Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 6

You know the story by now; 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 a 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.
Luis Suarez 20 points
A huge game for Suarez here, who showed some composure in front of goal that is often lacking. His second goal was sublime and overall his performance was deserving of a big points haul. Some caution needs to be exercised given that Suarez managed just three shots on target for the day and he obviously won't convert at that rate very often, but, these kind of stats would generally lead to a goal which is all you can ask from your front man. For the year Suarez now leads all forwards in total shots (36), shots on target (11) as well as chances created (16) and with many growing tired of Tevez's limited minutes, this move is going to make a lot of sense for many managers.

Liverpool are only a mid level team in the forecast charts but this week's result gives hope that they're turning the corner and still have plenty of talent to support Suarez and make him an elite fantasy asset. Whether or not Suarez can generate sufficient consistent value to justify inclusion in your lineup over the likes of Ba, Fletcher and Berbatov is a tough question to answer, but the Uruguayan at least deserves a place in the conversation.
Status: Buy, but consider how much better he is than the mid-level options

Gareth Bale 16
Not much needs saying here. All things considered, Bale might be the best fantasy midfielder around given his job security, production to date and excellent underlying stats. Like Liverpool above, Spurs looked as good as they have all year this past week so there's again hope that the new manager's tactical approach is starting to have an effect.
Status: Strong Buy

Nikica Jelavic 16
After missing a game and a half through injury, along with the spectacular returns of Fellaini and Pienaar, Jelavic has sort of flown under the radar. His 14 shots (six on target) in four and a half games are pretty impressive and nine chances created shows he can contribute to your team in multiple categories. At 8.4m he finds himself in a tough price bracket as he probably lacks the upside of a Suarez or Tevez but comes in at over a million more than the Berbatov and Fletcher group. In a vacuum I like Jelavic's potential and he offers a nice differential route into that Everton side, but given the comparatively low prices of Fellaini and Pienaar, they still make the most conventional sense if you're trying to take advantage of Everton's good form.
Status: Buy if you want to differentiate, but for pure value he's still only a hold

Nuri Sahin 15
Gerrard, Suarez and Sterling all had significantly more touches in the final third than Sahin, who also scored on his only shot of the day. The three chances created in just 65 minutes are encouraging and therefore justify adding Sahin to our collective short lists, but he's some way from contributing as a fantasy asset yet, especially given the variety of proven options available for the same, or less, money.
Status: Sell

Juan Mata 13
Here's a really interesting name (h/t to @talkofthecrowd for suggesting I recheck Mata's status this week). I loved Mata in the preseason, even going so far as to speculate he could be a top-five player this year. Then he took up an extremely deep role through the first three games of the year and didn't even feature in gameweek four, all while watching teammate Hazard explode for three double digit games. Against Stoke last week though, and to an extent this week against Arsenal, Mata took up some more advanced positions and the stats are telling if you compare his averages from GW1-2 to GW5-6. His total passes decreased for 61 to 58 but those in the final third almost doubled from 14 to 25. His minutes per shot decreased from almost 60 to just 35, while his minutes per chance created more than halved from 60 to 25.

Comparing Mata's deployment against Hazard over these past two weeks tells a similar story with Mata simply dominating in every key category, highlighted by his five shots to Hazard's one and his seven chances created to Hazard's one. At this point it looks like we were too quick to give up on Mata, though there's an element of revisionism there as his underlying stats through two gameweeks were pretty awful for fantasy purposes. Regardless, he now represents a very exciting investment opportunity if you believe the GW5-6 version is the one we'll see from here on. My reservation was that he was given a freer role against a weaker side (Stoke) but given the way he was also allowed to drift upfield against Arsenal (at the Emirates no less), his new found attacking potential might be for real.

If you like Mata, it's going to be tough to judge when to pull the trigger. Norwich at home this week looks very appetising but after that they get Spurs away and United at home so it's not an ideal threesome of games. After that you have seven decent games before Chelsea's off week in GW17 but in delaying you run the risk of his price going up. With only 13,000 transfers in so far despite a 13 point gameweek it looks like the masses aren't convinced as yet so it would be surprising to see him reach 9.0m in the next week or so, but if you're operating on a wafer thin margin, you'll probably want to act sooner rather than later. Such is Mata's ability, this is one situation where I might be tempted to act sooner than I'd ideally like so as to take advantage of this week's Norwich game. Two weeks is obviously a pretty small sample size but given Hazard's declining underlying stats and a potential price collapse if and when the public catch up to this fact, Mata and 1.5m looks awfully tempting for anyone currently owning Hazard at his current value.
Status: Buy, if you're willing to take a risk or want to dump Hazard

Demba Ba 13
Ba has been great so far, ranking 3rd among forwards in total shots, 2nd in shots on target and top-20 in chances created despite missing half a game against Everton. The waters ahead don't look calm though. Firstly, the fixtures are tougher than the Magpies have faced to date, though to be fair to Ba he has already notched goals against Everton and Spurs so he's hardly just filling his boots against the league's cellar dwellers. More concerning is the fact that Ba has nine shots on target for the year: a great total though five games but one which does not support six goals. Ba is an elite finisher, one of the league's best, but few players have shown a sustained ability to convert at better than 33% so unless Newcastle can get Ba more chances we're likely to see some fairly severe regression here.

