My second set of tiers focus on the target men of the Premier League with the Strikers stepping up for inspection. This is a group that is decreasing year after year as more teams prefer to play a fifth midfielder (either as a creative man in the 10 position or as a third holding midfielder), and it is now so important that you get your hands on one of the top end guys who have the potential to score 200-plus points over the season.
Explaining the Tiers
For those of you who have not come across a tiers system before, here are the basics behind it. I will generally place the tiers in order of best to worst. What the tiers do is allow you to see in your draft where I view there to be a drop off, so generally you should be looking to pick up the last guy available in each tier. For example, in my goalkeeper tiers, I placed Boruc, Begovic, Speroni, Adrian and Krul together meaning that I am not worried which one I get out of that tier if they’re the level of guys available. That means that if I’m the clock and all five are available, then I will look to address a different position of need, and then see how the goalkeeper landscape plays out when it is my turn to pick again.
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Elite: Sturridge (Liverpool), Costa (Chelsea), Rooney (Man United), van Persie (Man United), Agüero (Man City)
Sturridge will have the opportunity to step up this year and show that he can still produce without Suárez. Whether he plays with another striker (a la Suárez) style, or with a creative midfielder behind him, I see him being lethal this season.
Costa has been brought in to be the main man at Chelsea and his physical style should suit the Premier League.
Even though there is a new regime at Man United, both Rooney and van Persie should still feature heavily in Luis van Gaal’s plans this year and should still be their normal dominant selves. RvP’s injury history is a concern for me, but he couldn’t go down a tier because even if he plays ¾ of a season he’ll be a beast.
Aguero is another man who has injury concerns entering this season, but a month’s rest after the world cup should give him time to come roaring into the season fresh and dominant.
Near Elite: Giroud (Arsenal), Džeko (Man City), Lukaku (Everton)
Giroud will benefit from the addition of Sanchez who should take some defensive attention away from the Frenchman, who I expect to be strong again.
Džeko will benefit hugely from the injury to Alvaro Negrado, as he’ll start the season as the number one striking option for a team who scored over 100 goals last season.
Lukaku is on the verge of a £23 million pound move to Everton as I write this and he’ll be desperate to prove that Chelsea has made a mistake letting him go. Could easily be in the tier above next year.
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Potential Number One’s: Bony (Swansea), Benteke (Aston Villa), Adebayor (Tottenham), Rodriguez (Southampton), Negredo (Man City)
Benteke and Rodriguez are both returning from injuries last season and will start the season slowly, but could both produce like “Near Elite” – level talent. Benteke could be even higher!
Negredo and Adebayor have both had issues in the preseason with Negredo breaking his foot and Adebayor suffering a mild bout of Malaria, but both should give you decent numbers when they return.
Bony is the only one of this group not starting the season injured or returning from injury, but he is the only one having to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. I personally don’t believe it was, but can he build on it and hold of Gomis while doing that is a different question all together.
Number two’s with upside: Jovetic (Man City), Lambert (Liverpool), Remy (QPR), Soldado (Tottenham)
Lambert came off the bench a number of times for Southampton last year and that is a role I expect him to fill at times this season. They could use him alongside Sturridge if the pair start forming a solid partnership.
Remy so nearly moved to Liverpool where I think he could have been a monster linking up with Sturridge. However, being at QPR isn’t a huge detractor of his value because they still have quality players and he showed last year he’s a quality striker.
Jovetic will be desperate to break into a team he struggled to make a mark on last season. An Agüero injury could see him put up number one – like numbers.
Soldado flattered to deceive last season and scored mainly from the penalty spot when on the field. He has started the preseason well but you cannot help but feel Adebayor will push him for that starting position.
Solid Number two’s: Crouch (Stoke), Wickham (Sunderland), Ings (Burnley), Nugent (Leicester)
Crouch has been a solid contributor for the last few years in fantasy and I expect that again on an intriguing Stoke team.
Wickham ended last season well and will have earned the chance to start this season. What he showed late last season would be beyond awesome for where you can get him.
Ings and Nugent are the new kids on the block, but both are quality strikers who will get the first chance for their team this year. Both could be solid contributors for you.
Potential Breakouts: Pelle (Southampton), Welbeck (Man United), Gomis (Swansea)
Pelle is the man to step in and save a sinking Southampton ship it feels but there are still quality players there and he could be a top-end number two option for you.
Welbeck and his pace could be crucial in LvG’s new line up especially if United lose one or both of RvP or Rooney to injury.
Gomis has been brought in to back up Bony but he’s the right style of striker for the Premier League and could benefit from the ‘surprise’ factor in his first season.
Flex Plays: Cisse (Newcastle), E.Valencia (West Ham), Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Long (Hull), Berahino (West Brom), Bojan (Stoke), Gayle (Crystal Palace), Naismith (Everton), Brown (West Brom)
Cisse, Valencia, Agbonlahor, Gayle, Long, Berahino and Brown are all likely to start the season in the first XI, so they make for players you can use early and monitor as the season progresses.
Bojan is less certain to start for Stoke but if he isn’t there at the beginning of the season then he will come into it. My worry is he could struggle in a far more physical league than he’s used to.
Naismith was the favourite to start for Everton pre-Lukaku, but he should still feature regularly this season and present something for your team.
Potential Flex Plays: Chamakh (Crystal Palace), Frazer Campbell (Crystal Palace)
These two men are fighting to start upfront for Crystal Palace with Chamakh showing that you can be fantasy relevant as the first choice for Crystal Palace. Campbell showed flashes of promise for Cardiff last season and Palace will love having these two spurring each other on this season.
Bench/Handcuffs: Drogba (Chelsea), Podolski (Arsenal), Weimann (Aston Villa), Jelavic (Hull), Diouf (Stoke), Hernandez (Man United), Fletcher (Sunderland), Graham (Sunderland), Kane (Tottenham), Torres (Chelsea), Bent (Aston Villa), Borini (Sunderland), Zamora (QPR), Osvaldo (Southampton), Vokes (Burnley), Cole (West Ham), Altidore (Sunderland), Anichebe (West Brom)
The guys in this tier are unlikely to be consistent starters but are guys to have on your bench especially if you have the first choice associated with their team . They will see significant increases in playing time with an injury or suspension to said first choice.
Last Resorts: Vardy (Leicester), Kone (Everton), Carroll (West Ham), Jerome (Stoke), Maiga (West Ham), Kozak (Aston Villa), Vaz Te (West Ham), Gallagher (Southampton), Emnes (Swansea)
All guys that I don’t see being draft-relevant unless you’re going really deep. They are worth keeping half an eye on to see if they get a run in the team and get hot.
With over 60 players mentioned in this article, I believe that you should find most strikers’ you are debating selecting for your fantasy team for 2014/15 here. As usual any questions you can direct towards me @brolfe1507 on twitter.