Premier League fantasy football tips: week one

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August 10, 2021
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    Alistair Bruce-Ball

    As the first deadline of the fantasy football season looms, a lot of well-laid plans are being ripped up and reassessed.

    Romelu Lukaku is on his way back to Chelsea, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden are out for the foreseeable with Jack Grealish now on the Manchester City scene, Danny Ings is an Aston Villa player and who knows where Harry Kane will be come the start of next month.

    Like a lot of managers, I have had Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes pencilled in as my two premium midfielders for quite a while, opting for three mid-price strikers where there is real value to be found in the game this season, but I'm having a bit of a rethink.

    Lukaku at Chelsea or Kane at City feels like a bit of a game-changer because that spells guaranteed goals and you'd think both would be pretty rotation-proof as well.

    In which case, reluctantly, it would be Fernandes who would have to make way for me given Salah starts the season with a trip to freshly promoted Norwich and a home game against Burnley.

    Grealish could come in for Fernandes to save £4m in the budget, or Riyad Mahrez who will cost you a million more, but both should see plenty of game time in the coming weeks with the injuries for De Bruyne and Foden. If you've got your heart set on a Manchester United midfielder then Jadon Sancho is an exciting replacement for his team-mate Fernandes, saving you £2.5m.

    Anyone for a bargain?

    Emiliano BuendiaShould you be thinking about Emiliano Buendia?

    Then, as is always the case with fantasy football, it's finding the players to build around your star men and unearthing those bargain buys who will provide you with the crucial differential to beat your rivals.

    Robert Sanchez looks a good value goalkeeper at £4.5m, having kept 10 clean sheets in 27 appearances last season, and Brighton have a reasonable set of fixtures to start the season.

    Pay half a million more and you can get Kasper Schmeichel or David de Gea, who is likely to be between the sticks for Manchester United with Dean Henderson having missed pre-season.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold is always one of the first names on my team sheet, a midfielder masquerading as a defender, particularly with Virgil van Dijk returning to improve Liverpool's clean sheet potential.

    Luke Shaw is also a must for me in defence at £5.5m, although Lucas Digne could be a good bet at the same price with Everton's run of fixtures at the start of the season. West Ham full-backs Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) and Vladimir Coufal (£5m) will rightly be popular picks once again.

    You'll need to find a couple of £4.5m defenders to make the budget work so among those to catch the eye in that bracket are Arsenal's new signing Ben White and Luke Ayling at Leeds, although they have some tough fixtures early on. Brentford's left wing-back Rico Henry or Norwich's Max Aarons could be worth a gamble, while Burnley duo Matt Lowton and Charlie Taylor are obviously tried and tested.

    Stuart Dallas has become a midfielder in FPL this season which means he'll only get one point for a Leeds clean sheet rather than four but still looks a great option at £5.5m, as do his team-mates Raphinha (£6.5m) and Jack Harrison (£6m) if you want to spend a little bit more.

    Emiliano Buendia was the standout player in the Championship last season and is already owned by almost 15% of managers in the game, tempted no doubt by Aston Villa's start against Watford, Newcastle and Brentford. He has a yellow injury flag by his name at the moment though so you may be tempted to switch to his new team-mate Leon Bailey – he is only 2% owned so there's real differential value to be had there if he starts well.

    Other value options below the premium prices include £7m Harvey Barnes, who looked sharp in the Community Shield, Bukayo Saka at £6.5m if he can build on his hugely impressive form of last season and Joe Willock at £6m on his return to Newcastle.

    Diogo Jota and Mason Mount both come in at £7.5m if you've got the money to spend a little more and there's plenty of choice of value signings among the newly promoted clubs with Billy Gilmour, Ismaila Sarr and Sergi Canos to name a few.

    As for the forwards, if you're going to spend the big bucks on Kane or Lukaku then you're probably looking at one mid-price option and one budget option to back them up – I like Michail Antonio or Kelechi Iheanacho in the £7.5m price bracket and maybe Marcus Forss or Joshua King at £5.5m.

    Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. The code to join the Fantasy 606 league this season is 'e206yk'. The first episode of the podcast will be available on the BBC Sounds app on Thursday.

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    August 10, 2021
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