With many Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers activating their first Wildcard during the international break, we’ve picked out some of the best forward options on offer across a range of price points.
This is an update of the series we did for Gameweek 7 Wildcarders, with fresh data and a couple of new targets for those deploying their chip this week.
However, it will also be of interest for those using ‘free’ transfers ahead of Gameweek 8.
All stats taken from this article are from our Premium Members Area.
We start with one of the main reasons many are even activating their chip: Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m). Already beginning the week in over 35% of FPL teams, the Belgian is the standout captaincy choice for upcoming matches against Brentford (a), Norwich City (H), Newcastle United (a) and Burnley (H) – providing he recovers from the “muscle fatigue” that led to his withdrawal from the Belgium squad, of course.
With the Chelsea squad supreme in quality and depth, the likes of Mason Mount (£7.4m), Kai Havertz (£8.2m) and Timo Werner (£8.6m) will surely experience plenty of rotation over the coming months. Yet Lukaku has played all 540 minutes since arriving from Inter Milan and while likely not completely immune to rotation himself (no Chelsea player has been under Tuchel), stands the best chance of starting more games than not.
He has netted three times so far and, despite consecutive blanks against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Southampton, belief in the striker remains unshakable. He was unlucky not to score against the Saints, registering 0.77 expected goals (xG) mainly thanks to a close-range encounter with the woodwork. A goal was also ruled out for offside.
Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.7m) has edged many of the key attacking metrics so far when compared to Lukaku but we’re talking about a tiny sample size, especially as the Belgian has faced four ‘big six’ sides in his six appearances.
Eight shots against an injury-hit, out-of-sorts Arsenal, possibly his ‘easiest’ opposition to date, has hinted at what we might be able to expect when the Blues face a wealth of mid-to-lower-table fodder over the coming weeks and months.
Lukaku’s shotmap below shows him taking plenty of efforts from the centre-point of the opposition area since his move to west London, with Ronaldo offering more variety in terms of distance and angle.
All eyes and ears will be on Thomas Tuchel’s pre-match press conference ahead of Gameweek 8, as many a Wildcard could be shaken up if Lukaku is ruled out.
The ‘Ronaldo out for Lukaku’ switch is straightforward in theory but any international injury for the Belgian may re-open up a premium-sized forward hole in many of our teams.
Ronaldo let down the millions who captained him by blanking at home to Aston Villa and starting from the bench against Everton, yet scored three times in the previous two matches. In the three fixtures before the Toffees, no forward had taken more shots (17), efforts in the box (13), on-target strikes (7), penalty area touches (25) or boasted a higher xG (expected goals) tally. And might he be on penalties, now?
What sets him back is the premium price tag, especially when his captaincy potential pales in comparison to Lukaku and Salah over the short-to-medium term. Tough league fixtures with Liverpool (H), Manchester City (H) and Chelsea (a) between now and Gameweek 13 are accompanied by must-win Champions League meetings with Villarreal and Atalanta (twice). But, after all, he is Ronaldo.
He could even be a premium forward placeholder if Lukaku is rested this weekend: United’s fixture against Leicester is arguably one of the more attractive of Gameweek 8 anyway, with the Foxes’ defence in disarray and conceding at an average of two goals per match over the last six Gameweeks.
For those who opt for both premium options, it most likely deprives them of a third striker in the competitive £7.0m-£8.0m price range. This includes the game’s top-scoring forward Michail Antonio (£8.0m). He sits atop the rankings despite missing one match due to suspension, such is his dominant start to the season.
Antonio began with three successive double-digit hauls, before netting a late Gameweek 6 winner at Leeds United, and is top among FPL forwards for goal attempts, shots in the box, big chances, efforts on target and penalty box touches in 2021/22.
His ownership levels means that it’s a brave move to proceed without the West Ham man but the Hammers do face Everton (a), Tottenham (H), Liverpool (H), Man City (a) and Chelsea (H) in their next eight, mixed in with Europa League action. Indeed, all bar Spurs of West Ham’s Gameweek 8-15 opponents are amongst the top eight meanest defences for Opta’s expected goals conceded (xGC).
Before we start: yes, we know he is currently yellow-flagged.
The Leeds striker missed matches with West Ham and Watford due to an ankle problem but if Marcelo Bielsa confirms his recovery by the weekend, as the timeline hinted, Bamford has an encouraging run of games against Southampton (a), Wolves (H), Norwich (a) and Leicester City (H).
