Premier League fantasy transfer market: Avoid Mitrovic, Tarkowski

Jorginho offers one of the safest floors of any player in ESPN Fantasy Soccer for the Premier League this weekend. AFP/Getty Images

Welcome to the very first edition of the Premier League fantasy transfer market! Each week I'll be providing you with my picks at all eight positions if you're filling out a Premier League fantasy team, and some players to be concerned about, too.

If you make it all the way to the end, you'll see my captain selection as well -- remember, your captain's points total is doubled, making this a critical decision.

Tier 1 Forward

Add: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

He's the Premier League fantasy points leader through four weeks, with 78.2, and he'll be facing a Fulham team that has conceded nine goals in four games -- only two teams have conceded more. Aguero has three goals and an assist but is also tied for third in chances created, with 10. And he's the league leader in shots, with 20.

Avoid: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)

Normally you'd fancy Chelsea's starting center forward to score against a team like Cardiff City, who -- like Fulham -- have just come up from the second division. But Morata has just one goal in four games, coming off a disappointing first season with the club. He registered just one shot on target in the past two games against Newcastle and Bournemouth, and was subbed off pretty early in both matches.

Tier 2 Forward

Add: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Zaha missed Crystal Palace's last game, a 2-0 loss to Southampton, due to a groin injury. But it sounds like he'll be fit to play at Huddersfield Town on Saturday -- check the Palace starting lineup, though, just in case. Zaha has two goals in three games this season, up against a Huddersfield team that have conceded 10 goals in four games -- only West Ham have conceded as many.

Avoid: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)

If Mitrovic was playing against almost any other team, I'd probably have picked him over Zaha this week. He's tied for the league lead, with four goals in four games, and is third overall in fantasy points (73.0). But Manchester City have only conceded three goals in four games and conceded a league-low 27 in 38 games last season. I'm not saying Mitrovic won't score against City, but I don't think it's very likely.

Tier 1 Midfielder

Add: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

He's fourth overall in fantasy points (72.3), despite the fact that he came off the bench in the first two games of the season after Belgium's deep run in the World Cup. Hazard has two goals, two assists, and 10 chances created -- he looks like a natural fit in new manager Maurizio Sarri's 4-3-3 system and should thrive against a team like Cardiff.

Avoid: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal)

Mkhitaryan didn't even start in Arsenal's last game, a 3-2 defeat of Cardiff. New manager Unai Emery started Alexandre Lacazette for the first time, and Lacazette had a goal and an assist, so I wouldn't be surprised if Lacazette starts again and Mkhitaryan remains a substitute. He's had one big game this season, with a goal and an assist against Chelsea, but has been pretty quiet otherwise.

Tier 2 Midfielder

Add: Jorge Luiz Frello Filho (Chelsea)

He goes by Jorginho, and he's off to a good start in his first season with Chelsea. This is a safe pick -- he's almost guaranteed to put up at least a solid score but probably won't hit a "home run." Jorginho only has one goal, and that came via a penalty kick when the regular penalty-taker, Hazard, wasn't in the game. But Jorginho is the league leader in passes completed, by a significant margin, and that's only going to continue against a team like Cardiff. He's also 10th among all outfield players in fantasy points (64.4).

Avoid: Theo Walcott (Everton)

Walcott got off to a bright start this season, with two goals and an assist in Everton's first three games. But he suffered a rib injury in their 1-1 draw with Huddersfield last time out. Everton manager Marco Silva said Friday that Walcott could play against West Ham, but he's certainly not guaranteed to start. And he's not a great all-around fantasy performer. Walcott is only tied for 46th among outfield players, with 43.5 fantasy points. He only has two shots on goal in four games.

Tier 3 Midfielder

Add: Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

This is another relatively safe pick -- Neves is 13th in the league in passes completed, and eight of the 12 players ahead of him are defenders. Wolves should have plenty of possession against Burnley, and Neves is more of a goal threat than Jorginho, since he handles some set pieces. Neves already has a goal and an assist, and is ranked 23rd among outfield players in fantasy points (52.6).

Avoid: Roberto Pereyra (Watford)

He has the highest fantasy points per game average in this tier (14.0), but I don't like his chances of scoring against Manchester United on Saturday. United looked much better in defense in their 2-0 win over Burnley last time out and only conceded 28 goals in 38 games last season. Pereyra has three goals this year, but two of them came in their season-opening win over Brighton, and he only scored five goals in 32 games last year.

Tier 1 Defender

Add: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)

As I wrote in my column on Monday, I think there are only two choices to make in this spot -- Alonso, or Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City. I'm going with Alonso this week, because Chelsea are playing at home against a far inferior opponent. He scored seven goals last season, already has a goal and two assists this season (and hit the woodwork twice), and is tops among defenders and sixth overall in fantasy points (69.4).

Avoid: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

His team has looked much stronger defensively this season, opening with three consecutive clean sheets before finally conceding a goal in their 2-1 defeat of Leicester City. But they're playing away at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, who beat them 4-1 in this same fixture last season. And if you were going to pick a Liverpool defender, you'd want to go with fullback Andrew Robertson over van Dijk anyway, since Robertson offers much more of an attacking threat.

Tier 2 Defender

Add: Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)

I'm looking for a solid fantasy return here, not a defender I would build my team around in real life -- many Arsenal fans would agree with me here, I'm sure. Mustafi is ranked seventh among defenders in fantasy points so far this season. He's 15th among defenders in passes completed, but tops among defenders in this tier. And Newcastle, Arsenal's opponent this weekend, have had just 21.8 percent and 19.7 percent possession in their past two games, against Manchester City and Chelsea, respectively. I see a lot of passes completed in Mustafi's future this weekend.

Avoid: James Tarkowski (Burnley)

He has the highest fantasy points per game average in this tier, but I'm going to throw some cold water on Tarkowski, too. His numbers are skewed by the fact that he's already scored two goals, more than any other defender in the league. But Tarkowski is a centre back, and he didn't score a single goal in 31 games last year.


Add: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)

He's conceded six goals in four games, and he's playing away from home, but this is mostly about how poor Huddersfield have looked so far. They've only scored two goals, are last in shots (25), are tied for last in shots on target (nine), and are last in expected goals (2.34). I think Hennessey's chances of a clean sheet are pretty good, and in Palace's toughest game so far, they looked pretty solid defensively despite losing 2-0 to Liverpool.

Avoid: Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City)

He's a great story -- the first Premier League player from the Philippines. And Etheridge is off to a good start fantasywise, although that's largely due to the fact that he's already saved two penalty kicks. Etheridge probably will get some saves against Chelsea, but I could easily see them putting three or four goals past him, too.


It's difficult to choose anyone other than Aguero this week, given he's the fantasy points leader through four games. Hazard could have a very big day against Cardiff, but Aguero is the more likely one to go wild. For instance, he had a hat trick in the second game of the season against Huddersfield and finished with 45.3 fantasy points in that week alone. Aguero has nine career Premier League hat tricks -- only Alan Shearer has had more (11).