Monday, December 31, 2012

Gameweek 21 Preview Data

Clean Sheet Data

Attacking Data
Individual Data

Note that the individual rankings are based on the assumption that all players will play 90 minutes. Injured/suspended players are generally excluded but borderline cases are left in and I make no assessment as to whether individual's will be rested/rotated.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 20

Goalscorers are highlighted in bold, players with an assist are underlined

Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott
Subs: Mannone, Rosicky, Giroud, Ramsey, Djourou, Coquelin, Gervinho

Pretty standard lineup here from Arsene Wenger, with Walcott once again given the chance to shine up top. While I was somewhat hesitant to crown Walcott as the next Thierry Henry after his garbage time goal at Reading, he's racked up 10 shots over his last two games and looked very comfortable this week, taking up advanced positions rather than drifting out wide and only looking to feed off balls put behind the defense, which can sometimes make Arsenal a bit blunt going forward. At 8.6m he isn't a steal and I still believe that Giroud will get some minutes up top, but Walcott is certainly a very viable option and I'd be happy to grab him from GW23 onwards after which Arsenal enjoy a very favourable fixture list.

Mertesacker missed this one through injury and is expected to return next week.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Herd, Clark, Lichaj, Lowton, Ireland, Holman, Bannan, Bennett, Weimann, Benteke
Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Westwood, Bowery, Stevens, Carruthers

No real rotation issues here though a heavy defeat at home to Wigan underlines the lack of options currently available in this side. Benteke continues to get his chances and should be okay but his upside is really limited by the lack of quality elsewhere in this side.

Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Luiz, Lampard, Mata, Torres, Hazard
Subs: Turnbull, Oscar, Moses, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake

Lampard seems to be back in favour these days, though two starts in three games is hardly cause for wild excitement. His goal scoring record is unarguable though and even at his slowing pace, he can still get in the good positions and should get his share of goals when played. If he secures a first team place over the lightweight Oscar and Chelsea don't strengthen during the transfer window I could see a situation where he might become ownable (especially given the lack of other options in that 8-8.5m range) but for now I can't suggest doing anything other than watching his progress.

The official game lists Terry's return date as this week and even if that doesn't happen, he could well be in the frame for GW22 which comes after the FA cup games. I'm not sure what direction they'll go in but my guess would be that Ivanovic will slide to right back and Cahill will keep him place, though I wouldn't be investing in anyone from that group until more is clear. Luiz - again deployed in midfield - is the clear pick for me from this useful defence.

Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Naismith, Osman, Hitzlsperger, Pienaar, Anichebe, Jelavic
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios, Duffy, Browning

No real surprises here and the only real question is whether Fellaini will retake his place up front in place of Anichebe (who's looked solid in his absence) of whether he'll be pushed deeper. I'd suggest the former is still the most likely and will be re-targeting Fellaini who's price tag is now down to a very attractive 7.4m

Stockdale, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs, Dejagah, Sidwell, Karagounis, Frei, Ruiz, Berbatov
Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Senderos, Baird, Richardson, Rodallega

Riise got the week off here which is surely just a one week deal and doesn't look to represent a long term trend. Baird missing out in midfield is a concern as I had him pegged as the best value option in this side, though for just 0.2m more you can upgrade to Hughes, losing only limited attacking threat (if indeed you have any faith that this Fulham side can tighten up again at the back, which looks somewhat unlikely at the moment). Berbatov played further upfield than he did in Ruiz's absence and the two combined nicely all day for 12 shots, though Berbatov was uncharacteristically wasteful, missing the target with all five of his efforts. The upcoming games are up and down but I still like Berbatov as one of the best mid-level options available and the earlier fire sale by some only makes him all the more valuable.

Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Allen, Henderson, Downing, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez 
Subs: Gulacsi, Assaidi, Coates, Lucas, Carragher, Fernandez Saez, Shelvey

No issues here as the main players continue to offer consistency and good value in this side.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Toure, Barry, Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Dzeko
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Toure, Tevez

City looked pretty good going forward, though four goals from just seven shots on target is likely not sustainable in the future. As someone who has backed Aguero of late I was pleased by his performance, though I fear he might be rested in the next game or so given Dzeko's goals and Tevez's return to fitness. Needless to say though I'm still very high on his prospects for the second half and given his 7% ownership, he is one of the few players with sufficient upside to overturn the deficit caused by anyone who didn't buy into van Persie or Michu over these past few weeks and months.

Mancini has been strangely settled with his lineups of late so I guess his logic would suggest that after a solid away win, widespread changes will now be required. Joking aside, Aguero owners are probably going to have to suffer through a rotation sooner rather than later but Silva only played an hour so might be okay for now, while the defence looks more likely to be rotated due to the goals conceded rather than fitness concerns. Nasri's suspension will alleviate some of this rotation risk though.

Man Utd
De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Kagawa, Young, Welbeck
Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Giggs, Hernandez, van Persie, Scholes, Buttner

I loved van Persie this week and, assuming he played, thought Hernandez would be a nice differential option for the next couple of weeks until the wildcard window opens. Ferguson had other ideas of course but van Persie showed he only needs a couple of chances to contribute points for his countless managers. The news for Hernandez wasn't so bright and while I like his prospects in theory, it's going to be tough to buy in without any certainty whatsoever as to whether he'll play. Kagawa's return makes that front four even more crowded and it'll be intriguing to see how he fits into this team when Rooney returns.

Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Perch, Santon, Obertan, Bigirimana, Tiote, Marveaux, Ba, Cisse.
Subs: Harper, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson, Tavernier, Abeid, Streete

Nothing to add here as the situation remains unchanged from prior weeks: the injuries sustained here essentially eliminate any substantial risk of rotation aside from perhaps the odd game for either of the Ameobi's up top. Of the players coming in, I love Bigirimana's game but he's so young and unproven I'd be surprised if he can get enough minutes to consistently contribute. Marveaux however looks like he could be a genuine prospect at 4.2m, and while I'm hesitant to get carried away with small samples, his four shots and six chances created in the last two weeks are extremely promising for a player in his price range. More on him in this week's fanning the flames.

Bunn, Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Morison
Subs: Rudd, Howson, Jackson, E Bennett, Barnett, R Bennett, Kane

This team is very settled and, with Holt still sidelined, was very much as expected. An interesting situation is developing at right back as Russell Martin scored again here yet has often found himself sidelined when Whittaker has been fit. Whittaker represents the best price/attacking threat combination from this back line but if there's any lingering doubt about whether he'll get back into this side for good when healthy, Turner would become my tip to access this reasonably useful defensive unit.

Julio Cesar, Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Traore, Mackie, Diakite, Mbia, Wright-Phillips, Taarabt, Cisse
Subs: Green, Derry, Ferdinand, Granero, Da Silva, Hoilett, Faurlin

Redknapp seems to be fairly settled in his team selection, though given a lack of success you'd imagine that has the strong possibility of changing, particularly once the window opens. Taarabt will continue to get his chances and looked better in the second half here, but the other attacking options were all but non-existent save for a handful of long range efforts from M'Bia, and it's hard to see any value whatsoever until something drastic changes.

