Having scanned through the myriad budget striking options available in Fantasy Premier League this season (as well as the goalkeepers, budget defenders, mid-price/premium defenders, budget midfielders, mid-price midfielders and premium midfielders), we now turn our attention to those in the mid-price forward bracket.
Priced between £6.5m and £8.0m, these strikers ought to be nailed-on selections to justify the extra financial outlay over a speculative budget pick.
With uncertainty over the early-season availability of several premium forwards such as Harry Kane (£12.5m), Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m), Gabriel Jesus (£10.5m) and Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) following their participation in the World Cup, the mid-price forwards – and two names in particular – are proving to be popular FPL buys.
The decision to reclassify Wilfried Zaha and Marko Arnautovic (both £7.0m) drew surprise in some quarters upon the FPL price list release in July, but the pair are the third and fourth-most selected forwards respectively at the time of writing.
With Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) now owned by more than one in two Fantasy managers, the mid-price forward route is proving a popular one with FPL bosses who find themselves needing to liberate part of their £100m budget to splurge on the free-scoring Egyptian.
The £7.0m/£8.0m Bracket
There is only one forward who currently occupies the twilight zone between £7.0m and £9.0m – but he is a name to avoid at this point. Olivier Giroud (£8.0m) is not due to return to pre-season training until next week after his successful World Cup campaign with France, but his limited availability in the first few Gameweeks of the season might be the least of his worries.
Alvaro Morata (£9.0m) has established himself as the spearhead in Maurizio Sarri’s 4-3-3 formation in pre-season and reports suggest that Michy Batshuayi (not yet listed in FPL) has also been given assurances about his pitch-time by the new Chelsea boss. That would likely leave Giroud, who is only six months into his Chelsea career, as the third-choice striker at the club or even surplus to requirements altogether.
There is only one place to start in the £7.0m bracket. Marko Arnautovic has scored five goals in as many pre-season starts for West Ham United, each appearance being as the focal point of a three-man attack.
With Andy Carroll (£5.5m) out injured and Javier Hernandez (£6.5m) only just returning to training after his run to the last-16 of the World Cup with Mexico, Arnautovic seems assured of the striker’s spot for the Hammers’ Gameweek 1 encounter with Liverpool. Even with “Chicarito” available, there is little to suggest that Arnautovic would be moved out to the flank – and one of Felipe Anderson or Andriy Yarmolenko (both £7.0m) dropped – to accommodate the Mexican forward.
From Gameweek 16 (the match in which Arnautovic was first fielded as a striker) of last season onwards, the only three forwards to score more goals than the talismanic Austrian (11) were premium picks Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy. Kane and Salomon Rondon were the only forwards to register more attempts on goal than Arnautovic (60) during this period, meanwhile.
If we stop thinking about what might have been and judge Arnautovic as a £7.0m forward on his own merits, then there is not much better value in the forwards’ department than the Austrian on current form.
Although West Ham’s opening nine fixtures are among the toughest in the division, the matches in Gameweeks 2 and 4 against Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers are hugely appealing.
Crystal Palace enjoy a fine run of fixtures in the first quarter of the season, which would perhaps explain why Wilfried Zaha‘s (£7.0m) current ownership is greater than that of Arnautovic.
No forward in the mid-price bracket registered more points per match than Zaha (4.7) last season. After missing much of Frank de Boer’s ill-fated reign with a knee injury, Zaha’s return to fitness coincided with Roy Hodgson’s appointment and the winger’s rebirth as a centre-forward.
Zaha was still deployed on the flank on occasion in 2017/18 but all nine of his league goals came in matches in which he started up front. While the Ivorian international is still a potent threat on the flank, his appeal as a reclassified forward partially hinges on where Hodgson plans to field him in the coming season.
There is the chance that Zaha will not even be at Selhurst Park come Gameweek 1, with speculation ongoing about a move away from south London. That needn’t be a bad thing, of course, depending on the destination, but a move to a “bigger” club would possibly come at a cost to his game-time.
Cenk Tosun is a third viable option in the £7.0m bracket and his Everton side enjoy arguably the best opening run of fixtures of all 20 Premier League sides; our Season Ticker indeed ranks the Toffees first for attack in the first seven Gameweeks.
Tosun scored on five occasions under Sam Allardyce last season, making 12 starts and two substitute appearances. His poor minutes-per-chance rate in those fixtures (52.2) can be seen as a positive, however: Everton overall were toothless in attack under Allardyce (the Toffees ranked bottom for attempts on goal during the former England manager’s reign) and Tosun will likely see his goalscoring opportunities increase under a more attack-minded coach.
Everton’s pre-season form is a concern, however, with Marco Silva’s side winless in five and on target on only two occasions since the farcical 22-0 win over minnows ATV Irdning (a match in which Tosun scored four goals) last month. The Turkish striker has not been on the scoresheet since that rout in Austria.
Marcus Rashford is currently the only other option at £7.0m. Rashford, who racked up a career-best seven goals and five assists for Manchester United last season, has yet to feature in pre-season after his World Cup exploits but will return to training earlier than planned with United short of options in attack. A start in Gameweek 1 still seems a stretch at this stage and his rotation risk in general (Rashford started only 17 matches last season, despite being injury-free) means he is an inferior option to the three other alternatives in his price bracket.
