Fantasy Premier League: Captain Picks for Week 1
With the new Premier League season drawing near, it's time for a brand new Fantasy Premier League season.
That's why we'll be detailing the top captain choices for your teams on the Premier League's official fantasy website each and every matchweek.
You'll need to roster 15 players with a £100 million salary -- two keepers, five defenders, five midfielders, and three forwards -- and choose a starting XI each week.
A key part of the process is selecting your captain and vice captain, as your captain will have his points doubled for the week and your vice captain's points will double in case your captain doesn't play.
Now, I don't know about you, but I've been tinkering with my lineup every day for the past week. This gameweek certainly has its own unique set of challenges. It's the first gameweek, so you have no idea what your leaguemates' teams look like.
None of us have much of a clue on which players will be starting or even what formations managers will be using. To make matters worse, we had the EUROs, the Copa America, and Olympic Soccer this summer; many nailed-on starters are being rested after their summer adventures.
That being said, there are two obvious captaincy choices this week -- and a riskier pick if you want to differentiate yourself from the pack.
Sergio Agüero, Manchester City
Agüero is definitely the popular choice this week for captain. First of all, City is playing Sunderland, at home. Sunderland was terrible defensively last season, allowing 62 goals. Last year, this fixture ended up 4-1 Manchester. In 2014-15, it was 3-2 City, and in 2013-14, it was 2-2.
Clearly, this matchup is not going to result in a defensive stalemate. It remains to be seen how Sunderland's new manager, David Moyes, is going to trot out his team against the Manchester giants, but it's safe to say they will have a difficult time containing Agüero, who scored in 15 of the 30 Premier League matches he played in last season -- a rate that only one other forward topped.
The other great thing about Agüero is his affinity for scoring in bunches. Of the 15 matches in which he scored, five were multi-goal games. That's a big deal when you are giving a player the captain's armband.
Agüero won't see many better matchups this year, but there is one concern if captaining him: ownership. He's currently owned by 40.9% of fantasy squads. A highly owned, expensive player such as Agüero with a matchup against a bottom-of-the-table team is close to a must-captain.
This means that, of those 40.9% of teams with him, a very high percent of them will be choosing Agüero as their captain. At the beginning of the season, that isn't as big of a concern. You will have a hard time pulling away from the pack, but at least you won't be left behind.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester United
Zlatan is the only other logical choice this week for captain. He is as decorated of a striker as you are going to find, playing against a Bournemouth side that allowed the second-most goals last season. Zlatan had one of his best seasons last year with Paris Saint-Germain, in Ligue 1, scoring 38 goals in 31 appearances.
He recently scored a precise header in the Community Shield against Leicester, so he is fresh in everyone's mind leading up to the opening day kickoff.
However, there are a lot of concerns with Zlatan this year. Imbrahimovic is 34 years old, and being a forward in the Premier League is not exactly an old man's game (he can ask his teammate Wayne Rooney about that one). Man United's manager, Jose Mourinho, is not known for playing attractive soccer. He loves to take the lead and then lock down the pitch, hoping for a one-nil result.
It's possible he changes his way now that he's managed Manchester United, but I'm not holding my breath. While it's fair to say that Zlatan would be the likely scorer of that one goal, I'd much rather captain a player on a team that's going to try to run up the score. With an ownership rate (39.5%) almost as high as Agüero's, he's hard to justify.
Jamie Vardy, Leicester
While Agüero and Ibrahimovic are captain choices 1A and 1B, poor Jamie Vardy is firmly in the second tier. That's right: the Golden Boot runner-up from the Premier League champions who set the record for most consecutive games with a Premier League goal is a second-tier captain choice.
Don't get me wrong -- Vardy is still a great choice. He had a goal or assist in 26 of the 32 games he played in last season, making him a consistent producer. No one knows how Leicester will perform in their title-defense this year, but Vardy is crucial to it.
They kick off the new season against recently promoted Hull, who spent one season in the Championship after being relegated in the 2014-15 season. The only problem is Hull that aren't a bad team defensively. In their relegation year, they only let in 51 goals -- six teams allowed more. Their problem is scoring.
Leicester is also missing their important midfield link, Kanté, after his move to Chelsea. We don't know how that's going to affect their counter-attacking style. Vardy is still the third-highest owned forward, at 23.4%, but he isn't shaping up to be a popular captain choice. My guess is that most fantasy teams this year will have at least one of Agüero or Zlatan to start the season, making Vardy a secondary captaincy choice. If you want to be risky and try to get out to an early lead, Vardy could be the man to get you there.