Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 4

In the first of a new regular series, we're going to look at the week's top fantasy performers (purely measured by fantasy points) and look at the evidence as to whether their success is sustainable or whether the inevitable hype needs to be ignored. Where possible I will draw on the available stats but I'll also add more subjective comments regarding a player's future playing time or other possible risks. Without wishing to be negative, more often than not we're going to be dousing fires here as you don't need me to tell you after yet another Carlos Tevez goal that he's a good player. I'm also going to stay away from defenders who purely earned their points from defensive means as the sustainability of those is a whole other ball game that needs more than just a line or two per player.

Each player has been assigned a 'Buy', "Hold' or 'Sell' status. These don't necessarily reflect what I would do, more what I believe to be reasonable action at this time:
  • Buy - the player can be purchased immediately taking consideration of his playing time, fixtures, injury status etc. This status does not necessarily mean you should buy him now as it depends who else you own, only that it is reasonable to do so.
  • Hold, and monitor - if you own the player you're not in a rush to ditch him but there's sufficient risk here to justify potential buyers holding off.
  • Sell - the player has too many risks and should either be sold or not purchased. This does not mean he might not have value in the future, just not right now.
Alex Buttner 17 points
I tweeted after Buttner's goal - as a joke - that we were moments away from a Bleacher Report '10 reasons why United need to sell Evra' story but it seems my facetious statement was actually prophetic. Buttner looked good and comes with a reputation as an excellent attacking full back (indeed, his goal was very well taken) but the death of Patrice Evra's place in this side seems to be greatly exaggerated. Evra would have been rated as one of, if not the, best left backs in the league as recently as last season and while he is now 31, he's far from finished.  I see increased competition here and Buttner may play against weaker sides, thus hurting Evra's fantasy viability, but  if you want budget access to this United defense Rafael still looks like your best bet.
Status: Sell

Gervinho 15 
Arsene Wenger half-jokingly suggested that Gervinho was due to play up top because at Arsenal they convert all wingers to forwards and all forwards to wingers. This particular move looked promising this week as Gervinho was very sharp in the central positions and linked up nicely with the other wide players. He showed good discipline in not automatically drifting to the left and one didn't get the impression that he and Podolski were treading on each others' toes. Wenger added that he didn't want to lose Podolski's presence on the left which should probably raise flags for Giroud's owners as it looks like Gervinho and the Frenchman might be vying for one spot up top with Podolski apparently entrenched on the left flank. Given the fluidity in this side, there don't appear to be any concerns about Podolski's fortunes in that position.
Status: Hold, and monitor

Matt Lowton 14
Now we're talking. Villa aren't an exciting side and I for one have been fairly down on their prospects but the defense has quietly been getting better and now ranks towards the top of the middle pack in shots conceded inside the box, a stat which normally correlates to defensive success. Over the next six weeks, the Villains have at least three games in which you would want to start them (@SOU, WBA, NOR), and that could be increased to five at a pinch (@FUL, @SUN). Chasing defender goals is generally an ill advised move but Lowton has significant touches in the opponents half and final third together with a decent, if unexciting, three chances created. With 0.3% ownership he is a true differentiator and with a all-but-guaranteed place in the first team he could make a useful addition at the back end of any squad.
Status: Buy

Dimitar Berbatov 13
Of all the players to have success this week, Berbatov is the one who I have the strongest opinion, and thus he probably requires the least discussion. Seven shots, three on target, two goals and two chances created for a team with four very promising fixtures over the next five gameweeks (@WIG, @SOU, AST, RDG) speaks for itself, although a note of caution is always required when discussing Fulham's horrible away form. If you don't believe you can ever play a Fulham player on the road then you might need to look elsewhere as at 7.0m he's simply too expensive to play only 14 or 15 times more for the year (if you also benched him against the league's elite sides). I believe he's a buy option right now, but if you want to be very conservative, treat this week's trip to Wigan as a good scouting opportunity to see how Fulham fare on the road, and then plan to grab him after the City game has passed too.
Status: Buy

