Most successful fantasy managers this season have managed to bring in a combination of both Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez – ranked 1st and 3rd in FPL points this season, respectively, into their sides. (Gareth Bale is ranked 2nd in total points scored.) But with so much money being spent on the forward line, managers need to complement RVP & Suarez with a cheaper 3rd forward. With only a few months to go until the season’s end, let’s take a look at a few of the prime candidates for the 3rd forward slot alongside the aforementioned world class Dutch & Uruguayan assets. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on a 3rd forward that will play week in and week out, with a maximum price of 7m, so the bargain basement Le Fondre, Anichebe, and Pogrebnyak are out of the equation, as are the more expensive Ba, Dzeko, Defoe, and Liverpool’s stud Sturridge:
- Dimitar Berbatov (6.8m) – The Bulgarian has done it all season long. He is one of those fantasy players you ‘hold and keep,’ as Fulham aren’t the most explosive team in the world – but when they do return 2-3 goals in a game, you know the former Premier League golden boot winner will be involved. The Berbatov transfer to Fulham was absolutely genius and an absolute bargain ‘in real life,’ and for our fantasy teams, it’s been just about the same. 9 goals and 4 assists in just 1,900 minutes so far, expect Berbatov to eclipse 150+ fantasy points for the season. It’s amazing he’s only owned by 6% of fantasy managers.
- Rickie Lambert (7m) – The Southampton Captain is this year’s version of Grant Holt – a newcomer to the Premier League who is in superb form. Will he keep it up next season, I’m not too sure, but it doesn’t matter. He’s hot now, and that’s all that matters to FPL managers. Lambert has 12 league goals, 7 assists, and his 141 fantasy points are more than Carlos Tevez’s, and about the same as Theo Walcott, Steven Gerrard, and Eden Hazard – players who can be acquired for 2m-3m more. With QPR and Norwich next up, expect more goals in the short term.
- Christian Benteke (7m) – Like Berbatov and Lambert, Benteke is the penalty taker for his side, and though it’s a woeful side, Aston Villa, he’s still explosive and will continue to deliver consistent returns. 11 goals and 4 assists have been good enough to keep former FPL stud Darren Bent out of the starting lineup all season, and Benteke is just as consistent as the aforementioned two.
- Romelu Lukaku (6.5m) – Cheaper than the aforementioned trio, West Brom have made the loan signing of the season from Chelsea – akin to Bolton picking up Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea just a few seasons ago and Arsenal grabbing Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea last season in their Champions League push. Chelsea also loaned out Michael Essien to Real Madrid. Why loan these players out if they can contribute immediately on the world’s biggest stage? Lukaku has 12 goals. Fernando Torres has 7 goals. Lukaku has shared some playing time with the likes of Shane Long and others in recent weeks but is another solid option.
Honorable Mention: Arouna Kone is another one we have spoken about frequently on this blog, dating all the way back to our Funny Feeling Friday in October, and though he has been much streakier and less consistent than the aforementioned “Final Four,” he has put up some big scores. Kone’s (and Wigan’s) problem is consistency. He’ll go a month without scoring before delivering a 2 goal game. He is just 6.5m and owned by only 1% of fantasy managers.
So there you have it. The stretch run of the season is here and these are our “Final Four+” forwards. Those four gentlemen who you can plug in, not worry about, and ride the rest of the way to FPL consistency alongside your Suarez and/or RVP selections. Save some cash, spend it elsewhere on a Bale or Walcott or Mata, and go cheap up front with a Berbatov, Lambert or Lukaku.
Good luck to all fantasy managers.