Friday, March 30, 2012

Gameweek 31 Captain Data

It's a really tough choice this week and your final decision is ultimately going to come down whether you want to play the man (Van Persie or Rooney) or the fixture (Balotelli, Bale, Adebayor, Dempsey etc). One of my off season projects is going to be to look back over the past few seasons to try and pin down which of these factors is more important, but until then we need to just use common sense. I would venture (though I'd be open to opposing opinions) that at the top end of the spectrum, the player is more important, regardless of who they are playing. Within reason then, you would captain Van Persie against virtually any opponent rather than a very good, but not world class player like Dempsey against a weaker one. This won't always hold up of course, but I think that's the way I'm leaning, at least when Van Persie/Rooney's fixture is still pretty promising.

[It isn't important here, but at the mid-low end of the price range I would generally rather have the player with the easier fixture than the better performances to date, so long at the two were somewhat comparable. I might, for instance, in a one week vacuum prefer Matt Jarvis at home to Bolton rather than Sigurdsson on the road at Spurs, despite the Icelandic midfielder's heroics so far].

With that in mind then, we're probably left with the same old duo of Rooney and Van Persie. On paper Rooney enjoys the slightly better fixture with Blackburn surrendering 27 goals at home to QPR's 24. However, if you place more stock in recent form, you will see that Blackburn have reduced their home GPG conceded from 2.1 over the first 7 home games to 1.5 over the last 8, while QPR's numbers are trending in the wrong direction, going from 1.4 over the first 7 to 1.8 over the last 8. I'm not sure there's enough here to suggest that Blackburn are now a much better defence than QPR, but it's probably enough to essentially make the strength of the fixture this week a tie.

Van Persie has the edge in terms of his performances on the road, though his last 5 games haven't quite been as spectacular as we had grown accustomed (5-13-2-2-6-2). Rooney has enjoyed a nice run over the last games but overall has fairly similar numbers to Van Persie over a comparable period. (5-8-12-2-2-7). Members at Fantasy Football Scout will also note that the pair are neck-and-neck in the ICT Index, which incorporates all elements which generally lead to fantasy success.

Van Persie is more likely to get a portion of any Arsenal goals scored (50% vs Rooney's 46%) though that too is a close race. I would venture that United are probably more likely to score more than Arsenal based on their better road attack (2.3 GPG vs 1.8 for Arsenal) along with their recent performances at Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea, so Rooney probably gives you more chances of success. So again, we face a choice: do you want a bigger piece of a smaller pie or a smaller piece of a bigger pie? (Anyone else getting hungry now?)

If you've made it this far (well done), you are probably going to be mad that I am now going to totally sit on the fence and suggest this one is just too close to call. I think Van Persie has a higher upside and has delivered elite form on a more consistent basis this year, but Rooney plays on the stronger side who generate a lot of chances against all opponents and generally avoid the kind of off-days which have cursed Arsenal over the past few seasons. There isn't a hint of either player being rested, though in that category I'd say Van Persie has the slight edge given the quality behind Rooney (Hernandez, Welbeck, Berbatov) ready to come in for the odd game.

I will be handing Van Persie the armband once again but it's an incredibly close call, and to honest, one you shouldn't agonize over. Both are excellent plays this week and whatever happens, the decision to captain either will be a good choice.

As a final note, a couple of you may be wondering where the likes of Cisse and Pogrebnyak are in the above listings. My spreadsheet has a minimum number of minutes needed to qualify for captain consideration  and neither player has yet met the mark. For reference, if they were included, Pogrebnyak would be the first choice player for the week with a 100 rating, while Cisse would come in with a very impressive 94, tied with Van Persie (whose number would be depressed by Pog's presence).

I considered reducing the requirements to allow these two players in, but the fact that Pogrebnyak would then be number one overall, confirms my hesitancy to include them. He's had a fine start to his Fulham career but I just don't see this form as being sustainable, given that he has scored on every single shot he's had on target. The best players in the world don't touch a goal every two shots so after the sample size increases you're going to see his production decline. Granted, that may not be in the next week but I'd prefer to avoid the perverse scenario where people quickly check the rankings and think I like these guys over the Van Persies of the world, hence their exclusion from the rankings until we understand their sustainable returns a bit more.

I've been a bit slow (at best) with responding to questions these past few weeks, but post them below or @plfantasy and I will get a reader questions post knocked out tonight, hopefully before the east coasters go to bed, and before the GMTers wake up in the morning. Thanks for your loyalty while the service has been down a bit, my task for the next year is to find a job whose busy period is outside the football season!


