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Which FPL Team are You Loading up on?

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Are you going after players from the popular sides, or targeting a different squad for success?

Virgil van Dijk celebrates victory with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson - Liverpool FC - Premier League
Are you still backing Liverpool’s star defensive trio after they shipped seven goals to Aston Villa?
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Usually at NMA we try to get a handle on what teams are popular on the eve of the season. However, things are different this year as Aston Villa, Burnley, Manchester City and Manchester United skipped in GW1, which led many fantasy managers to avoid their players at the outset. Now that the dust has settled a bit, we find ourselves with time to think during first international break. We have a much better idea which sides fantasy managers truly rate highly, particularly since many have already or are currently in the process of playing their first-half wildcard chip.

Let’s take a gander inside the hive-mind, along with looking at some other avenues that seem to be opening up. Which teams have the most players currently selected by at least 10% of FPL managers? What less-popular sides deserve consideration?

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TEAMS WITH HEAVY FPL INVESTMENT

Liverpool (5 players)

  • Midfielder Mohamed Salah (£12.2m, 43%)
  • Defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m, 41%)
  • Defender Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m, 28%)
  • Defender Andrew Robertson (£7.0m, 15%)
  • Goalkeeper Alisson (£6.0m, 11%)

The defending champions have earned plenty of support, and five goals plus an assist from Pharaoh superstar Mo Salah in the first four games has sent his price soaring. But the shocking 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa in GW4, combined with a Covid-19 absence for Sadio Mane and injury to Alisson, has forced fantasy gaffers at least to think about looking elsewhere otherwise at several spots.

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Leicester (5 players)

  • Forward Jamie Vardy (£10.1, 26%)
  • Defender James Justin (£4.7m, 23%)
  • Defender Timothy Castagne (£5.7m, 19%)
  • Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (£5.5m, 13%)
  • Defender Caglar Soyuncu (£5.5, 10%)

After a faltering finish after the restart led to missing out on Champions League, the Foxes announced their renewed ambition by starting this campaign with three straight wins, including a 5-2 shocker over Manchester City. FPL managers took notice, backing Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy and his five goals already this season (amazingly with four coming from the penalty spot).

But it’s at the defensive end where managers have really turned to Leicester players. Keeper Kasper Schmeichel (12 points) and defender Caglar Soyuncu (8 points) have disappointed, but defenders Timothy Castangne (28 points) and James Justin (18 points) have offered excellent value thanks to their offensive contributions.

If only the Foxes had kept up their perfect start instead of being blindsided in GW4 with a 3-0 defeat to West Ham, FPL managers surely would have been turning to Leicester City assets in droves.

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Arsenal (4 players)

  • Midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.9m, 25%)
  • Defender Gabriel (£5.1m, 13%)
  • Midfielder Willian (£8.0m, 11%)
  • Goalkeeper Bernd Leno (£5.0m, 10%)

With Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial out of action in GW1, PEA was a natural choice for fantasy managers to start the season. However, the 22-goal scorer from each of the past two seasons has sputtered with only one goal and assist each across the first four games, and now managers are shipping the star winger. Meanwhile, Willian, Gabriel and Leno all got off to excellent starts in the opener — Willian scored 14 points thanks to three assists, Gabriel and Leno each notched clean sheets, with Gabriel scoring a goal to boot — but the well has run dry since, leaving buyers’ remorse for fantasy managers who rushed to add them.

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Aston Villa (4 players)

  • Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (£4.6m, 18%)
  • Midfielder Jack Grealish (£7.1m, 14%)
  • Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland (£4.0m, 13%)
  • Forward Keinan Davis (£4.4m, 12%)

Aston Villa? You mean the 17th place team from last season that barely avoided relegation on the final day? Or do you mean the 2nd place Villans this season with three wins from as many games, boasting the best goal differential in the league (+9) after thrashing Liverpool 7-2?

Well, it’s a bit of both. The former influenced FPL gaffers to select Nyland (who isn’t even on the team anymore) and Davis as popular ultra-cheap bench fodder. But it’s the latter that has brought Grealish and Martinez to the forefront. If you thought Grealish was a stud last season, his star is skyrocketing this campaign with three goals and three assists so far, tying for third at midfield FPL scoring (still with a game in hand!).

Meanwhile, former Arsenal man Martinez has been a revelation as the #1 keeper in the game thanks to two clean sheets and a PK save. The Villains’ FPL representation is sure to grow as managers will have to consider adding the likes of forward Ollie Watkins, midfielders John McGinn and Ross Barkley (on loan from Chelsea) along with defenders Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa Ngoyo. We envy our friends in Fantrax who have no 3-per-team restrictions (and unlimited transfers besides!).

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Everton (3 players)

  • Forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m, 48%)
  • Midfielder James Rodriguez (£7.8m, 38%)
  • Defender Lucas Digne (£6.1m, 16%)

FIRST PLACE Everton have only three players at double digit ownership percentages, but with two of those at over 35%, it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of love for the Toffees. Raise your hand (and a glass) if, like me, you stayed away from Dominic Calvert-Lewin due to his horrendous form after the restart last season (or his horrendous form at the beginning of last season).

