Welcome to the inaugural RotoWire Premier League Top 25 Under 25, ranking the best young players in Englandís top division based on their fantasy expectations for the 2015/16 season.
Any subjective list like this is ripe for conversation, so if youíve got a strong feeling about a player below, whether heís over-ranked or under-ranked, feel free to leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter: @rotowireandrew and @sportsbygotti.
(Note: players must be under 25 at the start of the upcoming Premier League season.)
1. Eden Hazard (M)
Age: 24 (Jan. 7, 1991)
The best player in the Premier League at any age, thereís no doubt heís the top pick among the youngsters.
2. Christian Benteke (F)
Age: 24 (Dec. 3, 1990)
Benteke was one of the best goal scorers in the Premier League before suffering a serious Achilles injury last year. He bounced back this season and led all scorers after Jan 1. He's been linked to Liverpool and Chelsea, though a move to the latter would crush his fantasy potential playing second fiddle to Diego Costa.
3. Romelu Lukaku (F)
Age: 22 (May 13, 1993)
Three consecutive seasons with double-digit goals for three different clubs, Lukaku is coming off his worst full Premier League season but heís still the dominant attacker for Everton with plenty of upside.
4. Aaron Ramsey (M)
Age: 24 (Dec. 26, 1990)
Injuries have taken a toll on him over the past few years, but when heís at his best, Ramsey has tremendous upside. He's often overshadowed by teammate Alexis Sanchez, but Ramsey is an elite player.
5. Harry Kane, (F)
Age: 21 (July 21, 1993)
Kane blew onto the scene this past season by scoring 21 goals in 34 appearances, made even more impressive by the fact that he didnít get his first start until Nov. 9. There were rumors of Real Madrid interest, but Kane will likely need to continue his development before a big-money move comes to fruition.
6. Memphis Depay (F)
Age: 21 (Feb. 13, 1994)
Depay was the first big move this summer, with Louis van Gaal bringing in a player he coached at last year's World Cup in Brazil. The Eredivisie is certainly known as being an offensive league, as Jozy Altidore famously scored 23 goals in 21 games for AZ Alkmaar two seasons ago, but there is no denying Depay's offensive brilliance. The 21-year-old had 22 goals and five assists in 30 league matches last season and he could very well slot right into the United staring XI in place of the possibly-departing Robin van Persie. While next season is unlikely, Depay could be fighting for the Golden Boot in the not too distant future.
7. Thibaut Courtois (G)
Age: 23 (May 11, 1992)
After helping Atletico Madrid win La Liga and making the Champions League final in 2014, Courtois anchored Chelsea to a Premier League title this past season. Heís easily one of the best goalkeepers in the world and was able to displace long-time starter Petr Cech, who will leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
8. Raheem Sterling (M)
Age: 20 (Dec. 8, 1994)
Thereís so much promise with Sterling thanks to his excellent speed and ball work, and his 16 goals and 12 assists over the last two seasons are nothing to scoff at, but his insistency on being a striker could hold him back. He's been linked to a number of different clubs this season, with Manchester City an enticing landing spot from a fantasy perspective, though he'll have to give up all hope of being a striker there.
9. Christian Eriksen (M)
Age: 23 (Jan. 14, 1992)
Despite scoring a career-high 10 goals this past season, Eriksen took a bit of a step back, or at least didnít take a step forward, from his seven-goal, eight-assist 2013/14 campaign. Heíll always have fantasy value as the designated set-piece taker for Spurs, which has helped him to numerous goals so far.
10. Philippe Coutinho (M)
Age: 22 (June 12, 1992)
For all the attention Sterling gets for his play, Coutinho should be a bigger part of the conversation. 10 goals and 12 assists in the last two years, Coutinho has shown a penchant for the wondergoal and never hesitates to let a shot from distance fly. If Sterling does leave this summer, Coutinho will be shouldered with a bigger scoring duty.
