Premier League Fantasy Team Preview: Chelsea

Posted by John Culea

Getty ImagesFantasy managers wonder if Frank Lampard and Juan Mata will play in both of Gameweek 1 matches.

ESPN FC fantasy picks expert Sir John continues his Premier League season preview with a look at fantasy players that might help Chelsea win the Premier League title. Go to the ESPNFC EPL fantasy page to join the game.

Last season: 22-9-7
75 goals scored
39 goals conceded
Position: Third

The new season means old and new players and for Chelsea, they have a recycled manager and play two matches in Gameweek 1.

The recycled blood belongs to returning manager Jose Mourinho. While he does not post Premier League fantasy points, his player decisions will have a direct impact on fantasy teams.

Chelsea has extraordinary fantasy depth at two positions: defenders and midfielders. This is good for Chelsea supporters since the team will need frequent roster rotation for Champions League competition. However, roster rotation is the curse for all fantasy managers who have players on teams in European tournaments. There is also the likelihood of the top teams going deep into FA Cup and League Cup competitions.

The starting defensive fantasy probabilities for Chelsea are the old blood of Branislav Ivanovic (7.8), Ashley Cole (7.4), David Luiz (7.2), and Cesar Azpilicueta (7.3). Luiz has had injury issues in preseason. However, those four were the choice of Rafa Benitez. Gary Cahill (6.7), John Terry (6.8), Ryan Bertrand (6.0), and Nathan Ake (5.4) are in the mix TBA. Wallace (5.3) could go out on loan. Mourinho has special feelings for Cole and Terry from his past success at the Bridge, so it remains to be seen who gets most PL nods.

There is a wealth of talent in Chelsea's midfield that gives fantasy managers their biggest selection dilemma.
Frank Lampard (8.1) returns for another season after leading the team in goals with 15, even though he started only 21 of the 29 games he played. While not a favorite of Rafa Benitez, Lampard was vital to Mourinho's past success at Chelsea, but will he play both games in the first week?

Mourinho says Juan Mata (8.4) will not be sold; however, Mata may miss the opening game since he will be with Spain in a "friendly" against Ecuador two days before the season begins. Mata was the fourth highest fantasy midfielder last year.

Eden Hazard (8.4) is likely to be in the starting XI more than others, including Oscar (7.7), Ramires (7.5), John Mikel Obi (5.9), and Michael Essien (6.0). Marco van Ginkel (6.0), a 20-year-old Dutch midfielder who scored eight goals for Vitesse likely will be assigned to the bench or practice squad. Kevin De Bruyne (6.3) has featured frequently in preseason and looked good. Lucas Piazon (5.2) and Josh McEachran (5.5) may be loan material.

Joining the Blues is Andre Schurrle (7.0); a German listed as a forward on ESPNFC's Chelsea team page, but considered a fantasy midfielder who had 11 goals in 34 games with Bayer Leverkusen. Interestingly, Hazard is listed as a forward on the ESPNFC Chelsea team page.

Lost in the shuffle is Victor Moses (6.3), a bit of a "tweener". Listed as a forward on Chelsea's roster, Moses is a fantasy midfielder and plays more as an attacking winger. Minutes may be even scarcer than last season.

Chelsea has addressed depth issues at forward with the return of loaned-out Romelu Lukaku (low-priced at 6.2) who had 17 goals in 35 appearances at WBA.

Most Chelsea supporters would like to see Fernando Torres (7.4) sold. And while there was great rejoicing by the Stamford Bridge faithful at the signing last January of Demba Ba (7.5) from Newcastle, the fact is, he was a flop scoring only two PL goals and getting no assists after joining the team.

As it looks now, Lukaku and Torres are likely to be in more PL starting XIs than Ba and Mourinho may go with a single striker.

Chelsea is solid in goal with Petr Cech (7.3) and signed Fulham's Mark Schwarzer (4.5) as a backup to handle rotation and domestic tournaments.

Of course, the big unknown is Wayne Rooney (8.8). As of this writing, Rooney's status at Manchester United remains in limbo.

Next: Arsenal

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