Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gameweek One: uncommon sense

We are all prone to a bit of overreaction but normally after GW1 you have but one transfer to help rectify those moves you have already cast into history as monumental mistakes. Perhaps you ditch the benched Drogba for the penalty taking Luis Suarez or switch your mid-price Villa defender for Smalling who suddenly looks like he's guaranteed to play. The unlimited free transfers for the week messes this dynamic up and it's going to make many teams very similar as managers around the world react to the GW1 events.

Gameweek one is very useful. It gives us an indication of who a team's strongest lineup is (though this is by no means guaranteed) and hints towards tactics a manager might use for the season. I think we can derive more negatives than positives tough, perhaps suggesting that Drogba's value has taken a hit as he suddenly looks droppable or Dempsey's deeper role makes him overpriced at 8.5m. Where most managers look though is who performed well, and this is where we must tread carefully.

Here are a selection of scores from GW1 last year:
  • Drogba 17
  • Harewood 15
  • Malouda 15
  • Baptiste 12
  • Hart 12
  • Larsson 11
  • Milner 11
  • Scholes 11
  • D Fletcher 9
  • S Petrov 8
  • Nani 3
  • Tevez 2
  • Baines 2
Of the top 15 scorers, 7 went on to top 100 points for the season - a pretty good ratio. However, when you look at the names - Drogba, Malouda, Hart, Larsson, A Cole, Downing and Lampard - did we really learn anything we didn't already know? Hart, Larsson and Downing were obviously good buys at that point but the others were already among the most expensive at their position. Of the lesser names atop of the list, it was only really Charlie Adam and Paul Robinson who showed their hand as excellent budget options in GW1 and remained there all year.

Let's run through the top 'bought' players to date for GW2 and, where necessary, apply the brakes just a touch before your team gets out of control before we even start. I understand there are reasons to buy all the below players, and I'm not necessarily suggesting you don't (indeed I will own a number of them by week's end), only that you continue to apply the same logic you would have last week and don't overreact to one one game.

Way too soon

Fabrica Muamba
Scored a great goal at the weekend; might not score another all year. Playing alongside Reo-Coker did allow him to push on a bit more than usual knowing he had someone who could protect him, but Muamba is simply not a goalscorer. He managed a lone goal and zero assists last season and with Reo-Coker and Pratley coming in to challenge for minutes I would have expected similar totals again this year. The 5.0m category is admittedly thin but I don't think Muamba is the answer. Save money elsewhere and upgrade, go with an attacking player like Moses or go even cheaper with someone like David Fox.

Ivan Klasnic
I actually like Klasnic and had him in my upside plays for Bolton this year. That said, he came deep early and often against QPR and I worry that he won't get enough opportunities in open play to contribute to your team. This could be a product of playing away from home and Bolton were substantially better at home last year than away (1.79 GPG vs 0.95) but I think we need to see more before piling on Klasnic.

The fixtures are a mixed bag and there isn't great depth in his price bracket so I wouldn't class this signing as a total panic buy but it is very much in the speculative rather than well-reasoned category right now.

Seb Larsson
Larsson was one of the aforementioned players who had a big start last year and actually wound up with a 100+ point season. However, 43 of his points came in 4 games and he averaged just 2.4 PPG between GW2 and GW32. Of course he's on a new team with better players around him, but the point is that this one games tells us nothing new.

He has the potential to score good goals and should register regular minutes, hence why he was regarded as a safe pick in my team preview, but that was true before this week so if you didn't like him then, why the love now? The same virtues accompany a lot of players though and given Sunderland's tricky fixtures, you can probably find one of them who has an easier run and probably comes at a cheaper price.

Gary Cahill
As soon as I wrote the pre-season piece on not paying for defender goals, I knew someone I mentioned would have a big early week and the questions would come. Gary Cahill is a very good player and his goal on the weekend shows that he isn't just scuffing them in, he can clearly play. However, at 1.0m more than his teammates, you still need him to score 3 more goals just to break even in terms of P$. It works in Cahill's favour that he's on a mid-table team who have less bonus magnets and therefore when he scores he should rack up bonus points too, but that is kind of a different argument.

Bolton looked good in week one, but I watched every game last year and this isn't an elite defensive side. They racked up 5 clean sheets last season compared to 14 for Liverpool, 15 for Chelsea, 15 for Man Utd and 18 for Man City. You can get access to those team via Jose Enrique, Jose Bosingwa, Chris Smalling and Vincent Kompany for the same price or just 0.5m more than Cahill (Enrique is actually cheaper). Granted, some of that group won't start every game but I'd prefer to pick my spots with a player who might not feature (and hence a sub can come in) rather than with a player from a team who might go weeks without a clean sheet.