But with six goals, including a GW2 hattrick, DCL has definitely turned the page; he’s currently the #2 points earner at his position. With three scores and two assists, James Rodriguez has been the team’s spark plug. Boasting two helpers and one clean sheet, Lucas Digne has rediscovered his appeal as a two-way player from left wing back.

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
It’s not just Everton players dancing, it’s also FPL managers heavily invested in Toffees.
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Otherwise, if not for forward Richarlison’s injury, the Brazilian would surely have better than his current 8% selection level. And while keeper Jordan Pickford sits at 9%, the gaffe machine will have to be wary of newcomer Robin Olsen, who could prove an excellent differential at £4.5m should the Swedish international displace the Three Lions’ putative #1.

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Tottenham (3 players)

  • Midfielder Son Heung-Min (£9.0m, 27%)
  • Forward Harry Kane (£10.6m, 23%)
  • Defender Matt Doherty (£5.9m, 12%)

Of Spurs’ 12 goals so far, Harry Kane has been involved in nine (three goals plus six assists), while Son has been part of seven (six scores + one helper), so let’s just say that those players’ selection levels are on the rise, especially with Son having been dropped by so many managers following his injury during GW3... before his miraculous recovery with two goals and an assist against Manchester United in GW4 (Grrr...).

On the other hand, disenchantment is the word for Matt Doherty who has not been able to recreate the joy he shared as a former fantasy favorite with Wolves, earning only four points total with neither a clean sheet nor anything to show on the offensive end, and being unexpectedly benched for GW4 (in favor of Serge Aurier who scored a goal and added an assist).

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Wolves (3 players)

  • Forward Raul Jimenez (£8.6m, 23%)
  • Defender Romain Saiss (£5.1m, 13%)
  • Midfielder Adama Traore (£6.4m, 13%)

The 7th place team in each of the past two seasons beckoned, especially appealing due to missing out on Europa League (thanks to Arsenal’s cup victory), thus able to rest and focus on EPL glory this season. However, Wolves have sputtered a bit out of the gate, currently sitting in 13th place, the worst of the two-win teams thanks to a -3 goal differential.

Romain Saiss has actually offered the best value on the team, having scored 24 points due to two clean sheets, a goal and five bonus points. But those holding Mexican star Jimenez can’t be too disappointed with his output of two goals; that is, unless they added him after GW2, as he hasn’t scored since (against West Ham or sorry Fulham). It’s backers of Adams Traore who will be the most gutted, as the dazzling winger has tallied only 8 points, failing to get on the score sheet and finding himself on the bench in GW4.

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Southampton (3 players)

  • Forward Danny Ings (£8.5m, 20%)
  • Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (£4.5m, 19%)
  • Defender Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m, 11%)

Two wins and two losses. Five goals scored, six goals conceded. The Saints may be the very definition of mediocrity, but they do offer fantasy value, and FPL managers got in on them early due to a favorable schedule at the outset. With three goals and 24 points, Danny Ings has kept up his sizzling form from last season. The team’s two clean sheets have been a boon to both McCarthy (17 points) and KWP (15 points), the latter of whom even chipped in an assist.

If Che Adams (2%) can actually convert some of his chances going forward — he’s the league “leader” with four big chances missed — he’ll surely gain a lot of investment. However, FPL managers may start to bail on their Saints as the fixture list now turns trickier over the next six contests: at Chelsea, v. Everton, at Aston Villa, v. Newcastle, at Wolves, v. Manchester United.

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Brighton (3 players)

  • Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan (£4.5m, 17%)
  • Defender Tariq Lamptey (£4.7m, 10%)
  • Defender Bernardo (£4.0m, 10%)

Ryan has disappointed, securing only one clean sheet and just 8 FPL points total in four matches so far, so hopefully if you’re part of the 17% contingent who have him, you’re using him as part of a rotation. Lamptey, who isn’t doing much better in scoring, has amazingly seen his price rise from £4.5m up to £4.7m already thanks to three assists which have provided nine of his eleven points. The young wingback sadly missed out on the clean sheet in GW2 since he was removed a minute before the requisite 60’. Meanwhile, Bernardo has yet to appear, clearly merely being chosen as cheap deep bench fodder.

But the Seagulls have other lowly-selected options sure to tempt as differentials, especially on the offensive end. Forward Neil Maupay (£6.6m) is 5th among forwards with 32 points, and midfielder Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) could be even better than his 20 points if not for his incredibly unlucky penchant for hitting the woodwork, which he has done four times already!

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NOTABLE TEAMS WITHOUT MUCH FANTASY INVESTMENT

For every surprise team in the above list, there are probably even more shocks when it comes to the sides that fantasy managers have tended to avoid.

