Friday, August 12, 2011

Notebook Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Looking back at last season
  • Just 5 clean sheets last year, better than only West Brom. GPG conceded at home (1.58) and on the road (1.89) were both fairly disastrous. Roger Johnson is an upgrade but this team still lacks the talent to provide every week defensive starters
  • Big difference when playing at home or away. At home they failed to score just 3 times and averaged 1.58 GPG, better than Villa and Sunderland and tied with Spurs. However on the road they managed just 0.84 GPG and were shutout 7 times.
  • Keepers ranked 19th in P90 but there low cost allowed them to register a respectable 14th ranking in P$. I still struggle to see how they can be owned this year though
  • The defense was a similar story with a 16th ranking in P90 but a P$ rank of 12th. Again, it's hard to see owning these players other than for a short loan spell when the fixtures are particularly good (and home heavy)
  • The midfield was a useful source of fantasy points last year with a 13th ranking in P90 leading to 5th spot in P$. Their is a lot of talent in this unit and if anyone of them can hit form they should definitely register on your radar.
  • Perhaps the most underrated fantasy front line in the league. 9th in total points, 6th in P90 and 3rd in P$ show how good this unit were last year. The issue of fitting three players into one or two spots is the issue and it might make Doyle and Fletcher impossible to own all year. However, like the midfield, a consistent run of form for any of these players make for fantasy gold.
Predicted Lineup
Hennesey (4.5m), Elokobi (4.5m), Johnson (5.0m), Craddock (4.5m), Foley (4.5m), Hunt (6.0m), Henry (4.5m), Jarvis (6.0m), O'Hara (6.0m), Doyle (6.0m), Fletcher (6.5m)

This lineup looks fairly easy to project, though I have omitted Milijas and Kightly who one would presume will play minutes at some point. There's also the issue of formation as McCarthy seemed to gravitate away from his preferred 4-4-2 for long periods last year making Doyle and Fletcher's places look unstable. Ebanks-Blake further clouds this front line situation.

Safest Picks
Matt Jarvis . . . great season last year with xG (4), xA (9) and xP (149) all representing excellent value for a player of his cost . . . was not overly reliant on bonus points so shouldn't be hurt too much by the new system . . . killed it at home (4.8 PPG) though struggled on the road (3.1 PPG) perhaps making him a spot starter unless the fixtures are particularly kind . . . finished the season with a nice run of away performances though (4.0 PPG in the last 8) suggesting he might improve in that area . . . currently the second most owned midfielder value at 7.0m or less . . . may lack of the upside of some in his price bracket but 120 points, with strong home performances look to be locks, which cannot be dismissed.

Kevin Doyle . . . failed to notch his 4th straight 100 point season (90) but came close despite playing just 2100 minutes . . . over the past 4 seasons his GPG rate average out to an 11 goal season . . . can contribute some assists (xG 6) making him less one-dimensional than many in his price bracket . . . playing time is not guaranteed with McCarthy sometimes going 4-5-1 though he did appear to be top of the depth chart last year . . . probably the safest of the Wolves forwards though limited upside hurts his value . . . 6.0m options are limited but it might be worth saving 0.5m elsewhere to upgrade.

Upside Plays
Steve Fletcher . .. quietly had a tremendous season last year with incredible xG (25), xA (7) and xP (238) numbers . . . good goal scoring ratio at Burnley suggests it wasn't a total fluke either . . . playing time is a massive concern if McCarthy sticks to one up top and Doyle is fit . . . in a good price bracket with the likes of Davies, Rodallega and Ba but his upside can match any of that group if he can just play . . . too soon to plug him in yet but if he plays, he should score goals.

Jamie O'Hara . . .extremely talented and unfortunate to have bounced around for the past couple of seasons . . .the sum of past two seasons equate to a single season with 5 goals, 5 assists and 152 points . . . dangerous from set pieces which should keep his assist totals steady . . . xG of 9 last year suggests he knows where the goals are too . . .there aren't really any sure things in the 6.0m bucket and O'Hara is right up there among those who look guaranteed to get minutes and also have the potential to be this year's N'Zogbia or Henderson.

Stephen Hunt . . . very much the same story as O'Hara . . . xG and xA of 8 along with xP 163 show how high his potential is . . . had three straight 100+ point seasons until last year was cut short . . . need to see how he is deployed and would be one of the players to benefit under a 4-5-1 rather than a 4-4-2

No Thanks
Roger Johnson . . . not much to like about this defense or paying a premium for a couple of goals scored last year . . . currently among the top 20 defenders owned which seems perplexing . . . stick with Jose Enrique, Aaron Hughes or get someone in the 4.5m pool

@Bla, Ful, @Ast, Tot, QPR, @Liv, New, @WB

gameweeks, but until then there are better, safer options around.

Attacking wise the schedule is much harder and it translates to a predicted lack of goals for this team. Teams like Blackburn, Fulham and Villa don't make you terrified but each were very good defensively last year and while you could perhaps see Blackburn regressing a bit, the other two could be even better this year. It's a shame because I like the talent in this Wolves side, but on the bright side, those opening games give us a good chance to see how McCarthy lines up and then re-asses the situation before we consider bringing in the likes of Jarvis, O'Hara or Fletcher.

Final Thoughts
You probably wouldn't think of them as an exciting team but Wolves actually boast one of the better midfield groups in the league among the lower profile teams and the front line has promise of it's own. The fixtures and the uncertainty around the formation to be used makes me hesitant to invest from GW1 but this is very much a team who could provide several good options throughout the season, much like a Blackpool or West Brom last season. Be sure to monitor this team's progress as the season opens.


Snorre said...

Nice work on this.

Kightly seems to have been the #1 pick during pre-season, and while he is semi-injured at the moment i think he will give competition to Jarvis and Hunt for the wing position making it hard to have anyone of them regularly. All three of them great players, but I'd stick with O'Hara if you want a wolves midfielder.

I think defensively they will be much better than last year - Johnson is a leader and hopefully he can bring out the best in the not so fantastic defensive line. Hennessey is great though.

Chris Glover said...

I surprised myself writing this how much I like their team. If you told me they finish 10th this season I would not be blown away. I really like Johnson but I'm yet to be convinced by this defensive unit. I agree on Hennessey though.
I can't believe Jarvis will be consistently dropped but there certainly depth in the middle. I think I've been scared off all of them right now!

Penny Parker said...

I really appreciate these analyses Chris. I've read (or will read) every one of them. I've also followed your goalkeeper strategy and clean sheet forecasts from prior years and done well in my league. Thanks alot and keep up the good work!