Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 9

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.

Robin Van Persie 12 points
I was initially reluctant to throw a 'buy' tag on van Persie because (a) the formation issues his arrival caused at Old Trafford and (b) his massive price tag. Issue (a) has been swept aside with Rooney dropping much deeper and van Persie racking up plenty of chances at the apex of a talented United side. Issue (b) still looms large though as while van Persie's start for United has been good, he's still only level with Tevez and a hair above Ba, both of whom can be had for substantially less money.

How we deal with van Persie, his United teammates and indeed their cross town rivals in blue is becoming a key issue this year, so I'll pen a separate post on that in the next couple of days.
Status: Cautious buy depending on your budget

Mikel Arteta 11
Arteta did play as far forward as he has all year this week, possibly thanks to Wilshere coming into the team as that pair can genuinely play as a double pivot, with both capable of pushing forward and hanging back with equal strength. That said, Arteta commands a price tag based on his teammates' ability and his former Merseyside glories and his 8 shots for the year do little to suggest any kind of sustainable success.
Status: Sell

Bryan Ruiz 11
It was a nice goal for Ruiz this week but they don't count for any more points and with pretty decent competition up front for Fulham Ruiz has an up hill battle to even play.
Status: Sell

Gareth Bale 10
The main thing with elite players is Bale is not getting carried away and assuming they should be held forever regardless. It's a select few players in fantasy history who can boast that title and Bale probably isn't in that category just yet. That said, he is one of, if not the best fantasy midfielder in the league right now, leading his peers in total shots by a comfortable distance while also creating plenty of chances. The immediate upcoming fixtures aren't great as Spurs have to travel to City and Arsenal in back to back weeks so if you have a squad you're generally happy with you could make a switch after this week and buy him back for likely the same price. The forecast model doesn't appear to be too concerned though, still placing Spurs tied for 5th over the next 8 gameweeks and thus I'd be minded to just hold Bale and accept the lower ceiling for a couple of weeks.
Status: Buy. If you don't own him you might want to wait until GW13 though this week's Wigan game and a potential price increase might mean you need to act sooner rather than later.

James McArthur 9
I've spoken at length about Wigan's impressive front three but can we add McArthur onto that last of developing Latics? 4 total shots for the year and 9 chances created would say no and I'd agree.
Status: Sell

Mikele Leigertwood 9
Leigertwood is essentially the same player as McArthur for fantasy purposes, this time with 6 total shots and chances created. The conclusion - like the song - remains the same.
Status: Sell

Juan Mata 9
I still trust the process, but my decision to put off signing Mata for fear of his upcoming fixtures was a costly choice. I say 'choice' rather than 'mistake' because I still maintain that if Chelsea played at Arsenal, at Spurs and Man Utd 100 times, the number of outcomes where Mata racked up 30 points would be few and far between. Nevertheless, Mata - and Chelsea - have been extremely impressive and the Spaniard now leads teammate Hazard is all major categories despite having played 100 less minutes. His conversion rates are likely due for some regression, but I'm sure no one thinks they'll be buying a 10+ points per game player, and would be more than happy with the 5-6 P90 his underlying stats supports (that might sound modest but consider that with those totals he would hit 200 points for the year).
Status: Buy, probably a strong one

Clint Dempsey 9
When I looked up Dempsey's playing time I was surprised to see that he's starting every game since coming on a sub for his Spurs debut. Over his five starts, Dempsey has amassed decent underlying stats (11 shots, 7 chances created) but they're not totals to really inspire one to turn your back on Bale or force you to consider doubling up on Spurs midfielders. His playing time and success in the past make him one to monitor but I haven't seen enough yet to make that 9.2m price tag look too tempting.
Status: Monitor

Romelu Lukaku 9
Lukaku's shot statistics are fairly astonishing. His 16 minutes per chance is impressive enough (second only to Suarez) but that gets even more impressive when you consider that they were all inside the box (compared to a 38-18 split for Suarez). After Suarez (22 mins per shot inside the box), the numbers start getting big quickly with Aguero (24), Ba (28) and Berbatov (28) the only other regulars to even get under 30. There's more to being a good forward than taking shots, but considering Lukaku is hitting the target 50% of the time, there's not much more to being a good fantasy forward. Can we rely on his playing time, probably not yet, and as I've said before I'd prefer to a bit late to the party than get their when they're still setting up. He remains however one of the players to monitor as the season progresses.
Status: Monitor

