Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Notebook Preview: Everton

Looking back at last season
  • 9 clean sheets for the year made the team a mid level defense but their higher cost delivered fairly poor value
  • Managed 3 clean sheets over the final 7 gameweeks 
  • Consistent GPG conceded at home (1.21) and away (1.16) though clean sheet split was more pronounced (6-3)
  • Ranked 8th in home GPG (1.63) and 11th on the road (1.05). Again the number of times failing to score shows a clear distinction (2-7).
  • Defensive unit ranked 5th in P90 including a top ranking in bonus points thanks to stellar totals from Baines (20), Distin (16) and Jagielka (10). Due to their comparatively high cost though, they delivered a P$ ranking of just 11th.
  • The midfield really contributed little all year, ranking 11th in P90 and 19th in P$. Full, healthy seasons from Cahill and Arteta should help improve these totals.
  • The front line also gave a lackluster performance with 198 points only just eclipsing Tevez's individual total. To be fair, this is partly due a sustained period of having no forwards n their lineup and a consistent run in the side for Saha or Beckford should help here.
  • Significantly improved in the second half of the season, scoring 31 goals compared to just 19 in the first half. 
Predicted Lineup (4-5-1)
Howard (5.5m), Baines (8.0m), Distin (5.5m), Jagielka (5.5m), Hibbert (5.0m), Neville (5.0m), Arteta (8.0m), Heitinga (5.5m), Coleman (7.0m), Cahill (9.0m), Saha (7.5m)

Safest Picks
Phil Jagielka . .. xP of 127 is a useful total for a player who generated very few offensive points . . . less likely to face rotation than Distin and Heitinga (though Distin too looks fairly safe) . . . never really contributed much offensively save for a 4 goal season back in 06/07 . . . appeared on the top 100 EA Sports Index last season suggesting he might see some increased bonus points . . . be mindful of rumours of move to Arsenal as this could make him very cheap (if he plays) or suddenly overvalued (if he doesn't) and may require you to waste an early season transfer

Tim Cahill . . .top 15 midfielder in xP with 198 points despite playing through injuries and often out of position . . . G90 rate of 0.4 ranks among the elite at his position . . . scored 9 goals and had 101 points at the halfway stage last season, but failed to net in a disjointed second half . . . ability to score against the best teams (MnU, MnC, Ars and Liv last season) makes him a reliable starter every week regardless of fixture . . . only 2 double digit games but 10 starts with 6 points points or more in the first 18 GWs . . . potential to deliver like Van der Vaart, Kuyt and Malouda at a discount

Upside Plays
Louis Saha . . . top 20 forward in xP with 175 . . .0.7 GPG at home is one of the best marks in the league . . . while at Everton he is averaging 0.48 GPG, equivalent to an 18 goal season . . . seems to be fit going into the season . . only topped 1,500 minutes once while at Everton . . .lack of assists and bonus points makes him one dimensional for points scoring . . . Beckford (below), Anichebe and promising youngster Gueye could all vulture minutes in what is likely to be a lone front man system . . . probably a bit pricey at 7.5m to justify the risk out of the gate, but few players in that price bracket have his upside

Jermaine Beckford (6.5m) . . .reliant on Saha getting injured to become a regular starter . . . incredible production last year feasting on scraps with 8 goals in 1,300 minutes, xG of 21 . . . showed some ability to generate assists (xA 5) and bonus points too (xB 13) though be careful as the sample sizes are pretty small . . . too pricey to hold onto given the probable lack of playing time (Ba and Davies look much safer early on) but like Saha, has a ceiling few others can match in this price bracket

No Thanks
Leighton Baines . . .historically good last season with the 3rd most goals (5) and more than double the assists of any other  defender . . . gets into great attacking positions and has a good understanding with attacking players (particularly Cahill) . . . assist level looks unsustainable with a regression surely due in the year, thus making his 8.0m look steep . . . played every minute last season which again would seem unlikely to be repeated (whether through injury, resting or suspension) . . . hard to justify the extra 0.5m expenditure over Ashley Cole who plays on a much better defensive team