11. Sadio Mane (M)
Age: 23 (Apr. 10, 1992)
After transferring from Austrian side FC Red Bull Salzburg last summer, Mane showed flashes of brilliance this season, including his record-fast hat trick against Aston Villa in the second-to-last match of the campaign. His fantasy value in the official Premier League game was excellent thanks to Southamptonís defensive prowess, as he finished ahead of players like Yaya Toure, Coutinho, Oscar and Ramsey, but heíll have to become a more reliable scorer if heís to impact daily games more.
12. Nathaniel Clyne (D)
Age: 24 (April 5, 1991)
Clyne finished tied for third in defender scoring in the official Premier League game, and he also became a solid option in daily formats like DraftKings thanks to his crossing ability. He was a dominant defender this season opposite Ryan Bertrand (who will turn 26 in August), which has sparked interest from numerous bigger clubs in England. Clyne's fantasy value could swing wildly depending where he ends up (if he moves at all), but if Jose Mourinho is interested and Clyne wins a starting job, he could be the top fantasy defender next season.
13. Saido Berahino (F)
Age: 21 (Aug. 4, 1993)
Berahino tied for sixth in Premier League scoring this season, tying him with Hazard and Arsenalís Olivier Giroud. It was a very impressive season overall for the young Englishman, who added six more goals outside of league play. Given his nationality, he could be very valuable to other Premier League clubs that are heavy on foreign players, and a summer move is certainly a possibility after rumors of a rift between Berahino and the club surfaced toward the end of last season.
14. Kieran Trippier (D) *
Age: 24 (Sept. 19, 1990)
Trippier was a fantasy star on DraftKings this past season thanks to his excellent crossing ability, but he wasnít nearly as productive in the Premier Leagueís official game, finishing as the 16th-highest scoring defender. He didnít score a single goal last season, but four assists (crosses!) and 10 clean sheets were enough to get him to that level. While Burnley will play in the Championship next season, it will be surprising if Trippier is there with them.
15. Oscar (M)
Age: 23 (Sept. 9, 1991)
Chelsea have so many upper-tier fantasy options that Oscar can sometimes get overlooked. He was 20th in midfielder scoring in the official Premier League game this past season, even with a career-high eight assists. Oscar is another player who could move this summer, as the Chelsea midfield is getting very crowded.
16. David de Gea (G)
Age: 24 (Nov. 7, 1990)
De Gea was without a doubt Manchester Unitedís best player this past season, but he only finished eighth in clean sheets and saves. If great saves were given extra points, de Gea would be higher, but cumulatively heís not the best fantasy option around. Heís also been heavily linked to Real Madrid this summer, which would push him off this list in the first update.
17. Callum Wilson (F)
Age: 23 (Feb. 27, 1992)
Wilson bagged 20 goals in the Championship last season, a total bested by only three players. To give it some context, Danny Ings scored 22 in the Championship the season prior, while Charlie Austin scored 19 and Jamie Vardy 16. Austin and Ings both reached double-digit goals this season in the Premier League, while Vardy had five goals and 12 assists (the latter scored in the official game). While itís certainly no guarantee that Wilson will be able to make that jump, heíll get plenty of opportunities while Bournemouth try to avoid dropping back down.
18. Nathan Redmond (M)
Age: 21 (March 6, 1994)
Redmond was a major reason for Norwich Cityís promotion to the Premier League, scoring six goals and assisting on 13 others in 46 appearances. While stats from the Championship can be a bit deceiving, itís still excellent production for a player who wonít turn 22 until next March.
19. Wilfried Zaha (M)
Age: 22 (Nov. 10, 1992)
Zaha finally found a place where he could get consistent playing time again, and he was an excellent piece for the Crystal Palace attack this season. Unfortunately, he doesnít score nearly enough goals, or set them up, to put him in the same fantasy category as teammates Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie.
20. Matej Vydra (M)
Age: 23 (May 1, 1992)
Vydra had an excellent 16 goals and five assists in 42 league appearances last season and Watford were able to secure him on loan from Udinese for another two seasons. We've seen promoted players make fantasy impacts right away, and Vydra will absolutely be in a position to do that.