Steven Naismith 9
Everton have a number of good attacking options and I'm not even sure Naismith is one of them.
Status: Sell

Carlos Tevez 9
As noted with van Persie above, City need their own post which will be up soon. I'm not sure Aguero is particularly guaranteed more minutes than Tevez (Shots on Target makes soon interesting points regarding Aguero here) and thus if you want access to this City side Tevez might be the best answer for now. I'm probably still buying Tevez based on his upside in a very good side, though he's far from the locked in asset he looked like he could be to open the year.
Status: Somewhere between a buy and a hold

Demba Ba 8
Ba picked up a slight knock this week and is a doubt for next week, though if I owned him (and I do) I wouldn't be selling him given the fixtures to come (WHU, SWA, @SOU, @STK, WIG) after this week's trip to Liverpool. His underlying stats are as good as anyone's and while you wouldn't bet on his next 15 shots on target to go for 7 goals, a five goal pace over 9 games would still be exceptional for his price tag.
Status: Buy, though obviously consider delaying a week if he looks like he'll miss the trip to Liverpool

Luis Suarez 8
Suarez literally needs his own forecasting model as his shot data continues to be off the charts yet until recently the returns have been moderate. At 9.7m, the natural comparison is Tevez and while I'd still give the latter the edge, the fact that Suarez is pretty much guaranteed to play every week and Liverpool have shown signs of improvement of late makes this decision much closer. We've long pushed Suarez to one side a but because of his rash shots from long distance which don't really translate to goals, but, this year to date he also leads all forwards in shots inside the box by 10 (38 versus Ba's 28). The fixtures aren't great given the away trips to Chelsea, Swansea and Tottenham but Liverpool have actually performed a touch better on the road versus league average than at home so that might not be a huge concern. Liverpool's conversion of shots inside the box into goals has been astonishingly low so far this year (7% versus league average of 15%), so if you believe that the measure will regress to the man at all, they could be well placed for success in the coming weeks.
Status: Buy. I'm not throwing all my weight behind this pick yet but given the uncertainty around the City pair, Rooney and now Ba's injury, Suarez's certainty is looking increasingly attractive.

Wesley Hoolahan 7
Hoolahan is a good player but the stats aren't good enough to justify the risk of him not getting consistent playing time and thus it's impossible to buy in.
Status: Sell

Leon Osman 7
I've mentioned Osman's underlying stats before but they bear mentioning again:

  • Osman: 837 mins, 20 shots, 13 inside the box, 5 on target, 12 chances created
  • Ben Arfa: 835 mins, 17 shots, 4 inside the box, 4 on target, 12 chances created
  • Yaya Toure: 859 mins, 19 shots, 8 inside the box, 7 on target, 17 chances created

It's tempting to cherry pick stats sometimes to tell the story you want but those numbers are legitimately impressive. The fact that he's only 0.6m cheaper than the equally (or more) impressive Pienaar and Fellaini is a blow as they come with more certainty but you also need to balance that with their respective ownership numbers. If take a quick look at Osman's history, we see some very interesting goals scoring trends. If we extrapolate his minutes played to give him 32 starts a season, he would have scored 5 and 6 goals in the past two seasons as well as adding 5 and 10 assists. Those kind of totals suggest a player more than capable of racking up a 120+ point season even if his production didn't improve from last year (and the signs so far are that it will).

Osman is a risk as Pienaar, and particularly Fellaini, have outstanding stats of their own. However, with many managers having already sold their Everton now is a good opportunity to grab Osman for at least the next four games, and roll the dice with a calculated gamble that he can give you some differential returns, all while saving you a buck or two, and possibly even making some.
Status: Buy, as a differentiator

Hal Robson-Kanu 7
Reading's midfield is a mess and Kanu isn't even a regular piece in it. This might be the last time I type his name all year.
Status: Sell

Aaron Ramsey 7
Good team, decent player, so-so stats and a great price tag. Ramsey has taken up some advanced positions of late, particularly this week and with Diaby out his playing time looks as secure as ever (though still not locked down). At 5.6m he's a touch pricey for my taste as a 5th midfielder and I still like other options such as Lallana or Osman as my 4th, but he deserves to be in the conversation, especially given the fact that there too many other ways to reliably access this Arsenal side.
Status: Monitor

