The Premier League is back this weekend and that also means the return of fantasy football. The Fantasy Premier League game is becoming more popular and the game has developed further this year, as the creators have included stats in the game. This allows fantasy managers to view each player’s past performance in the game. Every year there are players who emerge in the Premier League, giving them great value in the Fantasy Premier League game. Last season, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were cheap to buy at the start of the game and ended up as two of the highest points scorers. This season everybody will be looking to find the next Mahrez at the very start of the game to give them an advantage. Here are some players in each position that I think are bargains in this years game:
Steve Mandanda (4.5m) – The French goalkeeper is likely to start as the number one for Palace this season and is a significant improvement on the other options at the club. Last season, Palace only managed to keep eight clean sheets in the league, but Wayne Hennessey didn’t inspire confidence in goal. They have a settled back four and a relatively kind run of games to open the season. Mandanda is a quality goalkeeper and he improves that Palace defensive unit massively. In their opening five games, their only match against one of the top six is Tottenham away. At £4.5m, Mandanda is an excellent pick up as a rotational goalkeeper.
John Stones (£5.0m) – The defender is well known as a talented individual, but Everton’s horrendous defensive record last season has given him value in the fantasy game. Ronald Koeman is likely to sort out the defence at Everton and make them a much more organised unit than they were under Roberto Martinez. However, the reason he has so much value in fantasy is that he is expected to join Manchester City, and if that goes through, he will be the only starting defender for a top club at less than £5.5m. That makes him a necessity to have at the beginning of the game.
Ben Gibson (4.5m) – As a newly promoted club, Middlesbrough have a lot of players with value in fantasy. Their defensive unit was one of the best in the Championship last season with Aitor Karanka placing defensive organisation above all else. They will continue to be tough to break down in the Premier League and look to be the strongest of the promoted sides. They could replicate the success that Watford had in the first half of last season and at £4.5m, Ben Gibson is a no-brainer. He has been a regular for ‘Boro over the last three years and at the age of 23 is only going to get better.
Max Gradel (£5.5m) – Last season he accumulated a respectable total of 48 points in 14 games, in an injury-hit season. He was a big name signing for AFC Bournemouth last summer, but never got the opportunity to fully prove himself, due to a terrible injury suffered in August. He came back in the second half of the season and did well. However, there is more to come from him. In his final season with Saint-Etienne, he scored 17 goals and he will be a threat this season if he stays fit. At £5.5m, he is a great fourth or fifth choice midfielder and helps you budget for the bigger names.
Ahmed Elmohamady (£5.0m) – The situation at Hull makes Elmohamady less desirable in fantasy this year, but there is no doubting that he offers huge value at £5.0. He scored 100+ points in his last two seasons in the Premier League and remains an attacking outlet in the Hull side. The player crisis at Hull means that he will play every week and a lot of the side’s attacks will be through him. You may want to hold off until the picture at Hull becomes clearer, but he could be a great pick-up in a few weeks time.
Andy Carroll (6.5m) – West Ham’s failure to sign a striker has given Andy Carroll some serious value in fantasy. He is heading into the new season fit and as the club’s first choice striker. In pre-season he has looked in great form, scoring twice against Juventus at the weekend and could be set to finally live up to his price tag. West Ham possess a talented midfield, with plenty of creative talent. Last season, he averaged a goal every 160 minutes and his aerial presence means he will always provide some assists. He could be a good pick up early in the game.
Shane Long (6.5m) – The sale of Graziano Pelle means that Shane Long is going to start the season as the team’s first choice forward. His tireless running and finishing ability mark him as a good fantasy player. At £6.5m, he is a great pick-up and will help you fit Sergio Aguero into your budget. Long is a solid, reliable fantasy option, and has scored consistently over the last few years. Last season, he earned 109 points and this year could be even better, especially as Pelle is no longer at the club. Southampton start with three winnable home games, and Long could get some big points early on.