The 2021-22 Premier League season wasn’t the best for forwards, as none made it into the top five overall point-earners. Many FPL managers opted for low-priced strikers so they could instead invest heavily on midfielders and defenders, who seemed to provide better value for money. Midfielders Salah and Son shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals apiece, while Cristiano Ronaldo was the most prolific striker with 18.
As a class, will FPL forwards be able to reclaim lost glory this season? We’ll have to wait and see. But regardless, we must choose three of them to fill spots in our fantasy squads. Let’s take a look at the best striking options at each price point to see where the smart-money investment should go.
£10m+: Harry Kane - Tottenham
Only three players (Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland and Harry Kane) fall into this category, and choosing Kane ahead of the other two wasn’t easy. Ronaldo outscored Kane last season by 18 to 17 goals. However, Kane’s additional nine assists dwarfed Ronaldo’s three, making him the forward with the higher output. The decision to go with Kane ahead of Ronaldo is also influenced by the uncertainty surrounding Ronaldo’s future at United and the presence of a new coach with new philosophies and style of play.
Proven-asset Kane also edges out new-boy Haaland because this league can frustrate newcomers. Plus there’s uncertainty around how Pep will manage Haaland’s minutes between the EPL, UCL, and the domestic cups — the big Norwegian has a worrisome injury record and apparently wants to be treated with kid gloves. On other hand, Kane will play virtually every minute he is fit.
For more on why Kane takes top honors here, see Chris’s controversial article on why Haaland could be an FPL bust this season.
£9.0m: Jamie Vardy - Leicester
There are only a few options at this price: Vardy, Darwin Nunez, and Diogo Jota. Vardy and Jota are proven in the EPL, each delivering 15 goals last season. Vardy assured us that his age shouldn’t cause worry, ending the campaign on a high after a return from injury.
Brendan Rodgers has given his other options (Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka) chances to impress, but neither showed that he is ready to replace the pacy forward. Everything points to Vardy being the Foxes’ go-to man for goals once again this season.
Jota would have been the #1 pick here, as he is younger than Vardy and less injury-prone (although he is currently crocked with a hammy). But his playing time could be affected by the plethora of attacking options available at Anfield. Jota saw less playing time last season after Luiz Diaz arrived, and competition for pitch time is expected to eat into his minutes again this season given that Darwin Nunez can also play left wing.
Nunez, who makes our watch-list, might need a bit of time to adjust to the league, while his teammates might also need time to get used to playing with a proper central striker. Then again, he scored four goals in a single half against one of last year’s UCL sides, so Nunez could hit the ground running right out of the gate. Read our spotlight article on him here.
£8.0-8.5m: Gabriel Jesus - Arsenal
At a price bracket that includes Richarlison, Roberto Firmino, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Kai Havertz, and Timo Werner, it is Gabriel Jesus who seems to stand above the rest. At Arsenal he’ll have the security of starts that he never enjoyed at City, which should translate into increased FPL productivity this season. Even last term, Jesus’s eight goals and eight assists eclipsed every other player in this price range. Richarlison and Havertz came closest with ten goals plus five assists, or eight goals plus three assists respectively.
FPL managers obviously recognize his potential to blossom at the Emirates; Jesus is the most selected player in FPL, with his ownership currently standing at 65.1%. And while we must be cautious about preseason performances, so far he’s given us every reason to be confident about backing him, with four goals plus two assists in four preseason friendlies. We profile him in even further detail here.
£7.5m: Michail Antonio - West Ham
This price point includes players such as Patrick Bamford, Ollie Watkins, and Callum Wilson, but Antonio looks best judging by last season’s statistics. Antonio’s ten goals plus eight assists dwarf the numbers produced by Bamford, Watkins and Wilson (although to be fair, Bamford’s and Wilson’s minutes were severely limited).
Antonio began last season in blistering form, but the combination of league football, domestic cups, and a long Europa League campaign ultimately led to burn-out, which ushered in a long dry spell. This season West Ham only qualified to play its way into the Europa Conference League, so perhaps David Moyes will decide to de-prioritize that third-tier tournament and spare Antonio from the added rigours of European football. That would help keep Antonio fresh and at his best for the EPL, which should bode well for FPL managers who decide to place their faith in the Jamaican forward.
£7.0m: Ivan Toney - Brentford
Just five players (Danny Ings, Anthony Martial, Eddie Nketiah, Gianluca Scammaca and Toney) are on offer at this price. Ings played second fiddle to first-choice striker Watkins at Aston Villa last season, and the same is expected again. Ings’ injury record also doesn’t make for good reading.
Previously deemed surplus to requirements by former manager Ralf Rangnick, Anthony Martial has just returned from a loan spell at Sevilla. Despite the presence of a new gaffer and an impressive preseason, it’s still unclear how Martial will fit into Erik ten Hag’s thinking.
Scammaca has only just joined West Ham from Sassuolo, and it is unknown how long it will take him to adapt to the demands of Premier League football. He also has to battle with the Hammers’ recognized first-choice center-forward Antonio, who had an impressive 2020-21 season.
