After looking at the various fantasy football goalkeeper, defender and midfielder options available to fantasy premier league managers, we end the series by casting our eye over the men at the sharp end of the pitch; forwards.
Separated into price brackets, we’ll assess the positives within the forward market for all tactical preferences.
Can anybody remember Harry Kane was once available for less than 5.0m? When a player of that nature breaks through there’s no better tonic to a squad’s money worries so is there anyone within the 2017/18 class of budget options that could make this year, their year?
Immediate attention turns to another young Englishman in Tammy Abraham. Sent on his second successive loan spell away from Stamford Bridge, the prodigious talent will look to cement his growing reputation after a loan spell with Bristol City resulted in 26 goals and 4 assists in 48 appearances. With that experience in the bank, Abraham who’s only 19 year old then went onto lead the line for the England under 21s this summer with distinction and now has the opportunity to build on the momentum at Swansea City. Available for 5.5m, Abraham will want this season to the season he made people stand and take notice and at the above price when combined with Fernando Llorente’s short term injury and the Swans immediate fixtures looks a terrific gamble to back.
Once again when scavenging around in this market fantasy managers must consider the promoted clubs with Huddersfield’s Steve Mounie (6.0m) appearing to offer the highest ceiling for points. Signed from Montpellier in the summer, Mounie arrives off the back of just a single season in Ligue 1 where the Benin International mustered 15 goals and 3 assists in 38 appearances. A man mountain of a forward standing at 6ft 3in, no other player won more aerial duels (293) than the Huddersfield man which could point to a shorter settling in period due to his style of play, something this pre-season endorses with the new recruit finding the net on 4 occasions.
Elsewhere can Jay Rodrgiuez reignite his career at West Brom after securing a summer move and will Stoke City finally see the Saido Berahino that propelled the ex-Baggies front man into the England reckoning? Both underachieving forwards are available for 6.0m.
Mid Price Options
The reclassification of Roberto Firmino has brought the Liverpool false nine into this market and on paper perhaps to the benefit of fantasy managers being priced at least 0.5m cheaper than the alternatives from Jurgen Klopp’s midfield (8.5m). If we look at the Brazilian’s statistics last season as a forward his 43 shots on target would have only been bettered by Sergio Aguero (51), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (45), Harry Kane (58) and Romelu Lukaku (53) while only the exiting Diego Costa was more involved in the penalty area than Firmino’s 224 touches. Add the possibility of penalty kick duties and there’s a lot to like about the Liverpool man.
Crossing Stanley Park and to Everton where Ronald Koeman has been busy assembling a squad that he believes can compete for European places which includes the forward additions of Sandro from Malaga and the return of Wayne Rooney. Both are available for 7.5m with Rooney proving popular with 17.9% current ownership who with regular game time, set piece assignments and the hunger to represent England at the forthcoming World Cup could roll back the clock.
Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini arrived from Napoli last January and started in terrific fashion registering four goals in as many Premier League appearances before an injury appeared to derail the finale to the Italian’s season. Indeed Gabiadini’s goal threat was impressive with an attempt on frame every 25 minutes, better than the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Gabriel Jesus and Diego Costa albeit in far fewer minutes. Now fully fit, scoring in pre-season and entering his first full season at St Mary’s, fantasy managers can acquire the Saints man services for 7.0m and take advantage of Southampton’s amazing fixtures starting with three home games in their opening four outings.
Another club to make waves in the transfer market this summer has been West Ham with their biggest catch being the signing of Javier Hernandez (7.0m) from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The former Manchester United man brings a Premier League record of 37 goals and 12 assists in 103 appearance with many of these arriving from off the bench. For a truer reflection as to the Mexican’s goalscoring antics, Hernandez’ 37 goals were amassed at an average of 130 minutes per goal and while this feat was achieved in a free flowing Manchester United side, does show the predatory nature West Ham has bought. Elsewhere Craig Shakespeare got the best out of Jamie Vardy (8.5m) towards the back end of last season with the former non-league man registering 6 goals and 4 assists in the last ten gameweeks to average 6.64 points per game while his new team mate Kelechi Iheanacho (7.0m) will now finally get his opportunity to show his real worth with regular minutes now surely assured. The former Manchester City forward record reads 12 goals and 5 assists in 1303 minutes of football across the last two seasons.
Completing the mid-price range is Christian Benteke (8.0m) who now under the tutelage of Frank De Boer will look to kick on from his 15 goals output from last season.
Big Hitting Frontmen
We finish by going in a full circle and back to Harry Kane. Priced at 12.5m, the golden boot winner from the past two seasons will look to make it four season’s in a row scoring 20 or more Premier League goals and with that consistency, can you really go into gameweek one without him? Can you go into the season without a player who averaged 8.63 points per game across the second half of last season? Can you go into a season without a player who mustered a goal every 87 minutes in his last campaign?
Talking of goals per minute and Gabriel Jesus was the closest challenger to Kane averaging a goal every 92 minutes. Now expected to feature regularly for Pep Guardiola it’ll be interesting following how the Spaniard plans on incorporating both the Brazilian and Sergio Aguero into the same starting lineup. Priced at 10.5m and 11.5m respectively, Jesus has the potential to make mockery of his initial starting price having averaged 6.7 points per game across his first season in English football while Aguero’s record of 122 goals and 36 assists in just 181 Premier League appearances has to be respected.
Romelu Lukaku‘s current 48.6% ownership simply has to be covered. Priced at 11.5m the combination of Manchester United’s favourable opening fixtures and the potential Lukaku possesses that could be untaped by Jose Mourinho and a better supporting squad has reduced Lukaku’s inclusion to a case of playing the numbers. Meanwhile another new recruit to the Premier League, Alexandre Lacazette was on display in the Community Shield last weekend and opinion speaking, looked a proper number 9. Operating within the width of the penalty area, Arsenal’s ability to create chances should marry up well with a player who looked a predator. Priced at 10.5m and bringing a record to match Kane’s three successive 20 goals or more in each of his last three seasons, the Frenchman could start quickly with Arsenal’s opening encounters some of best amongst the European aspiring clubs.
From the Community
From the community, for the community. In this section Offshore Deserter, a member of the 12th man is back after talking defenders to now give his current thinking surrounding forwards;
“I’m having some serious concerns about Tottenham at present. A lack of pre-season games, moving to a new stadium a la West Ham (even after the Juventus game, though they are a better proposition than West Ham), no new signings, Kane’s slow start syndrome etc. Can I save some money going without Harry Kane? Manchester City play Brighton & Hove Albion in first game of the season and have looked good up to now so i’m looking at punting on Sergio Aguero instead of HurriKane and banking the 1.0m to allow me to upgrade other positions. If City go big in gameweek one I’ll run with it until gameweek three and use 2FTs to bring in the Spurs man then. If it fails, then at least I’ve tried to be creative and can reverse out of it asap before a 0.1m price rise should it happen. Anyway, that’s my current plan.”
To conclude, the makeup of a fantasy squad’s front three is still very much in the air as we get ever closer to the Premier League’s curtain raiser with strong options across all three price brackets. Fantasy managers can adopt the traditional two big hitters, one budget third forward or take a dabble in the mid-price range with some alluring prospects. Equally has there ever been a season with so many 10m plus forwards who all have legitimate cases for inclusion? With the influx of money into the Premier League fantasy managers are faced with more and more big hitters every summer and with this crazy summer of spending, the tipping point towards loading up on a big front three may have just swung in it’s favour.