Neal Thurman

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FPL Draft Rankings, Part 2

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Welcome back to my Overall FPL Draft Rankings column.  In Part 1, I covered the first five rounds worth of players in an 8-team league (or the Top 40 for those who are more pop music inclined).  Today, I’ll cover the middle five rounds or overall players 41-80. I’ll close tomorrow with players 81-120 and a few others who didn’t make the Top 120 but are at least worth talking about for one reason or another.


Just a reminder that this Sunday is #NationalDraftDay over at @PLinUSA which will feature a bunch of draft-targeted content and fun including a live chat over Twitter and Instagram with your favorite FPL Draft expert (or at least I hope I’m your favorite).  We’re targeting 4 PM to 5 PM Eastern Time for the chat but stay tuned to @PLinUSA for more details on schedule and process.


Editor's Note: Fed up with everyone in your league having Harry Kane up front or Hazard in midfield? Join a draft league where there can only be one! Here's the link


Round 6

  1. Riyad Mahrez – So, here’s the thing, Mahrez is going to be long gone by the time we get here in your draft.  Why do I have him here while keeping Sterling, Sane, et al higher up the board? Honestly, some of it is guess work but not entirely.  Pep has worked new arrivals into his system slowly when he’s had the chance.  Sane wasn’t immediately thrown in to the deep end despite being more talented than the incumbents.  Bernardo Silva had to wait his turn too.  Given the proven talent ahead of him, I don’t see Mahrez just walking into the team and taking enough minutes to justify a high pick on him.  He’ll be incredibly productive when he plays, I just don’t think he’ll play enough to be worth a pick in the first five rounds.
  2. Willian – The rumors that he will be leaving Stamford Bridge have pushed him down draft boards and, while a transfer is not entirely out of the question, it seems like a fairly certain proposition that the Brazil international will be back at Stamford Bridge or at Old Trafford which makes him a solid bargain in the sixth round.
  3. Naby Keita – It’s hard to know exactly how Jurgen Klopp is going to line up his new midfielders and how productive a fourth attacking option is going to be at Anfield but Keita is certainly talented and offers a relatively high floor with some solid potential upside.
  4. Ali Jahanbakhsh – A typist’s nightmare, Jahanbakhsh arrives at the AmEx Stadium on the back of 21 goals and 12 assists for AZ in the Eredivisie last season.  The history of prolific imports from Holland’s first division is inconsistent at best but that doesn’t mean that the Iran international won’t come good.  The lack of potent attacking options will mean he gets every opportunity to be one of the steals of your draft and the sixth round is a solid time to start taking chances on those sorts of lottery tickets.
  5. James Maddison Since we’re talking high potential lottery tickets, we might as well make it two in a row with James Maddison joining Leicester City from Norwich after a prolific season in the Championship.  With a Riyad Mahrez-sized hole in the attack there will be stats to be had, the only question is whether Maddison will be the one to fill the void.
  6. Ayoze Perez – He went a couple of rounds later in our Rotoworld experts mock draft but between his production last season, the lack of productive forwards, and Newcastle’s inability to bring anyone else of note in to lead the line it looks like the Spaniard is poised to build on his breakout season.
  7. Josh King – Another overlooked forward, with Jermain Defoe de-emphasized at Bournemouth over the 2nd half last season, I like King’s chances of adding 3 or 4 goals to his total from last season which would push him into the bottom end of the top tier of forwards.  Great work this late in the draft.
  8. Luka MilivojevicThe Crystal Palace penalty taker is exceptionally productive for someone available this late.  He was 15th overall in points from midfield last season and he’s going to drop because he’s neither exceptionally gifted nor likely to have upside over last season’s performance.  Still, excellent value.


