Having covered which goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders you should be picking or avoiding in your fantasy football squad this season, your side should now be starting to take shape. The last part of our four-piece player guide turns the attention to forwards, the big-hitters.
In the hotseat to mull over the best and worst fantasy football options for the new season is Russell Cane, who despite sharing a name with a well known comedian, is in fact a successful player now turned Content Manager for daily fantasy football game Oulala.com.
With most managers opting to set up their fantasy football starting XI with an attack-minded 3-4-3 formation, forwards tend to be the most invested in position when building a squad. Should you go with three premium, high scoring forwards but leave yourself short of money in other areas and therefore lose balance in your side or take a calculated risk and attempt to identify a lower priced forward to backup two bigger names in attack, allowing more budget to spread across the rest of your squad?
Successful, experienced players tend to opt for the second option, while leaving a small amount of cash in the bank to allow flexibility with a quick one transfer upgrade should their budget forward have been a poor initial choice.
The Must-Have: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
As the most selected player in fantasy football, Romelu Lukaku is in almost 50 per cent of teams. While leaving out a player that has scored 85 goals by the age of just 24 is a risk in itself, if Lukaku hits the ground running and scores big fantasy points and you don’t have him, you’ll drop like a stone.
Your starting squad should be as risk-free as possible and including Lukaku is as safe as it possibly comes in the fantasy football world this season. That’s why the Belgian occupies the fourth spot; along with David De Gea, Marcos Alonso and Dele Alli in our ideal four man fantasy spine.
New Kid On The Block: Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
With some attractive early fixtures; including home games against Leicester City, Bournemouth, West Brom and Brighton in Arsenal’s first seven gameweeks, along with some healthy stats for Lyon in Ligue 1 last season, it’s understandable why Alexandre Lacazette is one of the top five most selected forwards in fantasy football this summer.
Having scored 28 goals in 30 league appearances last season, which included 10 penalties, it’s the Frenchman’s creativity stats that catch the eye. Although only registering three assists, Lacazette actually ranked 12th best in Ligue 1 for key passes per game (1.7), pointing towards poor finishing from his Lyon teammates as opposed to a striker that only scores goals.
If the 26-year-old can adapt to the intensity of the Premier League after impressing in Ligue 1, he could quickly become fantasy football’s new must-have in attack.
Approach With Caution: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United)
Although being the third most selected forward, currently in more than 20 per cent of fantasy football teams, you should be wary of including Javier Hernandez in your initial squad.
Firstly, West Ham’s early fixtures are not the most attractive, facing four trips away from home and a visit from Tottenham in their opening six weeks.
Secondly, Hernandez netted just 11 times in 26 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen last season, adding only three assists due to poor creativity numbers (0.8 key passes per game).
Thirdly, West Ham had the third fewest touches inside the opposition box behind just Burnley and West Brom last season, an area that will need to improve if Chicharito is to fulfill the expectations many fantasy managers have in him.
Under The Radar: Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton)
Lukaku and Lacazette won’t make a difference as to whether you win your fantasy football league or not. Players with high ownership are there to minimise risk. It’s the far less popular differentials that will ultimately make or break your season. Get these right and you’ll fly up the table.
As highlighted with Fraser Forster in our goalkeeper player guide, Southampton’s run of exceptionally kind fixtures at the beginning of the season should be jumped on early and the fantasy football choice up top for the Saints boils down to two players, Charlie Austin or Manolo Gabbiadini. The last game of pre-season tends to be a good indicator as to a manager’s prefered system. In Southampton’s final game, a 2-0 win over Sevilla on Saturday, Gabbiadini played through the middle as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, setting up the first and scoring the second. Reasonably priced and with an ownership of less than six per cent, the Italian is our prefered choice to back up two premium forwards.
As the first fantasy football platform to be awarded an official skill games license, Oulala.com offers a social game completely based on skill. So if you’re weighing up whether to include Romelu Lukaku or Alexandre Lacazette in your team, why not trust what the experts say.