By Matthew Petersen @Matt_Petersen13
The new Fantasy Premier League season is less than two weeks away and this year promises to be more exciting, head-scratching, and equally unique than ever before. With each of the 20 teams well within their pre-season plans, I want to look at players that I think could be good options to consider for each team, looking at varying factors such as impact, team performance, and pre-season form, among many others. The players on this list include some talismans, but there are options where it might not be each teams’ best points scorer or most expensive FPL player, but rather someone who could be a good option instead. By no means am I saying you should pick these players, but it might be an eye-opener for an FPL manager looking for an option they might not have explored yet. Without further ado, let’s get started!
One to watch: Nicolas Pepe
Points last season: 114
Pepe has been a polarising figure for Arsenal in his two full seasons with the club. While he might not have justified his £72m price tag just yet, he has been far from poor, and when given a good run, he has performed pretty well. Arsenal starts the season away at Brentford, a game that they hope to walk away with all 3 points, before tricky back-to-back games against Chelsea and Man City. However, from Gameweek 4 to Gameweek 10, they have six fixtures with a Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) of 2, meaning if Arsenal hit their stride early on, Pepe could well be a force to be reckoned with. He is £2m and £1m more expensive than Arsenal’s other attacking midfield options in Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka, respectively. However, with Saka given extra rest due to the Euros and Willian seemingly out of favour, Pepe could have the right side of Arsenal’s attack locked down. Add to that the fact that he is on set-piece duty, too, means he could well be one to watch. Keep your eye on him.
One to watch: Emiliano Buendia
Points last season: –
While Martinez and Watkins might be the two established choices in the Villa team, I’ve chosen new signing Emiliano Buendia. Buendia spent last at Norwich in the Championship and his goals and assist propelled them back into the PL after only one season. His last campaign in the PL with Norwich saw him return 94 points, including 7 assists and now being part of an improving and impressive Aston Villa team means he is likely to improve that output. With Jack Grealish being tipped to join Man City, Buendia will step up as Villa’s number 1 playmaker, and there is every chance he could improve this Villa team, even with Grealish leaving. They start the season with three fixtures with an FDR rating of 2 (Watford away, Newcastle at home, and Brentford at home), meaning Villa could come out the blocks top of the table after three games.
One to watch: Ivan Toney
Points last season: –
The Championships’ top scorer last season is certainly Brentford’s standout player, and he will be hoping to add goals to his PL tally as soon as possible. Brentford start the season with a decent run of games including two FDR games of 2 and three FDR games of 3. This could give Brentford, and Toney, in particular, a real chance of gaining valuable points before facing off against the teams from last season’s top 4. Toney finds himself on set-piece duty too and has impressed during pre-season, where Brentford have already picked up a 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. There are some promising signs ahead of their first PL season.
One to watch: Robert Sanchez
Points last season: 101
Sanchez displaced Mat Ryan, a former FPL favourite, as Brighton’s number 1 option and his form saw him earn a call-up to Spain’s Euro 2020 squad. His price makes him a very attractive prospect and with Brighton starting the season with three of their first four games having an FDR of 2. Add this to the fact that Sanchez faces little competition to be replaced, barring injury, means he will be guaranteed the playing time. Brighton are showing some signs of becoming an overall improved team under Potter and his backing of Sanchez will be a great boost of confidence. He is certainly one to watch.
One to watch: Ben Mee
Points last season: 102
The Burnley skipper has been a consistent performer for his team and has always been the rock at the back of Burnley’s defence. Mee is selected because last season, he scored only 7 fewer points than Tarkowski, despite playing roughly 600 minutes less than his defensive partner. Mee is a very reliable option and should he stay injury-free, could up that points total closer to 150, adding some goals and clean sheets along the way. Burnley start the season at home to Brighton (FDR of 2) before a run of four games with FDR ratings of 3 games where Burnley are more than capable of seeing out for draws, meaning Mee will earn valuable points there.
