This article is part of our FPL Barometer series.
Forward is the ficklest of positions fantasy Premier League owners are forced to assess. When things are going right, front-men can take off on long scoring streaks that will seemingly never come to an end, a la Jamie Vardy earlier this season. When things go wrong, strikers are among the most scrutinized members of a struggling team and are often given a shorter leash than players at other positions. Thanks to multiple injuries, transfers and surprise emergences this season, plenty of value has come and gone at the position, and several recent developments have the landscape shifting once again. This week's FPL Barometer looks exclusively at the strikers who are gaining or losing fantasy value heading into Matchweek 24.
Costa's miserable form during the first half of the season made him nearly unplayable for fantasy owners, but he finally seems to have rediscovered the form that made him one of the most prolific strikers in the Premier League last season. After netting the winner in Sunday's triumph over Arsenal, the 27-year-old has six goals and two assists in his last six matches, suddenly putting him back on pace to provide a respectable overall return. Chelsea will travel to take on Watford this weekend, and Costa can once again be considered among the top tier of fantasy striker options available.
Austin took the Premier League by storm last season, bagging 18 goals and providing five assists for lowly Queens Park Rangers, but his efforts were not enough to keep the club in the top flight. The 26-year-old elected to remain with QPR to begin this season, scoring 10 goals in 12 appearances in the Championship, illustrating that he is over the injuries that affected him earlier in the campaign. Austin was shrewdly snapped up by Southampton just last week, and he came on as a substitute to score the winning goal against Manchester United at the weekend. The likes of Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse will form the best supporting cast Austin has ever played alongside, and he could very well become a weekly fantasy play once again as he gets accustomed to his new surroundings.
Ayew burst onto the English scene with three goals and an assist in his first four matches this season, but his production noticeably slowed as Swansea hit a disastrous run of form. The 26-year-old has played as a striker ever since Bafetimbi Gomis was relegated to the bench, and he now has two goals in his last three games following a Man of the Match performance in the surprise away win over Everton. If he can continue to thrive for a rebounding Swansea side, Ayew is especially valuable in formats that still list him as a midfielder, and Tuesday's matchup against West Brom makes him an even more attractive fantasy play.
Wickham played well as the Eagles' central striker over a four-game stretch from early November to mid-December before going down with an injury, but he has failed to impress in three matches since returning to the lineup. The 22-year-old has still scored just once all season, and Palace's acquisition of veteran striker Emmanuel Adebayor on Tuesday is hardly a ringing endorsement of his efforts. Wickham could remain in the starting XI for next Tuesday's match versus Stoke City, but Adebayor's arrival and the eventual return of Yannick Bolasie could squeeze him out of the team if he doesn't begin to produce.
Walcott received an extended run in the starting XI during the long-term absence of Alexis Sanchez, but with the latter back in the fold, his run could be coming to an end. Aside from his goal against Manchester City on Dec. 21, Walcott has failed to factor into a goal since the beginning of October, and he has been outplayed by counterpart Joel Campbell in many respects. With Arsenal's attacking corps finally returning to near-full strength, Walcott seems the likeliest of candidates to return to a reserve role for next Tuesday's match versus Southampton.
Pelle has been a fixture in the Southampton lineup since the beginning of last season, but a dip in form that was followed by a poorly-timed injury could have him on the outs. The 30-year-old hasn't scored since the beginning of November, and he all but lost his place to Shane Long after suffering an injury prior to the busy holiday period. And with Southampton snapping up goal maven Charlie Austin, further crowding the Saints' attacking ranks, Pelle looks likelier to move to another club than he is to regain his starting place.