As a few of you may have gathered from my tweeting and comments over the weekend, I playing my wildcard this weekend, as I am sure a few others are considering doing. Otis posted that it might be fun to run through my thoughts, so here is my old team, followed by the proposed new team:
Second among all keepers (playing a game less than many) and first in PPMS (1.585), Sorensen has been this year's Schwarzer and pretty much a must own. Unfortunately most people identified this before the season so we haven't see a meteoric price rise for the former Villa man. He should return from injury this week and he will be staying in the Juice ranks as long as he remains fit.
Fourth in points among keepers but only 10th in terms of PPMS, I am satisfied if not thrilled with Foster but with Vidic and Ferdinand back from injury the clean sheets should be more frequent for United, and with Van der Sar still a way from returning, and Foster aiming to hold onto the No.1 jersey, I am going to hold onto him for now. The long term strategy is to replace him with either Cudicini (4.5) if he wins the Spurs job full time, or if not another budget option, like Jaaskelainen, whose fixtures sync up very well with Stoke's.
The only defender to hold is place in the shakeup, thanks to the stability of his place in the team and his attacking play this year. At 6.5m he is probably the best value of the big four defenders and, at least until Zhirkov is fit, Ancelotti has no real alternative to rotate Cole with (unlike fellow full back Bosingwa who has been benched for Ivanovic on occasion this year). I wanted to keep at least one premium defender though the trend has been to sell defense and buy forwards due to the inconsistency of the 'reliable' defenses like Liverpool, Arsenal and dare I say, even United.
This was one of the harder decisions I made as I can't help but feel I am selling high a bit. However, despite the return of Vidic and Ferdinand, United to face City, Chelsea and Liverpool in the next 7 weeks though they are still third in my new defensive rankings. My main concern with Evra is that for 6.7m you only really get clean sheets, as exhibited by his 3 bonus points, 2 assists and 0 goals last (and 3 goose eggs in those categories this year). His chalkboards show he is getting into advanced positions but with no final product to show for his endeavour. I therefore opted to save cash here and invest in proven strikers instead.
Liverpool's defense have underwhelmed this year and I feel much better about moving Insua on than Evra. With the return of Aurelio you must now invest 7m to get a Liverpool full back and only Johnson has adjusted he is worth that kind of investment. With 7 goals conceded against Spurs, Bolton and Villa and Carragher looking like he has a lost a step, I am unconvinced that Benitez's men can return to the defensive form that warrants a sizeable investment of cash.
I wrote that I though Fulham might take a small step back this year but failed to heed my own warning and invested 5m in Hughes. Granted the fixtures have been fairly tough (Che, Ast, Eve) but its the manner of the goals conceded that concerns me. Fulham have fallen from a notch below the big four to just another mid level defence, and that makes 5m too steep of a price to pay. Plenty of solid players can be had for the 4.5m range and the likes of Villa and Spurs offer 5m players who should accrue more points over the season.
I've turned against the Everton defense quicker than Leo Messi ghosting past Danny Shittu. I was hoping that the arrival Distin and Heitinga would turn the Toffees defense around though the performance against Fulham at the weekend did not inspire much hope. Everton surrendered 19 shots to Fulham, though admittedly Heitinga only played 26 minutes in that one. Despite their good looking fixture list, Everton rank last in the updated defensive rankings and I therefore couldn't hold out for them to turn it round any longer. Being valued below his teammates could make Distin worth a look in the future but until Everton can string together some decent performances I'd stay away.
I was a bit worried about Frank's production, as highlighted by this brilliant article over at FantasyFootballScout but he still leads all midfielders with 33 points and is third among all players with 7 bonus points. Lampard's only goal was from the spot in week 2 which is troubling but so long as the assists (3 in the last 2 games) continue along with the bonus points I maintain that Lampard is still the man to own (and captain) in the league. Needless to say Frank is going nowhere in this reshuffle.
Another tough decision as the Dutchman has done well in the four weeks I have owned him. Liverpool's fixtures are okay in the coming weeks but I wanted to upgrade my front line and therefore couldn't carry someone with Kuyt's cost. I am banking on my front men getting 18+ goals each, which means a midfielder would need 15 to match the points total. Kuyt had a great season last year and only managed 12 goals and his 14 bonus points are not worth getting excited about. I am counting on Benayoun to secure a place in the first team to offset to loss of Kuyt.
