Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 8

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/or 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.
Juan Mata 18 points
A couple of us on Twitter have been discussing Mata a lot these past couple of weeks (h/t to TalkOfTheCrowd for the original tip) and it seems I might have missed the boat both in terms of signing him for my own team and to talking him up more in these electronic pages. His underlying stats have been tremendous since those first few games where he played in a much deeper role, indeed over the last four gameweeks:

Mata: 361 minutes, 13 total shots, 6 on target, 3 goals, 13 chances created, 5 assists
Oscar: 344 minutes, 12 total shots, 5 on target, 0 goals, 8 chances created, 1 assist
Hazard: 339 minutes, 5 total shots, 3 on target, 1 goal, 6 chances created, 0 assists

Mata has obviously benefited from a touch of luck over these games with his shots and chances created producing points at an unsustainable rate, but however you slice it, he's clearly the better Chelsea player at the moment. If they were the same price I'm not sure who I'd pick but given the fact that Mata is (a) cheaper and (b) is somewhat of an elite differentiator (well 10% vs 42%) he is the clear pick for me and would have been the name to replace Silva if it wasn't for his fixtures. He's still very ownable but MUN, @SWA, LIV, @WBA, MCI doesn't promise huge returns so his value takes a knock. That said, he is at least all but guaranteed to play every week so he still might be one of the top three elite midfield elite options.
Status: Buy, though do check those fixtures and the upcoming long term model forecast before going overboard.

Chris Baird 15
This was Baird's first goal since about 1923 and came on his first shot on target for the season. The fact that he is classified as a defender but is playing further up field is intriguing but when everyone is fit I'm not sure he's a first team pick and so I'd prefer to pay the extra 0.1m and get the ever-reliable Hughes.
Status: Sell

Mark Noble 15
I wasn't overly sold on Noble coming into the year but his penalty duties do make him somewhat interesting given his price tag. Other than those chances from the spot, Noble offers little by way of goal potential, though his 17 chances created suggest he should be able to rack up a couple of assists for the year. West Ham have a good attacking unit so future penalty chances should come Noble's way and at 5.0m that shouldn't be ignored. Personally I still like the upside of Maloney and Sterling but Noble is very much ownable for the time being.
Status: Buy, though for me, better options exist

Wayne Rooney 14
I'm actually going to defer here as I have a separate piece due tomorrow based on the new model forecast, in which United look simply irresistible. I've struggled with what to do with van Persie and Rooney to date but their upcoming games force the issue somewhat so I'll dedicate a bit more time to this important issue.
Status: Procrastinate

Kevin Nolan 12
Yup, Nolan is legit. Not much more to add that I haven't waxed lyrical about before. He's getting plenty of chances and is one of the best finishers in the league at his position. The arrival of Carroll only strengthens his upside and so Nolan remains one of the very best mid range options around.
Status: Buy

Raheem Sterling 11
Sterling was highlighted a couple of weeks ago in the FFS moneyball series and nothing has changed to suggest his value is diminished. Given his price tag and apparent fixture in a developing side, he's about as good as it gets in the ~5.0m range.
Status: Buy

Robin van Persie 11
See Rooney, Wayne

Jonathan De Guzman 11
De Guzman has the dubious combination of a lack of guaranteed playing time and a deeper role when he does get the nod.
Status: Pass

Edin Dzeko 11
Among players with more than a handful of minutes, van Persie has the second best minutes per goal rate at 103; Dzeko's is 61. Despite his double here though, I still don't see him playing often enough to rack up enough total points to help you, even if his P90 is off the charts.
Status: Sell, until someone gets injured or retires to Argentina to play golf

Jon Arne Riise 10
See Hughes, Aaron below
Status: Sell

Danny Welbeck 10
Welbeck's in a similar position to Dzeko in that his underlying stats are useful but playing time is just far too sparse to consider him. Great for United fans and Ferguson, not so much for fantasy managers.
Status: Sell

David Hoilett 10
We've been waiting for someone from this QPR side to emerge as a legitimately ownable option, and while I've flirted with Granero and even Taarabt, Hoilett might finally be the answer. Among midfielders with a minimum 400 minutes, Hoilett trails just Fellaini, Cazorla and Bale with an attempt on goal every 28 minutes and his 5 shots on target rank alongside or ahead of players like Gerrard, Silva and Ben Arfa. The knock on Hoilett is that with three chances created he's essentially a one category player and he's therefore immediately going to be compared to Nolan, who as of now is clearly a better option. Of course, Nolan is 0.7m more expensive and is owned by 16% more managers, but once you make the comparison you see the uphill battle facing Hoilett. If he can lock a first team place down to the point where he's as likely to play as someone like Nolan I'll be very interested in his services. Until then, I feel his status is stuck on monitor.
Status: Monitor