The £6.5m Bracket
Danny Welbeck, like Rashford, was a peripheral player for England this summer but has nevertheless been afforded an extended post-World Cup break and looks set to miss Arsenal’s Gameweek 1 match against Manchester City at the very least. It remains to be seen if Welbeck will feature in Unai Emery’s plans for the season coming but with such competition for places in the attacking slots at Arsenal, the assumption at this stage would be that Welbeck will be an impact substitute at best.
The former Manchester United forward started only 12 league matches for Arsene Wenger last season, though did find the back of the net on five occasions.
The £6.5 bracket is full of FPL assets whose flame flickered briefly last season.
Ayoze Perez offered little attacking threat for much of 2017/18, scoring on only two occasions in Newcastle United’s first 30 Premier League fixtures. A run of six goals in the final seven Gameweeks, however, resulted in the Spaniard finishing as the top-scoring budget forward in FPL last season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) was the only forward to score more goals from Gameweek 32 onwards, while no player in Perez’s classification had more shots on goal during that period.
Having previously “job-shared” the supporting striker spot with Mohamed Diame, Perez now has little competition for the number ten role since the Senegalese midfielder was dropped back to the double-pivot alongside Jonjo Shelvey.
Newcastle’s opening fixtures (Rafael Benitez’s side play five of the “big six” in the first eight Gameweeks) are off-putting, however, and there are more appealing options at £6.5m for the first two months of the season at least.
Chris Wood would be one of those enticing alternatives. The Burnley striker, like Perez, enjoyed a fine end to 2017/18, with six of his ten league goals coming after his return from a knee injury in Gameweek 29. Aubameyang was the only FPL forward to be presented with more big chances during this run.
The concern for much of last season was rotation, with Wood, Ashley Barnes (£6.0m) and Sam Vokes (£5.5m) competing for one striker’s spot. Sean Dyche switched to a 4-4-2 in the run-in, however, with Barnes and Wood his first-choice pairing in attack.
A home match against Manchester United presents the Clarets’ only real stiff test in the first eight Gameweeks, though Burnley’s participation in the Europa League (qualification-permitting) would be of concern regarding the Thursday/Sunday fixture switch-over.
Bournemouth’s excellent-looking run of fixtures in the first ten Gameweeks has attracted investment in Josh King, who is currently owned by more FPL managers than any forward priced between £5.0m and £6.5m inclusive.
While the Norwegian forward’s attacking returns last season were way down on his 16-goal campaign in 2016/17, King did at least finish the campaign in decent form, scoring six of his eight league goals in the final 13 Gameweeks. King also has two goals to his name already in pre-season.
King’s minutes-per-chance rate last season was, however, worse than any other forward in the £6.5m bracket bar Javier Hernandez.
Glenn Murray was a reliable source of goals last season, the Brighton and Hove Albion veteran chipping in with 12 league strikes. That tally could have been even higher had he not missed twice from the spot and been subsequently usurped as the Seagulls’ penalty-taker by Pascal Gross (£7.0m).
The loss of spot-kick duties is one of a number of concerns about Murray as a pre-Gameweek 1 pick. Brighton’s opening fixtures, first and foremost, are among the worst in the division, with both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Spurs to come in the first seven Gameweeks.
Murray turns 35 in September and there has to be some doubt over whether he will enjoy as much game-time this season. Summer signing Florin Andone (£5.0m) and January capture Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) represent serious challenges to his position, too.
There was some surprise in the Fantasy community this week when Aleksandar Mitrovic was priced up at £6.5m, given that his new employers were only promoted to the top flight in May.
Mitrovic’s run of 12 goals in 17 Championship appearances for Fulham last season perhaps counted against him with his steep starting price, although the Serbian striker has some eye-catching underlying statistics: Mitrovic averaged more shots per appearance (four) than any Championship player in 2017/18, registering an attempt on goal once every 20.3 minutes. Harry Kane (16.3) was the only first-team striker to better that average in the Premier League this season.
With home matches against Crystal Palace, Burnley and Watford to come in the first six Gameweeks, a risky gamble on the former Newcastle striker might pay dividends.
An injury picked up in the 6-1 win over Halmstads has sidelined Christian Benteke for the time being, but the Belgian striker has returned to training and should be available for selection in Gameweek 1.
In spite of Crystal Palace’s appealing fixtures in the first quarter of the season, Benteke’s FPL ownership currently stands at 0.6% and the former Liverpool striker is thus the least-popular mid-price forward option available.
There is good cause for such widespread avoidance: Benteke scored on only three occasions last season, despite having more big chances (23) than all but four FPL forwards. The Belgian striker’s goal conversion rate of 5% was the worst among all Premier League strikers apart from Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke.
Benteke indeed lost his place in the Palace starting XI in the last half-dozen matches of 2017/18 and the possible arrival of Danny Ings (£5.5m) would further cast doubt on his game-time this season.
Read more with Scout
Pick your FPL team for 2018/19 using our list of best available players, sorted for your convenience by position and price:
Also check out our detailed statistical analysis articles on every team comparing data for the last two seasons to highlight the players to sign and the players to avoid:
Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton & Hove Albion | Burnley | Cardiff City | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Huddersfield Town | Leicester City | Liverpool | Manchester City | Manchester United | Newcastle United | Southampton | Tottenham Hotspur | Watford
Become a Member and access our data
Memberships for the 2018/19 campaign are now available for the pre-season price of just £12.50. This will increase to the regular price of £15 after the first Gameweek of the season.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 130+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.