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The best hidden gems to consider for your FPL Draft team this season

The key to success in any draft version of Fantasy Football is to find some reliable options outside the thinking of your rivals.

One of the main differences to appreciate between this edition of the game and the standard Fantasy Premier League affair is that you are looking, ideally, to acquire a team of season-keepers at the draft or auction. You simply do not have the luxury of assuming that all players remain at your permanent disposal to jump from one bandwagon to another and/or play the fixtures. 

That isn’t to say that you can’t do the latter, but it’s a strategy that will leave you at the mercy of other managers. Remember that a dropped player can very quickly find their way into one of your opponents’ teams, with no means of prising them back.

Once you have understood the fundamental nature of FPL Draft, or its auction-based counterpart Fantasy League (FL), it makes planning a great deal easier. In FPL, you can always adopt a ‘wait and see’ strategy, in the knowledge that the worst outcome is that you miss out on one big haul and have to pay marginally more to bring a player in.

FPL Draft and FL are all about identifying those hidden gems (or not so hidden, given that I see FPL people talking about ‘waiting and seeing’ with the likes of Werner and Havertz!) and putting your instincts on the line at the outset. 

So who are my own ‘under the radar’ players (relatively-speaking) whom I think will produce over the full season? I have identified three players from each positional category barring goalkeepers as, given the vast differences between scoring for goalkeepers in FL and FPL, as identified in my article last season.

How Liverpool's defensive assets compare after their FPL price changes

The defender category is, generally speaking, the hardest place to find hidden gems ahead of a new season as it’s rare that an Andrew Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold will appear almost out of nowhere. Very often it is about finding the teams which no one expected to keep clean sheets but which are suddenly more watertight than before. 

For example, during last summer’s FFS FL auction, we all laughed at Neale (SkontoRigga) when he picked up Jack O’Connell from newly-promoted Sheffield United. Did he not realise that the Blades were set to be Premier League whipping boys? Well, we all know what happened next and it is to Neale’s immense credit that he didn’t rub our noses in it every single week. 

So who do I think will be this season’s surprise defensive packages? While in past seasons there would have been nothing revolutionary about saying Spurs and Manchester United, a quick look at their defensive records last season will reveal that Spurs had a season-long shocker and even though United managed 13 clean sheets in total, only three of them came in the first half of the season. 

However, this is going to be Mourinho’s first full season at Spurs and I would expect him to tighten up at the back considerably, and with United, I suspect that attack will continue to be the best form of defence and, provided they continue their post-lockdown form, we should see a lot more consistent clean sheets from them.  

Eric Dier/Toby Alderweireld

Can we trust Spurs' FPL defenders with appealing fixtures this season?

The Spurs centre-back pairing of Alderweireld and Dier is pretty tempting and very much overlooked judging by 2.4% and 1.4% ownership respectively in FPL. 

Yes, I know that Doherty, Aurier and Ben Davies are the more obvious choices but this is about finding players that others aren’t likely to want in FL or Draft FPL, meaning that you get them on the cheap or late in the draft without having to waste an early-round pick. 

Alderweireld, in particular, is a decent goal threat from set-pieces and no Spurs player had more headed attempts than him last season; in fact, he had almost double the next best (Moura, and not Kane, surprisingly).

Luke Shaw

Similar to Spurs, United’s first choice centre-backs are not well-owned, indicating that they could also be cheap/late acquisitions, but it’s Luke Shaw that could be the forgotten gem here (1.2% ownership in FPL). 

Don’t forget that he missed a large chunk of last season with injury but, fully fit and on song, he’s a significant attacking threat with his love of getting forward and putting in crosses. 

Expect him, if he stays fit, to surpass by a good margin his 67 and 18 points in FPL and FL respectively from 2019/20.

Bruno Fernandes

Unchanged line-ups for Man United and Southampton as  FPL bosses eye Fernandes

Now I appreciate that there’s nothing innovative or hidden about Bruno Fernandes, at least not since he landed on these shores in January and set the Premier League alight with his incredible skills. 

I’m not a Manchester United fan but he was an absolute delight to watch and, more importantly in the context of Fantasy Football, a genuine points machine. 

Aggregated up to a full season, he would have been the top scorer in both FL and FPL. It’s for that reason that he is my number one pick out of all players in any position for the new season and I would be more than willing to forgo Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Raheem Sterling in my draft pick to get him. 

