In case you missed any of them during the week, I will shamelessly plug the previous pieces on week one lineup lessons, a bit of chalkboard analysis, contrarian views to the most targeted players and potentially cheap links in team defenses.
With that behind us, let's get onto this week. All the below rankings are for this week only so if you're still moving players around with your free transfers, refer to the long term strength of schedules rather than the below.
Clean Sheet Rankings
Based on last week's performance, QPR are currently overestimated in my stats and so Everton and the rest of the top-5 probably distance themselves a little from the rest of the pack. Each of the big teams have cheap options available though be careful to remember that these players are often backups for good reason and a Chelsea side without Cech is not the same Chelsea side that racked up 11 clean sheets last season.
Despite the massive losses of Fabregas (I need a separate post of him later, one of my top five players in Premier League history) and probably Nasri, the Arsenal side is still talented and I'd advise against challenging them with your Liverpool defenders (ie Jose Enrique) this week. A clean sheet wouldn't blow me away but I agree with these stats that better options exist this week.
Those top two matchups look fairly tasty and it's going to be difficult to select a captain not from Chelsea or Man Utd this week. Unfortunately that somewhat limits your options as I'm not sure I'm ready to put Nani and Young back in that class until a couple of questions are answered, while Chelsea's lineup is a minefield of potential and substitute tracksuits.
The masses have opted for Torres in their droves this week and based on a sample size of one gameweek, that looks like a shrewd move. However, after last week's goalless effort and Villas-Boas' praise, you have to think Drogba will be back in the team soon, which is an issue in that in brings the value of Malouda and Torres into question, who may both be pushed into unfavourable positions to accommodate the Ivorian legend. Those dead set on bringing in Aguero, could bring in Torres for one or two weeks to take advantage of the favorable fixtures, then make the switch in GW3 or GW4, thus limiting your exposure if Torres reverts to his awful 2010/11 form.
City's trip to Bolton is a tough one to call as the team seems to change so rapidly that any backwards looking data can look out of date in a flash. That said, Bolton are at least a good home side (5 clean sheets last year) while they have the potential to be top-10 unit with a bit more consistency. I would certainly not consider benching the likes of Silva, Yaya and (if you think he will start) Aguero, but the captaincy may be stretch this week.
Interesting (at least to me) side note: Not many will remember, but Aguero has actually played Bolton before (while at Atletico) and I went to the game with a big fan of South American football who told me Aguero would be the best player in the world within a couple of years. Aguero didn't even start and was sent off about 10 minutes after coming on (I think for spitting but apologies if my memory fails me) with Diouf (remember him?) netting the unlikely winner. Good times.
I am still giving Arsenal their own paragraph out of respect for Wenger (who reads this routinely I'm sure) but in reality the only captain option in this side is now Van Persie. If you own him you need to consider giving him the armband, though until we see how they fair without Fabregas I would understand if you brought in Rooney instead. Arsenal (and Van Persie fans alike) may take some solace knowing that the Dutchman averaged 5.6 PPG in games without Fabregas last season, 6.7 PPG without Nasri and 6.5 PPG with neither.
The mid-level teams throw up a couple of good options this week with Bent and Cahill both catching the eye. Bent has a tremendous fixture and has tended to score goals at home in his career but I didn't like the way the side lined up last week. He's proven he can score goals feeding on scraps in the past though and Blackburn's shaky (and injured) defense can cure most offensive ailments. Cahill is a big risk as Everton haven't played yet and have started slow for the past few years. Not to overreact to one game but QPR were simply awful at last week (Danny Gabbidon, really?) and Everton could certainly get a couple of goals here, which probably means a good outing for Cahill. I think I'd stick to ownership rather than captaincy for now though.
I am staying away from too many captain stats for now as while last year might be useful for high level team decisions, I am reluctant to cite Nani's good home form or that someone kills 'weaker' sides as so much changes on an individual level. These will begin to be integrated as trends emerge for this season.
