At the beginning of the season, Premier League aficionados and fantasy managers alike expected Wolverhampton to be the best of the teams promoted from the Championship, with a legitimate chance of finishing in the top half of the EPL. After all, Wolves finished first in the Championship by a whopping 9-point margin, they already boasted a solid amount of talent, and they ambitiously added even more last summer for the benefit of (and also due to the presence and influence of) manager Nuno Espirito Santo.
One of the players we thought could be a star, or at least a strong fantasy performer, was attacker Diogo Jota. Jota led the team with 17 goals, fifth overall in the league and five scores clear of his nearest teammate, Leo Bonatini with 12. The FPL game listed him as a midfielder and priced him attractively at £6.5, bringing thoughts that he could be this season’s Pascal Gross, who scored 164 points in 2017-18 for Brighton, netting 7 goals and adding 8 assists.
Wolverhampton has delivered this season on the pitch, currently sitting in 8th place. And the club has also delighted in fantasy, contributing a few useful assets. Unfortunately, Jota has largely been an afterthought. Instead of last season’s star, a trio of newcomers — forward Raul Jimenez, defender Matt Doherty and goalkeeper Rui Patricio — have stood out as Wolves’ brightest fantasy producers.
Coming into the Leicester game, Jota was owned by a paltry 1% of Official FPL managers, and some of those are rosters abandoned after game-week 1. In 17 games, he had scored only twice and added three assists, for a meek total of 49 fantasy points in FPL (2.9 ppg), and 74 in Fantrax (4.4 ppg). And then the Foxes came to the Molineux.
Only three minutes into the game, Jota pounced on a wonderful cross from Joao Moutinho, beating Danny Simpson to the ball and knocking it past Kasper Schmeichel to open the scoring. With the score knotted at 2-2, Jota streaked down the left side and chest-controlled a perfect long ball from Ruben Neves, powering the ball through Schmeichel to take the lead. But his heroics weren’t done; in the third and final minute of extra time, with the score yet again deadlocked, an embarrassingly wide open Jota took a simple pass from Jimenez and calmly placed it into the side netting as a helpless Schmeichel and the rest of the Foxes could only look on with dejection.
Jota delivered a dominant performance with three goals from four shots (all on target), bringing 19 points in FPL (including the three bonus) and 32 points in Fantrax. With his price tag having dropped all the way down to £5.9 in the official format, is it time to buy?
HONORABLE MENTION: Newcastle Defender Fabian Schar
Even more out of nowhere, Magpies’ central defender Fabian Schar exploded with a brace (plus the clean sheet bonus) in Newcastle’s 3-0 victory over Cardiff at St. James’ Park. In nine previous games, he had totaled 18 FPL points (2.0 ppg) and 71 in Fantrax (7.9 ppg). He scored more points in Week 23 in FPL than he had tallied the entire season prior to that!
Midway through the first half, the first score began innocuously with Schar taking a short back pass around midfield. The defender took a touch, freeing up space from a trailing Oumar Niasse, and dribbled goalward with pace and desire that would make any midfielder proud. (The sequence starts at 1:43 of the video below.) Nobody from the Bluebirds’ defense stepped up to stop him until he’d gotten inside the penalty box, where Schar coolly placed the ball inside the post with a deft left-footed touch.
The second, well, wasn’t nearly as pretty, but it counted just the same (4:25). Matt Ritchie’s bending corner kick found the head of Jamaal Lascelles, and then it found the side of Schar. Schar may not have known much about it, but he knew just enough to bundle it home.
Scoring on both of his shots, Schar ended up with 21 points in Official (including the three bonus) and 26 points in Fantrax. Before the game, the summer transfer from Deportivo de La Coruna (following relegation from La Liga) was owned by only 0.1% of FPL managers, and his £4.6 price could be tempting. Those of us who have recently played World Cup or Euros fantasy are well aware of Schar — and his goal-scoring prowess — with the Switzerland national team. After Saturday’s bravura performance, now everybody knows about him!
Were you one of the very few prescient souls who had either Jota or Schar in your fantasy side? If not, are you considering adding them now, or will you stay away until they can deliver consistent returns? What other players starred for you over the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!