Looking ahead - Darren Bent

Looking a few Gameweeks in advance is a key ingredient of a successful Fantasy manager, and identifying players that could hit the headlines in the not too distant future. Here, I’ve picked out Darren Bent, the forgotten man, as one for our watchlists.

Signed on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, Bent’s move to Fulham looks a perfect fit for player and club. The striker needs to be playing regularly, particularly in World Cup year, while Fulham’s need for a goal poacher was clear last season, with an over-reliance on Berbatov.

When given a chance, Bent is usually a reliable goal-scorer, even if Harry Redknapp might not agree! His best Fantasy season came back in 2009/10 for Sunderland, when he notched 24 goals and a very impressive 195 points. Half that number of goals this season and we’d take it.

The fixture list is of special interest when assessing our Darren’s Fantasy potential, and Gameweek 4 especially, when Fulham begin a tasty run of fixtures.

That’s right, the famous Gameweek 4, the week a certain Dutchman welcomes Crystal Palace into his den, and Fantasy managers without him cringe at the thought. Funds will need to be raised to acquire Van Persie, perhaps a top striker downgraded, and Bent looks just the replacement at 6.5.

From Gameweeks 4-8, Fulham welcome West Brom, Cardiff and Stoke to the Cottage, with a short trek to Crystal Palace too. Rather convenient, isn’t it? Especially when Fulham’s home record is usually a reliable source of points.

Not yet fully fit, Bent showed his promise against Arsenal on Saturday, coming off the bench with half an hour remaining to notch Fulham’s consolation. Set for more game time at Newcastle this weekend, Darren should be primed for a start at the Cottage against West Brom in Gameweek 4.

When Bent does come into the Fulham side, he’s unlikely to struggle for service, with the creative talents of Berbatov, Ruiz and Taarabt set to supply plenty chances. Ten-plus goals for Bent could well be on the cards, then.

The comparison between Berbatov and Bent is interesting, particularly with the Bulgarian coming in at 7.4, a significant 0.9 more than Bent. While Berbatov will surely retain penalty duties, it’s anticipated that he’ll drop deeper behind Bent, who’s set to lead the attack. That certainly played out against Arsenal when Bent entered the fray.

It remains to be seen whether Berbatov’s creativity and assist potential, together with spot-kicks, is worth the extra outlay, but there’s no doubt that Bent could offer exceptional value at 6.5, and perhaps help those looking for ways to bring in Van Persie.

The scene could soon be set then for the forgotten man to reappear as a Fantasy force…