Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gameweek 4 Reader Questions

Kevin Tan
Which of the 5.0m def would u choose for nxt 6 GWs? Boyce, McAuley, Ridgewell or S Taylor?

For 5.0m we have access to a surprising number of teams with AVL, FUL, NEW, NOR, QPR, RDG, STK, SOU, SUN, SWA, WIG, WBA, WHM all having several options available in your price range plus a couple of riskier prospects from the 'big name' teams including Jenkinson and Gallas. I want to avoid rewriting everything we know after just three weeks so let's start with the three teams I would have backed from this group in the preseason: SWA, SUN and STK. SWA have been very good value to date and remain in contention for sure. SUN had an excellent result against ARS but then looked so-so against SWA but I'd say they remain an option, while STK look sufficiently unpredictable to give me some doubts about them (though I'm not abandoning them yet). Of the teams to impress so far I'd throw in WHM and WBA which gives us four teams to focus on.

Of that group, WHM do the worst in the predicted goals table, though part of that is because of their own poor forecast numbers which haven't yet been sufficiently skewed based on three weeks of data. Over the next 6 gameweeks you're only going to have to bench SUN, SWA and WBA players once (they all play City)  and so I guess it comes down to how much upside you can get for 0.5m. Cuellar is the only player here costing 4.5m and so he looks particularly attractive. I am a bit concerned about SWA given the absence of Taylor (long term) and Chico (suspension) which might push me towards WBA (from that team I'd give the nod to Ridgewell based on chances created). Long term I still like SWA here but if you're purely looking at the next 6, WBA look like a better mix of safety/upside. To save money, Cuellar looks almost as good as the others.

Of the other two teams you touch on - WIG and NEW - I like NEW more as a long term option as with a couple of injuries and one of their home games against MUN, you're going to struggle to even play them in half of the next 7 games. As for WIG, I could be talked into Figueroa at 4.5m but Boyce seems overhyped at 5.0m based on his wing back role. I like Wigan quite a bit going forward but I'm yet to be convinced by them at the back and a clean sheet against Southampton isn't getting me there just yet.

I've played my wildcard this week... any suggestions for my squad?

1) Foster (Jaaskelainen)
Baines, Jenkinson, McAuley (Demel, Davies)
Hazard Cazorla Ben Arfa Michu (Guthrie)
Torres Tevez Fletcher
1.7m remaining

2) Foster (Jaaskelainen)
Baines, Jenkinson, McAuley (Demel, Davies)
Hazard, Cazorla, Ben Arfa, Michu, Morrison
Torres Tevez Lambert
1.1m remaining

Before getting to the differences, let's just quickly touch on the team as a whole. On paper it clearly looks good though you do have some risk built into that back line with the selection of both Jenkinson and Davies. I like both players a lot in theory but Jenkinson will make way for Sagna shortly while Davies looks very risky now Swansea have brought in Tiendalli to compete at left back. If you're sure you're settled on the rest of your team it's okay to carry these players and move them on in a few weeks but be careful not to plan too many transfers into the future as an injury or two can quickly leave your squad looking thin.

The other issue, and it's a tough one to avoid, is lack of differentiation. Anyone who follows the forums over at Fantasy Football Scout will be aware that many of the regular posters are getting upset about "cookie cutter" teams over the past week or so. While I think that's unfair (if you don't want to rate someone's team - don't!), it does illustrate the growing trend that many teams are starting to look a bit the same. With Torres, Tevez, Hazard, Michu, Baines and Jenkinson, you have six players whose ownership is into double digits and often significantly so. Now, the reason I wouldn't necessarily criticise this decision is that all those players look like decent investments. Personally I wouldn't pay a premium for Baines over his teammates not am I yet convinced that Torres is "back" but I understand the logic behind both pickups.

If I was wildcarding this week I would try and limit myself to three of the expensive widely held options (Tevez, van Persie, Torres, Hazard, Yaya, Michu, Kagawa, Allen) and you only have four so let's not overreact here. I love the addition of Cazorla and Fletcher in option one, while Ben Arfa is a player I like to continue to have success even if some regression is inevitable. Neither of that pair are true differentiators but at ~10% ownershup they at least allow you to make up ground on some managers.

Overall, whether you decide to stick with the Michu or Hazard group or go in a riskier direction depends on how much risk you are willing to take on board. Every time you bet against Tevez for example, 50% of managers pull away from you which is hard to take (of course, you pull away from 50% when he fails). That means you need to have fairly strong convictions about who you pick instead of these widely owned players if you don't plan to grab them. Of the widely held options I'd say at this point Tevez is almost impossible to pass on, but the others - even Hazard - should not be considered must owns. That said, in Hazard's place I would probably only put Cazorla who you have anyway.

