The 2019-20 Premier League season is nearly upon us, so it’s time to start finalising your fantasy football teams.
After making sure you don’t make any schoolboy errors, you need to think about some of the less glamorous choices. Everyone knows about the regular goalscorers, assist kings and solid defenders of the top six, but there’s some players you might not have considered.
We’ve gone through the entire league to suggest one player from every team.
It can be a bit of a risk getting in new signings, especially those that come at a hefty £9.5m fee. Nicolas Pepe is by far Arsenal’s most expensive midfielder, but he’s worth it.
He’ll likely feature in a front three, occupying similar areas to Mohamed Salah with the potential of accruing just as many points at £3.0m cheaper. The Ivorian scored 22 goals and registered 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season – if he can maintain that output, he’ll be a bargain.
It remains to be seen how new signing Wesley will do in place of last season’s striker, Tammy Abraham, while the rest of the goals and assists tended to be shared about throughout the Villa team in the Championship last season.
Conor Hourihane is one to consider, given he tallied the highest number of goals and assists (11 assists, eight goals), but he’s the same price as Jack Grealish (£6.0m), who was nearly as prolific in terms of his goals and assist per minute.
He also plays in a more advanced position, with most of Villa’s play going through him. He registered 2.3 key passes (the final pass before a team-mate takes a shot) per 90 minutes last season, more than any other Villa player.
If his colleagues sort their shooting boots out, more assists might come.
Only Huddersfield and Fulham conceded more goals than Bournemouth’s total of 70 last season, so avoid defenders.
After a brilliant campaign, Ryan Fraser now costs £2.0m more than he did last summer, when we predicted he’d be a solid budget option. But he registered 181 points last season, more than any other Bournemouth player, and he justifies that price hike.
Callum Wilson is £0.5m more expensive, while other midfielders Lewis Cook and David Brooks are sidelined for the foreseeable and the jury’s still out on new recruit Phil Billing from Huddersfield.
Fraser’s still the main man.
The partnership of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy has defined Brighton’s stay in the Premier League, and Dunk is still a cheap option at £4.5m. But only Fulham and Huddersfield kept fewer clean sheets than Brighton (seven) last season, so there’s a reason you can pick their defenders on the cheap.
Graham Potter arrives with a reputation for a more progressive, possession-based style. Oli McBurnie scored 22 goals up top in Potter’s Swansea system and he could utilise Neal Maupay in the same way; the Frenchman scored 28 goals in all competitions for Brentford last season and is available for a modest £6.0m.
Weirdly, Nick Pope has been priced at £4.5m, the same as Joe Hart and new deputy Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
With Tom Heaton sold to Aston Villa, he’ll almost certainly be back as the first choice for Sean Dyche’s safety-first Clarets and you could do a lot worse for a back-up goalkeeper.
At this stage, it’s quite difficult to predict how Frank Lampard’s new-look Chelsea will line up, with their all-time top goalscorer being given a remit to develop the younger players.
It’s unknown who will lead the line out of Oliver Giroud and Tammy Abraham, last season’s standout man Eden Hazard has left and there’s question marks over how his replacement Christian Pulisic will settle.
There are few certainties so it might be worth taking a risk when it comes to the Blues.
One player that could be set for a big season is Ross Barkley. He’s just £6m – cheaper than Pedro, Willian, Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – and scored in each of his last four appearances in pre-season.
Ten penalties, Luka Milivojevic? Ten?! That’s insane.
Only six defenders scored more points than Lucas Digne last season (158), who at £6.0m is a whole £1m cheaper than his Merseyside rivals Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Youri Tielemans was quite brilliant in his half-season cameo for Leicester last season, scoring three goals and providing four assists in 13 appearances.
He scored an impressive 63 FPL points from those 13 appearances and is a decent candidate to get extra bonus points. Extrapolate that over the course of a full campaign and he could be your new fantasy football hero this season – worth a punt at £6.5m.
