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EPL Player Rankings: 2010-2011 Premier League Fantasy Preview

Kevin King

Kevin King

Kevin is a suffering Tottenham supporter living in Buffalo, New York, where also suffers from being a Buffalo Bills fan. He covers Major League Soccer and the English Premier League for Rotowire.

Forwards

1. Dider Drogba, Chelsea. 29 goals in 32 games in 2009-10 for the Ivory Coast superstar. Drogba at number one is a no-brainer, but be advised that he's slated to miss the start of the season after undergoing post-World Cup groin surgery. You definitely want Drogba at striker, but be sure to line up a sturdy second-tier striker to plug in while Drogba gets healthy.
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3. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United. Rooney has had a terrible summer, highlighted by his disappearance for England at the World Cup. Rooney also hasn't seen any time in preseason games for Man U in their run-up to the season. But in the end, how do you argue with Rooney's 26 goals? He'll turn 25 years old in October, even though it seems like he has been around forever.

3. Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur. Defoe missed a month last season with a hamstring injury, but he has the ability to lead the Premier League in scoring if he can stay healthy. The England striker flourishes in manager Harry Redknapp's system, and should be fully expected to score at least 20 goals this season for Spurs.

4. Darren Bent, Sunderland. Bent was left off of the England World Cup roster because he's a poacher. That serves Sunderland just fine though. Bent featured in every game last season, and knocked in 24 goals for the Black Cats. Whether or not Bent can play within a system, when he pops in 20 goals for your fantasy squad you will care less.
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6. Emmanuel Adebayor, Manchester City. City only got 26 games out of their biggest signing in 2009-10. Still, Adebayor tallied 14 times in those appearances. He battled injuries, and struggled emotionally after his Togo team bus was shot up at the African Cup of Nations last winter. Pencil 20 goals in for Manu in 2010-11. It was only two years ago that the superstar was second in the league in scoring.


BUYER BEWARE: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City. It's hard to project another 23 goal season for Tevez since it's not really clear how he'll be used by City boss Roberto Mancini. Tevez benefitted from injuries to Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz last year, but he figures to not see the ball as much this year with a healthy Adebayor alongside him. On top of all of this, Tevez also has said he is having a very hard time finding motivation to play as City head into the season.

SLEEPER: Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United. It took a year for Berbatov to settle in at Man U, but he showed signs of life towards the end of the season and he has been playing well for the Red Devils in the preseason. Man U have splashed down a lot of money on Berba, and no way he only scores 12 goals this year. He's a nice second option behind one of the superstar strikers.





Midfield

1. Frank Lampard, Chelsea. As long as Lampard is tabbed to take the penalties for Chelsea again, he'll have another huge season for the Blues. It's hard to envision another 22 goal season, but it's a very, very good bet that Lampard will lead all midfielders in scoring in 2010-11.

2. Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal. In most leagues Arshavin should be eligible as a midfielder. He does play an attacking position behind Nicklas Bendtner, and if he's an eligible middie, snatch him up. He is surrounded by playmakers and could score 12 to 15 goals in his sleep, especially with a healthy Robin van Persie back for the Gunners.

3. Florent Malouda, Chelsea. Malouda was absolutely on fire for the Blues towards the end of last season. For what it's worth, he was probably the best French player at the World Cup. His pace and versatility have finally meshed with a knowledge of how to play the game. Chelsea can't help but score goal after goal after goal, and Malouda should get plenty of chances to assist and score on those goals.

4. Robin van Persie, Arsenal. Van Persie was absolutely terrific at the end of the season in his return from a five month absence due to an ankle injury. Whether or not Cesc Fabregas leaves for Barcelona, it won't impact a healthy van Persie. RVP had nine goals last season, despite missing half of Arsenal's matches. Imagine what he will do with a full season.

5. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool. Stevie G is as consistent as it gets. Nine goals and seven assists is right in line with what you can expect out of England's captain. Gerrard is also an option to take penalties for manager Roy Hodgson at Anfield, which would equal an even higher goal output.

BUYER BEWARE: Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal. Fabregas is a star, but there is a ton of reason to think he'll regress in 2010-11. Robin van Persie will be back, which simply means less shots for Cesc. He scored a remarkable 15 goals last season in the Premiership, but that won't happen again, even if he stays in North London.

SLEEPER: Luka Modric, Tottenham Hotspur. Modric suffered from a broken leg early last season, which limited his production offensively. He is a wizard with the ball, and he can blast in a goal or two as well. Modric has gained rave reviews from anyone who has seen him play, but he's small and a but frail. If he stays healthy, he's the biggest candidate for a breakout season as there is in the Premiership.


Defense

1. Glen Johnson, Liverpool. As offensive-minded a defender as there is, Johnson was injured for a good chunk of last season. Even with sitting out over a dozen games, Johnson scored three times and added three assists in 24 starts. He won't mix it up and get a ton of cards, but, a full healthy season of Johnson means a lot of offense, which makes him the easy number one pick.

2. Ashley Cole, Chelsea. Cole may be the best defender in the Premiership, and Chelsea dominates when they play against the lesser teams in the league, which equals plenty of clean sheets. While every Blues defender will do well for you in regards to goals conceded and clean sheets, what separates Cole is his ability to get into the attack and get you points offensively as well.

3. Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal. Vermaelen led all Premiership defenders with seven goals last season. That alone could very well boost him into the number one spot. He'll get plenty of starts, and Vermaelen and the Gunners should see plenty of clean sheets.

4. Leighton Baines, Everton. It's refreshing to see have someone outside of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United on the list. Baines is an assist machine. His nine assists led all defenders last season, and a healthier Everton side should equal even more offense.

5. Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United. A Manchester United defender had to show up on the list, and Vidic is the guy. Sir Alex won't leave Vidic off of the starting eleven unless he physically cannot walk. He's great in the air, so he can score, and most likely will lead the league in yellow cards.

BUYER BEWARE: Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United. Everything about Ferdinand says stay away. It seems like he's been carrying some sort of injury for the better part of a year. Man U has plenty of replacements ready and waiting, including Chris Smalling and John O'Shea. If you buy Ferdinand, you're buying a name while there are plenty of other, cheaper defenders who are more effective...and it doesn't help that Rio is out until late-September.

SLEEPER: Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur. Bale is a young Glen Johnson. His motor never stops, and if he stays healthy, he can do it all from the back for Spurs. Boss Harry Redknapp will let Bale take set pieces and corners, and the young Welshmen also sends in terrific crosses, so he should get his share of assists. Health is the key, but Bale can be had cheap early. Grab him before the price tag goes up...because it will.