The start of the Premier League season is here and for many of the more than 3.5 million fantasy football players that means sleepless nights agonizing over every last selection for the first week of the campaign. Less than three days now remain before the deadline strikes on Saturday morning and the 15 players picked are locked in and forever more only replaceable by using up precious transfers. Getting that first selection right can be key to topping your league, yet week one is also the hardest to pick for given the difficulty in predicting which players will adept to their new surroundings, which are set for a breakout season and those few who will hit the ground running rather than experience a summer hangover.
Here are five players who it’d be wise to opt for heading into week one.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, 13.0 million)
Yes, he’s the most expensive player in Fantasy Premier League, but there’s a very good reason for that. The Argentine was the top point scorer two seasons ago and sixth highest last season, despite being hobbled by injuries. And fitness issues are the only thing that should give anyone any doubt about selecting Aguero. The striker has scored in both preseason games he has played so looks to be coming into the season already sharp. There is also every reason to think that he will thrive under new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. The Catalan’s teams are historically high scorers and, if nothing else, he ensures his players are fully focused for every match. Pick him and make him captain for week one when City host Sunderland.
David de Gea (Manchester United, 5.5 million)
There is not much to choose between the three top-priced goalkeepers. But, given Arsenal’s current injury crisis at center-back in front of Petr Cech and Joe Hart’s poor Euro 2016 and capacity for blunders, De Gea looks to be the man to pick between the sticks. An exceptionally consistent performer for the past three seasons, the Spaniard could be an even higher point scorer under new manager Jose Mourinho. While he may talk the talk about playing in an attacking manner, Mourinho’s philosophy is first and foremost about avoiding mistakes and keeping things tight at the back.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal, 6.0 million)
If you’re in need for more of a budget midfield option, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a great pickup for just 6 million. While his once hugely promising career may have stalled over the past two seasons, thanks to a combination of injury and ineffective performances, the former Southampton youth product has been Arsenal’s standout performer in preseason. A scorer of eye-catching goals against Lens and Mexican side Chivas, Oxlade-Chamberlain has looked like a man desperate to make up for lost time and to stamp his mark on what even his manager has made clear is a key season for him. The England international certainly looks set to start the season in Arsenal’s first XI, given that Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud have yet to get up to fitness after their Euro 2016 commitments.
John Stones (Manchester City, 5.0 million)
At just 5 million, Stone is considerably better value for money in Premier League fantasy than he in real life following his £50 million transfer from Everton Manchester City. For a defender at a top club he represents a great deal at that price in fantasy football. Although he had an inconsistent season last term, he should benefit hugely from the tutelage of Guardiola. Having played in preseason for Everton, and with City still being without injured captain Vincent Kompany, Stones may be thrust immediately into the team for the opening week of the season.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United, 9.5 million)
He may have seen his shirt number switched from nine to 11 following the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford, but the designation of Martial as a midfielder in this season’s Fantasy Premier League presents a great opportunity for players. The 20-year-old looks set to be deployed regularly on the left of either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 under Mourinho this season, giving him plenty of opportunities for both goals and assists. Mourinho is known for maximizing the efficiency of his attackers, which means that Martial could well improve on his 11 goals and four assists in his debut Premier League season. The France international should also be hungry to make a mark after seeing limited playing time at Euro 2016.