Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 11

If you ever needed proof of how far our society has changed during the past 10-20 years, imagine describing to someone my experience from last week. Cruising down (well, up) the Nile I was mad because I wasn't able to properly check my Twitter feed or update my fantasy football blog because the satellite internet USB stick I was using had a spotty connection. How many of those words even existed in the public domain 20 years ago? It's also a sad commentary on how some of us (i.e. me) live our lives that while on this awesome vacation, I would be momentarily bummed that I couldn't check the status of my fantasy team in real time because of said spotty (and pricey) connection. It's always good to meet people in the world who are genuinely happy and delighted to share stories with you despite having so few of the advantages we enjoy. It makes playing Jonathan Woodgate this week (somewhat) easier to take.

I hope everyone's fantasy teams have enjoyed comparably smooth sailing over the past few weeks and are getting ready to make the necessary moves that will undoubtedly be required over the coming Christmas schedule. We're also getting into prime wildcard territory so I will try and get some posts up on that topic over the coming week or so. Before then though, we need to get back to basics, so this week's lineup lessons and subsequent player pool movements are below:

Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Santos, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Walcott, van Persie, Gervinho
Subs: Fabianski, Mertesacker, Rosicky, Park, Djourou, Arshavin, Benayoun

I'm not sure it has a huge fantasy impact but it was somewhat surprising to see Mertesacker dropped for Vermaelen, rather than the much maligned Koscielny. Personally, I never thought Koscielny was that bad and was always a bit confused by the outcry to sign a player like Mertesacker, who is solid but by no means world class. Anyhow, Vermaelen is an upgrade over either player and I suppose his return could make this unit ownable once again. I'm not there yet but if Arsenal continue to defend well, Jenkinson at 5.5m would be worth a look as Sagna remains sidelined for several months.

Having been away for a couple of weeks, I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Van Persie's recent form. He now leads all forwards with 23 shots on target (leading to 11 goals), as well as delivering 15 key passes (leading to 3 assists). I'm pleased to say that this is one of the situations where following the process and looking to forecasted goals would have led you to select the Dutchman and I hope many of you have been reaping these benefits over the past few weeks. The current data suggests that Arsenal should be able to continue their success over the coming weeks, starting with Norwich in GW12 and with other prize assets slowing down, Van Persie looks as good as anyone at the moment.

Back-to-back good games from Walcott and Arteta are also worth noting and whenever you have someone in the form that Van Persie is showing, others are always going to benefit. Arteta's 23 key passes and Walcott's 17 shots suggest that both of these players deserve monitoring once again.

Aston Villa
Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, N'Zogbia, Herd, Petrov, Heskey, Bent, Agbonlahor
Subs: Guzan, Jenas, Ireland, Albrighton, Delph, Clark, Cuellar

Darren Bent drives me crazy. He's consistently one of the best goalscorers in the league but his 46 points only just put him ahead of the likes of Graham and Zamora because he simply refuses to contribute anything in the other scoring categories. Luis Suarez has the same number of assists (7) in 1900 minutes at Liverpool as Bent does over his last 7400 minutes at Villa/Sunderland. Suarez of course has slowed of late so I'm not saying one is better than the other here, more noting that Bent's upside will always be limited by this one dimensionality.

Such problems do not befall Agbonlahor and I've really been sleeping on him so far this year. I continue to be spooked by the underlying numbers with just 8 shots on target (5 resulting in goals) and 12 key passes (6 resulting in assets) not looking particularly special. That said, he continues to have fantasy success and defy logic so if you hold him, there's a strong argument to just ride the hot hand. I would point out that the fixtures look tough in the coming weeks and Agbonlahor hasn't really set the world alight against the best teams, but then again, I've been doubting him all year, so perhaps I need to find a new indicator for the Villa front man.

Robinson, Lowe, Samba, Givet, Olsson, Rochina, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Hoilett, Formica, Yakubu
Subs: Bunn, Dunn, Petrovic, Blackman, Goodwillie, Vukcevic, Hanley

I like Hoilett and he's worth owning in custom league's where depth is useful (indeed he's served me fairly well in the SimPrem league) but in the main game 6.0m is too steep a price for a player on such an inconsistent team. Samba picked up an injury here which should finally encourage to the 4% of managers who cling to him to move on and stop overpaying for the chance of the odd goal (which is more than offset by the ZERO clean sheets Blackburn have managed this term).

