Time is running out to get your FPL Draft XI sorted ahead of the new season - luckily for you, @BenDinnery is here with his best fantasy picks...
After much deliberating, discussing and numerous ditched drafts. I've locked in my team, and I'm bang on budget at £100m.
Having poured over the data and followed teams throughout the preseason, I'm placing my trust in this team during the opening game weeks!
But remember, even if things don't go to plan early doors (do they ever?), trust in the process… Good luck, and I'll see you throughout the season!
FPL Draft Goalkeepers
David Raya (£4.5m)
The Bees impressed, finishing 13th in their top-flight debut season, but their underlying metrics show an underperformance, and they could have done even better.
Looking at their defensive numbers, the team had a positive xG Difference at the start and end of the season whilst they sat 12th for xG conceded.
🧤 Here’s my top five goalkeepers for your #FPL Gameweek 1 team!— Holly Shand (@HollyShand) July 24, 2022
🥇 David Raya £4.5m
🥈 Edouard Mendy £5.0m
🥉 Ederson £5.5m
4️⃣ Jose Sa £5.0m
5️⃣ Illan Meslier £4.5m
The only slight issue came around a twenty-game downturn that saw them pick up 12 points, although the data was still good.
Injuries impacted Brentford heavily, and the loss of Christian Eriksen will be felt, but I'm backing the Bees to kick off their campaign in style.
Matija Sarkic (£4.0m)
Usually, I do like to have every player in my squad as a starter. Unfortunately, there is not a £4.0m backup to Raya; otherwise, he would be in.
And with no nailed options at this price point, the Wolves' backup stopper gets the nod.
FPL Draft Defenders
Joao Cancelo (£7.0m)
In defence, my starting point is always: will they earn me a clean sheet? And, with Cancelo, this is a resounding yes.
City conceded the joint fewest goals last season while their xG conceded was 11 better than the next best team, Liverpool. They had the joint highest clean sheets and recorded the fewest shots in the box conceded.
This is the era of Big at the Back in FPL, and Cancelo is part of that reason, having created 39 chances with 6.57 xA in 2021-22 combined with the highest xG and second best xA amongst defenders, all of which came from open play.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m)
Managers may be put off by his price, but premium defenders offer much more than their similarly priced midfield counterparts as clean sheet and goal involvements promise a much higher ceiling.
Trent is No.1, delivering consistently high numbers.
He created the most chances and the second highest number of Big Chances among all players, not just defenders, and he had the highest xA from open and set plays. Simply put: Trent is an FPL Monster.
Kieran Trippier (£5.0m)
Eddie Howe will be hoping his Newcastle side can continue the form that saw them finish comfortably in midtable when once, relegation seemed a certainty.
Since the turn of the year, United had the joint fifth-best defence with only 20 goals conceded and the 7th best xG, and the off-season have seen them bolster numbers at the back.
Nick Pope, who has historically had phenomenal xG prevented data, arrived from Burnley, while Sven Botman will add a steeliness to the backline.
Trippier not only brings defensive fortitude, but he carries a considerable attacking threat. Injury disrupted what was otherwise an outstanding Premier League return.
He created a chance every 60 minutes and turned Newcastle into one of the league's best set-piece teams.
Matty Cash (£5.0m)
In attack, Villa switch to a 2-3-5 formation with Lucas Digne and Cash making a front five, resulting in him having the 7th highest shots in the box amongst defenders and the 8th best xGI in his position.
This attacking data is not only standout in the Premier but also across Europe's Top 5 leagues.
In addition, Gerrard has stabilised the Villains defensively, with the side registering the 8th best goals conceded and xG conceded data. And his appeal is enhanced even further by the signings of Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos.
Neco Williams (£4.0m)
The defender is not only there enabling me to distribute funds elsewhere, but he will start in a defensively minded Nottingham Forrest side, the most likely of all the newcomers to stay up, in my opinion.
FPL Draft Midfielders
Mo Salah (£13.0m)
Do we really need to discuss why the Egyptian King should be included in your team?