I don't see Ba as a player you need to be selling as he remains startable every week, even against the league's better teams. However, if you're relatively happy with the rest of your squad and are sat on a fat profit, it's worth at least exploring your options with Ba, despite his so-called 'form'.
Status: Hold, but it doesn't hurt to at least window shop for other options

Fernando Torres 11
Bobby Zamora, Jonjo Shelvey and Adam Lallana all have as many shots on target as Torres while Javi Garcia, Gaston Ramirez (in three appearances) and Ciaran Clark trail him by just one. Three goals on the year so far is great but for almost 10.0m I would want Torres to be getting practically twice as many chances as he has so far and thus I just don't see much of an argument to owning him straight up, never mind when thinking from a value perspective. There's always a threat that Torres could once again be a star but on the underlying stats to date, his fantasy status is still much very much stuck in third gear.
Status: Sell

Ricardo Vaz Te 9
With Lukaku and Puncheon both benched this week, I was starting to worry that our moneyball piece was cursed but Vaz Te did us proud with a goal and three bonus points against QPR. With so many mid-range options available, the cheaper forwards have been somewhat neglected, but if Vaz Te could just be a touch more consistent in front of goal, his stats would compare very favourably with the widely fancied Lambert. He's never going to be someone you start every week but over the next six West Ham get Southampton (H), Wigan (A) and Stoke (H) so Vaz Te should continue to deliver decent value for your first sub spot.
Status: Hold, or buy if you're third forward is struggling/injured

Matt Jarvis 9
Ability? Check. History of success? Check. Production this week? Check. Secure first team role? Ah. Until you can check that last box 5.8m is simply too much to spend on a bit part player.
Status: Sell

Shane Long 9
Long has quietly been decent for the Baggies when he's played, but I've said numerous times with regards to Lukaku that I believe the Belgian will play a significant role this year and thus Long's minutes could be limited. For 6.0m that's just not good enough.
Status: Sell

Jan Vertonghen 9
Vertonghen looked great at times in the left back spot while also offering a good threat from set pieces for Spurs. However, right now this is a classic example of potentially overpaying for a defender's attacking potential. In five games Vertonghen has four shots, two of which were on target with one hitting the back of the net. Those numbers are fine, good indeed, for a centre back but not enough to justify the 1.4m you'll need to spend to get him over teammate Gallas. Indeed, if Naughton returns soon and captures the open full back spot, the difference in question is actually 2.0m. Spurs have yet to keep a clean sheet this year but they have the 4th fewest shots conceded inside the box and look to be getting better, at least again the weaker sides. However, their defensive upside along with Vertonghen's offensive ability don't justify 6.4m right now, especially not with a much cheaper Gallas also available.
Status: Sell

Steve Fletcher 8
This makes it five goals from five shots on target for Fletcher who is managing to fight off the regression monster so far this year. The good news is that his total shots are now up to eight and Sunderland played a very encouraging team this week with a front five of Larsson, Johnson, McClean, Sessegnon and Fletcher all taking up advanced positions. If you believe this unit can create chances with increasing frequency then there's no reason to sell Fletcher, though even then he obviously can't continue at this torrid rate. If however you believe this team is what it is, then you really need to expect Flecther to be scoring once every three games or so, making him a useful but far from elite forward. I'd put him somewhere in the middle and would look to the fixtures as the tiebreaker. With City (A), Stoke (A), Everton (A) and Fulham (A) to come in the next six gameweeks, that would make Fletcher a hold rather than a buy player for now.
Status: Hold, unless you believe Sunderland can take the next step as an offensive unit

Jimmy Kebe 8
Kebe was an important part of Reading's promotion team, adding 33 appearances in the league but they came with just three goals and it's going to take a lot for him to become fantasy relevant any time soon. His one shot, zero chances created gameweek isn't exactly that and thus he doesn't require too much attention yet.
Status: Sell

