The Scout Picks ‘prequel’ sees our four-man panel propose a long-list of the standout Fantasy Premier League assets for Gameweek 3.
For those who are new to this feature, Fantasy Football Scout editor David, deputy editor Neale, video content manager Andy and Pro Pundit Tom each put forward an 18-man squad of players for the coming Gameweek and explain their notable inclusions and omissions below.
The nominations listed will then be narrowed down to a squad of 15 (with the starting XI not exceeding a total cost of £83m) for the weekly Scout Picks selection ahead of Saturday’s deadline at 11:00 BST.
There are requirements for at least one goalkeeper costing £5.0m or less, at least one sub-£5.0m defender, at least one midfielder listed at £6.5m or below and at least one forward priced at £7.5m or lower.
Each panelist is restricted to no more than three players from the same team, as is the case in FPL.
We will again be adding a captaincy to the Scout Picks, with details of that revealed on Friday.
|GK||Emiliano Martinez||Vicente Guaita||Rui Patricio||David de Gea|
|Rui Patricio||Emiliano Martinez||Hugo Lloris||Hugo Lloris|
|Vicente Guaita||David de Gea||Emiliano Martinez||Aaron Ramsdale|
|DF||Lucas Digne||Reece James||Trent Alexander-Arnold||Trent Alexander-Arnold|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||Matt Doherty||Lucas Digne||Andrew Robertson|
|Reece James||George Baldock||Reece James||Reece James|
|Romain Saiss||Andrew Robertson||Romain Saiss||Romain Saiss|
|Stuart Dallas||Jimmy Dunne||Charlie Taylor||Chris Basham|
|MF||Mohamed Salah||Kevin De Bruyne||Mohamed Salah||Mohamed Salah|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Mohamed Salah||Kevin De Bruyne||Kevin De Bruyne|
|Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Son Heung-min||Raheem Sterling|
|Kai Havertz||Jack Grealish||James Rodriguez||Son Heung-min|
|Daniel Podence||Daniel Podence||Daniel Podence||Daniel Podence|
|FW||Timo Werner||Timo Werner||Gabriel Jesus||Timo Werner|
|Gabriel Jesus||Chris Wood||Timo Werner||Gabriel Jesus|
|Harry Kane||Gabriel Jesus||Harry Kane||Harry Kane|
|Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Raul Jimenez||Dominic Calvert-Lewin||Chris Wood|
|Ollie Watkins||Danny Ings||Chris Wood||Aleksandar Mitrovic|
Most popular picks: Reece James, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Son Heung-min, Daniel Podence, Timo Werner, Gabriel Jesus (four), Emiliano Martinez, Romain Saiss, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Kane, Chris Wood (three)
I have been unequivocal in my backing of Emi Martínez in recent days following his debut for Aston Villa. I think he is comfortably the best £4.5m goalkeeper right now, combining his excellent Project Restart saves record (28), with Aston Villa’s recent defensive improvement. I am expecting the Villans either to keep a clean sheet at Craven Cottage or, if they don’t, Fulham’s busy attackers will present the former Arsenal man with plenty of opportunities for additional points.
Lucas Digne could be a key man for Everton this week. As captaincy writer Jan Sienkiewicz pointed out in his most recent article, Crystal Palace have proved weakest on their right-hand side recently. Manchester United were too unprepared for the season to cause any issues there during Gameweek 2, but Everton are a different animal right now. No player received more passes in the final third than Digne in their 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion so if the Toffees can get him on the ball, it could cause the Eagles some issues on Saturday afternoon.
Wolves’ defence may have been picked apart by a re-shaped Manchester City team on Monday night, but they are still one of the Premier League’s best defences since Gameweek 25 of last season. I would love to be able to select Ruben Vinagre ahead of a Gameweek 3 trip to West Ham but that would be dependent on a very specific injury update from Nuno Espirito Santo on the injured Marçal. Therefore, I’m playing it safe with Romain Saïss, who has more touches and shots inside the box of any Wolves defender in 2020/21.
While I am not completely convinced by Leeds’ defence just yet, I think a trip to Sheffield United represents their best chance of keeping a first clean sheet of the campaign. The Blades are yet to trouble anyone’s back-line this season and looked questionable defensively themselves. I’ve gone with Stuart Dallas over Luke Ayling, purely based on more touches inside opposition boxes for the former so far this season.
Despite Arsenal’s recent defensive improvements, I think Mohamed Salah will be back in the goals on Monday night. 65.5% of his attacking returns came at Anfield last season, including two goals against the Gunners.
