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Stuart Dallas: Cult Hero (And How To Find Others)

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Every season has its break-out fantasy performers. Here’s how find next year’s.

Stuart Dallas - Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

FPL is more than a game; it’s a battle of minds. Managers have to be shrewd and discover unfancied, inexpensive hidden gems who will give them the upper hand over their rivals. These individuals tend to emerge from the shadows of the household names to be forever immortalized as PFL cult heroes.

The name John Lundstram, aka Lord Lundstram, may ring bells as last year’s cult hero, a combative midfielder with a knack for scoring. He was well-loved amongst the FPL faithful for that reason, along with the small fact that he was listed as a defender while playing in midfield. With 13 clean sheets (richly deserved) from Chris Wilder’s stingy Sheffield United defense of 2019-2020, he was a must for all FPL managers last campaign. But Lundstram’s luster (along with Sheffield’s) faded this season, and he no longer enjoys the status of fantasy favorite.

For me, this season’s cult hero is Stuart Dallas of the high-flying arrows at Leeds United. New to the Premier League this season, not many people knew about individuals in this well-drilled team that never stops running. We were aware of the celebrated Bielsa, of course, but like Robin Hood, he became famous before his merry men.

Dallas, like Lundstram, is a defender playing in midfield. For us FPL managers, this is great because it offers us full clean-sheet points on top of inflated attacking returns. To date, Dallas has seven goals and two assists to go with Leeds’ nine clean sheets.

Dallas began his career at Coagh United, where he made his debut in 2007 while working as a joiner. But it was only in the summer of 2010 when Dallas signed for Crusaders FC, training once a week for £70. Slowly but surely, that work saw the rise of the Irishman, who in 2012 signed for Brentford. Dallas spent five years there, a story littered with loan spells, good fortune, and memorable performances interspersed among some okay ones. In 2015 Dallas signed at Leeds for 1.3 million and wages that eclipsed the paltry 70 pounds weekly that he received at the start of his footballing career. It was at Elland road where Dallas made his name through luck, talent, and determination.

The Leeds man is now a key cog in a well-oiled machine. With four double-digit hauls, this season makes him the best-value defender of the campaign, not to mention the top point-scoring defender. Dallas is just three points shy of John Lundstram‘s illustrious 144 points during the 2019-20 season, with seven games still remaining.

Priced at an affordable 5.2m, you can see why 24.7% of managers own the Leeds man. In the top 10 highest point-scoring defenders, only Matt Targett in 8th is cheaper, but he is also 23 points behind. Having Dallas is like shopping in Aldi but with John Lewis customer service and aftercare (who doesn’t love a bargain?), a match made in heaven.

Leeds’ next two games, Liverpool and Manchester United, aren’t the easiest, but this doesn’t mean our man can’t get points from them. This will not be his first gig at spoiling the party for so-called ‘top 6’ teams. This could simply enhance his credentials as being fixture-proof; just ask Pep’s men at Manchester City about the 17 points he tallied in that game.

Dallas was sold by 220,730+ managers for GW-31, losing more owners than an old diesel van once the ULEZ charge kicks in, but his double-digit haul against City is sure to be grounds for his remaining owners to double down on the 30-year-old defender.

This article isn’t me trying to tell you to get the Leeds man, but it is to look out for the next cult hero in FPL. They are little gems — rare, and sometimes hard to find, but when you do they will shine bright.

Here a few tips on how to spot an FPL Cult Hero:

  • Start your search at the promoted teams, as these players are normally unknown entities who can prove valuable differentials if you catch them before your rivals.
  • Watch for either defenders playing in midfield and midfielders playing as strikers. Even better is such a player who’s also on set pieces.
  • Select for a cheap starting price, likely unknown at the start of the season, who can burst into prominence and rapidly increase in value.
  • The bonus point system plays a vital role as this adds to the points players earn directly. This is determined by position and “the little things” achieved in the game. Using Aaron Wan Bissaka as an example, he is likely to make a lot of tackles, thus increasing his bonus points. Harry Maguire is likewise to prosper in clearances, blocks, and interceptions as well as completing plenty of passes. A successful dribbler can cement BP for you as well as those who cross and assist.

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In the blink of an eye, the next season will be upon us so hopefully, my tips on how to find the Cult Hero will help you uncover a gem of your own to help you in your quest to win your mini-leagues.

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Who is your 2020-21 season's cult hero? Who makes a better cult hero, a defender playing midfield, or a midfielder playing striker? Please let us know in the comments.

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