The first international break of the season presented an opportunity to look at which early standouts have put their average draft position to shame. Any discussion along these lines must begin with Teemu Pukki. Drafted as FWD 28, the Finnish forward is currently second in total points and joint-second in the Golden Boot race with five goals. Tammy Abraham (FWD 30) and Ashley Barnes (FWD 32) also rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in the forward standings. You can expect some regression from Pukki and Abraham, but neither should dip below forward two value. As for Barnes, he will likely end up being a high-end forward three. Of the slow starters, Wilfried Zaha (FWD 12) is yet to get on the scoresheet, and Ayoze Pérez (FWD 18) is currently 43rd in total points. Zaha should come good sooner than later, but Perez’s situation is a cause for concern. He was dropped from the starting XI in GW4 after three sub-par performances on the right-wing. Since most managers took him as their second forward, the only course of action is to hold him and hope for the best.
The midfield has been led by Chelsea’s rising star Mason Mount (MID 77). Only Kevin De Bruyne has returned more points through four games than Mount, who leads all midfielders in shots on target with eight. John McGinn (MID 53) and Todd Cantwell (undrafted) currently place inside the top-10, while Daniel James (MID 46) and Oliver Norwood (Mid 81) are found in the top-15. All five of those midfielders are nailed-on for respective clubs, but Cantwell will need to string together a larger sample size before I climb on board. Mount and James won’t likely drop out of the top-15 unless they miss time due to injury. I rate McGinn higher than Norwood, though I expect the latter to remain inside the top-30 for most of the season.
Perhaps the biggest surprise has come in defense. Frank Lampard’s decision to hand Emerson (DEF 39) the reins at left-back has been a headache for managers who drafted Marcos Alonso (DEF10). Alonso seemed like a safe pick since the Spaniard was one of just two defenders to finish inside the top-10 in each of the last three seasons. Following the news that Emerson picked up an injury while on international duty, Alonso may start in GW5. Still, unless Emerson’s injury is more significant than initially believed, it’s unlikely Alonso will regain his place. Caglar Soyuncu, who went undrafted, has benefitted from the sale of Harry Maguire and nailed down a starting spot for Leicester City. Enda Stevens (DEF 52) went off the board as a bench piece, with managers hoping he could emerge as this season’s version of Matt Doherty. I don’t think Stevens will come close to the value Doherty provided, but his wingback role gives him a realistic path to finishing as a top-30 defender.
Sean’s Super Subs provides weekly free agent and wavier-wire recommendations for Fantrax leagues, with a heavy focus on those using Togga scoring. Players on this list must be available in over 50 percent of leagues on Fantrax.com. Players will be recommended as adds for 10 or 12 team leagues and be assigned one of the following classifications. These include streaming options, (one-week adds), short-term/long-term adds (worth holding for a specific duration of matches), and must-adds. Players can also appear on this list for multiple gameweeks. For example, if there’s still value in a player from one gameweek to the next and he’s still available in over 50 percent of leagues, you can expect multiple appearances. Finally, the positional distribution of the players included will fluctuate based on the number of attention-worthy performers on a week-to-week basis.
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Frederic Guilbert, Aston Villa (14%): Guilbert has been contributing at both ends of the pitch since cracking the starting XI. Across matches against Everton and Crystal Palace, the right-back racked up three completed dribbles and three shots, as well as eight interceptions and two successful tackles. Following a visit from West Ham and trip to Arsenal, Aston Villa boasts three fantasy-friendly fixtures—Burnley (h), Norwich City (a) and Brighton (h). With the match at Arsenal being the only one to avoid, Guilbert is a short-term add in deeper leagues.
Reece James, Chelsea (0%): James figures into Frank Lampard’s plans in some capacity, and that means he may be valuable over the course of the season. The youngster, who shined on loan at Wigan last season, may have already been in the picture if not for serious ankle ligament injury. James is expected to push César Azpilicueta at right-back now that he’s closing in on full fitness, which makes him a worthwhile buy-low candidate. He's worth a spot at the end of your bench, especially in keeper leagues.
Sofiane Boufal, Southampton (21%): Boufal has struggled to establish himself at Southampton since joining as a club-record signing from Lille in 2016. But after a successful loan last season at Celta Vigo, the attacking midfielder has been handed a fresh start under Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Morocco international came off the bench and provided an assist in the win over Brighton in GW3. Boufal followed up his cameo with a solid outing in draw with Manchester United, providing three shots and two successful dribbles across 71 minutes of action. With Nathan Redmond still dealing with an ankle injury, Boufal is in line for another start in GW5. He’s a short-term add if you’re streaming week-to-week until Redmond returns.
Isaac Hayden, Newcastle (14%): Newcastle players are downgraded this week since the club faces Liverpool at Anfield. Hayden, however, is an outlier. During his last 24 starts, the midfielder has posted double digits on 12 occasions and averaged an impressive 9.43 points per match. This level of production has everything to do with his under-the-radar role in the Newcastle attack. Since last December, he ranks second amongst all Newcastle players in both key passes (24) and assists (5). With defensive actions giving him a high floor, the lure of assisting on a garbage-time goal gives Hayden sleeper appeal in deeper leagues.
Oliver McBurnie, Sheffield United (14%): With Callum Robinson and David McGoldrick dealing with injuries, McBurnie will likely make the starting XI against Southampton. The summer signing from Swansea City opened his scoring account when he came off the bench in the defeat by Leicester City and made his first start of the season in the GW4 draw at Chelsea. Although McBurnie is a goal dependent forward, Sheffield United’s meeting with Southampton could be a multiple-goal affair for both clubs. As my top anytime scorer at Bramwell Lane, McBurnie can be valued as a third forward. He's also an add-and-stash candidate in deeper leagues.
Adama Traore, Wolverhampton (21%): After an injury to Matt Doherty, Traore stepped into the right wingback role for Wolverhampton in the 3-2 defeat by Everton. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo confirmed that Doherty went under the knife to address the problem during the international break, but there's uncertainty as to when the fullback will be able to return. The unknown duration of Doherty’s absence means Traore could be line for a significant amount of starts. Even though the 23-year-old will be playing as a wingback, that doesn’t negatively impact his fantasy value. Since most of his points come from completed dribbles, the wingback role could see his baseline production improve. Between key passes and crosses, plus a few defensive actions, Traore has the makings of a solid third forward. He should be rostered in 12-team leagues.