To the delight of millions of people around the world, the 2017/18 Premier League season kicked off last weekend, which means we also get to enjoy the return of Fantasy Premier League (FPL). TSZ will be looking to give you the weekly lowdown this season, looking at a variety of statistical aspects in these features.
In addition to analysis of individual players, over the course of the season we’ll also be looking at teams as a whole. For example, in gameweek 1 the top five teams by overall FPL points were:
In the first weekend of FPL, Man Utd’s players collectively achieved the most points (83), which is unsurprising having scored four goals and kept a clean sheet in the process. As the season progresses, we’ll keep a close watch on this as it should help reveal which clubs you should be focusing your attention on.
Let’s now take a look at the upcoming gameweek 2 fixtures, along with the fixture difficulty rating (FDR) assigned to each team:
There are some eye-catching fixtures in gameweek 2; the most notable being Tottenham vs Chelsea which sees both sides lumbered with an FDR score of 5. No team has what would be classed as an ‘easy’ (1) game, but there are plenty of ‘favourable’ fixtures (2).
Taking into account both this weekend’s fixtures and performances in gameweek 1, here are two players in each position who we think you should be considering, if they are not already in your squads!
David de Gea - £5.5m (away vs Swansea)
There is no doubt that much of the focus was on the impressive Man Utd attack following their opening weekend dismantling of West Ham, but Mourinho’s men were typically solid at the back and we can surely expect more of that this season. De Gea and co travel to South Wales to take on Swansea in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off, and it’s tough to see the Swans breaching the Utd backline, especially if Llorente is not fit to start.
Jonas Lossl - £4.5m (home vs Newcastle)
If you’re on the lookout for a budget goalkeeper, Huddersfield’s Lossl might just be your man. The Dane made four saves and picked up two bonus points on his way to a clean sheet against Crystal Palace, and a home clash with fellow promoted side Newcastle this weekend offers a decent chance of another shutout.
Jack Stephens - £5.0m (home vs West Ham)
Southampton have been given a kind run of fixtures to kick-off their 2017/18 campaign (more on that later), and they rewarded the early FPL interest in their defenders with a clean sheet against Swansea. Priced at 5.0m, Stephens is 0.5m cheaper than the more popular Bertrand, and you certainly wouldn’t bet against another Saints clean sheet in a second consecutive home game when they entertain West Ham this weekend.
Sead Kolasinac - £6.0m (away vs Stoke)
The Bosnian provided assists in both the Community Shield win over Chelsea and last week’s opener against Leicester City, and whilst clean sheets might not be a regular occurrence for Arsenal this season (if their early showings are anything to go by), Kolasinac certainly offers an attacking threat from his natural position on the left wing. If Mustafi or Mertesacker return, he will likely move out of the back three in which he started against Leicester and get even further forward. Kolasinac could very well turn out to be this season’s Marcos Alonso.
Mohamed Salah - £9.1m (home vs Crystal Palace)
Summer signing Salah was one of the first players to rise in price this season, and that’s not at all surprising given his pulsating performance at Vicarage Road in gameweek 1. His goal and assist resulted in 11 FPL points, and if he continues in the same manner against Crystal Palace, then every fantasy manager worth their salt will be clamouring for his signature.
Christian Eriksen - £9.5m (home vs Chelsea)
The flashier Dele Alli often receives the greater attention amongst fantasy players, but the fact is that Eriksen is a master in goal and chance creation. The Dane made 20 assists last season, and started off his season with two more against Newcastle to return 12 points for his FPL owners. This week’s London derby with Chelsea is a tough fixture on paper, but the Blues had a shocker in gameweek 1, being humbled by Burnley and having two men sent off. Eriksen could be your man to take advantage of their low morale.
Romelu Lukaku - £11.6m (away vs Swansea)
There was no way we were going to ignore the Belgian following his showing against West Ham, which resulted in a 13-point haul. His ownership has soared to over 50% already, so quite simply you cannot afford to ignore the man any longer if you chose to leave him out of your opening squad. With Swansea the opponents in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, Lukaku could get your gameweek off to the perfect start.
Jamie Vardy - £8.6m (home vs Brighton)
Vardy’s performance against Arsenal was reminiscent of his form in Leicester City’s title-winning 2015/16 season, with the England striker proving a constant nuisance to the Gunners defence throughout and bagging himself two goals in the process. If this is going to be a consistent level of performance, then his price tag will begin to look very favourable. Newly-promoted Brighton are the visitors this weekend, and Vardy will be hungry for more.
Of course, one of the keys to performing well in FPL is long-term strategy. To that end, we’ve looked at the next six fixtures for each team and averaged out their FDR scores:
Over the next six games, there are four teams tied at the top of the FDR table in terms of the lowest difficultly fixtures – Man Utd, Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham. Their average FDR scores indicate they have a favourable run of games, so it would be wise to look to those teams when considering your transfers over the next few weeks.
At the other end of the scale, Chelsea have the toughest run of games on paper, with their FDR averaging out at 3.5 across the next six games, suggesting that their players may be best given a swerve for the time being, especially with the current unrest surrounding Antonio Conte’s side.