Now that all of these tournaments are wrapping up (how about that U.S. Women’s National Team!) we can really begin to dive into the upcoming Premier League season, which is only just one month away. And just like last year, my Rotoworld colleague Sean Sullivan and I are going to continue our FPL Price Review Series as you go through the various, painstaking iterations of choosing an FPL.com team.
GOALKEEPERS (Thursday) | DEFENDERS (Wednesday) | MIDFIELDERS (Friday)
In this edition of our FPL Price Review Series (see the links above for the rest), I’ll be looking at our options in forward. Once again, Manchester City forward Sergio Agüero enters the season as the most expensive player in the game at £12.0 following another 21-goal season (which wasn’t enough to take the Golden Boot). Meanwhile, Raúl Jiménez (£7.5) and Callum Wilson (£8.0) saw the biggest price rise from the start of last season with a £2.0 increase.
Without further delay, here are the bargain hits and misses ahead of the 2019/20 season. I’m welcoming all suggestions and debates on Twitter (@gastelumEPL) and hopefully I can include your thoughts here in this column. Just four weeks before the start of the season!
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) £7.0
I’m going to start this series off with who I think has the best value of any FPL forward and possibly even of any player in the entire format. Just remember, all of this is subject to change during the summer transfer window, but given the club’s current roster and with Chelsea’s looming transfer ban, Olivier Giroud looks like an absolute steal at £7.0. First let’s look at his competition in the side: Gonzalo Higuaín and Álvaro Morata, who each kept the Frenchman out of the lineup last season, have left the club permanently. Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi will be returning from their respective loans, leaving Giroud as the de-facto starter.
Despite playing a career-low 828 minutes last season, Giroud still led the Blues in goals in all competitions thanks to his scintillating Europa League performance where he was the tournament’s leading scorer. And now with a manager that doesn’t actually hate him, Giroud is the easiest way to access a top four club’s main striker while being able to reinvest your money back into the midfield, which dominated the FPL.com charts last season. I see Giroud as the ideal No. 2 striker next to either Harry Kane, Sergio Agüero or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and at £7.0, you’re paying middle-table money for a Champions League striker—what a bargain.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) £9.0
You can count on one hand the amount of strikers who have played better than Jamie Vardy over the last four years, and none are available for the price that the Leicester City striker currently sits at. In all earnestness, the 75 Premier League goals he has scored at a mid-level club like Leicester City amid all the coaching changes and carousel of transfers is a staggering sum that shouldn’t be ignored when looking to fill out your fantasy team. Even last season, with his strike partner in Riyad Mahrez leaving Leicester City, Vardy still managed to score 18 Premier League goals, with a late surge coming at the end of the season.
The most promising thing is that in the 11 top-flight games after Brendan Rodgers took over as manager, Vardy scored 10 goals, forming a nice partnership with Youri Tielemans, who the club just signed on a permanent deal today. At £9.0, Vardy provides a great option to fill your No. 2 striker role if you want someone more consistent but don’t want to spend another double-digit figure on a premium striker. The only thing I advise is to just be patient with the 32-year-old at the start as Leicester City face Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs, and Liverpool in four of the first eight games. However, we should know by now that a tough schedule hasn’t stopped Vardy before.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) £8.0
Along with Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez, Callum Wilson was the biggest surprise at forward last season in FPL with 14 goals and 12 assists, combining with another FPL surprise in Ryan Fraser to give the Cherries a formidable attack. But with his price rise from £6.0 at the start of last season to £6.9 at season’s end and now all the way up to £8.0, I’m ready to label Wilson as an overpriced forward who just doesn’t have the track record to warrant a spot in your FPL.com team. After all, last season was just the first time in four Premier League seasons that Wilson managed to score double-digit goals and play more than 2,000 minutes.
He also has a reputation for getting injured for long periods of time, which includes two major cruciate ligament injuries in the last four years—the eight missed games last season was his best mark since coming into the Premier League. With the £8.0 you would spend on Wilson, you can make a move for Raúl Jiménez (£7.5), Diogo Jota (£6.5) or the starting Chelsea striker—as I mentioned, likely Olivier Giroud (£7.0)—and save money to invest elsewhere. I’m not saying Wilson won’t work out, especially given Bournemouth’s favorable opening schedule, but his inconsistencies lead me to believe your money is best spent elsewhere…
Joshua King (Bournemouth) £6.5
…like on his teammate Joshua King! King recorded only 27 less points than Callum Wilson last season, but costs significantly less. Wilson became so popular last season because at £6.0 he was heavily utilized as a third striker that let managers load up their attack without spending all their money in one place. I think King has the best shot of being that guy this season out of any other forward, and his £6.5 pricetag puts him just on the threshold of No. 2 and No. 3 striker money.
The Norwegian international scored 12 goals last season for the Cherries and missed very little action due to injury (something Wilson cannot say). And looking at Bournemouth’s opening schedule of Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Leicester City, Everton, Southampton and West Ham makes me excited for King’s potential as an under-the-radar pick that could provide an early differential for any FPL team. We’ll see if Wilson and Ryan Fraser remain at the club, but right now I’m backing King to become the next big thing from the bargain store.
After seeing how defenders and midfielders dominated the FPL charts last season (there was not a single forward in the top five in FPL points last season), it looks like the trend is going to rightfully shift from loading up an attack with top-tier strikers to distributing funds across the board, but especially to wingers and wing-backs. That basically means if you want a balanced time, you’re only going to be able to afford one premium striker, and after Sergio Agüero at £12.0, Harry Kane and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang are the options, and the decision is one that will most likely come down to personal preference.
After one of the best years of his career given a 29-goal season and a World Cup golden boot, Kane struggled to stay healthy after a busy couple of years seemed to overload him, leading to his lowest output as a full-time Premier League player with 17 goals. After a well-earned summer of rest, you would not be naive to trust in Kane bouncing back strong, especially after a poor performance in the Champions League final where his hasty return from injury showed. Meanwhile, Aubameyang is another interesting case given that Arsenal won’t be involved in Champions League this season, meaning Unai Emery could rest Aubameyang more on their European schedule to keep him fresh for the Premier League. He also gets injured less than Kane, but has to compete for goals and sometimes minutes with Alexandre Lacazette. Either way, you’re going to get a quality striker, it’s just a matter of preference.