Before we get stuck into gameweek 32, I am going to quickly fly through my top strikers for the remainder of the season, as promised yesterday. I also urge, nay implore you to look at yesterday's ramblings on midfielders which while somewhat of a Cesc-love-fest contains at least a few useful stats for your amusement.
I am limiting this discussion to the big three strikers (Torres, Drogba and Rooney) though that is not a slight on the prospects of Tevez, Bent etc, more that most of us can only afford to employ one or at most two of these stud strikers and so we really need to know which one (or two) we should hitch our wagon to. It must also be noted that Van Persie still leads all strikers with 7.7 PPG, an astonishing stat given the plaudits Rooney (7.4 PPG) has received this year. While some reports are suggesting Van Persie may be back before the end of the season I will only entertain the prospect of spending 10m+ on a player when he is a lock to start, which just isn't the case for Van Persie right now. I am therefore with Wenger (as usual) who has suggested we all calm down over the strikers' return.
Wayne Rooney (26 - 5 - 46 - 7.4 - 8.0) £12m
Rooney is rightfully receiving plaudits from around the globe for his performances this season, with Franz Beckenbauer the latest to offer some superlatives. The fantasy praise is equally strong with the general public voting with their feet to make Rooney the most owned player in the whole fantasy game (45%).
The future is somewhat more rocky, given his recent knee injury, a tough run of fixtures and the potential for fixture congestion and fatigue to kick in given United's continued presence in the Champions League. The knee injury should only rule him out for one week, though that in itself is hard to take when you have 12m invested and Torres is ready to welcome a leaky Sunderland defense to Anfield.
The fixtures are tough but Rooney has already scored against three of United's opponents and has repeatedly shown that he can score against anyone. I am concerned with the lack of games where you expect at least 2 or 3 goals, with only Bolton this week (which Rooney may miss) conceding more 1.5 GPG and three future opponents averaging less than a goal a game. In essence, you wouldn't buy Rooney for the fixtures but you probably wouldn't sell him either and if you think he can continue to stay fit and contribute in both the Champions League and Premier League then you can probably stick with the United talisman. If you want to sell, do so immediately as it would be foolish to bench him this week, suffer a price decrease, then sell anyway.
Didier Drogba (24 - 10 - 26 - 7.6 - 8.3) £11.9m
Drogba is matching Rooney in production this year, with double Rooney's assists and more points per game. His downfall is the bonus column where he has pundit-favourite Lampard stealing points while Rooney is free to pickup 3 whenever he takes the field.
Since returning from the African Cup of Nations he has been even better than the above suggests with 10 goals, 2 assists and 7 bonus points in just 8 games (8.5 PPG). Like Rooney, the fixture don't look great with Ast, @MNU, @Tot and @Liv all wielding less than one GPG. The lack of Champions League presence is a bonus as is the lack of real alternatives for Ancelotti to use in Drogba's place against weaker opponents.
His ownership is 36% compared with Rooney's 45% which gives him more differentiation potential though I would suspect that the majority of those 36% are the very teams you are competing with as Rooney's ownership is skewed by a higher starting position with all the amateur's who stick with a team from the start.
Gun to my head, I probably take Rooney over Drogba purely based on the team's they are on and the faith I have in them delivering in the crunch. That said, Chelsea looked alot better against (an admittedly poor) Portsmouth with Drogba once again in the thick of the action. The easiest solution is to keep both these stars on your books, but that prevents you from getting in on the Torres action.
Fernando Torres (16 - 3 - 20 - 6.3 - 7.5) £11.3m
On pure ability and potential I would still take Torres over Rooney if I were starting a new team. However, that doesn't get you fantasy points and there is little doubt that Torres' production - while stellar - has been a step below the level of Rooney and Drogba. This is in large part to the continued struggles of Liverpool, a lack of form from Steven Gerrard and negative tactics from Benitez. However, since returning from injury Torres has looked very sharp averaging 8.5 PPG in his four starts including 4 goals and 2 man of the match displays.
Also in Torres' favour are the fixtures, with only two opponents conceding less than one GPG (@Bir and Che). Home games against Sunderland and West Ham also have a feel of games where you can foresee a couple of goals being rattled in by the Spanish hero.
Like Rooney, Torres has the distraction of European football but having missed a portion of the season, fatigue should not be a factor for the 26 year old. The fact he will save you £0.6-0.7m over the other two options is also something not to be ignored.
Call it bias, call it over-reliance on fixture strength, but I think I am going to bring in Torres this week for Rooney given the potential for Torres to star (vs Sunderland) while Rooney warms a million fantasy benches. It then seems unlikely I would bring him back for the Chelsea game, which means I either buy him back in week 34 of risk not having him for the remainder of the season. This is the kind of decision on which mini leagues are won, I hope the above has given you some help in deciding which way you will fall.
Gameweek 32 Preview
Okay with the week's preview which I will condense a bit so as to not make this into a Bill Simmons style 5,000 epic post. No double gameweeks, no byes, just 20 teams squaring off in what will seems like a quiet week after last week's festivities. Here we go:
Clean Sheet Rankings
- Man City
- West Ham
- Man Utd
- Aston Villa
- Fernando Torres
- Carlos Tevez
- Didier Drogba
- Craig Bellamy
- Steve Gerrard
- Cesc Fabregas
- Mikel Arteta
- Dimitar Berbatov
- Luke Modric
- Antonio Valencia
As always, thanks for reading and please post your thoughts/comments/questions below or @plfantasy.