So, of the two options I like the first better (basically because of Fletcher) but I would urge you to take another look at players like Bale, Silva or Ba and consider if you like any of them enough to justify not grabbing that widely owned group.

I noticed how you waxed lyrical about Fletcher. to sum it up, you showed he had a 1/3 ratio.
But the stats for R Lambert would indicate a 1 in 2 chance of scoring. Although Southampton are probably destined for relegation, would you not regard him the more potent striker? especially at his lesser cost of 6 million?

I think you are referencing the 'window shopping' piece, in which case, there's a slight miscommunication here. The average conversion rate of shots on goal across the whole league is 33% and not players perform above that with any consistency. I certainly don't expect Fletcher's 100% record to continue for long but he's shown (in the Premier League) that he can out perform the average consistently and thus I'm more willing to buy into his high goal totals than I would if, say, Luis Suarez scored 2 in 2 given that his historic rate of 21% is well below the league average.

As for Lambert, I like him as a prospect quite a bit but two things hold me back from being all in. First, shots are going to be harder to come by, and while he's done well with his shots to date (6 total, 5 on target, 2 goals), I don't have any reliable data for how he will perform at the top level. Which brings us to the second issue: his price tag. There's a good pool of talent in the 5.5m-7.0m range and right now, especially given the rotation concerns of gameweek one, I'm struggling to put him at the top.

Mathias Johansson
I'm thinking about your first graph [from the shots inside the box piece], if you remove the top teams (MCI, MUN, ARS, TOT, CHE and LIV for measure) I would say you would get a more horizontal tangent.
Does that really tell us anything valuable or one might argue that outside the top teams it's more of a coinflip how the season turns out. It sounds a bit simplistic to my taste but much of that tangents inclination comes from the big teams so probably a measure of truth.

This is a really good point and something I missed. While I'm generally hesitant to just cut a piece of data from our sample, the teams you mention are clearly identifiable as the league's elite and thus there is some value in looking at the 'other' teams. Without replotting the graph and looking at the detailed data I would suggest that there is still a relationship here, but you're right that it could be weaker.

As a general point I try and avoid splitting data up arbitrarily as that forces my views onto it if I'm not careful (for example, are Liverpool and 'elite' team anymore? Newcastle?). But Mathias raises a good issue here and in future analyses I will try and present data league-wide but then also excluding at least the undeniably elite sides (MUN, MCI, ARS and CHE).

Am I correct in deducing that City´s numbers, however, are indicative of their quality upfront, as PY team looks the best?

I think so, yes, and Liverpool's 'struggles' can at least in part be attributed to Suarez who is a good player tends to take shots where others would pass, and while being good enough to hit the target, such selfish play can lead to poor contact and thus a lower conversion rate. Ideally we'd get season-on-season data for every team and hopefully see that, for example, City have been consistently excellent for three seasons and thus are more a genuine overachiever than an outlier. This is something I will be working on over the next few weeks.

I must add that you do have to consider the quality of the shooter in the box, as this indicator is always likely to stay high for both Liverpool and Arsenal with Suarez and Giroud being depended on for putting the ball in the back of the net.

I agree that the quality of player needs to be accounted for, but it's tough to do so without a database for every player, including how to account for data outside of the Premier League. As I noted above, this is definitely something to look into though. On a side note, which I like him as a player, Suarez's finishing numbers are actually pretty poor, though again, they do need to be taken in context as he takes a lot more shots than most players too, so he's bound to have more shots with bad contact (shooting off balance, long range etc).

Thanks again for all the kind comments guys, they are very much appreciated.


Bryan McKenna said...

Hey Chris (and anyone else reading)

Quick and perhaps cheeky since you just kindly posted answers to GW4 questions, but if you find yourself with a moment (or anyone else).

Have a free transfer this week and trying to decide between Cazorla and Hazard, in for Mata. Now long term, I want both and hope to do so within the next 2-3 weeks.

Hazard edges the short term fixtures and gives me Chelsea attacking coverage.

Cazorla gives a viable captain choice this weekend, has less ownership, but two tricky fixtures in the next week.

On the face of it, I really like Cazorla and fancy him to bring in Hazard like number of new suitors in the near future. Both look like great long term choices, just a question of which 1st?

For what it is worth, I am leaning towards Cazorla, who will get the armband if I bring him in.

Rest of Team currently is:

De Gea, Begovic

A.Cole, Cuellar, Zabaleta

Michu, Mata*, Bale, Nolan

Tevez(VC), Podolski(C), Ba

Begovic, Allen, Gunter, Figueroa

1.7m in the bank


Chris Glover said...

Brian - Wow that's a tough one. I think the two main considerations to consider are fixtures and likelihood of price rises, and then the secondary consideration is captain viability (after all you can captain Tevez pretty much every week if you have to).

