Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Prisoner's Dilemma

With Cristiano Ronaldo due to return from injury tomorrow against Villareal, any sensible fantasy player must contemplate the possibility of bringing him into their team. Last season Ronaldo was simply incredible and anyone wishing to compete had to have him in their ranks (I was one of the stupid few who kept insisting he couldn't continue his form and I duly finished 7th in the league). As incredible as the 31 goals were last year, whats almost as fantastic was the fact that the prior year he'd accrued 244 points, only 39 less than last year's historical year. This leads me to believe he can ,and probably will, score along those line this year (minus the points for the 3 games missed already).

However, at 14m he is 2.6m more than the next midfielder (Gerrard) and 2m more than any other player (Torres).

Deco currently leads midfielders with 31 points but is only 7th in points per million spent (PPMS) at 0.816 (using his current value of 9.5m). Here are the top PPMS ratings so far this season in the midfield:

Granted, with all due respect, it is unlikely that Stephen Ireland and Rory Delap will continue at this pace for a whole season a player like Arteta or Deco may well do so and we'd expect Lampard to get even better from his current position. At Arteta's PPMS Ronaldo would have to notch 12.8 points
every week in order to represent as good value for money. At Deco's rate, 11.4 points per week. Even at Lampard's rate down in 12th position he'd need to accrue 8.5 every week.

Last year Ronaldo cost 12m and scored 283 points in 2746 minutes, the equivalent of 30.5 games. This gives him a PPMS of 0.773, below the likes of Deco so far this season. To maintain this rate he would need to score 10.8 points per week (the equivalent of say a goal, an assist and a couple of bonus points).

The Dilemma

So does the evidence suggest we should stay away from Ronaldo this season? Absolutely. But here is the dilemma, and the wild card that messes all of the above up: the captaincy. Whilst valid to say you'd prefer to save 3m and take Lampard using it to get, say Ricardo Carvalho rather than Andy O'Brien, the problem is that even if these two combined score as many as Ronaldo and O'Brien, you can only have one captain. And you can be sure that most people who fork out the 14m on Ronaldo will tattoo that armband to his arm for the rest of the season.

We are faced with the classic prisoner's dilemma situation. If we all could just agree to not take Ronaldo then we could carry on as is now with well balanced teams and good squads. However, no one can risk being the one guy who doesn't get on the bandwagon before he smashes four past Stoke (and these games will inevitably happen) so we all are forced into shoe-horning him into our teams.

I think the league may well be won and lost on how we treat Ronaldo and it'll be a brave (or foolish) man who leaves him out again. That being said, for me to free up enough cash to get him for Lampard I'd have to use all my bank balance (1.4m) and free up a further 1.6m by, say, trading down from Ashley Young to Aaron Lennon or Owen Hargreaves. Or I could lose Gael Clichy and replace him with Gretar Steinnson. At the moment I am unwilling to make such trades but upcoming home games for Ronaldo against West Brom, West Ham, Stoke and Hull I could well be using all my strength to try and close the stable door as the horse bolts into the distance.

1 comment:

Ibracadabra said...

Great analysis. I am very high on Carlton Cole for a long term bench spot or 2nd/3rd striker position, especially now that Ashton is injured and the attack-minded Zola is taking over at Upton Park...