Finding value among the budget Fantasy Premier League forwards looks to be a tricky task on first glance.
The fact that Divock Origi (£5.5m), who was handed just seven Premier League starts in 2019/20, and David McGoldrick (£5.5m), who didn’t find the back of the net until Gameweek 35+, scored more FPL points last season than any other forward now available for less than £6.0m paints a picture in itself.
We are certainly stretching the definition of ‘best’ in this article, then, but we’ll endeavour to find one or two cut-price assets who can perhaps serve a purpose as bench fodder in 2020/21.
Mid-price and premium forward guides will follow, while you can read our run-through of the best goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders via the links at the bottom of the page.
£4.5m Bench Fodder
With only four £4.5m forwards to choose from at the time of writing, anyone in the market for next season’s Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) may be left disappointed.
Conor Wickham (£4.5m) and Indiana Vassilev (£4.5m) didn’t manage a single Premier League start between them in 2019/20, with the Crystal Palace striker farmed out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday in January.
The pair might well leave their respective clubs this summer, either on a permanent basis in Wickham’s case or on loan in Vassilev’s, but it’s always worth monitoring pre-season minutes on the offchance of any increased involvement.
Keinan Davis (£4.5m) was more involved than Vassilev at Aston Villa in 2019/20, playing a part in all of his side’s final 11 league fixtures and starting four of them.
The return to fitness of Wesley (£6.0m), whenever that might be, or the arrival a new acquisition will likely shunt him down the pecking order but Mbwana Samatta (£6.0m) has not yet really made a convincing case as the Villans’ lone striker, so there could be hope yet.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect is Rhian Brewster (£4.5m).
Yet to play a minute of league football for Liverpool and unlikely to be anything other than an occasional substitute if he does stay on Merseyside, he would nevertheless be a name to consider if he left the Reds for another top-flight club on loan or in a permanent deal this summer.
His pre-season form and goals for Swansea City last season have only increased his stock, with Sheffield United said to be among the teams sniffing around.
Newly Promoted Options
If the new season was to begin today with no other new arrivals, then Patrick Bamford (£5.5m) would be one of the budget forwards we could likely rely on for game-time.
The Leeds United striker started 43 of the Whites’ 46 Championship matches last season, scoring on 16 occasions and banking two assists.
Question-marks over his efficiency and his ability to cut it at a higher level have dogged the former Chelsea and Middlesbrough forward for some time, however, with his four previous stints in the Premier League resulting in lots of bench-time and one solitary goal.
Indeed, his poor goal conversion rate of 11.2% in the English second tier last season doesn’t bode well, nor does the fact he wasted over three-quarters of his ‘big chances’.
That lack of a clinical streak looks to have prompted transfer activity from Marcelo Bielsa, with Leeds heavily linked with Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno at the time of writing.
There’s not much to write home about when it comes to West Bromwich Albion forwards, either.
Kenneth Zohore (£5.0m) may be surplus to requirements or third-choice at best, while Charlie Austin (£5.5m) and Hal Robson-Kanu (£5.5m) shared game-time and goals (ten each) in Albion’s promotion-winning campaign.
Austin and Robson-Kanu were benched on a combined 44 occasions last season as Slaven Bilic alternated between the pair, which will set alarm bells ringing among FPL managers.
Austin is the more natural poacher of the two, with the former Southampton man recording almost twice as many big chances as any other Baggies’ player.
Robson-Kanu’s graft saw him become the go-to striker from November onwards, however, with 22 of his 24 starts coming from the Championship equivalent of Gameweeks 16-39.
Austin took four of West Brom’s seven penalties in 2019/20, with Zohore (two) and Robson-Kanu (one) responsible for the others.
Bobby Decordova-Reid (£5.5m) was listed as a forward by FPL upon the game’s relaunch but he has seldom started as the spearhead of the Fulham attack.
The versatile Decordova-Reid was deployed as an Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.0m) stand-in, a winger, a number ten, a second striker and even a deeper central midfielder in 2019/20.
A total of 11 substitute appearances suggests that he might be a significant rotation risk but he became a more permanent feature in the second half of the campaign, starting 24 of the Cottagers’ final 27 matches in the league and the three subsequent Championship play-off games.
Decordova-Reid also registered twice as many big chances as any other Fulham player bar Mitrovic, although only a quarter were converted and he scored on just six occasions all season.