Ramires 7
Ramires has substantially worse stats than almost-namesake Ramirez (Gaston) despite the latter having played just 238 minutes this season. When fit, we can consider the Southampton man, the Chelsea version will likely remain irrelevant all year.
Status: Sell

Christian Benteke 7
One of the few players who can match Lukaku's dominant shot totals is Benteke, though he too isn't guaranteed playing time. 21 shots, 19 inside the box and 6 on target all strongly backup his couple of goals and given his limited opportunities, he could have potentially doubled those totals if started every week. If the other bench options were less talented I'd be happier but with Bent lurking on the bench, Benteke is going to face some risk of rotation virtually every week. If you believe that's hyperbole, consider that Grant Holt was only given 2249 minutes under Lambert last year despite notching 15 goals in a great first campaign in the Premier League. The next four games are a nightmare for Villa, but after that they open up nicely so we've got a good trial period to see if the Belgian youngster can hold off Bent.
Status: Monitor

Garath McCleary 6
See Robson-Kanu, Hal

Beausejour 6
Beausejour is essentially just Emerson Boyce without the chance of clean sheets (and actually with worse stats).
Status: Sell

Tom Huddlestone 6
If he was the focal point of a lesser team I could see Huddlestone being a useful fantasy player as he has an excellent eye for a pass (his reverse cross for his assist this week being a good example) and can score from long range. However, at Spurs he's buried behind Sandro and Dembele and thus is unlikely to get regular minutes anytime soon.
Status: Sell

Brett Holman 6
Holman's stats are useful and his playing time looks as guaranteed as anyone in this Villa side. With Benteke, Bent and Agbonlahor to pick from up front, his created chances should be converted at a reasonable rate and he's managed to pickup his shot totals of late. As with Benteke, the next four weeks looks too tough to consider Holman, but he's worth looking at over that period.
Status: Monitor

Papiss Cisse 6
Cisse is a good player and there's something to be said for zigging while other's zag but he has half as many shots as teammate Ba yet still costs 0.5m more. Unless Newcastle's chance creation starts looking very different, Cisse will remain below Ba in our pecking order.
Status: Sell

Dimitar Berbatov 6
We all know how Berbatov is rated in these electronic pages but some water has to be thrown on the flames given his potential rib injury. I'm struggling to find an update beyond what we heard after the game (that the rib might be broken) so that one's worth keeping an eye on. Given the upcoming games my enthusiasm for Fulham is tempered somewhat and so this injury probably pushes Berbatov into the hold rather than 'buy' category. That could change with a green light on the health front, though I'd still have some concern over those fixtures.
Status: Hold and monitor

Jay Rodriguez 6
Rodriguez has some upside and his stats have been useful when he's played. With Ramirez out for another month, Ramirez may well offer some short term value for those really struggling for cash up front, especially given how much the forecast model likes Southampton. I'd prefer to spend the extra 0.8m-1.0m it takes to snag Lallana or Lambert but if you can't afford to take that jump, Rodriguez is a sneaky way to access this team.
Status: Buy if you're desperate for cheap options


Pulma said...

Hei Chris,

Have you got any love for Rooney at all, I know like everyone and their dog are going for RVP. But Rooney only with 1 point less when they have started together with RVP. I know he wont be the same C option every week, since he will drop deeper vs the big teams. But seems like such a lovely differ for so much less.

grahamj said...

Hi Chris - amazing blog mate.
I have my wildcard planned for GW 13 - so only need advice for GWs 10,11 & 12.
Here is my current team:

Foster - Federici

Baines - Hangeland - Demel - Boyce - Gorkss

Fellaini - Michu - Bale - Carzorla - Silva

Tevez - Defoe - Graham

I have 2 free transfers this week. Who should I be targeting for these 3 weeks only?? Would think priority tranfers out would be Silva (injured) and Graham?


Gummi said...

The captain dilemma swings the argument for RvP for me. I´ve now gone four Gameweeks without a successful captain (Fellaini, Bale, Berbatov, Aguero) which has reminded my, oh so painfully, about the importance picking a scoring captain.

With RvP, you can captain him most games and be comfortable in your decision. With decent underlying stats, he has scored and assisted in every game he has started for United.

I gave up not having him and wildcarded this week to get him in. Now watch him fail to deliver for the first time against Arsenal...