Federici, Gunter, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe, Guthrie, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Le Fondre, Hunt, Morrison, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Cummings

Reading will take the win, but they generated just three shots all day and were extremely fortunate to get the three points. Sustained play at this level will see them relegated with one of the lowest points totals in history. I find it hard to believe that Le Fondre, and particularly Robson-Kanu can't get into this side and until they do, or someone else starts doing something, there's very little reason to even open this team's dashboard.

Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Ji, Bramble

Nothing to note here in terms of lineup issues, and the eight shots generated for the game was disappointing after Sunderland have looked better of late. Giving up nine shots in the box to Spurs isn't too bad and they are improving at the back giving us hope that this unit might be relevant for spot-start consideration, but it still isn't one to get particularly excited about.

Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Tiendalli, de Guzman, Agustien, Dyer, Hernandez, Routledge, Graham
Subs: Vorm, Bartley, Britton, Shechter, Moore, Ki, Davies

Tremmel in for Vorm is an odd one and we'll have to see if that's due to Vorm having an injury set back in the coming days (I haven't seen any quotes yet). Tiendalli also got the start over the uber-cheap Davies which, if sustained, is a real blow as the youngster represented one of the best super-cheap options around. I'd give Davies another week or so before abandoning him but Tiendalli is a worthy replacement so there is some legitimate concern here that Davies could find himself on the outside looking in.

I was pleased to see Hernandez get another assist here and I like him a lot as a second half target. He's already racked up four assists and two goals in the eight starts he's made since breaking into the first team and he has the underlying stats to support those numbers (he leads all midfielders in created chances over their last six games).

Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Bale, Adebayor, Defoe.
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Vertonghen, Huddlestone, Parker, Sigurdsson, Livermore

Spurs are sticking with the 4-4-2, although with Adebayor sometimes dropping off of Defoe, it isn't in truth a massive departure from the 4-2-3-1, especially when Dempsey was playing. This defence is becoming harder to predict by the week with Vertonghen surprisingly taking a seat this week. While it's  likely a precautionary rest, rather than 'rotation', these moves are making it very tough to identify someone to own in this back line. If Dawson, Caulker of Naughton can secure a regular spot they will be potentially excellent value, but for now it's hard to look past the somewhat overpriced Walker and Vertonghen.

Bale picked up his 5th yellow this week so will unfortunately miss next week's appetizing Reading fixture.

West Brom
Foster, Jones, McAuley, Tamas, Ridgewell, Thorne, Brunt, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Odemwingie, Long.
Subs: Myhill, Morrison, El Ghanassy, Jara Reyes, Lukaku, Dawson, Fortune

Olsson was out for this one so Tamas came in but that looks like a short term injury so the long term impact should be minimal. Morrison and Lukaku were once again benched meaning we're no closer to getting any sustained value out of anyone in the front six here.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien, Noble, O'Neil, Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis, Cole
Subs: Spiegel, Collison, Maiga, Vaz Te, Demel, Diarra, Spence

Tomkins picked up another start alongside the three regulars but despite the slight discount I'd still suggest that O'Brien is the best play here given the chance Tomkins is once again benched for Demel or McCartney (when healthy) in the future. The front six looks pretty settled but there was a welcome return to the bench for Vaz Te, who was enjoying a very useful start to the season before being sidelined. I wouldn't be surprised to see him retake a position out wide in place of Taylor or even Jarvis in the coming weeks.

Collins and Nolan picked up their 5th cautions this week so will not miss the attractive home fixture with Norwich. Given that they face Sunderland the week after, and then get the double, those not planning to wildcard in the next week or two should probably just hold on to this pair.

Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Jones, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Subs: Pollitt, Gomez, McManaman, McArthur, Boselli, Stam, Golobart

Ramis made a scoring return to the side and with Stam relegated to the bench, he's a viable option in this back line, though Figueroa brings a slightly better scoring threat for the same price. Though he comes with some risk given the presence of Gomez on the bench, Maloney's threat - particularly from set pieces - represents excellent value for 4.8m and he should be once again in the mix for your spot-start 5th midfielder spot.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gameweek 20 Preview Data

Attacking data

Clean sheet data
Individual data

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 19

Given the fact the games are coming so quickly at the moment, I'm going to keep the below very brief. Normal, more in depth analysis will resume in GW21, just in time for the opening of the all important transfer window.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Lowton, Herd, Clark, Baker, Bennett, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Delph, Holman, Benteke
Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Bowery, Bannan, Lichaj, Carruthers

Nothing to really note here, and to be honest, any lineup changes other than Benteke suddenly not playing would be pretty irrelevant given how this team is playing right now.

Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Mikel, David Luiz, Moses, Oscar, Mata, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Hazard, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake.

Luiz's move to midfield is interesting and as noted last week, it probably makes him the best pickup in this back line. Terry is supposed to be back in the next couple of games which I would suggest will shift Ivanovic to right back and thus I don't really trust Azpilicueta's minutes enough to consider him over the now-advanced Luiz. Hazard got the week off here which makes him somewhat more valuable for the coming weeks as presumably that was a one off game to give the youngster a breather.

Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Hitzlsperger, Gibson, Pienaar, Jelavic, Anichebe
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Oviedo, Naismith, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios

No issues here with Fellaini set to return after this week which should return the Everton team back to the familiar team we've seen in prior months. Hitzlsperger might get a look given his eye catching history, but needless to say that even at 5.0m we'll need to see more consistent minutes before he returns to the radar in these pages.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Dejagah, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic, Berbatov, Rodallega
Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Ruiz, Karagounis, Briggs, Hughes, Frei

The biggest news here could be the return of Ruiz, as while I still have some doubts about whether his departure spelled doom for Berbatov, he's clearly a good player and in all likelihood an upgrade over the other options deployed in his place the past few weeks. Hopefully any frustration with the Bulgarian were somewhat alleviated this week and the next three fixtures serve up more opportunities for him to enjoy some more success. Senderos in for Hughes is an odd one, but having played every minute of every game before this week, I'd suggest this is a resting move, rather than a case of Hughes being dropped.

Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Downing, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez
Subs: Jones, Cole, Henderson, Coates, Carragher, Allen, Sterling

Sterling once again found himself on the bench here, and while I still believe he'll play more games than he misses, I am still concerned that he simply has to have time off given his age. As noted in prior weeks, Sterling has been a sensational value to date but at 5.7m you're already paying for a lot of his upside and any inconsistency in his minutes essentially wipes out the rest. Add in the risk of new arrivals next month and Sterling looks like someone to consider selling sooner rather than later, given the sharp price decline that could some his way given his 21% ownership. Allen has also been a surprise omission of late, though not one which should be concerning fantasy managers.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Toure, Nastasic, Milner, Javi Garcia, Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Dzeko, Sinclair, Barry, Rekik, Razak

I'm at a total loss with this City side. The underlying stats at both ends of the field look decent but they just aren't turning into consistent returns at the moment. Aguero - arguably the best forward in the league - has been as wasteful as anyone, hitting the target with just three of the 15 shots (11 SiB) he's managed in the last six games. The lineup has been more settled but given the results it's all but impossible to imagine a situation where big changes aren't made this week. It's hard to simply advise steering clear of this whole side given it's potential but other than the fairly priced Nastasic, it is hard to see too many players who are really delivering on their price tags at the moment. Saying that, if you're in a hole (like me) these are the kind of players you are going to have to take a risk on, and I'd prefer to do that with someone as talented as Aguero or Silva than trying to gain points with other mid-level picks.

Man Utd
De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, van Persie, Hernandez
Subs: Lindegaard, Vidic, Cleverley, Fletcher, Buttner, Wootton, Tunnicliffe

Rooney's late injury in training was another ill-timed blow in a season filled with them and it looks like he'll now miss the next two games for United. With the wildcard window opening I see no reason to hold onto him and, if you plan on using the wildcard as soon as possible, Suarez looks like the best replacement given his fixtures in the next weeks (@QPR, SUN). Hernandez would also be a worthy replacement and would obviously free up a boat load of cash, though I'd only advise those moves if you have other free transfers stashed away or plan to wildcard later in the month, as paying 4 points so soon before a wildcard looks ill advised.

Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Anita, Perch, Bigirimana, Cissé, Ba, Marveaux.
Subs: Elliot, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson, Tavernier, Campbell

As has been the case for a number of weeks, we're seeing plenty of changes in the Newcastle side, though the majority of them are enforced rather than due to Pardew playing around with his lineup. With Cabaye and Ben Arfa sidelined, our options really lie with the front pair and perhaps the cheaper defenders (Perch/Williamson) if you believe those couple of clean sheets against Wigan and SPR indicate an ability to keep the weaker sides at bay.

Bunn, Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt.
Subs: Rudd, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett, R Bennett.

No issues here with Martin sliding in to replace the injured Whittaker.

Green, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Hill, Traore, Mbia, Faurlin, Mackie, Taarabt, Wright-Phillips, Cissé
Subs: Julio Cesar, Diakité, Derry, Granero, Dyer, Hoilett, Ehmer

Green kept his place in goal despite the return to fitness of Julio Cesar, and while I wouldn't necessarily buy into this QPR defense at the moment, a 4.1m 'keeper is not to be ignored and with possible new arrivals in January, a rejuvenated QPR side could make Green quite valuable. As noted in prior weeks, we're seeing some movement here but Taarabt and Cisse look pretty locked in and that's where the value really seems to lie anyway so I wouldn't be overly concerned with the movement in the middle of the park.

Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff, Guthrie, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Le Fondre, Hunt, Morrison, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Cummings

I don't really see where McDermott is going with this lineup as three of their best performers from the first half of the season have been pushed aside (Le Fondre, Shorey and particularly Robson-Kanu). With that trio on the outside looking in and other options like Guthrie, McAnuff and Pogrebnyak (themselves fancied at one point this season) still not fully entrenched either, there's little reason to dwell on this team's fortunes at the moment.

K Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, S Davis, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lambert
Subs: Boruc, Hooiveld, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Richardson, Mayuka

Nothing really to add here in terms of lineup issues, though at some point we're going to need to look at this team's prospects which have really taken a hit of late.

Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson, Kightly, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Walters, Jones
Subs: Sorensen, Adam, Whitehead, Upson, Crouch, Shotton, Jerome

No issues to note here either in terms of the key options with Crouch still sidelined in favour of Jones which basically limits our attacking options to Walters.

Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Rose, McClean, Larsson, Colback, Johnson, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble

No issues to note here as Sunderland are one of the more stable lineups around. They too are a team who need a bit more attention in the next couple of weeks as they have quietly turned things around very well, especially at the back, and budget options with guaranteed minutes simply aren't that easy to find this season.

Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton, Ki, Moore, Routledge, Michu
Subs: Tremmel, Bartley, Graham, Monk, Shechter, de Guzman, Agustien.

de Guzman drops to the bench which looks like a short term move, but could potentially be longer term with Hernandez on the mend. Michu picked up a knock and it's likely he could get a game off in the next two, but it doesn't look like anything for his countless owners to worry about.

Lloris, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton, Lennon, Dembele, Sandro, Bale, Defoe, Adebayor
Subs: Friedel, Parker, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Townsend, Caulker

I thought we had a handle on this defense but Dawson was benched in favour of Naughton, with Vertonghen shifting back to his preferred centre back spot once again. With Gallas, Naughton, Dawson and Caulker essentially fighting for two spots, it's becoming tough to squeeze value out of this potentially cheap defense. For now the front six seems to pick itself though I still have some questions about what happens when Dempsey returns.

West Brom
Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Mulumbu, Morrison, Fortune, Gera, Brunt, Lukaku
Subs: Myhill, Ridgewell, Rosenberg, Long, Dorrans, Odemwingie, Tamas

Nothing to really add here though I'm pleased to see Lukaku continue to get some playing time. If this continues he'll generate some wildcard consideration but he's too risky at the moment.

Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam, McCarthy, Jones, McArthur, Beausejour, Maloney, Kone
Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Ramis, Golobart

Maloney kept his place in the first team and might be playing his way back into 5th midfielder consideration while Ramis returned to the bench and could put an end to Stam's run in the side: a small blow considering his extremely low price tag.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Goalkeeper Rotation Data

Disappointed with another pair of socks? Grandma got you another gift card for the Body Shop? Well, unwrap the below - a fully updated guide to the best goalkeeper/defender combos, starting from GW21 - when the transfer window opens. Given that the same rotation logic can be applied to defenders as 'keepers I have included teams who offer budget options anywhere in the back five (e.g. Dawson at Spurs) even if their 'keeper would be excluded from a true budget rotation strategy.

For reference, using this same logic, playing Joe Hart every week is going to net you the lowest average goals per game forecast, with a number of budget sidekicks giving you a 0.85 average. In my opinion I find little data to backup paying the 2.0m premium for those slightly improved forecast numbers though and thus I'm happy to stick with a rotation strategy for the second half of the year.

For reference, Arsenal just miss out on the sub-5.0m bracket, with their cheapest option being the excellently priced Sagna. Any Arsenal combo comes in the 0.77-1.01 range and if you believe in the model at all, you will want to lock in at least one Gunner in your back five (Mertesacker would also be excellent value at 5.3m).