Gary Cahill 9
In theory Cahill could be a nice short term fix in Terry's absence given his price (6.3m) and goal threat but with the next four games offering limited chances of clean sheets, I don't believe Cahill is worth looking at, at least until Terry finally gets incarcerated for good.
Status: Sell

Eden Hazard 9
I touched on Hazard above with regards to Mata, so there's not much to add here. Hazard is certainly good enough to own in a vacuum, but given his inflated price and ownership numbers I'd be looking to sell sooner rather than later if I owned him. He's still a hold though.
Status: Hold

Javier Hernandez 9
Let me know when he signs for a team where's he's higher than fourth on the depth chart.
Status: Sell

Yohan Cabaye 9
I really like Cabaye as a player and his underlying stats suggest a player who still deserves some attention. He doesn't stand out in any one major indicator of future success but he has enough shots and chances created to suggest he can contribute in all categories this year and given that his numbers are essentially the same as Ben Arfa so far, he might offer a nice way for Ben Arfa's owners to free up ~1.0m in cash. The next seven games look pretty outstanding for Newcastle and while I don't see Cabaye as the kind of player to rack up huge points, I like him over the next 6 weeks or so and one can at least make an argument that he represents a good alternative to owners looking to cut loose with Michu before the coming regression.
Status: Buy

Brad Jones 8
*Shock jock radio voice* Here's what no one's talking about: Brad Jones has as many clean sheets as Pepe Reina this year. Look, this is why you need an English 'keeper in the Barclays Premier League. Jones' mental toughness is clearly the difference and Reina should be sold. Can you even name one successful foreign keeper in Barclays Premier League history? *End radio voice* So, yeh, I'm aware that Jones is Australian and that he's very much not Reina's replacement. Pass.
Status: Sell

Michu 8
Oh Michu, how I want to sing your praises but you keep succeeding at such a ridiculous rate that there's no way I forecast any kind of improvement, nor even sustained production at this pace. The good news is that his 20 shots are elite and are indicative of future success for sure. It's just that I fear we're now paying a premium for a player who has scored 6 times from just 9 shots on goal. At 7.3m he's still affordable but it's impossible for me to take him over Nolan at 0.8m less, and I'd have to think long and hard about players like Morrison (1.2m less) if there's anywhere else in my team to improve.
Status: Hold

Emerson Boyce 8
I touched on Boyce in last week's moneyball piece on Marc Wilson and the goal here does nothing to change my view. His 9 shots and 8 chances created are a great bonus for a defender but when you have very little chance of a clean sheet every week, you need to be comparing those totals to midfielders as offensive points are really your only source of production. I believe you can find value for 4.5m in defense much easier than in midfield so you're better served going with a combination of, say, Aaron Hughes and Shaun Maloney than Emerson Boyce and any of the dubious options in midfield for 4.5m.
Status: Sell

Adam Lallana 8
Despite my private joy of Lallana bailing out my own team this week, I felt a twinge of guilt for not talking Lallana up more these past few weeks as he really deserves more attention. 14 shots along with 16 chances created put him in a fairly elite group of players who've racked up 14 in each category, alongside Cazorla, Gerrard, Hazard, Bale, Mata, Yaya, Pienaar and Morrison. Along with Morrison (a player I have hyped a lot on here), he obviously represents a huge discount to his peers and thus deserves a strong look for anyone needing a excellent fourth midfielder or even a good number three. I won't get into the detail now, but Southampton rank very well in the upcoming long term forecast based on the new model and now is as good a time as any to grab Lallana. With Lambert suffering from rotation again this week, Lallana looks like the clear favourite to capitalise on Southampton's favourable fixtures which last right through until their off week in GW17.
Status: Buy

Alexander Tettey 8
Perhaps Tettey, still a youngster, might develop into a player to monitor, or perhaps he'll fade away into obscurity never to be heard from again. Whatever his path, he'll tread it far from our fantasy teams . . . at least for now.
Status: Sell