Perhaps the brilliant Raphinha (£6.6m) offers enough Leeds coverage in midfield but Patrick Bamford (£7.8m) had registered the second-most goal attempts of all strikers during the first five Gameweeks.
He has the short-term fixtures needed to deliver the goods and, despite the occasional wastefulness, the proven Premier League pedigree to back it up: he racked up 28 attacking returns in 2020/21, with his average of 5.1 points per match the fourth-best among FPL forwards last season.
Regardless of FPL, it was a feel-good moment for football when Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) scored in Gameweek 6 for the first time since his horrific, life-threatening fractured skull injury from last November. He then followed this up by setting up both of Hwang Hee-chan‘s (£5.6m) goals against Newcastle.
Going forward, Jimenez will relish the remaining seven games of an 11-match streak against sides outside of last season’s top five. His total of 15 shots inside the box ranks fourth among FPL forwards, while he is also top among players in his Fantasy position for chances created (19), so offers multiple routes to points – providing the Mexican and his teammates don’t continue to be profligate with their opportunities, of course.
One thing to keep an eye on this weekend is his late return from international duty, although Wolves had previously expressed confidence of him being available for Gameweek 8.
Brentford’s main man may have lost one million owners and £0.2m in value since the early Gameweeks but he certainly passes the eye test at present. Oozing in confidence after netting 31 times in last season’s Championship, the penalty-taking Ivan Toney (£6.3m) followed up a dominant aerial performance against Virgil van Dijk (£6.6m) by helping his side to victory away at West Ham, despite blanking.
He has more goal attempts (11) than Lukaku and Jimenez over the last five Gameweeks, he has also created more ‘big chances’ than any other forward in that time. A bit like the Wolves man, he’ll chip in with assists even if he doesn’t score.
His team looks fearless and well-suited to the Premier League. A side that scored twice against Arsenal and three times against Liverpool will not be intimidated by the prospect of home meetings with Chelsea and Leicester, which precedes a very generous run of opponents:
Toney blanked in the first two matches but has since scored and assisted twice – he will certainly have no doubt in his ability to reach 20 goal involvements this season.
Toney aside, a few other sub-£7.0m options are beginning to appear, if not wholly convince.
Odsonne Edouard (£6.5m) arrived at Crystal Palace with a cameo brace against Spurs but is yet to score or complete 90 minutes since, while Neal Maupay (£6.5m) is already on four goals but needs to fully regain the trust of FPL managers after two frustrating seasons.
Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.8m) is wonderful to watch and has only blanked twice in seven matches, yet plays for a poor Newcastle side, with Teemu Pukki (£5.9m) facing a similar problem despite Norwich’s good upcoming fixtures. Saint-Maximin does, a bit like Jimenez and Toney, at least offer additional assist potential, sitting narrowly behind the Mexican striker for chances created this season.
People thought Southampton would be similarly poor this season, following the loss of Danny Ings (£7.9m), Jannik Vestergaard (£4.9m) and Ryan Bertrand (£4.9m). Yet draws against both Manchester sides and holding Antonio to his only blank so far has increased optimism in their assets. As bargain defender Tino Livramento (£4.2m) keeps two clean sheets at the back, Adam Armstrong (£6.0m) is building some impressive stats up front. Despite not scoring since the opening day, his 21 shots have only been topped by Antonio amongst forwards. If Armstrong continues to start for the Saints, matches against Leeds (H), Burnley (H), Watford (a), Aston Villa (H) and Norwich (a) could be a useful enabler for the Ronaldo-Lukaku combination.
Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) escapes most of our attention as he looks unlikely to be available for selection in Gameweek 8 because of international commitments with Brazil, a probable no-show that will be followed by week-to-week uncertainty over his starting spot as City juggle domestic and European involvement.
Finally, a word on Jamie Vardy (£10.5m). FPL’s second-highest-scoring forward continues to evade much investment despite six goals in seven Gameweeks. Leicester languishing towards the bottom of our Season Ticker and an awkward price tag are black marks against him but he’ll be up against a weakened Manchester United backline this weekend and he managed 10 attacking returns in 11 matches against the ‘big six’ last season, so the upcoming fixtures will hold no fear for the veteran.