Every Gameweek of the season there are players who are on the cusp of Fantasy Football greatness. Away from the guaranteed points machines that are the Top 6 clubs elite players is a whole world of Chris Wood’s, Ahmed Hegazi’s and Pascal Groß’s who make up the fringes of your team right now. But there is a third tier of players who may not deserve a place in your starting XI at the moment but need to be monitored in case they transform into the bargain differential’s of the future. These unreliable and inconsistent enigmas make up our weekly Watchlist.
Whether they be well known players coming back from injury, young prospects making a breakthrough in the Premier League or someone taking advantage of a change of circumstances at his Club these guys carry a lot of uncertainty. Was that goal last week a one off or is this the start of a Josh King style run of fantasy points?
Here are a few guys to keep an eye on over the coming weeks. (To qualify they either have to be not playing regularly or not consistently producing decent points)
Junior Stanislas, MID: A player highlighted in our Expert Fans View feature last month Stanislas has a history of injury problems but looks dangerous when he gets on the pitch. Having started the last couple of games if he stays fit he may rediscover his form from last season when in 21 games (18 starts) he managed 7 goals and 5 assists.
Rob Holding, DEF: Holding has earned praise for his mature performances for the Gunners but is still inexperienced at this level, playing just 9 times in the PL last term. A current spate of injuries to Arsenal’s centre backs gives him a chance to stake a claim for more game time.
Alex Iwobi, MID: Iwobi made 26 PL starts last year before finding himself without a place once Arsenal switched formation to 3-5-2. He has suffered from a thigh injury this season but clearly has the trust of Arséne Wenger having been handed his first start of the campaign against Champions Chelsea. He scored against Brighton in GW7 and also recently scored the goal that secured Nigeria’s place at FIFA World Cup 2018.
Brighton & Hove Albion:
José Izqueirdo, MID: The Colombian is a former winner of Belgian Player Of The Year but without a full pre season under his belt he has barely featured so far. Although Anthony Knockaert grabbed his first goal of the campaign The Seagulls will hope to see some attacking threat from Izqueirdo soon.
Solly March, MID: March is another player highlighted in our Expert Fans View series as having the potential to step up his level this year. With a goal and an assist to his name already so far and Izquierdo waiting in the wings it is up to March to prove his worth in the Premier League.
Jeff Hendrick, MID: Deployed in an attacking midfield position Hendrick scored the winner away at Everton in GW 7. It remains to be seen whether the Irishman can produce a consistent run of Fantasy points.
Danny Drinkwater, MID: Premier League champion Drinkwater moved to Stamford Bridge dreaming of rekindling his central midfield partnership with N’Golo Kanté. Injury has prevented him making an appearance so far but it will be interesting to see how much action he sees when available, considering Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas have both impressed at times in his absence.
Davide Zappacosta, DEF: The summer signing form Italian club Torino wasn’t a household name on these shores and has found game time limited. Zappacosta replaced the injured Victor Moses in GW8 against Crystal Palace and may be in line for more appearances unless Conte chooses to play Azpilicueta at RWB.
Andros Townsend, MID: Deployed in attack against Chelsea Townsend used his pace high up the pitch and along with Wilfried Zaha tormented the Champions back line. An incredibly frustrating player he just might find a hot streak before Christian Benteke returns.
Christian Benteke, FOR: Expected to return from injury in time for GW12 he remains Palace’s guaranteed starting Forward when he is fit. Playing in front of the excellent Wilfried Zaha can only help his cause and Palace finally have a decent run of games after their nightmare start to the season.
Tom Davies, MID: Boyhood Evertonian Davies burst into the nation’s collective consciousness with his eye catching strike against Manchester City last season that subsequently won the Clubs Goal Of The Season award. Such was his impact in the second half of the campaign (24 League appearances in total) that he was left out of England’s victorious U20 World Cup Squad amid fears of burnout. He is yet to complete a full 90 minutes of PL action this season but has impressed in spurts, the highlight being his 35 minute cameo off the bench against Bournemouth that saw him grab 2 assists. A huge fan favourite if Everton continue to struggle expect those shouting for his inclusion in the starting XI to get louder still.
Nikola Vlašić, MID: When Everton faced Croatian side Hadjuk Split in the first round of the Europa League the then 19 year old Vlašić impressed so much the Merseysiders snapped him up for a fee of around £10M. The difference in quality between the Premier League and his native top division is huge and it may take the young man some time to settle in. He has already scored his first goal for the club in the Europa League and with his pace and trickery could make an impact later on in the season having started the GW8 fixture at Brighton.