Grounderz said...

Thanks, Chris.

Jason said...

Thanks Chris, love the blog.

Gummi said...

Thanks from me too.

Hands down, the best Fantasy blog out there. There is something very lucid about your analysis. You make things seem simple that really are quite difficult.

Having both Rooney and Van Persie, would you call it a bad move to captain Dempsey for the differential or a justifiable gamble?

wombat said...

many thanks for your great blog!!

CDI said...

Great blog Chris.

I know in the past you were put off by expensive attacking defenders but at this stage of the season is that still your stance? Team values are much higher now and having a Verm or Baines wouldn't break most teams and could provide the differentials we all seek. If you had to pick one of Vermaelen, Baines and Kompany which would it be? Would you consider have 2 outta 3 of that groupe?

LOLPool have completely lost the plot and I'm having buyers remorse when I fullyloaded my team with what has turned out to be bums. Do you see their defence becoming solid once again or is it time to completely abort the mission with them?

Just 1 more question. If money wasn't an issue which 5 Midfielders would you want in your team right now? Thanks Chris

CDI said...

Sorry just 1 more question Chris. If you were playing Assou-Ekotto at home vs Swensea who would you bench Outta Sigurdsson and Miyaichi? Thanks again

sanjaycj. said...

hello. i run a fantasy football blog at
i was wondering if you could give us a shoutout?
love your blog btw, top class advice.

Chris Glover said...

Thanks for the kind comments. I really appreciate your loyalty while the site updates have been slow. I know the timing sucks but I'm hoping that next year I have a job that aligns better with the season!

Gummi - I don't think captaining the likes of Dempsey is crazy, and if I had more time I'd have given him and Bale a quick write up. The issue is that I don't really have much to backup their selection other than the obviously have a ton of ability and a good fixture.

Apologies, I've forgotten who it was, but someone wisely pointed out last week that while someone like Dempsey isn't a differentiator as such, he is as a captain as presumably 60%+ will be captaining Rooney or Van Persie this week. There is merit there, and it's something I'd love to be able to quantify (risk of a lower week offset by the reward of points gained on your opponent) but until then I have tended to just give some narrative to the stats to break tie where the ratings are close.

So, I would definitely consider someone like Dempsey, but sometimes I think we overthink the captain decision and place a bit too much stock in the fixture, as I've done a couple of times this year and not captained RvP.

Chris Glover said...

CDI - Yeh I agree here and this is a good point I should have probably raised. If you've built up decent cash reserves and now have a couple of budget options plugged into your side performing like elite players (Ba, Cisse, Sigurdsson etc) you should be able to afford one of the elite defensive options if you so wish.

I'd still issue some caution of grabbing players from teams who don't have a good defense (Caldwell or Wheater) as their production is just too unpredictable.

The stats quite like Everton and Arsenal as defensive teams anyway, so while I would normally suggest pursuing Hibbert or Gibbs, there is some merit to looking at Vermaelen or Baines. I'd give the edge to Vermaelen based on the fact that Arsenal don't have a single really bad fixture and no off week in GW34. You have to like Baines' set pieces but I'd take Verm's goal scoring ability and the 1m saved.

Would I pick them over Kompany? Probably not, but then I again I don't have a very valuable team so cash is still tight. Differentiation should also be a factor and both Baines and Vermaelen are about as good as you get for such low ownership numbers (7% and 5%). So if I took two them I'd play it safe(r) with Kompany and then roll the dice with Verm.

Chris Glover said...

The best 5 midfielders regardless of price is an interesting question; one which probably deserves its own post. In the interest of time though, I'll ramble on here.

I'm assuming here that we're talking about medium term ownership, so I'll say the next 3 gameweeks to avoid the GW34 off weeks clouding the issue too much.

Bale - no surprises here. He leads all midfielders in points and now faces a nice run of games over the next 3 weeks. I like him so much I was close to paying 4 points to get him this week (a deadly sin in these parts), only backing out given his off week in GW34. Can be inconsistent but probably has the highest upside of all mids.

Dempsey - You'd like to see a bit more consistency in terms of fantasy points, but in performances few deliver more for their team every single week. He doesn't have the standard profile of an elite midfielder, deriving few of his points from set pieces or a deadly linkup with an elite forward, but he can score against anyone in a myriad of ways meaning you can play him every week. The next 3 fixtures look great and I'm happy to keep him in my side for the near future.