Gareth Bale 11
His stats suggested this was coming even though in the end his goal was somewhat fortuitous. His 14 total shots (five on target) are now tied for third among all midfielders (ahead of Hazard on both accounts I might add), while his 11 chances created place him fourth. The next six games feature four home games and a trip to Southampton and thus Bale's increased production looks well placed to continue. With 12% ownership he's hardly a differentiator but compared to the Hazard and Yaya crowd, he does represent an elite option not held by what seems like everybody else so, as we said a couple of weeks back, he deserves consideration for anyone considering buying a ticket on the Hazard bandwagon.
Status: Buy

Alex Kacaniklic 10
Kacaniklic's underlying stats aren't amazing, but then for 4.6m they don't have to be. I'm hesitant to read too much into this but his two big performances have come at home, which suggests that perhaps his production can be forecast with some precision and he would make an excellent spot starter during Fulham's home games. In those two home games he took up a much more advanced position on the field and registered three shots and created a single chance. Again, not spectacular but useful for a budget player who looks set to play every week and has some decent talent around him.
Status: Buy

Steve Sidwell 10
Before I opened the stat sheet, my comment here was going to something snarky about this not being 2006 anymore and how you'd be crazy to even think twice about Sidwell. Then I actually looked at the data and was genuinely shocked to see Sidwell sitting atop the 'shots on target' column. It gets tiresome to say this before every sentence during the opening weeks of the season, but we are dealing with small sample sizes here so the fact that Sidwell has shown more scoring potential than any other midfielder to date should be taken with a grain of salt. What is amazing though is that Sidwell has racked up those shots in just 235 minutes, just over half some of the elite players in the league. He's hitting the target at a rate which should regress (eight total shots) but even then he looks like a goal scoring prospect who can match many of those in his price range (5.0m). His lack of assist potential and not particularly exciting positioning harshens our collective buzz here, but a player who is great in one category can still be valuable at this price. I'm more interested in Kacaniklic at this point but Sidwell is a classic name where managers will be very slow to jump on board given his lacklustre history so he's worth keeping stock of in the coming weeks.
Status: Hold, and monitor

Javier Hernandez 9
Very little to say here. I'm scared of Robin van Persie being rotated so, yeh, Hernandez is a risk too. If the great Dutchman, Welbeck and/or Rooney were to get injured / sold / imprisoned my interest might be piqued but until then he's just a frustratingly good player forced to feed off scraps, much like Berbatov last season (seven goals in just over 500 minutes).
Status: Sell

Peter Crouch 9
No one wants to own Peter Crouch. Kids don't want to be him in the school yard. Managers often don't seem to want him. But, year after year Crouch delivers decent value in both reality and fantasy and he's off to a decent, though typically unspectacular start this year. As a player in his current situation, I have zero issues with Crouch: he'll play virtually very week, he has a couple of decent supporting players (boosted by Adam's presence on set pieces) and has a history of staying fit and playing with consistency over the past few years. My only problem then is his price tag, as while it's very reasonable at 6.5m it pits him directly against the likes of Fletcher and Berbatov who I feel have higher upside. If however, 6.5m really is the absolutely peak of your budget, there aren't many players available who bring Crouch's consistency for this price.
Status: Buy

Steve Fletcher 9
This is an easy one. I love Fletcher and everyone who has reviewed these electronic pages before likely already knows that. I am contractually obligated to mention the fact that he is due for regression given his three total shots have all hit the back of the net, but I'm willing to bet that his number of chances will also increase in the coming weeks to offset some of this and thus he should remain excellent value at 7.0m. Don't think you're getting something you're not: he isn't an elite forward but he's proven time and time again that he can score goals at a higher rate than pretty much anyone in his price bracket and thus he deserves a great deal of fantasy attention.
Status: Buy

Jermaine Defoe 9
I really want to buy here as Defoe (a) is an excellent finisher and (b) comes at a reasonable price given his place in one of the more dynamic teams in the league. However, I simply cannot believe that he gets the majority of minutes over Adebayor, to whom the club are paying a weekly bounty in wages (oh, and he was their top scorer last season too, by a distance). If you own him, great, ride the wave, but we should monitor closely who is played in which competitions with Spurs having fixtures Premier League, Europa Cup and League Cup in the coming days. Hold for now but I wouldn't be chasing him if you're not already on board.
Status: Hold