Young has done well this year and was close to keeping his place but City's slightly better fixture list and his cheaper value pushed me towards Shaun Wright Phillips. Villa have a disastrous mid-season fixture run but I would certainly consider bringing Young late in the season if needed.
My pre-season favourite has been a bit disappointing and I decided I couldn't carry him on the bench any longer. I will continue to monitor his progress but I think I backed him too soon to slot right into Premier League football. There are a number of good 5m range options - Huddlestone, Koumas, Dunn, Cattermole - which makes Jimenez expendable for now.
I love Lorik Cana as a player and I figured he would play a more advanced role with Cattermole holding back but its the former Wigan man who has gotten forward more often (leading to an assist and 6 bonus points). The Sunderland website have given the Albanian three man of the match awards this season, but the 'experts' over at premierleague.com don't agree and have yet to award Cana a single bonus point this season. For that reason I have had to move Cana on but again I will continue to monitor his progress and I'll be back on the bandwagon should he start pressing forward more often.
I thought Torres would lead the league in scoring, and to be fair he still might. However at 1.4 more than Adebayor, 1.5 more than van Persie and 0.6 more than Drogba I don't think he'll outscore them enough to justify the extra expense. Arsenal have by far and away the best attacking score for the next 8 games (best goals per game, best strength of schedule) so I've saved the 1.5m and gone for van Persie. I still love Torres and rate him as the best player in the league but that doesn't translate into fantasy value and I needed the cash elsewhere.
He should be the best value striker in the game but a combination of a swine flu scare and international duty have upset him settling into the Hull side. Long term he should be an every week player but with the arrivals of Vennegoor of Hesselink and Ghilas mean there is competition for places and I'm unwilling to hold a player on the bench that isn't playing.
On the shortlist to get back once he's fit as at 4.5 he could give you 6-9 goals and be a steal. However, he can't seem to get fit and so I've moved on to ensure my entire squad is fit and ready to go.
Freshly Squeezed Juice
Remains with the team. See above
Remains with the team. See above
Also considered: Carlo Cudicini, Jussi Jaaskelainen
Remains with the team. See above
City's defense is probably more improved than their impressive attack with three clean sheets in the first four games. This was going to be Bridge but with his price rising to 5.6 I have gone for Richards (5.5). A quick look at their chalkboards show that Richards (top) was actually slightly more attacking last week against Arsenal, gaining an assist in the process. Though neither have any to date, I also think that Richards is more bonus prone due to his all action style. City rank first in my new defensive rankings (which allow for both strength of opposition and goals conceded to date) which predict City to keep at least 3 clean sheets in the 7 games after the Manchester derby this weekend.
Also considered: Wayne Bridge, Sylvain Distin
Loved this pick before Sunday, now I'm ecstatic about it. Villa kept their second straight clean sheet and Collins added two bonus points on his impressive debut alongside fellow new boy Richard Dunne. At 4.5m, Collins is half a million less than his teammates - a favourite strategy of mine when selecting defenders (see John O'Shea and Johan Djorou last year). Looking very long term Collins will probably lose his place when Curtis Davies returns but seeing as physio room report this to be in the new year, it shouldn't affect one's transfer dealings now. In my new adjusted average calculations (see above) Villa's defense rank fourth behind City, Chelsea and United - none of who carry defenders for anywhere close to 4.5m. Home games to Chelsea and City are to come in weeks 8 and 9 but aside from that the next 10 look pretty generous.
Love this pick. A lok at his chalkboard (left) shows the attacking role he played against United and the number of balls he played into the attacking zones. Spurs defense hasn't quite been what it was last season but they only conceded one goal per game in their first four and when the whole defense is fit the clean sheets should start to flow. Assou-Ekotto offers the best value of the Spurs backs, with only the oft-injured and rotated King (5m) being cheaper. After Chelsea this week, the only tester is the trip to the Emirates in week 11, with the rest looking pretty favourable.
I thought Turner was overpriced to open the season as a Hull defender but now offers great value as a Mackem. Granted, Sunderland have only kept one clean sheet this year, but they have also only conceded 1 goal per game in the last 3. Sunderland's fixtures are up an down over the next 8 weeks but as a bench player Turner gives solid value and provides a goal threat from set pieces (3 goals last year) as an added bonus.
Remains with the team. See above
Also considered: Steven Gerrard, Cesc Fabregas
I jumped on the Benayoun bandwagon so fast that I almost broke an ankle. I rate the Israeli very highly (in fact I think he's Liverpool's third best player) and I could never work out why he didn't play every week. His hattrick this weekend should ensure more playing time in the coming weeks and with Babel and Riera out of favour, this will hopefully carry on into the distant future. If he can play most weeks he offers an uncomparable combination of potential and consistency and will be by far the best sub-8m option available from the big five (perhaps along with Rosicky who I discuss below). This is a gamble but with other options available for similar money (such as Modric) I can easily move Benayoun on if Benitez doesn't see sense.
Shaun Wright Phillips
I was slow to accept the fact that SWP was going to play consistenly for the new look City but now he proven this, his value is undeniable. I think he is in the same bracket as the likes of Young and Kuyt, but is available for several hundred thousand pounds less than each. Ireland isn't in great form at the moment and I have some concerns that when he starts firing the bonus points and assists will dry up a little but even then Wright Phillips will be good value. City's demolition of Arsenal on Saturday - in which SWP was heavily involved - show the potential of the Citizens, who are now equally valued (9-1) to finish in the top four with Arsene Wenger's side. There will be plenty of goals along the way and Wright Phillips style should allow for success away from home on the counter as well as at Eastlands where City are so strong.
Also considered: Aaron Lennon, Ashley Young
This is a late addition to the new look lineup and is subject to change in the next few days. Allardyce has been singing Dunn's praise, and the pundits agree having given him 4 bonus points in the last two games (his first action of the new season). He added a goal to those points this past weekend and with Allardyce suggesting a continued role just off the striker and making comparisons to fantasy legend Steven Gerrard, Dunn is a worthy bench/rotation player in the new side.
Also considered: Steed Malbranque, Thomas Rosicky
Blogger reader NotoriousDre turned me on to Jarvis and I haven't looked back since. His chalkboards (right) show excellent positions in the danger zones as well as plenty of crosses and passes into the six yard box. For 4.5 all you ask is for a 90 minute man who has a chance to contribute in a couple of categories and Jarvis certainly ticks those boxes. Wolves schedule is pretty decent and gels with my first team players well (ie good fixtures when my first teamers have tough games). For a regular start at 4.5m Jarvis is also probably just a goal and man of the match display from a significant price rise.
Also considered: Jamie O'Hara, Jason Koumas, Lee Bowyer
This is the business end on where the big change comes. Gone are the bargain basement forwards and in come a dynamic pair that I plan to rotate with Adebayor (who was first choice until his suspension) and Defoe based on schedule. I think Drogba has only hit 80% of his form yet but has still managed four goals and leads the fantasy game is scoring. I love the fact that he is playing alongside Anelka, I love the fact he looks hungry under Ancellotti and I love the fact that he is suspended in Europe and so will be fresh in the league. Chelsea have the fourth best adjusted attacking schedule and games against Wigan, Blakcburn and Wolves have me (and hopefully Drogba) licking my lips. With two man of the match performances to date I feel Drogba probably has the highest bonus point potential of any premium striker, with the presence of Lampard the only downside here. I am a bit skeptical of investing 23.4m in two Chelsea players but even when they play good teams the big players tend to perform and so I'm happy to hitch my wagon to the league title favourites.
Also considered: Emmanuel Adebayor, Fernando Torres
Robin van Persie
This pick is of course dependant on the Dutchman shaking off the knee injury that kept him out of tonight's Champions League game. Assuming he is fit, Van Persie faces the best schedule in the league and should kick on after bagging his first of the season against City on Saturday. The 2 assist are very encouraging and hopefully when Arshavin returns from injury, the Arsenal team can become even more lethal and the goals will flow for Van Persie. Arsenal don't face another big four side until week 14 with only the derby with Spurs (week 11) looking like a tough game, and remember that finished 4-4 this time last year.
Andy Keogh I really want this pick to be Jozy Altidore but Phil Brown doesn't seem to rate the American star as a starter and the arrival of Vennegoor of Hesselink only muddies these waters further. I have therefore gone for Matt Jarvis's teammate Keogh whose 19 shots to date look very promising (Anelka 10, Bent 16 and Berbatov 14). Granted, he has only converted one of these to a goal but the 5 bonus points are also encouraging and like Jarvis above Keogh is a genuine 3 category player who will give solid contributions off the bench when required.
Also considered: Jozy Altidore, James McFadden