FPL Watchlist: Underrated players being overlooked

Revant Maheshwari
By Revant Maheshwari
19 Min Read
FPL Watchlist: Underrated players being overlooked

As the wait for the 2023-23 Premier League season finally ends this weekend, FPL managers would be locking up their teams for Gameweek 1. To make that task easier, here’s a list of 9 reliable players who are currently being overlooked and could score some serious points for their teams.

1. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)

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Crystal Palace had a shaky 2022-23 league campaign. With Patrick Vieira in charge, the club went winless in 12 matches till his dismissal in March. With Roy Hodgson’s appointment the club made a swift recovery in form as they went on to finish 11th in the league with just 1 loss in their last 5 matches. A key figure in this turnaround was midfielder Eberechi Eze.

Eze played every single minute of the 10 Premier League matches after Hodgson’s arrival. With 6 goals and 1 assist in those 10 games, the 25-year-old’s potential as a goal-scoring threat was being recognised. This form meant that from Hodgson leading the side in Gameweek 29 till the end of the campaign, only Mohamed Salah had amassed more FPL points (85) than Eze (67) out of all midfielders in the league. The player’s improvement can further be emphasized by the 159 FPL points he attained last season compared to 31 points in the previous 2021-22 campaign.

With a solid pre-season form which included a stellar solo goal against Sevilla, Eze is poised to be a vital attacking threat for the South London club especially after the club parted ways with their star striker Wilfried Zaha and are yet to bring in a replacement for him. With Eze taking the penalties, being effective on deadballs and certainly getting plenty of minutes, he’s expected to deliver a solid performance for his side.

Despite his mighty end of last season form and a crucial role to play this season, Eze is only selected by 15.1% of current FPL teams. For £6.5m, we can expect the Englishman to provide a strong return in points as Palace take on newly promoted side Sheffield United on opening day.

2. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

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The English defender is one of the league’s best in his position. As Mauricio Pochettino takes charge of the Blues, Chilwell is expected to play a key role as his new manager is known to involve full-backs heavily when going forward to attack. In a struggling Chelsea side last season, Chilwell still managed to deliver 5 goal contributions and 70 FPL points despite only starting 15 matches with 1402 of minutes played. In a highly revamped Chelsea team, the defender is expected to be more involved and is expected to success Cesar Azpilicueta as the club’s new captain.

The 26-year-old’s only downside has been his injury issues. With a whopping 38 matches missed due to injury in his last 3 seasons for the West London club, Chilwell’s hamstring issues limited him to 15 starts last season and ruled him out for England’s World Cup run.

Chillwell posed the greatest goal scoring threat for his side last season with 36.4 minutes penalty box touches, 88.7 minutes per shot and 978.6 minutes per expected goals. We can only expect these numbers to increase in the 2023-24 season with the Englishman’s higher involvement under Pochettino and linking up with an in-form Mudryk and Jackson.

Costing £5.5m and being selected by just 11.5% of the FPL teams, the defender is a prudent choice even though his side is up against Liverpool in their opening fixture.

3. James Maddison (Spurs)

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The North London side’s star-signing has a staggering record of delivering huge points for FPL managers in his previous seasons. In his 2022-23 league campaign he registered 135 points with 19 goal contributions and a ICT (Influence, Creativity and Threat) score of 259.7 making him the 10th highest out of 261 premier league players in that benchmark.

The 26-year-old managed to attain those numbers in a struggling and relegated Leicester City side. With Spurs we can expect him to unlock his potential by linking up with Heung-min Son, Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Harry Kane, albeit the English striker’s future being uncertain at the moment. He already made his mark in the club’s pre-season run by assisting twice against Shakhtar Donetsk and starting all 3 friendlies for his new club.

Maddison has been used right behind the striker as a no. 10 and is recognised for making creative forward passes, composure on the ball, effective set-pieces and being able to score using either foot. Only Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse had higher expected assists from dead-ball set-ups in last season’s league campaign.

