It took little time for Steven Fletcher to establish himself as something of a talisman for Sunderland this season. The summer signing from Wolves made an immediate impact on Wearside, with goals and maximum Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bonus points in each of his first four appearances making the £12m fee paid out to the Molineux side look a canny piece of business by Martin O’Neill.
After a barren autumn spell, the Scot has returned to form and from Gameweek 16 onwards has developed a real streak of consistency – he hasn’t gone more than a single match without producing attacking returns from that point, in a run that has harvested five wins in the last eight for the Black Cats. With 10 goals and four assists for the season, Fletcher has played a part in more than half his side’s 27 strikes and has collected 23 FPL bonus points, second only to Robin Van Persie’s 28 so far.
Up to fifth in the FPL forward rankings on 112 points, Fletcher sits at his initial FPL starting price of 7.0, having previously risen as high as 7.4. A brace away to Wigan last weekend seems to have caught the attention of Fantasy managers and as winter wildcards continue to be wielded, he is the most transferred in forward in the Gameweek, with over 21,000 snapping up his mid-price services.
Post-match, O’Neill singled out the Scotsman as the Black Cats continued their climb up the table after a 3-2 win over the Latics:
“The transfer seemed to be a bit of a saga at the time but it was well worth it. We relied on him at the beginning of the season; he was the only player scoring for us. Since then we’ve shared a few goals around but he’s a really top-class centre-forward, not just with his goals but in the way he brings others in to play. For one not so tall he’s strong: what Sir Bobby Robson called ‘a proper centre-forward.”
Fletcher’s flourishing form certainly looks to be afforded the chance to continue for the foreseeable future. Looking at the upcoming schedule, Sunderland have arguably just one tricky fixture in the next seven (SWA, rdg, ARS, wba, FUL, qpr, NOR) before matters takes a turn for the worse in Gameweek 31. While last season’s Fantasy favourite Stephane Sessegnon continues to toil, many may look to Adam Johnson as alternative Sunderland cover for their favourable run Fletcher certainly seems better value – he currently costs just 0.3 more than the former City winger and has averaged 5.3 points per game to Johnson’s 4.5.
As owners of Demba Ba begin to ponder a transfer out due to the uncertainty of game time under Rafa Benitez, and the likes of Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov struggle to produce consistent returns, Fletcher (who is priced at 7.7 in the Sky Sports game) has staked a real case for our consideration, with secure starts and run of form that’s becoming increasingly difficult to overlook.