You rarely buy a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) player just with one Gameweek in mind – and that’s where our Watchlist comes into play to help.
In this series, we pick out the players who are the best medium-term targets in each position based on fixtures, form and value.
So unlike the Scout Picks, we’re not just exclusively focusing on the upcoming Gameweek.
The week-to-week changes are typically minimal in the Watchlist but with postponements/blanks behind and ahead of us, there’s been more tinkering than usual during our latest refresh.
ABOUT THE WATCHLIST
In our regularly updated Watchlist, which is visible on the sidebar, the initial focus is on the next four Gameweeks but we look up to six weeks ahead where appropriate.
For example, we can’t completely ignore Manchester City and Arsenal’s excellent matches beyond their Gameweek 12 blank.
Players are selected and ranked according to factors such as form*, club injuries, forthcoming fixtures and whether or not the player in question is likely to be a bargain in FPL.
The tables in the article below display the player name and club, along with the abbreviation for the factors that played a part in their ranking.
A key for these factors is as follows:
Arrows before the name indicate whether a player has climbed or fallen in our reckoning since the previous update or if they are a new entry into the tables.
*Points divided by a club’s matches played over the last 30 days, with allowance given for non-appearances. With some players not involved at all in Gaemweeks 7 and 8, we’ve extended the form period back to Gameweek 4, which is only just outside the usual 30-day window at the time of publication.
THE WATCHLIST: BEST FPL GOALKEEPERS
There’s a bit of an impasse when it comes to FPL goalkeepers at present, with uncertainty over who will be Chelsea’s number one under Graham Potter not helping matters. When we’ve established whether it’s Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.4m) or Edouard Mendy (£4.9m) who the new Chelsea boss favours between the sticks, expect them to feature high in the above list given the Blues’ fixture run until the World Cup.
The fact that Nick Pope (£5.2m) is again being transferred in by over three times as many managers as the next-most-popular goalkeeper ahead of Gameweek 9 underscores that he doesn’t really have a serious challenger to his status as the go-to FPL shot-stopper – but could Vicente Guaita (£4.5m) be that man?
Crystal Palace’s excellent fixture run begins in earnest in Gameweek 10, when the Eagles embark on a sequence of seven straight matches against sides currently in the bottom half. Their underlying defensive numbers in 2022/23 aren’t great but their tough opening fixture run is mitigation for that, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that they had the fifth-best expected goals conceded (xGC) record in Patrick Vieira’s debut season in charge. One worry with Guaita is the fact that he was benched on five separate occasions in 2021/22, although there were problematic finger and knee injuries that were thought to be responsible for the first three of those.
Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) is a rotation-proof route (if he’s fit!) into the defence that has conceded the fewest big chances in the division this season, while Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) and West Ham United have also surprisingly impressed on the underlying stats front despite a tricky start; perhaps a more favourable run of games, starting with the visit of the joint-lowest scorers in the division, can help turn a healthy xGC tally into actual clean sheets.
Ederson (£5.5m) inevitably falls in our rankings with a trip to Anfield and a Gameweek 12 blank on the horizon but, fixture or no fixture, placing the custodian of the league’s best defence beneath the hapless Danny Ward (£4.0m) feels like a step too far; the Leicester City goalkeeper, still without a shut-out this season, nevertheless stays in the Watchlist with an excellent run of five matches upon him.
And yes, that is Bernd Leno (£4.5m) in the above table: Fulham next face a Newcastle side with an injury crisis in attack, followed by the division’s joint-lowest scorers West Ham and then the two teams with the worst expected goals (xG) totals in 2022/23 so far, Bournemouth and Aston Villa.
Jose Sa (£5.0m) and David Raya (£4.5m) have mixed bags of fixtures in the next four but Wolves are in better shape defensively; they have conceded around half the number of big chances as Brentford so far this season, although Raya can at least boast that no goalkeeper has made more saves.
We ummed and ahhed about including Alisson (£5.4m) but Liverpool’s next three fixtures are all against sides currently in the top four, while the Reds shipped five goals in their two Champions League matches since they were last in Premier League action.
THE WATCHLIST: BEST FPL DEFENDERS
While the Kepa/Mendy dilemma rages between the sticks, there’s no doubt who the most coveted Chelsea defender is. Two blanks now behind him, Reece James (£6.0m) rises to the top of the Watchlist ahead of an excellent run of fixtures for the Blues. Second among players in his position for expected goal involvement (xGI), he was also encouragingly deployed in an advanced wing-back role in Graham Potter’s first match in charge. Don’t rule out Marc Cucurella (£5.1m) or a bargain Wesley Fofana (£4.4m) joining James in the Watchlist once we’ve established who Potter favours at the rear.
As a result of James’ promotion to top spot, Joao Cancelo (£7.2m) and Kieran Trippier (£5.4m) slip down a place: the former blanks in Gameweek 12, while Newcastle’s next three matches on the road are at Fulham, Spurs and Manchester United. The pair are still paramount in our thoughts, however: Cancelo is a bonus-collecting, attack-minded full-back playing in the division’s best defence, while the set-piece-taking Trippier is third for xGI among defenders this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) and Ivan Perisic (£5.6m) swap places, meanwhile. There are still some iffy fixtures to come for Liverpool and an annoying 58th-minute substitution for Alexander-Arnold in Gameweek 6 rankles but Perisic is seemingly even more of a rotation/early-withdrawal risk, while the Reds’ right-back remains top for xGI among defenders in 2022/23 despite not playing in four weeks.