Spurs are up against Brentford away from home in their opening fixture and Maddison will most certainly be started by new boss Agne Postecoglou. Even though the midfiedler is on the pricy side costing £7.5m, the number of points he can potentially deliver justify that cost. Being selected by a mere 12.5% of FPl teams definitely makes the Englishman an underrated addition.

4. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

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As Aston Villa managed to turn their disappointing season around after the arrival of Unai Emery, Watkins was a vital part of that turnaround. The English striker scored 15 goals and assisted 8 more to make his FPL managers gain a massive 175 points in the 2022-23 league campaign. With just two league goals before Emery’s appointment, Watkins finished as the third highest-scoring forward in FPL as the Spanish manager took charge.

His brilliant run in the re-enforced side continued in pre-season as he netted 4 goals in 6 friendlies for Villa. The 27-year-old remains Villa’s certain first-choice as a striker and due to the arrival of Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen, could only be more of a threat up front. The forward is recognised for his aerial duels, strong headers, short passing ability and brilliant when making runs in behind.

Watkins undoubtedly has one of the highest FPL point attaining potential in the league and his price-tag of £8.0m justifies that. With a certain starting place, support from the likes of Buendia, Coutinho, Diaby, Tielemans and Bailey as well as his past record, his ownership remains at just 23.8%. Even though his side take on a strong Newcastle Side away from home in the opening game, we can expect Watkins to be a positive influence for Villa.

5. Elliot Anderson (Newcastle United)

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The Magpies’ prodigal midfielder is having the time of his life during his club’s pre-season friendlies. With 4 goals and 3 assists, the 20-year-old is way ahead of his peers as he attained the highest goals and assists both during the friendlies and the Premier League Summer Series in the USA.

With Newcastle’s ambitions and performance on an all-time historic high, we can expect the side to make further waves in the upcoming league campaign. Their last year’s Champions League qualification was definitely deserved as they recorded the 2nd highest expected goals in the league. Anderson wasn’t a core part of the side last season as he only made 3 starts playing a combined 395 league minutes. However he made the most of his limited time with 1 assist and 30 points for FPL managers.

The Scottish international has shown his ability to make key passes, particularly through balls as well as stellar technique and control on the ball which allows him to be an excellent dribbler. The midfielder likes to cut inside often and is a huge set-piece threat.

The only drawback of including the player would be the rotation risk as Eddie Howe does not have a shortage of midfielders he can choose in the side’s opening game vs Aston Villa. However, the manager did admit: “Have I picked my team for Villa on the first game of the season? No way. You want players to force their way into your eyesight and Elliot has certainly done that.”

Costing a mere £4.5m and owned by just 6.8% of FPL teams, Anderson is a brilliant hidden gem to acquire. If his current form continues, he’s certain to score some crucial points.

6. Pascal Gross (Brighton)

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The 31-year-old midfielder was a core part of last year’s fiery Brighton side which saw them secure European football in a monumental season for the club. Gross was heavily used in that campaign as he started 37 out of 38 league games, went on to score 9 goals and register 8 assists in order to accumulate 159 FPL points for the year.

The versatile midfielder is known for holding on to the ball, making key passes, crossing from wide areas and being a deadball target for the Seagulls. His strong 2022-23 league campaign translated into the player getting 277 combined minutes in Brighton’s pre-season friendlies- more than any other player in the club.

Brighton’s manager Roberto De Zerbi went on record to emphasize Gross’s importance by saying: “To explain the importance of Pascal, I can tell you he is one of the best players I have had in my career. He is a fantastic player. He can play everywhere on the pitch. He is fantastic in terms of attitude and passion. He is very clever to understand difficult situations and I am lucky to have him in my team. He is a leader.” It is no surprise that the German was rewarded with a new contract till 2025 for the club.

Gross had the 8th highest FPL points for all the midfielders in the Premier League and the highest points for any midfielder outside the big six. Despite delivering points and a guaranteed starting place, Gross is owned by just 4.9% of FPL managers. With the player and his side kicking off the new season hosting Luton Town at home, it should be a no-brainer for to include the player in FPL teams.

7. Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

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Liverpool’s new number 9 has been an astronomical attacking threat for his side’s pre-season friendlies. With 4 goals and 1 assist for 210 minutes played, the Anfield faithful will be hoping their striker’s form doesn’t fade away. In his 2022-23 debut Premier League season, the forward initially struggled and took his time to settle in. Out of a total 28 big chances to score for his side, he only managed to convert 9 times.

An improvement in the Uruguayan international’s finishing ability would make him one of the most lethal goal-scoring threats in the league. Even when he was not at his best last year, Nunez managed to attain 15 goal contributions in 19 starts and 100 FPL points- the 11th highest out of all forwards in the league and the 8th highest xGI (expected goal involvements.)

The 24-year-old is recognised for his pace, strength while playing with long balls, headed attempts on goal and cutting inside. Despite getting his fair share of criticisms, the potential carried by the striker is simply too big to be discounted. With just 15.4% ownership, we can consider Nunez as definitely being overlooked. We can expect him to start for The Reds as they face a difficult opening game away at Stamford Bridge.

8. Leandro Trossard (Arsenal)

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The Belgian international has been sensational for the Gunners since his arrival from Brighton in the 2022-23 January transfer window. Trossard was considered as arguably the biggest attacking threat for the North London side whenever he was involved by Mikel Arteta and the numbers prove that.

With 26 starts in last season’s league campaign, the 28-year-old delivered 21 goal contributions as his club finished as runner-ups in the English top-flight. Despite signing for the club in January, Trossard finished as Arsenal’s 5th highest FPL point winner and had the 2nd highest assists in the league- only after Kevin De Bruyne.

The player excels whenever he finds gaps of space between the lines and can effectively receive the ball from defenders to link-up play with his attacking peers or himself carrying the ball closer to goal. His significance for the Gunners was once again emphasised as he finished as their highest pre-season goal-scorer as well as went on to score the equalizing goal in the FA Community shield against Manchester City in stoppage time to help his club secure a victory via penalties.

Even though Arteta’s pecking order might suggest Gabriel Martinelli starting on the left-wing, Trossard’s versatility can allow him to play as an attacking mid-fielder or a false-nine striker as well in the absence of Gabriel Jesus. Even if the Belgian is called on as a substitute, he often delivers a better performance than the rest of the team.

With just a shocking 6% teams owning the mid-fielder, Trossard is a brilliant addition to any FPL team. The Gunners host Nottingham Forest at the Emirates in their opening game and the number 19 will certainly be looking to be involved.

9. Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea)

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The Blue’s summer addition could prove to be an absolute beast upfront. The 22-year-old joined the London side after a breakthrough La Liga campaign which saw him register 12 goals and 4 assists in 16 starts for Villarreal. He took almost no time to repeat that performance and show Chelsea fans his potential as he attained 5 goal contributions for side’s pre-season friendlies- more than any other Chelsea player.

With Christopher Nkunku being on the sidelines for an estimated 16 weeks following a knee surgery, Jackson is certain to be given minutes by new boss Pochettino. Even when the two forwards were started together against Newcastle United and Borussia Dortmund in preseason, Jackson played the number 9 position on both the occasions with Nkunku playing behind him. This should confirm that even on Nkunku’s return from injury, Jackson should get plenty of minutes in his position.

The Senegalese international has been phenomenal in linking up with his new teammates in pre-season which allowed him to set-up 3 goals- the highest in the Chelsea side. The 186cm pacey striker is a physical powerhouse and showed brilliant dribbling, awareness and vision for his club so far. We can observe from the 245 pre-season minutes he played that he was arguably Chelsea’s most effective and lethal counter-attacking player.

With the young prospect given a high FPL price tag of £7.0m despite it being his debut season, a considerable number of  FPL players have not opted to include the forward as his ownership stands at 15.2% at the moment. However, with a certain starting place till Nkunku’s return and his pre-season form, FPL players should highly consider acquiring the striker.

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