FPL Draft season is upon us. With the beginning of the Premier League season around the corner, fantasy Premier League managers are scrambling to finish their research before multiple upcoming drafts. [Have you bought your FPLDraft Guide yet?]
One looming question is, who is the best choice as a midfielder 1 (MID1)? While there is ample depth at midfielder as a whole, the top tier offers quite a few options. From your goal scoring midfielder to the assist king, there’s a MID1 to suit your flavor. But, who is the midfielder one capable of rivaling Harry Kane as the consensus 1-1 overall draft pick in Togga leagues? I mean we all want to be the best and having the top scoring player in your league can go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. It’s even better when you can get that guy in the middle of the first round or even in the beginning of the second round.
Well, guess what? You can! We did a little poll on Twitter (that was not comprehensive mind you) and the results surprised me
— Togga (@playtogga) July 17, 2017
It’s clear that the KDB and Dele Alli hype trains are there and for good reason but what did Paul Pogba and Sadio Mane ever do to you? Ya know, besides being used improperly by their manager and getting injured, respectively.
Last season Alli had double digit goals and assists for the second straight season as his grooming for Real Madrid nears completion. His 18 goals and seven assists came a year after scoring 10 and assisting on nine in his first season in the Premier League. Double digit goals from a midfielder is hard to come by and Alli is almost as sure of a bet to score those numbers from the midfield.
Alli has a Lampard-esque eye for goal that makes him very valuable in fantasy leagues but I wouldn’t draft him in the first round where he is consistently being taken right now. Due to his role at Tottenham, Alli should be evaluated as more of a forward than a midfielder in fantasy leagues. This is because, playing from the left wing/shadow striker role, Alli is seen as the secondary finisher rather than a provider. Christan Eriksen and his 20 helpers are the energy that makes the Tottenham attack tick. Basically, it’s Eriksen’s world, we’re just living in it. [Editor’s note: Christian Eriksen and Eden Hazard were the only two midfielders to score 600+ points in Togga last season. They were omitted from the poll as they have the highest average draft positions (ADP) in drafts this summer.]
Back to my point, if I’m drafting a midfielder in the first round, I’d like for them to be at the top or near the top of multiple statistical categories. Alli fall woefully short when it comes to key passes with only 52; recording seven assists from 52 key passes is a good ratio but it doesn’t seem like a sustainable one. It also took Alli 94 shots to get to those 18 goals, a 19.1% conversion percentage. A small drop in shots could lead to a large drop in goals with a percentage like that. The average midfielder doesn’t take 94 shots and even in the high octane Spurs attack, regression should be expected.
Paul pogba is a joke
— Dele (@Dele_Alli) January 19, 2013
The cream of the crop here should be Kevin de Brunye who got shiny new toys this summer while likely taking on a growing role in the City attack. With the arrival of Bernardo Silva, David Silva may see the field less opening the door for a bigger role from the Belgian. A full season playing behind or alongside Sergio Aguero and Gabrel Jesus can do wonders for any midfielder’s value especially one as talented as de Bruyne.
KDB scored six goals while providing 18 assists in the Premier League last season and those numbers could jump into the 10 goal 20+ assist range this year. Deadly on setpieces or in open play, de Bruyne has a legit argument to be not only the first midfielder off the board but also to be the first player off of the board. He had 17 percent of his 103 key passes turn into assists last season and with better finishing in front of him, that number could rise. Manchester City has the most talented group of attacking players in the Premier League so owning the guy who set’s them all up is a no brainer.
Speaking of talent, not many guys ooze talent from their pores like Paul Pogba. Love him or hate him, he’s a midfielder capable of scoring belters or providing a more disciplined performance to lock down a team if needed. For fantasy purposes, we’d like more belters. #FreePaulPogba. It’s been written a million times but Pogba was one of the top midfielders in Togga last season despite having the worst offensive season of his professional career. Why? because Pogba stuffs the stat sheet like none other. Tackles? Check. Key passes? Check. Completed dribbles? Check. It all matters in Togga.
Take into account that Pogba has traded out one of the most wasteful strikers in the Premier League, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for one of the most clinical (Romelu Lukaku) and those key passes should turn into assists a little more regularly. The arrival of Nemanja Matic should also allow Pogba to operate in areas higher up the field leading to more goals. Right now, Pogba is going in the early to mid second round of drafts and could be the steal of the draft in proper situations.
Another second round pick that could have more value than some first rounders is Sadio Mane. Mane’s average draft position is 21.16 after having scored 371.5 in only 2240. While some FPL managers are scared off by his injury last season, Mane has been playing regularly this summer and is primed for a productive fantasy campaign.
With Liverpool lacking a recognized striker, Mane and Roberto Firmino are scoring options 1a and 1b in their attack which can end with Mane as the top goalscoring midfielder. Last season, Mane scored 13 goals while providing five assists. These numbers are more impressive due to the fact that Mane only featured in 26 games because of missing time due to injury and AFCON. This season Liverpool will rotate more due to being involved in Champions League, but Mane should still feature in 30+ league games. Drafting that kind of value in the second round is a good way to stack your team with a MID1 to pair with a top-tier striker.
There are more midfielders who deserve to be mentioned in this space but that list would go on and on forever. However, in the FPL Draft Guide, you can find our full aggregate ranks for all of the midfielders and more! Happy managing.