This season the FPL powers that be have dealt fantasy managers a kind hand in the £6.5m forward category. There are plenty of options, but three players immediately catching the eye.
Namely, Josh King of Bournemouth, Diogo Jota of Wolves and Gerard Deulofeu of Watford.
So who of the three is the best Fantasy Premier League option for the 2019/20 season? It isn’t a question easily answered. We’ve crunched some numbers and frisked some potential banana skins to give you the lowdown.
Comparison of Minutes
Firstly, let’s look at last season’s performance stats.
It’s plain to see why this is such a conundrum, and for a variety of factors. Only five appearances split the trio, with King topping the chart with 35. Jota is two behind with 33 and Deulofeu with 30.
Perhaps more telling is the combined minutes. King racked up over 900 more than Deulofeu. As we’ll see in the next row, King started 34 of his 35 appearances. Deulofeu, meanwhile, managed 26 starts from 30. Indeed, Jota and Deulofeu were both subbed on four times, with the Portuguese starting in 29 of his 33 appearances.
King continues to lead the way as he was subbed off 14 times from 34 starts, whereas both Jota and Deulofeu were subbed off 20 times each, and with fewer starts.
So from an appearance perspective, King is…well, king. But let’s delve further into the stats.
Comparison of Output
As you might expect from more appearances, starts and minutes, King topped the points chart with 141. Despite his advantage, this is only two in front of Jota on 139 and nine ahead of Deulofeu, who racked up 133.
On the assists front, it was Jota who led the way with eight. Deulofeu weighed in with five and King last with three. In comparison to all other forwards, eight assists is joint fourth highest, tied with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (£9.5m). Five assists is joint seventh with the likes of Jamie Vardy (£9.0m), Troy Deeney (£6.5m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m). Three assists is joint with Danny Ings (£6.0m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) and Barnsley pair Ashley Wood and Harvey Barnes, both of whom are £6.5m.
King regained his namesake title with 12 goals to Jota’s nine and Deulofeu’s 10. To put this into context, 12 goals is equal to Romelu Lukaku (£8.5m) and Firmino, nine equal with Deeney and 10 equal with Marko Arnautovic (now out of the game) and Marcus Rashford (£8.5m).
On the bonus front, King hit double that of Deulofeu’s, with 20 to the Spaniard’s 10. Jota managed a respectable 13. 20 bonus points is joint sixth with Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m), 13 is joint 11th with Deeney and Barnes, while 10 bonus points is joint 12th with Andre Gray (£6.5m) and Chicharito (£6.0m)
With the most goals and most bonus points so far, it should be a clear case of King being the top pick. Yet the startling fact remains that he only topped the total FPL points by 2.
To get to the bottom of why, let’s take a look at Points per 90 minutes.
Points Per 90
It isn’t all about being on the pitch, but rather what you do when you are on the pitch. So far Deulofeu has been a jaded figure in the stats, yet looking at his points per 90, he tops the chart at 5.76 points per game to Jota’s 5.28 and King a long way behind at 4.27.
Jota reigns with assists per 90, with 0.30. Deulofeu clocks 0.22 and King again lagging behind at 0.09 per game.
Deulofeu hit 0.43 points per 90, with King and Jota quite evenly matched at 0.36 and 0.34 respectively. Unsurprisingly, King tops the bonus per 90 with 0.61 to Jota’s 0.49 and Deulofeu’s 0.43.
With last season’s stats failing to give us a clear standout pick amongst the three, let’s consider some factors that come into play for the coming season.
Wolves and the Europa League
Wolves maiden voyage back in the top flight of English football finished with a hugely impressive seventh place, ensuring a place in the Europa League qualification rounds.
The impact of the competition has far-reaching effects for the Black Country club, some of which are already being felt. They started their campaign on 25th July as they dispatched Northern Irish club Crusaders 2-0 at Molineux (Jota scoring first). The second tie came a week later on 1st August and, again, Wolves won the tie. This time 4-1, with Jota being subbed off.
The next game is against Armenian side FC Pyunik, with the small matter of a 6,370-mile round trip just 3 days before they kick off their Premier League campaign against Leicester City on Sunday. The home leg occurs on Thursday 15th, 4 days before they host Manchester United in the league.
A clash against Italian club Torino awaits should they see off the Armenian side.
As we’ve already explored in our study on the Europa League’s impact on Premier League performances, several issues come with the partaking in the competition. Starting the competitive season early. Fixture congestion. Air miles. Fatigue. Injury. They all come into play.
Or lack of it as far as Wolves are concerned.
Wolves have a small squad and haven’t widely recruited, with Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) and Leander Dendoncker (£4.5m) already being at the club last season. Simply put – Wolves will not rotate, because they cannot. This may sound great, but with two competitions active as the season starts, and with the factors already mentioned, it will have consequences as the season progresses. As game time mounts up, Jota may not look as sharp as our counterparts.
One eye-catching signing is that of 21-year-old forward Patrick Cutrone (£6.0m) for a reported £16 million from AC Milan. He will certainly add options to the attack, yet it may be a little too soon for him to be in the starting 11. Looking at his stats from last season compared to Jimenez and Jota, he has a worse minutes per shot (42.3 compared to 28.1 and 40.8) but a better minutes per key pass (68.5 compared to 74.3 and 87.7). Perhaps he could offer something different to the side.
As for Jimenez, he was away with Mexico at the CONCACAF so returned to pre-season training late, and subsequently took a knock in the second leg against Crusaders so is not 100% guaranteed fit for Gameweek 1.
However, it won’t be long until Wolves have 3 serious competitors for 2 forward options. Someone is always going to miss out. Jota can also be deployed behind the forward of course, but I’d be surprised to see Nuno Espirito Santo use all three at the same time.
Rotation is rife with any club, and King and Deulofeu are not spared. Bournemouth shelled out £19 million for Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke (£5.5m) in January, with the forward only amounting 340 minutes over the entire season. His minutes will surely increase this coming season, with King being the prime candidate to drop out. Bournemouth’s top scorer Callum Wilson (£8.0m) is the more likely to be a permanent fixture.
As a side note, Solanke netted twice in pre-season to King’s one.
Deulofeu competes for minutes with forwards Deeney and Gray. But looking at the last four games last season, he started two alongside Deeney and two alongside Gray. He also has a versatility that can see him occupy a deeper role if necessary.
It’s also worth considering that he missed seven games at the start of last season with a foot injury. It wasn’t due to rotation. What might his underlying stats look like if he’d played those games too?
In conclusion, perhaps we are no more informed when presented with all the information. Alternatively, we could always try to include all three in our line-ups. Preferring to err on the side of caution, we could wait for a few weeks and see. Let’s never forget that rotation and injury could strike at any time.
But isn’t this why we love FPL?*
*and hate, in equal measure.