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Looking for value forwards in FPL

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With all the options opening up in midfield, can we find a forward or two to open up our strategies

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League
Pick your chin up son, you still have it
Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Whilst in Togga we can wait until we see the starting lineups, and in Fantrax we have unlimited transfers to adjust week by week, in FPL a little more forethought and a little luck is needed to get our picks right.

Whilst buying the right players is always going to be a key, finding the funds to be able to afford enough of those key players is a balancing act. The need for constant assessment and adjustment of our squads, players and formations is both fun and taxing.

Many of us have flipped tactics and formations more than Pep at the halfway mark this season. Throughout the 2017/18 season, we have already seen the benefit of having a squad containing those flying wingbacks/full-backs such as Kolasinac, Ben Davis, Antonio Valencia and Benjamin Mendy amongst others in the early weeks. From there we had a short period where selecting three powerhouse forwards from a list containing Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Agureo was popular. Right now, the midfield mix of Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Richarlison, Paul Pogba, the Manchester City options, the Tottenham choices, and new hot thing Jesse Lingard seems to be the right play, but we must be mindful of changing patterns and opportunities.

With a small breather in the Premier League program, it’s time to reassess a further option: the value pick forward. Apart from one which will come to in a minute, this season’s those bargain forwards have largely let us down so far. Still there will be someone who can offer us that flexibility in our front lines at some point. Can we find some evidence, theory or statistic to make us consider filling our front line with a cheap second or third forward who can offer consistent returns over the winter weeks? Let’s look at six contenders.

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The Toffees forward coming unstuck

Dominic Calvin-Lewin 5.5m

DCL has played 8 times for Everton this season with 3 of those appearances coming from the bench. From the 8 games he has scored 3 goals and provided 2 assists offer decent returns for his price.

The Everton youngster has been a popular FPL selection during December, and after his performances for the England youth set up during the summer, it’s great to see him given opportunities in the real world. The brutal reality is that Fantasy football management needs to be even more ruthless than the real world version. The worry is that we have seen him benched for the last 2 games, and with the January transfer window open, it’s clearly a matter of time until Everton have themselves a new forward to lead the line (Editor’s Note: Cenk Tosun comes to mind.). DLC will still get minutes but these seem likely to be from the bench, playing from wide areas or reduced when giving a starting spot. If you own him, then its time to let him go.

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The one’s you won’t like

Salomon Rondon 6m or Jay Rodriguez 5.5m

Pick a West Brom forward Stall, really?

True enough, the duo have been lacking in Premier League goals this season, but Rondon’s ability to lead the line and Jayrod’s pace in behind should make them clear first choices for West Brom in their relegation battle. While the goals haven’t yet arrived in volume, the appointment of Alan Pardew will see the Baggies play a little more in the opposition half with a little more aspiration. In the last three games, Rondon has a goal and an assist, almost doubling his season efforts. This could be an early sign of Pardew’s impact. JayRod meanwhile took the match-saving penalty against Arsenal and may keep that duty.

The Baggies’ next 6 fixtures are Brighton (h), Everton (a), Man City (a), Southampton (h), Chelsea (a) and Huddersfield (h). The run allows us a simple ploy in playing Rondon/JayRod for their home games while benching them for their away games. The home games in the run see WBA face sides with squad depths being tested, so I see returns from Rondon/JayRod in some or in all three matches.

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The potentially explosive one

Callum Wilson 5.7m

25 year old Wilson’s story at Bournemouth has been one of all or nothing. After joining the Cherries, he scored 20 league goals toward earning their promotion into the Premier League. His debut EPL season saw him get off the mark with a hat-trick against West Ham, making him an immediate fantasy managers’ favorite third forward. All of those hopes were dashed when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in late September 2015. He came back to then rupture the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in February 2017.

Wilson has been eased sensibly back into the starting 11 this season, but once again he showed his explosive potential, marking his return with a hat-trick against Huddersfield in mid-November. Following that game, he continued alternating between starting games and performing a sub role whilst building his match fitness. His recent four game run starting from the 23rd December has seen him start all four of the festive fixtures, playing between 72 and 90 minutes per match. None of those games were easy on paper: Manchester City (a), West Ham United (h), Everton (h) and Brighton (a); and it’s his numbers from those games that caught my eye.

Wilson scored 2 goals in 14 efforts, 7 on target. In total this season, his 5 Premier League goals came from just nine appearances (three as sub). He scored four of his five at home, and he averages 2.8 efforts per match playing at Dean Court.

Wilson’s the type of forward I enjoy watching and selecting in my fantasy teams: A hard working fluid mover who looks to find space, really thinking about what he is trying to achieve. Just seeing him active on the pitch, I get that belief there is always something in a game for him. Bournemouth are not light in players who can play the forward role, but injury has marred Jermain Defoe’s season, and Josh King has so far lacked the impact of last season, so Wilson should now get a run.

His next six fixtures are Arsenal (h), West Ham (a), Chelsea (a), Stoke (h), Huddersfield (a) and Newcastle (h). The obvious Arsenal/Chelsea games could concern you, but the Gunners are continuing to make defensive individual mistakes as players and a team, which leaves only the Chelsea game as one where Wilson could be a bench option.

I think we are starting to see Bournemouth pull through what has been a difficult opening half of the season. With their style of play being always to be positive with the ball, Wilson could be a real differential option moving forward

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The one who always lets you down when you buy and scores heavy when you don’t

Andy Carroll 5.5m

“It’s trap” is the normal reply to picking up old fashioned centre forward Carroll. Still, Andy is very effective at what he does, and as I have pointed out, David Moyes’ Everton side were very successful playing with a physical forward good in the air. In his first 90 minutes showing since his return, he scored both goals in the win over WBA.

The next 6 are Huddersfield (a) Bournemouth (H), Crystal Palace (h), Brighton (a), Watford (h) and Liverpool (a). It’s a great set of games, so when he is fit, I think Carroll is a certain to start. At his price he frees up funds for the remainder of your squad.

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The old’un but good’un and a little expensive (un)

Wayne Rooney 7.5m

I’m verging on leaving value territory by offering Rooney as an option for 7.5m, but he sneaks into our list.

Rooney was written off by some as a player whose legs had gone and was living on his reputation (hand up Stall). To prove me wrong in 2017/18, Wayne has scored 10 goals in 18 league games, a ratio that matches any point in his career, and he has supplied 3 assists to go with his goals. This run of goals came with Everton really struggling until Big Sam’s arrival and with injury breaks plus his well published personal issues on top. When you think about it, it’s a pretty good achievement for any player. Rooney isn’t the player of old, but then in FPL at least he isn’t priced as one. Fantasy points and price all we need to concern ourselves with.

More evidence needed? Well if we use the FPL filters found in player selection, a little analysis shows Rooney has the best player value (season) of all players in the forward position. That’s better than Kane, Kun and anyone else you care to mention. With the bonus points system, he ranks 4th highest forward behind Kane, Kun and Firmino. With total Bonus, he is second only behind Kane. On creativity, he is second only to Firmino. Finally, on form, he is 5th in the forward rankings.

Wayne’s next six opponents are Tottenham (a), West Brom (h), Leicester (h), Arsenal (a), Palace (h) and Watford (a). A mixed bag, but playing in an improving Everton side and holding penalty duties. The old man may still have life in him yet.

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So there you have it: Six possible value forwards to consider over the next half a dozen game weeks. Do any of them appeal to you? Does the extra budget released by their purchase allow you to flood your midfield with the glamorous choices available? Or would Marcus Alonso suddenly become affordable for your defense? Is there a further choice I have missed? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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