FPL Roundup: Sterling's Time to Shine

FPL Roundup: Sterling's Time to Shine

This article is part of our FPL Roundup series.

Arguably the biggest storyline over the first half of last Premier League season was the demise of Chelsea after winning the 2014/15 title. The Blues were clearly not the same team in another one of manager Jose Mourinho's notorious third years at a club, but Chelsea's best player was the biggest shadow of himself.

In fact, after being named Player of the Year, midfielder Eden Hazard painstakingly didn't score in the Premiership until March of last season. In the end, the Belgian finished with four goals, all of which came during his last five outings.

Although Hazard's 2015/16 returns proved far too little and far too late for fantasy owners (and Mourinho), he seemed to carry his end-of-season momentum with him into this summer. Hazard tallied one goal and four assists in five appearances at the European Championship, and then scored twice against Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly.

Now under the tutelage of Antonio Conte, Hazard has so far looked every bit the player that had 14 goals and 10 assists in back-to-back seasons prior to his tumble last term.

Through Chelsea's perfect three-match start, Hazard has already scored two times, opening the scoring in both of the Blues' home games. That includes this past Saturday, when he cut inside from the left wing before sliding past the goalkeeper in patented Hazard fashion to kick off Chelsea's 3-0 win over Burnley.

Averaging close to five shot attempts per game and leading England's top tier with 5.7 dribbles completed per contest, Hazard very much appears to be back in form, making his current £10.1m valuation in the Premiership's official fantasy game only likely to rise toward where it was during Hazard's previous peaks.


Similar to Hazard, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling endured a tumultuous 2015/16 campaign after enjoying so much success the season prior.

With 18 Premier League goals and 23 assists for Liverpool by the time he turned 21 years old, Sterling earned a big money move to Manchester City last summer. In burning a few bridges on his way out of town, pressure only mounted on Sterling to immediately impress in his new setting, yet the youngster only mustered six goals and three helpers as City limped to a fourth-place finish.

Throw in a disastrous showing for England over the summer, and Sterling's fantasy stock seemed to be slumping going into his second season with the Citizens. However, since coming under Pep Guardiola's guidance, Sterling, like many of his teammates, has shined for the Citizens, with Sunday's 3-1 win over West Ham best exemplifying his resurgence.

Sterling scored City's opener with a relatively easy finish, but then sealed three points in the match's final moments with a calm roll of the ball from the most acute of angles. In doing so, Sterling bagged a brace and Man of the Match honors, with four shots attempted, four dribbles competed and five fouls drawn along the way.

Overall, Sterling appears at ease in Guardiola's system and sports the numbers to prove it. In four showings across all competitions, Sterling has now supplied four assists and two goals, showing the kind of talent that punched his ticket to Man City in the first place.


Something previously mentioned in this space as worth monitoring was Leicester City's penalty kick pegging – specifically, whether Riyad Mahrez would persist from the spot after being preferred to Jamie Vardy in the Foxes' season opener.

Well, Saturday's match versus Swansea City brought about a second penalty opportunity for Leicester, and Mahrez once again got the chance to score. However, unlike in Gameweek 1, the Algerian blew his shot, and instead of grabbing an easy goal, got docked fantasy points for his miss.

Now, the plot thickens. Will Mahrez, who now has a new contract, continue to take Leicester's penalty kicks, or will Vardy decide he's seen enough and throw his name back in the fold?


Someone who's definitely tossed his name into fantasy consideration thus far is Everton's Mason Holgate, who appears to be the Toffees' latest bargain from Barnsley.

Like John Stones before him, Holgate moved to Everton at a young age after impressing for the Tykes. While he failed to feature under Roberto Martinez last term, teammate Seamus Coleman's ankle injury, along with new boss Ronald Koeman's preferred 3-4-3 formation, has accelerated the 19-year-old into the Toffees' first team.

Not only has Holgate played all 270 minutes for the unbeaten, fourth-place Toffees, but he's also picked up one assist and one clean sheet. With some bonus points thrown in, Holgate currently totes 16 points in Premier League's fantasy game, leaving only four defenders with a higher total.

What's more, Holgate only costs owners £4.5m, making him easily affordable. Although having Phil Jagielka, Ramiro Funes Mori and new signing Ashley Williams around could ultimately squeeze Holgate out of minutes at center back, he showed the ability to play on the right side of defense in Saturday's 1-0 win over Stoke City, and that versatility could serve him well while Coleman attempts to get past another injury.


Although the first international break of the season gives fantasy owners an opportunity to reassess their squads, this week should also bring some new players into the equation ahead of Wednesday's closure of the summer transfer window.

While months of incessant speculation, rumors and reports of reports will finally be put to bed, one recently confirmed deal is particularly worth examining through the fantasy lens: striker Christian Benteke's move from Liverpool to Crystal Palace.

That's because only four players (Sergio Aguero, Romelu Lukaku, Olivier Giroud and Luis Suarez) have netted more than Benteke's 51 Premier League goals since he arrived from Belgium four years ago.

Despite being ill-equipped for a Liverpool system that required high pressing, heavy movement and technical reassurance, Benteke still finished with nine goals and four assists last season. While that haul didn't necessarily meet the Reds' expectations, especially given the price they paid, Benteke can relish being the focal point of a less dynamic setup at Crystal Palace.

Similar to his three years at Aston Villa, where he scored 42 goals in 89 appearances, Benteke should be a constant target for the Eagles' attackers to base their play off. Whether it is from crosses sent into the box or from long balls designed to relieve pressure, Benteke's style of play is far better suited at Selhurst Park. Saturday's 1-1 draw against Bournemouth proved this point, as Benteke won seven aerial duels and fired off three shots in his first Premiership start for the club.

Looking ahead, Benteke has three good matchups in a row following the international break, with games against Middlesbrough (away), Stoke (home) and Sunderland (away). At just £7.4m, Benteke's price has already dropped this season, but now is definitely the time to buy low on the considerable upside he carries into his new club.

RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only Soccer Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire Soccer fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Pitner
Nick Pitner writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire. He supports Arsenal FC, the Green Bay Packers and the New York Knicks, while specializing in those respective sports in his coverage for the site.
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Saturday, June 22: More Upsets?
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Saturday, June 22: More Upsets?
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Friday, June 21: Masked Mbappe
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Friday, June 21: Masked Mbappe
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Thursday, June 20: Are England Good?
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Thursday, June 20: Are England Good?
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Wednesday, June 19: Hungary for Germany
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Wednesday, June 19: Hungary for Germany
Sorare MLS: Deke's Diamonds GW 486
Sorare MLS: Deke's Diamonds GW 486
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Tuesday, June 18: Fade Everyone
DraftKings DFS Euros Strategies for Tuesday, June 18: Fade Everyone