This article is part of our Mondogoal Fantasy Soccer series.
After an extremely busy summer period full of international competition, the typical club friendlies and plenty of intriguing transfer activity, the opening weekend of the 2016/17 Premier League season has arrived.
Although Saturday's Perfect Million slate will not feature the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United or West Ham, there are still plenty of top-quality players available for selection and some enticing matchups to exploit.
Fraser Forster, SOU v. WAT (£7.0m): Although he waited until January to make his debut last season because of a knee injury, Forster showed why he was once considered an elite FPL option. He came out of the gate with six consecutive clean sheets and went on to win 12 of his 18 starts while allowing just 17 goals. Forster will benefit from a strong, possession-oriented team in front of him and will draw a soft matchup against a Watford side who managed just 20 goals away from home last season. Factor in that 12 other goalkeepers command a salary higher than Forster this week, and he appears to be one of the top bargains available.
Glen Johnson, STO at MID (£7.8m): Johnson's season may have ended prematurely in February due to a knee injury, but before that he had proven himself to be a reliable member of the Potters' defensive unit while getting forward effectively, as his three assists from 25 matches show. Now fully fit and at a slightly discounted price, Johnson and company will draw an away matchup versus newly-promoted Middlesbrough, who were outscored by seven other Championship clubs last season. In an affair that could see Stoke dominate the ball, allowing Johnson to join the attack, his added defensive upside could make him a solid selection.
Cedric Soares, SOU vs WAT (£8.9m): Cedric plugged right in for the departed Nathaniel Clyne last season and became a popular FPL option because of his propensity for getting forward in addition to his position along a strong Saints back line. The fullback played a large role in the latter stages of Portugal's Euro 2016 title run, putting in 21 crosses, winning 15 tackles and contributing to a pair of clean sheets in four starts, and he should pick up right where he left off this weekend at home to a Watford side who struggled to create on the road last season.
Pape Souare, CRY v. WBA (£6.9m): In his first full season as a Crystal Palace player, Souare stepped right in and made the left fullback spot his own, displaying the tenacity and comfortability in possession necessary to succeed at the Premier League level. Crystal Palace have finished with a top-10 defensive record in back-to-back seasons and will play host to a West Brom side who finished 19th in total scoring last season, thanks in part to a measly 14 away goals in 19 matches. Considering Palace's defensive matchup and Souare's sub-£7m price, he is poised to return on his value this week.
Kevin De Bruyne, MCI v. SUN (£12.5m): De Bruyne hardly needs any introduction, as he has ascended into the top playmaking role for Manchester City after racking up seven goals and nine assists in just 22 league starts last season. De Bruyne will look to endear himself to new manager Pep Guardiola in the early going, and with a Sunderland squad that allowed a league-high 42 goals away from home visiting this weekend, he should have plenty of opportunities to do just that. He carries the heaviest price at the position, but the upside should be well worth the investment.
Dusan Tadic, SOU vs WAT (£8.6m): Tadic's inconsistency cost him a significant amount of playing time over the last two seasons under former manager Ronald Koeman, but his ability is undeniable when he is at his best. The Serbian finished last season on a tear, with two goals and eight assists in his final 10 matches, and he is said to be taking well to the style of new manager Claude Puel. Tadic possesses as much upside as nearly any midfield option available on a given week, and at a fraction of the price he makes for an enticing play versus a Watford side that struggled on the road last season.
Christian Eriksen, TOT at EVE (£12.0m): Eriksen broke through as an all-around force last season, totaling six goals and a career-high 13 assists as Spurs finished second in goals per game. The emergence of Dele Alli was a perfect complement for Harry Kane, but it also opened up space for Eriksen to operate, and as a result, the trio was statistically the most productive in the league in terms of combined goals and assists. Eriksen carries a hefty price, but in a matchup with an Everton defense that was among the leakiest at home in the top flight last year, he and his teammates will have every opportunity to produce right from the jump.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, SWA at BUR (£11.1 m): After a strong start, Swansea experienced a prolonged swoon last season, and it was Sigurdsson who stepped up to lift his side out of a relegation fight with a career-high 11 goals and three assists in league play. Following the summer departures of Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis that left the Swans' roster devoid of any other notable attacking threats, Sigurdsson's usage should be at an all-time high. It is tough to project just how Swansea will deploy their attackers versus newly-promoted Burnley this weekend, but Sigurdsson should be front and center for anything they are able to muster up, and his prowess from set-pieces is an added bonus.
Sergio Aguero, MCI vs SUN (£9.8m): The most prolific of Premier League goal scorers in recent years, Aguero will draw an especially inviting matchup to begin the season. He led the league with a whopping 17 home goals in league play a season ago and will look to pick up where he left off this weekend as City host a Sunderland squad that finished last in road goals allowed. The fact that Aguero is the fifth-most expensive forward on the slate further justifies his selection, as he seemingly stands a real chance to be the high scorer for the week.
Andre Gray, BUR vs SWA (£8.2m): Gray led the Championship with 25 goals and nine assists last season and is perhaps the most intriguing player from the three promoted clubs. He will draw a favorable matchup versus a Swansea team that struggled on the road last season, and he could carry upside worthy of a heftier salary as he makes his Premier League debut.
Charlie Austin, SOU vs WAT (£6.6m): Although Austin scored just once and made five of his seven appearances off the bench for Southampton after being acquired from Queens Park Rangers last year, he gained significant value when Graziano Pelle departed this summer. He figures to be the main option up front for the Saints as the season begins at home to Watford this weekend, and he should benefit from the presence of Dusan Tadic, Nathan Redmond and Shane Long. Austin is a relative bargain at his current price and could potentially pay large dividends if he can replicate the form that made him a coveted player during his last stint in the top flight.