The moment is nearly upon us! With the roar of the 2018 World Cup crowd still ringing in our ears, suddenly we find ourselves mere days away from the start of the 2018-19 English Premier League campaign.
That fact brings both excitement and anxiety. While we all look forward to spending our weekends watching the action unfold in the world’s best football league, we are also shocked to realize that we have to get our fantasy teams sorted out, and pronto.
Well, we at NMA are here to help you with that. Below you will find a list of my best Fantrax ideas for you to consider, but first let’s take a look at the slate of fixtures on tap.
If you haven’t done so already, you can still join our NMA Fantrax leagues to earn points from week 1!
Note that the week kicks off on Friday — do not miss Game-week 1’s transfer deadline Friday at 7:45 pm! (British Summer Time)
- Huddersfield vs Chelsea
- Bournemouth vs Cardiff
- Watford vs Brighton
- Fulham vs Crystal Palace
- Wolverhampton vs Everton
To my eye, the best match-ups belong to Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. But several of the other matches also promise entertaining football and excellent fantasy potential. Here are the players I’m looking at (prices from our Never Manage Alone Fantrax league).
David De Gea (MUN, $15.21): He’s expensive, and he failed to carry his blistering 2017-18 EPL form into this summer’s World Cup. But let’s not write him off too quickly. United finished its last campaign with the best defense in the Prem, and we all know the Spanish netminder’s capabilities when he’s in his groove. Against a Leicester side that will no longer feature Riyad Mahrez, I see DDG opening his season with a win and very possibly a clean sheet. If you’re looking for a premium-priced keeper, then DDG is your guy.
Allison (LIV, $7.00): While it was Mo Salah and Liverpool’s buccaneering attack that hogged all the attention last year, the team also quietly racked up 17 clean sheets. That’s more than Tottenham, and only 2 fewer than league CS-leaders Manchester United. The addition of world-class Allison will only strengthen the Reds’ defense even more: The guy is so good he keeps ManCity’s Ederson out of Brazil’s starting 11! Easily the best GK pick of the opening weekend, for my money you need look no further. Get him at his introductory price now, because that will only be going up.
Sean Morrison (CAR, $7.00): Cardiff had the joint-best defense in the Championship last year, and Morrison was a key reason why. There is clean sheet potential against Bournemouth, but Morrison also offers goal threat, especially from set pieces. And as Cardiff’s captain, he’s nailed-on to start.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CHE, $11.76): We shall see whether Maurizio Sarri can stabilize the growing disarray at Stamford Bridge. But to me Huddersfield look like relegation fodder this year. Azpilicueta has the potential to pick up points at both ends of the pitch this weekend, and he’s priced below his teammate and blog darling, Marcos Alonso.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (CRY, $4.00): He probably won’t be eligible for clean sheet points because of the way he lines up. But when given games last year, he was an awesome Fantrax performer, and I think he’ll lock down his status as a starter this year. Fulham play attacking football, and that will open up plenty of opportunities for AWB to do his thing down the right flank. At $4.00 he is a screaming value, especially on a NMA + Bench team where you have cover.
Seamus Coleman (EVE, $5.20), Leighton Baines (EVE, $6.91): First of all, do not underestimate Wolverhampton. I don’t expect Everton to keep a clean sheet on Saturday, and it wouldn’t even surprise me if the newcomers beat them. But Coleman and Baines are proven Fantrax performers who offer excellent attacking potential (especially if Baines is on spot kicks this season). Both are bargains at their current prices.
Virgil van Dijk (LIV, $6.61): Liverpool have a decent shot at a clean sheet against West Ham. VVD is a lock to start and the imposing central defender is also a goal threat.
Benjamin Mendy (MCI, $4.00): When he was healthy at the very end of last season, he was a beast in real-life as well as in Fantrax. He’s fully-fit again, and he should be the first-choice left back for the best team in the league. For $4.00, that’s a a no-brainer.
Toby Alderweireld (TOT, $4.00): A sure-starter on a top-6 side who costs $4.00 and plays Newcastle. #Value.
Kieran Trippier (TOT, $7.71): He’ll be on a high after a brilliant performance at this summer’s World Cup in Russia. He’s more expensive than his Belgian teammate Alderweireld, but he also offers much more attacking potential, including free kicks (who can forget the stunner against Croatia in the World Cup semi-final?).
Pascal Gross (BRI, $11.21): Brighton’s string-puller travels to Vicarage Road this weekend, where he’ll face a Watford team that allowed 64 goals last year. Brighton have strengthened their attack with summer transfers, and pretty much anything and everything they do will flow through the German.
Bobby Reid (CAR, $7.00): Before transferring to Cardiff over the summer, Reid scored 21 goals in 56 appearances for Bristol City last year. And only three EPL teams allowed more goals than Bournemouth last season. Reid and his team are new to the Prem, but at $7.00 he looks a good bet this weekend.
Luka Milivojevic (CRY, $10.51): The 27 year-old central midfielder runs Palace’s offense and takes penalties and free kicks. He plays Fulham this week, who play an attack-minded game that should provide the Yugoslavian with plenty of room to operate.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (EVE, $9.41): I think Everton’s offense will improve this year, and that will mean improved Fantrax returns for the Toffees’ Icelandic talisman. Siggy also has set pieces in his locker.
