Is there anything more rewarding than finding dependable mid-priced forwards in FPL? In life, probably yes. Volunteering for those in need is rewarding – or so I’ve heard. Word on the street is that pressure washing a dirty driveway is phenomenally satisfying too. I’ve never tried pressure washing those in need, but that must be the apex of human enjoyment.
Within the confines of FPL, however, there are few feelings fuzzier than when your affordable striker bags a brace. Particularly on a gameweek in which the premiums blank.
I’m classifying a mid-priced forward as any striker priced between £6.0m – £9.0m. That bracket should weed out the bench-fodder without forcing us to resort to payday loans or selling hard drugs. Let’s take a look at some, starting with the real bargains.
Who are the best mid-priced forwards in FPL 2019/20?
Diogo Jota (£6.5m)
I loved owning Diogo Jota last season. As I’ve mentioned a few times on the podcast, Jota finds it almost physically impossible to stay quiet in a game. He’s like the anti-Ozil.
Owning him as a midfielder last season was a luxury that I knew couldn’t last forever. In Wolves’ preferred 3-5-2 system, Jota and Jimenez have formed a great forward partnership that leaves no ambiguity as to where Nuno Espirito Santo likes to play his Portuguese star. But the fact he’s not a mid-priced forward in FPL doesn’t mean his propensity for returns is lessened.
Jota’s 18/19 points tally of 139 hides what was a very slow start for the forward. Indeed, 7 of his 9 goals last season came in 2019. If he continues that kind of rate, he’ll more than justify is £6.5m starting price regardless of whether he’s scoring 1 less point for every goal.
This is a forward who has weathered the transition from the Championship to the Premier League and come out of it a much better player. After a tricky set of opening fixtures, Jota could be a wise long-term investment for the 2019/20 season.
Josh King (£6.5m)
Josh King has never really been a bad FPL pick, as far as I’m concerned. Those who have managed for longer than a few seasons will fondly remember his antics back in the 16/17 season, in which the Norwegian scored 16 goals and 178 points as a midfielder.
Though he hasn’t reached those heights since, he did tally a more than respectable 141 points in the 18/19 campaign as a striker, netting 12 goals in the process. Nonetheless, he remains firmly in the mid-priced forward category, starting the season at £6.5m once again.
The ingredients are all there for King. He has a proven track record as an FPL asset. He’ll almost certainly be on penalties for a very attacking side. Plus, he’s 27-years-old, which means he’ll either die this year or reach his footballing peak. I hope and suspect it’ll be the latter.
Everything suggests that King should be a little more pricey than £6.5m. It should make him a more-than-worthy acquisition.
Gerard Deulofeu (£6.5m)
Another who has transitioned from midfielder to forward, Deulofeu used last season to demonstrate why he was so touted earlier in his career.
The numbers don’t necessarily reflect the importance of the mid-priced forward. He reached 10 goals and FPL points tally of 133, despite playing just 2096 minutes last campaign. Hardly bad figures, but not exactly earth-shattering either.
But look more closely and we might well have an undiscovered gem on our hands here. 133 points in 2096 minutes is a points per 90 of 5.8. That’s better than the likes of Jimenez (5.25), Ryan Fraser (5.17) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (5.25) – all of whom come in at a much higher price point.
It’s worth noting that Deulofeu missed the whole of August and September in the 18/19 campaign. The Spaniard’s season began tentatively in mid-October, after which point he played in almost every Watford match, including 90 minutes in every game over the Christmas fixture congestion. Barring injury, he’s now too important not to feature for the Hornets.
Olivier Giroud (£7.0m)
Try to look at Olivier Giroud objectively, for a second. A higher points per 90 (5.97) than anyone else in this article. One of the only mid-priced forward options at a top-six club. A World Cup winner. A Europa League final goal scorer. Likely to get minutes. Arguably the best hair in the league.
All of this for just £7.0m. If someone gave you those attributes without revealing his name, you would probably take him. And yet, somehow, because it’s “only Giroud”, he remains largely ignored by FPL managers.
Well, I won’t stand for it anymore. Giroud deserves more credit, and I think the 2019/20 season might be his opportunity to start reaping some. Here we have a player whose target-man style of play has only become more distinguished with age. He’s turned finishing into a finely honed craft, and I back him to get plenty more minutes under Lampard next season.
Raul Jimenez (£7.5m)
Despite Callum Wilson’s impressive numbers (we’ll get to him in a second), he fell short of the prestigious “best budget forward of last season” award. Sources tell me he was inconsolable. That accolade went to the fixture-defying Raul Jimenez, who started last season at an eye-watering £5.5m and ended up scoring 181 points.
His 13 goals and 10 assists got him most of the way there, but a promising 31 bonus points helped to consolidate the Mexican as a mainstay in many an FPL side.
Though, anecdotally, it feels as though Jimenez was resourceful with his chances, he actually underperformed his xG of 14.27. This surprised me, but once again, it hints towards room for improvement on what was already an astonishing season for the now mid-priced forward.
Bedded into the Premier League now, Wolves are one of the few teams in recent years who look capable of disrupting the stapled “top six”. Jimenez looks set to benefit from what many expect will be another great season.
Callum Wilson (£8.0m)
With 14 goals and 12 assists last season, Wilson defied his £6.0m starting price with a points tally that trumped Firmino, Lacazette and Kane, among others.
This was no fluke. Wilson’s potential for returns is notoriously high: his ability to create great goal-scoring opportunities is eclipsed only by his occasional inability to convert them. This is nicely illustrated by a season-long xG of 16.02.
They say the best strikers out-score their xG. This is the mark of a top finisher: one that can convert half-chances as well as the sitters. Wilson might well be underperforming, but for the FPL manager, that could actually bode well. If the mid-priced forward can start to put away more chances, his xG last season was in the region of the likes of Harry Kane (17 goals) and Sadio Mane (22 goals).
But it’s his assists that really impress me. 12 in the 2018/19 campaign is symptomatic of a Bournemouth side who like to share the FPL spoils amongst their attacking assets. In fact, it was the joint-highest amongst the forwards last season, and only 2 less than his playmaking colleague, Ryan Fraser.
Jamie Vardy (£9.0m)
At the very top of the mid-priced forward bracket sits Jamie Vardy, lording over the pile like a drunkard on the shoulders of his sober friend in front of the Pyramid Stage.
Vardy’s 2018/19 season is a bit like the Gregorian calendar, with a defining moment separating its two halves. That moment, of course, was the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. Not quite the birth of an alleged deity, but not far off either. Needless to say, the 32-year-old has enjoyed after-Brendan life far more than his before-Brendan experience.
This was reflected not only in his FPL output but in more or less every single metric going (incidentally, the only metric I can find that didn’t improve after Rodgers was his Headed Goal Attempts, which fell by 0.1 per 90).
His goals per 90 rose from 0.4 to a staggering 0.9. His big chances scored went from 0.3 to 0.8. His penalty area touches rose from 4.2 to 5.5 over 90 minutes. In other words, Vardy drastically improved in nearly every aspect of his game. Apart from his headers.
But we didn’t need data to illustrate that. It was clear for all to see, including Rodgers himself, who must, despite Vardy’s age, be factoring the veteran Englishman into his 2019/20 plans.