Still early, but I see the logic

Sergio Aguero
The arguments against Aguero are nothing to do with him. First, though he looked awesome on his debut, he did so off the bench. With Tevez still around and Dzeko looking good this week, there is a slight risk that Aguero will have to wait to start again. Balotelli's injury makes me think this is a decreasing concern though. The more important point is simply that the upcoming fixtures are much tougher than other premium forwards. Three of the next four are against decent home sides and City didn't score an abundance of goals on their travels last year (1.37 GPG).
At some point in the season (probably very soon) he may be the best player in the league, but ignoring this week's heroics, the stats suggest other options also need consideration for the immediate future at least.

Fernando Torres
This one is actually based on forward looking reason and it actually makes a lot of sense. Chelsea project to score the most goals over the next couple of weeks and Torres appears to have established himself atop the depth chart. He was very much involved against Stoke and seemed to flourish while within the familiar 4-3-3 system. 11.0m is a tough pill to swallow but with a lack of quality mid-range options it increasingly looks like you need to go with two premium forwards and a cheap option and there is at least an argument that Torres is the pick of these over the next couple of weeks (I would still personally prefer Rooney given his reliability and probable penalty duties).

You have to bear in mind though that he has generally failed to string good performances together for Chelsea and this pickup comes with substantial risk.

Ashley Young
This one isn't so much a rebuke of Young but more a defense of Nani. I questioned in the pre-season why Nani wasn't being selected by more teams and I got about 30 responses which were mainly against Nani as a premium fantasy player this year. Young was clearly the better player against West Brom but one game does make a season. Last year Nani averaged 4.8 PPG away from home and an insane 8.4 at home. We need to at least see him play at Old Trafford before we crown Young the king of the United midfield.

While not necessarily pertinent for this week, I think it's worth talking about Nani's place in this team when Valencia returns. There is a general perception that Valencia played every game when he returned to fitness, relegating Nani to a high priced rotation option. From GW30 on (when Valencia came back into the side) the stats were:
  • Valencia - 8 appearances - 72 mins/game - 1 goal - 2 assists - 5.9 P90 - 38 points
  • Nani - 8 appearances - 73 mins/game - 0 goals - 3 assists - 5.1 P90 - 33 points
So Valencia had marginally more success but this did not come through more playing time. When all three are fit I still think they each get around 25-28 games each and I'd pick Nani to lead the group in goals with Young leading in assists (that is not a slight on Valencia who I love as a player in real life). I'm not saying Nani is a lock either but I don't see Young as a substantially better option for the near future and if the mob all run in that direction, I'm even more inclined to stick with Nani (incidentally I like them both a lot this week against Spurs and would happily field either in my team).

Michel Vorm
Coming into the season I'd never seen Vorm play but liked him as a fantasy pick because (a) he was in the Dutch squad for the World Cup suggesting he has ability and (b) Swansea had a dominant home defense (0.48 GPG) last season suggesting he could be a useful spot starter for just 4.0m. Gameweek one showed that he will also have the ability to rack up save totals and could replicate the kind of season Al-Habsi last year.

As a spot starter I still very much like Vorm and pairing him with someone like Schwarzer makes a lot of sense to me. I can't really argue with the transfers in, but do be careful to make sure he fits in with your rotation strategy if you have one.

The move makes sense

David Silva
The only argument here is the fixture list but even then there's no issue from me on this one. I had him ranked as the number one midfielder on my draft board heading into the season (regardless of price) and this week's display only underlined my feelings. With Van der Vaart facing tough games, the uncertainty in the United midfield, Lampard's cost and Fabregas' departure, the only other realistic alternative is Malouda but I don't think the better fixtures justify the extra 1.0m for two weeks work.

Luis Suarez
There really aren't too many knocks on Suarez. I don't like the fixture this week but if you want to bring him in at some point, you need to weigh the cost of playing him one week when you don't to and paying an extra 0.1m or 0.2m in GW3. There is a massive drop off at the moment after the 11.0m group of strikers with many of the options like Bent (tactical questions), Gervinho (red card), Balotelli (injury), Hernandez (injured) and Anelka (benched) all failing to inspire much confidence. Suarez seems to be the only exception to this trend.

Suarez only managed a couple of shots on the weekend and the team as whole looked a bit flat in the second half. I guess he could be subject to some rotation threat from Kuyt who looked sharp when he came on, but in reality this is a small concern. Tough to argue against bringing him in.

To try and maximise our time with free transfers, I will post shortly a quick look at the budget options who appear to be able to deliver value at a bargain price and will allow you to bring in the likes of Aguero, Torres and Silva. Until then, please post comments and questions below, or at @plfantasy.


Craig B said...

