4 months ago
Having already discussed which premium and mid-price fantasy assets to consider for the opening gameweeks, I will now discuss which budget assets look like a good shout. The defensive assets listed are also good long-term choices, which will allow you to switch more between the budget and mid-priced attackers based on form and fixtures. While the big hitters will likely remain nailed in our squads for the majority of the season. So without further ado, here are my budget picks for the opening gameweeks.
ARS, lee, AVL, wol, shu, CRY, WBA, whu, EVE
Many are tipping Fulham for relegation and as a fan, I want to disagree with them, but I don’t have much of a solid ground to argue from. If they do go down, it will be due to goals conceded and not their striker failing to score. Mitrovic is a brilliant asset for Fulham and your opening team. Gameweeks 2-9 represent Fulham’s best stretch for the year. So sticking to Mitrovic and forgetting about him until a later wildcard is a good option.
Last season, he was the Championship top scorer with 26 goals! Being involved in 44% of Fulham’s goals he is their clear talisman. If you are looking at a Fulham asset, he is the only one to consider. Although they were relegated in 2018/19, Mitrovic still performed stoically. Scoring 11 goals from an xG of 16.12 (4th best out of strikers that year).
More impressively, his 131 shots and his xG non-penalty of 15.35 were both 1st in the Premier League striker department that season
He is prone to the odd yellow card but at £6m, a combination of fixtures, talisman and numbers to back it up, he is a great shout.
shu, MCI, whu, FUL, lee, NEW, CRY
A tough opening two fixtures on paper for Traore followed by 5 belters. Tarzan Traore (can I make this nickname stick?) will be licking lips when City come to Molineux Stadium, having scored 3 times and assisting once as Wolves did do the double over them last year.
Traore is an incredible asset at this price, his issue is the security of starts. However, with no Europa League commitments, I suspect Traore will better his 27 starts last season. Speaking of Europa League, Tarzan Traore started up front alongside Jimenez in the recent knockout stages. That is an exciting prospect.
Out of all midfielders priced £6.5m or less Tarzan Traore still topped the charts for assists (9). He also managed 4 goals. He is ever-improving, may play as a striker on some occasions, has good fixtures and is cheap. Tarzan is a great option for your team (did it stick yet?).
Wolves looked brilliant defensively following Boly’s return in GW25, keeping 9 of their season’s 12 clean sheets after his return. Playing with three centre-backs gives licence to the two wing-backs to get up and attack, usually in the form of Jonny Otto and Matt Doherty.
But Jonny’s ACL injury has left the window open to a bargain in the shape of Vinagre. At such a low price, he offers clean sheets and attacking returns. He was limited to 6 starts and 10 sub appearances last year so the data is minimal but still promising. Per 90mins he managed 2 touches in the box, more than Jonny’s 1.8, shot in the box 0.6 times and created 0.25 big chances (1 every 4 matches). A fantastic enabler with much promise and an absolute steal in FanTeam.
bha, LIV, wba, CRY, sou, mnu
Chelsea have four good fixtures in their opening six. Due to their investment in attack, there are no budget players in this department worth considering. However, Reece James is a promising prospect at the back.
Last season, Chelsea had one of the best defences statistically. Over the season, they only conceded 219 shots in the box (2nd best in the league) and 63 big chances (4th best)
Yet their 54 goals conceded only ranks them joint 11th. Frank Lampard pointed the finger at goalkeeper Kepa, so a new signing between the sticks is important before you invest. But with Chilwell and Thiago Silva signing, we may see Chelsea keep the clean sheets that the numbers suggest they should. At a budget price, James can also complement this with attacking output. Just keep an eye on pre-season to verify he is a secured starter.
cry, TOT, bur, WBA, che, EVE
I have a good feeling about Southampton this year. Since they were demolished 9-0 by Leicester in October, they have been showing continuous signs of improvement under Hasenhüttl. The board were wise not to sack him after that horrific result, and I expect them to be comfortably mid-table and pushing for the top 10 this year.