I am pleased to say my the number of readers of this humble blog appear to be increasing and so I'm having a tough time keep tracking back to each post to answer questions. I will therefore endeavour to group common questions together and answer them within each weekly preview. [Apologies for any typos. It's 1:30am and I don't have the energy to proof read]
amtosh - What do you think about sacrificing quality in positions to ensure you have the potential big point scoring players in others?
Picking your spots on where to spend your cash is obviously a massive part of the fantasy game and every year the market makers do a good job at setting their prices so things are kept fresh. A few seasons ago, anyone with a sniff of competing in their league had Ronaldo and Lampard while Fabregas and Gerrard often hit equal heights when healthy. We' ve had streaks where premium defenders were captain worthy (Man Utd's 8 straight clean sheets spring to mind) while last year it was almost impossible to find a consistent forward with a decent price tag.
At this early junction it looks like forwards are going to be pretty thin and you might need to spend big to stay competitive. Right now, the only player I'm thrilled about owning who costs between 7.0-10.0m is Suarez. This is made easier by the defensive options, which at least for now appear to be manageable. All the premium teams have potentially cheap links and elite prospects like Kompany, Richards and Luiz can be had for a reasonable outlay. I have no idea what's going on in midfield. I can come up with at least some question marks for everyone valued at 10.0m or above whether fitness (Van der Vaart, Gerrard), role (Lampard, Kuyt) or rotation threat (Nani, Young, Malouda).
In short, feel free to spend big in one area but I would not advise aiming for a team rather than a squad. Too many players have already opted for the likes of Newcastle's Ferguson on the basis that he costs 4.0m but injuries and bans can creep up on you and fielding teams of 9 players will quickly put you in a whole. If you stay alert and agile with your selections you should be able to find cheap options who still provide value.
neil hannam - would you also not class goal keepers as part of the defensive unit?
This one is in reference to the recent cheapest link post. I don't consider 'keepers as part of defensive unit as saves tend to equalise points so that a Al-Habsi playing a team with 7 clean sheets can match the points total of Schwarzer playing on a team with 14. If we had a long term situation where a Lindegaard or Stuart Taylor were playing every week then of course I'm interested but unless than scenario unfolds I am very much happy with my preferred rotation strategy (incidentally the rotation pairs will be updated somewhere around GW8-10 for the new season stats).
Simon G - Can you, or anyone else, explain the popularity of Moses around here?
Moses is getting a lot of attention over at Fantasy Football Scout and while I agree that some may be overreacting a touch, the logic for liking him is solid. The departure of N'Zogbia gives him not only guaranteed minutes but also frees him up to player with the freedom a player of his talents needs. Though he didn't generate any fantasy points this week, he gave the Norwich defense a torrid time and was Wigan's best player by some distance. It's also important to consider his price tag. The budget midfield options have really been slashed this year and 5.0m players with upside are hard to find. In GW1, 23 5.0m or less midfielders played 70 minutes or more. 7 of these play for newly promoted sides. A further 12 of them lined up in defense or in a clearly defined holding role. Only Moses, Diame, Whelan and, to an extent, Delap played a more advanced role for their respective teams. It isn't unbelievable that one of these other options emerges as a reliable starter (I am very interested in corner taking Fox for example) but until we see more Moses looks like a good starter with substantial upside for a great price.
kurbalija - any thoughts on fellaini and barton?
Fellaini is a decent real life player but he shouldn't be a fantasy option for me. One goal and three assist last year in just under half a season suggest a player whose ceiling isn't too far north of 100 points and has struggled to stay on the field. Barton is very intriguing given his set piece responsibilities and he generally seems to pull the strings of a decent Newcastle side. He still seems to be available though, and as transfer rumours hot up, the chance of him being benched rises too. There's a nice group of options in the 6.0m bracket, most of whom bring more certainty that Barton, though few can match his ceiling (xP 156). I like him as a one week option but I currently have a GW6 alert on him, after which the fixtures improve and we'll know one way or another where he'll be playing until at least the new year.
riiseriiseriise - Who do u guys figure will fill in for cech?
