It is almost that time of year, when thoughts once again turn to selecting your fantasy football team. This season will be different. This will be the season you come out of the traps flying because as we all know the start is absolutely crucial. Playing catch-up is not impossible, but becomes increasingly difficult as everyone’s teams start to take on a similar look and those unknown stars of August are the subject of every blog post and podcast and, of course our very own forums, come October.
The new kid on the block when it comes to fantasy gaming is eSports, with even some of the biggest clubs in Europe developing their own teams, but the popularity of fantasy football continues to build year on year. The reason for that is its sheer simplicity, combined with the fact that if you want to, you can spend tens of hours a week researching that perfect starting eleven. Another reason for its endearing popularity is the constant input of fresh blood, both in terms of players and new teams. And with just that in mind, let’s have a look at the three new additions to the EPL to see if they can provide us with any of the tiny margins that will be crucial come May.
This is the season Fulham will attempt to break out from being very much a yoyo club to a firmly established Premier League one. A lot will depend on what happens this summer, both in terms of who they can bring in, and who they can prevent from leaving. Aleksandar Mitrović had an incredible season last time out and played a huge part in the West Londoners bouncing straight back with his 43-goal haul. He has shown that he can score in the EPL before, netting 24 times in his 104 appearances for Fulham and Newcastle. Rumours are linking the Serb with a move back to the North East, but either way, his value may be pushed artificially high due to his exploits last season.
Better value could very well come in the form of Harry Wilson. The attacking midfielder/winger contributed an incredible 20 assists last season, as well as an equally impressive 10 goals. He won’t have it so easy in England’s top tier, but Marco Silva will be buoyed by Brentford’s performances in the EPL last season and is extremely likely to follow suit and play the attacking style that saw his side blow teams away in the Championship.
The other club to win automatic promotion, and a club that pushed Fulham all the way and amassed an impressive 88 points of their own are the Cherries. Like Fulham, their scoring stats are dominated by one man, Dominic Solanke. In a normal season, his 28 goals and 7 assists would have won the ex-Chelsea youth and Liverpool player all the plaudits, but as we know, Mitrović had everything but a normal season. Looking at the past is sometimes key to predicting the future and questions will be asked whether the striker can take the experience from the Championship into the altogether different arena that is the EPL. So far, the answer to that question has been no, with 63 appearances yielding just 3 goals. He is a couple of years older however and he has the confidence of being the main man at a club, something that has never been the case. He thrived on that last season, and will be a cheap option for a player who will not only play every game, but will also be the team’s main goal threat. Left-back Jordan is another option if you are looking for a cheap defender who will play and contribute the occasional goal and assist.
The job Steve Cooper did to not just turn Forest around last season but to get them into the Premier League was nothing short of remarkable. There are those who feel the side would have benefitted from another year in the Championship to really prepare a team that is ready to take on the challenge for the toughest league in the world, but if opportunity comes knocking you are not going to turn promotion down. Forest’s goals were more evenly dispersed than with their fellow promoted sides, with the young Brennan Johnson leading the line from midfield with 16 goals and 9 assists. They will miss Philip Zinckernagel, and it is likely the club will see several additions over the coming weeks, so the best advice would be to keep your powder dry with Forest players until their squad looks like it is at least nearly complete.