Only a few days remain until the new Premier League campaign kicks off, and with millions of fantasy football managers having already sorted their teams, we can begin to see who’s popular and who’s not.
It will come as no surprise that players such as Harry Kane or Mo Salah are selected in around 30%-40% of squads, but at the same time, there are also some notable players being overlooked.
Such differentials do come with a bit of risk, but their potential to provide big returns that other players won’t get, without breaking the bank, should be worth the trade-off.
Find our English Premier League Predictions for Saturday here.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m, Man City, DEF)
Pep Guardiola is the bane of every fantasy football manager’s existence. His squad rotation, particularly in defence, often limits viable ways into one of the strongest sides in the Premier League. However, Zinchenko, who has been reclassified as a defender for the 19/20 season, could be the answer to this dilemma. With Fabian Delph out the picture after his transfer to Everton and Benjamin Mendy still sidelined due to injury, the Ukrainian is basically guaranteed to start at left-back.
At £5.5m, he would be the joint cheapest way into the Man City rearguard (assuming John Stones fills in for the departed Vincent Kompany), but he also offers something more. It’s not hard to see that Zinchenko used to be a midfielder, eager to push forward or shoot from range whenever possible, meaning he also provides an attacking threat. He might not be rotation-proof once Mendy does return from injury, but at just 7.7% ownership, he could prove an early differential.
Anthony Martial (£7.5m, Man United, MID)
Anthony Martial is at a tough crossroads in his career. He is a hugely talented but frustrating ‘youngster’ who, if he’s not quick, may go from being labelled as an ‘underachiever’ to a ‘flop’. However, a very successful pre-season under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has shown some positive signs. No Man United player has registered more minutes this summer than Martial (339), and a number of his appearances have come as a centre-forward – much to the delight of their fans.
How Man United will line up against Chelsea is not completely certain, but Martial should be set to start on the opening weekend, whether that be out wide or through the middle alongside Marcus Rashford. Either way, the Frenchman looks a cracking price at just £7.5m and, more importantly, as he’s listed as a midfielder in Fantasy Premier League, he’ll pick up one point more than forwards for each goal he scores.
Check out more Fantasy Premier League Tips for the 19/20 season here.
Ross Barkley (£6.0m, Chelsea, MID)
Ross Barkley is another player who’s had a great pre-season. New boss Frank Lampard has largely deployed the England international in the number 10 role over the summer and it’s paid huge dividends. Barkley was involved in more goals than any of his teammates, scoring four times and assisting a further three, meaning he should have cemented himself in Lampard’s plans going forward.
What’s particularly interesting is that two of Barkley’s four goals came from the penalty spot – a role that needs filling now Eden Hazard has gone. Both of these were taken at a time when Jorginho was on the pitch – he converted Chelsea’s first penalty last season – which could suggest that he will be the man for the job. Chelsea also face just two of the ‘big six’ over their opening twelve fixtures.
Lucas Moura (£7.5m, Spurs, MID)
With Heung-Min Son suspended for the opening two games and Dele Alli ruled out for the start of the season, it’s easy to justify putting a player like Lucas Moura, Spurs’ Champions League semi-final hero, in your team. His ten goals last season show he has an eye-for-goal – in fact, he had the highest conversion rate of any Spurs attacker – and those goals came against both good and bad.
Like Anthony Martial, Moura is another forward that is classified as a midfielder in Fantasy Premier League, further adding to his effectiveness as a differential. His points per game average in 18/19 was on par with players like David Silva and Wilfried Zaha, stars in their respective teams. He will no doubt cause newcomers Aston Villa some trouble on the opening weekend.
Troy Deeney (£6.5m, Watford, FOR)
Troy Deeney was core to leading Watford to their best-ever Premier League finish (11th) last season. His nine goals and five assists doubled his numbers from 2017/18 and those numbers could have been even higher were it not for a red card suspension. As captain of the Hornets, he will rarely be rotated, and more importantly this year, he is their designated penalty taker.
With the Premier League introducing VAR in 2019/20, we’re expecting to see more penalties than ever before, which is something that will boost the Watford veteran’s potential – Deeney converted the only penalty that Watford were awarded last season, so this is huge for him. Add to that their reasonable opening schedule and he’s hard to ignore at just 3.1% ownership.
Find our 19/20 Premier League Top Goalscorer Predictions here.