As in real football, a quality midfield is key to a successful fantasy season.
Last season, midfielders Bruno Fernandes, Mo Salah, and Heung-Min Son claimed three of the top four overall scores (forward Harry Kane butting in at second). Only these four earned over 200 points in FPL.
So Bruno, Salah and Son are on every fantasy manager’s radar each week, but we also aren’t Man City, so we don’t have unlimited budgets to buy whomever we want. Let’s take a look at options from all price ranges.
Also, if you haven’t read this Tips and Tricks article yet, then stop — Go read it. It’s great stuff that I’ll be revisiting throughout the season.
Mo Salah (£12.5, LIV)
The Egyptian attacker is the highest priced midfielder (Harry Kane is the only other player in the game as expensive), but leave him out of your lineup at your own risk. One of the most dangerous players in the league, he’s a little streaky. Last year he had stretches of five and six games when he didn’t score. But when he did score, he scored in bunches. Six times he had back-to-back games with goals, including one stretch of four straight. He had three braces and a hattrick too. In other words, he scores goals. Oh, don’t forget that he opened the season last year with a hattrick, and Liverpool starts off this season with some tasty matchups.
Bruno Fernandes (£12.0, MAN)
The Man United star was the top earner in FPL last season with 18 goals plus 14 assists. In 22 of the 38 games, he had either a goal and/or assist. He had eight games with at least one goal AND assist. He does it all, and he does it consistently. He is a week-in and week-out producer.
I have two questions about Bruno this season: First, will he get the same number of PKs? He scored 13 from the spot last season. That’s a lot of goals from PKs. Second, will Jadon Sancho’s arrival hurt or help his fantasy output? I think it will help, as Sancho will make United better. But he also may take some set pieces from Bruno. Bruno is still an excellent choice, but I wonder if that same standout fantasy production will continue.
Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0, MCI)
For me, KDB is the best player in the league, hands down. But he had a rough season of injuries that kept him out of FPL’s top 10 point-earners among midfielders. Still, when he does play, he produces. In 23 games he had six goals plus twelve assists. He’s now a year older, and City continues to add players to Pep’s roulette wheel, putting KDB’s minutes more and more at risk. So I’m taking a more cautious approach to him this year, but when I know he’s starting, he’s match-proof and always a good option.
Heung-Min Son (£10.0, TOT)
At £2 less than the other premium players, and with just as much FPL production, Son is the value option. As you will note in the chart below, he had the 5th highest value of any midfielder a year ago (really 4th because Dallas was a defender). 17 goals plus 11 assists show that Son does it all on the offensive end.
As the season starts, I’ll be watching a few things that may affect his output. With a new manager, we will have to see how Son and Tottenham line up. If Kane leaves, what impact will that have? The two work brilliantly together, and no Kane could mean less scoring for Spurs.
The Others: Mane and Sterling both had letdown seasons for what we expect. They remain options, but at those prices I’m not jumping in yet. There are other cheaper options with similar values. I think Sancho is going to have a good season with United, but I’m also taking a cautious approach to see how he starts. At 9.0 he could become a good value premium midfielder.
Mid-Range (£8.5 - 7.0):
I find myself feeling underwhelmed by the players in this range. Much of that apprehension comes from the concern for rotation, consistency, and having similar options at bargain prices (see further below).
Note on Man City midfielders: City’s attacking mids present both risk and reward. City will put up points, and without a pure striker, we may see more players getting good time. Watch early to see what Pep is going to do. Ferran Torres and Phil Foden become excellent options if we see them playing consistently.
Jack Grealish (£8.0, MCI)
City paid an insane fee to trigger the release clause for the English international. I’ve had a fantasy crush on him for years. If Grealish finds a consistent place in a very crowded midfield, I could see him putting up good FPL numbers.
lkay Gündogan (£7.5, MCI)
The City midfielder surprised many with his shift to attack last season. He is good value. But again, one has to worry about both role and rotation. When he plays, he’s capable of big points. He’s on the ball a lot. He has great vision and isn’t afraid to get forward, but where will he fit in after Pep assigns roles to his new acquisitions?
Diogo Jota (£7.5, LIV)
If Jota can stay healthy, the Liverpool player is an excellent value. In 19 games (12 starts) last season, he scored nine goals. That’s solid output. With Firmino and Mane not producing as consistently, Jota could become the main attacking partner for Salah.
Mason Mount (£7.5, CHE)
If Chelsea can get a forward who can finish (and it’s looking more and more likely that Lukaku will join), then Mount becomes an excellent choice. Mount had six goals plus seven assists last season, even after a lot of chances were wasted (I’m looking at you, Timo Werner). He will remain on set pieces and should play every week. Chelsea may be a force this season, and Mount would be a driving reason behind that.
Bargain (<= £6.5)
Before diving into some specific players, I want to look at the value chart. Of the 16 players on the list below (I stopped at Bruno so you could see the comparison), all but three are under £7. That is to say, there is strong value in these economy-priced players.
Be careful with Stuart Dallas, as he was classed as a defender last term. Now carrying the more appropriate tag of midfielder, he’s not an out-of-position player in FPL anymore, so he won’t earn as many points (especially from clean sheets).
Here’s my watch-list of players with high value but low cost:
Raphinha (£6.5, LEE)
The Leeds attacking midfielder was involved in so much of his team’s success. Leeds presses and throws numbers forward. Raphinha takes some kicks and finds himself in good attacking positions. With a year of EPL experience now under this belt, I think he’ll put up even better numbers this time around.
Tomas Soucek (£6.0, WHU)
This guy did everything for the Hammers. He holds the team together. He scores when needed. Defending... attacking... He won’t wow you, but at £6 he puts up points and is always a player to consider.
Emiliano Buendia (£6.5, AST)
Now that Grealish has officially moved, Buendia becomes a strong choice from a club with more and more attacking options. He will be in my team early.
Billy Gilmour (£4.5, NOR)
Gilmour will be in a lot of teams, and rightly so. There’s a strong chance that he fills in the gaping whole left by Buendia’s move to Aston Villa. If he can claim a share of set pieces, he becomes a very strong option. There are no other midfielders at that price whom I’m even looking at.
Emile Smith Rowe (£5.5, ARS)
As an Arsenal fan, maybe this is me being really hopeful. Now that ESR has the #10 jersey at Arsenal. I can see him taking over some of the set piece and attacking responsibilities.
What midfielders are on your list today? Whom do you think will perform better than last season (and why)? Whom do you think will tail off? Will Mane or Sterling return to form? Will Sterling even stay at Man City? Where do midfielders rank relative to other positions in your FPL priorities? Do you spend big, or hunt for bargains, or take a more balanced approach? And do you have questions of your own? Please share in the comments below!