One of two new entries in the above list is Marc Guehi (£4.3m). Crystal Palace’s historic quality at the back we have already discussed in the goalkeeper section above so it’s now just a question of which Eagles defender we opt for. In truth, you can throw a blanket over their back four, with none of them offering much attacking threat to supplement their clean sheet potential. Guehi’s price drop to £4.3m over the international break sees him get the nod, however. It’s a similar situation with Vladimir Coufal (£4.4m) at West Ham United, whose surprisingly good xGC stats were highlighted when covering Fabianski above.
The top-shooting FPL defender, Neco Williams (£4.1m), retains his position as the go-to budget asset thanks to Nathan Patterson‘s (£4.1m) international break injury, while a cut-price Tyrone Mings (£4.3m) is our second and final new entry: the stopper is usually good for 4-5 attacking returns a season, while Aston Villa are fourth on our Season Ticker over the next five Gameweeks. A bit of an injury crisis at the back, which also includes midfield shield Boubacar Kamara (£4.9m), stops Mings being any higher than 10th in the rankings.
Almost sliding out of view is Ben Mee (£4.5m). Brentford’s fixtures remain very decent right the way up to Gameweek 15 but that was also the case in the first eight Gameweeks of the campaign, and they have just one clean sheet to show for it. Their xGC during this period, when they were high up the Season Ticker, is also a worry.
THE WATCHLIST: BEST FPL MIDFIELDERS
Mohamed Salah (£12.9m) being top of the Watchlist isn’t usually headline news but there’s plenty of debate about whether he merits such a lofty position right now, something Lateriser touched on in his premium midfielder analysis. In truth, Salah’s elevation is as much about our previous front-runners, Kevin De Bruyne (£12.3m) and Gabriel Martinelli (£6.6m), dropping down the rankings due to some trickier fixtures and a blank in the next four Gameweeks.
Liverpool’s own Gameweek 9-11 run isn’t ideal but Salah is still averaging 6.3 points per match despite misgivings about his own ‘form’, while the impact of the return from injury of some key bodies further back in the Reds’ team – particularly Thiago Alcantara (£5.2m) – can’t be underestimated.
Risers Son Heung-min (£11.4m) and Raheem Sterling (£10.0m) could have been even higher in the above Watchlist to challenge Salah but some minor reservations keep them at arm’s length. In Son’s case, potentially tricky fixtures for Spurs in the next four Gameweeks (three away matches against the top five) and the week-to-week uncertainty over Antonie Conte’s front-three make-up are small concerns. As for Sterling, it was a promising debut for the England international in Potter’s inaugural match in charge of Chelsea – but it is only one match, and we probably need a bigger sample to draw on before proclaiming Sterling to be an irresistible pick under the new regime.
We know what we’re getting with James Maddison (£7.9m) and Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m): an almost-nailed starter status, talismanic standing at their respective clubs and excellent fixture runs between now and the World Cup. The pair either found the net or assisted over 40% of the goals that their sides scored with them on the pitch in 2021/22, while Maddison is on a remarkable run of 26 attacking returns in his last 29 Premier League appearances.
Andreas Pereira (£4.6m) retains his spot as the best sub-£5.0m midfielder (watch out for Willian (£5.5m) stealing his set pieces, however), while Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.5m) clings onto a place for Nottingham Forest’s next four matches. It’s conceding goals, rather than scoring them, that’s a problem for Forest, while the corner-taking Gibbs-White next faces a Leicester side who are abject at defending set plays. Any news that the budget midfielder’s international break injury is more than minor, however, and he’ll obviously drop out.
Finally, Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) is a new entry in the above list. He’s kept low down due to match fitness concerns (he’s been hooked on the hour-mark in the last two league matches) but he’s had another month to work on his stamina levels since Leeds were last in action, and he’s now registered seven attacking returns in as many matches for club and country, despite none of those appearances lasting more than 65 minutes. Up next for the Whites is an Aston Villa side with an injury crisis in defence, with veteran Ashley Young (£4.4m) or Premier League rookie Ludwig Augustinsson (£4.3m) set to encounter the flying Colombian winger on Sunday.
THE WATCHLIST: BEST FPL FORWARDS
It’s all quiet on the frontline front as the top five forwards in the above list – who happen to be top five scorers in their position in FPL and the leading five forwards for goal attempts, shots in the box, big chances and xGI – remain unmoved.
The ‘sus’ next to Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) doesn’t mean that the Brazilian striker is banned, incidentally, just that he’s among a cluster of players who are a single yellow card away from a one-match suspension.
Dominic Solanke (£5.7m) is the best of the rest below the power five but he’s very much the Danny Ward of the forwards’ Watchlist, with his low cost enabling money to be splurged elsewhere and a favourable Gameweek 12 fixture meaning he can cover the blankers from Manchester City and Arsenal. There are deserved reservations about his FPL output, with Bournemouth way behind the other 19 clubs for xG, but he’s a nailed starter, on penalties and about to face five teams who have got just three clean sheets between them in the whole of 2022/23.
Fit-again Callum Wilson (£7.2m) replaces injured team-mate Alexander Isak (£7.1m) as the Newcastle forward of choice. With all the excitement surrounding the Swedish striker, it’s easy to forget that Wilson has plundered 22 goals and six assists in 47 Premier League appearances for the Magpies – fairly elite levels but, sadly, getting him on the pitch for a sustained period has been a struggle.
Ollie Watkins (£7.2m) rises above Forest’s penalty-taking Brennan Johnson (£5.9m), meanwhile. Aston Villa are about to face five teams who all sit in the bottom half for minutes per xGC this season, including Chelsea, while Watkins himself is seventh among FPL forwards for xGI.
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