Round 7

  1. Hector Bellerin – I am predicting a much better season for Bellerin under Unai Emery and it wasn’t like last season was all that bad (at least from a fantasy standpoint) with the Spaniard 8th in points among defenders.  Oh, and with six picks in the bag that will mostly be forwards and midfielders, the defenders will start coming off the board quickly now.
  2. Jan Vertonghen – The Spurs center back with the least risk associated.  Alderweireld has injuries and a potential transfer out.  Sanchez could see bench time if Alderweireld stays and is healthy.  That leaves Vertonghen as the most reliable center back for Spurs.
  3. Nicolas Otamendi – Like Vertonghen, Otamendi seems like the best bet for strong minutes among the Manchester City center back corps.  I’d probably bet on Stones as his most frequent partner but Laporte is hanging around as well creating a potential rotational situation.  Otamendi isn’t going to be a sexy pick but he’ll pile up clean sheets and the occasional goal.  An excellent second best fantasy defender.
  4. Aaron Cresswell – Cresswell produced excellent fantasy numbers last season despite West Ham’s rotten season.  With a ton of new talent, there could be some serious upside in this pick without much risk of him falling below “reasonable 2nd best defender on your team”.
  5. Andre Schurrle – Everyone has a soft spot for Fulham and with the business they’ve done this summer, it’s hard not to be at least a little bit excited for their return to the Premier League.  Ryan Sessegnon will be the featured performer but Schurlle certainly has the talent and at 27-years-old he may just need a change of scenery and a place where he’s going to start every week to get back to his best.  A risk for sure but a good one as your 4th or 5th midfielder.
  6. Kieran Trippier – The question isn’t whether he’s going to be productive but rather how many minutes he’s going to get given how much Mauricio Pochettino love rotating his outside backs.  If he can go from last season’s 1912 minutes to something closer to 2500 then he’s likely a top five defender.  If his minutes hold steady then he’s a 2nd defender who likely requires you to handcuff him with Serge Aurier for maximum value.
  7. Virgil Van Dijk – Like Otamendi and Vertonghen you like the idea of a sure starter at a big club that will contribute the occasional goal as well.  A solid way to keep building out your roster.
  8. Harry McGuire – Closing out the run of mostly unspectacular but very solid center back picks is England’s best defender from the World Cup.  Not too much else to say other than that he’ll be a top two defender for you and maybe has a little upside based on the confidence gained on the international stage.


Round 8

  1. Aleksandar Mitrovic – He’s young and talented and likely to start with a strong midfield behind him.  He hasn’t demonstrated the ability to come through in the top flight but the ingredients are there if he can get his head right and harness his talent.
  2. Xherdan Shaqiri – All the comments about City’s talented midfielders who are at risk of not getting enough minutes to be worthy high round draft picks apply to Shaqiri at Liverpool with the caveat that City produce enough more fantasy points that you’re willing to give theirs the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t be fooled by Shaqiri’s excellent pre-season, he’s likely a reserve unless there’s an injury to Sane, Keita, or Salah.  He’s this high as a priority handcuff if you have one of those guys.
  3. Leighton Baines – The one-time fantasy stud has fallen a long way but this is about the right range to account for the upside (potential return to form under a new manager) and downside (age/injuries).
  4. Antonio Rudiger – Rudiger scored well in his debut season at Stamford Bridge despite only starting 2 of every 3 matches.  If, as expected, he’s closer to a full-time starter then he could push into Vertonghen/Otamendi/VVD territory with a lower round draft pick.
  5. Jamaal Lascelles – Another second tier solid CB who is going to show up every week and get his points.  Not great and not a lot of upside but a nice guy to have around so you can forget about that spot on your roster.
  6. Patrick Van Aanholt – The Crystal Palace wingback finished the season strong.  We have known for years that he has the potential to be a fantasy stud, the problem has been consistency.  In under 2200 minutes he was very productive so the question is whether 2200 minutes becomes 2800 or more.  If it does, he’s a top 20 defender, if not, you’ll likely have pulled your hair out if you draft him much higher than this.
  7. Christian Benteke – I’m reluctantly putting Benteke here despite having no intention of diving back in after the big Belgian even if he slipped lower than this.  Yes, he has the potential to bounce back but I’d need to be desperate to spend resources on that bet after what I saw last season.  To quote Jeremy “Remember when Benteke vs Lukaku was a thing for Belgium?”
  8. Cenk Tosun – I’m as big a Marco Silva believer as there is but I’m not so in the bag for the Portuguese manager that I’d be willing to invest big draft resources in what I saw from Tosun last season.  For me there’s a 50% chance Tosun comes good and a 50% chance that Silva decides he’s better off with Richarlison, Walcott, and Calvert-Lewin playing interchangeable positions across the front line with Gylfi pulling the strings.


