The 2020/21 season is just two days away and with it comes all the headache that accompanies a brand new Fantasy Premier League season. With a mere 100 million budget, price increases and positional changes in play, the world needs its budget options and that does mean saying goodbye to Nick Pope.
Well, we’ve been spoilt over the last few seasons. First, it was Tom Heaton in the 2018/19 season before Nick Pope transformed the budget goalkeeper into a rival for an elite one last season. It has, rightfully, earned the Burnley man a price jump from £4.5m to £5.5m but that does officially drop him out of the budget goalkeeper range. If you’re willing to, however, go for Pope and go with the faith that he'll do a job but there are cheaper options around England.
We start at £4.0m and unfortunately, there are just seven options at the start of the season, and only a few look like they’ll get minutes. Orjan Nyland, Jed Steer and David Martin played in the Premier League but nothing too impressive although with Heaton (£4.5m) still injured both Steer and Nyland are potential options. Yet given Aston Villa’s shoddy defence, that is not a risk anyone wants to take which is why the £4.5m options are there to help.
It’s here, that you’ll find this season’s budget men in the form of Matty Ryan and Alex McCarthy especially given the form they ended last season in. Both men have been touted to do rather well this season and given that they averaged 117 and 79 saves respectively, they’re good options. Not only that, but both men also hit triple figures which is a massive bonus for the Saints’ keeper McCarthy when considered that he did it in 28 appearances.
Furthermore, they’re the only goalkeepers that in the £4.5m bracket that scored more than 60 points at the end of the season. However, Emiliano Martinez (£4.5m) is a potential option especially if he either usurps Bernd Leno (£5m) or leaves Arsenal in search of more minutes. Venture beyond that margin and you enter the realm of premium goalkeepers with men from the Big Six in there alongside Vincente Guaita (£5m) and a few others. The Palace man is a decent shout but only if Hodgson and his defence sort out their issues.
It’s the end of an era with Lord Lundstram now classified as a midfielder and at a £5.5m, he does qualify as a budget option. But that’s a discussion for another section and yet, it’s unlikely we see something as magnificent as that once again. However, unlike goalkeepers, there are quite a few options in defence and Crystal Palace’s Nathan Ferguson (£4.0m) is one to look out for. He may not score as many but many have touted Ferguson to replicate what Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) once did for the Eagles.
Yet, the shocker, as per the ownership stats, is the fact that newly promoted Leeds United pair Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) and Luke Ayling (£4.5m) are amongst the highest owned defenders. Both men are brilliant options if you rate the Championship, and they’re two men well worth keeping an eye on. They should play consistently for Marcelo Bielsa’s team but add them to your watchlist especially in the early part of the season, just in case.
Another trio that deserves a place on the watchlist, or a team if you’re a risk-taker, is Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.0m), Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) and Dan Burn (£4.5m). All three did play a decent chunk of minutes last season but out of the trio, only Branthwaite looks like he might struggle to do the same this term. The youngster was brought in as cover for Mason Holegate (£5.0m) and Yerry Mina (£5.5m) but with both fully fit again, competition is tough.
The other two (Fredericks and Burn) should be locked in barring any injury concerns and Brighton’s defense is decent. West Ham and Fredericks, on the other hand, is a bit of a concern for those looking for consistency. It’s a risk either way.
Now given that the most expensive midfielders sit around the £12m mark, the budget boys sit around half that or less if there are options worth keeping below that. And it all starts with good ol' Tomas Soucek (£5m) and no, the price isn’t a mistake. Somehow, the man who pillaged 13 goals for Slavia Prague and then scored three more in Project Restart, is the man to pick. Soucek proved to be a great asset for the Hammers post lockdown and played a key role in keeping them up.
That does make him a surefire starter, barring something major happening to the club and he’s just the start. Mr Electric Allan Saint-Maximin walks into the room priced at a very reasonable £5.5m which is a £0.5m discount on his price from last season. He wasn’t prolific (3 goals and 5 assists) but with a little consistency, he could be a lethal man especially given that he's now in Steve Bruce's good-books.
He’s not the only one with Leandro Trossard (£6.0m), the budget midfielder to watch out for. With Aaron Mooy gone to China and Glenn Murray at Watford, the Belgian should play. And boy, can he play because despite his limited time last season, nobody had a better xG (5.35xG) than him in the Brighton squad. It’s something to watch out for alongside James Ward-Prowse (£6m) who finished last season with only eight goal-contributions.
But had luck gone his way, and points, then his tally would have placed him alongside Mason Mount and the powerful Adama Traore. Plus, we all know just how deadly, old Prowsey is from a dead-ball which does mean more chances for goals and assists. Others to watch out for are Eberechi Eze (£6m), Dwight McNeil (£6m), Miguel Almiron (£6m) and Jonjo Shelvey (£5.5m) although Eze is the pick of the lot. The man scored 14 goals and created eight more for teammates in a QPR shirt in the Championship last season and effectively transformed the London side. Can he do it again for another London side? We’re hoping so.
Danny Ings (£8.5), Mason Greenwood (£7.5m), Dominic Calvert Lewin (£7.0m), Michail Antonio and a few others are all gone. Well not really gone but who wants Mason Greenwood now that he’s worth £7.5m?? Even old Oli Giroud has moved into the £7.0m bracket which means that our options are now limited and down to a very select group of players. What do they need? Regular starts, showed signs of being a consistent threat in front of goal and naturally being a great forward in general.
One man who certainly fits that is Callum Wilson (£6.5m) and the former Bournemouth man is back, this time with Newcastle United. It looks like a great pairing especially given that Dwight Gayle (£6.0m) is injured and that leaves Steve Bruce with Joelinton (£6.0m), Yoshinori Muto (£5.0m) and Andy Carroll (£5.5m). Not exactly world-class options which does make Wilson a cut above the rest and possibly the most consistent goal-threat for the Magpies. His worst is a 102 point season and his best borders at 170, which at either end makes him better than anything Bruce has got right now.
Brighton’s Neal Maupay (£6.5m) is also an option especially after the debut season he had with a decent tally of 131 points with Michail Antonio (£6.5m) also everpresent. The question for the Hammers man to answer, however, is whether he can keep it up beyond Project Restart especially since us FPL managers have other options, cheaper options. Rodrigo (£6.0m) has signed for Leeds and has shown a penchant for scoring goals in Spain but can he replicate that? Then there’s the great Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.0m), who is back for another spell in England and once again, he thrived in the Championship.
He did so in the top tier the last time he showed up with a respectable 134 points although we all hope he does a lot better. Another potential option is Patrick Bamford (£5.5m) although be wary for the Leeds forward. With Rodrigo in the team and Bamford’s penchant for missing chances, he might be hit or miss but one man to look out for is Rhian Brewster (£4.5m). The Liverpool man is potentially on his way out with Aston Villa interested but that’s a massive if.