One to watch: Kai Havertz
Points last season: 91
Havertz endured a difficult start to life in London but bounced back very well towards the end of the season, including the winning goal in the final of Chelsea’s successful Champions League campaign. Thomas Tuchel has shown faith with the youngster and he should repay that faith with consistent game time and playing in his favoured position. With Mount also getting an extended break because of the Euros, Havertz is likely to start the season as Chelsea’s main playmaker. Chelsea has a fairly tricky start to the season with Arsenal and Liverpool being two of their first three games, but Havertz could prove to be a threat no matter what. His price is very appealing, too, as he forms part of the mid-range FPL options so it could be best to get him in early before he has any price rises.
One to watch: Wilfried Zaha
Points last season: 136
Wilfried Zaha is Palace’s undoubted superstar and always an exciting player to watch. His points total of 136 was his joint-3rd highest, but he did return 11 goals and 4 assists, making it his best goalscoring season to date. He is capable of producing against any team in the league, and Zaha has benefitted from new manager, Patrick Vieira’s new system where he plays as an out-of-position forward, despite being an FPL midfielder. Palace have a tricky start that includes games at Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham in their first 3 away games. That is sandwiched by a home game against newly-promoted Brentford where he could really score big.
One to watch: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Points last season: 187
Calvert-Lewin is coming off his best FPL season to date and with Richarlison (£7.5m) having been involved in both Copa America and Olympic action, DCL, as FPL fans have come to know him, becomes Everton’s most exciting option. They start the season with two games with an FDR rating of 2 and three games with an FDR rating of 3, meaning he can really lay down the gauntlet for his side, as well as being determined to beat his tally of 16 goals last season. Calvert-Lewin will have plenty of service from his midfield and full-backs where he thrives off crosses so keep an eye out for him.
One to watch: Jack Harrison
Points last season: 160
Leeds 3rd highest points scorer last season and a player who outscored regular FPL favourite and teammate, Raphinha, by 27 points. Harrison proved to be a welcome surprise for many FPL managers’ last season with his consistent performances and good work rate down the Leeds left wing. Having made his move permanent over the summer, he and Leeds look to navigate a tricky start to the season that includes Liverpool, Man United and Everton as FDR games of 4 rating, sandwiched between two games of FDR 2 ratings against Newcastle and Burnley. Harrison could really capitalise with consistent game time and will be a good option as a mid-priced FPL midfielder.
One to watch: Wesley Fofana
Points last season: 71
The young defender impressed many FPL managers last season, but unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury. However, he has proven more than capable of being a top defender at PL level and his consistency earns him a pick here. He is the cheapest option of all starting Leicester defenders and with Leicester starting the season with Wolves at home and Norwich away as two of their first 3 games, it could be a chance for Fofana to find his way into many FPL managers teams, especially with his price looking so enticing.
One to watch: Virgil Van Dijk
Points last season: 15
The only thing that would prevent his inclusion at this rate is his race against time to be fit for the start of the season. While Mohammed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are the two obvious choices from Liverpool for most FPL squads but Van Dijk’s return is a massive boost for the team in general. Van Dijk’s previous two campaigns saw him return FPL points totals of 180+ and he could have easily matched that score last season before a season-ending ACL injury in October 2020. However, he has made a strong return and his choice to miss the Netherlands’ Euro 2020 campaign to prioritise the upcoming season means he will return fresh and ready to lead Liverpool’s new and improved defence to a title charge. He is fixture-proof too and with Liverpool starting their campaign against Norwich this year, their same opening game from the title-winning season. Could history repeat itself? Watch this space.
One to watch: Riyad Mahrez
Points last season: 145
Mahrez returned 9 goals and 8 assists last season as Man City claimed the PL title. He is a highly favourable option as De Bruyne is still out with an ankle injury, and Sterling, Foden and Torres are due to return late due to Euro 2020 involvement. Mahrez has shone during pre-season, scoring in two games and his undoubted talent and pedigree means he is a very good option, despite City’s stacked midfield and the risk of the dreaded “Pep Roulette”. Mahrez also often finds himself on set-piece duty in the absence of De Bruyne, which might be a determining factor.
One to watch: Bruno Fernandes
Points last season: 244
No player has had as big of an impact on one team over the last few seasons as Bruno Fernandes has at Man United. A goal and assist threat, with a key influence on how Man United play, Bruno is certainly a viable option as a premium midfield choice. With the addition of Jadon Sancho to an already impressive attack line, this gives Bruno more options to get on the end of his passes and crosses, as well as him being a real threat from the penalty spot too. United’s season starts at home to Leeds, a game they won 6-2 last season, meaning Bruno could start the season off strong from GW1 and not turn back. He is fixture-proof and I think only a suspension or serious injury is the only thing keeping him off the pitch. It might be difficult to have both him and Salah this season, with the two premium options taking up a quarter of the allocated budget.
