Fantasy Football: Value bets
Matt Brocklebank takes a look at six players who could be set to out-perform their Sky Sports Fantasy Football price tag this season.
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Here our Matt Brocklebank unearths what will hopefully turn out to be some of the best value players available on the game.
There is a degree of risk attached to each and every one of these selections, none more so than this one. Tom Heaton had a fantastic first season with Burnley and will no doubt start between the sticks for Sean Dyche’s side to begin with, but strange things can happen following a promotion and Matt Gilks will be waiting in the wings. Acquired for free earlier this summer, the Scotland international showed he can cut it in the top flight with a string of fine performances for Blackpool a couple of seasons ago, and many still argue the Tangerines would have stayed up had Gilks remained fit for the duration of that campaign. He comes in at a lowly £3.5m so, like most big risks, the potential rewards are considerable.
Changes are afoot at the Liberty Stadium. Manager Garry Monk is a real ‘club man’ and that should mean more game time for Neil Taylor. He was a mainstay at left-back for Swansea before a horror ankle break not too long into the 2012/13 season, after which the excellent Ben Davies established himself and Taylor has struggled to get a look in since returning. He played less than 600 minutes last season but he remains determined as ever and there are reports around that he may look for a move away in order to guarantee more football. Either way, he’s a solid performer and looks tremendous value as a sub-£5m man for the back line.
Bardsley’s long-term future at Sunderland always looked in some doubt after he felt the wrath of Paolo Di Canio following off-field misdemeanours, but Gus Poyet put faith in him with 26 outings last season. His subsequent move to Stoke looks a perfect fit for both parties and I’d expect him to go straight into the team at right-back. His attacking tendencies were muted slightly playing for a relegation-threatened side last term but that shouldn’t be the case at the Britannia and we’ve seen in previous campaigns that Bardsley is very capable of half-a-dozen goals and a handful of assists. Playing alongside the likes of Ryan Shawcross and Erik Pieters, there is also likely to be plenty of bonus points shared around in the Stoke defence and he’s well worth consideration at least.
Falling into the mid-to-high price bracket for midfielders, the inclusion of Coutinho in a value-seeking feature may come as a surprise, but it’s worth remembering he’s cheaper than team-mates Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard, as well as the likes of Fernandinho of Manchester City and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. Coutinho will be one of the few Brazilians playing in the Premier League this season without memories of a woeful World Cup and I fully expect him to improve on his points tally of 136 from the last campaign. He scored his first goal at Anfield at the end of March and has only found the net eight times in the league having been at Liverpool a season-and-a-half. However, there’s a strong sense that the 22-year-old has been a work in progress under Brendan Rodgers and this could be the season he becomes a Premier League superstar.
The goals of strikers Jamie Vardy and David Nugent played a huge part in Leicester’s Sky Bet Championship-winning campaign last year, but Drinkwater’s contribution should not be underestimated. He was the driving force in the Foxes midfield and chipped in with seven important goals. He looks a good way into Nigel Pearson’s team coming in at a basement price and, despite the inevitable comings and goings, there shouldn’t be many worries about selection over a man at the peak of his form and named the club's Player of the Season last term.
Bringing in Bafetimbi Gomis for free appears a shrewd piece of recruitment from Swansea and it could be worth taking a chance on the France international. He scored 62 goals in 172 total appearances for Lyon and looks to have the right blend of speed and strength to succeed in England. Securing a starting berth ahead of Wilfried Bony won't be easy by any means but the Ivory Coast man is in high demand and if he moves on, then Gomis will look a great bit of business at £7.0m for Fantasy Football bosses.