The Headline Pick: Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) – Aston Villa
Ollie Watkins was a key consistent performer of last campaign and I’m hopeful that we will see even more from him going into this season. Given the lack of premium forward options at our disposal this season, the mid-priced bracket could be key.
Watkins impressed with his step-up to the intensity of the Premier League, scoring 14 goals and collecting nine fantasy assists. He played almost every single minute of the season, averaging an attacking return every 145 minutes: excellent returns for a player of his price.
He has seen a price hike for this season, but it’s more than justifiable given the consistent returns that Wakins can provide throughout the season. Aston Villa have the best opening fixtures of any team: facing Watford, Newcastle United and Brentford in their first three games.
The Budget Pick: Ivan Toney (£6.5m) – Brentford
Ivan Toney replaced Watkins at Brentford last season and capitalised on his move to the Championship with an impressive 31 goals in 45 games: a record in England’s second tier of football. The big question is whether he can replicate this goal-scoring in the Premier League.
It’s a rare occurrence for a player to manage the big step-up to the toughest league in European football, but he certainly oozes confidence. He’s recently been quoted in the press, stating his target number of goals is higher than 17: only Fernandes, Salah and Kane bettered that tally last season.
Brentford have a reasonable run to start the season with, avoiding last season’s top six in their opening five games. They host Arsenal and Brighton, while also travelling to Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Wolves.
The VAR Pick: Jamie Vardy (£10.5m) – Leicester City
When it comes to the top fantasy points scorers at the end of the season, Jamie Vardy is always there or thereabouts, having consistently delivered over 150 fantasy points in his last six Premier League seasons. He’s also going into this campaign fully fit.
Leicester City received 12 penalties in 2020/21, more than any other club and converted ten from the spot. Vardy did miss one, but scored the other eight penalties that were taken while he was on the pitch, meaning penalties contributed to half of his goal scoring tally.
The Foxes have a mixed bag of fixtures to kick-off this season, facing Wolves, West Ham, Norwich and Manchester City in their opening four games. However, these fixtures shouldn’t put you off: Vardy has a fantastic record against the big six clubs, particularly Manchester City.
Leicester are available to back at 7/2 to score a penalty against Wolves in Gameweek 1.
The Sleeper Pick: Callum Wilson (£7.5m) – Newcastle United
Callum Wilson is currently in less than 5% of teams and could be a real differential come Gameweek 1. It’s easy to see why he’s not found many suitors, given Newcastle United aren’t renowned for their attacking quality.
Despite this, Wilson finished last campaign on 12 goals and six assists, his second best season in the Premier League after 2018/19 when he was still at Bournemouth. He has an uncanny ability to deliver clinical finishes, with a goal conversion rate of just under 25%.
Keep an eye on his fitness this pre-season before selecting him in your Gameweek 1 squad. It’s a mixed start for the Magpies, with games against West Ham, Aston Villa, Southampton and Manchester United.
The Wildcard Pick: Harry Kane (£12.5m) – Spurs
Harry Kane is one of the most talked about players this pre-season, but not for the right reasons. We currently have no idea whether he will remain at White Hart Lane or force a move up to Manchester, which makes him a difficult fantasy pick right now.
Add into the mix his late arrival for pre-season and Spurs facing Manchester City in Gameweek 1, it’s enough to give us a headache! Despite all the speculation, Kane shouldn’t be far from our thoughts.
He won the Golden Boot and the Playmaker award in 2020/21, with 23 goals and 14 fantasy assists and was narrowly edged out as the top fantasy player of the season by two points, from Bruno Fernandes. Hopefully he won’t fall victim to Pep rotation in this campaign!
Harry Kane is now available to back at 11/4 to finish top goalscorer this Premier League season.
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