Unfortunately, you can only pick three Liverpool players, who unsurprisingly had a number of exceptional fantasy players between their sturdy defence and free-scoring attack.
Alisson was the top-scoring goalkeeper; Robertson, Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk were the three best defenders; while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were in the top three midfielders alongside Raheem Sterling.
Of course that’s reflected in their prices, and you could justify breaking the bank for a combination of any three.
Given the choice though, and as with last season, don’t try and be clever. Just pick Salah. Two consecutive golden boots and 100 goals and assists in 104 appearances for crying out loud. And at £12.5m, he’s also a tad cheaper than he was last summer.
Not to blow our own trumpet, but we turned out to be spot on when we predicted a big season from Bernardo Silva last summer.
Their Player of the Season, he’s now pretty much confirmed as a starter, and more than decent value at £8.0m, so we’re going for him again.
If you were feeling brave, you might have gambled on Paul Pogba joining Real Madrid and picking him for your fewest points wins league. You’ll be feeling pretty daft right now if that’s the case, given he’s set to stay and was by far Manchester United’s highest FPL scorer last season.
At £8.5m it’s worth backing him; he’s their designated penalty taker and was the club’s top scorer last season. The team around him surely can’t have as bad a season as last year, can they?
Do not back Newcastle to score goals. Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon – both gone – scored 22 of Newcastle’s 42 goals in 2018-19, while the new players brought in, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton, only scored six and seven goals respectively last season.
So go for their defence. Jamaal Lascelles is pretty much guaranteed to start and a snip at £4.5m. Newcastle kept 11 clean sheets last season; only six teams kept more.
The inverse of Newcastle – stay away from Norwich’s defenders. Despite emphatically going up from the second tier as champions, their defensive record left something to be desired. They conceded 57 goals in 46 games and seven sides in the division had a better record.
There’s a wealth of options to consider further forward, though. The obvious pick is striker Teemu Pukki, whose total of 29 league goals is the highest tally since Glenn Murray at Crystal Palace in 2012-13. Another option is Emiliano Buendia, who scored eight goals and provided 12 assists and is a decent price in midfield at £6.0m.
Chris Wilder’s Blades had the best defensive record in the second tier last season, letting in just 41 goals in 46 games.
There’s a number of options in that area, not least returning local hero Phil Jagielka, but the safest pick is Enda Stevens – no outfielder played more minutes last season and in a wingback role he’s also keen to get forward. He scored four goals and provided six assists during the promotion campaign and should be good for clean sheets too. £5.0m is a fair price.
Yan Valery went from strength to strength under Hassenhuttl last season, and there’s every chance he builds on that as the first-choice right-back and becomes a lot more expensive than the modest £5.0m you can get him for before the season starts.
There are few strikers in the game you can rely on to score at least 20 goals as you can with Harry Kane, who has finally had time to rest up and put last season’s injuries behind him, looking sharp in pre-season.
Given his record of 122 Premier League goals over the past five seasons, like Salah this one’s a no-brainer. Worth the £11m hit.
Nobody recorded more points at Watford last year than Gerard Deulofeu, who scored 10 goals and provided five assists in the league. £6.5m is a reasonable fee.
He was especially good in the latter half of last season, and being settled at Watford under his compatriot Javi Gracia means he could be set for his best, most consistent season yet.
There’s plenty exciting about West Ham going forward, with Sebastian Haller touted to break their cursed record with strikers, Felipe Anderson set to dazzle once again and Pablo Fornals a really exciting addition.
However, there’s not much value to be had with any of those players. Anderson hit a brilliant 155 points and could well improve on that this time around, but at £7.0m you’d potentially be looking at sacrifices elsewhere to fit him in.
There’s value to be found elsewhere with the Hammers, though. Issa Diop looked impressive in his first season and can be bought for just £4.5m.
Thirteen goals and seven assists last season for Raul Jimenez, who is available for £7.5m. You can’t go wrong paying a mid-tier price for a solid, mid-tier forward.