Of course, in FL, you could probably get at least four out of the five but it would leave you with seriously depleted funds and the rest of your squad may not look too clever, but you could certainly look forward to watching Liverpool, City, United, Arsenal playing every week.

Jarrod Bowen

Bowen is the next of my January midfield signings and whilst, coincidentally, it is interesting to note a general theme I have observed over many years of playing Fantasy Football that the psychology of numbers means that a lot of managers only look at the absolute figure rather than considering their context. 

What I mean by that, per my Bruno example, is that the season-long figure may not have come from a full season and, all points were acquired over the space of less than half a season. 

However, some people in your draft or auction mini-league will only look at the total points and disregard the lower-scoring players. 

I appreciate that for the majority, if not all, of those reading this article, I’m largely preaching to the converted, but it explains why these players can often be picked up on the cheap in FL, or acquired quite late into an FPL draft.

Last season in FPL, Bowen scored a measly 44 points and just 11 in FL, but a quick look at the underlying statistics tell you the whole story. 

The former Hull City man had a minutes per expected goal involvement (xGI) figure of 186 (courtesy of the FFS Premium Members’ Area), which is the same territory as Phil Foden, Willian and Harvey Barnes. 

Unlike the latter two, he didn’t have the benefit of playing a full season in a familiar league but, before signing with West Ham, he’d already scored 16 goals in 29 appearances for Hull in the Championship. 

Bowen is no slouch and his pre-season form suggests that he could be about to replicate his Hull City form for West Ham. 

I keep reading that the Hammers don’t score many goals yet they were 10th best in the league in that department last season (and only three goals behind eighth-placed Wolves) and I need only remind you of Michail Antonio’s form during last season’s run-in to show you what a West Ham player is capable of doing. As a result of that form, a lot of the attention will be on the forward this season, but Bowen could quietly tick along too.

Takumi Minamino

Minamino is my cheeky punt to emerge from the Anfield woodwork and take the Premier League by storm this season. 

Liverpool haven’t changed formation since Coutinho left, with Klopp sticking rigidly to his preferred 4-3-3, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised if that becomes more of a 4-2-1-3 or 4-2-3-1, with Minamino sitting either in the middle or on the flanks (considering we know Salah, Mané and Firmino can all play number 10 or centre-forward).

He took time to find his feet but a January signing rarely hits the ground running (I can think of very few examples over the years, with Bruno being far more the exception than the rule), and a goal in the Community Shield.

He followed that up with a standout performance against Blackpool in last week’s pre-season friendly, suggesting he is ready to show the league why Liverpool bought him in from FC Salzburg. 

I also don’t want to tempt fate for Liverpool fans, nor wish injury on any player, but Liverpool have been incredibly lucky with no long-term absences to any of their front three in recent seasons, and surely the law of averages suggests that one of them is going to face some time out at some point. More so than Origi, I can see Minamino coming in to replace any one of them should the need arise.

Neal Maupay

I can see the supply to Brighton’s forwards being much improved this coming season and Maupay, as the first-choice striker, should be the principal beneficiary of this. 

Adam Lallana is the sort of player that will stand out at Brighton, as he did at Southampton, and Leandro Trossard having had a full season under his belt, should be another source of assists for Maupay. 

Last season, the former Brentford man underperformed on his expected goals (xG) by more than three (he scored 10 in total) and so I would see his xG both increasing and a reduction in the delta between xG and actual goals resulting in more points this time out.

Che Adams

A season in the shadow of Danny Ings has meant that it’s easy to forget that Adams started last season as Southampton’s first-choice striker after his move from Birmingham City where, in the 18/19 season, he scored 22 Championship goals. 

It took him a while to find his feet and losing his place to Ings won’t have helped his confidence or adjustment to the new league. 

However, he ended the season in a good run of form and while just four goals (against an xG of just over five goals) is hardly something about which to get overly excited, I think he could be one of the league’s surprise packages this season. Do I expect him to surpass Ings? No, but then I’d expect to pay a fraction of what Ings will cost (and represent better value for money) or get him later in a draft.

Jay Rodriguez

I fully expect Rodriguez to start this season as one of the two first-choice strikers for Burnley, even when Ashley Barnes returns from injury. 

In my mind, Wood and Barnes are so similar that it makes little sense to play them both as a matter of course when there’s a striker with the guile of Rodriguez who can give them something different. 