Mikel Arteta . . .over the past 4 seasons his average 38 game production would be 7 goals, 8 goals and 174 points . . . great on set pieces which gives him consistent production, even against the tougher sides . . . can sometimes disappear in games though and is more prone to 2 pointers than Cahill . . . injury problems are already showing themselves . . .seems to want a move back to La Liga . . . all the talent needed to succeed but a needless gamble to open the season with, monitor his production and consider him a transfer target if he shows enough

Seamus Coleman . . . points last year were earned due to classification as a defender . . . even if he plays every week his offensive production alone is unlikely to justify his 7.0m price tag

@Tot, QPR, @Bla, Ast, Wig, @MnC, Liv, @Che

Wigan, Villa and Liverpool racking up 17 zeros on the road last year while QPR is presumably one of the easier games a defense will face (only averaged 1.22 GPG in the Championship). The fixtures don't boost Jagielka, Distin etc value but probably aren't bad enough to warrant staying away altogether.

All four road trips look to be harsh on the attacking players with Blackburn (16 goals conceded last season) joining the bigger name teams as formidable opponents. In fact, all four ranked among the top seven home defenses last season. Unlike their defensive counterparts, from an attacking perspective I might suggest that these fixtures do deter me from investing in this group, particularly with fitness concerns over Saha and Arteta and Cahill's work with the National side. Although strength of schedule can change from year to year, as of now, their run between GW9 and GW20 looks much more appealing.

Final Thoughts
Everton are a good side to look at for fantasy leagues as Moyes tends to be one of the more reliable managers in the league and the fantasy stars tends to play when fit. That fitness is probably the overarching concern here, possibly rendering Arteta and Saha un-ownable for the foreseeable future, until they can prove they can stick around for more than a handful of games at a time. 

If Jagielka stays, the defensive unit looks solid, though whether they can distance themselves from cheaper units like Blackburn, Fulham or Stoke remains to be seen.

Team previews should be coming thick and fast now, with a full list available here. In the meantime, the latest transfer rumors and pre-season comments will be posted over at @plfantasy.


Steve said...

Hi Chris, any chance of a post about fundamental tactics for newcomers to this FF system? I've only played the Guardian version before and have no idea how the season will play out with regards to player prices and points. Do most people spend almost all their cash up front, or keep some back in case your players lose value? And do you generally plan to use a transfer every week, or try to settle into a lineup that only needs it less often? Thanks for the great blog BTW

Chris Glover said...

Good idea Steve. Any ESPN fans might be aware of Matthew Berry's manifesto which outlines his high level strategies so I might steal the idea to suggest some overarching ideas for the pl.com game. Thanks for posting.

Simon G said...

Just a quick one. can you confirm what 'G90' means. I can't see it in the glossary.


Chris Glover said...

Thanks Simon, I will update now. G90 is basically goals per game but on a per minute basis rather than per appearance. As an extreme example, if a player plays three times for 30 minutes a time and scores in each appearance his G90 would be 3 (3goals per 90 minutes).

It helps me account for the games where a player comes on for a couple of minutes without messing up their goal scoring abilities.

Simon G said...

Oh I see. I had thought it was the proportion of games the player played the full 90 mins for. but then you said that Tim Cahill's G90 of 0.4 was very good, which didn't seem to stack up!

I think that's a great way of tracking a players scoring abilities.

Just one quick general question. Do you plan on doing a general roundup on who you think the top picks are for each position. It looks like once you have done a peice on every team, you will have nominated quite a few 'safe-picks' and upside picks. Just wondered if you were going to highlight to cream of the crop accross the league.

I'm looking forward to your bit on Liverpool. I have chosen Kuyt, Adam and Suarez so far - I'll be interested to see what you think of them.