It is a well established fantasy principle to stock up on premium goalscoring midfield talent like Gerrard and Lampard but can we get these kind of players for less? Lets look at the midfield maestros pulling the strings for their respective teams who can be had without sacrificing cash that can spent elsewhere:
Tom Huddlestone (5.1m)
2 assists, 2 bonus points, 13 shots
I for one did not envision Huddlestone playing every week in Redknapp's lineup but recent talks of Jenas leaving for Villa suggest that Huddlestone is going to be a fixture in the middle for Spurs this year. The arrival of Palacios last season has transformed Huddlestone's role from a holding player (think Yaya Toure) into a probing 'quarterback' type player, whose long passing and consistent touch allow him to control the game in front of him (think Xavi). Last week's chalkboard shows that Huddlestone is often operating in an advanced role and managed to play a couple of key passes, one of which resulted in a goal. A look at the past 4 games shows that Huddleston has had an incredible 13 shots, more than all the other players discussed below put together, and more than fantasy leaders Lampard (12 shots), Arshavin (6) and Lennon (9). In the sub 6m category, Huddleston currently trails Hunt, Diaby, Palacios and Elliot but these players' points have come from goals which are unlikely to continue all year with perhaps the exception of Hunt. At 5.1 Huddlestone is great value and could well be one of the league leaders in value when all is said and done.
Danny Murphy (6.3m)
1 bonus point, 1 shot
Murphy had a wonderful 2008-09 but has started slower this season and missed last week's game against Villa with a calf injury. This slow start have caused his value to slip which could lead to a bargain for other owners. The week 1 victory over Portsmouth show Murphy's influence over the team with consistent passing demonstrated all over the field. They key to Murphy's success last year was his 26 bonus points and as Fulham haven't added any stars but still look like a decent side, these bonus points should continue to flow in future weeks. Murphy should still be on penalty duty and takes the majority of corners and free kicks so it is reasonable to expect another 5 goals and assists this year. The key is that Murphy will play every week and this makes him a useful player to hold alongside stars such as Gerrard and Lampard.
Barry Ferguson (5.0m)
4 bonus points, 1 shot
Having once been rated the star of the SPL, Ferguson has bounced around of late and hasn't really delivered the goods south of the border. However, a successful start to the season, including a man of the match performance against Portsmouth, have given the Scottish midfielder 4 bonus points already. Ferguson didn't contribute in the two games against good sides (United and Spurs) but added 4 and 6 point hauls against Portsmouth and Stoke. He therefore looks to be a great bench option who you can rely on to bring in when your mid level players have tough fixtures or are benched/injured at the last minute. Ferguson is a given to start and Birmingham's decent defense and his bonus point ability should ensure plenty of 3 and 4 point games.
Mark Noble (6.2m)
1 goal, 1 assist, 3 bonus points, 3 shots
I think Jimenez (5.0) might be the better player when the season is finished and I certainly think he has more talent, but Noble's consistency (see his incredible passing performance against Wolves to the left: 37 of 38 passes completed) and decent shot should ensure that he contributes a steady inflow of points and if the matchup is right he will be a good play. At 6.2m he isn't a steal and his lack of shots are a concern going forward. West Ham's fixtures are also terrible with Liv, @MNC, Ful, @Sto and Ars on the horizon. Probably stay clear for now but if Noble can continue this form then he is a genuine every week player for a bench player price.