Fantasy Football: Taarabt to Anelka – exploring the bench options

Need a player who you want to rotate but is still capable of picking up points when your first-choice options are unavailable? Goal examines the best of the cut-price candidates

A successful Fantasy Football side is always down to the depth of the squad – rather than the best 11 players in a team.

Many managers fall into the trap of selecting an impressive first XI but it’s to the detriment of the four players who are automatically consigned to the bench and never play for their clubs.

Remember, you have one wildcard for the whole season and although one free transfer is permitted per gameweek, any further players you wish to bring in will cost two points each.

While tactical substitutions which hit your points tally can sometimes pay off, league positions have been lost by players who have been forced to make a number of changes in a gameweek but the total outgoings in points were never recovered.

It’s also vital that the majority of your bench options are regular players for their clubs so if you ever need to rotate, you know points can be gathered from various alternatives.

In defence, it’s always a bonus to have the option to rotate defenders depending on whether their fixture is home or away.

Southampton duo Nathaniel Clyne (4.5) and Luke Shaw (4.5) offer good value as a back-up options as both are likely to feature regularly for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Seamus Coleman (4.5) is also set to be heavily involved for Everton this season and the 24-year-old is also excellent value if your defence is on a budget.

John Brayford has arrived at Cardiff City following a solid campaign at Derby County which makes him one of the stronger options from the three promoted teams.

Newcastle United duo Steven Taylor (4) and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (4) match each other in price and offer excellent value when one emerges as the regular centre-back partner for Fabricio Coloccini (4.5).

James Collins (4) is also keenly priced for a player who is guaranteed games but one who you may wish to rotate, depending on fixture. Razvan Rat (4.5) is valued slightly higher than his West Ham team-mate, but the former Shakhtar Donetsk full-back could pitch in with more assists from the flanks.

In midfield, Norwich City’s summer signing Leroy Fer (5.5) has played in an advanced role during pre-season for Chris Hughton’s side and the Dutchman could be among the assists this season. Even better priced is explosive winger Nathan Redmond (4.5) but the 19-year-old may be rotated, despite impressing during pre-season.

Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay believes Kim Bo-Kyung (4.5) will be influential in his side’s bid for survival this term and with the midfielder scoring three times in pre-season, he could pick up a few points for your side.

Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez (5.5) scored five goals and registered four assists last season and should offer a reasonable back-up option since he plays in an advanced role under Pochettino. New West Ham signing Stewart Downing (5) could be given a new lease of life under Sam Allardyce and if he gets a run of games and builds form, the winger could be providing a lot of assists.

More expensive bench alternatives, depending on how your side is shaping up, are West Ham’s Kevin Nolan (6), who scored 10 goals for Sam Allardyce’s men last season, Adel Taarabt (6), who looks set to figure more frequently at Fulham under Martin Jol, than he did at QPR last term, while Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta (6) surprisingly finished the last campaign with a return of six goals and three assists, despite playing in a deep position, and also offers good value.

There are several attacking options if you’re operating on a restricted budget. Norwich City’s Gary Hooper (6) is likely to be Hughton’s regular striker at Carrow Road and the 25-year-old will look to replicate his scoring record at Celtic.

Another new addition to the Premier League is Andreas Cornelius (5), who signed for Cardiff City from FC Copenhagen earlier this summer. The Dane netted 18 league goals this season and is likely to be common fixture in Mackay’s side.

Nicolas Anelka (5.5) has been one of the in-form players for West Brom during pre-season after scoring seven goals in as many games. The 34-year-old may be rotated but a run of games should see the forward get you some points.

Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez (5.5) scored six league goals last term and provided eight assists and he should once again feature heavily under Pochettino this season.

With Andy Carroll (7) set to miss the start of West Ham’s campaign with a heel injury Modibo Maiga (4.5), who scored three goals in pre-season, could be an outside choice as a back-up option given his side’s opening fixtures against Cardiff, Newcastle United and Stoke City.

Marouane Chamakh (4.5) has secured his move to Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway will be hoping the forward will recapture the early form he displayed during his time at Arsenal. The Morocco international is also likely to be a regular starter, which makes him a decent choice if you are short of money.

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