Round 9

  1. Abdoulaye Doucoure – Lost in the insanity that was Watford’s season was the emergence of Doucoure.  Unlike Richarlison, he didn’t disappear the minute Marco Silva left but rather produced a steady, solid season.  It seems unlikely that he’ll have a ton of upside but he’s a nice 4th or 5th midfielder to have around for the odd start.
  2. Seamus Coleman – With some time between Coleman and his injury there is a reasonable likelihood that he’ll return to being an excellent two-way outside back for a top half team.  Not a bad thing to have as your 3rd or 4th defender.
  3. Sead Kolasinac – Pending the prognosis of the injury sustained last night against Chelsea Kolasinac could be a massive value pick.  He was a top five defender for the first half of last season but fell out of favor under Arsene Wenger.  With good health and a new manager he could be a massive bargain.
  4. Toby Alderweireld – In an odd place between the rising Davinson Sanchez if he stays at Spurs and a potential move to Manchester United where he’d be a sure starter and likely closer to a Round 7-ish pick.  I might be under-valuing him by a round or two but something just feels off with his value right now.
  5. Ruben Neves – His reputation is bigger than any evidence we have about his performance.  At 21-years-old, that’s OK.  Given all the talent that Wolves have added it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Neves both moves up a division and steps up his statistical production at the same time.  This is a solid range to take a flier on his upside and the upside of Wolves overall.
  6. Ricardo Pereira – A great get for Leicester City to replace the workmanlike Danny Simpson on the right flank of the defense.  Pereira should get his share of attacking chances down what used to be Riyad Mahrez’s side and a decent return of clean sheets for a mid-table side.  His value is discounted for his newness to the league and the big transition at Leicester City without Mahrez but I like the bet in this range.
  7. Andros Townsend – Not necessarily someone you want on your actual team but having a winger without a conscience when it comes to shooting and crossing isn’t a bad thing for fantasy manager to add late as a 4th or 5th midfielder.
  8. Olivier Giroud – It looks like he’ll be headed somewhere outside of the Premier League but in the event he stays at Chelsea and wins the job from whomever his competition might be, this is a great range to get a forward who has at least a small chance of being a top ten forward if everything breaks right.


Round 10

  1. Marcus Rashford – I suspect Rashford will be long gone by this point because of his potential and the club he plays for but smart managers will start taking risks on high upside reserves/handcuffs in this range after they have most of their non-goalkeeper starters.  Rashford holds the most value for managers who drafted Alexis early.
  2. Callum Wilson – Bournemouth’s hit man never really lived up to that early hat trick from his first season in the Premier League but he was surprisingly productive last season.  Like Josh King, with Jermain Defoe de-emphasized in the second half last season there are some first half points that might get redistributed this season and if Wilson picks up a few of them then he could be a very solid low-end 2nd/high-end 3rd forward.
  3. James Ward-Prowse – We’ve been waiting seemingly forever for JWP to emerge as a fantasy force given the strength of his crossing and set pieces.  With Dusan Tadic gone, he will likely get a shot at making the right side of midfield his own.  If he does and 1700 minutes becomes 2800 or 3000 minutes then you’ve got a great bargain.
  4. Gerard Deulofeu – With two goals and nine assists in under 1400 minutes in 2015-16 in the Premier League, we know the former Barcelona man has it in him to be productive.  Given the departure of Richarlison someone is going to need to attack at Watford and Deulofeu will likely get the first, second and third chances to prove he can be the featured wide attacker.
  5. Trent Alexander-Arnold – You probably have to spend an extra roster spot handcuffing him with Nathaniel Clyne but TAA has risen quickly and will be a Top 15 defender if he makes the starting spot at Anfield his for the majority of the season.  Strong potential value pick.
  6. Nacho Monreal – With Sead Kolasinac potentially out injured we might see Monreal, once again, come back from fantasy irrelevance to be a top performer.  It could all come to nothing as well.  Just about any potential outcome is in play with this pick.
  7. Mamadou Sahko – Another 2nd tier CB who should be steady and chip in with the odd goal while picking up a solid number of clean sheets.  This pick mostly depends on how you feel about Crystal Palace overall.
  8. Ryan Fredericks – The corpse of Pablo Zabaleta has finally made way at the London Stadium for a player who has some attacking potential balanced out with some concerns over his tendency to pick up cards. 


That’s all for the middle 40 picks in my Draft Fantasy Premier League Player Rankings.  I’ll do my best to have players 81-120 and some other names worth commenting on posted later today.

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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