- By far the worst team in clean sheets, managing just 2 all season, including zero on the road. Those two came in GW2 and GW37 with a 34 game drought in between.
- Road defense (2.16 GPG) was 19th, better than only Blackburn. At home (1.58 GPG) they ranked 17th.
- Their goal scoring power was one of the pleasant surprises of the year, adding 1.58 GPG at home (10th) and 1.37 GPG away (4th). It's that consistency which makes some of their outfield players good value for the season.
- Closed the season with the longest streak of games without being shutout (12) and were only shutout twice at home all year (bettered only by Man Utd and Blackpool).
- The numbers for the 'keepers last year were not pretty. They ranked 20th in total points, P90 and P$, averaging just 2.3 PPG. Foster is an upgrade but he seems massively overpriced at 5.0m.
- It's a similar story for the defensive unit, managing just 1.8 PPG on their way to last price ranking in points, P90 and P$. No real indications that this will greatly change this year.
- The midfield performed much better and gave great value for money (2nd in P$) largely thanks to very good seasons from Brunt, Mulumbu and Thomas. The unit was one of a handful who performed as well on the road as at home.
- The front line didn't rack up a particularly high number of points (12th) but the majority of the team were concentrated with Odemwingie whose low price allowed this team to rank 2nd in P$.
- The side picked up their goalscoring record in the second half, racking up 32 goals compared to just 24 in the first. More importantly, their GPG under Hodgson increased to 1.75 having previously sat at a pedestrian 1.19.
- The teams GPG conceded also fell under Hodgson's tutelage, falling from 1.85 to 1.58. This probably doesn't get them to a place where defenders should be owned, but it's at least a step in the right direction.
Foster (5.0m), Jara (4.5m), Tamas (4.5m), Olsson (4.5m), Shorey (4.5m), Morrison (5.5m), Scharner (5.5m), Mulumbu (5.5m), Thomas (5.5m), Brunt (6.0m), Odemwingie (7.5m)
I am not going to dwell on the back line as, realistically, none of them (including Foster) should be owned until we see this team put together a couple of clean sheets. There's decent depth in the middle, though there's a hint of quantity over quality towards the bottom of the depth chart. You can take an educated guess that Brunt and Thomas should get regular minutes and both have fantasy potential. With Gera coming in and Tchoyi having late season success, it's unclear how the remainder of the side will line up. Up top you would wager that Odemwingie starts the majority of games on his own, though Fortune could steal a few minutes from the midfield if Hodgson wants to change the shape of the team.
Chris Brunt . . . two very good seasons in the Premier League (121 and 130 points) . . . xG (5), xA (12) and xP (148) show how Brunt can contribute across a number of categories . . . better at home (4.2 PPG) but still useable on the road (3.6 PPG) . . . been on penalty duties in the pre-season . . . might lack the ceiling of some others in his price bracket, but looks like a lock to rack up 120 points or so . . . averaged just 3.2 PPG after Hodgson took over so check his deployment before investing here.
Peter Odemwingie . . . one of the most pleasant surprises of last season . . . finished 4th among all forwards last season in points and has an even higher upside with more minutes . . . xG (19), xA (11) and xP (218) show that his upside is sky high. . . averaged 6.5 PPG after Hodgson came in (equivalent to a 247 point season) . . . ability to add assists differentiates from the majority of players in his price bracket . . . hasn't played much in the pre-season and looks like a doubt for GW1 . . . given the tough fixtures, probably hold off on Odemwingie for a couple of weeks.
Somen Tchoyi . . . had a very strange season with 6 goals in just 830 minutes but never really locked down a first team place . . . with Odenwingie out, he has been deployed as a forward in the pre-season . . . only added a single assist so if the goals aren't for real his value is probably limited . . . wildly speculative at this point and is probably too expensive (5.5m) to warrant owning anytime soon, but his goalscoring touch last season justifies his inclusion on your shortlist.
Youssouf Mulumbu . . . xG (7), xA (2) and xG (132) evidence a nice first full season in England . . . does not have a history of goalscoring from his career in France . . . probably a better player in reality than fantasy star . . . 17 bonus points last season but he looks like the kind of player who might lose under the new system . . . in a vacuum he has value but I just don't see any argument as to why you'd own him over Brunt, and you surely wouldn't want both.
Ben Foster . . . a terrible defense improved a bit under Hodgson, reducing GPG conceded from 1.85 to 1.58 . . . clearly upgrade in terms of pure talent over Carson . . . West BromFulham, Villa or Stoke, who have keepers at the same price . . . just too expensive to be a factor right now.
MnU, @Che, Sto, @Nor, @Swa, Ful, @Sun, Wol
Defensively the fixture list is actually pretty good, once you get past the nightmare opening two weeks. However, no defender on this team warrants consideration right now.
Offensively the fixture list ranks 9th overall which translates to a forecasted 7th place position in GPG. The trip to Chelsea ranks as the only red light game though there are plenty of fixtures in which this team could potentially struggle. Stoke, Norwich, Swansea and Wolves all translate as potentially good games and if West Brom can come through this stretch showing a continued ability to score, I think we can safely invest in the likes of Brunt and Odemwingie, potentially leaving them in your side regardless of opponent.
This side were extremely productive under Hodgson last year though I'm not sure most people realise just how good they were. If they continued their 1.75 GPG rate they showed after Hodgson arrived last year, they would finish with 67 goals, which would have ranked them fourth behind only United, Arsenal and Chelsea last season. The best part may be that not only do they have potentially good production, but it's also fairly clear where it will come from. Brunt and Odemwingie are legitimate stars and could push players valued at a couple of million above them in straight points, never mind value. Both are carrying knocks, but the tough opening two games gives them a chance to get fit before we consider bringing them in for GW3.
All the other team previews can be found here, and the latest strength of schedule rankings can be found here. Please post your questions/comments below or at @plfantasy.