Grant Holt 8
Holt's a useful player and is probably playing right around his potential at the moment. I'd like to see him get a few more chances to really excite me but he is a good finisher who has a proven ability to convert shots at an above-league average rate. His 11 chances created are a bonus for a player sometimes categorised as an 'old fashioned' striker and thus he has the potential to contribute in every category, which is more than can be said for some of his similarly priced peers. I'm still nervous about the way he's been rotated this year and thus it's tough to put him alongside the likes of Berbatov, but he certainly deserves watching over the coming weeks.
Status: Monitor

Aaron Hughes 7
What does Aaron Hughes need to do to get some love around here? Consider:

Total Shots
Chances Created

Riise is obviously a better attacking threat on paper and Hangeland has shown some ability to get on the end of set pieces in the past, but you're paying between 0.5m and 1.1m more for the chance at those points and I haven't seen anywhere near enough from Hughes' teammates to consider the upgrade. I'm not crazy about the upcoming games in the short term but between GW12 and GW22 Fulham only have a couple of games where you'd be scared to start their defenders, making Hughes a useful 4th or 5th defender as a long term investment.
Status: Monitor, with a view to buying in a few weeks. If you already own him I'd be okay holding on through these two tricky games

Carlos Tevez 7
I'm not sure what to say about this City team. Aguero and Tevez have now only started together once and while they've sometimes had success off the bench, spending 9-11m on non starters is simply not a situation you want to be in. Tevez was on the bench again against Ajax today which probably bodes well for the weekend and he's still just about playing enough to justify his price tag. However, there's no way Aguero is rested so much all year and with Dzeko actually leading the team in goals, it's tough to see Tevez getting guaranteed minutes for the long term.
Status: Hold, just about, but start making contingency plans for when the wind changes and someone else is Mancini's flavour of the month.

John Ruddy 7
I was on the fence about Norwich's defensive prospects coming into the year and so I was willing to give them time for all the new faces to settle. Well we're 8 weeks in now and while the results haven't been terrible (two clean sheets to date) they rank in the bottom half in shots conceded in the box and are dead last in the metric over the last four gameweeks. With a team like Norwich you're really buying them for their home games, in the hope they can be rotated with another cheap option and so the fact that they get United, City and Chelsea in the next six games at Carrow Road effectively ends my interest here.
Status: Sell

Sebastien Bassong 7
See Ruddy, John
Status: Sell

John O'Shea 7
I was fairly high on this defense coming into the season and while they've been okay, the number of shots they're surrendering is alarming (second worst in shots allowed inside the box). Looking closer though, we see home hope for O'Neil's side. They've faced a brutal away schedule to date (Arsenal, Swansea, West Ham, Man City) and that's where the majority of their shots have been conceded. Indeed, at home they actually rank in the middle of the pack, and have conceded just twice in three games. Given that they're probably therefore only really useful in a rotation strategy O'Shea is a bit more expensive than you'd like, thus I'd prefer Carlos Cuellar here.
Status: Sell, and grab Cuellar instead.

Jermaine Defoe 6
Defoe continues to surprise (me at least) not so much in his success on the field (he's always been a good finished) but that he's kept his place over the more heralded Adebayor. I think it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity was repeating the same mistake over and over, so I'm not going to say that I'm down on Defoe again, though I'm still struggling to get excited about buying him given the rotation threat he faces. That said, it's probably no more than many other elite players in the league and Defoe's production has very much been in their class. He's second in total shots and first in shots on target and while Spurs' fixture list is up and down, there's enough value there to make him viable.
Status: Buy, though I still have some reservations

Mark Schwarzer 6
As we noted for Hughes, I'm not crazy about Fulham's short term prospects given the fixture list but after GW12 they look like a good buy prospect and Schwarzer can form a very useful rotation strategy with another budget 'keeper (I will do an updated rotation piece based on the new model soon).
Status: Hold for now, becoming a buy from GW12 onwards

Brede Hangeland 6
I like Hangeland quite a lot but as noted for Hughes, I don't see enough to justify the extra cost in bringing him in unless he starts racking up significantly higher shot totals.
Status: Sell, and stick with Hughes

Sascha Riether 6
See Hangeland, Brede
Status: Sell

Nathan Baker 6
Villa's defense is actually a lot better than I expected if you look at the stats but this isn't really a unit to dream on right now and Baker probably wouldn't be the right man even if it was. They get City, United and Arsenal in the next five so this certainly isn't the time to be flirting with any Villa defenders.
Status: Sell