Armstrong had a decent season last year. His 5 goals and 4 assists placed him 5th and joint 7th last season out of those priced £5.5m or less. But what really impresses is his form post-restart. Managing 2 goals and 3 assists from 7 starts, he only had an xGI of 1.8 which shows how clinical he was. If he continues this form into the new season he will be a brilliant enabler at this low price.
Che Adams really impressed me the last few gameweeks and stole the show when Ings was chasing the Golden Boot. Scoring 3 times from 1 start and 1 sub appearance in the last 2 gameweeks. He only played 381mins post restart where he managed to score 4 goals, giving him 0.89 goals every 90mins he played. The only striker in the league who could better this was Giroud with 0.96.
He seems to have finally settled since his move from Birmingham in the Championship. He provides a good alternative to those who can’t fit Ings in their team, but I believe he will be inevitably rotated with Shane Long and Obafemi. How much he will be rotated is to be seen.
EVE, sou, NEW, mun, WHU, bur
If there is one thing that characterises Mourinho, it is defensively solid teams. On football’s return, I suspected Mourinho used this time to imprint his defensive ideals in the minds of players. Even breaking lockdown restrictions to do so…
But it worked as Spurs were ranked 4th best for clean sheets post restart. He now has another pre-season to further work on this. The signing of Doherty at right-back should also reduce errors in the side. As good as Aurier is in attack, he was prone to many silly mistakes defensively. Hojbjerg will also add more sturdiness in the middle. The more I discuss this, the more I like Dier!
The question is whether he starts having only featured as a starter 14 times last season? I think so, hear me out. 12 of his 14 starts came in Mourinho’s time. Pre-lockdown he started putting Dier at the back, where he started 6 games in a row until the Premier League was suspended. Post-restart he then started 5 out of 9 games, but he was suspended for the other 4! With Spurs defensive output and statistics improving over this period, he may favour continuing Dier at the back.
Keep an eye on the preseason line-ups. If Dier is consistently there, he will be high on my list, as Jose does love a clean sheet! Also keep an eye out on Davies at left-back. Another promising pick who is more likely to add an attacking return to the Spurs clean sheet potential. However, I would like to see Rose leave the club before investing as I fear rotation given Spurs Europa League commitments.
Blank, lei, SOU, new, wba, TOT, CHE, bha, CRY
A blank to begin the season is obviously not ideal and most people will be focussing their transfer on Manchester assets in the first few gameweeks. For those looking for a differential, the 4.3% owned Wood looks interesting. At his price, it is also viable to have him sitting on the bench GW1. None of the defences he faces are exceptionally solid, he has the potential to score in any of these games.
Injuries limited him to 29 starts last season yet he still scored 14 times and was involved in 56% of Bunley’s goals. More impressively, he had 31 big chances this season, the 5th highest in the league.
wba, BUR, mci, WHU, AVL, ars
Leicester had an excellent season last year but were just pipped at the line for the final Champions League spot. A solid defence helped them in that campaign, keeping 13 clean sheets, only conceding 41 goals (6th best in the league) and 64 big chances (joint 6th with Liverpool).
With injuries and Chilwell being sold to Chelsea, James Justin and Luke Thomas provide a cheap route into this defence. In their limited time, 11 and 3 starts respectively, they both managed an assist showing they may add attacking returns too.
Great enablers, but they were saved until the end of the article for a reason:
As mentioned, these defender suggestions are also good long-term picks (safe the Leicester boys). Whoever you get in, stick with them and don’t waste a transfer on them, unless injured or dropped. Last year, for example, I got Saiss in November. He was useless. 1 or 2 pointers and so many yellow cards! But he ended up getting 2 goals, 2 assists, 10 clean sheets and 8 bonus points! I did have to wait 2-3 months for this, but it paid off.
I don’t heed the same advice for the attacking options though. If Armstrong fails to return in 3 games and doesn’t look exciting, I will try something else. But again, be patient. At these price-points, we can’t expect magic overnight, every night!
Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions