Monday, November 3, 2008

Strength of Schedule

One of the most overlooked aspects of Fantasy Football is the matchups our players face each week. Most players seem to simply follow trends (which can sometimes work) and pick those players who have racked up alot of points to date or in the previous week. However, this obviously ignores the fixtures on the horizon and often leads to wasted transfers and point chasing.
By assigning a figure (1, 2 or 3) to each team based on their performance to date - in terms of goals scored and conceded whilst at home and away - we can generate a strength of schedule for defensive and attacking players.

Defensive players
Based on the next 6 games, the best strength of schedules for defensive players are:

- Liverpool 1.3
- Sunderland 1.3
- Aston Villa 1.7
- Blackburn 1.7
- Chelsea 1.7
- Hull 1.7
(an average schedule would be 2.0)

This clearly shows that Liverpool have a combination of the league's second best defense along with the easiest defensive schedule, which should lead to bumper points for the likes of Reina and Carragher. The slight downside with Liverpool is that aside from these two, no Liverpool player is a guaranteed start, though Arbeloa appears to be playing his way into this club. If you're budget can stretch, I would recommend Reina as the best man to capitalise on this run. Chelsea are also an obvious pick with Alex and Bridge being potential bargains so long as Carvalho and Cole remain out, which should be for at least the coming gameweek.

On the flip side, the following teams have a difficult 6 defensive games:
- Tottenham 2.3
- Portsmouth 2.3
- Man City 2.3
- Bolton 2.3

Tottenham, Portsmouth and City all have fairly ordinary defences and you probably only hold these players based on attacking potential (such as Traore or Kompany). Bolton however have been a useful source of reliable bench men, and it is a shame to lose this option for the next 6 games. However, with 4 road games and home games against Chelsea and Liverpool, you should divest your Bolton assets now, or prepare to stash until Christmas time rolls around.

Attacking players
The best attacking strength of schedules over the next 6 games are:
- Portsmouth 1.7
- Wigan 1.7
- Chelsea 1.8
- Fulham 1.8
- Middlesbrough 1.8
- Sunderland 1.8

As with the defenders, Chelsea are of course an attractive option though fitting in the likes of Lampard and Anelka is easier said then done. Anyone who owns Gerrard or Fabregas though should in my opinion switch to the bonus machine that is Lampard.
The other teams contain some cheaper options that could be very useful players over the coming weeks. Zaki and Valencia will hopefully return to the stunning form of the opening weeks, with Zaki already getting back on the scoresheet in gameweek 11. Bullard has 11 points in the past 2 weeks and could be a nice mid range option, as could his cheaper teammate Gera. However, the pick of mid range midfielders is possibly Niko Kranjcar who returned from injury against Liverpool and scored his first of the season last weekend against Wigan. At just 6.1 he could be a decent replacement for the likes of Denilson whose early form appears to be tailing off.

The pick of the striking options, aside from the obvious Zaki, Defoe and Anelka could be Cisse (if he can stay out of Keane's dog house), Crouch and Alves. All three strikers have 3 goals to their name this term, and it wouldn't be suprising to see one of these three double that tally over the next two months.

On the flip side, the following sides have the worst strength of schedules:
- Blackburn 2.8
- Arsenal 2.3
- Man Utd 2.3
- Bolton 2.3
- Newcastle 2.3
- Stoke 2.3

Blackburn's schedule is devastating and I would recommend selling all Rovers players right now. Despite the schedule I would not necessarily sell Utd players such as Ronaldo and Berbatov, although fringe players like Fletcher and Carrick become less attractive. The same goes for Arsenal with Adebayour, who remains an elite prospect despite the tough fixture list. The other teams don't have anyone who is worth holding through this tough spell and should be divested as soon as possible unless no other options are viable.


Silent Jay said...

In all honesty, I'm not sure where you got 2.8 for Blackburn from. Sunderland (only 2 CS, both vs soft opposition), Tottenham (same) and Wigan (no CS since GW 5) are certainly not that tough. And Portsmouth have conceded vs Fulham, Wigan and Stoke in their last 3 home games. That really only leaves Chelsea and Liverpool as rather tough nuts to crack - but both at home. And Liverpool have been inconsistent at the back lately.

Then again, it's all a bit of a mute point, since no one actually has any Blackburn players. :-)

Villanueva and McCarthy (after his suspension) are intriguing bargain-prospects. But that's about it.

Silent Jay said...

Also, checking my shopping list, I just noticed that Arsenal can't be far behind in the "difficult defensive games" list - ManU (H), Villa (H), ManCity (A), Chelsea (A), Wigan (H), and Boro (A). I predict one clean sheet.

Ibracadabra said...

Cool math(s), I still think that "quality" is quality no matter the strength of schedule. This is a great cheat sheet for short term plays or subs - but as we've learned with Zaki at Liverpool, for example, or Ronaldo at (whoever he plays!) when you are good, it often matters little who you are playing...

I always look at non-Big 4 players' schedules when making a decision before purchasing them, but Big 4 Talent is usually safe from the speculation.

Will you captain Ronaldo this weekend even though he plays Arsenal?

Silent Jay said...

Arsenal have one clean sheet in their last 7 games... against pretty ordinary opposition. The odds of Captain Ronaldo keeping his job are pretty decent. (Although Robinho and Zaki are tempting as well.)

Chris Glover said...

jay. rather than look at the tottenham defense, i have looked at Tottenham at home who have conceded 6 in 6 (at the time of calculation). This is equally true of Pompey and Wigan are just behind with 8 in 6. Add to this Chelsea and Liverpool (who have concded 5 in 11 games total on the road) and you arrive at a tough fixture list

Chris Glover said...

"quality is quality" - i couldnt agree more. I am 100% committed to basing the team on solid players who play 90 mins a week for good teams. however, its hard to get 11 of these every week so I then look to matchups for my sub of the week.

and yes, Ronaldo keeps the armband for my team without a doubt.