The Best – and Worst – of the Rest
It really is slim pickings elsewhere, with Davis, Bamford, Wickham and Brewster the only sub-£6.0m forwards to feature in more than 5% of FPL squads at present.
Divock Origi (£5.5m) will be reliant on an injury to one of Liverpool’s front three for meaningful game-time and even then, the likes of Brewster, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.5m) and Takumi Minamino (£6.5m) could still get the nod ahead of the Belgian if unavailability does strike one of the Reds’ regulars.
FPL managers might have tolerated Graham Potter’s unpredictability had Aaron Connolly (£5.5m) remained at £4.5m but, after a starting price rise of one million, there will be little appetite in the Fantasy world for a player who made just 14 starts in 2019/20.
The ageing Glenn Murray (£5.0m) and the out-of-favour Florin Andone (£5.0m) are even less likely to get pitch-time at the Amex.
January signing Leonardo Campana (£5.0m) hasn’t yet played a minute for Wolves and Leo Bonatini (£5.0m) spent last season on loan in Portugal, while Burnley’s Matej Vydra (£5.0m) looks set to be back in his usual role as fourth-choice striker with the Clarets’ other forwards returning to fitness.
Might Andy Carroll (£5.5m) have an Indian summer in FPL this season?
An injury to Dwight Gayle (£6.0m) looks set to keep the Newcastle United striker out for “months”, leaving Steve Bruce with just Carroll, the misfiring Joelinton (£6.0m) and the completely overlooked Yoshinori Muto (£5.0m) as his striking options for the upcoming campaign.
The Magpies may well make a move for another forward after that Gayle blow but, given Mike Ashley’s belt-tightening reputation, it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see no further incomings on Tyneside.
Even then, there wouldn’t be too many takers given Carroll’s injury-prone reputation and surprising shortage of goals (he hasn’t scored since April 2018).
Injuries have also dogged Christian Benteke‘s (£5.5m) career and, true to form, he is working his way back from a broken foot at the time of writing.
He did start nine matches either side of lockdown, scoring twice and grabbing an assist, and does appear to be in Roy Hodgson’s plans when available.
But availability is often the stumbling block with the Belgian and, on top of that, he has averaged only two goals scored in his last three seasons of Premier League football.
Callum Robinson‘s (£5.5m) FPL flame briefly flickered in 2019/20, with the-then “out-of-position” midfielder enjoying some early-season appearances up front for Sheffield United.
Falling down the pecking order in South Yorkshire and moving on loan to West Bromwich Albion in January, he could be a name to monitor if he does make the move to the Hawthorns permanent.
Robinson spent most of his time on the left flank of a 4-2-3-1 under Slaven Bilic and was thrust straight into the starting XI upon his move but, after nine successive starts, was dropped to the bench in the next seven games.
He returned on the final day – surprisingly as a central striker – against QPR and two of his five attacking returns for the Baggies came in that 2-2 draw with the Rs.
David McGoldrick (£5.5m) will surely still be in Chris Wilder’s plans come Gameweek 1, having ended the season as a regular partner to Ollie McBurnie (£6.0m) up front.
No budget forward in this piece started more games (22) or played more minutes (1,822) than McGoldrick last season but his dismal conversion rate (he wasted 15 of his 17 big chances and scored just twice) and Wilder’s penchant for a spot of rotation in attack are compelling downsides.
Another year and another entry for Shane Long (£5.5m) in our budget forwards article, although the Irishman has been handed a small price rise of half a million.
Long and Michael Obafemi (£5.0m) are two of three strikers, the other being Che Adams (£6.0m), who will be competing for a spot alongside Danny Ings (£8.5m) in the Southampton attack next season.
The fact that these three attackers racked up 43 substitute appearances between them in 2019/20 underscores the uncertainty up top, although Long had been a regular before lockdown, starting all but one of the matches he was available for between Gameweeks 15 and 29 – and even that one benching came off the back of an injury.
With little to play for after football resumed in June, Ralph Hasenhuttl brought Adams (four starts) and Obafemi (three starts) back into the fold and it’ll be interesting to see if either of them has usurped Long as Ings’ strike partner come the opening weekend.
Adams was the man in form prior to the end of the campaign, scoring four goals in the final six Gameweeks, and it may well be that Long and Obafemi are reduced to impact substitute roles at the beginning of 2020/21.