We're a little late on this one but since there haven't been any matches yet this is certainly the time to get some thoughts in as people are considering changes and potential Barn Door moves for the upcoming weekend.
With Chelsea and Southampton playing two matches this weekend there is precious little room on the rosters of fantasy managers out there for non-Chelsea and Southampton players. If you're playing with unlimited transfers then you're focusing on the players you have at big discounts and loading up on CHE and SOU. If you're playing the PL.com game with limited transfers then you're no-doubt spending your transfers on your favorite player(s) who have two matches this weekend. That immediately limits Daniel Sturridge to no better than "potential BD move" territory and/or player of future interest territory. It is from that point of view that we'll analyze his move from Chelsea to Liverpool for fantasy purposes.
The good news for Sturridge's candidacy for fantasy line-ups is that, barring miserable performances out of the gate, he is likely to be a frequent starter given Liverpool's lack of attacking alternatives. The question is what his value is when he does get a chance as well as the impact he might have on Luis Suarez and other Liverpool players. Here's the breakdown:
What the Manager Has Said: Brendan Rodgers has said that he'll be inserting Sturridge in the central attacking role that he coveted but rarely was seen playing at Chelsea. Rodgers has further said that this will push Luis Suarez to more of a free attacking role. If Rodgers is being truthful (more on that later), the new alignment will probably look more like his positioning when Andy Carroll was still alive and trying to play at Liverpool as opposed to his more central role thus far this season. If what the manager has said is actually true then Suarez could see a dip in production.
What the Manager Probably Meant: Daniel Sturridge has it in his head that he's a central attacker and I don't want to dent his ego on Day 1 at Liverpool by publicly stating otherwise. What's really going to happen is that Luis Suarez is going to continue doing what he's been doing because, regardless of what you think of him as a person and a sportsman, he's been killing it for us. Sturridge will play the role that Scott Sinclair played for me at Swansea last season and he'll be better at it than Sinclair because he's a better player.
Sturridge's Prospects: Based on last year's production, Sturridge appears to produce about 33% more fantasy points per appearance than Scott Sinclair. Assuming that the potential of the Sinclair role at Liverpool is similar to what it was at Swansea and Sturridge can maintain his 33% superiority to Sinclair then Sturridge's most comparable fantasy player from last year is probably Theo Walcott (ironically, another small/fast player who thinks he's a central attacker with little evidence to back up that claim).
Value Play? Given that Sturridge is currently priced under 10 in the Yahoo game there is definitely a great deal of potential value to be had in buying him on the BD. He'll probably settle in at an average price of 13 or 14 while ranging between 11 and 18 for the rest of the season. He isn't a no-brainer keeper for the rest of the season but after Liverpool get past their match with United this weekend he's a good bet for a decent run in your team.
Impact to Luis Suarez: I doubt there will be any, Liverpool will make sure that Suarez keeps doing what he's been doing.
Impact Elsewhere: Interestingly, if Sturridge does approximate the contribution that Theo Walcott is making at Arsenal then there may be some additional value added to Pepe Reina assuming that he stays at Liverpool (he has been heavily mentioned in the transfer rumor mills). More goals is likely to mean more wins for the Reds and that means more points for the goalkeeper.
The negative impact will be felt by whomever Sturridge displaces most frequently in the line-up. This move may see Raheem Sterling rested more frequently as his first season as a regular starter (and a physically slight one at that) takes its toll. Most likely Rodgers will mix and match players around a core of Suarez, Gerrard and Sturridge devaluing all other Liverpool midfielders (and Enrique) due to the uncertainty of their spot in the line-up. We'll continue to monitor the situation.