3 Forwards Due to Rise After the World Cup
With the World Cup break underway, we're taking a look at a few players whose value will get a boost once EPL play resumes. Get them in while you can!
Quality Fantasy EPL Forwards are hard to find in Fantrax. Here are three to target for a post-World Cup break bump: Goncalo Guedes, Leon Bailey, & Darwin Nunez.
3 Forwards Due to Rise After the World Cup
Points Per Start Last 4 GWs: 11.5
Prospects: The record signing from Valencia has adjusted slowly to the Premier League but has mostly been weighed down by Wolves' across-the-board travails. However, his talent has started to show and he has the World Cup break to assimilate into new manager Julen Lopetegui's system. His versatility and hard running should force Lopetegui to deem him a nailed-on starter. He & Wolves should crack on when the EPL resumes.
Verdict: Pick him up!
By now, everyone knows that I have a thing for Goncalo Guedes. I know him well from his days in Valencia, where he was a lone bright spot in the squad for some pretty dark years, pulling off slaloming dribbles and some world-class goals. Fantasy-wise, he dropped 13 pp90 & over 8 ghosts per 90 in his last season in Spain. He hasn't exactly taken like a duck to water in the Premier League thus far - only 1 goal & 1 assist in 8 starts. Given how poor Wolves have been on the whole, that's actually not too bad. And he has started to turn it on a bit, scoring a lovely goal v Brighton a few weeks ago and putting in an impressive shift against league leaders Arsenal. But it's still early, and things are going to get a lot better.
New manager Julen Lopetegui is very highly rated, serving in illustrious roles in the Spanish national team, Porto, Real Madrid, and Sevilla, most recently. He has had some success with the highlight coming when he finished fourth with Sevilla and reached the Europa League Final in his first year there. His teams are attacking and energetic, and he likes his forward to be hard-charging and relentless in their pursuit of the ball. Guedes, with his pace and motor, is a perfect forward for Lopetegui. Yes, Wolves have a ton of options up front - Podence, Adama, Hwang (sigh), Costa, Neto & Jimenez (when they ultimately return). But his versatility - he can play anywhere across the front line and even as the lone #9 - means he will force himself into a starting role somewhere.
Guedes, despite earning a number of caps for Portugal, was not selected for the World Cup. But their loss will be our gain, as he will have time to rest but also train with the new manager, learn his system, and hit the ground running when Boxing Day at Everton rolls around. He has shown his fantasy value in Spain and in very small doses in the EPL, and if/when Lopetegui gets Wolves humming again, he can benefit the most (along with the fullbacks, who get a lot of joy under Lopetegui) from this upswing. And the best part is that due to Wolves' horrific start, he is available on the waiver wire in many leagues and for cheap in all the others. He's a great buy low that, despite their tough schedule, should pay dividends in the second half of the season. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Team: Aston Villa
Points Per Start Last 4 GWs: 13
Prospects: He's been in and out of the team and was surprisingly left out of the last game prior to the World Cup break. However, he should make that Right Wing spot his own (barring a big January transfer) under Emery.
Verdict: His recent absence opens up an opportunity to trade lower for him. Try an opener of a MID4 like Joe Willock.
This is last chance saloon for Leon Bailey. One would be hard-pressed to find more of a rollercoaster fantasy player over the past year and a half. He lit up the Bundesliga with his electrifying pace and dribbles from the wing. He was viewed as an exciting signing for Aston Villa last summer, coming to the West Midlands as part of the post-Grealish package, along with Emi Buendia. He came out of the blocks pretty strong but knocks kept him out for much of his debut season, limiting him to just 7 starts. This season, he has actually started the majority of games and has managed to keep himself fairly fit. But Stevie G failed to produce consistently good football and results at Villa Park and Bailey, among others, suffered.
Gerrard's sacking and the arrival of Unai Emery offer Bailey a new start in England. And early returns appear to indicate that he's going to take it. In the Emery system, the RW role usually gets free reign to run at defenders and he should benefit. If Emery doesn't decide to buy a new RW - always a distinct possibility when a new manager comes in - he should get a good run in the position. And the points should flow. While it must be said that his current ghost point record is fairly poor, this could also change under Emery. His successful dribbles and attack-minded counting stats should improve. There are obviously a lot of ifs but if you're looking for a relatively cheap upside play in a position that is hard to fill, you could do a lot worse than punting on the Jamaican.
Points Per Start Last 4 GWs: 19
Prospects: Has started to come into his own, becoming a mainstay in the Liverpool front line. Even though Diaz & Jota are due to return, he should start the majority of games.
Verdict: This is a case not of buying low but of buying high before the price gets even higher. Test the market; try offering Zaha + a sweetener or a package with in-form midfielders such as Almiron or Trossard.
Folks have wanted to label Liverpool new boy Darwin Nunez a flop from the jump. A few bad first touches, missed sitters, and a red card in his first run of games gave the critics a lot upon which to feast. His counterpart, fellow newcomer/giant #9, Erling Haaland, immediately setting records in his first 2 months hasn't helped either. But these things can take time. Relax.
Granted, he was indeed maddening to roster for a while. Likely spending a late first/early second round draft pick on the big Uruguayan, these managers, in return, only got 2.5 points from his 2 starts in his first 2 months. And that was the time to buy low. Because ever since then, Nunez has been a house on fire - roughly 18 points per start. He also boasts an impressive 8+ ghosties per start, which is very tasty for a forward, especially a target man. Based on this form, he will deliver first round value. If he catches fire at the World Cup, it will boost his confidence even further.
Rotation concerns, not just teething issues coming to a new league, also put some of us off Nunez in the draft. With Diaz & Jota going down early, of course, these were temporarily put to bed. Will they rear their ugly head again once the forward line is healthy? If he remains in form, it's hard to imagine that he'd go back to the bench. Given the number of games they'll have to play in the second half of the season, he will be rotated from time to time but my guess is not much. He will be in the preferred XI and should crack on once play is resumed. The return of Diaz may even further help improve his play. Despite recent results, his rosterers may still have a bad taste in the mouth from his very slow start. While he will certainly not come cheap, he'll get more and more expensive. Now is as good a time as any to pounce.
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