Kevin De Bruyne’s new number 10 role appears to have already made him a better Fantasy asset than last season. It is early days, of course, but after just one game, he is in the division’s top four for key passes and only four players have registered more shots on target. And that was recorded against the Wolves defence, which has been incredibly solid for some time. On that basis, it doesn’t even matter who Manchester City face next… expect big things from Pep Guardiola’s penalty taker.
I had no choice but to include Son Heung-min after he scored four times in Spurs’ 5-2 win at Southampton. However, this selection does come with the slight caveat of where Jose Mourinho deploys him against Newcastle. Under the former Chelsea boss, Son has mostly been used as the left-winger in a 4-2-3-1 when Harry Kane is fit and largely suffers because of it. But operating in a slightly more central role at St. Mary’s and facing a high-line, the South Korean was on fire. If Mourinho plays him through the middle again, we could be in for another big haul for Son.
Kai Havertz owners, myself included, have had a frustrating start to the season, but now is his time to shine (hopefully). In the first two matches of the campaign, I have watched the German international ghost into pockets of space against both Brighton and Liverpool – there has just been nobody to find his insightful runs. He has also been shifted about the Chelsea team across those games, first as a right-winger, then as a false-nine. Then, finally deployed as a number 10 against Barnsley, he came to life, scoring three times. No team has conceded more shots than West Bromwich Albion in the first two matches of the campaign, so provided Chelsea can get Havertz on the ball, and get Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech into the team too, he should reward his patient owners.
Meanwhile, Timo Werner should also benefit from the Baggies’ defensive issues so far this season. He has already won two penalties in as many outings, the same number Slaven Bilic’s men have given up.
Daniel Podence has the potential to be a useful cheaper midfielder based on his initial performances in 2020/21. With an assist in both games, he has created more big chances than any colleague and has been unfortunate not to score. Despite the signing of Nelson Semedo, he should hold off competition for his place for at least one more week based on merit thus far.
As has been mentioned before, when Gabriel Jesus is nailed-on to start, he is a great Fantasy option. Thanks to De Bruyne’s new role, he was a busy part of Manchester City’s attack on Monday, deservedly getting on the scoresheet after Rui Patrício had mostly kept him at bay.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins are my cheaper strikers for Gameweek 3. The former is an obvious choice based on his form and underlying statistics, while Fulham’s defensive issues thus far should be perfect for the pace and power Watkins can offer for Villa.
This was perhaps the toughest Scout Squad selection of the season to date, with a so-so set of fixtures and last weekend’s goal bonanza clouding my thoughts.
Questions over defensive competency and confidence have to be asked of a number of teams after Gameweek 2, while separating the “flash in the pan” attacking assets from those who can sustain their output is an ongoing assignment.
Son Heung-min, for example, won’t score four goals against Newcastle United this weekend. Steve Bruce may be maligned by some sections of the Magpies’ support but he is savvy enough not to take a leaf out of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s suicidal playbook when his side head south on Sunday. Saying that, this is not the backs-to-the-wall Newcastle of yesteryear and they will show enough attacking ambition to give Son sufficient space to carve out a chance or two.
Staying with the Lilywhites, Matt Doherty has done little so far to warrant my interest in him. But having seen the joy that Tariq Lamptey got down Newcastle’s left last weekend, with the attack-minded Jamal Lewis not helped by a half-arsed Allan Saint-Maximin, then I’m willing to give the former Wolves wing-back another shot.
I remain to be convinced that Kevin De Bruyne is going to start every game as a number 10 after Monday’s win over Wolves, as this is a tactic Pep Guardiola has frequently reserved for the “tougher” games.
With David Silva gone and Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan sidelined, however, perhaps Guardiola will stick with that 4-2-3-1 set-up for now – especially if he still sees Phil Foden more as an option on the flanks rather than as a number eight.
Arsenal funneling most of their play down the left – and possibly pushing Trent Alexander-Arnold back, as happened in Gameweek 1 – convinces me to go with Andrew Robertson, while Leeds United’s vulnerability from that same flank and over-achievement in terms of goals scored has led me to a curveball pick in the form of George Baldock.
An absence of Everton assets is probably the main surprise in my selection but I am indirectly paying them some deserved respect by nominating Vicente Guaita – I can see the Palace shot-stopper racking up the save points when the trigger-happy Toffees visit Selhurst Park, even if Carlo Ancelotti’s side do breach the hosts’ defences.
