Fantasy Premier League bargains: cheap defenders, midfielders and forwards for tight budgets
Save the following date and time on your phone: Friday, August 9, 6pm. Mark it as important, highlight in red, include an asterisk or two and your emoji of choice. The deadline for Gameweek 1 is 7pm, so if all else fails you’ve got a one-hour warning to get your squad sorted in preparation for the big kick-off.
The budget of £100m to pick a squad of 15 players remains the same, but that won’t stop you trying to cram in the high-value players like Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Harry Kane (£11m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11m) or Raheem Sterling (£12m) before realising you don’t actually have enough budget remaining to hit ‘save’ on a completed squad.
Tackled by Ryan (aka @FantasyYIRMA)...
Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold may once again be a great fantasy picks, but with both priced at a whopping £7m you really will have to hunt out the bargains to accommodate them.
With stoppers, it’s pretty straightforward. Will they play? Do they have clean sheet potential? Can they provide an attacking threat?
Strong word of warning: it’s slim pickings at this price bracket and there’s no magical Aaron Wan-Bissaka starting off at £4.0m to save us this year...
1. Lewis Dunk, Brighton (£4.5m)
If Harry Maguire completes a proposed Cristiano Ronaldo-esque £80 million transfer to Manchester United, then there’s every chance that Leicester could come in with a daft bid for Dunk. It’s all speculation at this point, but regardless: at £4.5m in fantasy land, the 27-year-old is a guaranteed starter in Brighton’s defence alongside Shane Duffy – who at £5m is too expensive for this barrel-scraping selection.
Two goals and one assist last season means he’s not completely toothless in front of goal, so while it’s unlikely that new boss Graham Potter will ever deploy the 6ft 3in one-cap England international up front, he should get easy minutes on the board. A viable, playing option to warm your fantasy bench and free up funds elsewhere.
2. Ahmed Elmohamady, Aston Villa (£4.5m)
A welcome return to the league for former Hull and Sunderland defender Elmohamady, who posted 114 points back in 2014/15 with two goals and five assists for a Tigers side that finished 16th. It’s as close to impressive in this list as you’re going to get.
Tickle Me (they must call him that) contributed two goals and eight assists in the Championship last season as Aston Villa secured their big top-flight return. Twenty-six of his starts last season came at right-back, with a further 13 coming further upfield – potential here for a coveted ‘out of position’ fantasy pick. And there’s more, stats fans: Elmohamady posted 53 key passes last season, ranking him 38th in the Championship. For a defender, that’s not too shabby.
The 31-year-old also chipped in with two goals in four games at the recent Africa Cup of Nations, putting him level on goals for the tournament with a certain Mr. Mo Salah.
3. Joel Ward, Crystal Palace (£4.5m)
Last season we tipped Wan-Bissaka as a £4.0m bargain basement must-have for Crystal Palace, and duly patted ourselves on the back for the rest of the year. And how times have changed: the youngster has since made a £50 million move to Manchester United.
Back in FPL, that presumably leaves Ward to pick up the pieces at right-back. He was very much a utility man last season and deployed in various places across Roy Hodgson’s back four, making just six starts.
His defensive team-mate Martin Kelly (£4.0m) is owned by over 20% of teams, which is frankly mad. To translate: fantasy managers picked a squad of 14 players and had £4.0m budget left for a final defender they’ve heard of. Sure, there are injury doubts over both Mamadou Sahko and James Tomkins, but he won’t be a long-term solution.
Unless Palace sign another right-back in the coming weeks, we should be looking at Ward as another £4.5m starting option to sit snugly on your bench. It’s worth keeping an eye on how Hodgson lines up his defence over pre-season.
4. Max Aarons, Norwich, (£4.5m)
If Aarons makes a summer move from Norwich to Crystal Palace in the next three weeks (for some reason), please discount the previous pick. The exciting 19-year-old notched up two goals and six assists last season, helping his club to promotion and himself to three of the following four individual accolades:
- EFL Young Player of the Year 2018/19 – Check
- EFL Team of the Season 2018/19 – Check
- Britain’s Big Celebrity Love Get Me Out Of Here Brother Talent Island 2018/19
- PFA Team of the Year: 2018/19 Championship – Check
Norwich tied him down to a new five-year deal this month, after Aarons emerged as a speculated transfer target for the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham.
Critically, Norwich start the season at Liverpool, so admittedly a captain shout for GW1 he is not. However, Luis Suarez has long since left Anfield so the hopeful Canaries are instantly better off than in their last top-flight jaunt.
5. Rob Holding (Arsenal)
God help Arsenal fans if they have to rely on Shkodran Mustafi for another season. Holding, before his 2018/19 campaign was cruelly cut short by a long-term knee knack in December, was actually looking like the Gunners’ best defender.
He’ll need some work in pre-season but it shouldn’t be too long before the ex-Bolton stopper returns to help his side . And when he does, there’s a good chance he’ll start to partner Sokratis: Mustafi is… well, Mustafi; Laurent Koscielny would rather be anywhere else; Calum Chambers’ future is unclear; and Konstantinos Mavropanos remains a little raw.
Worst case, he doesn't start and you switch him out for one of the above. Easy.