FPL Bargain Bin: Early Season Value Targets
FPL Bargain Bin: Early Season Value Targets

This article is part of our FPL Bargain Bin series.

The beginning of the 2018/19 Premier League season will be slightly different than normal, as top players like Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku could miss the first couple weeks due to time spent at the World Cup. That should lead to differing lineups to open the campaign (outside of Mohamed Salah), but one thing that won't change is the need for bargain players to stash on the bench or start when desperate.

Sometimes bargain guys can make or break a fantasy campaign. If you roster a player because he's cheap and doesn't play, that'll lose you a couple pounds in the budget. Or, if they have a rough opening schedule and their team starts with a negative-10 goal differential through three matches, that's also a problem.

Instead of rostering players only because they're cheap, it's important to look into the early fixtures, as well as if they'll play or not. Most, if not all, of my recommendations fit that bill, and hopefully they'll all score 10 goals and take the league by storm. Even if they don't, they'll at least be worth a roster spot in the first month or two of the season.

FORWARDS

Callum Wilson (£6.0)
Joshua King (£6.5) is on more teams (4.4 percent to 4.1 percent), but Wilson was more effective last season with eight goals and two assists in fewer minutes. Wilson's per-90 stats were much better in terms of scoring, averaging 2.40 shots, including 0.86 on goal, compared to King's 1.83 and 0.77 respective marks. King created more chances, but that resulted in only one more assist. With an opening schedule that features Cardiff, West Ham and Everton, Wilson should walk away with at least one goal before September hits.

Raul Jimenez (£5.5)
The most surprising Premier League futures odds are for Wolves, who are tied with Everton for seventh-best to win the league. For a promoted side, that almost doesn't make sense, but if Wolverhampton indeed finish top half of the table, most players are underpriced. Jimenez, the projected top forward, is one of those guys after spending the last few seasons at Benfica. He's been better (more goals) than Leo Bonatini (£5.0) in preseason and will get chances with workable matches (v. EVE, at WHU, v. BUR) to start the campaign.

Chris Wood (£6.5)
When healthy, Wood was a relevant fantasy player last season with 10 goals in 24 appearances, along with 1.32 shots on goals per 90 minutes. For a cheap forward, those numbers are hard to beat. In contrast, Alvaro Morata (£9.0) averaged 1.48 SOG per 90 and scored 11 goals. Not that I'm comparing the two, but the opportunities will be there for Wood and Burnley with their first three matches against Southampton, Watford and Fulham.

MIDFIELDERS

Diogo Jota (£6.5)
Teammate Ruben Neves (£5.0) is more popular due to price, but Jota is the player you want, and that's why he costs more. Still only 21 years old, Jota is listed as a midfielder yet appeared on both wings and as a center-forward last season in a 3-4-3 formation. He finished with 17 goals and five assists, and while he may have trouble reaching half those totals, he'll still get opportunities. The same can't be said for Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon (£6.5), who often plays as a left wing-back for a side that's projected to be relegated.

Fernandinho (£5.5)
If you don't have an overload of Man City players, it won't hurt to add Fernandinho to the squad. It's hard to bet on five goals and four assists again, but he should start the season after getting limited time with Brazil in the World Cup. Manager Pep Guardiola also doesn't have anyone else to play the defensive midfield spot, so Fernandinho is a lock in the lineup. Outside of the trip to Arsenal, City have favorable early fixtures that should lead to clean sheets and maybe a lucky goal or assist for the Brazilian.

Gerard Deulofeu (£5.5)
It's amazing that Deulofeu made five starts for Barcelona last season, but now he's permanently at Watford on a five-year deal. He's still somewhat unknown at 24 years old, though he did have eight assists in the 2015/16 season with Everton. If he can find a consistent spot in the lineup, he should make value after averaging 1.64 shots and 2.26 chances created per 90 minutes in seven Premier League appearances last campaign. If Marc Albrighton (£5.5) is healthy, he's in the same mold, while my deep pick is Sullay Kaikai (£4.5), though he probably won't get much time early in the season.

DEFENDERS

Phil Jagielka (£4.5)
Jagielka started 23 matches last season, even after missing a couple months with a knee injury. All signs point to him being in that same spot and that's good enough, especially with fellow center-back Michael Keane (£5.0) inexplicably more expensive. Everton had a brutal opening schedule last year, but this season is the opposite with home matches against Southampton, Huddersfield and West Ham all providing chances for clean sheets, and the same goes for trips to Fulham and Watford.

Steve Cook (£4.5)
There's no reason to go crazy for Bournemouth center-backs, but Cook at least gets forward on set pieces and has eight goals over the last three seasons. The hope is that Bournemouth play better defensively, similar to the 2016/17 campaign when they had 10 clean sheets. The Cherries will have opportunities early, with home matches against Cardiff, Leicester and Crystal Palace in the first couple months. Charlie Daniels (£4.5) is owned by a 16.8 percent of fantasy bosses, but I'm not sure he's worth it, especially with Diego Rico (£4.5) coming into the squad and able to steal minutes after his opening three-match suspension.

Ben Mee (£5.0)
I prefer Southampton's schedule, but it's much easier to trust Burnley defenders, and that's why they are a little pricier. It's not a bad strategy to roll with one of them as a second or third defender, and they have a firm back-four so there isn't a major issue with different lineups. Mee is the third-most owned Burnley defender, but he has 41 shots the past two seasons and eventually that will lead to a goal. The early schedule against Southampton, Watford and Fulham is also a good reason to trust Mee.

GOALKEEPERS

Rui Patricio (£4.5)
After spending his entire career with Sporting Lisbon, the 30-year-old Patricio was brought to Wolverhampton to start. He'll be a viable candidate in most home matches and could be the same in the early trips to Leicester and West Ham. Even at a low price, Patricio isn't widely owned and that makes him a better play than someone like Lukasz Fabianski (£4.5), who is on a new team and won't make as many saves as with Swansea.

Alex McCarthy (£4.5)
It's odd that McCarthy was only selected by 1.1 percent of fantasy teams at the time of writing. He's the No.1 for Southampton, who open the season with home matches against Burnley, Leicester and Brighton in the first five weeks. Some people have forgotten that Fraser Forster (£4.5) lost the starting spot in the second half of last season and could be on his way out.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam writes on sports ranging from NFL and MLB to soccer and college basketball. Outside of writing, he has worked with a professional soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, and in the stats department at ESPN. He is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate. 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year.
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