P90 Points scored per 90 minutes at home/away based on this week's opponents QG%Percentage of games played where the player scored 6 or more points xPct The percentage of his team's goals a player has accounted for, multiplied by the expected goals for this week Rating Based on the player's rankings in the other three categories.
It's an interesting choice this week, as for the first time in a while one of the previously 'elite' players (read: Van Persie and Rooney) are not the obvious pick per the stats. I still have some reservations of Cisse as a truly elite forward given the fact he is currently converting shots on target at an incredible rate. Some will argue 'form', others will suggest it's a small sample, and you'll find me largely in the latter camp. For comparison, Cisse is currently converting shots on target at a rate of one goal every 1.5 shots (10 goals on 15 shots). Leo Messi, perhaps the greatest player of all, enjoying one of the best seasons of all time, is converting them at a rate of 2.1 (65 goals on 139 shots). The natural response is that these are different players in different leagues but show me a player who can sustainably convert chances at this rate and I'll listen.
The above should not, however, be read as a pick against Cisse. He's been sensational for Newcastle in his brief time with the club and gets a great fixture this week as Newcastle welcome a Stoke side with little to play for and one that doesn't travel too well at the best of times. With next week's delicious double gameweek coming up, Cisse remains a solid pickup, though he is of course along way past being a differential option. That said, he currently ranks third in FFS captain poll, and that likely doesn't account for the thousands of average players who will likely roll with Van Persie or Rooney again this week.
My plan all along was to bring in Bale and Adebayor for the double gameweek, but I must concede that I am revisiting those plans to consider fitting Cisse in. I'll likely stick with my original plan but the fact I am wavering towards a player who is a textbook regression candidate is a testament to his production.
If you share my reservations, or simply want to play it a bit safer you're probably looking at one of the elite forwards, now once again joined by Aguero after his brief flirtation with mediocrity. City have obviously looked great over the past couple of weeks and Aguero was at the centre of much of their success with 9 shots in those two fixtures. However, before last week, Aguero hadn't scored an away goal since GW9 and is averaging a worrying 4.7 P90 away from Eastlands. His obvious talent and production this year suggest he should always be in contention but I don't think I'm ready to go there based purely on two weeks' data and a good looking fixture. Chances are if you read this blog you probably don't own Aguero and thus the future fixture list also becomes an issue, with next week's Manchester derby looming large (not to mention a tricky trip to St James' Park). I see the logic here but I don't see enough to warrant the obvious downside.
So that leaves Rooney and Van Persie as the obvious picks and both look like solid plays for the week, even if the upside is possibly a bit limited compared to prior weeks. On first glance, Van Persie has taken a small step back these past few weeks but just a single goal (from the spot) in the past six gameweeks. However, over that period he still leads the league in total shots (19) and his 11 efforts on target can only be bested by Cisse (12). Without digging into a deeper analysis of the type of shots he's taking (perhaps he's forcing it a bit), it's fairly uncontroversial to suggest that his conversion rate picks up again at some point so if he can continue to get into good positions, the goals should return. Chelsea are a good defensive team which obviously hurts Van Persie this week, though you do wonder how much attention will still be on the upcoming trip to Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Rooney didn't look great last week but still escaped with a couple of goals (one from the spot) and an inexplicable three bonus points (that so-called change in the system was a total waste of time). He still managed to get six shots off, and his data over the past 6 gameweeks suggests a player who continues to be dangerous every week. Everton have quietly enjoyed an excellent season and this fixture is actually pretty comparable with Arsenal welcoming Chelsea (Everton concede 1.2 versus Chelsea's 1.1 away from home). Rooney has been great at home and United obviously need a big performance here with City coming up next week (if that means anything). I don't put much stock in the 'former team' narrative (that's one to investigate over the off season) but considering everything else makes Rooney a very good pick again this week.
The other two names high on the list are a pair of midfielders who've been fantasy gold this year. Dempsey and Sigurdsson have both been generally great but both have fairly strong home/away splits with Dempsey dominating at home and Sigurdsson shining on the road. Both players have managed 10 shots on goal over the past 6 gameweeks, though Sigurdsson enjoys a substantial advantage in terms of assist potential with 12 key passes versus Dempsey's 5. Bolton aren't showing any dramatic improvements as the season winds down and are still susceptible to big home defeats against quality opposition. Sigurdsson is still only held by 7% of managers making him the best differential play of the week if you need to do something different.
Edit: A couple of readers pointed out that Carlos Tevez deserves some attention here, and they're absolutely right. His four goals and two assists in just a handful of minutes obviously represents an outstanding return, and his Premier League pedigree shows there is reason to believe he can simply slot back into the first team and pickup where he left of last year - as one of the best players in the league. As you may have gathered though, there is a 'but' coming.
In his two starts in GW33-34 he managed six total shots, four of which hit the target. All four of those shots were converted into goals. Yes, he's a potentially elite player, and yes, he has a good scoring track record in the Premier League, but as we noted above, that kind of conversion rate is just not sustainable. Neither West Brom away from home, nor Norwich at home have particularly good defenses so it isn't a given that Tevez will even get as many chances going forward to convert. Granted, he likely will this week, but then City face the Champions-elect and a tough trip to St James Park, essentially making Tevez a one week gamble (not to say he can't produce in the other games too, just that the odds won't be stacked in his favour). I issued a warning regarding small sample sizes for Cisse, who now has nine appearances under his belt, so you can imagine my hesitation to jump on a player who was an afterthought just a couple of weeks and has performed well in two games against mediocre opposition.
Tevez's strongest asset is his low ownership numbers (3%) and to get such upside from a player held by so few is indeed rare. I can certainly see a scenario where he is successful this week, but balancing that out against no double gameweek in GW36, tough games in GW36 and 37, a small chance that he doesn't even start this week and all the off-field drama that has affected him all season, I just don't see a 12m risk unless you absolutely need to gain 10s of points on your opponents immediately and they have the Rooney, van Persie and Cisse market cornered.
It's a tough choice to make this week and the logic behind Cisse looks solid. That said, I will likely stick with Van Persie who may be abandoned by a handful of managers following his "poor form" of late.