EPL Fantasy Forwards Analysis – Part I

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We analyse the Premium EPL Fantasy Forwards you should be targeting for this coming Premier League season.

Don’t forget to check out Part II of our Fantasy Forwards Analysis – Value in 2013/2014!

Make sure you don’t miss Part I of our Midfield Analysis, Part II of our Midfield AnalysisEPL Fantasy Goalkeepers or our EPL Fantasy Defenders analysis to see the premium midfielders and defenders you should be scouting for this upcoming season.

With only 3 spots available in your squad, strikers or forwards constitute arguably the hardest position in fantasy EPL to fill. Not only do strikers generally score the most points, but with so many viable options, you will struggle to decide who will make your final team. As the most expensive position, your strikers also play an incredibly significant role in determining the overall structure of your team.

In 2013/2014, arguably the most reliable and potentially the most successful players reside in the forwards, so we’re leaning towards playing a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 fantasy formation in order to make the most of what promises to be a particularly strong position. With so many elite teams in the Premier League having favourable draws to commence the upcoming campaign, strikers are also going to be very popular in terms of trying to get off to a quick start.

Unlike defenders who will score approximately 6 points per week if they’re on a good team, strikers are more of an ‘all or nothing’ investment. Often they’ll go goal-less, however in the weeks when they hit the target, you may reap some substantial rewards. Patience is a virtue in this sense, but identifying positive match-ups is also vital.

Before the season gets underway on August 17, we’ll examine options across all positions, from all teams and within two key price brackets; Elite and Value. Avoiding players destined to perform poorly is just as significant selecting the best players available, so we will also highlight the players we believe to be either over-priced or destined for a fall in production over the coming season.

The following advice if made with the Official Premier League Fantasy game in mind. Whilst it can be used to a certain extent within other competitions, feel free to ask us in the comment section below or in our forums whether particular players have increased or decreased value when selected in one of the other fantasy competitions we’ve analyzed for the upcoming season!

 

EPL Fantasy – ‘Elite’ Forwards (£14 million – £8 million)                           

Must Have’ Consider

Avoid

Robin van Persie Wayne Rooney Luis Suarez
Daniel Sturridge Christian Benteke Fernando Torres
Roberto Soldado Alvaro Negredo Demba Ba
Romelu Lukaku Sergio Aguero Lukas Podolski

 

Robin van Persie (MUT – £14 million)

There is no doubt that if budget wasn’t a consideration, RVP would be the 1st player selected in every fantasy team for this coming season. Not only does the Dutchman play for the reigning champions, but he plays as a lone striker. Scoring 26 goals and providing 15 assists last season (only a minor decline from his career-best performance for Arsenal in 2011/2012), RVP is the most reliable striker in terms of posting significant scores each and every week. However with Manchester’s wingers surely due to produce more than 2 goals this coming season, David Moyes likely to remain active in the transfer market and United surely to prioritize the Champions League, expect van Persie to see a slight decline in scoring this coming season.

Selected in 36.6% of teams, he isn’t as widely owned as many would expect, however teams who purchase United’s star striker must be content to structure the remainder of their squad around RVP given his lofty price tag.

The general sentiment regarding his selection this season is that your forward line should be comprised of other players for the opening 5 weeks (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City) before Manchester’s schedule gets easier (West Brom, Sunderland, Southampton, Stoke, Fulkam and Cardiff in 6 of the next 7 weeks).

Luis Suarez (LIV – £11 million) and Daniel Sturridge (LIV – £9 million)

Brendan Rodgers is in the unenvious position of having to deal with Luis Suarez off the pitch. When he’s playing – and not biting people – he’s an absolute joy, however a 10 game suspension (6 of which are still to come at the start of this season) and transfer speculation have tainted his fantasy value.

With Liverpool still yet to sign a world-class striker to replace Suarez, the primary beneficiary of the Uruguyan’s suspension is Daniel Sturridge. A revelation since moving from Chelsea to Anfield, Sturridge is poised to play as a lone striker in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, or if Rodgers manages to sign a striker, possibly just behind Liverpool’s new recruit. Either way, he’s assured a start in every game to open the season. With the Reds boasting an incredibly favorable first 9 games, Sturridge is undoubtedly worth the investment.

So far, just 1.3% of managers have fallen into the trap of selecting Suarez, despite the fact he isn’t playing for the first portion of the season. As a result though, 15.2% have jumped on Sturridge. If that makes him a little too popular for your liking, we have a more unique Liverpool option in our ‘value’ picks below.

Roberto Soldado (TOT – £9.5 million) and Alvaro Negredo (MCI – £9.5 million)

Tottenham’s securing of Soldado’s signature is just another indication that Gareth Bale will probably leave White Hart Lane this summer. Regardless of whether he does or not, AVB’s latest signing is poised to become Tottenhams’ first-choice striker following the relatively average performances of Defoe and Adebayor last season. With 59 goals in 101 league appearances for Valencia (24 in 35 appearances last season), his skill, football intellect and aerial skill makes him a lethal force. With arguably the easiest opening 5 weeks in the entire Premier League awaiting them, Soldado may be an unproven quantity in the EPL but is certainly worth the risk.