He only scored eight Premier League goals last season but 16 of his 36 appearances were from the subs bench. This is my one pick which is fewer stats based and more gut instinct but Rodriguez is a player I’ve always liked and, if I can find the room, would want in my team this coming season.

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Clouseau Serious (for which you can read \'stressy\') fantasy football fan. Have been playing the auction-based version with its unique squads (fantasyleague.com) for over 20 years but more recently branched out into FPL. Follow me on Twitter @FFSClouseau”

813 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Wozzza72
      2 months, 22 days ago

      Is Kyle Walker-Peters nailed on starter?

      1. Jullepuu
        • 1 Year
        2 months, 22 days ago

        Should be

      2. The Train Driver
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 22 days ago

        Don't see anyone better for that position...

      3. nico05
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 22 days ago

        Yeahh

      4. El Niño Yanqui
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 21 days ago

        Terrible player but he should play quite a bit

        1. Saint Tommy
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          2 months, 21 days ago

          Terrible player? He’s the best right back Southampton have had since Clyne. Gives the team balance and allows Armstrong to get into more scoring positions with his overlaps. He is nailed on starter and bargain for 4.5

    • luke25
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 22 days ago

      If it wasn't for FPL would Doherty be rated so highly? Wasn't a huge deal and didn't exactly hit the headlines

      1. THE WERNER DELUSION
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 22 days ago

        basically the right sided Alonso, most 4-atb teams wouldn't touch him imo

        1. luke25
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 22 days ago

          I agree, makes me wonder if he was bought to replace Aurier or to supplement him, was a cheap fee

          1. Treadstone
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            2 months, 21 days ago

            That's a really good point ..When chatting to a non fpl playing friend about the transfer he had barely heard of Doherty .

      2. El Niño Yanqui
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 21 days ago

        Slow boy defender - Alonso and Otamendi and Shaw - questionable athletes for EPL

        But Wolves allowed him to get into scoring positions, somebody was covering for him

        Not worth a damn to coaches but worth something to us.

        Wolves should sign and play Ismailia Sarr to replace him. Now you got an athlete and a better scorer

    • MoSalalalalalalalalah
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 22 days ago

      If Vinagre wasn't out of favour would he be a better option than KWP?

      1. nico05
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 22 days ago

        Yeah as he'd have more cs potential

        1. MoSalalalalalalalalah
          • 2 Years
          2 months, 22 days ago

          Hmm some food for thought. Will be interesting to hear what Nuno says at the presser.

    • joshphillips465
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 22 days ago

      Think I'm fairly happy but I have 1.5 ITB that I don't know what to do with...

      McCarthy

      TAA - Egan - Davies

      Auba - Salah - Son - ASM - (??)

      Werner - Wilson - (??)

      (Nyland - Taylor - KWP - Bissouma - Davis)

      Thinking either upgrade Bissouma or Davis but not sure who to... Any help?

      1. nico05
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 22 days ago

        Looks really good, I would be tempted to do Davies-Doherty far more attacking potential

    • Tshelby
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 22 days ago

      G2g?

      Ramsdale, Steer
      KWP, Doherty, Webster, Taylor, TAA
      Salah, Aubameyang, Alli, Soucek, Noble
      DCL, Werner, Davis

      1. Wozzza72
          2 months, 22 days ago

          Soucek and Noble?? Not sure on that

          1. Tshelby
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 22 days ago

            Not any great 5.0 options imo? Midfield and strikers

        • Tshelby
          • 5 Years
          2 months, 22 days ago

          Not Alli but Son

        • ivantys
            2 months, 22 days ago

            your 2 5.0s could be 1 4.5 and 1 5.5. West Ham's week 2-7 are rubbish and those 2 are highly likely to get yellow cards due to defending deep.

            1. Tshelby
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 22 days ago

              Suggestion as a 5.5 Striker/midfielder

              1. ivantys
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  ASM for now but keep a look out for podence.

                • bombayblues
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 7 Years
                  2 months, 21 days ago

                  Armstrong (SOU)
                  Podence (Wolves) - if he starts regularly

          • Wozzza72
              2 months, 22 days ago

              my XI looking quite locked in now

              McCarthy
              TAA - Saiss - KWP
              ASM - Auba (c) - Salah - Havertz - James Rod
              Mitro - Kane

              Gw2 and 3
              Swap Havertz with Bruno
              Swap Kane with Martial

            • billnats
              • 9 Years
              2 months, 22 days ago

              A) Doherty, Son, Werner (+0.5)
              B) Doherty, Havertz, Kane
              C) Davies, Fernandes, Werner

              Obviously C will have Son as a place holder.

