A First Look at the 2021/22 FPL Season

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series FPL 2021/22

A First Look at the 2021/22 FPL Season

The Euros are over, the fixtures are published and the prices have been released. It’s time to start tinkering and making drafts for the new season. Join me as I take a first look at the prices and fixtures and try to build a first draft.

Captaincy and Big Hitters

Deciding who to captain each week is one of the most important decisions in FPL. It can make the difference between success and failure. Getting double points is obviously best on the highest scoring players in the game. Getting value for money is important and we’ll talk about bargain players later, but the captaincy chip is the biggest reason to include some of the most expensive players in the game.

You can only have one captain each week, so having one big hitter is essential. I really recommend at least two in case your captain doesn’t play or has a bad fixture. You don’t need to have more than two though, as the less often you captain premium players, the more points they need to score to justify their high prices. Sticking to exactly two premium players is a nice balance between having money to spread around the team and always having a good captain every single week.

Let’s look at the possible fixture combinations for our captains. Salah, Fernandes and Kane were the three highest scoring players last season and it just felt wrong to not include a Man City player on this list. Salah’s fixtures look fantastic and I expect to see a resurgent Liverpool next season. Even in a difficult season for Liverpool he scored 231 points. He also has the entire summer off and so we have no concerns about fitness as we might with players who played in the Euros, Copa America or the Olympics. I could happily captain Salah for five of the first six weeks of the season. With his track record, a summer off and better fixtures than any other big hitter, I think Salah is guaranteed to be in my team.

Player GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Salah (£12.5M) norwich BURNLEY CHELSEA leeds PALACE brentford
Fernandes (£12M) LEEDS saints wolves NEWCASTLE west ham VILLA
De Bruyne (£12M) spurs NORWICH ARSENAL leicester SAINTS chelsea
Kane (£12.5M) MAN CITY wolves WATFORD palace CHELSEA arsenal

The next player that jumps out to me is Fernandes. His fixtures also look good, and he gives a decent alternative to Salah for game week three. The fixtures make me want at least one Man United player if not two, and Fernandes has been their standout player in recent years. On the other hand Man City have some tough games. Of course Man City can easily score five against anyone, but I’m not ripping my team apart if I can’t afford their players. Kane is in a strange position. If he stays at Spurs he has some tough fixtures on the horizon, but if he goes to Man City he could score an incredible number of goals.

Striker Conundrums

If I have Fernandes and Salah in my team, it pushes me towards mid-priced strikers. Forwards can be awkward in FPL. They are the most exciting players to watch and follow, but there aren’t always many options. Teams often only play one striker, and some strikers like Firmino aren’t out-and-out goal scorers so aren’t great fantasy picks. The pool of options is often quite shallow and you must include three of them in your squad. The cheapest strikers never play and forwards who get reliable game time are too expensive to sit on your bench. This is why I’m hoping I can find at least two good strikers with medium price-tags.

Player GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Bamford (£8M) man united EVERTON burnley LIVERPOOL newcastle WEST HAM
Watkins (£7.5M) watford NEWCASTLE BRENTFORD chelsea EVERTON man united
DCL (£8M) SAINTS leeds brighton BURNLEY villa NORWICH
Iheanacho (£7.5M) WOLVES west ham norwich MAN CITY brighton BURNLEY
Antonio (£7.5M) newcastle LEICESTER PALACE saints MAN UNITED leeds
Ings (£8M) everton MAN UNITED newcastle WEST HAM man city WOLVES

The good news is there is a plethora of options this year. I can’t remember a year where I have been this excited about this many players in this price range. The great thing about having a group of players with similar prices is that it’s easier to switch them in and out for each other as form and fixtures change over the season. I expect an important part of the game this year will be predicting which of the players is the best one for any given period of time. Calvert-Lewin has fantastic fixtures and I’m very tempted by him. I’m a little concerned about Everton and adapting to having a new manager but I don’t want to miss out on a player of DCL’s quality when he has fixtures like this.

With this many good choices, I will probably include two strikers from this table. It’s quite likely these players will provide much better value for money than more expensive strikers especially if I am captaining Salah or Fernandes every week. I really like the first three fixtures for Watkins and I’m a big fan of Bamford. Ings is another player I like, although a lot depends on his transfer situation. My final decision might even come down to that £0.5M price difference between them.

