Manchester United will have no competition chasing Declan Rice
It may feel like he’s only been out for a few weeks, but the Premier League is back on Friday, which means time is running out to get your fantasy team in good shape.
With all the transfers and new teams to keep track of, getting a fantastic squad you’re happy with on opening day can be a tricky task.
Has the new attacker settled in? Can the promoted defense stay strong in a higher division? This guy has scored goals in another country, but can he translate that form to the Premier League?
There’s a lot to consider, but Stats Perform has calculated the Opta numbers in an effort to give you a hand, so here are four picks that might be worth considering…
JOSE S.A. (Leeds United vs. wolves)
The likes of Alisson and Ederson might be more likely to get clean sheet points for you, but many fantasy football players see goalkeeping as an area to save some money.
It might be a solid option to consider if that sounds like you. The Portuguese keeper prevented more goals than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League last season (8.5), according to expected goals data – the next best was David de Gea with 2.8.
Likewise, only Alisson (76) had a better save percentage (75) than Sa (minimum 1,000 minutes played), highlighting how reliable he was when called upon.
REECE JAMES (Everton vs. chelsea)
Although he missed part of the season due to injury, James was an outstanding performer when fit.
His 14 goals (five goals, nine assists) was a Premier League record among defenders alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, despite the latter playing almost 1,000 minutes more.
This run has given him an average involvement in a goal every 133 minutes. Of all the defenders to have played at least 90 minutes, this was the best record. He may be expensive, but James could be a real asset.
DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Tottenham against Southampton)
It’s not easy to step into a team mid-season and impress almost instantly, but that’s essentially what Kulusevski did last season, proving to be a hugely reliable player as Tottenham clinched qualification in the Champions League.
The service he performed for his fellow strikers was invaluable as he registered eight assists – between his debut on February 9 and the end of the season, no Premier League player scored more goals.
He also scored five goals, giving him a goal tally (13) which was only bettered by Karry Kane, Son Heung-min (both 19) and Kevin De Bruyne (15) during the same period.
If he can get to that level again, Kulusevski will be a fantasy favorite.
GABRIEL JESUS (Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal)
Most people will make Erling Haaland their primary attacking choice – you can’t blame anyone for that, but he does come at a cost.
Jesus may only have left Manchester City because of Haaland, but early indications are that the Brazil international and Arsenal could be a great marriage. He will also be cheaper than the man who replaced him at the Etihad Stadium.
But also, we must not overlook the real quality of a player, Jesus – who has scored seven goals in five pre-season games -. After all, only once before has he managed more goal involvements (16) than last season, and he was playing mostly on the right wing.
Moreover, his Premier League minutes-to-goal involvement ratio (minimum 1,000 minutes played) since his debut is fifth-best (107) – now he will be a regular starter, and many expect him to flourish.