Premier League Fantasy Team Preview: Manchester United

Posted by John Culea

Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty ImagesRobin van Persie's task this coming season will be to keep Manchester United atop the Premier League.

ESPN FC fantasy picks expert Sir John Culea continues his Premier League season preview with a look at the teams, starting with defending champion Manchester United. Go to the ESPN FC EPL fantasy page to join the game.

Last season: 28-5-5

Goals: 86 scored, 43 conceded

Position: First

So far, it is wait-and-see for Manchester United supporters when it comes to who will go, who will stay and who will come on board and how David Moyes will fare after replacing the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.

The big name and the team's centerpiece is Robin van Persie. The top fantasy forward is priced at 10.0 and has had a remarkably injury-free tenure at Old Trafford after several brittle seasons with Arsenal.

Wayne Rooney’s status has been in limbo from the last part of the season. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess, but not likely a London club. Rooney has a value of 8.8 but is not worth buying now. And then there is Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, mentioned in every transfer breath. So far the only recommendation from Sir John to Manchester United supporters is don't hold your breath.

So far, the only new signing of consequence is defender Guillermo Varela, a 20-year-old Uruguayan and U20 international from Penarol. It is doubtful Varela will get much playing time, so his 5.3 value is excessive for a bench player.

Nemanja Vidic and his 7.2 value make it hard to justify selecting him since the 31-year-old Serbian missed 19 games last year with injuries.

Patrice Evra was the second-most productive fantasy defender last season. He is 32 and carries a 7.8 value.

The DaSilva twins, Fabio and Rafael, are back together after Fabio was loaned to QPR. Rafael had a good season with 116 fantasy points and carries a 7.1 value. Fabio (5.5 value) has performed well in preseason.

Jonny Evans (7.0) is too expensive; Rio Ferdinand (6.9) unreliable, Chris Smalling (6.5) not a starter, Alexander Buttner (5.0) ditto, and Phil Jones (6.3) a maybe, round out the defense.

Midfield is where the team needs help. Transfer talk is about Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric. Modric offers little in scoring (3 goals, 3 assists in 33 games with Real Madrid), but they need a distributor to go along with Michael Carrick (6.7 and 27th in fantasy points).

Fabregas had 11 goals and 11 assists for Barcelona. Shinji Kagawa (7.1) missed 20 games with injury; Nani (6.7) was virtually useless last season as was Ashley Young (7.0).

Ryan Giggs (5.7) provides stability but no fantasy worth; Anderson (5.9) is marginal, Tom Cleverley (7.1) overpriced and inconsistent, and Antonio Valencia (6.9) disappointing. Sir John is high on Wilfried Zaha (a bargain at 6.0). While preseason often is misleading, the 20-year-old seems a favorite of Moyes and looks terrific.

The front line for United features RvP, the muddled Rooney, Javier Hernandez (6.8) and Danny Welbeck (6.6). Chicharito had only nine starts last season and in 22 games scored ten goals, but remains a third or fourth choice. Welbeck, a starter in 13 games and a sub for 14 had only one goal and is a fringe fantasy performer.

The goalkeeping for United improved in the second half with David De Gea (7.4) the main man and Anders Lindegaard (4.6) the backup.

Next: Manchester City

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