Paul Scholes 9
I couldn't use a 'what year is it' joke for Sidwell, so I'll use it here instead. Scholes is a great story, formerly great player and every time you mention him you are legally required to mention the fact that he still can't tackle. However, last time I checked none of those facts score many points in fantasy football and it seems somewhere between highly unlikely and impossible that he racks up enough minutes to warrant anything close to fantasy ownership. The fact he is owned by more managers than the like of James Morrison, Shaun Maloney and Rob Snodgrass is terrifying.
Status: Sell

Kieran Gibbs 9
As long as Carl Jenkinson is around he is clearly the best value along this back line, unless you believe that smashing balls into the box and having the other team put them into the net is a sustainable skill. Once Sagna returns though, Gibbs is an interesting prospect. He goes head-to-head with Mertesacker for those (wisely) not wanting to blow too much cash on Vermaalen, and for your 0.5m premium you get increased security (though no guarantees with Santos around) and a slightly better offensive threat. 'Slightly' is the right word so far as while Gibbs is 5th in touches in the opponents final third among defenders, he has only created four chances for the year. Mertesacker brings a marginally better goal threat thanks to his height from set pieces, but on balance it's fair to say Gibbs has the edge. This alone is not worth 0.5m more, but if you believe Koscielny might start to cause trouble in the middle, Gibbs makes sense here given Arsenal's improved defensive showing.
Status: Hold

Demba Ba 9
This will likely rise to 11 or 12 points after posting as scoring two goals in a 2-2 should be good enough for at least a couple of bonus points. Newcastle looked much better with Ba on the field and I'd be surprised to see him dropped again this week. It is, however, something to watch given the presence of the likes of Fletcher and Berbatov in his price bracket. Despite him starting on the bench this week I'm still very much on board the Ba Bandwagon (Ba-ndwagon?) and see little reason why Cisse owners (7%) don't make a switch and collect 1.6m in free cash. If you don't want said cash, feel free to send it to PLFantasy Towers, Suite 100, Toronto, Canada.
Status: Buy (but watch those minutes)

Lukas Podolski 8
Podolski continues to impress to the naked eye and the stats are starting to catch up, relieving some of the mild concern I was feeling over him being pushed out wide. As noted above, Wenger spoke this week about the German giving the team good balance when he plays out wide, and he seems to have already formed a really good understanding with Cazorla with some very neat one-twos over the past few weeks. The goalscoring stats still don't blow you away (eight shots, three on target) but he has a potential advantage in the assist column over many of his peers (eight chances created) to account for any gap. The next two games look tricky so there's no rush to pile on here, but I do see Podolski as the kind of player who you could very well end up owning all year.
Status: Hold (based on fixtures) then buy

Barry Bannan 8
Bannan was the other potential subject of this week's 'moneyball' piece over at Fantasy Football Scout, and for short term glory I sure did pick the wrong name. Bannan chipped in with an assist, two bonus points and a clean sheet and he was good value for the points with four chances created on the day. That gives him seven for the season, ahead of the likes of Dyer, Allen and Kacaniklic, all of whom are substantially more widely held than the Villa man. The issue of course is his scoring potential, or lack thereof, as with just three shots on the season Bannan just simply isn't going to rack up a significant goal tally. At 4.9m he doesn't need to do too much to justify his price tag and in a vacuum I'd suggest he's worth investment. However, with names like Maloney and the aforementioned Kacaniklic and Sidwell available, Bannan is in a fight for fantasy relevancy. He isn't at the top of that list for me just yet, but he's in the mix, which is worth noting for a player with 0.5% ownership.
Status: Hold

Javi Garcia 8
This was a great real-world debut for Garcia who nabbed a goal and looked solid both with and without possession. 5.5m for anyone in this City side is worth reviewing but Garcia just isn't a player who should be fantasy relevant. He's probably a step up from De Jong but he'll be deployed so deeply that any attacking ambition would at best lead to hockey assists.
Status: Sell

