Manchester City had a season for the ages in 2017-18, but now it’s time to decide if the Citizens deserve three players in your fantasy teams. Have their prices risen too much? Do you worry that they may fall off? Should we all worry that Pep’s continental ambitions will result in (fantasy-fatal) domestic league rotation?
What about Liverpool, who already have fantasy superstar Mo Salah and now are adding several new players? Or Tottenham who always seem to have a number of key stars deliver? Do you think Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba can carry over their World Cup success for Manchester United? After down seasons, Chelsea and Arsenal have brought in new managers, so will their fortunes turn around?
Of course, if you have a good feeling about any of the teams outside of the “Big Six,” you can get those players at a relative bargain. Another consideration is whether you are focused on a team with a favorable opening schedule, or are instead taking a more season-long view.
Let’s take a run at the percentages, and see how fantasy managers are thinking regarding which team, or teams, they view as vital to success. With a few days left before the deadline, there is still some time for change, but this gives us a good idea of where things are. Which teams have at least three players each at 10% ownership levels?
Liverpool (Eight Players at 10% or more)
- 51% Mohamed Salah (MF, £13.0)
- 36% Roberto Firmino (F, £9.5)
- 16% Virgil van Dijk (D, £6.0)
- 15% Andrew Robertson (D, £6.0)
- 15% Trent Alexander-Arnold (D, £5.0)
- 14% Sadio Mane (MF, £9.5)
- 13% Alisson (GK, £5.5)
- 11% Dejan Lovren (D, £5.0)
Last season’s Champions League runner-up came the closest to fielding a full team of double digit stars in FPL with a remarkable eight players. Most people first think of the Reds’ dynamic offense, and that’s where the highest percentage ownership is. Over half of all fantasy managers keeping faith with Mo Salah, and over a third are going with Firmino.
But it’s the at other end where fantasy managers are turning for depth, as new keeper Alisson and all four starting defenders are owned by at least 10% of fantasy teams. Clearly there is plenty of disagreement over which defender will pay off the best. Adding in Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita, Liverpool boasts an astounding 10 players with at least 5% ownership levels!
Manchester City (Five)
- 29% Kevin De Bruyne (MF, £10.0)
- 19% Leroy Sane (MF, £9.5)
- 17% Ederson (GK, £5.5)
- 13% Sergio Aguero (F, £11.0)
- 10% Kyle Walker (D, £6.5)
Manchester City may not have nearly as many 10% players as Liverpool, but the Citizens’ depth of love runs almost as deeply, as four additional players are at 5% or more (Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Fernandinho and David Silva) to give the crown holders nine players at that broader level.
Fantasy managers are back to loving Kun more than Gabriel Jesus (3%), but interestingly are completely staying away from the player who paced the team in fantasy scoring last season, Raheem Sterling (3%). Perhaps his World Cup no-show has something to do with that, or it may be because his price tag rose all the way up to match Aguero’s.
Manchester United (Four)
- 30% David De Gea (GK, £6.0)
- 15% Romelu Lukaku (F, £11.0)
- 14% Paul Pogba (MF, £8.0)
- 12% Jesse Lingard (MF, £7.0)
Clearly managers think that De Gea will get over his horrible World Cup performance, while also interestingly, they have turned to three other players on his team who actually played extremely well for nations that advanced deep into the tournament.
- 17% Marcos Alonso (D, £6.5)
- 17% Cesar Azpilicueta (D, £6.5)
- 17% N’Golo Kante (MF, £5.0)
- 10% Eden Hazard (MF, £10.5)
Chelsea won the title in 2016-17, but followed that up with a disappointing fifth place finish last season, leading to the sacking of Antonio Conte. Through that lens, it is not a surprise that the London Blues lag behind the Mancunian sides in terms of fantasy love. Fantasy managers dig the defenders and midfielders, but are shying away from keeper Thibaut Courtois (only 6% ownership) and the forward position where Olivier Giroud is at 6% and Alvaro Morata sits at a meager 3%.
As always, I have no idea why so many managers own Kante, considering that he costs £5.0 rather than the £4.5 minimum. He’s a marvelous, brilliant, amazing player on the pitch, but he has averaged fewer than 100 points over the past three seasons in fantasy. You can get someone better at £5.0, and to be honest you probably could even if he were priced at £4.5.
Crystal Palace (Four)
- 32% Wilfried Zaha (F, £7.0)
- 15% Julian Speroni (GK, £4.0)
- 11% Luka Milivojevic (MF, £6.5)
- 10% James Tomkins (D, £4.5)
Crystal Palace? The team that finished in 11th place with a -10 goal differential? Really? Yes, really! Crystal Palace has as many players with double digit percentage ownership as Chelsea and Manchester United, and more than Tottenham and Arsenal. Of course, that comes with a caveat, since 15% own Julian Speroni, the third string keeper, merely because he comes at the cheapest price at the position. Bargain hunting is definitely the theme when it comes to the Eagles, as Zaha is the most expensive Palace player not just on this list, but in the team as a whole, at only £7.0.
- 34% Harry Kane (F, £12.5)
- 27% Kieran Trippier (D, £6.0)
- 17% Christian Eriksen (MF, £9.5)
It’s no surprise to see Harry Kane at the top of Spurs’ fantasy ownership levels, but it’s certainly interesting to see Kieran Trippier close behind, well ahead of Christian Eriksen. What a difference a David Beckham-esque World Cup goal makes! Spurs may only have three players at 10% or more, but there is depth as four more players — midfielder Heung-Min Son, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and defenders Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies — are each owned by more than 8%. Dele Alli has been selected by only 4% of managers, offering quite a differential opportunity for those who have not lost the faith.
- 23% Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (F, £11.0)
- 17% Henrikh Mkhitaryan (MF, £7.0)
- 15% Hector Bellerin (D, £5.5)
A sixth place finish last season has led to a paucity of ownership in the Gunners’ fantasy assets. Not only does Arsenal have only three players with at least 10% ownership, you can keep going down to 5% and you’ll remain at the exact same number. Aside from PEA, Micki and Bellerin, Gunners are being avoided like the plague.
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If you add it all up, there are seven teams (that’s more than one-third of the league!) which can boast at least 10% ownership each for three or more players. Are you following suit and jumping all over one (or more) of the popular teams, or is it savvier to make an against-the-grain play by targeting the lesser loved squads? Take the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Which Premier League team is the most essential to load up on in fantasy?
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Other (name in comments)