I'm still working on the calculations for some data-based captain picks, so for now let's stick to some good ol' narrative. I've kept the ramblings to notebook form for the sake of your time and my sanity:
Eden Hazard vs Stoke (39% vote as FFS)
P90 of 12.0 at home after two games at Chelsea . . . scored or assisted 5 of Chelsea's 6 goals at Stamford Bridge . . . Stoke have been typically solid at home (1 goal conceded against City and 0 versus Arsenal) but have been mediocre on the road (3 goals in 2 games against Wigan and Reading) . . . 43% ownership means that picking Hazard will have limited gains while not picking him comes with a large risk . . . played full 90 minutes against Juventus midweek with Mata and Moses both rested so rotation risk if a slight concern . . . underlying stats are excellent (12 shots, 3 on target and 10 chances created) but aren't better than some of the other elite talent . . . penalties and corner duties are a bonus
Verdict: Great combination of high floor and ceiling. Won't help you gain on many opponents though
Gareth Bale vs QPR (8% vote at FFS)
No fantasy production in two home games this season though underlying stats were very good (9 shots, 5 chances created) . . . 14 total shots and 11 chances created give him the best underlying stats of all midfielders after Cazorla . . . QPR have surrendered 42 shots inside the box including 25 in two away games . . . 11 chances conceded down the left flank in away games is as high as any team in the league . . . played 90 minutes midweek and hasn't been rested yet this year so some rotation risk in place . . . so integral to this team's success that rotation does seem lower than some others though.
Verdict: Upside can match anyone as he starts to get production to match his underlying stats. Some risk here but he's a captain differentiation option and so worth a long look.
Carlos Tevez vs Arsenal (5% vote at FFS)
2 goals and 2 assists in 2 home games to date . . . 14 shots with 7 on target are good but not overwhelming considering his ownership % . . . Arsenal a much improved defensive side conceding just 22 shots inside the box, second only to City . . . not as good away from home though and some regression is inevitable . . . played the 90 against Real Madrid but did get an early bath last time out against Stoke . . . rotation risk seems diminished with Aguero not yet ready to go though Dzeko and Balotelli remain a threat.
Verdict: Surprised so few managers are backing him this week and this could be one of the few times you can captain him and gain ground on the masses. Arsenal are improved but far from infallible.
Robin van Persie at Liverpool (10% vote at FFS)
13 shots places van Persie 6th among all forwards, despite playing just 243 minutes to date . . . played 80 minutes midweek but was rested last game and thus looks set to play . . . Liverpool still a good defensive side at times, conceding just 22 shots inside the box . . . Liverpool did however concede twice at Anfield against both Arsenal and City so United should score . . . penalty duties and corner should boost points production
Verdict: Always a captain option but the fixture looks tougher than some of his competitors. Downside looks lower than some of the other available picks (upside remains as high as anyone).
Fernando Torres vs Stoke (6% vote at FFS)
2 in 2 for Torres at the Bridge this year . . underlying stats are somewhat average with just 9 total shots and 3 on target in games, though 7 (2) of those came at home . . . Sturridge still carrying a knock so playing time seems to be guaranteed . . . did however play 90 minutes midweek so fatigue could be an issue.
Verdict: Still not really convinced that Torres is 'back'. Worth a look given the fixture but underlying stats are sufficiently low to scare me away.
There are lots of viable options this week with the three City midfielders (Yaya, Silva, Nasri) along with the remaining Spurs options (Defoe, Adebayor, Sigurdsson, Lennon and Dempsey) all making the list. However, I'm not sure I'd guarantee that anyone from this group even starts aside from Yaya, thus it's tough to look to them as captain picks.
You also have the stars from the mid-table teams like Michu, Ben Arfa, Berbtov, Ba or Fletcher but again, I'm not sure I see that winning combination of guaranteed minutes, consistent performance and upside.
Finally, as well as he has played so far and as amazing as his underlying stats are, captaining anyone at City is simply not playing the odds so Cazorla is out of contention for the week (with the same logic applying for Podolski).
It's going to be tough to pass on Hazard if you own him, especially in the knowledge that a huge proportion of managers won't make that same tough call. He probably brings the best package of consistency and upside, though Bale's slightly better underlying stats remind us that this isn't a slam dunk pick. Tevez is an intriguing pick the apparent lack of appetite for his skills, though an increasing rotation threat along with a limited ceiling makes him riskier than the other aforementioned pair. As a non-Hazard owner, I am personally leaning towards Bale but in all likelihood I would go with the Chelsea man too if I owned him.
I'm hoping to get the captain data up and running in the next week or two so if anyone has any suggestions about what should be factored into that analysis, please post them below or @plfantasy.