Hi Chris - I don't think you can underestimate the piling on these players as an attempt to make a quick buck in the game. I have started hearing rumors that the prices will in fact stay frozen this week and so it will be interesting to see what happens to ownership in these players by week end. If the prices do start rising then it will be fun to see at what point everyone starts consolidating their gains. Though I do think a lot of players are still speculating on a change of scenery for Gary Cahill even more so after scoring that type of strike.

Craig B said...

Just found this on the fpl site: "Q: How will having unlimited transfers until the Gameweek 2 deadline effect the game?

A: All record of transfers will be removed at the Gameweek 2 deadline (11:30 BST on Saturday 20th August 2011). You will start Gameweek 2 with no transfers or points deductions recorded. If you have already played your wildcard it will be reset.

Transfers will not effect player price changes until after the Gameweek 2 deadline."

Pete said...

Hey Chris. Wondering if it is a good idea to have Yaya Toure and Silva in my midfield?

My team looks like this

Given; Vorm
Bosingwa; Kompany; Woodgate; Enrique; Gabbidon
Yaya; Silva; Cahill; Duff; Moses;
Suarez; Rooney; Davies

nkbish0p said...

Fantastic blog as usual, I'm trying to get a front line of Rooney, Suarez and Aguero in as well as Silva and Nani/Young/Cahill/Malouda so I'm looking forward to seeing your post on budget players!

angryratman said...


I wouldn't have Silva & Yaya however, I am tempted at Kompany, Silva & Aguero. Bit risky!

Gordon said...

Excellent blog, really worth reading. Keep up the good work.

Mitchell Stirling said...

It would be risky, but you could do this.

at least until Gerrard comes back.

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake said...

Brilliant blog, wish I'd known about it last year. Will be keeping an eye this time round.

angryratman said...

Lucas! You can't be serious!

Chris Glover said...

Thanks for all the comments guys

Craig - I was back and forth all day trying to figure out whether or not prices would rise and the official Twitter account actually told me they would, and they posted the answer you reference on their website, very annoying. Anyway, with prices frozen, I think we need tobe careful about piling on some of these players.

Pete - I like Yaya a lot and the problem with City now is that you really want more than 3 of their players. I plan to do a separate post on how to fit these guys in soon. Right now I've gone with two defenders and Silva with plans to possibly move to Aguero in a couple of weeks. I'll pay the extra 1.5m to get Silva over Yaya.

Steven said...

Thoughts on Delph Chris? He had an awful lot of touches and playmaking in the Villa game. Is he a permanent stay in the starting XI or should I look elsewhere in the Villa midfield?

Chris R said...

Yo Chris, been following your blog since last year, you do great work, just read your based in Toronto and live near the Rogers Centre which is funny as I live in the same area. A few of my mates and I frequent the Football Factory to watch the games of a weekend if your ever inclined you should stop by, atmosphere is pretty good.

For this week what do you think of the following selection?

Chris R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Great Blog, I’m stoked I found this – I’ve been playing YFF for years, but for some reason me and my mates and opted for the EPL fantasy this year.

Struggling a little to come to terms with the scoring/picking squads/pricing of players/transfers – but getting there I guess… I ended up with 61 points last week – which wasn’t too bad for a first attempt.

Anyway, this is my team as it sits this week – I’m a little worried that I’ve invested a little too much in my front line and not enough at the middle or at the back….

What do you think - any tips or anything that you would change?

Schwarzer; Vorm

Jagielka; Kompany; Riise; De Laet; Brown

Sessegnon; Silva; Jarvis; Hoolahan; Moses

Rooney; Suarez; Torres

Darragh said...

Awesome stuff Chris. I can fit Aguero-Torres-Van Persie/Saurez into my forward lineup. Fretting over Van Persie or Suarez - not sure which one to choose (angling toward VP due to guaranteed minutes/penalties/corners and Arsenal being at home to liverpool). Any suggestions?

Darragh said...

@angryratman - I've got Aguero, Silva and Kompany in _my_ team. Managed to fit them in.

Mine is: Given, Vorm, Senderos, Kompany, Smalling, Wilkinson, Alex, Tiote, Moses, Larsson, Silva,Eagles, Torres, Aguero, Van Persie at the moment.

Trying to maximise clean sheets and potential set peice takers. Bit light in my midfield at the moment, but hopefully the Silva/Aguero combination can maximise bonus points.

angryratman said...

I'm of the same mind. Solid at the back at the moment with big forwards. Getting the right lower priced midfielders will be key as the days of Gerrard, Lampard and Fabregas are over.

Currently I'm:

Give, Ruddy

A. Cole, Kompany, Senderos, Enrique, Brown

Moses, Nani, Sinclair, Hoolahan, Jarvis

Aguero, Suarez, Bent

Simon G said...

Can someone please explain the obsession with Victor Moses?

Darragh said...

Simon - cheapish midfielder, probably will get lots of opportunities and will start most games, I suppose. Someone has to get bonus points in a poor wigan team!