Bargain Goalkeepers

After looking at so many expensive players it’s time to look for some bargains so I can balance the budget. Every year some players are priced far too cheaply. If you can identify any mistakes in the pricing structure, you end up with much more money to spend on other players. Starting with goalkeepers, here are the prices that really jumped out to me.

  • Sánchez – BHA – £4.5M
  • With 26% ownership this one isn’t exactly a secret. Brighton’s defence is much better than their league position suggests. Sánchez scored 101 points despite only making his debut in November. I’d expect him to score even more points over a full season which makes him look very cheap indeed. This price is probably a mistake and so Sánchez is my current pick for goalkeeper.

  • Bachmann – WAT – £4.5M
  • If I wanted to be different and pick a differential goalkeeper I’d pick Daniel Bachmann at Watford. Watford were a very solid and defensive team in the Championship last year and kept 23 cleansheets which is 50% of all their matches. Brighton are more proven in the Premiership than Watford so I think Sánchez edges out Bachmann in my thinking.

  • Henderson – MUN – £5.0M
  • How is a Manchester United goalkeeper only five million? Dean Henderson and David de Gea are both priced at this price. If one of them is confirmed as first choice and plays every game, this price could be too good to be true.

Team GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Brighton burnley WATFORD EVERTON brentford LEICESTER palace
Watford VILLA brighton spurs WOLVES norwich NEWCASTLE
Man United LEEDS saints wolves NEWCASTLE west ham VILLA

Bargain Defenders

There are always bargains to be found in defence. Let’s take a look at some options.

  • Ben White – BHA – £4.5M
  • Ben White currently plays for Brighton and I’ve already talked about how I like their defence. It looks like he could be moving to Arsenal for fifty million pounds. He has impressed for Leeds and Brighton in recent seasons and I expect he would be a big improvement for the Arsenal defence. This would be a fantastic price if he is a guaranteed starter at Arsenal.

  • Tariq Lamptey – BHA – £4.5M
  • I promise this is the last Brighton player. Lamptey is a really exciting attacking prospect who got three assists and a goal in his eleven appearances. His season was blighted by injury but if he is back to full fitness he could be a really exciting pick. As with Sanchez he benefits from Brighton’s defence which is pretty solid.

  • Wesley Fofana – LEI – £4.5M
  • A Leicester defender at this price is fantastic, and Fofana is a regular on the Leicester team sheet and I’m very surprised to see him priced cheaper than all the other Leicester defenders. On top of this Leicester have some great fixtures at the start of the season.

  • Luke Ayling – LEE – £4.5M
  • Leeds started last season playing attractive free flowing football and earned a reputation as a team that concede a lot of goals. Their defence however improved dramatically over the season and they kept eleven cleansheets in total. Luke Ayling is a very exciting player to watch, and he is given the freedom to get forward and get involved in attacks. He was very unlucky to not get any goals or assists last season and I expect him to have a very good season.

  • Conor Coady – WLV – £4.5M
  • Wolves were blighted by injuries last season and Coady’s price reflects the poor season they had. I expect them to be resurgent next season and if they do return to their best I think Conor Coady will be in everyone’s team as a cheap source of cleansheets. My biggest concern is that their first three fixtures are very bad.

  • Matthew Lowton – BUR – £4.5M
  • Burnley are known for being a defensive and solid team. Their defence wasn’t as good last year, but if you think they will bounce back Lowton will be a very attractive option at this price.

  • Vladimir Coufal – WHU – £5.0M
  • My last defender is in my opinion the clear pick of the £5.0M options. He had 9 FPL assists last season and like Ayling he was unlucky not to get on the score sheet himself. West Ham were one of the surprises of last season and they have a great set of fixtures at the start of the season.

Team GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Brighton burnley WATFORD EVERTON brentford LEICESTER palace
Leicester WOLVES west ham norwich MAN CITY brighton BURNLEY
Leeds man united EVERTON burnley LIVERPOOL newcastle WEST HAM
Wolves leicester SPURS MAN UNITED watford BRENTFORD saints
Burnley BRIGHTON liverpool LEEDS everton ARSENAL leicester
West Ham newcastle LEICESTER PALACE saints MAN UNITED leeds

Bargain Midfielders

Choosing midfielders is often the hardest part of FPL. There are so many options to choose from and the range of prices is huge. Here are a few players that stand out to me.

