The Scout assesses the transfer trends of Fantasy Premier League managers since the game launched this week.
A rise in price to £12.0m has not dented the appeal of last season’s top-scoring player.
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes costs £1.5m more than his opening value of £10.5m from 2020/21, when he totalled 244 points thanks to 18 goals and 14 assists.
Yet he is the second most-popular player in opening squads, held by 42 per cent of managers.
Man Utd’s early schedule makes Fernandes an appealing pick as a big-hitting captain.
The Red Devils face only one of last season's top eight sides in their first seven matches, visiting West Ham United in Gameweek 5.
|Kevin De Bruyne||MCI||£12.0m||18.5|
Liverpool’s opening run of opponents has also made a big impact in shaping managers’ squads.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) is the most-popular player in the game, boasting 52 per cent ownership.
Aston Villa’s short-term schedule has also made Jack Grealish (£8.0m) a top target.
Villa's summer signing Emiliano Buendia (£6.5m) is a cheaper alternative after producing 15 goals and 16 assists for Championship winners Norwich City last season.
Leeds are among three sides to have two of the 10 most-owned midfielders.
Last season’s top-scoring defender Stuart Dallas (£5.5m) is proving to be a popular pick despite being reclassified as a midfielder in Fantasy.
FPL managers appear unconcerned by the fact that 48 of Dallas’s 171 points last season came from his 12 clean sheets.
At just £1.0m more, Leeds winger Raphinha (£6.5m) offers far greater potential for attacking returns.
For Chelsea, Mason Mount (£7.5m) racked up 47 shots and 39 key passes last season, both team-leading totals after Thomas Tuchel took charge in Gameweek 20.
But Kai Havertz (£8.5m) may prove to be worth the extra outlay if he continues as a “false nine” in 2021/22.
The rush to acquire Fernandes and Salah means Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) could be a differential big-hitter, with the Manchester City playmaker being owned by only 18.5 per cent of managers.
His team-mate Phil Foden (£8.0m) is being backed by 14 per cent, while the champions' top-scoring midfielder last term, Ilkay Gundogan (£7.5m), finds himself in under five per cent of squads.
Although he is significantly cheaper than De Bruyne, Foden was named in Man City's starting XI on only 17 occasions last season and remains a rotation concern heading into the new campaign.
You can monitor the most-popular FPL players yourself in the FPL statistics section. Just sort the players by "Team selected by %" (TSB).