Chelsea shade it here over two weeks and it's probably a larger gap than my data shows as CHE look better and QPR look worse than last year, while ARS are arguably worse (well, a better all round team but no RvP). That said, Bale has the best fixtures of all three and though he doesn't have the production to date, he does have excellent underlying stats.

If you're committed to getting both Hazard and Santi long term I'd go Santi this week, then you are free to make a move or not next week (Bale also has an excellent fixture against QPR) and then bring Hazard in the week after. That isn't ideal timing as he faces a tough trip to ARS but there's no one that week that really looks a whole lot better.

Price rise
At 40% I can't see that Hazard's price has much further to go. His 0.6m price rise through 3 weeks is historic and I don't see much risk in delaying for a week or too in terms of cost. At most you'd expect his price could rise 0.1-0.2m. Santi though has ownership numbers at just over 10% and at 9.1m he looks like a juicy prospect for anyone giving up on Mata, Bale or Silva. Indeed another bad week for any of that group and a good performance from Santi (against SOU) could see huge transfers next week.

Captain viability
As you say, of that group Santi would probably get the nod next week and would represent an upgrade over your current options. Next week you're probably okay going with Bale or Tevez and then Hazard in GW8 if you have in by then.

Planning too many transfers can be risky so I like the below plan as it gives you a bit of wiggle room in case Tevez or any of your elite options picked up an injury and you need to change things up

GW4 - Mata > Santi. Santi can be captained. Bale also a good option for the week.

GW5 - Flexibility to keep Bale if he's done enough to impress you, allowing you to target someone else with your free cash. Perhaps Michu > Kagawa if Michu starts to regress. Or moving Allen on who looks like he will struggle for fantasy points. Alternatively fo Bale > Hazard

GW6 - Bale > Hazard if not already done. Tevez is still a decent captain option and while Hazard isn't an ideal signing, no one else's fixture looks great. If you already have Hazard, you could look to take advantage of EVE's good looking fixtures by bringing in a Fellaini or Pienaar.

Graydon Davies said...

Hi there Chris, love your blog.

I've used my wildcard this week and am trying to decide my players for the long term, who I want, and who I don't.

My team is:

GK: Jaakelainen, (Foster)

DEF: Bertrand, Mertesacker, R.Ferdinand (Santon, Davies)

MID: Hazard, Yaya, Ben Arfa, Dembele (Sterling)

ATT: Podolski, Torres, Tevez

I have $1.7M in the bank, and my main concern is Aguero. He was in my team to start the season, but the GW1 injury obviously changed those plans, and I brought in Tevez in his place.

My current team is created with the plan of bringing Aguero back in for Tevez once he regains fitness, but I'm wondering if maybe sticking with Tevez is possibly the way to go? Once Aguero is fit, a lot of people might do exactly what I was thinking, and Tevez' ownership MAY drop quite a bit. It would also free up cash for a "better" MID or DEF option, aka maybe Cleverly in for Sterling, or Cazorla for Ben Arfa etc, or a decent 5.0m option for Davies, or even possibly a keeper like De Gea or Cech in future.

So my question to you is, is it worth keeping that extra million or two to save for once Aguero returns, or will Tevez still be an as good, if not better option? Do you think Aguero is going to significantly surpass Tevez' numbers by the end of the season?

I feel like Aguero is probably one of the top 3, if not the best player in the league so I'm torn.

Cheers, I appreciate it :D

P.S. What do you think of Bertrand? Seeing Di Matteo play him in two of the first 3 games makes me feel like he could be worth the gamble?

Gummi said...

Thanks for the answer Chris.

Regarding the Cazorla v Hazard, I would be looking at Cazorla for the long-term, especially as Chris points out, he'll rise in price quickly if he scores again this week.

Strange as it sounds, I think Cazorla is the safer pick as he'll be Arsenal´s main playmaker throughout the season. Hazard has more competition, and could both regress and be rotated more.

Bryan McKenna said...

Cheers Chris and Gummi :-)

Much appreciated. Your correct in saying not to plan too far ahead, Bale doing well could present a nice problem in regards to getting Hazard in (or alternatively De Gea, Zab and Cole not playing this weekend could force a WC)

John Doe, 2008 said...

Interesting about Lambert and his shot numbers. I agree his total shots aren't on par with his other underlying stats (chances created, SOG, penalty touches, etc.), I don't think they are all that concerning either. His mins per shot is 34.8, right in line with the likes of Torres, Podolski, Carroll (sample size alert), Fletcher (ditto), Crouch, Cisse, Graham and others. While that group falls pretty far behind Tevez, RVP, and Ba, they are still near the top of the boards. Given his high number of penalty touches, I expect his shot numbers to rise as well.

Looking at that number in context doesn't worry me a bit.

Reasonable minds can differ it seems!