  • Raphinha – LEE – £6.5M
  • When the prices dropped, the one player who earned the most discussion was Raphinha. Despite only signing in October he scored 133 points including six goals and ten assists. Having now settled into the team and established himself as one of Leeds’ biggest threats, I can only assume he will improve this season. I think he’s significantly under-priced and understandably he’s in 24% of teams.

  • Jack Harrison – LEE – £6M
  • Staying with Leeds, Jack Harrison is also exciting. I’m a little wary of having too many Leeds players for the first few weeks of the season, but when the fixtures improve Harrison is another name on my list. Even cheaper than Raphinha and one of the highest scoring midfielders last season. It is baffling to me that he’s cheaper than Raphinha and even more bafflingly, he’s in only 5% of teams. He seems to be completely overlooked and I don’t understand why.

  • Emi Buendía – AST – £6.5M
  • Competing with the Leeds players for the same price, Buendía was the star player for Norwich last season as they won promotion back to the Premiership. I think he will only improve when surrounded by better players. I can understand managers being hesitant because of the uncertainty over Grealish’s future, but Buendía is certainly one to keep an eye on.

  • Bryan Mbuemo – BRE – £5.5M
  • Mbuemo has played in a number of different positions for Brentford, but is listed as a midfielder in FPL. There is the possibility that he plays upfront which would be fantastic. He has a good goal-scoring record already and being listed as a midfielder means he gets more points for a goal and still gets points for cleansheets. I will be looking out for preseason friendlies to see what formation Brentford are using.

Team GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Leeds man united EVERTON burnley LIVERPOOL newcastle WEST HAM
Aston Villa watford NEWCASTLE BRENTFORD chelsea EVERTON man united
Brentford ARSENAL palace villa BRIGHTON wolves LIVERPOOL

Bargain Strikers

I’ve already covered most of the strikers I’m interested in. If Kane goes to Man City he could be a bargain even at £12.5M. One striker who has gotten a lot of attention from FPL managers is Ivan Toney at Brentford. For £6.5M you get a player who scored 31 goals and 10 assists in the Championship last year. These numbers are so good and the price is so affordable that I’m very likely to pick him. In fact he’s the most popular striker in the game at the moment at 35% ownership. I’m not that keen on his fixtures as he is facing a lot of good defences, but I’m excited to see what he can do in the Premier League.

Team GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Brentford ARSENAL palace villa BRIGHTON wolves LIVERPOOL

Premium Defenders

The last class of players to talk about are the premium defenders. I try to only pick expensive defenders when they have great fixtures. I’ve left out Chelsea and Man City defenders here because they have a harder start to the season but I wouldn’t fault anyone for picking them. I’ve tried to just focus on the most exciting players.

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold – LIV – £7.5M
  • He’s the single-most expensive defender in the game and deservedly so. He had a poor season by his high standards, but he was back to his best at the end of the season. Liverpool have fantastic fixtures and with Virgil van Dijk returning after his injury there should be a lot more cleansheets for the Liverpool defence. It’s very easy to recommend TAA.

  • Andrew Robertson – LIV – £7M
  • TAA’s partner in crime is also FPL royalty. If I can afford it I’ll happily play both Liverpool full backs.

  • Luke Shaw – MNU – £5.5M
  • After a good season and a great Euros, Luke Shaw has shown how good he is going forward. With Man United’s great start to the season Shaw is definitely on my watch list. The media is now reporting that he played in the Euros with broken ribs, so he might not be available for the first few games of the season.

  • Lucas Digne – EVE – £5.5M
  • Lucas Digne has established himself as a very reliable FPL asset but he hasn’t matched the brilliant season he had when he first arrived in the league. He got a price drop to reflect this and it makes him a lot more tempting. Everton have good fixtures and if Siggurdson is absent Digne could be taking more free kicks again. He hasn’t scored in the league for two years, but if he returns to goal-scoring form he would be a fantastic player to own.

Team GW 1 GW 2 GW 3 GW 4 GW 5 GW 6
Liverpool norwich BURNLEY CHELSEA leeds PALACE brentford
Man United LEEDS saints wolves NEWCASTLE west ham VILLA
Everton SAINTS leeds brighton BURNLEY villa NORWICH

A First Draft

Here’s an example of a squad you can put together with the players I’ve discussed. I’ve added two place holders for a £4.0M goalkeeper and a £4.5M midfielder. Neither of these players are likely to be required, so these positions aren’t very important.

Thank you for reading! I write a diary every two months tracking the progress of my FPL team, so come back at the beginning of October to find out how my season started.

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