This article is part of our FPL Roundup series.
Now that we're into the final third of the Premier League season, a clear upper echelon of fantasy strikers – Diego Costa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Jermain Defoe and Sergio Aguero – has been cemented, but a couple of forwards have made strong cases to be considered among the top alternatives at the position over recent weeks.
While Southampton's Manolo Gabbiandini continued his successful start to life in England by scoring his fourth goal in three league games Saturday at Watford, his opposite number, Troy Deeney, has enjoyed an even more prolonged scoring stretch. Entering Saturday's affair, the Hornets' captain had scored in four of his side's previous five games, and he needed merely four minutes before netting the opening goal of the Hornets' eventful 4-3 defeat. Overall, Deeney now ranks sixth in points at his position in the Premiership's official fantasy game, but his £6.8m valuation is a full £1.0 cheaper than any player ahead of him. What's more, Deeney faces four of the league's six-worst defenses in his next six games, leaving plenty of room for the goals to keep coming.
Just below Deeney on the fantasy forward leaderboard is Swansea's Fernando Llorente, who has embodied his team's revitalization under new manager Paul Clement. Prior to Clement's appointment, the Spaniard had scored just six times through 18 league appearances. In six games since, Llorente has nearly matched that tally, netting on five occasions, including twice in Saturday's win over Burnley. In winning four of those outings and propelling themselves out of the relegation zone, the Swans are likely to keep relying on Llorente in the coming weeks, when pivotal, fantasy-friendly encounters with Hull (A), Bournemouth (A) and Middlebrough (H) await.
Given the runs of form both Deeney and Llorente are experiencing, along with the favorable upcoming schedules they're set to embark on and their relatively cheap prices, it would be wise for owners to make room for either one of them in their lineups. Their closest competitors in terms of price and production are West Brom's Salomon Rondon and Middlebrough's Alvaro Negredo, but considering that tandem has scored a combined one goal over the last 10 gameweeks, it's clear to see which duo is moving in which direction.
Whereas Deeney and Llorente are quickly climbing the forward rankings, the way Bournemouth's Joshua King is racking up the fantasy points from his midfield post is certainly something owners should take note of. That's because, despite what his position tag suggests, King has actually been deployed as the Cherries' starting center forward ever since Callum Wilson tore his ACL again.
In his first game in that role, King bagged a brace in his team's action-packed 6-3 loss to Everton. He followed that by being blanked along with the rest of his teammates against Manchester City, but he has since scored from the penalty spot in back-to-back outings, including Saturday's draw at Manchester United.
With four goals in as many games, King is one of the most in-form midfielders, and his positional alignment only helps his fantasy upside, since his goals count for more points than those from fantasy forwards. In replacing Wilson, King has managed to place five shots on target, which constitute over one-fourth of his 19 such shots over the whole of the season.
While King can't be expected to maintain his 7.75-fantasy-point average in Wilson's absence, his eight goals on the season now surpass Wilson's six to lead Bournemouth in the category. On a wider scale, only a who's-who of fantasy stars – Alexis Sanchez, Dele Alli, Sadio Mane, Eden Hazard and Roberto Firmino – sits ahead of King on the midfield goal-scoring chart. Although a three-match stretch versus Liverpool (A), Chelsea (H) and Tottenham (A) lies about a month ahead of King, fantasy owners should look to take advantage of both his enhanced position and highly economical evaluation (£5.4m) in the meantime.
In contrast to the aforementioned, veteran bargain players, Tottenham's Dele Alli and Manchester City's Leroy Sane are two youngsters who have justified their steep prices in recent weeks.
After arriving in England for a reported fee of around £40 million, the 21-year-old Sane took some time to break through a squad loaded with senior international players. His first goal didn't come until mid-December, when he helped the Citizens topple Arsenal at home, but Sane didn't make another appearance for over a month afterward. When he did, however, the former Schalke product scored again, netting in a home draw against Tottenham. That performance earned him another start the next weekend versus Crystal Palace, and the leggy, left-footed midfielder responded by scoring in his third straight outing.
Since his winter feast on London opposition, Sane has pinned down a starting position in Man City's high-powered attack, which, with the help of fellow starlet Raheem Sterling running rampant on the opposite flank, has accumulated 27 goals in Sane's last nine starts. In scoring in three games running, including Sunday's road win at Sunderland, Sane has accounted for six of those himself.
No longer waiting in the wings at City, Sane should now be squarely on fantasy radars, somewhere Dele has been for the last year-and-a-half.
Following 10 goals and 12 assists, Dele was arguably the best fantasy-sleeper story outside of Leicester City last season. Such emergence resulted in the now-20-year-old entering this season with a more fitting valuation of £8.5m in the Premiership's official game. Despite that increase, Dele has continued to be one of the best values league-wide with his efforts this season, which, after Sunday's goal and assist against Everton, now include 13 scores and six helpers.
With the support of those totals, only Alexis Sanchez flaunts more fantasy points among midfielders, making Dele's price only likely to soar higher.