Sky Sports is back with the weekly Fantasy Premier League column for the new season, bringing you essential tips from the best players in the world.
Now you can’t win the FPL race in Gameweek One, but you can definitely lose it if your picks aren’t right.
With Friday’s 6.30pm unlimited transfer deadline approaching, managers up and down the land are making last-minute changes to their teams amid shock injuries, upturns in pre-season form and new signings.
Who are the non-negotiable, must-own assets players have to have in their team?
Holly Shand: Erling Haaland has to be in there, especially given his ownership and the sheer number of managers who will captain him over the opening gameweeks.
Bukayo Saka isn’t far behind with great opening fixtures and a key involvement in set-pieces including penalties.
Marcus Rashford would be the final name on the list with two really attractive home games in his first three. Only Haaland scored more FPL points in home games last season.
Sam from FPL Family: Erling Haaland should be in everyone’s team. I am surprised to see him only in 86 per cent of teams if I am honest.
He was the highest-scoring player in FPL last season and as well as scoring more goals in a Premier League season than anyone else. Playing for a Man City side who are likely to be competing for first place he is essential.
Saka and one of Rashford or Bruno Fernandes also seem vital. They have good fixtures as well as having had good pre-seasons. I also think preparing for GW2 onwards is key so I would start the season with Ben Chilwell too.
What has been your hardest decision?
Sam from FPL Family: Whether to invest in Harry Kane or not has been a tough decision.
With uncertainty around his future it is difficult to know whether he will still be a Spurs player on Deadline Day.
However, I was in the Spurs stadium his four goals against Shakhtar Donetsk on Sunday and he was on fire. Spurs were dominant in attack and he had a constant supply line from Dejan Kulusevski, James Maddison, Heung-Min Son and Emerson Royal.
Owning Kane does mean leaving out Mohamed Salah however and that was a very difficult decision.
Holly Shand: Picking between the £6.5m midfielders has been particularly tough, with Bryan Mbeumo, Kaoru Mitoma, Eberechi Eze and Moussa Diaby all carrying so much potential.
In the end I’ve gone with Mbeumo narrowly over Eze due to fixtures.
What is your biggest risk vs reward pick, if any?
Holly Shand: I’ve managed to squeeze Salah into my side as a second premium which has meant some compromises on the bench and in my second forward spot. However, he’s been in red-hot form in pre-season.
I need this move to pay off! He has a great record of fantasy hauls in Gameweek 1 and then plays Bournemouth at home in Gameweek 2 – irresistible!
Sam from FPL Family: Over 26 per cent of FPL managers have plumped for Gabriel, whereas I am going with the minority with William Saliba.
Saliba’s injury at the end of the 22/23 season saw him miss 11 fixtures and as a result I think many managers have forgotten just how good he was for us in FPL.
It’s a risk to go Saliba when the majority favour Gabriel, however if Saliba is as involved as I think he will be, the rewards will be huge.
What would you say to those who are worried their team is too ‘template’?
Sam from FPL Family: At the start of the season there is no such thing as too template. In many ways it is really sensible to cover out the big popular assets.
You can’t win FPL in GW1 but you certainly can give yourself a huge mountain to climb if you start badly. Owning the highest-owned players means that you don’t risk having a huge points haul go against you while most of the rest of the game benefit.
My strategy is to have two or three more differential picks who are easy to swap around but be more conservative at the start. There is plenty of opportunity to go rogue later in the season.
Holly Shand: The template is the template for a reason: class players with pre-season form, playing in great teams with excellent fixtures. Don’t try to be clever and back against the obvious picks just to be different. It’s nice to have a punt or two in there, but staying with the pack in the early phases of the season is just as important.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
Holly Shand: I’m really looking forward to a normal season after the last four seasons being impacted by rapidly changing situations and global events. This year we go back to a simpler game which will be so much more fun, or at least less frustrating!
Sam from FPL Family: Aside from being back on Sky of course, I am really looking forward to this season’s title race. I think that it could be the closest one in years with four or five teams potentially in with a chance.
If that happens then FPL will be outstanding as people will move to different picks across those teams rather than all bunching in on Man City and Arsenal as happened last year.
What is your team for week 1?
Holly Shand: Johnstone; Estupinan, Gabriel, Chilwell: Saka, Rashford (VC), Salah, Mbeumo, Maddison; Haaland (C), Joao Pedro
Bench: Turner, Baldock, Kabore, Mubama
Sam from FPL Family: Onana; Chilwell, Estupinan, Saliba; Saka, Fernandes, Maddison, Diaby; Haaland, Kane, Joao Pedro
Bench: Areola, Beyer, Baptiste, Kabore