As Emiliano Martinez reminded us last season, your choice of goalkeeper isn’t the boring chore that it is often treated as in FPL. Martinez was unexpectedly the top-scoring non-attacking player last season. He nearly set the record for fantasy points accumulated by a shot-stopper with 186 points (Brad Friedel earned 187 in 2002-03).
Though much more dependent on saves and bonus points rather than straight clean-sheet appeal, his achievements last season for a less than stout Aston Villa defense highlight the variety of approaches for selecting your anchors at the back. He demostrates why keepers should be prioritized in your team selection rather than neglected as a budget afterthought.
This is a position that none of us want to spend transfers on, no matter the tactics planned. Therefore getting your goalkeeper strategy right to begin the season is fantastically valuable, allowing you to focus attention on the more mercurial midfield and forward assets.
Bargains (£4.0M - £4.5M)
Daniel Bachmann (£4.5M, WAT) + Ben Foster (£4.0M, WAT)
I’m kicking off with an affordable combination keeper strategy here: These two will set you back only £8.5M together while protecting you from injury because Foster should replace Bachmann in the event of an issue.
This is currently my preference to begin the season. Although promoted sides can be tricky to predict, Foster has EPL experience as recently as 2019-20 when he accrued nine clean sheets and an impressive 17 bonus points. This season will be Bachmann’s introduction to the EPL, but he played well in the Euro 2020 tournament for Austria, and he was Watford’s starting keeper in the Championship last season 23 times, conceding only 13 goals, with 1.6 saves-per-game. Presumably he will let in more goals this campaign against tougher competition, but that should also come with more saves.
Since Watford has an unsettled and shocking number of strikers, both keepers should be in the mix for bonus points if they stay relatively strong in defense. Bachmann is a sneaky top-5 goalkeeper at just 3.0% owned today. Watford’s opening six fixtures are as favorable as it gets for a newly promoted side, with the hardest being Spurs away in GW-3. For those interested, Foster also has an entertaining YouTube channel that focuses on his cycling but also has some fun GoPro footage from inside goal at Watford.
Robert Sanchez (£4.5M, BHA)
At 22.8% ownership, managers are making a bet that the 23-year-old Spaniard will continue to improve at Brighton in his first full EPL season behind one of the best defensive units of 2020-21. This is a set-and-forget budget option to begin the season, best paired with a £4.0 GK like Foster.
Sanchez had 66 saves in 27 matches last season, the same as Man City’s Ederson who played 810 more minutes. With more matches and no clear star in attack, that stat can lead to coveted bonus points with additional saves. As this graphic from FPLtips shows, Sanchez was the 6th best for points scored in GW-13+ last season:
Keep in mind there are concerns because center-back Ben White has gone to Arsenal, and captain Lewis Dunk is injured, and exciting Tariq Lamptey is often sidelined, and towering Dan Burn took a pre-season knock. Graham Potter has a solid system in place, but injuries could challenge Sanchez’s appeal in the run-up to two enticing matches versus Burnley and Watford.
Mid-Priced (£5.0M - £5.5M)
Illan Meslier (£5.0M, LEE)
The 21-year-old splashed on the scene with a Leeds side that was known early for entertaining, attacking football, but full of leaks in defense, many of which distorted the potential value of the Frenchman. During the second half of the season, Leeds became more reliable in defense, and you could see the confidence building in the young keeper. Meslier finished with 140 saves, only two fewer than Emi Martinez, and he did that with 270 less minutes on the pitch. He also completed 2020-21 with the 3rd most bonus points among keepers (20) and tied for 5th most clean sheets (11). The opening four game-weeks are not favorable, but for those planning an early wildcard (and those forced into using the chip), Meslier has arguably one of the best fixture runs from GW-5 to GW-15:
Emiliano Martinez (£5.5M, AVL)
The man, the myth, the legend, the huge price-hike! Even at a cost £1.0M more than last pre-season, Emi is still the most highly-owned keeper at 38.8%, and for good reason:
Emi was on fire last season: 1st in saves, 1st in bonus points, 3rd in clean sheets. Aston Villa finished in 11th place, and Martinez literally saved more than a few of those matches. Although Jack Grealish was out for nearly a third of last season, he was a key component of ball possession, and now he has gone to Man City. With heir apparent Emiliano Buendia missing the last two pre-season friendlies with a hip injury and showing an unknown return date, Emi could be primed for a healthy chance for saves yet again. The first three fixtures for Villa are nice, but the schedule turns tricky in GW-4 with Chelsea, Everton, Man United, and Tottenham coming thick and fast.
Ederson (£6.0M, MCI) or Alisson (£6.0, LIV)
Personally, I do not invest in keepers at this price. They’re like using a cashmere comforter when you really just need a wool blanket, or like filling up with premium gasoline when regular contains just as much energy.
There’s far too much value in the lower-price tiers. In the last four seasons, the top-earning FPL keeper’s price has never risen above £5.5M, the last two seasons being won by £4.5M stoppers Martinez and Pope.
Ederson (10.3% ownership) had the better season of the two options here by miles 2020-21, but I’m listing them together because Alisson (5.6% ownership) has a fantastic set of fixtures to open the season. Ederson has a superior defense but not such a promising set of opening matchups. If the healing/healed Liverpool defense can return to the form of 2018-19, Alisson could be an early set-and-forget if paired with bargain-bin bench-fodder.
Ederson is intriguing in that Spurs, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea, and Liverpool could create more save opportunities in the first seven game-weeks. There’s also an argument to be made that the string of successful budget keepers will end — and good luck picking the right one in GW-1 anyway. If you believe this and are looking for a safer bet for a consistent six points at least, neither of these brilliant players are bad options. But you’ll lose money elsewhere to afford him.
Honorable Mention Goalkeepers
Vincente Guaita (£4.5, CRY)
Pros: 2020-21: Only 5.9% owned, 4th in bonus points (15), 6th in saves (106), defense additions including Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen.
Cons: 15th in clean sheets (8), new manager and system, rough early schedule.
Hugo Loris (£5.5, TOT)
Pros: 2020-21: Only 4.1% owned, 4th most clean sheets (12), 4th most saves (114), 5th most bonus points (13), positive vibes in the locker room with new manager, arrival of defender Cristian Romero from Atalanta to give more stability at the back.
Cons: Age, possible transfer, could lose spot to Atalanta loan Pierluigi Gollini (£4.5, TOT), new coach and system.
Edouard Mendy (£6.0M, CHE)
Pros: 2020-21: Only 8.9% owned, 2nd most clean sheets in only 31 matches, 0.8 goals conceded per match, good points balance potential between clean sheets and saves (assuming a defensive regression where his services are needed more often), good run of fixtures GW-7 to GW-12, and Tuchel is in charge (more clean sheets) from day one.
Cons: Not tested much (not many saves) behind Thomas Tuchel’s defense, tough fixtures GW-1 to GW-6, and not much bonus potential.
Stats and info referenced in this article were sourced from fantasyfootballscout.com, wikipedia.com, transfermkrt.us, premierleague.com, sofascore.com, fbref.com, fantasy.premierleague.com, fantrax.com, and fantasyfootballfix.com.
What’s your goalkeeper approach this season? Budget rotation? Two from the same team? Set and forget? Splash the cash? Please holler at us and make yourself heard in the comments below!