Neal Thurman

FPL Draft

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FPL Draft Rankings, Part 1

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


The Premier League is hyping this coming Sunday as #NationalDraftDay for PL fantasy draft leagues (as a side note, I’ll be supporting this by doing a live chat answering your questions @PLinUSA).  Whether you are drafting this Sunday or not, my bet is that you are getting close to draft day as we are hitting the sweet spot toward the end of the transfer window/start of the season.  In a final effort to help everyone with their drafting, I am publishing my draft ranks here.  I have waited this long because it gave me the opportunity to participate in a couple of Mock Drafts with other writers and pundits that I respect to help me get a better sense of what values others who spend a lot of time thinking about FPL player draft value were putting on players.  

 

I understand that this could go on forever so I’ll try (with “try” being the operative word) to make my comments brief on each player.  As always, I’ll be standardizing on an 8-team league with the Premier League’s set of rules for what constitutes a compliant squad.

 

Round 1

  1. Mo Salah – He’s not a forward but even at 75% of last season’s production he’s worth the number one overall pick as a midfielder.
  2. Harry Kane – Productive forwards who start reliably are the rarest commodity in Premier League fantasy and Kane is both the most productive and most reliable.
  3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal will be better under Emery and PEA will be in the middle of an attack with lots of creative players.
  4. Roberto Firmino – I’ve been getting him later in the first round but his combination of production and reliability as a starter makes him more attractive to me than some players who have been picked higher in my drafts.
  5. Romelu Lukaku I (and many others) are predicting a year of dysfunction for United but Lukaku has scored 20+ goals at West Brom so even another Mourinho implosion shouldn’t push him too far down draft boards.
  6. Eden Hazard – He appears to be staying at Chelsea and Sarri’s teams at Napoli were very strong attacking sides.
  7. Kevin De Bruyne The surplus of other attacking midfielders has De Bruyne playing a little farther back which limits any upside over last season but it’s hard to see him taking a step back either, he’s just that talented.
  8. Christen Eriksen – Even with the striker scarcity, I like a sure thing with my first round pick and Eriksen is about as sure a thing as you’ll find in Premier League fantasy.

 

Round 2

  1. Sergio Aguero – There are just so many goals to be had at City that even playing something less than a full-time role Aguero is likely to score 20+ goals.
  2. Raheem Sterling – Like Aguero, Sterling proved last season that he can be a top fantasy option even when being rotated semi-regularly.
  3. Marko Arnautovic – Moving into the forward position makes Arnautovic much more valuable and his pre-season has continued his exceptional work in the second half of last season.
  4. Sadio Mane – He can be frustrating at times but he’s productive and in an attack that should only be getting better with a healthy dose of transfer reinforcements.
  5. Wilfried Zaha – He appears to be staying at Crystal Palace and his production was excellent after he returned from injury last season and I don’t know why it wouldn’t continue that way.
  6. Dele Alli – He struggled last season but was still the 8th most productive midfielder in the PL.com scoring format.  I see him getting back to top five this season.
  7. Hueng-Min Son – He went way too low last season and looks to be doing so in my mock drafts this season too.  This guy was the 7th most productive midfielder in PL.com fantasy despite not really kicking it into gear for the first two months of the season.   
  8. Jamie Vardy – I still value forwards over midfielders at this stage and the only reason Vardy has fallen this far is the loss of his primary creator in Riyad Mahrez.

 

Round 3

  1. Leroy Sane – The arrival of Mahrez could be a big problem here but given his production last season he’s not going to give his place away easily.  Still, I’d want to try my hardest to get both Sane and Mahrez if I were going to go in on either.  That’s not going to be easy.
  2. Mesut Ozil – A new manager and a more organized approach at the Emirates is going to unleash Ozil and return him to the form he showed a couple of seasons ago.  The presence of PEA and Lacazette won’t hurt either when it comes to converting chances created into assists.
  3. Alexis Sanchez – Hard to believe that Alexis has fallen this far but my concern isn’t that I have him too low but rather too high based on what we saw at United.  I’m not concerned about the pre-season but I am concerned about the attacking dysfunction at Manchester United.
  4. Gabriel Jesus – He won’t last this long given the potential that he takes the starting spot from Aguero or Aguero gets hurt but I have to deprioritize one of the City attackers and he’s the one at this point.
  5. Paul Pogba – He’s going to be drafted higher than this on the merits of his World Cup performance but let’s remember he finished last season behind Luka Milivojevic in PL.com points last season.
  6. Richarlison – Richarlison + Marco Silva was magic last season.  They’re together again at Everton with more talent around the Brazilian as well.  I see good things coming.
  7. Gylfi Sigurdsson – Speaking of players who will be better with Marco Silva at Everton, here’s another one who is coming off of a disappointing spell that will be reborn at Goodison Park.
  8. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – He flashed after arriving from Manchester United and he will also benefit from the arrival of Unai Emery and the reunion with former Dortmund colleague Aubameyang.

