In the following article, we discuss the best options ahead of GW2 of the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season. We look at the top performers from GW1 and assess whether they are likely to perform well again. We also look ahead at the fixtures to decide whether it’s worth attacking GW2 with players who’s runs are not as kind after.
FPL is back! The eagerly anticipated launch of the 2021/22 season saw a whopping 34 goals fly in and four players notch three or more attacking returns.
The game average of 69 points was naturally high, but the mean score among the FPL Twitter community likely reached the mid 90s, a sensationally high total to open the campaign.
Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m) and Mo Salah (£12.5m) stole the show, bagging a combined four goals and two assists for the gameweek. Despite their colossal ownership, fewer than 35% of the game owned both players at the gameweek deadline, ensuring those who did benefited massively from the duo’s combined 37 points.
Attention now turns to GW2 and with it the first Saturday morning deadline of the season. Liverpool host Burnley in lunchtime kickoff, a fixture that looks ideal to target, while later in the day Man City play Norwich in a similarly appealing match-up.
Man Utd travel to Southampton, fresh from a morale raising win against rivals Leeds. The gameweek concludes with a Monday Night Football clash between West Ham and Leicester, a game which promises goals at both ends.
With a number of appealing fixtures it is quite possible GW2 keeps the good times rolling and the big scores coming in.
As I often do with these types of articles, I’ll be excluding the aforementioned Salah and Bruno. Neither needs their merits explaining, we all know what they are capable of and have witnessed as much in the last few days.
For those who are BruNO it is a tough call, I would lean towards seeing the plan through rather than breaking from it to accommodate the United man. Ultimately, you likely went without in an effort to find more points over a six or seven week period by spreading the funds.
I’d give things time to play out if possible, stick to your guns.
Throughout the article we will look at the players with the best prospects according to Fantasy Football Fix’s projected points model and assess which assets are likely to have the biggest impact on the gameweek.
Riyad Mahrez (£9.0m) – 7.7% TSB
The City winger endured a tough time during his side’s 1-0 defeat away to Tottenham. Mahrez only managed one shot in the box, a big chance that he blazed wide just before half time. The Algerian also accumulated an expected goal involvement (xGI) total of 0.55, only three midfielders under performed by a greater amount.
While Mahrez’s performance may have been visually poor, the numbers suggest he should have been more likely to return than not, and indeed one would expect him to have finished the big chance that did fall his way.
The concern ahead of GW2 is now whether the dreaded ‘Pep Roulette’ will land on Mahrez, those who started the season with him are in a tough spot where selling him seems illogical but holding could prove to be a waste of £9.0m.
For those who were thinking of attacking the Norwich fixture it now also feels risky to punt on him, but with Ilkay Gundogan (£7.5m) an injury doubt and Ferran Torres (£7.0m) potentially at risk from Gabriel Jesus (£8.5m), it really only leaves Jack Grealish (£8.0m) as a potential alternative to Mahrez.
The injury to Gundogan may play into Mahrez’s favour however, with Grealish now likely to continue in midfield alongside the returning Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) it reduces the options in the wide areas.
Mahrez ranks as the fourth highest projected scorer on fantasyfootballfix.com, with an expected points total of 6.1. This actually ranks slightly higher than Bruno Fernandes and makes him one of the better captaincy options for the week. With doubts over his minutes it is tough to captain him or transfer him in, but if you own it makes sense to hold and pray for a start as the upside could be huge.
Michail Antonio (£7.5m) – 26.3% TSB
FPL’s resident xGI per 90 monster struck again on Sunday. Michail Antonio helped himself to a goal and two assists in West Ham’s 4-2 win away to Newcastle.
The Hammers’ hitman amassed a league leading xGI total of 1.64 and complemented it with three shots in the box (SiTB) and three big chances. He even had time to miss a penalty, should he stay on spot kicks then his price tag starts to look incredibly cheap.
West Ham host Leicester next up, the Foxes managed to keep a clean sheet against Wolves despite conceding 12 SiTB (tied second worst) and the seventh worst expected goals conceded (xGC) total, with 1.49.
While not a defence to target, injuries at the back and a switch to a four man unit may have a negative affect on Leicester’s clean sheet prospects in the shorter term.
Antonio’s link up with Said Benrahma (£6.0m) is something to keep an eye on. The Algerian FPL Twitter differential duly lived up to his pre-season billing, with 12 points in GW1 and the connection between him and Antonio was clear from the off.
With good fixtures for the foreseeable it seems difficult to avoid Antonio while his price is still so low, provided he can stay fit he promises to be an explosive asset in the weeks to come. The Fix algorithm likes him this week too, his projected score of 4.4 points ranks best of all attackers under £8.0m.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) – 12.2% TSB
Initially one of the early pre-season bandwagons, DCL saw his ownership drop under 10% prior to the GW1 deadline.
The Everton forward kicked off his season with a goal and a bonus point in the Toffee’s 3-1 home win against Southampton, suggesting that despite the famous pragmatism of new manager, Rafa Benitez, DCL will still prove to be a valuable asset this campaign.
In fact, Everton appear to be aggressively targeting their lone striker, firing in no less than 17 crosses into the Saints box. This strategy helped Calvert-Lewin to a league leading total of five SiTB and three headed chances, yielding one big chance.
It’s clearly difficult to asses whether this tactic is a permanent change, it’s possible Southampton played into Everton’s hands a bit, but given the strength of Everton’s early fixtures it’s not hard to imagine further joy for their frontman.
Leeds present an interesting challenge in GW2. On one hand they conceded three big chances and 12 SiTB in GW1, on the other they were missing key personnel and play at home next, where they are typically stronger defensively and will be backed by a full house for the first time since promotion.
