Fantasy Premier League managers have had several days to think about their first drafts of 2021/22 following three days of price releases.
Now that the game has officially launched, we now know how much everyone costs and it is much easier to sort the best options from the ones to avoid.
Here is my initial reaction to the FPL price list for the new season.
Liverpool, Norwich and Leeds kindly assisted us by releasing their full squad price list, which threw up some interesting lines, Sadio Mane (£12.0m) only £0.5m cheaper than Mohamed Salah (£12.5m being one of them, but also confirmed some of our suspicions as Stuart Dallas (£5.5m) moving into midfield.
Then come 9:20am on Monday morning the price releases began again with Manchester United leading the 11 remaining teams. Like Sunday some teams including United themselves, Brentford, Watford and Aston. Villa released their full squad lists, while Chelsea kept us guessing just releasing four of their squad prices.
For me, at the start of every season when the game launches there are key players that I look for in terms of their prices, usually these are the Premium options. On Sunday we were given pricing for some of the key Premium FPL assets:
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m)
- Andrew Robertson (£7.0m)
- Son Heung-min (£10.0m)
- Mohamed Salah (£12.5m)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.0m)
- Harry Kane (£12.5m)
Followed on Monday by a number of the others:
- Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m)
- Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m)
- Raheem Sterling (£11.0m)
- Jamie Vardy (£10.0m)
- Luke Shaw/Harry Maguire/Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m)
Last season, I aimed to have as many Premium options as possible for the start of the season, knowing that it is easier to sell a premium if they don’t perform than it is to try and buy one which will undoubtedly result in either points hits or an early wildcard. This means that if I potentially want a team that contains Salah, Alexander-Arnold, Fernandes and Kane as well as Chelsea and Manchester City stars, Kai Havertz (£8.5m) and Phil Foden (£8.0m) whose prices were a nice surprise when the game launches, I am going to have to make some exceptional budget picks early on.
Dallas was an early move of mine last season, along with Thomas Soucek (£6.0m), Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) and Yves Bissouma (£4.5m). This season will be all about finding the value again.
Robert Sanchez (£4.5m) looks like the perfect budget option for the opening eight Gameweeks of the season when Brighton don’t play any of last seasons top six. His save point potential was huge last season, as was his clean sheet tally. With the return of key assets to that Brighton defence such as Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m), who also looks to be an FPL bargain, Sanchez points ability should be improved further.
Leed’s Raphinha (£6.5m) feels like a budget steal given the away he was performing, especially in the later part of the 2020/21 season. While his price has taken a hike from the £5.6m he cost in Gameweek 38 last season, he is substantially cheaper than Patrick Bamford (£8.0m) who is now £1.4m more expensive than he finished last season.
While the Leeds fixtures to start the season look tough, we saw in 2020/21 that they were especially good away from home and their ability to score goals, even against the big clubs, is something that FPL managers never questioned. Raphinha from Gameweek 1 feels like something that I’ll be investing in for the long haul.
£4.5m players are going to be one of the keys to unlocking a good Gameweek 1 team and so I likely invest in Bissouma again this season. Last year he provided the consistency of starts that was needed in case I needed a player off of the bench as well as the occasional hint of attacking threat and even a goal early on. If Bissouma moves away from the Amex in this transfer window then his appeal may be tainted only if its to a club such as Liverpool where you might want to own three. Otherwise, I think Bissouma once again looks a great budget enabler.
Crystal Palace have also gifted us Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m). Back in the 2020/21 season Mitchell proved himself to be a good FPL option. Palace also have Nathan Ferguson (£4.5m), who was popular in the FPL community in pre-season last year however unfortunately had multiple injury setbacks and never made it to the Palace team. Ferguson is due back from injury in November and could be a great budget option at that stage, even though I was expecting him to be £4.0m and depending on the new manager at Palace and their plans for the side.
Whilst Norwich have potentially the worst set of opening fixtures they could have dreamed of, they could still be worth early moves to enable FPL managers to fill their teams with expensive premiums. Todd Cantwell (£5.5m) is slightly more than the budget £4.5m I generally try to hunt out in pre-season and in the early weeks of the campaign, however he proved in his last stint in the Premier League than he has potential to be a great FPL option.
Max Aarons (£4.5m) or Grant Hanley (£4.5m) could also prove to be decent defensive picks given Norwich have improved at the back since their relegation. While you wouldn’t likely want to play them in the opening weeks they are easy to bench and will likely be decent options when the fixtures turn for Norwich. The future of Spurs’ Oliver Skipp (£4.5m) could also be all important to whether the Norwich defence make good FPL options as he was phenomenal in protecting the Norwich defence while on loan in the Championship, he finished second in their player of the season and only missed their final match through injury.
The Watford defence are all priced at £4.5m including Premier League veteran Danny Rose (£4.5m) who could be a good option following his move from Spurs this summer. Francisco Sierralta (£4.5m) could be a fantastic option, he kept 14 clean sheets in 24 starts last season when Watford were the best defence in the Championship. Sierralta also offers excellent potential aerially from corners and therefore could potentially score goals for his FPL managers. He did pick up a slight knock for Chile in the Copa America so that is something to watch out for over the coming days.
I also love how FPL have priced the players in groups this season meaning that we will be forced to chose between players who we loved in our teams last season. There are so big decisions to be made in the following categories:
- Ollie Watkins (£7.5m)
- Patrick Bamford (£8.0m)
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m)
- Richarlison (£7.5m)
- Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.5m)
- Danny Ings (£8.0m)
- Michail Antonio (£7.5m)
Watkins wins this category for me given the consistency of the play we saw from him in 2020/21, especially with the addition to Emi Buendia (£6.5m) to that Aston Villa attack. I do think the Everton opening fixtures make Dominic Calvert-Lewin very hard to ignore, especially when we think back to his run at the start of last season.
- Luke Shaw (£5.5m)
- Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m)
- Harry Maguire (£5.5m)
- Lucas Digne (£5.5m)
- Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m)
- Reuben Dias (£6.0m)
- Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m)
So far there are three in this group that I’d like to own this season. Shaw, Cresswell and Dias were all part of my squad for large sections of last season. All of them provided excellent returns in terms of clean sheets, goals and assists. However with Everton’s fixtures to start the season, depending on what happens with their managerial hunt, Digne feels like a steal at £5.5m at least for the first five Gameweeks.
- Tyrick Mitchell
- Francisco Sierralta
- Danny Rose
- Max Aarons
- Grant Hanley
- Connor Coady
- Liam Cooper
- Luke Ayling
- Jamaal Lascelles
This list actually could have been even longer and I suspect when Brighton, Crystal Palace, Burnley etc release their price lists it could get longer still. choosing the right £4.5m defender can be key to unlocking the premium options. The joy this season is that we could actually easily have two £4.5m defenders in our squads and happily play them.
Sierralta and Mitchell are the early front runners for me, but when the Norwich fixture swing happens Aarons could prove to be a great differential.
For me I like to hold my first wildcard and therefore looking beyond Gameweeks 1 and 2 is key when picking my opening Gameweek team. I’m considering fixtures right through to Gameweek 8 when looking at these released prices and seeing enough good value picks that owning a fair number of premiums such as Salah, Kane and Fernandes looks possible.
I can’t wait for the game to go live now, so that I can spend the summer tinkering in the Members Area comparing three £4.5m defenders to decide which ones will be in my squad come the Gameweek 1 deadline on the 13th of August.
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