Glen Johnson 6
It's not a particularly telling metric but it says something nonetheless that Liverpool have conceded 12 goals despite holding opponents to a league best 38 shots inside the box, while on league average rates they would have conceded just 6.6 goals. I think we can still conclude that Reina is an above-average 'keeper so I'm not sure what to make of the stats. Perhaps the defense is giving up better shots that other teams? Perhaps it's just bad luck. We need to see more detail before predicting strong regression but given their consistent ability to limit opponent chances (possibly due to their good possession totals) I'd be happy to suggest Liverpool will at least get a bit better at the back and perhaps we've started to see this based on two straight clean sheets. Unfortunately the upcoming games don't look great though on the bright side we have another 5 or 6 games to assess what this defense will offer this year, before the fixtures open up nicely from GW15 on.
Status: Monitor Liverpool, and particularly Johnson's attacking potential to see if he could justify the premium if/when Liverpool's defense starts to improve.

Martin Skrtel 6
See Johnson, Glen
Status: Monitor

Andre Wisdom 6
See Johnson, Glen
Status: Monitor

Michael Kightly 6
13 shots looks promising enough but 5 chances created isn't going to get it done, even for a player with Kightly's low price tag. He's worth monitoring but I don't see enough here to warrant selecting him over the ~6.0m group like Lallana or Nolan, or the cheap group in Maloney and Sterling.
Status: Monitor

Russell Martin 6
See Ruddy, John
Status: Sell

Javier Garrido 6
See Ruddy, John
Status: Sell


DTH said...

Really like this series. However I'm not totally familiar with each & every player. D'you think next time you could put their team in brackets after their names? Like: Michu (SWN)

Looking forward to your new predicted goals model!

Gummi said...

With City´s loss against Ajax they are likely missing out on the Champions League knockout groups.

In my view, this is a situation to monitor, especially with Aguero. If he skips midweek games and focuses on the league, he should be up their with Van Persie, at a much cheaper price.

SuperGrover said...

Chris -

Interested by this line in the Mata write up:

"That said, he is at least all but guaranteed to play every week so he still might be one of the top three elite midfield elite options."

To me, there is a top 4 and everyone else. Who among Mata, Bale, Cazorla and Silva were you not including?

Just curious.

SuperGrover said...

@Gummi -

I am thinking the exact same thing. Aguero seems to be the man going forward. His numbers are great and City has been the best attacking club in the league. He is clearly the #1 forward on the team and will play almost all the time unless UCL games interfere. As you said, after yesterday, that doesn't seem like it will be much of a problem going forward.

Had Aguero played as much as Demba Ba this season he would have 40 shots (3rd among fwds), 37 in the box (1st), 13 on target (1st), and 21 chances created (2nd). He would clearly be at least the second best player statistically without having doubts on his or his teammates ability to put the ball in the net (unlike Suarez).

Looks to me like a fantasy monster is lurking under the surface. Hopefully he doesn't appear before I have a chance to rearrange my squad and get him in!

SuperGrover said...

"It's not a particularly telling metric but it says something nonetheless that Liverpool have conceded 12 goals despite holding opponents to a league best 38 shots inside the box, while on league average rates they would have conceded just 6.6 goals. I think we can still conclude that Reina is an above-average 'keeper so I'm not sure what to make of the stats. Perhaps the defense is giving up better shots that other teams?

Opta has Liverpool with 13 clear chances allowed which, while not awful, is above the league average of 12 and quite a ways from MCI, MUN, CHE, and WHM (all with 7 or fewer). Having watched Liverpool, you can see that they do make defensive mistakes (5 errors leading to goal, most in the league) and get burnt occasionally on the counter when Johnson is pushing.

To me, they are a sound defensive club, but one who has mistake prone center backs who will probably give up a few more goals than they ought to given the run of play.

I should note that Arsenal has a very similar defensive profile. I feel the same way about their squad although Sagna should have a big impact once fully fit.

omahony said...

I think Nolan is a must sell.
The next 10 games are the worst possible run you could get:
@Mci, New, Sto, @Tot, @Mnu, Che, Liv, @WBA, Eve, @Ars

Davefevs said...

Seem to have many some dodgy transfers of late, and short-termism has set in:

My current team is:

Begovic (Jaskelainnen)
Gallas, S.Taylor, Cole, Hangeland (Rafael)
Cabaye, Gerrard, Bale (Pienaar, J.Allen)
Ba, Torres, Crouch

Hard for a reds fan to admit, but Gerrard is far too costly for the long-term and despite Man City euro form, I think they are due some big results. Who would you bring in, maybe sacrificing Torres too?