This game represents a truer test of Everton and DCL, with Leeds historically poor in the air the game should lend itself well to the Everton man’s qualities and in fact DCL scored in the same fixture last season.
I would still file Calvert-Lewin under the ‘wait and see’ category for now, but if Everton continue to show the same level of attacking intent it won’t be long before his ownership starts to rise. The Fix algorithm rates DCL’s chances as ‘okay’ this weekend, with a projected score of 3.7, his appeal is definitely boosted by Everton’s strong medium term prospects.
Danny Ings (£8.0m) – 38.6% TSB
This man has potential to be an absolute rank killer, already owned by nearly 40% of the overall game and now likely over 80% of the Twitter community.
Ings and Villa started their season off rather poorly, with a surprise defeat away to newly promoted Watford that saw them go 3 nil down before salvaging some pride with a late rally.
Ings’ only shot in the box game from the 97th minute penalty that he dispatched, a bit of a lifeline for owners, who will consider themselves lucky to have also plundered a bonus point from the game.
Watford were as good as Villa were poor and there is an early inkling that home advantage may initially warp results. Even so, we will need to see a lot more from Villa to warrant further investment in their team and should Ings be similarly isolated in future games his £8.0m price tag will feel a little steep compared to some of the busier assets around him.
Villa host Newcastle next, a game which looks ideally setup to get Dean Smith’s men back on track. The Magpies’ GW1 defensive numbers make for grim reading as Antonio and co had the freedom of St James’ Park on Sunday.
Steve Bruce’s men allowed an xGC total of 3.04, massive for a single game, yielding four goals conceded and 12 SiTB. Not to mention the Magpies gave up a staggering six big chances, despite their reasonable attacking threat Callum Wilson (£7.5m) and his colleagues will need to be very good to bail out a defence that poor every week.
Villa need to get their best team out sooner rather than later, but even with what they currently have I can see them troubling Newcastle this weekend. The types of chances Newcastle gave up on Sunday suggest that Ings is likely to have some joy at Villa Park, while not someone I would rush to bring in based on their GW1 performance it may be difficult to go without the new Villa signing if his ownership continues to rise.
Fantasy Football Fix like Ings’ chances this weekend, his projected score of 5.2 is the highest of all forwards going in to gameweek two.
Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) – 11.2% TSB
Chelsea’s new star man sat out GW1 due to registration issues, but manager Thomas Tuchel has already stated that Lukaku will see minutes against Arsenal this weekend.
It is tough to predict whether he will start or not, but 11.2% of FPL managers have already taken the plunge and brought him in.
In this case, we have no personal data to go off, but based on recent seasons Lukaku should be a potent option in the Premier League.
Chelsea are often characterised as a more defensive team under Thomas Tuchel, while this may be true the Blues would still have scored more goals were it not for their misfortune in front of goal last season.
They face Arsenal in GW2, after just one week the fortunes of both sides appear to be on very different trajectories. Arsenal were perhaps unfortunate to lose 2 nil to Brentford in the season opener, however the two big chances and xGC of 1.43 they conceded, particularly against side new to the league, suggests they may struggle to keep out Chelsea.
Lukaku has potential to really hit the ground running, although his side don’t have the best short term fixtures it may be shrewd to move for Lukaku early while is price and ownership remain low. As Chelsea proved last season, they are more than capable of scoring against sides at all levels of the division.
The Blues are likely to have a full compliment of players available this weekend, with the likes of Mason Mount (£7.5m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.0m) surely fitter after another week in training.
At full strength, Chelsea are likely to be one of the title contenders this season and should have enough to topple Arsenal here.
The Fix algorithm hasn’t yet factored Lukaku in as a starter, but based on the projections of his colleagues a score of between 3.5 and 4.0 would’ve likely been awarded.
Emmanuel Dennis (£5.0m) was one of the surprise stars of the gameweek, the Watford striker bagged a goal, assist and maximum bonus points in a scintillating 65 minute spell.
Dennis’ five shots in the box was also tied top for the gameweek, as Watford showed far more attacking potency than any of the pre-season predictions gave them credit for.
Brighton conceded three big chances away to Burnley in GW1, all from set pieces, highlighting a potential weakness in the Seagulls’ depleted backline.
Dennis or even one of his colleagues, like Craig Cathcart (£4.5m) or Christian Kabasele (£4.5m) may stand a good chance of finding the net from a set piece.
It’s early days for the Nigerian frontman, but the signs are looking very positive so far.
Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) was one of the stars of the show as Brentford beat Arsenal in Friday’s season opener. The midfielder played out of position as part of a front two with striker Ivan Toney (£6.5m) and looked dangerous throughout.
The Brentford man’s direct style lead to nine touches in the box and two shots in the box, the most of any midfielder under £6.0m. With opponents Crystal Palace likely to play a more expansive style in front of their own fans there could be plenty of joy for Mbeumo and Co this week.
Despite rotation concerns, Mahrez still looks a very strong option for GW2 and should he start it is likely he will be among the highest scorers. A definite hold if you own, but there is risk attached to bringing him in.
The likes of Antonio and Ings represent more secure options, both have strong fixtures and could possibly be on penalties. Transfer-wise, the two represent probably the best options to bring in this week as returns look likely in GW2 and both are projected to do well in the coming weeks.
The player I really like this week is Calvert-Lewin. Everton excelled in getting the ball to him in dangerous areas and are likely to be afforded similar joy if Leeds are still understaffed at the back.
DCL is perhaps the most obvious focal point of any team in the league after GW1, with so much service going his way and his teammates have clearly been told to find him as often as possible. The perfect recipe for fantasy points.
*Underlying statistics and points projections obtained via the author’s paid subscription to Fantast Football Fix*