              1. Pointerlou
                • 9 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                C

              2. nico05
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                B

              3. Totti
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                C
                but start with son and leave 1.5 itb and then shift son-> bruno

                1. billnats
                  • 9 Years
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  That’s the plan if I go that way

              4. Alchim1sT
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                C

            • Sourav_07
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 22 days ago

              AVL GK: Steer or Nyland?
              Or Any 4m GK who has the possibility to start

              1. Totti
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                steer
                as people here said that

            • Totti
              • 4 Years
              2 months, 22 days ago

              i think that button will be nailed on with WBA
              as i don't think that he moved from brighton's bench to WBA's bench only looking for changing the bench 🙂
              doesn't make sense at all

              for sure he got promises to be the main GK

              1. Ask Yourself
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                No way. Birmingham is a WAY nicer place to live than Brighton. He’s gone for the high life.

                1. Totti
                  • 4 Years
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  LoL
                  are u serious?

                  1. Ask Yourself
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 4 Years
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    No I live in Brighton it’s lovely x but I think you could be on to something but a 1m fee doesn’t scream “starting keeper” to me

                    1. Totti
                      • 4 Years
                      2 months, 22 days ago

                      but he is more experienced than johnstone

            • fish&chips
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              2 months, 22 days ago

              Evening kind ladies and gents. Would anyone be kind enough to give me some feedback. Tinkered so much i'm losing my mind

              McCarthy, 4.0
              TAA, Robbo, Doc, Buur
              Auba, Alli, Havertz, Soucek,
              Werner, Mitro

              4.0, KWP, Bissouma, Martial

              0 ITB

              1. Wozzza72
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  Going out of your mind like everyone else haha.
                  Looks solid enough. Maybe get a decent midfielder instead of Soucek, use the money from Martial as he is a waste of time there and sub him back in in gw2 or 3

              2. LloristheHounds
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                Rmt

                McCarthy
                TAA, doherty, justin
                Auba, Alli, Havertz, ASM
                Kane, Werner, adams

                Nyland, shaw, Ferguson. Anguissa

                Kane to martial gw2
                Auba to kdb/sterlo gw3
                And have 2mil itb for gw4 upgrades
                ?? Thoughts

                1. Tshelby
                  • 5 Years
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  Adams nailed?

                  1. LloristheHounds
                    • 3 Years
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    Should be starting upfront with ings, would only get about 70mons or so though

                2. PogBruno
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  If using Kane as a placeholder for martial, I would rather get ings in place of him and use the remaining funds elsewhere

              3. ttelliwneb
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                Conundrum...Salah and Saint-Maximim in GW1 squad or Son and Havertz? Or another combo. Thoughts welcome.

                Current squad
                GK: Johnstone, Button
                Def: TAA, Doherty, Walker-Peters, Justin, Mitchell
                Mid: Salah, Aubameyang, Fernandes, Saint-Maximim, Soucek
                Fwd: Werner, Adams, Brewster

              4. JJeyy
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                Armstrong or ASM?

                1. PogBruno
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 22 days ago

                  ASM for me with all the new players they've got

                2. El Niño Yanqui
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 2 Years
                  2 months, 21 days ago

                  ASM

                  Armstrong has a good restart but he is not an every game starter. Check his minutes. Part timer.

              5. AuFeld
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 22 days ago

                How accurate do you think is the predicted line up for Arsenal from whoscored?

                Martinez
                Tierney - Holding - Luiz
                AMN - Ceballos - Xhaka - Bellerin
                PEA - Nketiah - Willian

                1. El Niño Yanqui
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 2 Years
                  2 months, 21 days ago

                  Martinez not nailed

                  Holding not nailed

                  Bellerin might not last the week as an AFC player

                  Nketiah will play 75% of the time

                  Willian is expected to start, but has not played any minutes as an AFC - beware Brazilian holiday demands

                  It’s cultural, Americans would be embarrassed about needing vacations, beach time, living with an entourage of 6 cousins, and having 9 illegitimate kids. But it’s cool in Brazil.

