To round off our views on some of the seasons best player picks, we finish with most people’s favourites, the forwards.
Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane
No imagination here, simply the two star forwards coming into the 2017/18 season. Lukaku does have the challenge of a new club and much greater expectations this season but in theory he will now play for a side who will create more chances. On the plus side, the Manchester United frontman is an excellent finisher, capable of physically dominating opposition. He can score everything from a bullet strike to a power header from a corner to a tap in. On his day, Lukaku is unplayable. When it’s not his day, his first touch, his ability to hold up possession, and his ability to thread key passes to supporting players are all below par.
I’m still slightly surprised Jose signed him, and I think it is a big test for the player to see if he can produce the goals that win trophies, particularly those in the spring.
From a fantasy point of view, we just want as many goals and assists as we can get, and on a consistent basis. Lukaku's talents seem to outweigh his weaknesses, and that has seen him become a consistent goal scorer at WBA and Everton. When you consider his early fixture run, he becomes a player that is only sensible to have in FPL. 48% of current manager agree, and most will hand him the captain’s armband on the opening weekend.
In Fantrax, I still think most will have him in game week one, but he is less a “must have” at his price (18.94 in the NMA league). Remember that Fantrax rewards players who do other things besides scoring goals, and from our forward we don’t want a scoring week ending on 10-12pts (it’s 10pts for a goal). Given a goal, we want 17-20pts from him. I’m talking from experience where too many weeks saw Lukaku score but commit 4 fouls and end up with fewer points than the goal by itself. For me Lukaku should be analyzed on a week by week basis to see if he represents value.
Harry Kane is the league's premier forward coming into the season. Since breaking into the Tottenham first team he has offered two things: First, he has scored 20+ goals per season. Second, he has increased his total each year. In 2017/18 then, he either has a less effective year or he breaks the 30 goal mark and becomes a serious summer transfer target for Europe’s biggest clubs.
At 12.5m in FPL, price is a problem but not a huge one. Last season he scored 224 FPL fantasy points. By comparison, midfielder Dele Alli cost 9.5m and returned 225pts last season. Christian Eriksen, also 9.5m, returned 218pts. Many FPL managers therefore are preferring to invest the extra 3m the obtain buying Alli in particular into the rest of the squad. I can see the sense in that play, but I also see Harry Kane as one of the few players in the Premier League who can score those multi goal hauls. It’s those potential hauls and the chance of also having the captain's armband on him at the same time that I believe creates Kane’s higher price point and makes the decision tough.
Kane is also expensive in Fantrax (19.52), the most expensive player in the game. In the points system, he can score well regardless of scoring goals due to his pretty great shot accuracy and all-around game. His place in my side for game week one is under consideration. Rafa Benitez is a top manager and a clever one. His side will be set up to try to reduce Kane’s chances and possession. The Newcastle fans will be their usual super excited selves, and it will be a cup-tie atmosphere. Week two sees Spurs host Champions Chelsea in a titanic London derby at Wembley.
In FPL, if I don’t sign him and he starts on fire, I may need an early wildcard to acquire Kane for his great fixtures after week two. I always prefer to keep my wildcard up my sleeve rather than let it be forced on me. As a result, I have yet to save a squad that didn’t see Kane’s name on my screen.
Kun and Gabriel Jesus
If we could only be sure who would start 9 times out of 10. Whoever enjoys the amazing supply line of chances any Pep side provides can go goal crazy. It still amazes me to see a manager not pick a fit Kun for any game, but that is what makes Pep the manager he is. Jesus, being comfortable both as lead forward or playing the left hand side attacking role, is a more flexible player. For that reason, the common thought then is that Jesus will be our safer starter.
When you look at the opening fixtures and remember back to the opening games of last season, Manchester City’s attacking options are just too tempting. It is more than possible that Pep’s known rotation doesn’t kick in until the start of the Champions’ League group stages. Up to that point, we could see both forwards start. If it’s true that City will be the biggest goal scorers in these early weeks and that the pair will both play, then why not look to buy both? Worse case: If one is benched, then the other will likely get 20 mins from the bench, which can still prosper against tiring sides.
In Fantrax I’m less inclined to take risks but Brighton away is a nice fixture. I will probally have a city attacker or two in my lineup and the game will give us some guidance to the City side in the early weeks.