A word on Jimmy Dunne, too. With James Tarkowski nursing a reported toe injury that may or may not be shorthand for “I want a move elsewhere”, £4.0m-rated Dunne could offer us a cut-price route into the Burnley defence in the short term.
While the Clarets’ injury woes perhaps weakens their clean sheets prospects, Sean Dyche proved adept at cobbling together a competitive XI after the summer restart when his side were hit hard by unavailability.
Dunne also seems to offer a bit of threat, registering five penalty box touches and two chances against Leicester last Sunday – one of which found the back of the net.
A home tie against Arsenal sees Liverpool assets take the top spot in two categories, which may surprise a few.
However, the Gunners were again outshot at the weekend, this time by West Ham United, by 14 to seven. It wasn’t a one-off either. It’s been happening more often than not since Mikel Arteta was appointed, and despite defensive improvements since moving to a back three, I still think Liverpool will have too much for them and record a comfortable home win on Monday night.
My picks, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah, already lead the way in their respective positions for shots, while Liverpool have given up just one big chance so far this season – a penalty at Stamford Bridge.
With arguably the standout fixture of the round, I’m also backing Tottenham Hotspur, but maybe not to the same extent as others. Despite comfortably beating Southampton in Gameweek 2, let’s not forget they were poor heading into half-time and failed to register a shot till Son Heung-min’s equaliser just before the break. In the second half, Saints high defensive line gifted them another four goals, but on Sunday, I don’t expect Newcastle United’s backline to be quite so obliging, which is why I rate Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea’s attacks higher.
James Rodríguez was a bit good on Saturday, wasn’t he? If he ends up on penalties, he’s going to be hard to ignore. I’m also expecting Lucas Digne, who created five chances against West Bromwich Albion and whipped in a massive 13 crosses, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, to provide a source of points at Crystal Palace.
Elsewhere, I’ve included Kevin De Bruyne, who looked sharp in a more advanced role at Molineux, teammate Gabriel Jesus, Chelsea duo Reece James and Timo Werner, plus Wolverhampton Wanderers assets Rui Patrício, Romain Saïss and differential Daniel Podence, whose pathway to the starting XI, at least for now, looks clearer now Diogo Jota has departed for Liverpool.
Savings will be needed with so many premium options selected, which is why I’ve turned to Burnley and Aston Villa, who both look good for bargain hunting this week. Charlie Taylor and Chris Wood, who has scored in each of his last four starts, look particularly enticing, while Emiliano Martínez looks the pick of the £4.5m keepers right now.
Chris Wood is probably one of the most un-sexy picks in all of FPL which is why he often gets overlooked. But already against Leicester, he’s shown what he can do with two big chances and a non-penalty expected goal (nPxG) total of 0.65. No forward under £7m had a higher nPxG than Wood last season, and he’s up against a side that has just shipped goals for fun.
I’m still unsure about what to make of Sheffield United defensive assets this season. My instinct is they’ll be worse than in 2019/20 but it’s been hard to tell after a good Wolves performance and a match down to 10 men. Leeds have already scored seven goals in just two Gameweeks, but that’s come from just 1.69 xG which is the fifth lowest in the league; even Marcelo Bielsa has commented on the high conversion from limited chances. This is why both Aaron Ramsdale and Chris Basham are in the squad.
As well as stats, I’m looking at player sharpness this early in the season. I don’t think there have been many better opening matches than Manchester City’s performance versus Wolves. Both Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling looked sharp and it’s hard not to include them. Leicester may have Jonny Evans back but City will have too much for them and it’s hard to leave out the main goal threat (Sterling), and the penalty taker (De Bruyne).
I was pleasantly surprised to see Reece James start for the second match in a row and am hoping this is a start of a continued run of matches with César Azpilicueta potentially being given more of a squad role. With a new goalkeeper arriving at Chelsea, it may not be long until we see clean sheets return and for £5.1m James represents something of a bargain when you look at his attacking potential as well.
THE COMMUNITY CHAMPION
Each week, one of the Fantasy Football Scout community takes on the Scout Picks by pitting their chosen XI against ours.
The community member who beats our picks by the biggest margin over the campaign will win a £100 Amazon Voucher and a place in our Moderators and Contributors League for the following season.
They’ll have to go some distance to beat last week’s champion: AA33 walloped the Scout Picks 96-43 and his 53-point margin is now the benchmark.
Our next Scout Picks article on Friday will have further details on who is representing the community this week.
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