Hilario was the backup on the weekend and you have to figure he gets the call here. At 4.5m he has a lot of potential but, as I tweeted earlier Cech has conceded just 0.72 G90 over the past 5 seasons compared to Hilario's 1.20. There's a reason Hilario isn't a starter and while the unit is still very good, it is important to remember that with each injury, the value of the teams decreases. The same can be said for Man Utd. It wouldn't be unreasonable for a team like Villa to lineup a back line with the quality of Fabio, Evans, Jones and Smalling but we wouldn't all be going gaga at the prospect of bringing them in for 5.5m. Just because the crest says Chelsea/United doesn't mean your getting their production from past seasons.
RossWB - So who do you think is worth targeting there [Chelsea]? Torres was (a bit surprisingly) favored against Stoke and it certainly seems like he's the primary option there. Drogba? Malouda? Or perhaps a cheaper option like Kalou or Ramires?
Chelsea are a real enigma right now with so much talent but so few fantasy options. Considering how poor he was last year and given the fact Chelsea played out a dull 0-0 with Stoke, it's amazing to think Torres heads this list, but I think he does. I mentioned above that I think Drogba will slide into this side sooner rather than later but he's too expensive to risk having him sat on your bench, or worse, coming on for 10 minutes of garbage time. Lampard and Malouda's price tags look steep when compared with Silva, Nani and Young while the cheaper options don't look safe enough to play to justify their own tags. The defense remains a good option (unless Hilario messes everything up) but until we see Torres and Drogba playing well together, I don't know how to get fantasy coverage over one of the best sides in the league
Baz0819 - Quick question - deciding between Andy Johnson or Holt as 5.5 strikers.
Both deserve monitoring and I'd throw Danny Graham and DJ Campbell into the mix too. Norwich were a very good goalscoring side last year and their fixtures give them the best GPG predictions over the short term. However, I wasn't blown away by any of the new teams last week and for that reason I might lean towards Johnson whose Fulham side don't have great fixtures but they also don't face anyone who terrifies you for the next few weeks.
@erg79 - Who do you think is a safe pick for a 6.0m or less midfielder? Brunt? I know you think that people are overreaching w/ Muamba...
@NikosEllinas - 6mil question (2nd guessing my team): Sinclair or Jarvis? Or someone else (maybe even cheaper)?
I like Brunt, the Wolves trio of O'Hara, Jarvis and Hunt, Rosicky and Danny Murphy as the pick of the 6.0m guys. Brunt and Murphy look like the safest picks and of that pair I still like Brunt given his upside. In the short term, Rosicky should log plenty of minutes for a depleted Arsenal side and while he sometimes played a bit deep at Newcastle, he should be free to roam a bit more when the Gunners play at home. I am definitely not in on Muamba, though I do like him a lot of a player. He has the upside of a homeless man's Vieira. I haven't seen enough of Sinclair to comment fully but against City he was stuck out on the left wing and didn't really live up to the 'midfielder playing up front' tag. He deserves to be on this list but I need to see more before I elevate him ahead of the likes of Brunt.
@Jadles - I'm set in keeping Formica and Nani but should I go with Adams, Yaya, Larsson, Bale, Silva, Dempsey?
I'd go Silva, Yaya, Adams, Bale, Dempsey, Larsson with Silva the clear favorite for me. He's a touch pricey but Bale is a player I plan to target after Spurs get the tricky games out of the way.
@vinnycast27 - Ash Cole/Yaya/T Cahil or Luiz/Silva/Downing? Also is Kranjcar worth bringing in?
I like both groups but I'd go with the second one based on Silva. Depending on your defender situation and your feelings on Aguero, I might be tempted to go Luiz/Silva/Yaya but that might be considered to be too much City for some. At 6.0m Kranjcar's upside value is off the charts and he would probably vault to the top of the aforementioned 6.0m list if we knew he would play. However, I just don't see him getting significant minutes as long as Modric is around, so until he moves, he would be an expensive bench player.
I look forward to seeing your comments/questions below, or over at @plfantasy. Don't get too cute with the free transfers this week and stick to the principles which have served you well in the past (like I'm not on my 3,298th version of team already).