Sandro Ramírez, FOR: The former Barcelona product was signed in the summer from Malaga where he scored 16 goals in 31 appearances for the Spanish side. That statistic is made even more impressive when you consider that 2016/17 was his first full season of top flight first team football having played a bit part role for Catalan giants Barcelona since his promotion from their B team. Hugely impressive for a star studded Spain U21 side in the summer he is another who is perhaps struggling with a change in scenery and this disjointed Everton outfit certainly aren’t playing to his strengths. If Ronald Koeman can find a system that works for the Toffee’s Sandro has the natural talent to make a splash in the Premier League.
Oumar Niasse, FOR: The forgotten man of Goodison Park has gone from being the subject of ridicule by the supporters to something of a cult hero due to his never-say-die attitude and match winning performance against Bournemouth. There are still questions over his quality but Everton’s struggles for goals are such that he may just be given a chance to lead their line and grab some fantasy points.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, FOR: Only the 3rd Englishman in history to score in a World Cup Final his strike secured the global title for the outstanding U20’s this summer. After being played in a wide role last term to accommodate top scorer Romelu Lukaku Calvert-Lewin has been given some game time in his preferred role of centre forward. Yet to find the net in the Premier League this season he has managed 3 goals in the Cup competitions so far and looks the most likely candidate to win the starting job full time. He is something of a raw talent and with Everton’s Europa League involvement the striker will see some rotation at the position which will affect his fantasy return.
Tom Ince, MID: Huddersfield are something of a sinking ship after their bright start to the season gave some fans false hope that they may be this years surprise package. The Yorkshire side have mustered only goal in their last 6 League games and face a real struggle at this level. Tom Ince is all too familiar with that feeling as he has never quite been up to scratch in the Premier League but if he can find some sort of form may be one to pick up on a one week only basis against weak opposition later on in the season.
Steve Mounie, FOR: Benin international Mounie is the man most responsible for the early wave of optimism around the Terriers after his opening day brace in a 3-0 away victory at Crystal Palace. In the following 3 Gameweeks he fired blanks and has been out injured ever since. Similar to Ince he may be worth a short term punt if he can find form, fitness and favourable opponents at a later date.
Demarai Gray, MID: Gray has flattered to deceive since his move from Birmingham in January 2016. A huge talent he hasn’t been trusted with many minutes at Leicester but may yet be given an opportunity especially with Riyad Mahrez currently a long way from his POTY form.
Kelechi Iheanacho, FOR: When Nigerian Iheanacho scored for Manchester City on Boxing Day 2016 he had the best goals per minutes ratio in Premier League history (10+ goals). Incredibly his 12 strikes had come from just 19 shots making him one of the dealiest strikers of all time! Little surprise then that with limited game time at the Etihad there were plenty of clubs interested in acquiring his services this summer. Leicester stumped up some £25M to buy him but his start has been hampered by some injury concerns so far. If he can get a run of games and form a partnership with Jamie Vardy he has the potential to be a Fantasy gem.
Loris Karius, GK: If Simon Mignolet is the answer then we need to rephrase the question. Karius has been handed the gloves for Liverpool’s Champions League games and curiously for their Premier League match up Vs Arsenal. If the Reds had a solid defence their GK’s would make the perfect handcuff as there is a constant risk of rotation. Karius kept 3 clean sheets in a 10 game stretch of starts last season.
Andrew Robertson, DEF: Robertson and Sam Clucas were the rare bright spots for relegated Hill City in 2016/17. All the pre season talk was of whether Robertson could oust James Milner for the left back starting spot. Instead Alberto Moreno has been the chosen one for 6/8 games so far. Unless Moreno can channel his inner Roberto Carlos for the next 7 months there is a good chance that Robertson will get an opportunity to make the position his own.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, DEF: Having scored a sensational free kick in the Champions League against Hoffenheim many were already hailing Alexander-Arnold as a star. That potential has only translated to 3 90 minute run outs in the Premier League so far but he is undoubtedly a talent.
Adam Lallana, MID: Expected to be available for selection soon, possibly as early as Gameweek 9, Lallana should very much be on your radar after he scored 139 points last season with an average of 4.5 PPG.
Ben Woodburn, MID: The Welsh wunderkind is a huge talent but cuts a diminutive figure and still looks a little frail for the physical nature of the Premier League. His touch and technique suggest he will make his mark at this level over the coming years and if he gets an extended chance in such a potent attacking force he could deliver points.
Dominic Solanke, FOR: Player Of The Tournament in this summers FIFA U20 World Cup Solanke could well be the Club’s long term replacement for Daniel Sturridge. With Sturridge’s injury history and Liverpool’s extra European fixtures this season Solanke may see some game time.
Fabian Delph, MID: I know, right?! Pep Guardiola is attempting a reverse Phillip Lahm by taking defensive midfielder Delph and turning him into a full back. With Benjamin Mendy out long term Delph could end up being 2017/18’s James Milner. Remember that even at left back he doesn’t receive the clean sheet points of a defender.