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Chelsea

It’s unusual to see the Blues not represented, especially when they finished fourth last season and added so many exciting players in the summer transfer window. Right now they only have two players at 10+%: forward Timo Werner (22%) and defender Reece James (14%). Those percentages are likely to decline. After enjoying huge success in the Bundlesliga, Werner has ghosted fantasy managers for his first four EPL games, while James was inexplicably benched in favor of Cesar Azpilicueta in GW4 to miss out on that clean sheet.

However, others are sure to see their percentages increase, particularly a quartet of midfielders: Jorginho (9%) has scored three goals (all PKs) and added an assist despite rotating, Kai Havertz (9%) has looked lively while providing two helpers despite playing relatively deep, and Christian Pulisic (3%) and Hakim Ziyech (1%) are raring to go following injury.

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Leeds

It’s not surprising to see a newly promoted team fail to have a huge amount of backing, but Leeds United are showing not just that they should be able to stay up, but that they can play with anybody. With three goals and two assists, forward Patrick Bamford (25%) leads the way in terms of FPL selection, and with two scores plus a helper, midfielder Holder Costa (10%) is also at double digit percentages. The team nearly has a third in the form Harry Douglas (9%) as cheap bench fodder, but Mateusz Klich (8%) could soon join the double digit club as an offensive asset, having nearly equaled Costa’s scoring output so far.

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Manchester United

The Red Devils — 3rd place last season — surprisingly have just one player at 10+% selection, last year’s big winter transfer, midfielder Bruno Fernandes (20%). the Portuguese star has delivered with two goals, one assist and 20 points across the team’s three games. The other fantasy favorites from last season have been avoided, and for good reason, as forward Anthony Martial (7%) along with midfielders Marcus Rashford (6%) and Mason Greenwood (5%) have combined for one goal and 21 points, while defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka (9%) has put up a goose egg overall after going negative in the 6-1 defeat to Spurs in GW4.

Marcus Rashford celebrates with teammate Anthony Martial - Manchester United - Premier League
Rashford and Martial may as well be on the back of a milk carton as far as fantasy managers are concerned.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

With Martial suspended for the next three matches and new-boy forward Edinson Cavani (0%) in quartentine following midfielder Donny van de Beek (3%) in that regard, the offense looks to get awfully crowded, so FPL managers will likely continue their caution regarding Manchester United assets unless the side can quickly turn around.

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West Ham

Many FPL managers stayed away from the Hammers due to a daunting opening set of fixtures. The start, featuring losses to Newcastle and Arsenal, bore out that strategy. However, West Ham has turned that script on its head with convincing victories over Wolves and Foxes the past two weeks.

With two goals each, forward Michail Antonio (5%) and midfielder Jarrod Bowen (2%) have starred on offense. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski (1%) and defender Aaron Cresswell (4%) have delivered two clean sheets (along with two assists from Cresswell) to delight their loyal FPL backers.

The schedule looks to remain brutal over the next three weeks: at Tottenham, v. Manchester City, at Liverpool. Do you keep avoiding until Week 8 for Hammer time, or do you throw caution to the wind and grab their stars now in the hopes that West Ham can keep its remarkable form?

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Mystery Team

Did you notice a particular team missing above? For instance, one that rhymes with Shandester Bitty? Unbelievably, the second place team from 2019-20 (and league winners in both 2017-18 and 2018-19) who consistently offer a barrage of Goals Goals Goals (wasn’t that a Motley Crue song?), somehow features just a single player at 10% selection, superstar midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (41%).

Having started the season with an off-week, and given the Sky Blues’ injury problems (Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus) and lackadaisical recent performance — losing to Leicester City 5-2 in GW3 and drawing Leeds United 1-1 in GW4 — perhaps it’s not a complete shock that fantasy managers haven’t laoded up on Citizens yet, but it’s still a real surprise.

Along with forwards Aguero (1%) and Jesus (1%), midfielders Phil Foden (8%), Raheem Sterling (7%) and Riyad Mahrez (4%), defenders Aymeric Laporte (3%) and Ruben Dias (0%), along with keeper Ederson (5%) are some of the Citizens sure to see their selections levels tick upward soon.

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[NOTE: Statistics and pricing information came from the official Fantasy Premier League site as well as the official Premier League site.]

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You can stock your roster with only three players from each team. Which side did you load up on to start the season? Are you sticking with that approach, or changing to another team? Please answer the poll below and be sure to join in the comments as well!

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Poll

Which team is most essential to stock up on in FPL?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Arsenal
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Aston Villa
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Brighton & Hove Albion
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Burnley
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Chelsea
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Crystal Palace
    (0 votes)
  • 29%
    Everton
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Fulham
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Leeds United
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Leicester City
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    Liverpool
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Manchester City
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Manchester United
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Newcastle
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Sheffield United
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Southampton
    (1 vote)
  • 29%
    Tottenham
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    West Brom
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    West Ham
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Wolves
    (1 vote)
34 votes total Vote Now

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