These early season rankings columns are tough as we only have prior year data to rely on, which has the potential to be outdated following the various moves in the off season. Alas, the show must go on, so without further ado here are this week's forecast goals per game for each team. Note that for the promoted sides I have used an adjusted number based on their performance in last year's Championship (further explained here).
Readers from last year will remember that I used to provide data on the various captain picks to help assist with our weekly awarding of the armband. I am currently working on some updated data which will hopefully balance the various weights of different factors (opponent, form, season performance etc) to give us an effective ranking for the week. Until then (and until we have a reliable sample size for this season) we're stuck with the same old subjective views, which I will keep brief:
Wayne Rooney - United have the best fixture of the week and with some confusion remaining over who will play, and where, in this team, the generally reliable Rooney looks like the best pick. He managed 4 shots last week (2 on goal) and his 42 touches in the final third tell the tale of a player who was involved in the action all game. I have some concern about where Rooney will line up if van Persie starts, but he was still successful when Tevez and Ronaldo were in town so he should still be able to continue his success (even it may be limited somewhat).
Robin van Persie - 17% of managers are already on board but for me this is a very risky play. The elite market is somewhat clouded with the injury to Aguero, but even so van Persie looks like a gamble given the fact his role and playing time are not guaranteed for the week. I have no doubt he will succeed in the long run, and would probably edge him ahead of Rooney if he starts up top, but I would want to see a bit more before I'd be willing to captain him, unless you're out of other viable options.
Eden Hazard - For a while there, the question at Stamford Bridge was whether Chelsea would score a goal this year not assisted by Hazard. It goes without saying that he won't continue this torrid form for long (or more precisly, his teammates won't continue to convert created chances at such a high rate) but the first looks have been very promising (with 135k managers bringing him in this week). If you own the Belgian it's going to be hard not to captain him and though I generally caution against overreaction to new signings, you won't find any arguments here to doing so.
Fernando Torres - There was once a time I rated Torres as possibly the best player in the Premier League. I don't buy that he is 'finished' and I genuinely believe he can once again he be a lethal forward in this league. However, I don't think - as some have suggested - we are there yet. There were promising signs against City in the Community Shield and the first two games of the season have been solid (7 shots, 1 goal) but he still looks somewhat hesitant in front of goal and lacks the consistency of some of the other elite forwards. I can see him being ownable at some point but captaincy is a bridge too far in my eyes.
Carlos Tevez - The fixture isn't easy based on the stats, though I suppose that depends on how much weight you put in Liverpool's dismal display last week. Tevez has been impressive in the preseason and again last week and should be the main beneficiary in Aguero's absence as his minutes now look to be all but guaranteed (though Mancini is always liable for a surprise or two). His 3 shots on target last week were as good as any other forward and if he continues to generate these numbers then goals will surely follow.
Michu - I wouldn't personally put Michu on this list, but he currently leads the FFS poll so his name is worth mentioning. It was obviously an impressive debut for Michu but I'm a touch worried about some of his peripheral stats such as his 4 touches in the penalty box and 2 chances created, if we are going to suddenly throw him among the league's elite. At 6.5m (sorry, make that 6.8m now) he can still represent outstanding value if he lives up to his potential but to captain him a game which represents a good, but probably not outstanding fixture seems premature.
Gareth Bale - Bale didn't have a particularly noteworthy gameweek one, though he did manage a couple of shots and created a couple of chances to remind us of his fantasy ability. Spurs have a good fixture this week and Adebayor should add a familiar threat up top to give the team a bit more purpose. Hopefully van der Vaart will also feature as this side lacked creativity with both him and the soon-to-depart Modric out of the side. I was pretty shocked to see his ownership at 19% and if you're one of those who invested this has to be one of the games where he gains captaincy consideration.