuvenated player. Since the league restarted following lockdown, Adams underlying stats prove an intriguing read – Adams was 6th out of all strikers for shots in the box and adjusting for minutes played over that same period, he was pretty much on par with the top ranked strikers in the league, getting a chance roughly every 21 minutes. After a dismal start, Hasenhüttl has created a well drilled team, which I expect to have a comfortable season. The risk here is minutes – even if he’s the preferred partner of choice for Danny Ings (I do think it’s his to lose right now), it is unlikely that he will finish many matches, with the likes of Long and Obafemi on the bench. That is a negative for ‘impact’ points, but at this price point, beggars can’t be choosers!
Batshuayi – CPL – £5.0m
Batshuayi has joined Crystal Palace on loan from Chelsea once again. With scarce opportunities in 2019/20, he is looking once more to establish himself and get minutes under his belt after a successful January loan at Selhurst in 2019, where he scored 5 times in 11 appearances.
It will be hard to have as good of a season as he did at Marseille, where he scored 17 goals and provided a further 9 assists in 36 appearances (more so as Palace is not known for their attacking prowess), but even half of that would be a fantastic result at his current price.
These suggestions come with a high degree of uncertainty – they are more likely NOT to work so I will keep them brief, but for those of you looking for that special call, keep them up your sleeve over the season – you never know when they might come handy.
Lanzini/Yarmolenko – MID – WHU – £4.5m/£5.0m
As it stands, both these players are more likely to not be starters for West Ham.
Furthermore, Moyes needs to sell so there is still a chance either or both of these players are not around come the end of the transfer window. The alternative view is that 1) other than maybe clubs in Russia or Turkey, no one will be willing to meet their wage demands so they are likely staying and 2) at one point they were key members of the starting XI: Lanzini under Moyes 3 seasons ago and Yarmolenko before his injury, with both very capable of contributing with goals and assists. If you are still reading, I’ll leave you with a good trivia: Lanzini is the player whose price differential between FPL and FanTeam is the highest – a full £2.0m.
Connolly – FWD – BHA – £4.5m
If you don’t know who I am talking about, I am sure Mauricio Pochettino does. The little ginger capped his debut for Brighton with a brace against Tottenham, in an emphatic 3-0 win. Since then he alternated the starting XI with appearances off the bench. Not yet established, this could be his breakthrough season – Potter likes to tinker a lot and I am sure Connolly will get his chances. It’s up to him to make them count.
Dalot – DEF – MUN – £4.0m
This is a personal pick – no, Dalot is not going to displace Wan-Bissaka as the right back at Manchester United. However I do think he’s the perfect replacement for Doherty at Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo was Porto’s manager when Dalot broke through in Porto’s B team in 2016/17. Wolves need a right wing back. Dalot has no chance of competing with Wan-Bissaka currently.
Dalot needs to play at this stage of his career. Add to all of this the Jorge Mendes connection and all of a sudden we might be potentially looking at the biggest bargain of the season.