Teams to target: Analysing the early fixtures

Our draft prep starts right here…in mid-June!

We know the usual suspects will be grabbed in the first couple of rounds but a draft is won and lost in those mid to late picks where the bargains are found.

One tactic is to target the streamers who play for those teams with favourable fixtures who could explode early on to give you that hot start and this article we identify those exact teams who should be good value over the first five weeks!

Liverpool and Manchester City

Those Liverpool and Manchester City assets will go at the top end of the draft regardless of their early fixtures but they’ll be even more appealing now that the fixture computer has been kind to the two title contenders.

Liverpool GW3 clash with Manchester United is their trickiest hurdle while if the defending champions overcome West Ham on the opening day you’d imagine they’ll have 15 points after five games.

Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah should go at 1 and 2 overall in the majority of Fantrax leagues, shortly followed by Liverpool’s full backs, Luis Diaz, Joao Cancelo and a plethora of City attackers.

Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez are those affected by the kinder fixtures as their managers may be more likely to throw them straight in at the deep end. Both will likely go in the first two rounds with the former being taken by a risk/reward manager in round one.

Arsenal

Mikel Areteta’s Arsenal will have an instant opportunity to put their disastrous end to last season behind them by getting early points on the board thanks to a friendly run of early fixtures.

The Gunners kick off the Premier League season on the Friday night with a tester at Crystal Palace, desperate to avoid a carbon copy of last season’s opening night defeat at Brentford. From then on you’d expect them to be hot favourites in their remaining fixtures in their opening five as they face two of the promoted sides and a hot and cold Aston Villa.

Bukayo Saka should be the first Arsenal player off the board this summer, closely followed by Martin Odegaard while Gabriel Jesus will be a very interesting prospect if he seals his move to The Emirates.

Arsenal’s defence was a bit of a mess at the end of the campaign but the returns of Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu should shore things up again, making all of the back line streamable for the first few weeks.

Brentford

I’m intrigued to see where Ivan Toney will be drafted this season following a stellar first Premier League campaign. Brentford’s top man finished as the 16th highest scoring player overall and the 5th best forward and his early fixtures should only serve to increase his early value.

Their first two look like testers on paper as they face Leicester and host Manchester United but they should be hot favourites for the following three as long as second season syndrome doesn’t kick in.

Bryan Mbuemo proved to be a useful Fantrax forward too but Yoann Wissa is my one to watch in this summer’s drafts after a hot ending to last season. If Brentford are to strengthen this summer you would hope it’d be in the wing back positions (particularly right wing back) so any newbies in those positions should be worth a look.

Don’t sleep on DEF1 Ethan Pinnock either despite a difficult ending to 2021/22.

Wolves

Wolves sleep walked their way through the end of the season last time out, meaning their final position of 10th was not even close to representing how good they are.

Four of their opening five are excellent fixtures on paper while the tough one is at Tottenham where they’ve been known to spring a surprise or two.

Raul Jimenez’s comeback season wasn’t all it promised to be but if no more forwards are brought in he will still be the main striker, backed up by an exciting but injury prone Pedro Neto. I’d be happy to see Jimenez go before me in the draft before snaffling up the Portuguese playmaker.

The full backs will also be of interest with Jonny Otto being my favoured choice if he returns to the left wing back position.

Their best asset of all of them? Goalkeeper Jose Sa. The top scoring shot stopper in last season’s Fantrax finished 33rd overall and with those early fixtures you’d expect another hot start from him.

Aston Villa

Not many teams are as unpredictable as the undoubtedly talented Aston Villa but they could easily find themselves among the leading pack after three games this season. Bournemouth, Everton and Crystal Palace represent the opening trio and Steven Gerrard will be confident of coming away with 7/9 points before facing West Ham and Arsenal.

New boys Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara shouldn’t be considered as draftworthy options but the Philippe Coutinho conundrum just got more difficult thanks to the possibility of a hot start.

Ollie Watkins could fall a little but I’d be more than happy to take him in round three as Gerrard is still clearly a huge fan of his. Full backs Lucas Digne and Matty Cash are where it’s at for Villa in terms of safe picks that could start really well while Danny Ings can’t be overlooked if you fancy a risk.

Is there a place for Fantrax hero Emi Buendia in this year’s starting eleven?

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