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FPL Lessons: Watch out for 'forward' midfielders

The Scout 22 May 2018
Wifried Zaha, Crystal Palace

The Scout on how tactical tweaks can unlock big points for midfielders in Fantasy next season

With the 2017/18 Fantasy Premier League ended, The Scout reviews each position to highlight the players managers should consider for 2018/19.

Midfielders

Changes to tactics and formations can boost the potential of players in FPL, with midfielders often those to benefit most.

For example, both Wilfried Zaha and Marko Arnautovic were transformed as targets after being switched to striker roles by their managers this season.

King example

This followed Joshua King’s transition in 2016/17. The AFC Bournemouth winger went from an overlooked budget midfielder, to an essential cut-price target.

King recorded only two goals and one assist in 14 starts over the first 18 Gameweeks of that season. He was part of only 27,000 squads.

But after being given a striker’s role, he ended the season on 16 goals and three assists and peaked at an ownership of over 900,000.

Arnautovic transformed

Arnautovic followed King’s lead this season.

Initially deployed on the wing by West Ham United, the Austrian failed to produce a goal or an assist over the opening 15 Gameweeks.

He tallied a mere 13 FPL points across that spell.

But the arrival of David Moyes as manager sparked a change in fortunes.

Moved up front from Gameweek 16, Arnautovic produced 11 goals and seven assists over his next 20 appearances.

He recorded a further 131 points at an average of 6.55 points per match (ppm) in his new role.

Only Mohamed Salah, with 90, bettered Arnautovic's 60 shots for an FPL midfielder from Gameweek 16 onwards.

However, with Moyes now departed, it remains to be seen what position Arnautovic will play under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Zaha change

Zaha was another midfielder to profit from a change in position.

After recovering from injury in Gameweek 30, the Crystal Palace winger was fielded as a striker in Roy Hodgson’s 4-4-2 formation.

Five of his nine goals, four of his seven assists and all eight of Zaha’s bonus points in 2017/18 were recorded during that period.

He ranked third among FPL midfielders for shots on target from Gameweek 30 onwards. His 11 trailed only Salah's 14 and Arnautovic's 13.

Waiting game

Neither player is guaranteed to remain up front next season.

But Arnautovic and Zaha’s improved output highlights how a change in position can transform a player’s potential in Fantasy.

Monitoring the teamsheets and such trends in selection can make all the difference when it comes to shaping transfer plans.

Tomorrow: FPL Lessons: Value to be found in set-piece specialists

Also in this series

Part 1: FPL Lessons: De Gea's season a game-changer
Part 2: FPL Lessons: Burnley battle is key for managers
Part 3: FPL Lessons: Promoted goalkeepers can save seasons
Part 4: FPL Lessons: Chelsea defence still on top
Part 5: FPL Lessons: Liverpool full-backs set to fly
Part 6: FPL Lessons: Cresswell a rare bargain
Part 7: FPL Lessons: Position and price crucial for Salah interest
Part 9: FPL Lessons: Set-pieces key for midfield bargains
Part 10: FPL Lessons: Kane still the go-to Fantasy forward
Part 11: FPL Lessons: Firmino soars as a forward
Part 12: FPL Lessons: Can Perez save the 3-4-3?

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