Kyle Walker 7
Walker is as much of an offensive threat as any defender in this league not named Baines and remains a strong candidate for those who like their defenders to have some offensive potential. Spurs' haven't kept a clean sheet yet but their 5th placed ranking in shots conceded inside the box is promising, as is there 58% possession and zero errors leading to goals. The only mark against Walker is nothing to do with him, but rather the presence of Naughton at the other full back spot. With Assou Ekotto out for up to a month, Naughton looks set to earn substantial minutes at right back (with Walker sliding to the left) and at 4.4m represents irresistible value for anyone looking to buy into this Spurs side. Long term I like Walker a lot and if you own him I'm not sure it's worth burning two transfers to grab Naughton, but if you're looking to buy, the cheaper man makes a lot more sense for now.
Status: Hold

Steve Pienaar 7
This one could rise too by the time you read this as Pienaar chipped in with a couple of assists tonight. He isn't exactly flying under the radar with 11% ownership numbers, but it still bears mentioning how excellent his stats have been to date this year. Eight chances created places him 10th among midfielders, while his nine shots on target rank tied for 12th. The only midfielders to top Pienaar in both of those categories are Cazorla, Bale, Hazard, Gerrard and Ben Arfa which nicely illustrates the Everton man's success this year. The next nine games look simply irresistible to the point that you really need to be considering how, not if, you will get access to this Everton side (if Simply Irresistible by Robert Palmer as featured in American Pyscho is not now playing in your head, you're doing it wrong).
Status: Buy

Nani 6
Over the last three years, if you extrapolate Nani's fantasy points over just a 25 appearance season, he would still average over 150 points. Make that a 31 appearance season and you have a 200 point player. He's off to a comparatively slow start this year, but would still be on pace for 155 points at his current rate. Such extrapolations aren't too helpful if the player has no chance of meeting them but I continue to believe that Ferguson thinks more highly of Nani than any of his wide players and 2200+ minutes (~26 appearances) still looks very achievable. His underlying stats would place him up among the league's best if extended to three or four appearances yet his ownership number (3.1%) remains extremely depressed. He still faces rotation risk not to mention his usual complaints of inconsistency, but right now he may well be the best bet in the United side when you factor in upside, security and price.
Status: Hold, and monitor based on fixtures

Nick Powell 6
Stop it, just stop it. When everyone is fit he might be United's 12th ranked midfielder, depending on whether you believe Rooney can really play there effectively. I've always had a soft spot for Crewe and I'd be delighted if another of their respected academy makes it big (Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy, Billy Jones) but I'd be beyond amazed if he had an impact this year beyond the odd cameo like this one.
Status: Sell

Hal Robson-Kanu 6
One shot, one on target, one goal, no prospects. Robson-Kanu doesn't appear to be a first team option for Reading and shouldn't be anywhere near that status for you.
Status: Sell

Theo Walcott 6
Much like Nani above, Walcott's biggest knock over the past couple of seasons has been an inability to stay on the field either because of injury or a lack of faith from Arsene Wenger. When he's played he's been about as good as anyone, with a 189 point pace based on a 30 appearance season over the past two years. Arsenal have suddenly found themselves with substantial attacking options but Walcott still figures to get his fair share of minutes providing the ongoing contract saga doesn't continue to play a role. Walcott hasn't played enough to be considered a buy yet and with Arsenal looking sharp the likes of Cazorla, Podolski or even Gervinho look better bets for the short term, but Walcott is still one to keep in mind should things start to come together for him.
Status: Hold

Aaron Lennon 6
I must admit I had pretty much written Lennon off in this Spurs side given all the other options at Villas-Boas' disposal, but with Bale allowed to drift inside so often, this team would be very narrow if Lennon was replaced by, say, Dempsey and thus his run in the side may well be extended. I don't have a strong conviction either way on this one though so while you wouldn't be in a rush to dump Lennon, long term I can see him losing minutes one way or another so I wouldn't invest despite the attractive price tag.
Status: Hold, and monitor

Luis Suarez 6
In this week's lineup lessons I wrote that Suarez looks "set in this lineup and should be right up there with anyone in minutes played and will get his goals over the season. My concern is that (a) Liverpool don't look like they'll score a bucket load of goals and thus his huge gameweeks and assist totals look limited and (b), at 9.4m he needs to come close to Tevez and significantly top Podolski which I just don't see him doing." Nothing more to add right now.
Status: Hold (just about, but better value can probably be found)


Ramzy said...

