We’re now over quarter of the way through the 2015/16 Fantasy Premier League season and we can’t imagine that many of the FPL players would have guessed James Vardy and Riyad Mahrez would be the two highest scorers so far. However, that’s where we find ourselves, in what has been a strange season so far, at least from an attacking point of view.
There’s a list of players who you would expect to be near the top of the table, but whether through injury, change of position or lack of form; Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Santi Cazrola, Diego Costa and Wayne Rooney are nowhere to be seen in the top five midfielders or strikers for points accumulated.
The rise of Leicester City
Taking their places are players who not too many would have thought about at the start of the season; players who started off in the five/six-million bracket, but have risen steadily over the coming weeks. Second on the list of high scorers is James Vardy, the Leicester City striker who is just one goal away from equaling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of nine goals in as many games. With 86 points from 12 games, he represents excellent value for money for anyone that has had him in their team from week one. Now selected by 52.5% of FPL players, his value has increased from 6.0m to 7.4m.
Even more impressive is the point’s accumulation of Leicester City midfielder, Riyad Mahrez. Leicester currently sit third in the Premier League, and it’s largely down to the form of Vardy and Marhez. FPL players have certainly reaped the reward too, with Mahrez scoring more points than anyone else in the game. Seven goals and five assists from 11 starts means Marhez has accumulated 87 points, which has subsequently seen his value rise from 5.5m to 6.6m. He is selected by 57.9% of players. In comparison, Eden Hazard, who was a favorite for many at the start of the season, is now selected by just 16.4% after scoring just 38 points.
Chelsea’s dramatic dip in form is certainly one of the reasons behind the ‘top players’ not scoring as highly as expected. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, two players who had double goals and assists respectively by this time last season, currently sit with 35 and 25 points respectively. Costa’s return of two goals and one assist, along with Cesc Fabregas who has just one assist to his name, are way below expectation. Their low points return has been reflected in FPL player’s team selections, with Costa being picked by just 6.4% and Fabregas by 5.2% of players. Their high values certainly don’t represent good value for money, although there is still time for them to turn things round. Maybe it will take a change of manager to get the best out of them, and other Chelsea players, this season?
Injuries in the City
Two of Manchester City’s players, Sergio Aguero and David Silva, can count themselves unlucky. Both players started the season off in fine form, with Aguero scoring five goals against Newcastle United and Silva contributing regularly with six assists and one goal in five appearances, before both missed a significant amount of games through injury. With the so called ‘lesser players’ scoring so highly, it will be interesting to see how quickly FPL players bring back two of the league’s best when they are scheduled to return after the international break.
It’s not just at Leicester where players are performing so well. Watford striker, Odion Ighalo, has a return of 69 points, with seven goals and two assists in 11 starts. His original price has only increased to 5.5m from 5.0m, meaning he is excellent value for money. A slightly more expensive option, but still not considered in the elite, is Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku is the second highest scoring striker, with 74 points and has scored seven and assisted four in 12 starts. At 8.6m, he still represents good value for money, especially when compared to Wayne Rooney and Diego Costa, who are priced at 10.1m and 10.9m respectively.
West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Newcastle Utd’s Georginio Wijnaldum find themselves in the top-five ranked midfielders. Payet has had an excellent start to his career in the Premier League, with everything positive at West Ham going through him. He has created 46 chances, assisting three and scoring five times, giving him a return of 74 points. Unfortunately, Payet has just been ruled out for three months with an ankle injury, forcing FPL players who selected him to have a rethink. Will another West Ham player step up in his absence? Wijnaldum on the other hand, is another new signing who has taken to the Premier League with relative ease. Six goals and two assists from 12 games show how important he is to a Newcastle team struggling near the relegation places. He has a healthy return of 66 points so far.
More surprises to come?
Players from Leicester, Newcastle, West Ham, Swansea, Crystal Palace, Watford and Everton all make up the top 10 for midfielders and strikers points scored. While favourites such as Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Tottenham’s Harry Kane have done well, in terms of value for money, you can’t help but look to players like Swansea’s Andre Ayew and Watford’s Odigon Ighao as cheaper alternatives who are scoring similar points totals. The depth in choice means that a lot of FPL teams are still quite varied. This is impressive, as it’s usually the time of the season when everyone’s teams start to all look very similar. If this trend continues and players at the smaller clubs don’t suffer a drop in form, it could be one of the most exciting fantasy football seasons to date.
By Simon Banks