Walcott - one of the more discussed players on this blog, Walcott has shown the consistency we've craved over the past few weeks. Not only are the results there, but the means by which they have been delivered is equally encouraging, particularly the Henry-esque finish last week. Arsenal aren't the same side away as at home so he loses some points here QPR and Wolves are two sides heading in the wrong direction and Arsenal look like a top side these past few weeks.

Silva - He doesn't have the form of some of the other players but I still feel like he's the best midfielder in the league by a margin and gets some good fixtures to rediscover his early season form. His underlying numbers (shots on goal and key passes) are still pretty good - though not elite - and with Aguero out I'd hope City will go with Dzeko up top and allow Silva to play off him and really boss these next couple of games.

Not really any surprises so far, and my last pick is hardly an upset either. I almost went with Ashley Young who was impressive on his return, and even gave a brief thought to Sigurdsson but ultimately it has to be Valencia. Over the past 6 gameweeks he has 12 key passes, placing him 11th among midfielders. However, you then remember that he's only played in three games in that period and you realise what good form he's in. With Nani injured he's locked into the starting lineup and United face three of the bottom five sides in the next 3 GWs.

Sorry there isn't much imagination here but there are simply too many question marks over the likes of Van der Vaart, Lampard, Mata, Nani or Modric to put them in. I like the front line more as an area to play around with, with Ade, Dzeko or Cisse offering some form of differentiation.

Chris Glover said...

I'm never too concerned with playing my assets against each other, but rather look at the individual question. You don't love Sigurdsson this week as much as the past few, but Bolton have been simply brutal away from home so I'd still favor him over the impressive Miyaichi. It's a close call so I can see why you might want to avoid playing Sig against BAE but in a vacuum I'd play him over Miyaichi and so I'd stick with that decision.

Chris Glover said...

SanJayCJ - I think you just did! ;)
How do you come up the weekly predictions? Are they based on stats, or just from watching games etc. The site looks good though, well done guys.

Brillefaen1234 said...

I'm a big fan of the blog.

You keep mentioning GW 34 (with Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs as the high profile teams with no games), a lot of people will have players from these sides and will struggle to field a full 11.

I've gone through my squad and I see that unless I take a 4 point hit somewhere, I'll be able to field a 10-man side (3 Swansea, 3 Man United, 3 Arsenal + Kompany)

Would you consider a 4 point hit to get someone in?

CDI said...

Wow such detailed answers. I truely do love your blog sir and I appreciate you answering my questions.

I've heard that Silva has been nursing an ankle injury for a while now which has hurt his output so I'd prob stay away from him for a while. Other than that I totally agree with your other picks and currently have 3(will have 4 next GW) outta the 5 you picked.

I went with Verm over Komp and Baines for a 2 reasons.
1) I know emotions have no place in FF but as a Man U fan the thought of no city players in my team was too alluring to pass up lol.
2) Price + playing in GW34 made him in for the outta form Skrtel an easy decision for me.

Gl this week sir.

Gummi said...

Thanks for the excellent answers.

I went for Dempsey, and I'm loving it right now!

I'm not sure it wasn't actually a bad move that paid off though. Fulham are just so much better at home, and that generally means Fantasy points for Dempsey.

Rea said...

Chris ,
Would really appreciate your opinion. Is P. Cisse the real deal or is he riding an unsustainable run of form/luck such as Pogrebnbyak?
I've held onto Ba for far too long, and am looking to move him. It is evident that Cisse has been scoring all of Ba's goals as of late -;)-, but will it continue?
Newc.'s next game is Swansea and I noticed that they have had problems with big centre forwards. Ade, Jelavic, (not Pog), Holt and Crouch have all scored against them recently.
Ba is more mobile than just a big "target man" ,but if Cisse is scoring his goals, is there any point in holding him for Swansea?
Cheers, Mike

jonpaul3 said...

Hi Chris. Firstly, great blog, my first post on here but been reading since the beginning of the season and loving it.

I noticed recently that all but one of the rescheuled fixtures are now in place over GW35/36 and got all excited about double gameweek players...before realising I couldn't even field a full team in GW34!

I spent the next 4 hours planning and tweaking to ensure I had a team whilst optimising for double GW's and would be really interseted to hear your thoughts on the situation?

It's some weeks away but I figured people would need to start transfering now to avoid spending points...

Cheers, Jon