Monday, February 7, 2011

Double Gameweek Analysis

Before we get into the full rankings for the week, I guess that most will be more concerned with the double gameweeks and so this piece will focus exclusively on them, and who ranks best on the teams with two games.

Defensive options
With defenders, I would be careful before throwing too many eggs into the DGW basket as the fixtures generally aren't that strong and the majority of the teams have at least one game where a clean sheet looks very unlikely. Now, earning 4 points just for showing up is a plus, but I wouldn't be paying 4 points for many defensive starters this week, and your free transfers can probably be better used elsewhere.

1. Arsenal
By far the strongest defensive option for the week, Arsenal face sides who score just 0.75 GPG (Wolves) and 1.00 GPG (Stoke) away from home while they themselves boast the 6th best home defense. Two clean sheets in the last three home games and four in a row overall seemed to mark the return of Arsenal as very useful fantasy unit but Saturday's disastrous second half collapse against Newcastle throws that into question somewhat. Still, with the weak opposition on offer, this unit is still the best bet for a clean sheet this week.
Who to target: Djourou's injury is a massive blow as he looked like he would be a very cheap way to access this top unit. Instead, his replacement Squillaci (6.0m) will presumably take his place making Koscielny (5.9m) the cheapest option along the back four. I would therefore play it safe with Sagna (6.2m) who gives some assist possibility, or Szczesny (4.5m), who incidentally is the most entertaining player on Twitter.

2. Birmingham
After 6 clean sheets through the first 14 gameweeks, Birmingham then went 13 straight games without keeping the opposition out. An away clean sheet this week though has put the Birmingham defense back into the shop window at the right time as they get two home games this week (where they have conceded just over a goal a game). As noted for Arsenal above, Stoke are pretty wretched on the road while Birmingham's other opponent - Newcastle - are the definition of inconsistent (though generally poor on the road).
Who to target: Jiranek (4.5m) appears to be the first choice centre back partner for Roger Johnson and provides nice value. I think Steve Carr (4.4m) is the slightly better pick purely on the basis that full backs are slightly more like to earn attacking points. Ben Foster is also a nice pick, thought be sure your 'keepers make a good pair before making moves for this week.

3. Tottenham
Two road trips against very good home teams makes Spurs players a bit risky this week, but they have managed 4 clean sheets in their last 7 games including one on the road in GW25. Blackpool have scored in every home game while Sunderland have failed just twice, though the departure of Darren Bent might help with the latter.
Who to target: For guaranteed minutes Assou Ekotto (5.3m) looks like the pick as Redknapp hasn't really settled on the remainder of his back line. I would not pay a kings ransom to get him but he would make a nice one week sub for someone like Kolarov who faces the daunting visit to Old Trafford this week.

4. West Brom - great fixtures but only one clean sheet all year (GW2). Maybe worth a role of the dice but not worth paying transfer fees for.

5. Newcastle - three road clean sheets this year but only one since GW11. Neither Blackburn nor Birmingham are prolific scorers but both are fairly strong at home and are likely to find holes in a defense which looked terrible at times against Arsenal.

6. Stoke - this once reliable unit hasn't had the best season but 3 clean sheets in the last 8 suggest they could offer some value. The trip to Arsenal basically negates the double gameweek though so unless you're really confident of them having success at Birmingham I don't think they make particularly good value this week.

7. Blackpool - strangely, the bad news is that they have to play twice at home. We've all seen the stat that they have yet to keep a home clean sheet and their 22 goals conceded at Bloomfield Road is the second worst in the league. Spurs travel as well as anyone (only failed to score twice) while Villa are much improved of late.

8. Wolves - Arsenal and West Brom have collected failed to score 4 times at home. Wolves have one road clean sheet. Just say no.

Attacking options

1. Arsenal
By far the strongest play this week, you should be looking to have a couple of Arsenal players in your team and the top captain options will surely come from this group. Wolves and Stoke have conceded 42 goals on the road in 24 games while Arsenal average 2.0 GPG at home. This projects to give the Gunners somewhere around 4-5 goals for the week and you need to be a part of the action.
Who to target: Van Persie and Fabregas are no-brainers and are probably the best forward and midfield play in the league this week. With Nasri still out, Walcott makes a very nice play. He has quietly been a superb fantasy player this year when he's played, earning 151 aPoints (which averages out a player's points as if he played every week against a balanced schedule) which is 5th among all midfielders. Walcott is probably a top 5 midfielder this week and is certainly top 10. Chamakh and Arshavin look too likely to be rotated to justify their lofty price tags for me.

2. West Brom 
Two very good fixtures (Wolves and West Ham combine for 49 goals in 25 games on the road) drives this ranking as West Brom have been just okay at home this year (18 goals in 12 games). The thing I like best about backing West Brom is the consistency of where their fantasy points come from. Looking at all the forwards and midfielders, three players (Odenwingie, Brunt and Thomas) account for 42% of them to date and so with little risk of rotation or point sharing it is easier to forecast who to back.
Who to target: The three names above are of course the targets here, with Brunt and Odenwingie being the slightly safer options (Thomas is occasionally withdrawn early in games). Odenwingie probably ranks ahead of any forward valued at under 8m this week, given the lack of firepower up front included in the double gameweek squads. Thomas makes a very nice minimum price signing while Brunt is again probably better than any midfielders valued at under 8m and not named Charlie.

3. Blackpool
While they have managed to find the net in every home game this year, Blackpool have not been prolific scorers so do not expect fireworks as they welcome two useful sides to Bloomfield Road. That said, Villa and Spurs have struggled for road clean sheets (one between them to date) and so the Seasiders' goal streak looks in good shape to continue.
Who to target: The headliner is of course Chaz Adam who is making a very strong case for fantasy player of the year. He is now third among midfielders in points (124 points) and first in aPPMS (0.993). I have regarded him as a must own for months now but once again he makes a great signing this week of you don't already have him. DJ Campbell has been a top 20 striker this year and would crack the top 10 on potential this week. Only 3 of his 8 goals have come at home and his lack of production outside of goals (2 assists and 5 bonus points to date) scare me a bit but at 4.7m you really can't go wrong if you want to spend big in midfield and save up front.

4. Tottenham
The issue with Spurs is that they really haven't picked up too many goals on their travels, and as a road team project less goals than a team like Stoke would at home. Their opponents for the week are a mixed bag as Sunderland are dominant at home while Blackpool have been very shaky. Spurs have failed to score more than twice since GW14 and have just 6 goals in their last 6 games. Having said that, they have a team stocked with talent and they have the ability to score goals against anyone. The potential return of Gareth Bale should also be a plus for Redknapp's team.
Who to target: Rafael van der Vaart is of course the obvious pick despite the fact his form has slowed down of late (4.5 PPG in the last 6). Redknapp confirmed that the Dutchman will remain on penalty duty and it looks like he should recover from injury in time for both games (be sure to check this later in the week before signing him though). With Bale and Modric both questionable right now, it might be best to wait until later in the week to jump on one of these players. An outside alternative might be Aaron Lennon who is averaging 4.9 PPG over his last 8 games, including 5 games of at least 5 points.

5. Stoke - Etherington is, as always, a great play though he is averaging just 4 PPG in road games so don't get carried away. Stoke's upcoming fixtures are pretty solid though so he is more than just a one week play if you wanted him. Some may look to Carew or Jones but I think better value is found in the teams above.

6. Newcastle - with his new found penalty duties to go with his decent bonus haul (16), Joey Barton looks like a good option at 4.8m. Kevin Nolan is also worth a look though he has been feast or famine this year with 13 bad games compared to Barton's 9. He probably has higher upside though and with two games for the price of one, he is worth a thought.

7. Birmingham - no one is averaging more than 4 PPG in the team though I suppose Bentley has shown signs of promise since arriving at St Andrews. For 5.7m though I think better options exist and so McLeish's men don't offer much interest.

8. Wolves - as with their cross town rivals, the Wolves squad is pretty devoid of fantasy talent right now.

Be careful to note that Arsenal, Tottenham and Birmingham don't currently have a game scheduled for GW28 while United have a DGW. It therefore may not be worth paying 4 points for too many players this week and I would not be selling the likes of Nani or Berbatov right now unless you are sure you can get them back next week.

Normal weekly rankings will be posted soon but hopefully the above will give everyone a few ideas for their weekly transfers. As always, comments are welcomed below or @plfantasy. You can also check out my weekly fantasy column over at Back Page Football.


Chris Oien said...

But ALSO be careful to note that odds are at least decently high that Man U's double week will be called off. The Chelsea game gets postponed if Chelsea beats Everton in the FA Cup rematch. The game Man U have left would be Wigan so still a good shout, but worth remembering. And is it at all possible that the Spurs/Arsenal game will be rescheduled for the midweek of GW 28? Maybe not if it hasn't been scheduled there yet.

Chris Glover said...

Excellent point Chris, thanks for the post. I did hear that Arsenal-Spurs may indeed take place in GW28 hence I'm not too worried about keeping RvP and Fab

Nick said...

What's the likelihood that RVP would be rotated and not play one of the games? Asking more in terms of giving him the captain's armband...

Guess even him playing one game, he might be a safer choice than Nani and Tevez playing in the derby... And I don't think I have the guts to give it to Adam or Odemwingie (probably regret it later)...

What do you think?

Carroll=Shearer said...

I'm worried about a rotation risk in regards to Arsenal. They play four games between Feb 12-22! What do you guys think?

Chris Glover said...

Nick - Carroll - I agree with the rotation risk and I' not entirely sure how to deal with it. Chamakh is waiting in the wings to steal minutes up front which I guess makes RvP the slightly riskier prospect. As you say, he is startable even with one game but without the DGW, you may consider hedging your bets. I would think Fabregas is fairly safe as both have played 6 straight games since being rested at Wigan but with Nasri out it isn't obvious who would replace Cesc.

Carroll=Shearer - do you need a new name now? how is the sale going down with the Newcastle fans? Gutted or pleased to have a lot of cash to spend?

Carroll=Shearer said...

Most fans recognize that Liverpool offered an absurd sum for Carroll and that taking the money did make some sense. Having said that, selling Carroll without having a ready replacement was ridiculous, especially since Newcastle`s place in the Premiership is not assured.

Beyond that, there is also a general sadness amongst the Toon ranks because a local lad, perhaps the closest thing to Shearer we`ll see for awhile, was jettisoned so quickly.

And, of course, everyone despises Mike Ashley and nobody believes he`ll invest the 35 million pounds into the squad.

Sean said...

What about Obafemi Martins coming on to Birmingham's squad this week? McLeish says he plans on playing him quite a bit. Call me crazy but I wanna drop Berbatov for him this week...regardless if I'll have to turn around and buy him back the next week for big fixtures.