For anyone who regularly plays Sky Sports Fantasy Football, you will be aware of how important the bonus points system is to achieving a high rank on the global leaderboard.
Heading into the World Cup, FFBobby gives his top five favourite picks for who he believes will pick up the most tackles, passes and shots, and become the go-to bonus magnets throughout the tournament.
His excellent thread on underlying numbers from qualification and other recent matches can be found here.
Remember, a first prize of £10k is on offer in this free-to-play Sky game, with the manager finishing second netting £1,000 and the bronze medal position worth £500.
Pervus Estupinan (£6.5m) – Tackles
Taking my number five spot is Ecuador’s starting left-back, Pervis Estupinan. He could prove to be an impressive captain choice on the opening day, with owners hoping to bag some clean sheet points, an attacking return and of course the beloved tackles tier.
Estupinan averaged the most tackles in the Ecuador team in both the World Cup Qualifiers and Copa America, with 2.2 and 2.4 tackles per game respectively.
Up against opponents such as Denzel Dumfries & Ismaila Sarr in the group stages, we can be sure that Estupinan will be busy.
With a low price of £6.5m, and also as a designated free-kick and corner taker, he could be a tough player to miss out on.
Luka Modric (£8.2m) – Tackles, Passes
An already popular pick at 16.04% ownership is Croatia captain Luka Modric. As well as the all-round set-piece taker of the team, Modric looks to be a decent pick for bonus points as well.
Many may think that due to his age he may struggle to play enough minutes to hit those final passes needed to grant those extra points, but Modric looks ready to go after playing the full 90 minutes in his last three games for Croatia.
Modric managed an average of 65.9 passes (third) and 1.9 tackles per game (third) in the World Cup qualifiers, and an average of 60.8 passes (first) and 1.0 tackles (fifht) at Euro 2020.
Modric also offers us an additional attacking threat, after attaining Croatia’s joint-top goal scorer and assister awards in the qualifiers.
There is no surprise why many managers are picking Modric in their teams as he offers everything there is to want from a midfielder in Sky Fantasy Football.
Declan Rice (£7.6m) – Tackles, Passes
A popular choice in the Premier League version of Sky Sports Fantasy Football is England’s Declan Rice. Rice has picked up 16 passing bonus points and five tackle bonus points in 15 games with West Ham, a team that has averaged 45.5% possession in the Premier League this season. With England however, a team that averaged 73.2% possession in the World Cup qualifiers, he has a much better chance of hitting those high passing numbers.
With England, Rice hit an average of 72 passes per game in the qualifiers and 2.4 tackles, which ranked him third among the England squad in both departments. Going into the World Cup against weaker opposition on paper throughout the group stage, we can hope that Rice carries his Premier League point-scoring form across to the World Cup.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£7.4m) – Tackles, Passes
Another popular bonus magnet within the Premier League section of Sky is Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Denmark. Similar to Rice, Hojbjerg has picked up 17 passing bonus and two tackle bonus points in 14 Premier League games for Spurs this season.
The Dane was ranked number one within the Denmark squad for both passes and tackles at the Euros, averaging 1.8 tackles and 56.2 passes per game. Additionally, Hojbjerg was ranked number two for the average most passes for Denmark in the World Cup qualifiers with 60 per game, only behind Andreas Christensen with 73.1.
Hojbjerg also proves to keep his numbers up against the higher ranked teams, achieving 64 passes (first) and four tackles (first) in their most recent 2-0 win over group opponents France. He also managed 74 passes (third) and two tackles in their previous meeting, where Denmark took home a 2-1 victory in June.
Picking Hojbjerg also means we can save a transfer in Round 2, as we won’t have to transfer him out thinking it’s a hard game vs France as the stats suggest that we can expect Hojbjerg to achieve bonus points against the group favourites.
Ilkay Gundogan (£8.6m) – Tackles, Passes, Shots
My favourite pick for bonus points goes to Germany’s Ilkay Gundogan. The Manchester City maestro found himself in the top six of every category in the Germany squad relating to bonus points during the World Cup qualifiers. He managed an average of 1.5 tackles (fourth), 64.8 passes (sixth), and 1.4 shots on target (third) in the Qualifiers, which leaves a lot of potential for all sorts of bonus points throughout the World Cup.
Gundogan also managed some promising stats at the highest level at the Euros, averaging two tackles per game and 57.3 passes.
In addition to the prospect of many tackles, pass and shot tiers, Gundogan is also Germany’s main penalty taker, and was their top goal scorer in the World Cup qualifiers with five goals in 10 games, making him even more appealing to us Sky Fantasy players.