This is the second in this series of looking at some “bargain basement” players, and it is the time for the Premier League to move into the spotlight. The top performer in the league – and indeed one of the top players in the world for fantasy football managers – is new Chelsea striker Diego Da Silva Costa, who has 140 points for a decent value of €8.50m. It should be noted at this stage that it seems crazy for any manager out there not to have the Spaniard in their side, though “only” 25% have done so at the time of writing. Despite his good value, however, there are alternatives for those managers who simply cannot find the funds or space for him in their side. We will look at those just a bit later on.
We begin our search for cheaper alternatives in earnest between the sticks, and the top goalkeeper in the Premier League so far is actually, already, what one could be forgiven for considering cheap. Aston Villa’s great start to the season has allowed stopper Brad Guzan to take the spot at the top of the points scorers so far, with 115 points for only a €2.50m hit from your budget. This is a great deal to be fair, and one must look down the list of Premier League custodians to find another low-cost option in the form of Swansea’s former Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski, whose 50 points have come through only conceding two goals in his four appearances. He would set you back only €1.50m – he’s one of the cheapest in the league, as well as officially the fifth best at this point.
Defensively, Aston Villa pretty much top the charts again, with four players from the top five turning out for the midlanders. Aly Cissokho sits atop the pile with 90 points, but he costs €5.00m, so if you’d like a cheaper alternative then look slightly to his right, for a player named Ashley Westwood. He is only five points behind on 85, but is a snip at just €1.50m. Nathan Baker, again of Aston Villa, costs slightly more at €2.00m and has 60 points, but they all came from one start and one sub appearance, so that can be read one of two ways. Perhaps first team opportunities will be somewhat limited, and therefore his points tally may stay lower than it otherwise could have, but he clearly is capable of getting himself plenty of points when he does play – so there are two lower cost alternatives from the very same club.
In midfield, the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have been long-standing favourites for fantasy managers, but the tide seems to be turning with a new generation, as Nathan Dyer of Swansea City sits top of the pile on 75, tied with Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin – who will set you back only €3.50m. Midfield is one area of the Premier League where the slightly more expensive players do seem to be doing the job, though, with the likes of Kieran Richardson (Aston Villa, 40 points, €3.50m) sitting in and around some of the top players, but you will have to take a bit of a points hit to find a real gem among the middle of park for the fantasy game – Man Utd midfielder Ander Herrera and Schneiderlin’s fellow Saints star James Ward-Prowse could also fit the bill, with 40 points each while both cost an attractive €2.00m apiece.
Up front, we have the aforementioned Costa at the top, and due to the sheer margin by which he leads it seems difficult to offer up a great suggestion on an alternative – second placed striker Leonardo Ulloa of Leicester is some way behind on 60 points, and even he would cost €5.50m. The highest rated of the lower cost players could be Steven Naismith of Everton, whose 55 points would have come from an outlay of €3.50m, or Aston Villa forward Andreas Weimann, who has 45 and would cost only €2.50m.
As you can see, bargain basements mean little if the player is unable to deliver some valuable points to the managers who select him, and as a result things get increasingly difficult in the Premier League to find cheaper big hitters the further towards the attacking line you look. Will it be the same for the German Bundesliga, which will be the next league we look at? Time will tell.