Jaaskelainen, Riley, Cahill, Wheater, Robinson, M Davies, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Eagles, Klasnic, K Davies
Subs: Bogdan, Sanli, Petrov, Knight, Pratley, Ngog, Kakuta

Where did this come from? Klasnic has now scored 5 times in 6 starts but yet cannot seem to find guaranteed starting minutes in this side. Petrov's decent start has lost pace over the past few weeks and having started on the bench for Bolton's best performance of the year, it's tough to see him earning an immediate return to the starting eleven. Riley was superb at full back but he is still very much a depth player and will likely sacrifice his spot to Steinsson or Boyata in the coming week or two.

Eagles continues to tease us and as soon as he looks dead and buried, he earns a spot back in the starting eleven and racks up 33 points in 4 gameweeks. He's obviously back on the radar but with the big games coming against Wigan and Stoke, I'm somewhat reluctant to chase the points here. He's worth thinking about again though.

Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Mata, Sturridge, Malouda
Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Torres, Meireles, Bosingwa, Lukaku, Kalou

The benching of Bosingwa really hurt here, as his owners sat through four weeks of crappiness (1, 2, -2 and 0 points) only for Chelsea to notch just their second clean sheet of the season with Bosingwa watching on the sidelines. Villas-Boas has shown a commitment to his countryman this year so I'm not too concerned about the long term prospects. though Ivanovic is clearly a useful replacement to have in the background, and thus Bosingwa's value does take a small hit.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I thought Lampard was worthy of fantasy consideration once again and he's done pretty well in the past few weeks. It's tough to spend ~12.0m on him these days but with so many other premium players struggling and the Chelsea front line being a rotation nightmare, Lampard is once again an intriguing prospect. For all his praise (none more so than this site), it's pretty amazing to think that Silva has just 6 points more than Lampard through 11 weeks. I'm not there yet given the availability of others at a lower price, but I am certainly interested, which seemed unlikely at the start of the year.

Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines, Coleman, Neville, Rodwell, Drenthe, Osman, Saha.
Subs: Mucha, Bilyaletdinov, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Distin, Cahill, Vellios

It's amazing to see Distin and Cahill on the bench by choice here but it's just another piece of evidence of how badly this Everton team are struggling at the moment. 15 forwards have more points than all Everton forwards combined, while Drenthe is the only (somewhat) bright spot in a midfield which has totally collapsed from prior years where it served as a point of strength. The only point of interest with this team is how long the remaining 6% of managers will continue to hold Baines (6 points over the last 7 gameweeks).

Schwarzer, Grygera, Baird, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Murphy, Sidwell, Dempsey, Dembele, Zamora.
Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Kasami, Ruiz, Etuhu, Frei, Briggs

The backline had started to settle down at Craven Cottage but now Grygera has taken a knock and Senderos appears to be ready to return to action, thus muddying the waters once again. Baird's versatility appears to be serving him well and he looks like the best value for those unable to bring in Riise or Hangeland (that is, of course, if you can see value in this inconsistent unit).

Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez.
Subs: Doni, Maxi, Coates, Kuyt, Spearing, Kelly, Bellamy

Gerrard is injured again (ankle) and so Henderson got a rare start here. With Kuyt and Carroll also vying for what essentially boils down to two positions, he still isn't guaranteed minutes and remains too risky to own. The rest of the team looks pretty settled, though aren't really hitting the heights some forecast with just 3 goals in the last three promising games (Norwich, West Brom and Swansea).

Defensively however, this unit is emerging as one of the best around with 3 blanks in their last 5 and just 2 goals conceded. Jose Enrique (who also enjoys excellent key passes numbers) remains the top pick but anyone looking to double down can also feel confident in Skrtel's place in this side. Such a strategy looks ill advised in the short term though, with Chelsea and City on the horizon for Dalglish's men.