Gervinho 8
In the three games in which he has started up front, Gervinho leads all midfielders in penalty area touches and has racked up three goals in three games. However, his underlying stats haven't really shown any improvement since GW1 so while the end results have been better, the process hasn't really changed so there's no real reason to tie Gervinho's ownability to his deployment up top. Ignoring his specific positioning, we have a player who has managed 13 shots in total, but has only hit the target three times with all three being converted to goals. This kind of goal threat puts him in the same bracket as other mid level options like Walters and Dyer and with his new advanced role not really giving him any further upside so far, he doesn't look like someone to get overly excited about. You have to think that Giroud and possibly Walcott will get time playing up front in Wenger's side and thus Gervinho doesn't seem to offer a great upside/risk combo.
Status: Sell

Glenn Whelan 8
Five chances created and two shots in over 500 minutes isn't going to cut it, even for a player who costs just 5.0m. Whelan's deployment is simply too deep to be a fantasy asset anytime soon.
Status: Sell

Nani 8
My feelings on Nani have been somewhat contradictory over the years as while I never particularly loved him as a player, I've been higher than most on his fantasy prospects these past couple of years. By and large he has repaid that faith but this year seems to be the end of the line. His playing time has already become unpredictable and with Rooney back in the frame Nani is looking less and less likely to get regular minutes Against Cluj on Tuesday night, Rooney played large portions of the game on the right wing and did okay, which could present an option as to how to accommodate him, van Persie and Kagawa (the other would be to play him in a deeper centre midfield role). Either way Nani (and Young/Valencia) look like they will struggle for playing time this year and thus should not be owned.
Status: Sell

Leon Osman 8
Osman hasn't received the same plaudits as Pienaar and Fellaini but his stats aren't too far away in a couple of key categories. His 15 shots put him 7th among all midfielders, notably ahead of Pienaar, Yaya and Hazard. He's only hit the target three times which is a slight concern but over the past couple of season's he's hit the target at a much more reasonable rate of 37% so if he continues to get chances at this rate, the shots on target and goals should follow. With seven chances created, his assist potential isn't as high as some other options, and all things considered he is probably a touch below Pienaar and a level below Fellaini right now. However, with <1 and="and" appears="appears" be="be" differential="differential" fixtures.="fixtures." for="for" good="good" has="has" he="he" into="into" locked="locked" of="of" ownership="ownership" p="p" potential="potential" run="run" strong="strong" team="team" the="the" this="this" to="to" upcoming="upcoming" very="very">Status: Buy as an admittedly risky differentiator

David Silva 8
If we extrapolate all midfielder's chances created to give them six full games worth of production, Silva leads them all with 26, almost 50% more than everyone else aside from Cazorla (23). Extrapolating his goal threat is not quite so dominant but it would still be enough to place him 8th in total shots and 6th in shots on target (only a single shot behind everyone aside from Bale and Cazorla). Among the elite midfielders Silva offers some of the best 'differentiation' with more net transfers out this week despite his eight point haul. Admittedly City haven't been on fire to start the year and Silva has suffered his share of rotation, but he seems to have settled back into Mancini's first team plans now, and with Tevez threatened with rotation of his own, Silva might be the best way to access this talented side poised to explode during the upcoming games (SUN, @WBA, SWA, @WHU, TOT, AVL).
Status: Buy

Steve Gerrard 8
It seems we have a trend this week as along with Silva and Mata, Gerrard is potentially another elite midfield option who could yet be fantasy relevant this year. His 16 shots tell the story of a player whose goalscoring days are still very much in the present while his 18 chances created can only be topped by Cazorla. At 9.4m, Gerrard is pricey but could in theory present value given his underlying stats but the issue is the quality of peer ahead of him. Cazorla and Bale have already out performed the Liverpool man with underlying stats to suggest their production will continue, while the likes of Mata and Silva show as much, or more upside than Gerrard while playing in significantly better sides. If you plan to go cheap up top and grab four elite midfielders, there could be room for Gerrard but in a more traditionally arranged side it's tough to fit him in.
Status: Hold unless you're going all out in midfield and want to differentiate a bit.

