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Barclays Premier League

Arsene Wenger's hidden gem

Arsenal
Read

Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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 By John Culea

2014-15 forwards' value assessed

Sturridge scored 21 goals in 29 Premier League games last season.

ESPN FC's 2014-15 Premier League fantasy season begins Aug. 16. Managers have until then to put together their best 15 players within the 100 million-pound spending limit.

The transfer window remains open until Aug. 31, so the list of available players is subject to change, but here are some thoughts on player values, beginning with the star men: forwards.

Most expensive

Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool: 9.5 (last season: 9.3)

Sturridge is the highest-priced fantasy forward but is without Luis Suarez, who took defenders away from the Englishman and provided assists. Liverpool plays Manchester City and Tottenham in Weeks 2 and 3 so it might pay to wait for an easier stretch of games, beginning Sept. 13, before bringing him in.

Recommended picks

Robin van Persie, Manchester United: 9.2 (9.9)

At times the Dutchman looked good in the World Cup, but was exhausted by the end. MUFC's first nine games have eight seemingly "soft" opponents.

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: 9.4 (10.7)

He scored for England in Brazil and has been on fire in preseason, with four goals in two games thus far, but could bickering between the stars about who will captain the team be an issue?

Olivier Giroud, Arsenal: 9.0 (9.8)

He was runner-up in fantasy points for forwards last season and will play alongside Alexis Sanchez. The opening schedule is not as easy as Manchester United's or Chelsea's, but Giroud is attractive at that price.

Good value

Wilfried Bony, Swansea: 7.4 (7.9)

With Michu gone, the front line is Bony's, and he should score more than the 16 goals he had last season. Of course, should he move before the end of the window, that outlook could change.

Rickie Lambert, Liverpool: 7.5 (8.0)

He is an opportunistic scorer and could link up nicely in the Reds' attack. Loic Remy not heading to Anfield is good news for the 32-year-old Englishman's playing time.

Edin Dzeko, Manchester City: 8.0 (unchanged)

He had as many points as Sergio Aguero last season and always produces, though an immediate buy is not recommended because of City's early schedule.

Overpriced

Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham: 7.9 (7.8)

You never know which Adebayor will turn up each game. He is a very frustrating player for fantasy managers and, to boot, has missed significant time in preseason.

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: 9.1 (10.4)

The Argentinean is injury-prone and City's first five games feature four tough opponents.

Good gambles

Connor Wickham, Sunderland: 5.4 (4.9)

He scored five goals in three games at the end of the season to help save the Black Cats from relegation.

Peter Odemwingie, Stoke: 5.8 (6.2)

Having impressed at the Britannia Stadium in the second half of this past season, the Nigerian was terrific in the World Cup.

Mame Biram Diouf, Stoke: 5.7 (new)

The former Manchester United player brings goal-scoring potential from his time in Germany.

Graziano Pelle, Southampton: 5.6 (new)

The 6-foot-4 Italian transfer scored 23 goals in 27 games in the Eredivisie and bolsters the much-changed Saints.

Stevan Jovetic, Manchester City: 6.3 (5.7)

After an injury-hit first campaign in England, the Montenegrin has sparkled in preseason.

Question marks

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal: 9.0 (new)

He scored 27 goals and had 19 assists last season for club and country, but it remains to be seen how well he will link up with Giroud.

Costa has found the net in preseason, but how will he fare in the Premier League?

Diego Costa, Chelsea: 9.0 (new)

After 27 goals for Atletico Madrid last season, he was not impressive in the World Cup. To be determined is how -- or whether -- he will play with Didier Drogba.

Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea: 8.0 (8.8)

The signing of Didier Drogba makes it likely Lukaku is loaned out again or sold. A return to Everton would make him a recommended pick.

Lazar Markovic, Liverpool: 6.5 (new)

The 20 million-pound Serbian comes with hopes of filling some of the void left by Suarez.

Risky picks

Jozy Altidore, Sunderland: 5.1 (unchanged)

The American is great for his country but a disaster for the Black Cats.

Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, 6.0 (7.0)

His last double-figure season for goals was 2009-10.

Roberto Soldado, Tottenham: 6.5 (6.8)

Except for penalty kicks, he seemed to play without a clue most of last season.

Peter Crouch, Stoke: 6.6 (7.2)

Crouch was the 10th most-picked fantasy forward, but Stoke now has several new (and better) strikers.

Other question marks due to a lack of playing time:

Alvaro Negredo, Manchester City; Lukas Podolski, Arsenal; Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, Manchester United

John Culea

John Culea is an American living in San Diego who became hooked on football while serving in the Navy for two years in London. A former TV news, Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter, he goes by the fantasy honorary title of "Sir John." He is a devoted Chelsea supporter and offers previews of upcoming Premier League action and a review of the games played from an American perspective.