Fantasy football might seem like a bit of fun, but the figures within often tell other stories such as who has performed better than expected.
Such a thing can be measured by looking at the Fantasy Premier League’s price index. As more and more FPL managers buy a player, that player’s value increases, so to see who has exceeded expectations, one need only look at the players with the biggest price increases this season.
Eight footballers stand out when considering their price increase from gameweek one to gameweek 37, so with one round of fixtures to play, who did fans flock to as the season progressed?
The Manchester United defender hasn’t played all that much league football this season, but his performances have certainly improved, with the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham a prime example of that.
Having earned 15 clean sheets in a strong defensive year for United under Mourinho, Jones has seen his selection go from 28,003 managers to 302,804, with his selection peaking during four consecutive clean sheets against Southampton, Everton, Stoke and Burnley.
The man Leicester brought in over the summer has played himself right into contention for a World Cup squad place with England, scoring 117 FPL points thanks to nine clean sheets, two goals and four assists.
Maguire hasn’t missed a minute so far this season, and has seen his selection rise from 53,600 to 677,455 managers. Will Gareth Southgate follow suit this summer?
The only goalkeeper on this list, Nick Pope came into the Burnley side after Tom Heaton injured his shoulder in September.
Since then Pope has gone from strength to strength, and was called up to the England squad in March. His 110 saves this season have earned him a total of 19 FPL bonus points, and in percentage terms his selection increase must surely be the greatest of any player this year.
From a fan group of 3,195 in gameweek one his selection has increased to 579,440, with 10% of the game’s managers now choosing him for their squad.
For a man with back-to-back Golden Boot awards to his name, what made people wary of Harry Kane back in August? Perhaps it was the fact he has never scored a Premier League goal during that month, a run which continued this season until September rolled around.
Kane has scored well since then, accumulating an impressive 27 goals that have seen his ownership go from 1,473,220 at the start of the season to 2,222,843 now.
Nicolas Otamendi’s ownership has grown more than 10 times over since the start of the season thanks to four goals, 15 clean sheets and his presence in a team that threatens goals so much they rarely have to worry about defending.
The 30-year-old now has more than 1.5 million managers backing him, and has become one of the more reliable centre backs in the division.
Many were crying out for Liverpool to sign a striker at the start of the season, but what they didn’t realise was that Jurgen Klopp had just the man for the job.
Brazil’s Roberto Firmino has brought a selfless attitude to the role which has seen him score 15 goals and provide eight in the league. His 179 points have ensured his selection his risen by over a million managers since gameweek one.
This is what having your best season ever in front of goal does to your FPL popularity. A modest 247,309 managers brought Raheem Sterling into their teams at the start of the season, but with one game left that number has risen to 1,677,526.
Sterling’s value actually fell to £7.8m at one point, but 18 goals and 17 assists have changed all that. One of the first names on the England team sheet for sure.
Did anyone see this coming at the start of the season? There was excitement at Mohamed Salah’s return to the Premier League, sure, but 31 league goals and 292 FPL points later and the hype seemed, if anything, a little modest.
Salah has also chipped in with 11 assists in a Liverpool forward line which, for many, trumps the 2013/14 vintage of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Sterling.
A healthy 874,608 managers backed him in gameweek one. That figure now stands at 3,161,808. Expectations have been well and truly exceeded.
FPL figures correct at time of writing.
- Press Association