Bernardo Silva, MID: A leading light of that thrilling Monaco side from last year Bernardo Silva would be a guaranteed starter at most clubs in the league. Unfortunately for him he plays for Manchester City meaning he isn’t even the best Silva at the Club. City seem like they could stick 5 goals past anybody at the moment and if Silva can get a run he can bring home the goods.
Ilkay Gündogan, MID: At the time of writing he’s not injured! By the time I finish this paragraph he may be. The former Dortmund man averaged 4.1 PPG in his 10 appearances last term.
Victor Lindelöf, DEF: When Lindelöf was brought in from Benfica the expectation was that he and Eric Bailly would be the centre back pairing of choice for Mourinho’s men. “Photogenic” Phil Jones had other ideas and his impressive play has been a major factor in Lindelöf still being a stranger to Fantasy managers. If he can earn a start he will earn points in what will probably be the League’s Number 1 defence this season.
Luke Shaw, DEF: Remember when Luke Shaw became the most expensive teenager of all time? He has since played just 32 League games for United in 3 and a bit seasons. Personally I don’t think he will ever get the starting job full time but with United’s excellent defence and their lack of a true undisputed left back it’s worth reminding yourself every so often that Shaw exists, just in case he proves me wrong. Good luck to him.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, FOR: Now there’s no way you have forgotten about Zlatan. This guy is so box office that even when he’s not playing football he still attracts more media attention then 90% of players out there. There’s no doubt that Utd have looked a better side without him but that’s less a critique of his personal talents and more a praise for a change of system that has been afforded to them by Lukaku stretching defences. His goals per game record is so good you would be daft to dismiss a fired up Zlatan with a point to prove upon his return.
Dwight Gayle, FOR: Another who has never made an impact at this level but rips it up in the Championship, Gayle bagged 23 goals in just 32 games in England’s seconds tier last season. Although he is unlikely to produce any decent points long term and firmly behind the slightly more physical Joselu in the pecking order at the minute he is only an injury or suspension away from getting a chance as Newcastle’s main man once again.
Wesley Hoedt, DEF: Centre back Hoedt has 6 international caps for the Netherlands in 2017 and will hope to form a club partnership with fellow Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk. Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens provide the competition on the South coast.
Sofiane Boufal, MID: Boufal arrived from France with a reputation as a goalscoring attacking midfielder but has struggled to settle in England so far. An injury, a managerial change and a formation not best suited to his characteristics have all contributed to his poor showing but with the Saints attack looking like one of the worst in the division they may turn to the talented Moroccan soon.
Ibrahim Afellay, MID: The former Barcelona graduate has shown glimpses of form in the Potteries but has once again seen injury trouble limit his game time in 2017/18. Now coming back to fitness it will be interesting to see if he can win a starting place for Mark Hughes’ men.
Wilfried Bony, FOR: Yet to score since his return to South Wales Bony has been something of an enigma following his ill advised move to Manchester City. If he can be reinvigorated by his homecoming then an attack comprising of Bony and Tammy Abraham would see the Swans having a more comfortable season than in recent years.
Danny Rose, DEF: One of the best full backs in the Premier League last year Rose has had to watch Ben Davies collect huge fantasy points in his absence. Now training with the rest of the squad once again it won’t be long until he gets some minutes in one of the best defences in the league.
Harry Winks, MID: Winks was one of the only bright spots in the side on his full England debut and completed the full 90 minutes for Spurs in Gameweeks 7 and 8. He is highly regarded by Pochettino and could be an angle into the Tottenham midfield if he continues to progress and adds regular goals and assists to his game.
Troy Deeney, FOR: The bruising striker was one of the real bargains of 2015/16 when he scored 166 Fantasy Points with 13 goals and 8 assists playing up front with Odion Ighalo. Last year Watford failed to hit the heights but Deeney still managed a respectable 10 goals and 4 assists for 130 Pts. Deeney has missed the start of the season through injury but will hope to form part of a potentially dangerous attack with Andre Gray and new boy Richarlison. His typically strong performance and penalty against Arsenal in GW8 showed why he is one to keep an eye on.
West Bromwich Albion:
Nyom, DEF: Nyom had some outstanding performances at the start of the season picking up 23 Pts in the first 3 matches, including 6 Bonus Points. In Gameweeks 5-7 he only started against Arsenal when Tony Pulis implemented wing backs, with Kieran Gibbs & Craig Dawson preferred at full back in a back 4 for the other fixtures.
West Ham United:
Marko Arnautovic, MID: Arnautovic has had a stuttering start to his Hammers career with the low point being his red card in GW2 and the suspension that followed. West Ham actually have some decent attacking players with Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio & Javier Hernandez. If they can find room for Arnautovic in the lineup and get them all fit and firing they have the makings of a productive unit.
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