Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Notebook Preview: Fulham

Looking back at last season
  • 14 clean sheets last year ranked third overall yet the team averaged over a GPG conceded at home and on the road. Their home ranking was just 11th in that category.
  • Led the league in GPG away from home (1.05) and were one of three teams to have a better road record than home (with Everton and Wigan).
  • Racked up 9 clean sheets in the second half of the season, with just 5 in the first
  • Managed a solid 1.58 GPG at home but disappointed on the road with just 1.0 GPG including six zeros.
  • Keepers racked up 151 points, the league's best total, representing the best value for money around (P$ 1.067) at home. This was greatly helped by Stockdale's production for a budget price.
  • The defensive unit was also a great investment, with the 6th most total points delivering a league best P$ mark of 0.727. 
  • Four midfielders (Dempsey, Davies, Murphy and Duff) all topped 90 points with the unit ranking 9th in points and 4th in P$.
  • Front line struggled for consistent points (ranked 14th) with Zamora and Johnson both playing sporadically, but when they did play, both had some success and could potentially form a useful duo.
  • Scored 17 goals through the first half of the season followed by an impressive 32 in the second half. 

Predicted lineup (4-4-2)
Schwarzer (5.0m), Riise (6.0m), Hangeland (6.5m), Hughes (5.0m), Baird (5.0m), Duff (6.5), Murphy (6.0), Dempsey (8.5), Davies (5.5), Zamora (7.0), Johnson (5.5)

Safest Picks
Aaron Hughes . . . three straight seasons logging 100 points and over 3000 minutes . . . flexibility to play right back should ensure he keeps his place even if Senderos gets a few games . . . doesn't bring much outside of clean sheets and appearance points with xP and xA of just 1 . . . racked up 11 games of 6 points or more from GW18 on . . . better at home (3.9 PPG) but can be serviceable away (5 clean sheets, 3.0 PPG) . . . well ranked in the new EA Sports Index so bonus points could increase

Danny Murphy . . . over the past four seasons, his 38 game production has averaged 5 goals, 4 assists and 136 points . . . zero goals last year is concerning as he often operates as the deepest man with Dempsey and the wide men allowed to push on . . . key role on set pieces including the odd penalty helps his value . . . tends to play as well against good teams as the weaker opponents, making a decent plug when you need cheap, consistent minutes with some upside

Clint Dempsey . . . one of the most consistent players around over the past four seasons . . . set or tied career highs in goals, assists and points last season . . . averaged over 38 games his production over the past four seasons equate to 10 goals, 4 assists and 168 points - basically his totals from last season . . . team looks more talented than in prior years and Jol's approach should lead to more goals than under Hughes . . . lack of assists is somewhat concerning though could be helped with the return of Zamora et al . . . looks like the kind of player who may be hurt under the new bonus system

Mark Schwarzer . . . one of the more valuable pieces in the GK-rotation strategy . . . xP of 139 would have ranked him alongside the elite for a fraction of the price . . . good save totals can provide points when the clean sheets go missing . . . delivers good points totals on the road (3.5 PPG) as well as at gome (3.9 PPG) . . . Jol's Spurs sides conceded just 1.2 GPG without having much more defensive talent that this Fulham side

Upside Plays
Bobby Zamora . . . incredible production in a small sample size last season . . . in 8 games worth of minutes, added 5 goals, 5 assists and 10 bonus points . . . xP of 285 only topped by Van Persie (303) last season with an xG and xA of 23 . . . over the past 5 seasons he is averaging 11 goals, 9 assists and 167 points over a 38 game period . . . averaged 4.8 PPG after returning from injury last season included two double digit gameweeks

John Arne Riise . . . at his peak was perhaps the best offensive full back in the league with seasons of 7, 6 and 6 goals between 2001-05 . . . showed he still has it with 5 league goals in 09-10 for Roma . . . great from set pieces if he can wrestle them away from Danny Murphy . . . full backs didn't really excel offensively under Jol at Spurs . . . tough to justify 1.0m more than Hughes on the basis of production on a superior team almost a decade ago . . . it's nice to dream and you can sure to see his chalkboard analysed after gameweek one but you may be paying more for the name at this point: a tough call

No Thanks
Brede Hangeland . . . great potential threat from set pieces but last season was the first time in his Fulham  career he topped a single goal . . . lack of assists makes offensive production unpredictable and thus the extra 1.5m cost looks way too steep . . . if both players played every game and contributed a single assist, Hangeland would need to score 7 goals more than Hughes to give him an equal P$

Ast, @Wol, @New, Bla, MnC, @WBA, QPR, @Sto

Defensively speaking the trips to Newcastle and Stoke present the trickiest games based on last year though the prospect of facing Man City's lineup doesn't look too favourable either. The other games all look winnable and should yield early returns for the back line making Hughes and Schwarzer a couple of my favourite players to kick off the season with.

Goals could also flow for Fulham with Ast, @Wol, Bla and @WBA all averaging more than 1.5 GPG conceded last season. Throw in a promoted side in QPR and you might have the recipe for a hot start for Jol's side.

Final Thoughts
The favourable fixtures combined with a deep, consistent squad makes Fulham a good source of mid-level options to kick off the season. Schwarzer, Hughes, Dempsey and Zamora all rank highly on my early target last. Before going all in you might want to see how Jol deploys his team so as to gauge their defensive/attacking credentials but this kind of consistency is hard to find and should be exploited.

Team previews to date can be found here along with links to a few of the key analysis pieces posted to date. Please post any comments or questions below or over at @plfantasy.


Anonymous said...

Thoughts on Matthew Briggs' for the upcoming season? Has been playing well in several positions during preseason.

Chris Glover said...

Good question. He seems to have played a couple of Euro games in midfield, which as a 4.0m defender would make him invaluable. However, you would imagine Hangeland and Hughes will play pretty much every week so to get defensive minutes he's going to have to push out Senderos and Baird. In midfield he faces Duff, Davies Etuhu and highly rated Kasami so again the competition looks fierce.

He's certainly one to monitor given his low price tag as even playing half the games for 90 mins can deliver value. That said, at this point I'd prefer to shave 0.5m off shomewhere else in my team and plug in a Zat Knight or Titus Bramble who should give better returns in the immediate future. Thanks for the post.

fogard said...

Thoughts on Johnson as a sub?