Availability is critical, and from an injury perspective, Salah is rarely sidelined, consistently featuring in over 95% of the Reds' league games since his arrival. Individually, Salah's performance metrics are staggering.
During 2021-22, his numbers were unparalleled, topping the charts for xG, xGI, the most shots in the box, plus the joint most goals. He is on penalties and the main outlet in one of Europe's best teams. A must-own!
Heung-Min Son (£12.0m)
This season: Son will be starting in my side, but I will be premium switching him with Kevin De Bruyne throughout to get the best spread of the fixtures and captaincy options.
If possible, I would have a threemium team of Salah, De Bruyne and Son, but the rest of the side would suffer. So, this strategy is my workaround.
Son has arguably been the best player in world football in 2022. His output was phenomenal, and his attacking metrics are amongst the Top 1% across Europe.
His contributions were not just shooting, having been Spurs' best chance creator last season. In the 28 games since Antonio Conte became manager, he turned Tottenham's turgid attack into the league's third best.
The team also had the third-best points and third-best xG. It is also worthwhile to note the efficiency of Spurs' attack, which had the highest number of Big Chances created, eclipsing that of Manchester City and Liverpool.
Pablo Fornals (£5.5m)
The price point of the Hammers midfielder means he acts like an enabler, but I am also comfortable playing him most weeks. I believe the Spaniard is being overlooked as a fantasy asset as he is a sure starter in a high-quality West Ham side.
Many FPL managers seem to be focusing on Pedro Neto as a standout £5.5m pick or Leon Bailey, but both come with too many fitness question marks, having seen their seasons severely hampered last time out.
Fornals had an impressive ten attacking returns in 2021-22 (6 goals plus four assists), and his underlying data offers encouragement that there is more to come.
Luis Diaz (£8.0m)
Sometimes players struggle to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. But Diaz seems to have seamlessly transitioned into a fully-fledged fantasy asset since his arrival from Porto.
Of course, the pressures will be different this year following the departure of Sadio Mane, but he will be looking to replicate his brilliant start of 0.39 goals per 90 and 0.37xG per 90.
Andreas Pereira (£4.5m)
The former Manchester United player will be a starting No.10 in an attacking Fulham side.
Marco Silva will be hoping Pereira can contribute with goals and assists, so there could be a chance of registering some decent points.
However, expectations must be tempered by the huge step up from the Championship to the Premier League.
FPL Draft Forwards
Callum Wilson (£7.5m)
When he is fit, Callum Wilson is really, really good. His 0.52 goals per 90 in 2021-22 placed him in the Top 7th percentile across Europe. And this was no anomaly.
He has a proven track record in the Premier League. This season, hopes are high on Tyneside, and Newcastle will be targeting a European place, far removed from their winless 14-game streak that cost Steve Bruce his job.
Newcastle were the fourth best team in 2022, picking up a massive 38 points, and with a terrific run of fixtures to kick-off the new campaign, Wilson could be a great asset to jump on early doors.
Ivan Toney (£7.0m)
Brentford finished 2021-22 like a steam train with European-level data over the last ten games picking up 19 points with a massive +6 xG difference, and Toney was the focal point of the Bees' attack.
The striker is a brilliant finisher, an assured starter coupled with spot-kick duties, adding to his appeal, although only time will tell how much the absence of Christian Eriksen will affect his output.
In a 3-5-2 system, his contributions can be stifled, although summer recruitment hints at a 4-3-3 set-up, enabling Toney to thrive in more dangerous areas. If he can reproduce his 8th best Premier League xG, the striker will be worth every penny.
Deniz Undav (£5.5m)
The Seagulls striker is a punt, but as many are already discussing the virtues of an early wildcard due to the World Cup, an easy switch is possible if it doesn't work out.
Brighton will be looking to Undav for goals, having seen another massive underperformance on xG: they scored around 12 goals fewer than they should have, and almost every player had a negative xG Delta.
Undav managed 25 goals from 20.5xG in Belgium, with a 42 per cent shot accuracy placing him in the 26% percentile across Europe.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 27th July 2022