The other most obvious pick (on data alone) is Michael Dawson, with Spurs dominating the above table with green scores across the board. The issue, of course, is whether or not you believe his place in the first eleven is secure. While I wouldn't make a huge bet that it is, for the cost of a transfer and 4.5m I'd be willing to bet he gets his share of games in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gameweek Preview Data: Gameweek 19

Clean Sheet Rankings

Attacking Rankings
Individual Rankings

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 18

In the interest of time given the busy festive schedule, I'm posting the fanning the flames data now and will hopefully get a chance to flesh it our with some narrative in the next day or so. I thought it was more a priority to get GW19 rankings up though, which will be posted in the next few hours.

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 18

Goalscorers are highlighted in bold, players with an assist are underlined

Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott
Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Coquelin, Ramsey, Arshavin, Gervinho

An unchanged side here for Arsene Wenger with Walcott getting another start up front in place of Giroud (who didn't even feature on the bench due to illness). For what it's worth I'd suggest that Oxlade-Chamberlain has done just okay since coming into the side and I'd be surprised if Walcott wasn't restored back to a wide position soon with Giroud retaking his spot up top. I'd suggest that the "Arsenal overplay it" narrative is sometimes an oversimplified crutch used to explain their lack of success which is often simply attributable to not having as good players as City or United rather than some philosophical shortcoming. Nevertheless, there is an element of truth in that criticism and Walcott's presence up top hardly gives them a traditional forward type to aim crosses at. His pace is a huge asset on the counter but he can get into those positions from his midfield spot anyway so I wouldn't pencil him into that Henry mold just yet.

The rest of this team looks nicely settled and the back line is one of the best value in the league. The return of Sagna at just 5.1m makes him the best pickup for me.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Herd, Clark, Baker, Lowton, Bannan, Westwood, Lichaj, Weimann, Holman, Benteke
Subs: Given, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Delph, Bowery, Bennett

I noted last week that Villa were starting to surrender an alarming number of shots away from home and that trend obviously continued this week with the demolition at the hands of Chelsea. There wasn't a great deal to like in this side as it was, with perhaps Lowton or Clark offering glimpses of rotatable form at one point, though given the recent results it's going to be hard to get on board there. Despite the result, Benteke still managed to get a couple of chances and remains very ownable given the upcoming fixtures.

Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Luiz, Lampard, Moses, Mata, Hazard, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Ramires, Oscar, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake

Everyone got in on the act here and it was bad week to not hold any Chelsea players (believe me). In terms of lineup these isn't too much to report as the bench is stretched so thin that the only legitimate choice made by Benitez was to opt for Moses over Oscar and Luiz in midfield over Ramires. That latter move is very interesting as while playing in a defensive midfield role is hardly a license to earn unlimited points, given that Luiz is essentially the same price as his defensive teammates, that advanced position is not costing you a premium and if nothing else should lead to more guaranteed minutes as he proves his worth in two key areas in the team.

Howard, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Neville, Pienaar, Jelavic, Anichebe
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Vellios, Duffy

Heitinga got the start at right back in place of Coleman but that shouldn't have much impact on your options here (the position has been in flux all season). Not much else to report here with Anichebe coming in but likely only for another week or two until the suspended Fellaini returns.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares

Jol seems unclear what to do with his attacking options here with Rodallega out this week despite the absence of Petric. Fulham have been poor of late and whether that's attributable to Ruiz's absence (or simply the case of the fixture list catching up with them) is debatable but what isn't is that Berbatov is becoming hard to own at the moment, stranded up front and surrounded with dubious or inconsistent talent on a weekly basis. With SOU, SWA and WIG at home in the next four weeks I'd say it was crazy to sell Berbatov now, but there's very little else here offensively to pique any interest in doubling up to take advantage of the fixtures.

Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Fernandez Saez, Suarez, Downing
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom

Allen and Sterling dropped to the bench but my instincts would suggest those moves are more for resting rather than true 'rotation' purposes. This was always going to a be a risk for Sterling given his age and considering his meteoric price rise I'd suggest he isn't particularly undervalued these days and thus it might be time to sell. This defense has really excelled this year and has gone from strength to strength as the key assets have returned and formed a very stable back line. Skrtel and Enrique look like two of the better ways to spend ~6m at the moment and one could at least make an argument that Johnson is worth the extra 0.5m investment if you're somewhat flush with cash.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Nastasic, Rekik, Barry, Javi Garcia, Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez
Subs: Wright, Kompany, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Sinclair, Razak

In fairness, Mancini didn't have any natural options to fill the role, but I thought it was a mistake to play Garcia, Barry and Yaya against a very weak Reading side who set their stall out extremely deep from the first minute. Though they escaped with the win, City should have created more good chances and I would personally have liked to see them roll with three forwards or at least Sinclair earlier in the contest. Anyway, the Nasri injury probably does fantasy managers a favour as it's less likely that Tevez/Aguero/Slva get rotated and one or two of them may get through the festive period unscathed (your guess is as good as mine as to which). Despite Kompany's absence the team looked fairly settled at the back and Rekik did okay for a debut. I don't see them as an elite unit in line with prior year but Nastasic looks like a very solid wildcard pickup at 5.6m.

Man Utd
De Gea, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie
Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Scholes, Fletcher, Buttner

This might be United's strongest lineup, even when Rafael is fit, and I'd back all these players to get a significant amount of minutes in the second half of the year. Saying that I thought United looked fairly weak at the back and their last five games have seen them surrender on average 16% more shots than their opponent's average. I therefore wouldn't be a rush to secure any of them in my long term plans given the availability of other options for equal or lower price tags.

Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Anita, Tiote, Perch, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse
Subs: Harper, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson

No issues of note here, partly due to Pardew's settled lineup and partly due to a lack of genuine alternatives thanks to a series of injuries. Either way, Newcastle aren't making headlines at the moment but they continue to supply decent fantasy value without too much fanfare.

Bunn, Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Hoolahan, Johnson, Pilkington, Morison
Subs: Steer, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Elliott Bennett, Barnett, Kane

Holt was out through injury but otherwise this looks like a fairly settled lineup and thus provides decent options at several price points. I'm not a big fan of this defense given their +/- scores, but they are at least cheap and now fairly settled so they might offer some spot start value.

Green, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Mackie, Mbia, Granero, Faurlin, Taarabt, Cisse
Subs: Murphy, Diakite, Traore, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Hoilett

We hoped Redknapp's arrival would see some consistency arrive at Loftus Road but the results have been somewhat underwhelming. They've generated SiB at a level 28% below opponent adjusted average over the last seven games, exceeding the average just once in that period (GW14 vs SUN +11%). Their four shot, one SiB effort this week (-88%) was their worst on the season and it wouldn't be surprising to see some upheaval in the starting eleven, which throws the future of many of these potential fantasy options into question. You have to think that to succeed, Taarabt and Cisse will get their minutes for QPR, but given the limited upside currently on offer, the risk of future rotation does somewhat loom large. Throw in some tough fixtures and these guys suddenly look pretty unattractive.

Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Karacan, Tabb, Kebe, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Shorey, Le Fondre, Hunt, Gorkss, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie

If they'd held on for another two minutes the narrative would have been what a brave display it was to sneak a draw at City. We can debate the merits of 'parking the bus' all day long, but without a doubt it's bad news from a fantasy point of view and it essentially gave the likes of McAnuff and the surprisingly benched Le Fondre and Robson-Kanu zero chance of earning any points.I don't blame McDermott at all for trying to play within his teams' limits but it's worth bearing in mind that based on the outcome of their last two results (almost a good result against City and a good hiding against Arsenal when playing more open), they're unlikely to start taking it to teams in the near future.

The dropping of Shorey, Le Fondre and Robson-Kanu - all viable fantasy options - was a huge surprise and if that continues for another week I would be legitimately worried. For now I'll assume it was more down to fitness (Robson-Kanu) and the specific fixture (Pogrebnyak can presumably hold up and chase the ball better).

K Davis, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Cork, Schneiderlin, Mayuka, Lambert, Ramirez
Subs: Boruc, Hooiveld, S Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Richardson, De Ridder

Mayuka came in for the injured Lallana but otherwise this team is as you were. Losing at home to Sunderland (without scoring) is a massive blow to owners of Southampton players and it's a game I had specifically targeted when bringing Puncheon in. They've now under-performed the league adjusted average in SiB by an average of 51% over their past two games and there must at least be some concern that their solid start is starting to flounder. For their price and given the stability they bring I'm still okay holding the options we've discussed before in this side, but I am having doubts for the first time in a long time.

Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Shotton, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters
Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Whitehead, Upson, Kightly, Crouch, Jerome

We all know Stoke are a good defense but the last six weeks have really seen them take the next step to becoming a team you could potentially lean on in any game. They've allowed 27% less SiB than their opponents average, adding four clean sheets in the process. Defensively this lineup is now very settled with Wilkinson grabbing that second full back spot and thus they are very easy to get behind. Going forward the story isn't so rosy and I'm still baffled by Crouch's omission from this side, a fact that could well be rectified this week after Jones missed a number of decent chances this week. Until we see major progress here though, the only value in this team lies with the very valuable back five.

Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Colback, Larsson, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble

No real issues to note here with Bardsley continuing to be on the outside looking in and Larsson restored to that central role once more. Despite not looking overly impressive to the eye or on the stat sheet, this defense has somehow put together three clean sheets in the last six games, and encouragingly they were in the three games you actually might have started any of them. Going forward the attacking trio of Fletcher, Sessegnon and Johnson all offer some value to managers.

Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton, Agustien, de Guzman, Routledge, Michu
Subs: Tremmel, Graham, Monk, Shechter, Moore, Ki, Richards

Vorm returned between the sticks and looked sharp, though Tremmel did okay in his absence so I wouldn't expect an immediate turn around for this defense. Their value does take a tick up though and so Davies continues to offer extremely good value for his price tag. The main attacking options are also fairly entrenched in this side and again offer good value.

Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Bale, Defoe, Adebayor.
Subs: Friedel, Parker, Gallas, Naughton, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Townsend.

I'm pleased to see Dawson back and if that move sticks he instantly becomes an extremely promising pickup at just 4.5m. Villas-Boas seems to be committed to this 4-4-2 but I wonder what that means for Dempsey and Sigurdsson? Will they simply be cast aside from essentially every game from here on? We'll have to wait for Dempsey to return to answer that but for now this front six looks nice and settled where it matters.

West Brom
Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Morrison, Brunt, Odemwingie, Gera, Dorrans, Lukaku
Subs: Myhill, Ridgewell, Rosenberg, Long, Jara Reyes, Tamas, Fortune.

Foster returned between the sticks and might want to have another go at Snodgrass's free kick, but overall he should boost this defense's value, which has suffered of late. Lukaku played and thus obviously scored, as he has done in every game he's played 60+ minutes bar one. I understand that Long is enjoying a useful campaign himself but Lukaku has as many goals as Aguero, Jelavic and one more than Berbaov despite playing between 30-50% less minutes than that trio. Until we get an indication that might happen though, he's all but impossible to own.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien, Noble, O'Neil, Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis, Cole
Subs: Spiegel, Collison, Maiga, Diarra, Spence, Moncur, Lletget

Demel was left out here and his playing time issues makes him too risky to own right now. Given the off week this week I'd recommend his owners look elsewhere, either with O'Brien or further afield. Not much else to note in the rest of this team, who like a couple of others are as much limited by injury as by their manager's commitment to a particular eleven.

Al Habsi; Stam, Boyce, Figueroa, Beausejour; McCarthy, McArthur, Jones; Di Santo, Kone, Maloney.
Subs: Pollitt, Caldwell, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Fyvie, Golobart

Another settled lineup here with Gomez and Maloney being the only pair of note to see their playing time constantly toyed with. That makes investment in that pair ultimately impossible and with Di Santo suffering a couple of rotations himself, the options here might be limited to Kone for now. The back line looks pretty settled and did okay against a good Arsenal side, suggesting that perhaps the team is finally ready to make a claim as spot start worthy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Model Review: A Comparison

After posting a review of the latest model, reader Agnar had the excellent suggestion of not just comparing the model to actual results, but benchmarking it against another simpler forecast system, likely employed by large sections of fantasy managers. As suggested, a simple and useful method here is to simply take the points per game (actually points per 90 minutes to avoid the odd sub appearance skewing things) accumulated in gameweeks 1-7 and then comparing that rate to the actual rate delivered in gameweeks 8-17. We can then plot that side by side with the model analysis and see (a) which is better, and (b) if there are any specific areas in which the model succeeds/fails.

The first graph shows the P90 for gameweeks 1-7 plotted against the P90 for gameweeks 8-17 (filtered to only include players who racked up 600+ minutes). The second graph shows the forecast points for gameweeks 8-17 from the model plotted against the actual P90 for gameweeks 8-17 (again, limited to players with 600+ minutes).

I'm pleased to say that the model looks quite a lot stronger than simply looking at historic points to date, and while that's hardly proof that the model is somehow a perfect forecasting tool (it very much isn't), it's good to know we're improving on the status quo method used by many a manager across the world (i.e. points chasing). A couple of specifics on the two charts:

P90 Historic
Standard deviation
Players within one P90

The big outliers from the model forecast are those who are generally considered 'elite' or at least 'in form' (whatever that means). While this is a problem in that they're the players we obviously need to target for our respective fantasy teams, it's encouraging that a certain type of player are being mis-evaluated by the model, as this gives us an opportunity to tweak things and forecast them better (in some cases it probably isn't mis-evaluation and simply a case of unforecastable luck). The historic forecast on the other hand sees all kinds of players with bad forecasts, which can be explained by either initially high conversion rates, easier fixtures or a change in playing time/role.
I'd hope that anyone looking at this data regularly was confident it was providing them with something stronger than simply looking at the points table, but at least this analysis tries to quantify that advantage. With 66% correlation and only a 0.5 r-squared, we're far from announcing the model as a total success just yet, but given that the above is based on small samples there's reason to believe these rates will improve as we get more data (comparing the model on a pure total points basis rather than per 90 minutes rate also improves things, with a correlation of 72% for all players excluding games below 45 minutes).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gameweek 18 Preview Data