I haven't seen any of Suarez's last three games so I feel a bit uncomfortable being too harsh on the front man, but the facts speak for themselves and it's now 4 games without a goal, despite the seemingly weak opposition. I'm not advocating we abandon Suarez just yet, but the lack of goals for Liverpool is certainly becoming a concern. Again, with the tricky fixtures coming up, anyone holding the Uruguayan should at least be considering his options over the international break.

Man City
Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, Toure Yaya, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Johnson, Nasri, Clichy, Toure, Balotelli

Remember when a group of managers bailed on Silva and crowned Nasri the must own City midfielder after his explosive against Spurs? Well, since then he's started 4 games and topped 4 points just once. I'm not quite ready to cut Nasri from the player pool but Milner's form is clearly hurting him and his place in the first team is no longer assured. I must say I liked Silva more anyway, but with this latest slight on Nasri, I personally would sell him, as you can't afford to waste 9.5m and a City spot on your bench.

Kompany missed out here due to suspension and will presumably return next week, though Savic's start (along with his start against Villareal) suggests he has firmly planted himself as the team's number three centre back, and the go too man should Lescott or Kompany suffer injury or suspension.

Aguero has slowed of late while Dzeko continues to roll and there is growing rationale for opting to go with the cheaper player in Dzeko. I still think Aguero finishes the season with more goals and fantasy points but there is definitely merit in going with Dzeko if you could use the cash elsewhere (and to be honest, this year, who couldn't use an extra couple of million to use on your backline?). Three of the next four homes games see City welcome teams with shaky road records and so its likely you'll want one of this pair in the side as soon as possible. Which one really depends on how you want to set your team up.

Man Utd
Lindegaard, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Rooney, Park, Welbeck, Hernandez
Subs: De Gea, Evans, Berbatov, Carrick, Fabio Da Silva, Valencia, Diouf

The big story continues to be Rooney's deployment, which has already been discussed at length all over the web in my absence (see the always excellent Fantasy Football Scout here). You have to think that Rooney will push forward again in the future and this move appears to be a short term measure to steady the ship rather than a long term shift in philosophy, but as we all know, fantasy football is too short of a season to wait on managers to prove a point with a 12.0m player. The next two games (@Swa and New) are much harder than they sound (Swansea have conceded once at home, Newcastle just 3 times on the road) and with Rooney's price plummeting, it might be a sound idea to get out now (if you haven't already) and reassess in a couple of weeks. Gun to my head, I think he's back to normal against Swansea but I would understand anyone's nerves in this area and someone like Van Persie looks awfully attractive as a replacement.

Young missed out with injury though his absence will presumably be short lived. His form however (at least in terms of fantasy production) is worrying to say the least and he's been left behind by the likes of Silva, Van der Vaart and Nani in recent weeks. Indeed, its tough to place Young in that group's class at the moment and he'd be close to the top of my sell list for the 15% of managers who still hold him, though the situation is far from desperate.

Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, S Taylor, R Taylor, Marveaux, Cabaye, Guthrie, Gutierrez, Best, Ba
Subs: Elliot, Santon, Ben Arfa, Lovenkrands, Perch, Gosling, Sammy Ameobi

As we said a couple of weeks back, R Taylor is here to stay, though with his price now matching S Taylor's, I'd prefer to go with the latter who faces less competition (and threat of resting) as the tough part of the season kicks in. The next three games are pretty much as tough as it gets (@MnC, @MnU, Che) but after that they open up nicely and Ba could find himself as the pick of all sub-8.0m forwards.

Ruddy, Naughton, R Martin, Barnett, Tierney, Bennett, Johnson, Hoolahan, Pilkington, Holt, Morison
Subs: Rudd, Crofts, Surman, Fox, Jackson, Wilbraham, De Laet

Fox missed out here for the first time since GW4, with Pilkington once again the man to own. Given his price (and the previously discussed underlying stats) I might still shade towards Johnson, but Pilkington is making a strong case for consideration as he continues his good run of form.

Kenny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Traore, Mackie, Barton, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips, Bothroyd, Helguson
Subs: Murphy, Orr, Hill, Derry, Smith, Andrade, Puncheon

Gabbidon is back and is once again a nice 4.0m pickup (don't be too concerned about shipping 6 goals to Spurs and City, this is a decent defensive unit against weaker sides). Taarabt appears to have simply been benched for this game and with Warnock appearing to lose faith with him, it is finally time to cut him from the player pool. He's served as a good reminder to this blogger about getting overly excited by names and talent and he never really did enough (despite a couple of good displays) to warrant the faith I've shown him this year. It'll take a heck of a turnaround to get into my good graces again.