21. Ross Barkley (M)
Age: 21 (Dec. 5, 1993)
Barkley burst onto the scene by scoring six goals during the 2013/14 season but he regressed mightily this past year, netting just twice in 29 appearances. Manager Roberto Martinez never found a consistent spot in his starting XI for Barkley, whose flashes of brilliance keep fantasy owners enticed, much to their own peril.
22. Christian Atsu (M)
Age: 23 (Jan. 10, 1992)
Atsu had a decent loan spell with Chelsea-connected Vitesse two seasons ago, and he seemed poised to make an impact in the Premier League this past year while on loan at Everton. Unfortunately, he was given very little playing time by Roberto Martinez and Chelsea even threatened to take Atsu back if he didnít get more first-team calls. The bluff was called and Atsu was effectively unused, making only five league appearances all season. He should be able to turn that around this season for Bournemouth, who led the Championship with 98 goals last season.
23. Matthew Phillips (M) *
Age: 24 (March 13, 1991)
Phillips, like fellow-relegated Kieran Trippier, was more impressive in daily games thanks to his crossing ability, but he still managed to pick up eight assists in the Premier Leagueís official game. His biggest hit for fantasy purposes was posting only three clean sheets as QPR allowed the most goals in the league. If he can find a better side to play for next season, his fantasy value could skyrocket.
24. Eliaquim Mangala (D)
Age: 24 (Feb. 13, 1991)
Mangala doesnít provide much in the attack, but the City centerback is expected to have a regular starting spot next season, which means he could see plenty of clean-sheet opportunities playing in front of goalkeeper Joe Hart, who has won the Golden Glove Award four of the past five seasons. Clean sheets are the most prolific stat for fantasy defenders in season-long games, and Mangala could pile them up next season.
25. James Ward-Prowse (M):
Age: 20 (Nov. 1, 1994)
The crowded Southampton midfield makes it tough to project JWP with significant playing time next year, but that could change if Morgan Schneiderlin and/or Victor Wanyama are sold. He's also shown an ability to play on the wing a bit, though there is just as much competition there.
Others Under Consideration:
Danny Ings (22): The move to Liverpool is a disappointment from a fantasy perspective, as Ings will now be stuck behind Daniel Sturridge and possibly Raheem Sterling as a striker, not to forget Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini, though not all are expected to stay.
Danny Welbeck (24): He was impressive in his time as a lone striker for Arsenal when Olivier Giroud was out with injury, but the latter's return pushed Welbeck out to the wing where he isn't nearly as effective. Making matters worse, manager Arsene Wenger is open to the idea of using Theo Walcott as a central forward, pushing Welbeck deeper down the depth chart.
Jordon Ibe (19): Ibe has a ton of potential, but in a crowded attacking midfield that also includes Raheem Sterling (sometimes, maybe), Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and James Millner, it's unclear Ibe will get enough playing time to be a consistent fantasy producer.
Kurt Zouma (20): Zouma is without a doubt one of Chelsea's future starting centerbacks, but with John Terry and Gary Cahill locked into those spots, plus Nemanja Matic dominating the holding midfield role, it's tough to see Zouma getting enough playing time.
Victor Moses (24): If Moses doesn't go out on loan again, he'll be stuck on the bench at Stamford Bridge. With Chelsea possibly having to sell some of their young talent to pick up a big-name player this summer, Moses could be on the way out.
Hector Bellerin (20): With Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers both expected to be fully fit before next season, it's unclear just how strong Bellerin's hold is on the starting rightback spot.
Robbie Brady (23): Brady showed flashes of big fantasy scores toward the end of last season, particularly with his crosses, but Hull appear adamant on keeping Brady around to try to fight their way back to the Premier League. He is also an excellent set-piece taker, but that role may not follow him to another club, if he does move.
Mentioned But Not Strongly Considered:
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (21), Luke Shaw (19), Phil Jones (23), Jonjo Shelvey (23), Ayoze Perez (21), Jack Wilshere (23), Carl Jenkinson (23), John Stones (21), Erik Lamela (23), Riyad Mahrez (24), Patrick van Aanholt (24), Eric Dier (21), Calum Chambers (20), Alberto Moreno (22), Lazar Markovic (21), Leandro Bacuna (23), Adnan Januzaj (20)