 

Round 4

  1. Pascal Gross – At some point you just want a really sure thing and while Gross’ upside isn’t huge, you are getting a midfielder that out-pointed Sanchez, Pogba, Mane, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, and Richarlison last season and they’re all ahead of him on this list.
  2. Andrew Robertson – And we break the seal on defenders with my golden boy from last summer’s rankings that didn’t grab hold of the job early enough to live up to my expectations then but who should be the man from the start this season.  
  3. David SilvaEvery season we worry that Silva will fall off and every season he keeps doing what he does.  With all of the new talent at the Etihad he’s unlikely to see more minutes than last year but getting last season’s 10th highest scoring midfielder in the 4th round is great value in return for taking on the risk that he declines or loses even more minutes to Bernardo Silva.
  4. Marcos Alonso – The narrative on Maurizio Sarri has been related to his attacking but Napoli finished with 19 clean sheets last season and he arrives at a Chelsea side with a lot of defending talent.  Alonso should contribute going forward as he usually does and benefit from the (next) new managerial dawn at Stamford Bridge.
  5. Aaron Ramsey – It all looks set up for Ramsey to have a breakout season right before he hits the open market.  Injuries are always a risk with Ramsey or he’d likely be higher on this list.
  6. Cesar Azpilicueta – The Spaniard added an attacking element to his game under Antonio Conte and it doesn’t seem like something Sarri would discourage (in the same way, perhaps Mourinho might have).  Given that Azpilicueta is likely to play every match, he’s a great get here.  He’s also been criminally undervalued in my mock drafts this summer.
  7. Ben Davies – Despite only 26 starts last season, Davies managed 2 goals, 7 assists, and 12 clean sheets.  You should try to handcuff him with Danny Rose late in the draft but his production alone was good for 5th overall among defenders and he is the only one of the top five with upside.
  8. Ryan Sessegnon – I’m on the Sessegnon bandwagon to perhaps an unhealthy level.  With the additional talent that Fulham have brought in – Schurrle, Seri, etc. – I see Sessegnon more as the next Mahrez-level guy outside the big six than as the next Ince/Knockaert disappointment coming up from the Championship.

 

Round 5

  1. Filipe Anderson – The former Lazio man was incredibly productive in Serie A last season scoring four and adding seven assists in only nine starts (plus 12 sub appearances).  At 25-years-old he is coming into his prime and the potential is there for a big season at the London Stadium.
  2. Antonio Valencia – Every season some Manchester United manager talks about replacing Antonio Valencia and every season he keeps the job and produces.  He might not finish as the 4th most productive defender again but the path is still pretty clear to that happening and that’s a solid risk to take at this point in the draft.
  3. Chris Wood – We’re getting into 2nd/3rd tier forward territory given the scarcity and there is a lot of momentum for Chris Wood heading into the upcoming season after 104 points in this format on only 1621 minutes (about half a season’s worth of minutes for a fulltime starter).  Lots of upside there.
  4. Alexandre LacazetteLacazette finished as the 7th most productive forward last season and would be much higher on the list were it not for the worry that he’ll end up sitting a lot with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line ahead of Ozil/Ramsey/Mkhitaryan.  Emery has been playing both PEA and Lacazette together in pre-season but it’s hard to see that formation being the norm as much as a result of experimentation and some players not being available for pre-season.  There’s an incredibly high variance on Lacazette’s outcomes this season and he’ll almost certainly go higher than this, I just wouldn’t recommend being the one to pull the trigger.
  5. Kyle Walker – Walker didn’t have as productive an attacking season at City as he has in the past at Spurs but he was still very good and playing for a record-breaking side.  Look for another rock-steady performance from the England international.
  6. Benjamin Mendy – Like Walker above, Mendy has some impressive attacking performances in his past.  Whether that translates to the Etihad as he returns from injury remains to be seen but just the clean sheets and the odd assist are enough to make him worthy of this pick as the presumptive starter of 32+ matches at left back for the defending champs.
  7. Alvaro Morata – It seems unlikely that Morata will start the season at Stamford Bridge but with the rumors fairly quiet about either an inbound alternative at Chelsea or a plausible destination for the former Real Madrid man this is a great spot to try to pick up 2nd round value in the 5th round.
  8. Diogo Jota – My old writing partner Jeremy and I have a long-standing love of players listed as midfielders who are actually deployed as forwards.  Jota was excellent in the Championship last season with 17 goals and 5 assists at age 20.  Yes, there will be a jump up in competition but he will also have a lot of excellent new teammates to help him keep his production up as a 21-year-old.

That wraps up Part 1 of my overall draft rankings.  I’ll be back with Parts 2 and 3 covering rounds 6-10 and 11-15 respectively as soon as I can get them compiled.



Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.
Email :Neal Thurman





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