First of all, Great blog Chris. A little help here with my team:

Clyne Zab Hangeland A.Cole Cuellar
Michu Nasri Valencia Guthrie Hazard
Ba Podolski Tevez

I want to prioritize which transfer to make as Nasri and Valencia have been 'wasting' money with their negligible returns.Am thinking of this 2 transfers for a 4 point hit or at least 1 transfer;

1. Nasri to Ben Arfa
2. Valencia to Bale
There are also other deadwood that needs to be gotten rid of like Zab,Clyne,Federici and Cuellar(injured) and am not willing to wildcard this early.

The question is, where should my priorities be in terms of transfers barring those aforementioned transfers?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Excellent post - thank you. I know he didn't get anything this week, but I'm looking for alternatives to Petric, and was wondering what you made of Ricky Lambert at Southampton? I can't quite afford Fletcher or Berbatov without a hit, so is Lambert a good bet, do you feel?


Bryan McKenna said...

Cheers Chris, very nice new weekly addition.

Surprised to see no mention of Baines. While I know you favor the cheaper route to defenses, with the fixtures falling kindly and him in form, he looks a solid buy option.

Pienaar also looks great down the left, only problem is the competition between the midfield slots is so strong at the moment.

m4v15 said...

Hi Chris,

Nice post, I like the idea. I know you weren't going to discuss defenders keeping clean sheets, but on a related note, what do you think of Guzan? At 4.5m he seems like a good way to jump out of the de Gea boat, but will Given get another chance in the Villa team?

Nibbsy said...

@Ramzy - not sure whether Chris would agree with this, but my view is that you need to prioritise the big money players in your team, as those are the guys who should get most of your points and are also your captain options. That is as long as you can field 3 defenders which at the moment you can.

Your transfers look good but would consider Pienaar over HBA as you already have Ba and no Everton players.

Nibbsy said...

Also wondering why Baines isn't mentioned here. He almost plays as a winger and is on set pieces for one of the stronger defensive teams in good form with a great run of fixtures. Possibly slightly overpriced but not sure there's a defender in the 6.5+ bracket I'd rather have for the next few weeks.

Scheister said...

Agreed, I have the money, I have to get Baines ...not a bad upgrade from Rangel!

John Doe, 2008 said...

Great new feature Chris! Absolutely love it.

Ton the Don said...

Question: With Szczesny picking up another ankle injury, who do I grab at keeper? Is anyone 5.5m or under worth the -4 penalty this week?

Tik said...

Hello Chris!

This was exactly the post I was looking forward to - thank you for your thoughts!

I took a hit this week with BAE injured and Graham not performing as I would have liked him to (got in Hughes and Berbartov).

I still have Adebayor in my team (since GW2!!) I rate him one of the best (and stroppy) players in the P-league, but with only a few or no minutes playtime I rather have a secure player (Fletcher, Podolski). I can't affort another swap this week but I'm considering him out if he doesn't play this week. What do you think?

Pulma said...

Got a serious problem on my hands. Really want Hazard for the next 3 gameweeks at a minimum. But getting him would mean I will have to get rid of either Kagawa or Lampard. I really feel that Lamps could be the right choice here despite the good fixtures as he is very likely to sit out the next one after starting 4 games in last 2 weeks. I also really liked what Kags did agaisnt Galatasaray and think he will be a decent asset in the coming weeks.

Please share your thoughts on my dilemma, really need all the help I can get.
Thanks for all the good work!

gauravandmessi said...

Hi Chris,
I was wondering if there was any way you could use some stats to find out who the so-called "main man" is at a club. Like, who is the one person who has the maximum share of goals, chances created or blocks/interceptions.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Teffa said...

Hi Chris, your blog has been my weekly pill. Fantastic!

May I ask for 3 main defenders, combined with a pair of goalkeepers, and 3 main forwards which can form the nucleus of a winning team?
Would Vorm, Begovic, Gallas, Mertesacker, Zabaleta work in defense, with Tevez, Berbatov, Fletcher banging in the goals regardless of fixtures?