Clean Sheet Rankings

Attacking Rankings
Individual Rankings

Model review: Gameweeks 8-17

As promised, it's time to take a step back from forecasting and projecting and look at how the model has performed since I rolled it out in Gameweek 8. There are three ways to look at this:
  1. Look at each player's weekly forecast score versus their actual weekly score
  2. Look at each player's aggregated forecast score versus their actual aggregated score
  3. Look at each player's average forecast score (per 90 minutes) versus their average actual score
Each measure has it's advantages and disadvantages but I will throw the first option out as any model is simply not going to be accurate enough on a weekly basis enjoy great success. Of course, we can use its outputs to forecast the probability of different players' chance to succeed but even if it was perfect we'd still see massive fluctuations. So that leaves options two and three which each have some advantages: option two is the truest comparator of how the model performed over the period while option three does a better job at accounting for the fact that players don't play every week. As a compromise, I am comparing points on a total basis but I've thrown out all games where players played 45 minutes or less as they tend to mess up the correlation stats and aren't really representative of what the model is trying to achieve. Trying to forecast decisions by the likes of Mancini need a more powerful computer than a MacBook.

I'm not going to run through individual players but if you would like to discuss a player in more detail, feel me to do so in the comments. A few high level points:
  1. The model seems to be performing quite well, and if we limit ourselves to players who have racked up 450 or more minutes, we see a 70% correlation and 0.5 r-squared which are reasonable (though hardly indicative of a perfect model)
  2. The fact that the line intersects the y-axis at ~three points suggests that the xP measure is probably underestimating scores across the board. This is reasonable for a couple of reasons. One, the model is based on average outcomes and thus will never forecast the kind of 23 point performance we saw from Cazorla this week. Second, I currently crudely account for bonus points by simply awarding 1.5 points per goal (the average points earned for a goalscorer). In reality of course, a goalscorer will often earn all three points for a scoring effort which can impact scores here, particularly at the top end of the market.
The main trend most people will observe is that the 'elite' players are above the line and thus the model is tending to undervalue them. In some ways, mainly due to the aforementioned issues in point two above, this is true and I'd be happy to concede that some more work is needed to better apportion bonus points (which will overwhelmingly flow to elite players) and perhaps reduce the regression rates if we can establish that the elite players really can exceed league average in terms of goals per shot on target with any true consistency. 

That said, we need to be careful not to get caught up in confirmation bias by anointing those players with high scores as 'elite' (are we doing so because of their talent of because of their recent points hauls?). Rooney and van Persie are obviously some of the league's best players but it's fair to say that Fellani and Michu wouldn't have been in that conversation at the start of the season, while many were getting frustrated with Cazorla until his huge haul this week. While there's no doubting there could be something here, other 'elite' players like Suarez, Ba and Hazard have essentially performed in line with the model, with Aguero significantly below, so it's overly simplistic to simply state that the model is too harsh at the top end of the market. 

In terms of using this information, this graph should not necessarily be used as a indication of future regression. For example, if a player steadily increased his shot production over this period, the model would always be behind in terms of forecasting his production and by the end of the period his points would reasonably (and sustainably) outshine his xP. It can however be used to spark those conversations though, and to help us look into players who might regress, but it's not as simple as everyone regressing towards that trend line.

Overall, I'm pleased with these results and they form a good starting point for future developments. If we look at the distribution of variances we see that they form somewhat of a familiar bell curve, without too many huge variances at either end of the spectrum. 79 of the 104 players in the sample fell within 10 points of the expected points, which isn't too bad over a 10 week period. 

The next step is look at tweaking the formulas to try and understand those variances at the top end of the chart and determine how much of the difference is attributable to their true skill exceeding the average and how much is attributable to confirmation bias and revisionism. As always, any suggestions are welcome, and I'll do another update like this in a few weeks to report back on any updates or developments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Regression and (arguably) the gambler's fallacy

Reader Tony asked a good question this week, and after writing a lengthy response in the comment section, I decided it was worth posting here for others to see. Tony's question:
I know we always say that things even out over the season but do you think it takes that long? I wonder if you measured a player's expected points over a 1 or 2 month period would it match up to his actual points? We could therefore start to predict when a player is 'due a big win'.
Being 'due' is a tricky proposition. Although some fans don't like to reduce their beloved heroes to a statistical probability, that is all we're really doing on this site and once you make that leap, the idea of being 'due' kinda falls into the gambler's fallacy (the notion that after rolling 'black' five straight times, the roulette wheel is bound to come up red). I say kinda because it depends whether you believe that (a) each player has little or no control over how his shots on target are converted into goals and (b) that each week is independent of the last (i.e. that 'form' doesn't exist when it comes to converting chances).

If we knew that, for example, Santi Cazorla was going to hit the target once every week, regardless of opponent, and we know that those SoT, on average, get converted into goals approximately 33% of the time, we'd expect him to score every three weeks. If he'd gone five weeks without a goal, that 33% rate doesn't change and thus we'd still give him a 1/3 chance of scoring next week. It's tempting to suggest that over those six games Cazorla should have two goals (from his six shots), and indeed if we were forecasting the next six games, we'd forecast him to score twice, but not to the point that we are compensating for his missed chances

By looking at those players who have under produced versus their underlying stats, we can identify players who may be undervalued by the market, but we would not forecast their production to exceed the average to 'catch up' for chances missed in the past. This is an important point, so let's look at an extreme (fictitious) example to suggest one pitfall of only looking at those players who have unperformed their underlying stats:

Player A: 10 games, 12 SoT, 2 goals
Player B: 12 games, 16 SoT, 11 goals

It's not hard to identify that both players should regress in the future (assuming you accept my premise that most players have shown little ability to control how many of their SoT become goals). Using a simplified 33% conversion rate, Player A's 12 SoT 'should' have netted him 4 goals, thus if he continues to take shots at this same rate, we'd likely see him to enjoy his next 10 games more than his performance to date. Conversely, it's easy to see that Player B has overachieved compared to our expectation, which would have seen him net just 5.3 times given his 16 SoT. So Player A is undervalued and should be bought, while Player B is overvalued and should be sold, right? Well, no. Over the next 10 games we would forecast Player A to score 4.0 goals, which is an improvement, but still less than the 4.4 we'd forecast Player B to score.

What you need to balance here is the fact that Player A is likely held by considerably less managers than Player B so could represent a differential opportunity. You'll also want to look at whether Player A  has something in his profile that would indicate that his underlying stats might improve (more shots taken inside the box lately, a new role, new teammate etc).

