1.) Mohamed Salah – FWD, Liverpool
It will come as a surprise to exactly no one that Mo Salah is the #1 player on our board. You don’t break the 38-game scoring record and fall past the #1 ranking.
Salah comes with the smallest of risks – there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever have that kind of a season again, he’s coming back from an injury, and he might get rested a bit to start the season – but as the best finisher and creator on a team that scores goals when they want, he’ll undoubtedly be in the neighborhood of 30-35 goals + assists. Salah led all players with 88 key pass points and was seventh in take-ons, giving him value across the board.
Uh…The #1 overall player in fantasy? Duh.
Barring a sophomore slump, the Egyptian king should reign again.
2.) Harry Kane – FWD, Tottenham
Harry Kane is safer than a government bond. He’ll score 20+ goals in his sleep – probably more like 25-30 – and while he’s not known as a particularly creative player, he was second among forwards with 80 key pass points.
The funny (frustrating?) thing about ‘Arry is his lack of assists: despite creating 76 chances last season, his teammates only finished two of them, leaving him with a paltry assist total..
League’s top goal scorer and a sneaky contributor in other categories.
Kane ticks off the most valuable category in roto, allowing you to focus the rest of your draft elsewhere.
3.) Kevin De Bruyne – MID, Man City
It’s easy to forget that DeBruyne, arguably the best midfielder in the league, is just 26 years old. He plays on a dominant team that will pass the opposition to death. He’ll hurt you nowhere and while his second half numbers had a rather precipitous dropoff, there’s no reason to be concerned about grabbing him at #3.
A floor/ceiling of 8/12 goals and 12/18 assists, with 1800+ net passes, a good disciplinary record, and good ball-winning stats. DeBruyne is the #1 midfielder in roto.
We likely haven’t even seen DeBruyne’s best. A couple more goals and he enters the conversation for best overall player in roto.
4.) César Azpilicueta – DEF, Chelsea
No one likes to take a defender with their first pick, especially when their value is derived mostly from god-like passing numbers and keeping it tight at the back. Then again, scrambling to find defenders late in the draft or on your waiver wire is not a whole lot of fun either, and you’re not going to find a more stalwart defender than Azpi.
The clear #1 overall defender gives you a fantastic player to build your defense around.
Azpilicueta will pass at a volume twice that of mere mortals, allowing you to play three at the back without sacrificing any categories.
5.) Christian Eriksen – MID, Tottenham
Another pick that isn’t terribly sexy, Eriksen is the picture of consistency. He’s grabbed 10 or more assists the past three seasons and is a free kick wizard. His goal tallies have fluctuated a bit but he you can set a watch to his passing accuracy, which is a fantastic 83% for his Spurs career.
Double digit goals and assists, playing on one of the best defensive teams in the league.
High floor, if limited upside, means you can take risks with other picks.
6.) Roberto Firmino – FWD, Liverpool
Firmino’s value doesn’t rely solely on finding the back of the net, and that means there isn’t much of a safer bet in the first round.
He’s got a Dirk Kuyt-like motor and gives you a huge differential advantage in his ball-winning stats – his 70 tackles + interceptions read more like a midfielder than a forward.
And let’s not discount Firmino’s scoring or creative numbers – he still bagged 15 goals and set up 7, with 52 key pass points. Without anything resembling a like-for-like backup to him on Liverpool’s depth chart, you can rest assured he will play nearly every minute of every match.
He could flirt with a 20-goal, 10 assist season while giving you phenomal value in a number of categories.
If your league places any sort of value on tackles/interceptions, Firmino will provide them in spades from an otherwise scarce positional source.
7.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – FWD, Arsenal
After arriving in January from Dortmund, Aubameyang was quietly effective, ranking #3 among forwards during the second half of last season. He scored 10 goals in just 1058 minutes, putting him just behind Salah, Aguero, and Kane in goals per 90. His ability to play across the entire forward line means he’ll be an every-minute player for his new manager.
His stats from last season prorate to 20 goals and 8 assists; factoring in some acclimation and perhaps a rejuvenated Arsenal team, he has 25-goal, 12-assist upside.
PEA is the last of the elite forwards, at least in terms of multi-cat contributors. There’s a small degree of risk involved any time there’s a managerial shakeup – and his attitude has been an issue in the past – but his talent is unquestioned.
8.) Riyad Mahrez – MID, Leicester
His future is up in the air – a move to City looks likely but even if it comes to fruition, he’ll have to compete with a whole lot of talent for playing time. Additionally, there’s the bedding in required at any new club, much less that of a manager as demanding as Pep.
A move to City happens and he takes over the David Silva role, putting up similar creative numbers to the Spaniard – 8 to 10 assists – while scoring 12-15 goals himself.
Mahrez is probably the biggest risk/reward pick in the first round, with tantalizing upside. If you’re the type of manager who likes to draft for high ceiling, there are few players with more potential than Mahrez at City.
9.) David De Gea – GK, Man Utd
Most goalkeepers either making tons of saves while also conceding a fair few (Lukasz Fabianski, Guerelho Gomes, etc) or they give up almost none but fail to make a significant number of saves. (Ederson, Cech, etc.)
Not De Gea. He makes lots of saves and also racks up the clean sheets. In case it’s unclear to you, that’s very valuable in fantasy.
The unquestioned #1 GK in nearly all scoring formats who will singlehandedly win you one or two categories each week.
You want the luxury of not scrambling all season to find someone to put between the sticks? Take DDG, bruh. Then again, the price for that is a wee bit high. Your call.
10.) Raheem Sterling – FWD, Man City
Sterling feels a bit underrated at #10 overall – when you see his goals + assists total of 29, you might have to do a double take.
The concern to those fantastic numbers is that 13 of his goals came in the first half of the season. At 22 years old (last season), it’s perhaps a bit unfair to demand consistency from a player, even one as experienced as Sterling. Still, you’d like to know that your first round pick will perform over the course of the entire year and that’s the small risk that comes with Sterling.
At If he can carry his first half stats over to the second half of the season, you’ve got a top 5 player.
Goals, assists, won penalties, and take-ons aplenty. If he can find more consistency over the course of the season, you’ll be laughing having taken him at #10 overall.