              6. FPL_ROTATOR
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                2 months, 22 days ago

                Would be good to have anyones thoughts about the team below...

                McCarthy
                TAA / Saiss / Robertson / Doherty
                Salah (VC) / Auba (C) / ASM / Son
                Adams / Mitrovic

                Bench: Steer, Calvert-Lewin, Buur, Oriol Romeu

                GW2 - Salah out for Rashford
                GW3 - Auba out for KDB

                Leaves me 3m in the bank

                1. Wozzza72
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    Looks really decent, maybe an upgrade on Adams with your £3m itb?

                    1. FPL_ROTATOR
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      2 months, 22 days ago

                      Thanks! Yes I am tempted with Jiminez once their fixtures are easier after the City game.

                2. LP1
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    Any news on Pulisic GW1?

                  • Mirkatldn
                    • 5 Years
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    I'm in a 'Lazy League' where you're not allowed to make any changes at all i.e. no transfers, no captain changes, no boosts etc. It's a money league and £300 at stake. Same team you start with, you end with.

                    That said, I need to pick a team to last the whole season, taking into account minutes likely to play, injury risk/rotation risk, etc. Thoughts on the below? Thanks in advance

                    Pope
                    Trent/VVD/James
                    Soucek/Foden/Aub/KDB(c)/Saka
                    Werner/Wilson
                    Bench in order: Mitro/MaitlendNiles/Jonson. GK: Burnely second keeper.

                    Contemplating replacing Foden with Greenwod, but need to find 1 mil from somewhere. Thoughts?

                  • shapply
                    • 7 Years
                    2 months, 22 days ago

                    which one is better?
                    1) TAA + mid 5.0 (Soucek? Norwood? Noble? Ceballos?)
                    2) Robbo + ASM

                    1. Wozzza72
                        2 months, 22 days ago

                        Million dollar question and one I had issue with. I tweaked the XI and ended up with TAA and ASM instead haha

                      • TB303
                        • 3 Years
                        2 months, 21 days ago

                        1

                    2. HaffNanner
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 3 Years
                      2 months, 22 days ago

                      Coming around to big at the back. Thoughts?

                      McCarthy
                      TAA / Robertson / Doherty / Saiss
                      Salah / Auba / ASM
                      Werner / Richarlison / Adams

                      1. TB303
                        • 3 Years
                        2 months, 21 days ago

                        Is Saiss 100% nailed?

                        1. El Niño Yanqui
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 2 Years
                          2 months, 21 days ago

                          Nailed

                    3. TB303
                      • 3 Years
                      2 months, 21 days ago

                      Please can I have your thoughts?
                      2m itb. Son -> Bruno upgrade possible

                      Button - Ramsdale
                      Taylor - Mitchell - Alexander-Arnold - Egan - Dier
                      Aubameyang - Salah - Saint-Maximin - Son - Bissouma
                      Davis - Werner - Mitrović

                    4. Saint Tommy
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      2 months, 21 days ago

                      Naturally, I’ve completely shredded my original team now and I’m going down the no Salah route to make way for a United asset on the bench.

                      Question is: Doherty/Rashford or Dier/Bruno?

                      1. El Niño Yanqui
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 2 Years
                        2 months, 21 days ago

                        Nobody knows about Dohertys role at Spurs.

                        We liked the wolves player that roamed like Alonso. Appeared in the box like a center forward. But will he have that latitude with Kane, Son, Moura, Alli, LoCelso and other elite to semi-elite attackers?

                        For 6M you better be getting a OOP defender that can roam on demand.

                        Have they played a preseason game yet?

                        1. Flair
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          2 months, 21 days ago

                          Mourinho isn't an idiot and knows more about Doherty's strengths than all of us combined, he'll be fine.

                          1. El Niño Yanqui
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            • 2 Years
                            2 months, 21 days ago

                            Little Club player to Major club Scenario

                            Thomas Helveg at Udinese was a Stud Right Wing

                            Thomas Helveg at AC Milan had to be a tidy defender

                            Victor Lindelof at Benfica was a free kick specialist

                            Naby Keira in Leipzig was a #10 like KDB, now a pressing Midfielder

                            I could go on forever ... we will see how MD will be used

                    5. Futureform
                        1 month, 11 days ago

                        Replace Bamford with?

                        A - Kane (have Son already)
                        B - Werner

                        Thinking Kane. Pens. Always getting numbers.