One to watch: Callum Wilson
Points last season: 134
Wilson was a shining light in a poor Newcastle team last year, racking up 12 goals in his second-best goalscoring season ever. He has played most of their games so far in pre-season and tends to start a season off well. Newcastle starts the season with some winnable games, and Wilson will be key to any of their goalscoring exploits, added to that, the fact that he is on penalty duty should highlight his appeal. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses.
One to watch: Teemu Pukki
Points last season: –
In all honesty, it is very difficult to justify the entry of Pukki, let alone any Norwich player considering how poor they were the last time they were in the Premier League, as well as the fact that they face Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Arsenal in their first 4 fixtures. I’m not ruling out the fact that they could still score goals in that time, and should they do so, Pukki is likely to get them, but there are much better options for forwards based on fixtures and form so stay away from Norwich for now. They might surprise us later in the season
One to watch: James Ward-Prowse
Points last season: 156
The Saints’ captain produced back-to-back seasons of completing the entire season (3420 minutes) as well as getting over 150 points for the first time. He got 8 goals and 7 assists last season, and he remains arguably the biggest threat in the league with his set-piece prowess. Southampton are a consistent side and Ward-Prowse is usually at the centre of their play. They do have a mixed start to the season with only one FDR game of 2 (Newcastle away) in their first 5 which also includes both Manchester clubs. He is a consistent performer though and will rack up the minutes, with his set-pieces being able to swing any game into his sides’ favour.
One to watch: Heung-Min Son
Points last season: 212
With the transfer cloud hanging over Kane’s head, Son emerges as Spurs’ main threat. He has usually faired pretty well when Kane has not played and is one of the few players who are fixture-proof. I believe Son will be key to Nuno Espirito Santo’s new system and tactics and has proven under Pochettino and Mourinho before that he is always capable, no matter the system or style of play. Son starts this season at his highest pricing so far and will justify that price tag with his usual consistent performances. Spurs do start the season against Man City but have a favourable run thereafter, and Son is certainly going to be one to watch as a premium option. He does prove a good option should you want a cheaper alternative to either Salah or Bruno, if you’re unable to afford both of them.
One to watch: Said Benrahma
Points last season: 73
The Algerian’s first stint in the Pl was promising to say the least, returning 1 goal and 6 assists in less than 1400 minutes on the pitch. This season he starts at the same price as West Ham’s go-to option from last season, Thomas Soucek. He has, so far, had a solid start to pre-season, scoring against former side Brentford, and has found freedom playing in the front 3 in support of Michail Antonio (£7.5m). Benrahma will likely shoulder more of the attacking threat with Lingard having returned back to Manchester United after his loan spell and Jarrod Bowen currently balancing an injury amidst transfer rumours. West Ham have a favourable start with three of their first four games having an FDR of 2, meaning Benrahma can really stake his claim as West Ham’s top choice, and a brilliant mid-range FPL midfield option.
One to watch: Ben Foster
Points last season: –
Ben Foster may be nearly 40, but he is still defying father time. Having helped Watford secure promotion last season, he comes back to the PL with a wealth of experience. Watford aren’t going to be the greatest defensive team in the league, although they will keep more than a few clean sheets and Foster will rack up plenty of save points along the way. Similar to Sanchez, he seems to have his managers’ backing and will bring tons of experience to his team.
One to watch: Raul Jimenez
Points last season: 43
Jimenez was a brilliant FPL option in his first two seasons, returning 181 and 194 points in 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively. His season last year was ended by a horrific skull fracture in November 2020, but he has bounced back magnificently and scored in Wolves’ recent pre-season outing. Benefitting from a new manager and a new system, Wolves boss, Bruno Lage, setting his side up in a 4-4-2, meaning Jimenez now has some support upfront. Jimenez will look to pick up where he left off in the PL, but they do face a tricky start with games against Leicester, Spurs and Man United making up their first 3. Tough start but Jimenez can score against anyone on his day.