Jobi McAnuff 8
Three assists from five created chances don't get the pulse racing but McAnuff does have reasonable overall stats for a budget midfielder. The issue is that he will only ever be a 2nd or 3rd sub type, and there is likely similar returns to be found for less than 5.0m, such as Sterling, Puncheon or Kacaniklic. He does have more job security that most in his price range but I don't see much here to get overly excited about.
Status: Sell

Noel Hunt 8
No thanks

Shinji Kagawa 7
We've talked ad nauseum about about the United front four situation and I still haven't seen much to convince me anyone is totally sure how things will shake out. The fact that Rooney was played in a deeper central role and then on the right against Cluj is a good indicator that there could be room for him, van Persie and Kagawa, but at 8.5m and with mediocre underlying stats, I'm in no rush to pull the trigger here.
Status: Sell

Seamus Coleman 7
Great defense, good offensive numbers, low price tag: there's a lot to like about Coleman. Wait, what's that? It's not 2010/11 and he's no longer a defender. Okay then, pass.
Status: Sell

James McClean 7
If 'average position' charts ever told the tale of a game, it's in this week's Sunderland game against Wigan. Emerson Boyce, supposedly a right wing back, was held about 20 yards deeper than his left sided colleague such was the relentless attacking display from McClean. However, on the season his form hasn't been quite so dominant with just five created chances all year to go with five total shots. At 6.4m McClean has some very good peers and thus it's impossible to consider him, even if he does have who appears to be the greatest finisher in history putting his crosses away.
Status: Sell

Clint Dempsey 7
I've openly wondered in the past couple of years why one of the "big teams" didn't buy Dempsey, all the while hoping it never happened. Well, now it's happened and somewhat expectedly his playing time has been limited. Sigurdsson hasn't really covered himself in glory either so it's not unbelievable that at some point Dempsey becomes an every week starter in Villas-Boas' side but until we see way more evidence of that both of that pair are unownable.
Status: Sell

Gaston Ramirez 7
Among midfielders who have played regularly so far this year, Ramirez would rank behind just Fellaini, Cazorla, Nolan and Bale in minutes per chance. Of course, Ramirez has only played 238 minutes so his sample size might be too small to play around with too much, but the point is that in a short period of time he has quickly emerged as a very real goal threat. Consider further that only Silva, Bale, Cazorla, Nasri and Gerrard have created more chances per minute and you see that Ramirez is a legitimate dual threat who comes with a very reasonable price tag. Southampton's fixtures really open up over the coming weeks with no single game that would require you to definitely bench Ramirez until GW17 when they have no game. He's still risky given his lack of concrete data but for 6.0m, upside really doesn't get any higher than this.
Status: Buy, with some caution still

Jonathan Walters 6
Not much to add here. Walters is a very good goalscoring option who offers value at 6.4m. His underlying stats remain solid and while the next two games (@LIV, @MUN) aren't ideal, Stoke have enough good fixtures on the horizon to keep Walters ownable.
Status: Hold

Mladen Petric 6
So long as Jol plans to bench one of the better forwards in the league for the rest of the season Petric should get plenty of minutes. Until then he is scrapping with Rodallega and Ruiz for one spot and is thus unownable.
Status: Sell

Steve Morison 6
Two starts and one goal does not a fantasy options make. If Grant Holt isn't guaranteed a place in this team then Steve Morison certainly isn't. Pass.
Status: Sell

Sergio Aguero 6
If Aguero plays every game there's a strong argument to be made that he could lead all players from here on in points, with both his minutes per shot and per chance created topping van Persie by some distance. City's next six games look great, which puts a bit of pressure on us to make a decision now, rather than wait and see how Mancini plans to use his two Argentinian front men. If I had to guess I'd say Aguero plays most often with Tevez also getting significant playing time, with Mancini favouring this week's front four of Silva, Yaya, Tevez and Aguero more often than not. That said, Aguero still comes with risk, especially as he is just returning from injury, so you'll be in for a couple of nervous weeks if you choose to back Aguero now.
Status: Buy if you want to sell Tevez and have spare cash, but do so with caution


Pulma said...

Great read, I feel good getting confirmation on many things(Sahin sell for 1). Few questions still arose, if you get a chance than share your views on: Nolan vs Ramirez vs Walters. Also on Defoe as maybe the best cover for Tott?
Also something that I found from my own research is that Ba is showing excactly the same form as he did in the first half of last season: in terms of total shots and goals per shot taken- and I truly believe that you could have added the buy sign on him with a warning regarding Pardews positional antics.

Keep up the good work!!!

Phil C said...

for this coming game week I need to bench one midfielder from Bale/Michu/Ben Arfa/Nolan/Yaya. Probably going to make Bale skipper, so it won't be him, they all have favourable fixtures who do you suggest benching?

Bryan McKenna said...

Great read and thanks as ever. Allot of "Buy..But.." this week ;)

Gummi said...

Great piece yet again Chris. I would like to add one point regarding Torres. If you hold him, as I do, I would wait one week with Chelsea playing Norwich at home, especially if you have any other player you want to ship out.

I had the same thought about Tevez as you and swapped him for Aguero. I will now sweat City's starting lineup in the next six games.

If he will be left out, I will be reminded yet again why it is sometimes very hard to love this game.