Alvaro Negredo on the other hand, whilst in a similar position to Soldado, has the unfortunate privilege of being part of a Manchester City squad which boasts 4 world-class strikers. Whilst Pellegrini will most likely deploy 2 in a 4-2-2-2 or a 4-2-3-1, that still presents significant competition, especially when City crave a respectable performance in the Champions League more than anything else. Should Negredo start, he will play as the most advanced player in City’s attack, however with Edin Dzeko receiving significant endorsement over the pre-season, don’t be surprised if the Bosnian gets the nod on the opening weekend.

Any squad with Manchester City’s depth is difficult to select fantasy players from, especially when under new management. What makes this near impossible though is that City’s philosophy is poised to change dramatically, rendering any certainty regarding their attacking structure nearly impossible until the opening weekend.

So far Negredo’s intimidating price tag means that he is owned in just 4% of teams,so if he does manage to secure significant playing time in City’s relatively pedestrian early-season draw, he could prove a really effective unique pick.

Sergio Aguero (MCI – £11 million) and Romelu Lukaku (CHE – £8 million)

Sergio Aguero has been largely overlooked with many believing if you’re willing to outlay £11 million on a striker, you may as well invest a little bit more and get van Persie. Despite a disappointing campaign last time out (12 goals and 3 assists), Kun’s potential was shown in 2011/2012 with the diminutive striker proving anything but statistically. With 23 goals and 9 assists (211 fantasy points), Aguero was a sensation, and presents tremendous value at his current price, especially considering City’s early-season schedule. Playing just behind City’s advanced striker (Negredo or Dzeko), expect Aguero’s assist numbers to rise this coming season. How prodigious he is as a fantasy player will be dependent on whether he can maintain his goal-scoring capabilities.

Pellegrini has openly admitted to wanting to make a statement early in the season, so regular appearances for arguably their most talented player seem a given. Despite this, he remains in our ‘consider’ column, simply because City will most likely wrap up games early and try to rest their stars when a rout is on.

Our concerns over Romelu Lukaku are fairly similar to those over Aguero with Mourinho poised to rotate his players early in the season. Competing with Torres and Ba, Jose’s return to Stamford Bridge will almost certainly see another world-class striker enter the fray this transfer window. Whilst Lukaku should remain Chelsea’s starting front-man, don’t be surprised to see him rested – especially in Chelsea’s double game-week against very week opposition in opening week. At just £8 million, no player represents better value if selected regularly.

Christian Benteke (ASV – £9 million)

Firstly, despite receiving only minor accolades in the British media for re-signing with Aston Villa, the commitment shown by undoubtedly one of the most talented strikers in the league in staying with what is arguably a relegation favorite is incredibly admirable.

Despite our clear appreciation for a player showing loyalty, Benteke doesn’t make our ‘consider’ list on the back of our own emotions. In many ways, he is a ‘must-have’, with his ability to transform a relatively mundane attack into a constant goal-threat. In others though, his support cast is average at best. Any player possessing this talent on such a poor team is guaranteed incredible minutes though, and with two matches in the first weekend, Benteke is definitely worth consideration, even if it is just for a week (we predict he’ll score once across those 2 games, probably against Arsenal).

Wayne Rooney (MUT – £10.5 million)

In his current situation, Wayne Rooney should be one of the least-owned players in fantasy football. Credit to those already signed up, he’s owned by just 1.8% of teams (and rightly so). Not only is the former face of United injured, but he clearly is surplus to Moyes’ requirements and is in transfer negotiations.Add to that the fact that United play Chelsea, Liverpool and City in the opening 5 weeks of the season and you have to wonder why Rooney is even worth consideration.

At the moment he isn’t, but if Rooney’s transfer to Chelsea goes through somehow, expect the England international to return to his former glory. Rooney hasn’t fallen to his current price of £10.5 million since before 2006, so even if he merely secures regular appearances, he’ll justify his price tag.

Fernando Torres (CHE – £9 million) and Demba Ba (CHE – £8.5 million)

It doesn’t feel like an adequate use of time to explain why these two players aren’t viable fantasy options this season. Not only does Mourinho actively want new strikers at Stamford Bridge, and not only is he poised to deploy just one at a time, but Lukaku should be the clear starter come the start of the season.

Ba is the more likely of the two to find his way out of Chelsea and if he does end up at another club (possibly West Ham), his value will sky-rocket much like Rooney’s.

Lukas Podolski (ARS – £8.5 million)

Arsenal have abandoned their identity of financial conservatism this transfer window, however are still yet to land the world-class players they need to challenge for silverware this coming season. By the end of the window, we’re expecting at least one star striker to have landed at the Emirates, probably relegating Podolski to the bench for substantial portions of this coming season. Whilst his 11 goals and 10 assists last season were well earned, Olivier Giroud also scored 11 goals and with Carzola and Walcott adding a further 12 and 14 respectively, Arsenal lack that striker who can really be a fantasy superstar. You’re far better selecting other strikers and moving on an Arsenal midfielder.

The above advice if made with the Official Premier League Fantasy game in mind. Whilst it can be used to a certain extent within other competitions, feel free to ask us in the comment section below or in our forums whether particular players have increased or decreased value when selected in one of the other fantasy competitions we’ve analysed for the upcoming season!

Don’t forget to check out Part II of our Fantasy Forwards Analysis – Value in 2013/2014!

Also, don’t forget to check out the various EPL Fantasy Competitions available to you to compete for this coming season! Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got it covered.

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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