With the new Premier League season now just two weeks away, all fantasy football fans will have switched their attentions to getting a team set up for the start of the campaign. With this in mind, based on stats from last season, we put forward a few of our suggested picks to make sure you get the better of your friends and colleagues this time around.
We start in goal, and while it's hard to look past the inclusion of Joe Hart in any side having picked up a huge league high of 17 clean sheets last season, we turn our attention to two cheaper alternatives. Newcastle's Tim Krul had a superb season to establish himself as the club's number one, picking up an exceptional 15 clean sheets, only behind Hart, in a memorable season for the Magpies.
The Dutchman made 114 saves to boot, while compatriot Michel Vorm made as many as 136 to emerge as one of the signings of the season from Utrecht. Vorm excelled to amass 14 clean sheets himself and while there is little to choose between the duo, we strongly suggest going Dutch this summer. Options such as Ruddy and Federici are likely to offer good value, though if you're looking for another bargain, Ben Foster may have a more solid defence ahead of him.
If you're looking for a full-back who will get you clean sheets as well as attacking points, Ashley Cole's tally of 6 assists was a league high for defenders, despite creating just 24 chances. Leighton Baines set up far more opportunities (67) and should easily improve on a meagre total of 2 assists, with the likes of Jelavic now in place to profit.
A cheaper option could be Fulham's John Arne Riise, who picked up 4 assists last season, as well as having more shots than any defender in the league (52). Although he failed to score last time around, surely it is only a matter of time until we see another of the Norwegian's famous thundering drives hit the net.
Zabaleta seems to have stolen a march over Richards in the City ranks and could also be a good choice, while Angel Rangel saw more of the ball than any player last season (3231 touches) and lines up in a strong Swansea back line. Another interesting option could be Southampton's new youngster Nathaniel Clyne, who attracted interest from Man United before a somewhat surprising move to St. Mary’s
In terms of goalscoring centre-backs you need look no further than John Terry and Thomas Vermaelen, who each netted 6 times last season. Vincent Kompany was a key member to a City side that picked up more clean sheets than any other team, though Lescott will no doubt be a cheaper alternative, while there is real value in the likes of Koscielny and Kaboul, who became their respective side's key defenders last season.
If you are on a budget, Swansea's new signing Chico could be a surprise package this season having made the move from Mallorca, and West Brom's centre-back pairing of Olsson and McAuley also offer a good threat from set-pieces and built up a decent understanding over the course of last season.
It's hard to look past Chelsea's new signing Eden Hazard when it comes to both goals and assists, with the young Belgian only joined by Lionel Messi of players to have registered 15+ in both categories (20 goals, 16 assists). Despite undoubtedly playing in a tougher league next season, he should shine, while Shinji Kagawa could also prove to be a worthy inclusion out of the Premier League newcomers, scoring 13 goals and picking up 8 assists for Bundesliga champions Dortmund last season.
The likes of Sinclair, Moses and Hoilett continue to offer good value from the wings, with the latter getting a fresh start at QPR this season, while we look to Swansea yet again, with new signing Michu. The Spaniard netted 15 goals for Rayo Vallecano last season, which was more than any other midfielder in La Liga, and he will look to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, who made a big impact on loan from Hoffenheim.
Adel Taarabt should have a much better season this time around having seemingly settled at the club for the time being, while Lallana is a real goal threat for newly promoted Southampton. Replacing Danny Murphy, Alou Diarra could have a key creative role from deep for Fulham, and will represent a cheap option, while Kevin Nolan is always among the goals for West Ham and is a proven goalscorer at this level.
West Brom's James Morrison came on leaps and bounds last season, with 5 goals and 5 assists to his name, and down the road at Villa, Paul Lambert could offer a more advanced role in his new side to new signing Brett Holman. One man who surprised many last season in terms of creativity was Alex Song, and though he may pick up yellow cards fairly often, a tally of 10 assists certainly outweighed the negatives and has even caught the attention of Barcelona.
In what is a fairly strange predicament, most will look to avoid last season's top scorer Robin van Persie (30 goals) early on, with his future still undecided. Rooney and Aguero are likely to be more common choices, and many will find it hard to resist banking on Papiss Demba Cisse continuing his remarkable goalscoring record at Newcastle since making the move from the Bundesliga.
Another player who joined the league in January and went on to impress was Nikola Jelavic, and there are few better one touch finishers in the league, with Villa's Darren Bent perhaps in that category if he can get a full season under his belt. Elsewhere Richie Lambert will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Grant Holt by successfully stepping up through the lower leagues having won the Championship Player of the Year award last season.
Of the new signings into the league, Mladen Petric looks like a good bit of business for Fulham, while it is hard to say what system Arsenal's new duo of Podolski and Giroud will line up in, with the latter ending as joint-top scorer in Ligue 1 last season, with 23 goals. It is also unclear as to whether Fabio Borini will serve as a partner to Luis Suarez or back up, though with a considerable price tag on his head, he is another player who tends to be in the right place at the right time in the box and could be the natural finisher Liverpool are lacking.