Begovic, Wilkinson, Woodgate, Upson, Huth, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Walters, Crouch, Jerome.
Subs: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Jones, Diao, Whitehead, Shotton, Palacios

Shawcross' absence is good for Upson and Woodgate's minutes though how valuable they will be in his absence is questionable. The pairing lack the pace required in today's Premier League and they were cut apart by Newcastle (after Shawcross' departure) and Bolton with relative ease. QPR and Blackburn at home in the next two might be a good tonic to anyone's problems but this unit is certainly worse without Shawcross if he can't shake off his injuries soon.

Westwood, Bardsley, Brown, Turner, Richardson, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Sessegnon, Bendtner, Wickham
Subs: Carson, Gardner, Ji, Meyler, McClean, Elmohamady, Egan

Sessegnon's value was largely derived from his advanced deployment, which may be a thing of the past with Bendtner and Wickham starting up top. It's a shame given he had started to find his scoring touch and we'll monitor closely how the team develops over the next couple of weeks before making any rash decisions. That said, the presence of Wickham clearly hurts Sessegnon one way or another (be it by deeper deployment or rotation risk) and alternative plans should be at least considered if not put into action.

Vorm, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor, Gower, Britton, Allen, Routledge, Graham, Dyer
Subs: Tremmel, Sinclair, Lita, Moore, Agustien, Richards, Moras

Sinclair was a surprise benching here, though it could be a symptom of the opposition rather than an indictment of Sinclair's play. Swansea's fixtures look pretty good after the United game in GW12 and one would predict Sinclair will find himself back in the starting lineup to benefit from those games. Whether or not he is worth 1.5m more than his teammates is another issue, but this single game shouldn't have a massive impact on that debate.

Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor
Subs: Cudicini, Defoe, Bassong, Corluka, Livermore, Sandro, Pienaar.

This team looks like the first choice and several of these players make good fantasy options despite the goals coming from some of the less owned players this week. Bale has been feast or famine this year with three double digit games and seven of 3 points or less. I try to avoid having too many up and down players but providing you are set to play him every week, it doesn't really matter how the points come, and thus Bale deserves ownership consideration. Spurs have scored twice or more in 8 straight games and the upcoming fixtures look nothing short of fantastic. I would still target Van der Vaart as the main midfielder to own but if your budget doesn't stretch that far or you want to double down, Bale is a good option in the middle of the park: a position which is lacking star power this year.

West Brom
Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Jones, Morrison, Dorrans, Brunt, Cox, Gera, Thomas
Subs: Fulop, Tchoyi, Shorey, Mulumbu, Dawson, Thorne, Fortune

Odemwingie missed out again and his fitness is a real concern, keeping him out of the player pool. With Long sidelined for several weeks this side lacks attacking options and Brunt's value is diminished as sides should be able to smother the creativity in the middle without fear of being exposed by the pace of the absent frontmen. With the talented pair out, it's tough to see much value here in the near future.

Al Habsi, Boyce, Gohouri, Figueroa, Alcaraz, Watson, Moses, Diame, Jones, Di Santo, Rodallega.
Subs: Pollitt, McCarthy, Crusat, Gomez, McArthur, Sammon, Lopez

The team is settled and still looks okay on paper, but they just aren't getting anything done. Watson's penalty duties (should he hold onto them after missing this week) give him some value, while Moses' underlying numbers fail to hide the fact that he has failed to top 3 points all year. There really isn't much to like here, though if you still hold anyone, it's probably worth giving them the home game against Blackburn before ditching them.

Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Edwards, Henry, Guedioura, Hunt, O'Hara, Doyle
Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher, Jarvis, Hammill, Milijas

O'Hara has had the best underlying numbers in Wolves midfield for some time, but it is only in the last 3 weeks that these have translated into fantasy production. With Jarvis finding himself rotated with increasing frequency, it looks like the former Spurs man is the best play here. Fletcher was fit enough to make the bench but his services weren't required, so we will have to see if he slots straight back into the team when fit. He looks like he could be excellent value at 5.9m if given a sustained run in the side when fully fit.

