Once you get burned by a player in Fantasy Premier League, it’s difficult to put faith in him again.
There are a number of FPL assets who failed to live up to their billing last season, much to the chagrin of their invested owners.
However, a few of them look primed to bounce back from recent disappointments and deliver this time around.
Having compiled a evidence to suggest the same, here’s a look at the players who may well produce the goods again this season.
Last season was meant to be John Stones’ time to establish himself and become a mainstay in Manchester City’s back-line. Instead, Aymeric Laporte – a foreign recruit still fairly new to the Premier League – was the one who did just that.
Stones found himself battling with the likes of 30-plus defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany for minutes alongside the remarkably consistent Laporte.
With Kompany’s departure though comes a fresh opportunity for Stones to nail down that starting berth and regularly pick up cleansheet points that should be available to anyone featuring in City’s back-line.
Despite his lapses in concentration, Pep Guardiola still holds Stones in high regard. He registered the best pass accuracy in the league last season (94.2 per cent).
If he can prove a worthy partner for Laporte, he could be real value. At just 5.5m, he’s a full million cheaper than his team-mate this season and could potentially deliver the same returns.
After a productive 2017/18 campaign, Willian’s price was bumped up from 7m to 7.5m but the Brazilian wound up scoring 22 points fewer.
Playing time was almost split down the middle between him and Pedro and frustratingly, Willian seemed far more threatening than the Spaniard but couldn’t convert that into goal involvements to secure his starting berth.
Instead, Pedro ended the season with four more points having cost 0.5m less. However, it’s worth noting that Willian was very unlucky. He hit the woodwork five times – no midfielder struck the frame of the goal more often.
He also registered 2.5 key passes per game which was the third-best in the league. Meanwhile, his ICT Index (Influence, Creativity and Threat) was 246.7, far ahead of Pedro’s 176.5 and even better than Leroy Sane’s 240.3 who ended with 156 points to his name.
Willian is back to a valuation of 7m this season and with Eden Hazard gone, he may well have a better shot at more game time despite the presence of former Borussia Dortmund man Christian Pulisic.
Following a phenomenal first season with Brighton in which he racked up 164 points as 5.5m midfielder, Pascal Gross was a huge disappointment last term as he failed to reach even half of that tally.
To make matters worse, his price rise to 7m meant even those who initially opted for the German playmaker quickly ditched him and rightly so. Ankle and hamstring injuries saw him miss a total of 18 games and even when he did play, he was rusty.
He’s been downgraded to 6.5m this season but what’s worth remembering is that the last campaign was an anomaly. The midfielder’s previous longest absence through injury was back in 2015 – five days out with a calf strain.
Furthermore, even in a disrupted season last time out, Gross’ chance creation was still strong. He mustered 2.2 key passes per game, fifth best in the league and even better than Christian Eriksen (2.1).
Easily the most high-profile drop in output was that of Gabriel Jesus last season. After a healthy tally of 126 points in 2017/18, the Brazilian retained his 10.5m valuation but fell well short of justifying it.
The 22-year-old was regularly out-performed by Sergio Aguero, nine years his senior, and was eventually relegated to a supporting role.
Of course, Aguero is rarely tasked with completing a full game so Jesus got plenty of opportunities but squandered them.
However, it may well be that the Brazilian was just going through a phase. His talent is undisputed and his disappointing season featured an extraordinary 18 efforts that struck the woodwork despite only playing a little over a thousand minutes.
Surely, more of those hit the back of the net this season?
The good news is that Jesus went some way to rediscovering his form during an impressive and ultimately triumphant Copa America campaign with Brazil.
It also helps that he’s a million cheaper this season, priced at 9.5m to Aguero’s 12m.
Another striker destined for a much-improved season is Harry Kane. The previous campaign was the first in which he failed to hit the 200-point mark since 2014/15 which was his breakthrough season when he managed 191 points as a 5m striker.
Priced at 12.5m for the last two seasons, Kane only scored 160 points in 2018/19 but there’s certainly cause for optimism heading into the new campaign.
Even though the England skipper was far from his sharpest last term, he averaged 3.6 shots per game, more than any other player with his 2.3 shots from inside the box per game being bettered only by Aguero. Meanwhile his 1.6 shots on target per game was only topped by Mohamed Salah.
The stats suggest it’s only a matter of time before Kane gets back to his best and despite the excursions of the Nations League early this summer, he should be well rested going into the new season.
The most appealing reason to put faith in him from the start though is his price drop to 11m.
Brazilian striker Damiao headed Chelsea to a 1-0 defeat in Japan as J League side Kawasaki Frontale claimed a famous pre-season scalp.
The substitute’s late effort in Yokohama settled a game into which Frank Lampard’s men had gradually grown, but the Premier League outfit, who handed a debut to Christian Pulisic as a second-half replacement, could not make the breakthrough.
A Chelsea starting line-up which included Willy Caballero, Mason Mount, Kenedy and Michy Batshuayi, struggled to break the hosts down with Pedro forcing an early save and sending another shot just over the bar before Kenedy blasted just wide from distance.
However, Caballero had to make a late save to deny the J League champions a half-time lead.
Lampard made changes at the break with Davide Zappacosta, Andreas Christensen, Emerson, Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud replacing Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso, Pedro and Batshuayi, but it was Mount who came close to opening the scoring with a curling effort within three minutes of the restart.
Giroud was denied by a solid save from a 75th-minute free-kick, but Damiao, who had earlier sent a diving effort just wide, headed the home side in front with two minutes remaining and his contribution proved decisive.
Pep Guardiola claims it is not vital Manchester City sign a new centre-back before the start of their latest Premier League title defence.
The back-to-back champions have a central defender less following the departure of Vincent Kompany at the end of last season.
City have been linked with Leicester’s Harry Maguire but, even if a new face does not arrive, Guardiola feels he is well covered in the position with Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.
The City boss said: “We are so happy with the squad we have. I don’t know if the players here will stay or new players will come, but I am delighted with the players we have.
“Maybe (we will buy) but we have three incredible central defenders and Fernandinho can play in that position. We will see.”
One player continually linked with a move away from City is winger Leroy Sane, with Bayern Munich making public their interest in the player.
Guardiola, a former Bayern manager, said: “For a long time they are talking about (it) but Leroy is our player. Hopefully he can stay here and the next season, and the next season.”
Guardiola was speaking at a press conference in China where City are involved in the Premier League Asia Trophy. They face Wolves in the final in Shanghai on Saturday after beating West Ham in Nanjing on Wednesday.
It has been a difficult trip for City so far after their flight from the UK was twice delayed due to an administrative problem. Consequently they had little time to acclimatise or overcome jetlag before facing the Hammers after they arrived on Tuesday.
Guardiola was asked bluntly if he was happy to be in China. He replied equally firmly with “yes” but was cryptic when asked how seriously he was taking the tour.