There was a lot of hype in pre-season about Troy Deeney as a Fantasy Premier League option. His 21 goals in 37 starts and five substitute appearances in the Championship last term showed he knows how to find the net.
That pre-season hope has faded as Premier League defences have so far kept the former Walsall player from bagging a goal. Deeney has recorded a couple of assists, but that has not been enough to stop an exodus of FPL managers. He has more than 100,000 net transfers out this season and has dropped to 5.3m from his pre-season price of 5.5m.
While Deeney has blanked, his strike partner, Odion Ighalo, has netted twice to offer us an intriguing option at just 5.0m. Ighalo has flown under the radar and he is only in around 15,000 more teams now than he was at the start of the season.
Although the Nigerian notched just one goal less than Deeney last season, his 35 appearances included 13 from the substitutes bench. Couple that with being a 74th minute substitute in Gameweek 1 this season and concerns about his playing time are understandable. He has started every other Premier League game this season, but was substituted with about 20 minutes remaining in the last two.
Another factor probably dissuading managers from the Watford pair is that the Hornets did not score a single goal between Ighalo netting in the 83rd minute of the Gameweek 1 clash with Everton and the 59th minute of the Gameweek 5 match against Swansea. It is worth noting, however, that their opponents in the intervening games – West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Manchester City – have been three of the more staunch defences in the Premier League this season, clocking up 11 clean sheets in 15 games combined.
The popular budget forward option among FPL managers is Callum Wilson, who was originally 5.5m like Deeney but now costs 5.9m after more than 700,000 net transfers in this season. Wilson is now in a quarter of all FPL teams, while Deeney’s ownership is just 3.5 per cent and Ighalo’s a mere 1.3 per cent.
The reason for Wilson’s popularity is clear from the radar chart: goals. But when you look beyond the headline stat, the difference between the three isn’t so stark. Wilson has recorded one more shot on target than Ighalo, who is also well ahead of Deeney in that regard, but all three have managed nine shots in the box. Deeney is leading the way when it comes to shots, assists and chances created, although his current rate of assists from chances created is unlikely to be sustainable.
The sample size is small, so we can’t draw firm conclusions, but a Watford striker could be worth another look for managers seeking a cheap third forward for a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 formation. Those who bought Wilson at 5.4m or 5.5m may feel comfortable benching him if they want to only play two up top, however a player who cost 5.9m might be more difficult psychologically to leave out of the starting 11.
Meanwhile, for managers wedded to a 3-4-3 formation, one of the Watford strikers could offer cut-price differential as they face potentially kinder defences in some of their upcoming fixtures (new, CPL, bou, ARS, sto, WHM, lei).