Richarlison (EVE, $8.01): One of the reasons why Everton’s attack will be better this year is the £40M summer signing of Richarlison. He’s now reunited with the manager who got the best from him last season. With his pace, trickery, and aerial ability, Richarlison should be a key player for the Toffees this year.
Tom Cairney (FUL, $7.00) Fulham’s captain characterizes himself as “a poor man’s David Silva”. He will be a revelation to many EPL fans who are not familiar with him. I expect him to return at least his price against Crystal Palace. (Keep an eye on his partner, Jean Michael Seri, too).
Ryan Sessegnon (FUL, $7.00): Last year’s Championship Player of the Year, 18 year-old Sessegnon is one of the best teenagers in all of world football. As with Cairney, your $7.00 investment should be money well-spent against Palace.
Naby Keita (LIV, $7.00): A do-it-all central midfielder, Keita will be the first player to wear Liverpool’s hallowed No. 8 jersey since the legendary Steven Gerrard left the team in 2015. Excellent both on and off the ball, and surrounded by one of the most elite ensembles of attacking talent in world football, the Guinean should thrive in Fantrax’s scoring system.
Leroy Sane (MCI, $13.56): Probably as sure to start as anyone except Kevin De Bruyne, but priced much more reasonably than the Belgian. And I don’t think Arsenal will have an answer for him.
Paul Pogba (MUN, $9.31): I don’t see anyone in Leicester’s midfield who can keep United’s trio of Fred, Matic, and Pogba from owning the center of the park and bossing the game. And that will allow Pogba to get forward more than he did last year.
Christian Eriksen (TOT, $17.14): A proven Fantrax performer, the Dane is a primary source of Spurs’ creativity and takes set pieces. Even at his relatively high price, your investment is probably worth it against Newcastle.
Ruben Neves (WOL, $7.00): The Wolves had the best offense in the Championship last season, and Neves was one of the main reasons why. The central middie has superb passing skills and the ability to score from range. He is also on PKs and free kicks. And now that Joao Moutinho will partner him, he’ll be more free to range forward. Like Fulham’s Cairney, Neves will be a revelation to EPL fans who don’t know him yet.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ARS, $9.66): The fixture isn’t great (nor is next week vs Chelsea), but if any Gunner is going to put one past Ederson it has got to be PEA. In just 13 games with Arsenal last year, the Gabonese put up 10 goals and 4 assists. He could be a dark horse contender for this season’s Golden Boot.
Eden Hazard (CHE, $13.71): The Blues finished the last campaign in poor form, and Antonio Conte’s exit has not yet settled the locker room unrest. But Hazard has enough individual talent to put up good fantasy numbers against Huddersfield even if Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea is still a work in progress. Sadly, Fantrax has reclassified him as a forward for 2018-19.
Wilfried Zaha (CRY, $11.66): The Ivorian is Palace’s danger man, and he’ll find plenty of joy against a Fulham side who press forward at the expense of their defense. Unfortunately, he is another who has been reclassified as a forward this year.
Cenk Tosun (EVE, $4.00): Added to Everton’s side for the second half of the last campaign, the Turk pumped in 5 goals in 14 games. Flanked by Richarlison and Walcott, and with Siggy in support, he should see plenty of service this season. And his $4.00 price tag is easy on the budget.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (FUL, $7.00): The Serbian was loaned to Fulham in February of last year and promptly netted 12 times in 17 games. He’s a great pick against second-tier teams like Palace.
Mo Salah (LIV, $26.27): The do-I-or-don’t-I debate rages on, but for me it’s a no. Sure he might go off for 30+. But he could also roll his ankle in the 6th minute, or just have a bad day. As amazing as he is, do you really want risk over a quarter of your budget on one guy? Especially right now, when there are so many players available at low prices, wouldn’t you be safer using that $26 to buy three good mid-priced players? And then you’d only have 8 spots left to fill with your remaining $74, instead of 10? I’m betting you can come out at least even, and probably ahead, by passing on the Egyptian magician and making wise use of your money elsewhere. Of course, if you find so many bargains that you happen to have $26+ left burning a hole in your pocket, then go for him and taunt us in the comments.
Roberto Firmino (LIV, $14.89), Saudio Mane (LIV, 10.89): If you want a ‘Pool forward against West Ham, these two represent better value than their Egyptian teammate. And there will be goals for ‘Pool in this game. (Again, Mane has been reclassified as a forward this year).
Sergio Aguero (MCI, $16.21): The Argentinian appears to be Pep Guardiola’s first-choice striker, and he’s capable of rippling the net against anybody. Coming off a brace in the 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday, he’ll be brimming with confidence.
Lukaku (MUN, $12.16): Leicester’s Harry Maguire has received a lot of attention since the World Cup, including from Jose Mourinho himself. But the truth is that Leicester conceded more goals last year than 2 of the 3 teams who were relegated. United’s Belgian hitman tends to prosper against permissive opposition, so putting your faith in NMA’s favorite fantasy troll might not be such a bad idea this weekend.
Harry Kane (TOT, $24.12): One of the mantras here at NMA is to avoid Kane in August. And I think I will; he’s away to relatively stingy Newcastle, he costs $24, and there are plenty of other good options available.
Which of these two big-ticket strikers will you include in your Fantrax squad?
This poll is closed
So that’s a run-down of my favorite ideas for the inaugural week of Fantrax Fantasy English Premier League 2018/2019. What players are in your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.
And remember, if you haven’t done so already, you can still join our NMA Fantrax leagues to earn points from week 1!