So, while the players underperforming their stats aren't necessarily 'due' for improvement, over a long enough period we would expect their production to improve and would thus classify them as undervalued. I've posted a variance of the below before, but for reference, the below charts show expected points (xP) based on their shot data to date plotted against actual points and thus highlight players who may be undervalued:

Note: The size of each player's 'bubble' represents their current ownership percentage

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 17

We've added new wrinkle this week, first with the data table below, and second with the players we're going to highlight. First, let's look at the new table. It shows the key data points for every player who scored six or more points for the week, along with their actual (P) and expected points (xP) and then the difference between the two. xP is calculated based on the actual underlying stats for the week and does not relate to any forecasts associated with the model. What we're trying to do is identify legitimate big performances rather than those where a player, for example, notches one shot, one on target and one goal yet makes out with a nine point haul. Those points still count of course but we'd be more suspicious about their sustainability and thus they'd need more discussion (and in most causes some dousing of the fire). Where a player's points are backed up by his xP I will be more inclined to gloss over them, particularly where said player is an established star enjoying another week of sustained success.

The second revision for the week is found in the lower part of the table which shows players whose xP greatly exceeded their actual points. These are the players who deserve a bit more attention that they might otherwise receive and should be monitored closely as they are likely not being purchased by the masses.

As in prior weeks, each player is assigned a 'buy', 'hold/monitor' or 'sell' status. These do not necessarily reflect what I would personally do, rather what I suggest to be a decision based in logic. For example, I might feel that Rooney represents better value than van Persie, but I would still 'buy' the Dutchman's success and consider him very ownable. The different assigned statuses are summarised as:
  • 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 sell 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. 
The below analysis is best reviewed alongside the player dashboards, which show all the stats highlighted within the narrative.

Santi Cazorla 23
Obviously the underlying stats don't support a hattrick, but then they likely never will (you'd need nine shots on target to justify it). Watching the game Cazorla was good value for a big points haul and the fact he was getting on the end of chances (particularly the header) shows that the concern that he would assist too many assists, can be put aside for one week. He's one of the few players without any real concerns and, while some will chatter about Arsenal's decline, they're still a good attacking unit and Cazorla looks well placed to take advantage of that fact.
Status: Buy

Christian Benteke 15
Benteke obviously out gained his xP for the week, though that's always going to the case with big scores as the xP calculation is 'digital', allowing players to score, say 0.5 goals, where as in reality the situation is much more 'analog', as you obviously need to score in whole numbers. While his three shot performance isn't indicative of a player likely to rack up big points every week, Benteke's stats are pretty encouraging, and with four very good xG performances over the last six weeks, his owners will feel he was due an over achievement one of these weeks.

Benteke's underlying trends look a touch odd, with him taking more shots outside the box (evidenced by a declining SiB%) yet hitting the target with more consistency (increasing SoT%). So long as that SoT% doesn't suffer too much, there aren't too many issues here, though we also need to keep an eye on his share of Villa's shots, as unlike someone like Aguero who could survive with a small piece of a large pie, Benteke needs to be dominating Villa's chances if he's going to continue his excellent season. Villa don't do well in the model's forecast for the next eight gameweeks, though, again, that isn't a huge issue so long as Benteke is accounting for a large portion of Villa's production. While they don't enjoy any games which look overly promising, they don't have any in which you would definitely want to bench Benteke either.
Status: Buy, as a differential third forward

Lukas Podolski 14
Podolski looked great in this one, and in some ways was equally as impressive as Cazorla as an attacking threat. He balanced when to come inside and when to stay out wide well and looked a genuine threat to score and assist goals throughout the game. At 8.2m he's a touch pricier than you'd like for a player who can sometimes be somewhat isolated out wide, but he's a genuine goal threat who can convert goals at a rate on a par with many of the league's best players and given the next four games, I'd be more than happy to load up on Gunners.
Status: Buy, though I have some concern about his value for money

Adel Taarabt 14
Taarabt's underlying stats suggested he was always capable of putting together some big gameweek scores, though as shown above, the fact that his two goals this week came on seven SoB, we wouldn't really suggest this kind of outcome is sustainable (SoB are converted to goals at just a 4% across the league). Given his penchant for the long range effort, not to mention the very nature of his game, Taarabt is always likely to be a somewhat unpredictable asset, but since Redknapp's arrival we have at least seen the apparent elimination of his rotation and positional risk, thus making him a much safer option with substantial upside. Indeed, with Fellaini and Michu's price rises, there maybe no mid range midfielder with greater price/upside combination (perhaps Puncheon too).
Status: Buy, though consider if you want to wait until after he gets his 5th yellow card

Wes Hoolahan 13
This is one of those classic games where the underlying stats don't support the big points haul, and thus, for this week anyway, we need to douse that fire. Now, in fairness to Hoolahan he has put up some reasonable stats in the past and thus he isn't without any hope, though for 5.5m you'd probably want either a high floor of his production or a much higher ceiling.
Status: Sell

Robin Van Persie 12
Nothing really to add here as Van Persie enjoyed another very good game and end results. Given that I am now contractual obliged to compare him to Rooney every week, it's notable that they essentially had the same same in terms of key stats and thus the pair remain fairly close in the model's forecasts.
Status: Buy, though as always consider the opportunity cost of the massive investment required to bring him in

Anthony Pilkington 11
I'd be much happier backing Pilkington than teammate Hoolahan as he's put up decent xG scored in six of the last eight games (though doesn't offer much by way of assist potential). His home/away splits are about as wide as you're going to see and a quick glance at the average position charts does show a consistent tendency to play slightly further upfield at Carrow Road. I'm not sure that supports such vast splits as we've observed to date, but either way, at 5.7m you can probably afford to only really deploy Pilkington at home and thus his prospects look very promising. The issue I have are the opponents in those home games, as Norwich welcome CHE, MCI, NEW, TOT, FUL and EVE in the next six, none of which look like easy pickings. Though he, and Norwich, are good enough to do okay in some of those games, if you're playing the odds you'd probably venture that his successful home run to date is likely to slow down somewhat.
Status: Hold, but those fixtures make it hard to recommend buying him

Yaya Toure 10
One might like to suggest that Yaya is 'back' and that his goals are what City needs to drive them on to another title bid. Well, you're free to make those suggestions, indeed in theory it's a nice narrative but in terms of forecastable production it's way off the mark. Yaya has just played two of his worst statistical performances of the season, racking up just two shots and zero chances created, while taking up a fairly deep role, particularly this week. It's tempting to try and get access to this City side but I don't believe Yaya is the man to fill that role and you'd be better off taking the odd rotation with Tevez, Aguero or Silva than backing an overly defensive Yaya.
Status: Sell

Brett Holman 9
Holman offers some goal and assist value to the point where we might be interested at, say, 4.5m but for 5.5m he offers neither the consistency nor the upside we desire.
Status: Sell

Javi Garcia 9
The only plus for Garcia is his player dashboard which is amusingly bad.
Status: Sell