Player Pool movements
In: Walcott, Jenkinson, Eagles, S Fletcher
Out: M Petrov, Jagielka, Gerrard, Taarabt, Moses, Jarvis


Grounderz said...

Great post, Chris. Your analysis has given me serious consideration on Gareth Bale.

With his upcoming fixtures looking superbly good and his recent run of good forms, there is no doubt all fantasy managers should put him under the radar.

Grounderz said...

If anyone ever feels insecure about United's goalkeepers, Sir Alex Ferguson has been switching them between Premier League and Champions League games.

For instance, De Gea played the last Champions League game, this meant Lindergaard would be selected for Sunderland's game. Supposed Lindergaard played a Champions League game, De Gea would then play the weekend Premier League game.

Ratchet said...

Thanks Chris - nice analysis as always.

I have decided to go Nasri - Bale and save the money to upgrade my third striker to Demba Ba.

Steven said...

Welcome back Chris! I've been riding van Persie to the top of my league.. got very lucky to pick him up when I did (dropping Rooney in the process). Hate the international break from a fantasy perspective, but hopefully it gives you time to catch up and post a nice article or two.

x00x said...

Welcome back!

I have struggled to get vdv in for weeks but can't stomach dumping nani/silva/rvp to free up the cash. I downgraded aguero to dzeko and will be able to stretch to bale in a week or two if he seems viable still.

Like other posters I was an early dumper of rooney for rvp and have never looked back. Still waiting for sturridge to score again :(.

At any rate, glad to see you had a nice trip; at least we had a nice day in toronto yesterday! Do you fancy getting a group together to watch a few games at realsports some weekend?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
I notice you recommend that it might be worth getting rid of Rooney now. Is that only aimed at those who don't yet own RVP? I'm getting twitchy on Rooney, especially given price drops, but have no idea who else to get in, as I already have RVP.

Eradico said...

VDV or Bale, that is the question...

rob said...

Anyone else have a lot riding on a few games in Gameweek 12?

I've got 5 in the MCI/NEW, 4 in ARS/NOR, 3 in MUN/SWA and 2 in AVL/TOT.

I'm prepared to sacrifice my defenders and am hoping for goals galore in all 4 fixtures (though am worried MCI/NEW could be a dour affair.

chemikills said...

1) In regards to Samba I disagree, he has scored consistently throughtout the years and there's no doubt he can head a ball. If you look at the fixtures wig stk SWA sun WBA BOL that is a solid run to get CS.

However I won't be investing, 5.0 is too much for a team that hasn't kept a CS. I'd like to point out if you had him he has some really good CS opportunities and I wouldn't drop him. But with Nelsen soon to return there's defo an upside in this team

2)In regards to Fulham defence it's worth pointing out Hughes returns soon which I'd imagine will sink Senderos, whereas Baird and Hughes can play RB or CB

3) Prefer S Taylor over R Taylor? Surely Simpson is a better look than S Taylor? R Taylor has a massive goal threat and I think once fixtures soften up I may bring in R Taylor despite the annoyance of not purchasing him @ 4.0 because I thought he'd be gone within the first 5 weeks, however recently he's said he wants to be a LB not Mr Versatile so his chances of staying are quite good really, we shall see

4) Wickham is injured and it looks like for a month+ as well. Therefore Sessegnon looks a lot nicer, funny that he scores his goals when deployed on the right :/ However one of them was quite fortuitous that it dropped to him in the middle of the box, someone in front of him really should have had it. His other was a stunning shot after a rebound. So I'd agree it was less deployment and right place right time for those goals.
I think he had some really good chances from SS and it's a shame he didn't put them away. Picking between Larsson, Sessegnon and Bendtner is a tough one atm but I think I'll get one of em considering fixtures

Gummi at said...

Being one of the stupid few to hold on to Rooney instead of going for RvP, I would like to believe he will be deployed up front after the international break.

Also, what do the underlying numbers tell us about Bale vs. VdV? I'm close to getting Bale in but could afford VdV with minimal sacrifice. Which route would you go?