Lacazette’s arrival at Arsenal will show whether he is a top forward in world football or just a good one. You would think his supply line of chances will be higher and he may also hold penalty duties given his success from the spot last season. Best of all, with no Champions League football he will play week in week out when fit, that cannot be said of rivals, Kane, Lukaku or the Man City boys.
At 10.5m in FPL and without previous Premier League experience, he is pricey. And yet with his security of starting place in an attack-minded side, it’s hard not to recommend him. Looking at his upcoming fixtures, I think even more so.
The big-money signing to replace Diego Costa is full of ability. His talent is not in question, but his strength of mind and, dare I say, his desire has been. A number of times, he has gotten the hype but failed to shine under the spotlights (e.g. playing in one of the all-time great Spanish international sides, perhaps the biggest).
He now finds himself playing for the most powerful Premier League team and in a squad where he has no high-level competition for his place. It’s a no-excuse period of his career, so with a manager that seems to get the best out of players, Morata will be looking to start fast.
Already though, Conte has made comments about his fitness/condition and that’s not the best of starts. Partly due to this and partly due to the preseason form of Michy Batshuayi, Morata is not yet receiving much backing from fantasy fans.
Now classified as a forward in both FPL and Fantrax, Firmino offers you a way into the red’s flowing attacks. He is unlikely to fire in 20+ goals in 2017/18, but he is first choice in the position. Klopp doesn’t seem to trust Daniel Sturridge or Origi, and neither fit into the team’s system as well as Firmino. [Ed note: Sturridge went off with a sore thigh after scoring on Aug 1st and did not even make the bench vs Bilbo Aug 5th.]
Firmino has yet to become a bulk goal scorer, but he can increase his total this season. With two flying wide men in Salah and Mane, he can also add to his assist count.
Classed as a forward only in Fantrax, Sanchez fits the scoring mechanics of that game as perfectly as anyone in the league. At his price (18.48), I think he is a player to pick when the fixture is right. Should he stay at Arsenal, even if he is unhappy to do so, he will play every week, and he doesn’t strike me as a player whose pride would allow his performance level to drop. Should he join City, he will face rotation. I think he would lose a little value with the options they have.
I have a soft spot for this player and think he has the mentally of a fighter that so suits the Premier League’s relentless battles.
With a West Ham side that are positive and creative, I see him settling in well during the course of the season.
In FPL, he is a great price at 7m, but he opens with four away games in five. That would normally put me off, but when building my sides, I’m often ending up with just the right amount of money to buy him. The fixtures may be away from home, but they are against opponents who can give up chances.
In Fantrax he is also nicely priced but with that game’s unlimited transfer system, we can watch and wait for the right moment.
With Lukaku seeming to have shaken off the title Troll King, we shall look around for a new nominee. Big Benteke ticks a few of the boxes for the role, but while he may still troll us through the season, I think it will be a good one for him.
While he doesn't score as many goals as Belgium teammate Lukaku, Benteke does score consistently each season. At Palace, he is safe to start each week, and he has some talented players to supply chances.
In FPL, his 8m cost means he will be a differential pick, but I like the early run of games, and teams often start well under new managers.
In Fantrax, he offers potential explosive returns in the home games in particular, starting with the opening weekend.
Defoe maybe 34 years old, but last season he was as sharp as ever. Bournemouth would seem a perfect fit for him, being a side with constant attacking thoughts, and he a player who will create space as well as chances.
He will likely hold penalty duties. If he stays fit, he will surely score over 10 league goals once again this season, perhaps over 15.
In FPL, the 8m cost is still great value. His opening fixtures are a mix of tough and very nice. For those of you trying to build a balanced side I like him.
In Fantrax I love him game week 2.
Now here’s a pick I also keep coming back to. He will have few fantasy backers, but Abraham could be the best pure value pick in the list.
The Chelsea forward is on loan at Swansea after an excellent loan season at Bristol City in 2016/17. When you consider that City just avoided relegation, to score 23 goals in 41 games catches the eye. He also caught my eye in the summer playing for the England under 21’s. He led the line well and looked a player who you could build attacks around. He also seemed to find himself in the right place at the right time quite often.
I think he will do well at Swansea. While he won’t keep his goal every-other-game run going, I do think he will score goals for the Swans.
The best value cheap forward in FPL for me, Abraham can start whenever we like Swansea’s fixture (opening day at Southampton perhaps, week 4 against Newcastle for certain). Ultimately he offers you an option to hold a cheap forward who enables an additional power-midfield buy.