Those top four teams look pretty appealing and when you throw the ever present Van Persie to the mix, you have good depth in captain options for this week.
I've been working on some data for an upcoming post, looking at the percentage of goals each player accounts for (counting goals and assists). I hope this will make the above goalscoring forecasts more useful in that, if Arsenal are projected to score 2 goals and City are projected to score 2.3, you might still favour Van Persie as your captain over Aguero if you knew that he accounts for 64% of the Gunners goals (and is thus forecast to account for 1.28 goals) where as Aguero's percentage is just 38% and so he is forecast to account just 0.86 goals.A full post is to come on this, but I start to reference the stats below, as I try to make the captain more picks for quantitative, rather than just the standard, "Rooney is good, Bolton are crap' you get elsewhere.
Rooney already has a hat trick against the Wanderers this year and as a long suffering Bolton fan, I can tell you he has piled the misery of the Whites several times before. United have the best fixture of the week and Rooney has enough rest of late to suggest he'll start here without too much risk. He's accounted for 35% of United's goals when he's played (pulled down by his poor assist numbers) which gives him a rating of 0.855 in this one. He's probably the safest play of the week.
Nani has accounted for 13 goals versus Rooney's 15 so there isn't as big of a difference as you might think. That gives him a rating of 0.664 for the week. It's been a quiet couple of weeks for Nani but those two double gameweeks still lurk in recent memory and his form over the last 8 gameweeks (6.6 P90) rate ahead of everyone aside from Demba Ba. The downside with captaining Nani is always his inconsistency as you hate to pickup just 2 points from your captain. The standard deviation of his scores this year comes in at 5.5, second only to Lampard.
Aguero continues his excellent season at City and few others can match his upside or consistency. When he's played he has accounted for 38% of City's goals this year, a higher total than Rooney, which is surprising given the strength of depth of attacking options in this talented City side. This gives him a rating of 0.844 for the week. The last few weeks have been feast or famine for Aguero so he does come with some risk, especially as he's on the road where as most of the other options here have home games.
You're paying here for consistency rather than upside. The Spanish wizard has just two double digit gameweeks, but on the other hand, he's only failed to score more than appearance points once when starting the game. Despite City's abundance of talent, Silva has still managed to account for 29% of their goals, giving him a rating of 0.643 for the week. He does come with some fitness worries for the week though, which obviously hurts his 'consistency' tag and thus he isn't as good a pick as normal.
Ade broke some hearts last week (your humble blogger included) as he managed just 4 points in the double gameweek. That said, he's still accounting for 41% of Spurs' goals which gives him a rating of 0.791 for the week. He's had successful scores in seven of the last 11 gameweeks thus making him one of the more consistent options around. He's played virtually every minute in the league this year so, glass half full, he's a lock to start, glass half empty, he's due a rest (and with City coming up next week, now might be a tempting time to do it).
Bale's production of late is pretty much the definition of boom or bust with scores of 13-2-0-4-16-1-12 over the past seven gameweeks. That said, those big gameweeks came against Bolton (H), Norwich (A) and West Brom (H) / Everton (H) so Wolves at home would appear to be another golden opportunity for another big haul (indeed Wolves have a worse road defense than all those teams).Bale has had a hand in 35% of Spurs goals this year giving him a rating of 0.685 for the week.
Rafael Van der Vaart
The thing I like best about statistical research is when you find a (usually trivial) small piece of data that surprises you. For example, Van der Vaart has scored or assisted 38% of Spurs' goals when he's played, ahead of Gareth Bale who has been (rightly) hailed as one of the best players in the league this year (this gives him a rating of 0.740 for the week). Of course, Bale's form has led to more fantasy points but when the Dutchman has played he's been even better in fantasy terms with a P90 of 6.6 versus Bale's 6.0. That said, since his explosion in GWs 6-10 Van der Vaart has been pretty inconsistent and thus it's tough to put him alongside some of the other elite options until he shows he is fully fit and ready to contribute.
Mata probably isn't a captain option just yet but he's clearly showing signs of fulfilling the potential we thought he had coming into the season. He's accounting for 31% of Chelsea's goals which is ahead of the likes of Nani and Silva, though he is of course limited by Chelsea's underwhelming form (perhaps weakened still by the departure of Drogba to the ACN). He does however have one thing in his favour: a home fixture; and the list of regular starters who've managed to top his 7.4 P90 average at home is limited to Aguero, Ba, Van Persie, Silva and Rooney - a who's who of captain options. I'm not quite there yet with Mata given the good fixtures enjoyed by the other top teams (as reflected by his 0.542 rating) but he's earned his place on this list and could move up in future weeks if the fixtures fall more kindly.
Robin Van Persie
It's not often we take this long to get to Van Persie but the fixture just simply isn't very promising. Swansea's home form may be the biggest story of the year as they've notched 6 clean sheets and haven't yet conceded more than a single goal, despite already facing United and Spurs.Van Persie has been basically as good away from home (7.7 P90) as at the Emirates (7.8 P90) so there's no reason to be too concerned there. He's also gone to Chelsea and Villa, who have decent home records and enjoyed success so let's not write him off just yet. I wouldn't be worried about captaining Van Persie in any gameweek but this is one where there might be better options available. His 0.765 rating is still good, but perhaps not the elite level we've seen in past weeks.
I will expand on the ratings used above over the weekend and as always continue to send your questions to @plfantasy or post them below in the comments and I'll try to answer as many as possible by the deadline.
Finally, a big thanks for all the kind words following the announcement of my guest spot at Fantasy Football Scout. Things will continued as before here, but I hope anyone who doesn't already read FFS will check out my, and all the other, work over there in the coming weeks,