Fantasy Football for the 2019/20 Premier League season kicked off last Thursday, with hundreds of thousands of managers already registering, hoping to spot early potential bargains in an effort to gain an advantage on their mini-league rivals.
Last season, the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Matt Doherty, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Fraser, Raul Jimenez and Callum Wilson emerged as big point scorers at cheap prices, offering high value for money for those managers who jumped on them early.
While the usual suspects Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling will most likely finish as the highest overall scorers, they will set managers back £12.5m and £12m respectively, a fair chunk of the £100m squad budget allocated at the start of the game.
The majority of a fantasy squad, however, must be filled with affordable players, with the aim of finding those who are likely to have high-scoring seasons, whether that be as a result of transferring to a new team, a new manager arriving, or simply through individual improvement.
So, here’s a look at ten players to potentially watch out for in the 2019/20 Fantasy Premier League season.
1) Wilfried Zaha
Established as one of the better players outside of the Premier League’s top six clubs, Zaha’stalent is immeasurable, with the feeling that the Ivorian can take another leap in his career next season. Remaining priced at £7m, Zaha has been converted back to a midfielder, meaning that he scores an extra point for every goal, and another for every clean sheet.
With VAR introduced to the Premier League for the upcoming season, Zaha’s trickiness in the box could be rewarded with even more penalties – and therefore possible assists – with defenders needing to be especially careful to avoid giving any away.
Zaha’s speculated transfer to Arsenal would boost his fantasy prospects even further – a guaranteed starting attacker at a top six club for just £7m is hard to turn down.
2) Tom Heaton
A rise in price for multiple £4.5m goalkeepers from last season – such as Lukasz Fabianski, Rui Patricio and Ben Foster – has left very few options in this bracket, with Heaton the pick of the bunch.
The England international has reportedly turned down a recent contract offer, with Aston Villaand Watford heavily rumoured to be interested in swooping in. However, if Heaton remains at Burnley for another season – and prevails as the starting goalkeeper, as expected – the 33-year-old could replicate his high-scoring campaign from three seasons ago.
After Heaton replaced Joe Hart midway through the 2018/19 season, the Clarets improved immeasurably, conceding only 27 goals compared to the 41 prior. Without any European distractions, Burnley are likely to improve once again, meaning more clean sheets and save points for their number one.
3) Oleksandr Zinchenko
Zinchenko’s viability as a fantasy asset very much depends on Benjamin Mendy, or even a new signing at left back for Pep Guardiola’s men. However, if the Ukrainian establishes himself as first choice for The Citizens, he is undoubtedly a bargain at just £5.5m.
Zinchenko’s passing quality as a weapon to create chances for teammates – registering three in 14 games last season – as well as Manchester City’s ability to regularly keep clean sheets, establishes the left-back as a player with high-scoring fantasy potential.
4) Harvey Barnes
With high expectations for Leicester ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ first full season in charge, most eyes will be drawn to Jamie Vardy and James Maddison in regards to fantasy assets. However, at only £6m, Barnes may very well be going under the radar, with less than 1% current ownership.
The 21-year-old needs to firmly establish himself as a starter for the Foxes, for sure, but since his return from a loan spell at West Brom in January, Barnes has performed excellently in many underlying stats – including shots in the box per 90, where he was even ahead of Salah, indicating his goal scoring potential.
5) Joshua King
With a lot of focus on King’s Bournemouth teammate Callum Wilson – and rightly so – the Norwegian is perhaps being slightly overlooked.
King scored only 27 points less than Wilson last season and has been priced £1.5m cheaper, at £6.5m. Spending that £1.5m elsewhere is likely to make a bigger impact on your team, especially considering that the ex-Manchester United youth product is on penalties for the Cherries – with the introduction of VAR this season, that could be a difference maker.
6) Diogo Jota
Although his partner in crime Raul Jimenez is fairly priced at just £7.5m after an outstanding debut season, Jota comes in £1m cheaper and performed at a similar level to the Mexican since his switch to a forward role in a 3-5-2 midway through last season.
Despite now being listed as a forward, the Portuguese speedster is more than capable of outclassing his modest price tag if Wolves perform close to how they did in their return to the Premier League.
7) Olivier Giroud
With Chelsea banned from signing anybody this summer, Giroud may very well find himself as Chelsea’s starting striker next season. On fantasy he is their only listed forward, in fact, priced at just £7m, a ludicrously cheap bargain if the Frenchman was to start week in, week out.
Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham are also on Chelsea’s books, however, returning from loan deals at Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively, and they should provide a threat to his position in the team.
8) Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Similarly, Calvert-Lewin could find himself as the default starting striker for his team next season – although Everton can actually buy a replacement.
The England Under-21 international established himself ahead of Cenk Tosun last season, while Richarlison was better suited to playing out wide despite a spell as Everton’s centre forward. If Calvert-Lewin can cement himself as the main man, £6m would be a very good price for the 22-year-old, particularly as the Toffees have favourable fixtures to begin their campaign.
9) Leander Dendoncker
Everybody loves an enabler. Although Dendoncker is unlikely to score big points in the upcoming fantasy season, he is priced at just £4.5m, the lowest possible value for a midfielder, and therefore provides a great bench or rotation option.
The Belgian was a regular for Wolves in the second half of last season, and – possible signings aside – should be for the start of this. With Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho sitting deep, the 24-year-old often finds himself in the opposition box too, and is capable of grabbing himself a handful of goals in a full campaign.
10) Martin Kelly
Following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s £4m price tag and subsequent starting role in Crystal Palace’s team last season, this is perhaps a hopeful and nostalgic choice rather than a definitively logical one, considering that Joel Ward is most likely ahead of Kelly in the pecking order following Wan-Bissaka’s departure to Manchester United.
Nevertheless, Kelly might just find his way into the team, either at right-back or centre-back, which – at £4m – is one to certainly keep an eye on.