That leaves Toney as the stand-out among players at this price. Last season’s twelve goals plus five assists for newly promoted Brentford point towards a striker who can be relied on to provide points. And unlike other forwards at this price point, there isn’t any uncertainty surrounding his place in the team. He also takes PKs and has managed to remain relatively free from injury. The Bees will need the striker at his best if they are to avoid the drop again this season.
£6.5m: Alexander Mitrovic - Fulham
The £6.5m price is tricky. It is filled with strikers surrounded by question marks: Julian Alvarez, Neal Maupay, Kelechi Iheanacho, Danny Welbeck and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Admittedly, my top choice is perhaps surprising as Mitrovic didn’t perform well the last time Fulham won promotion to the Premier League, but let’s look at why the other options aren’t any better.
Julian Alvarez has only just joined Man City from River Plate, and Pep Guardiola will be looking to ease him in as he always does with youngsters. The raft of options up front for the Citizens also points towards Alvarez enjoying very little game time. Maupay, Welbeck and Iheanacho all seem to have struggled to reach their potential, suffering with inconsistency and missing chances. Welbeck and Iheanacho also aren’t first-choice options at their respective clubs. And none of these Premier League strikers was able to hit ten goals last season.
In contrast, Mitrovic broke the Championship’s goalscoring record by notching 43 goals in 44 matches last season, adding seven assists to boot. The big Serb will be eager to follow up his best-ever season as a professional footballer with a successful EPL campaign. Haunted by the abysmal season he had the last time the Cottagers won promotion to the Prem, he’ll surely be playing with a chip on his shoulder this time around.
£6.0m: Dominic Solanke - AFC Bournemouth
Once again, i decided to go with a striker from a newly-promoted club over forwards with more years of Premier League experience. Patson Daka, Bryan Mbeumo, Dominic Solanke, Chris Wood, and Brennan Johnson make up the players in this price range, and admittedly are not exactly the forwards most likely to strike fear into the hearts of defenders.
Wood and Daka play in the shadows of Callum Wilson and Jamie Vardy, making them less-attractive options for FPL managers. Mbeumo plays as a withdrawn striker just behind Toney for Brentford, which probably explains why he registered more assists than goals in the last term, painting him as more of a creator than a finisher.
Brennan Johnson enjoyed a breakout season for Nottingham Forest in the Championship last term, notching 18 goals and 10 assists. However, the recruitment of Taiwo Awoniyi and Jesse Lingard could eat into his production this season, and lack of Premier League experience also counts against the youngster.
Dominic Solanke starred for Bournemouth as he spearheaded the Cherries return to the Premier League with 29 goals plus seven assists. After years of dealing with inconsistency and recurring injuries, Solanke finally looks to be fulfilling the potential expected of him. Unlike Johnson, Solanke has a wealth of Premier League experience, and he owns outright the role of Bournemouth’s attacking talisman.
£5.0-5.5m: Odsonne Edouard - Crystal Palace
I decided to combine these two prices into one range because there’s very little difference between expected returns and prices here. Fourteen players fall into this range, but most of them are either second or third-string bench-warmers. Christian Benteke, Joe Gelhardt, Sekou Mara, Keinan Davis, Jean Philippe-Mateta, Keiffer Moore, Julio Enciso and Solomon Rondon are all expected to mostly fill the role of deputy and are unlikely to see substantial pitch time unless called upon to fill a gap.
Special mention should go to Brighton recruit Deniz Undav who enjoyed a stunning 2021-22 season in the Belgian Pro League. Undav scored 26 goals and added 12 assists for Union Saint-Gilliose last season. However, it’s unknown how the German will adapt to the rigors of the Premier League, nor how Graham Potter intends to integrate him into the team. He is definitely one to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Top-choice Odsonne Edouard is unlikely to set the league alight, but he should have a solid campaign for Crystal Palace after having the whole of last season to come to terms with the demands of Premier League football. Edouard, who featured in 28 Premier League games for the Eagles, made more appearances than teammates Benteke and Mateta. He’ll likely lead the line once again during Patrick Vieira’s second season in charge.
£4.5m: Sam Greenwood - Leeds
While it is unlikely anyone will rely on forwards priced at 4.5m for points, these players can still be useful enablers that allow us to spend funds elsewhere.
As expected, none of the forwards priced at £4.5m are certain starters at their respective clubs, with most being recent academy graduates just seeking to learn the ropes of top-flight professional football. While players at this price will mostly be used as subs (if at all), Sam Greenwood’s 25.8% ownership points to his potential to actually feature once in a while.
Injuries to Leeds’ forwards last season saw Greenwood make seven appearances for the club. The young forward provided two assists during these games. Leeds’ reluctance to sign a backup to injury-prone Patrick Bamford means that Greenwood should once again be handed opportunities to impress this season.
Which premium Striker is the best choice for the 2022-23 FPL campaign?
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What strikers did you find most impressive in the pre-season? Are you looking at players for the short or long term? What is your plan for your front line? Do you foresee any big-name flops or under-the-radar breakouts? Please log in and tell us in the comments below!