Tom Cleverley 9
I want to like Cleverley, in a desperate attempt to back someone from this United side that doesn't cost 11.0m but the stats just aren't there, even if we were sure he'd play every week (which we're not).
Status: Sell

Steven Gerrard 9
As with several players highlighted this week, it's not that Gerrard is without charm, it's just that for his price tag we need to see more, a lot more in his case. xG scores of 0.2, while consistently delivered are not going to get it done for a 9.0m+ player (an xG of 0.2 suggests he'll score every five games or so, giving him between three and four goals the rest of the way. We can get double that forecast rate of return from Jason Puncheon who costs over 4.0m less). Gerrard has sufficient talent and pedigree to spark our collective interest when things go well but it appears that those games will be too few and far between to ever justify his price tag, and barring some kind of miracle turnaround during the transfer window, his days as a fantasy asset might be over until his price is cut to match the reality of the situation.
Status: Sell

Theo Walcott 8
My interest is piqued but I don't believe we're there yet with Walcott. His xG and xA numbers are still uninspiring, while his G/SoT% is still astronomically high. Perhaps he'll get more games up front as requested, but I don't believe Wenger will compromise his entire plan to appease Walcott's complaints and thus he's going to have to share time with Giroud and the myriad of wide options which makes that price tag look too rich for my taste.
Status: Monitor

Kenwyne Jones 7
Jones is a good enough player to offer some usability in the league, and at 5.0m he would be an interesting player if we felt he'd play every week. Alas, I very much do not and expect Crouch to be reinstated sooner rather than later.
Status: Sell, or possibly monitor if you're desperate for a new budget forward to emerge.

Andreas Weimann 7
I actually quite like Weimann and he's another budget forward I would consider if everything fell into place. However, with Bent and Agbonlahor set to return from injury at some point (perhaps as early as this week for Agbonlahor) and Benteke looking undroppable, it's tough to categorise Weimann's minutes as anything but risky.
Status: Sell

Wayne Rooney 7
His underlying stats actually exceeded his points return and my personal fears of his ability to play alongside Cleverley (who has stepped into his advanced position at times) were eased. I see no reason why he can't hang with van Persie and the other elite forwards and, as several readers have speculated, there's a reasonable case to be made for doubling up on the United pair as their success hardly seems to be mutually exclusive.
Status: Buy

Alejandro Faurlin 7
Faurlin is a useful player, and perhaps his role will solidify and improve under Redknapp but we've really seen nothing to date other than this week's five created chances to suggest he will offer anything in fantasy value and thus it's impossible to put him alongside the likes of Puncheon, who comes with the same price tag.
Status: Sell

Mladen Petric
Petric has some great underlying stats considering his playing time, with his home form being particularly encouraging. That said, I wouldn't expect Berbatov to be dropped with any regularity and then Fulham have Rodallega who is likely a better partner for the Bulgarian, not to mention Ruiz, who should return early in the new year. If his situation changes Petric might offer some value, but right now he's a good prospect in a bad position.
Status: Sell

Demba Ba 6
With Ba's last seven goals coming against, at best, mid level teams, it was good to see him net in one of his tougher fixtures. With @MUN, @ARS, EVE and @NOR to come in the next five weeks, I'm still a little hesitant to fully endorse Ba to continue at his current rate of return, but if this week's goal taught us anything, he doesn't need to be sold and his owners should feel comfortable addressing other areas of their team if needed.
Status: Hold given the fixtures with some thought paid to other options if you've transfers to spare

Shaun Maloney 6
Maloney is an really good player but without regular playing time you simply can't exist as a fantasy asset. Perhaps this goal will help him recapture his spot, but until we know for sure, I'm out.
Status: Monitor

Ashley Young 6
I was a little surprised to see that Young has started every game but one since returning to the lineup in GW9 and his assist potential has been pretty good in most games during that spell. For his price you'd ideally like to see more of a goal threat though and his profile looks a bit too similar for Pienaar (who costs 1.7m less) to get overly excited about. If you're fairly flush with cash, Young is a useful addition who should add his fair share of 5-6 point games with the odd double digit effort, but if you're looking for value, you'll probably want to go elsewhere.
Status: Buy if you have deep pockets but I'd like to see more of a goal threat before getting involved

David Silva 6 Silva is another player I'd like to get behind but his zero xG this week marked the second time in three weeks he's failed to register a singe shot on goal. His assist potential remains as good as anyone but without at least a handful of goals to supplement that production, he again starts to look like a slightly better version of Pienaar (or A.Young) rather than a truly elite option. He has shown an ability to generate goals though and after big games against Fulham (five shots), Villa (three) and Man Utd (three), we know he has the potential there to succeed. I thought perhaps that Silva's lack of playing time in the middle behind a lone front man might be the issue, but Mancini went with two forwards in all three of those games so there's more to it than that. Silva is too good a player to simply write off and City have still plenty of room to improve, but at the moment he's accounting for a smallish piece of a medium sized pie and to justify his price tag he really needs to either up his share or City need to increase their total output.
Status: Monitor

Jack Wilshere 1
With zero assists or clean sheets to date, Wilshere's hardly a player that fantasy managers will be clamoring to buy this week, but there is something here to at least look at. Wilshere often gets involved in Arsenal's attacks and brings a very good assist potential for a player of his price. I'm not sure the goals will come with any regularity, but good assist numbers with the odd goal makes him a potential alternative to other one category players like Pienaar or Nolan.
Status: Too soon to invest yet, but his talent makes him worth monitoring

Carlos Tevez 2 
I had some questions about his playing time (which aren't fully subsided yet) but Tevez continues to do well and put up another good xG score this week. To date he's put up better xG than Aguero and given his price tag, he obviously remains a worthy asset. Of the two, I favor Aguero given what I perceive to be a greater upside along with his considerably lower ownership, though if you're out in front in your own leagues, those factors may be less attractive to you and thus the cost saving might be worth it.
Status: Buy

Emmanuel Adebayor 2
Villas Boas is apparently quite pleased with the progress of the 4-4-2, which would certainly make Adebayor a more attractive option for the second half of the season. We don't have too much to go on yet so he remains a speculative play at best, but with the some of the shine coming off players like Berbatov and Jelavic, Adebayor should at least be sliding onto our watchlist.
Status: Monitor

Jonjo Shelvey 1
Shelvey delivered some promising stats this week in just 45 minutes and has done okay when played this year, sometimes in a quite advanced role. However, you have to feel that Liverpool are going to strengthen in the transfer window and with other options already available I don't see Shelvey's minutes being consistent enough to justify his purchase.
Status: Sell

Djibril Cisse 2
A big game here for Cisse was unfortunately not rewarded with any points but if he continues to deliver shots on this level, the goals are sure to follow soon. With Mackie pushed out wide and a number of other forwards injured, Cisse might have a free ride to a consistent role up front and thus deserves fantasy consideration. While it's tough to put him ahead of others in his price range like Benteke, Lambert or Kone, his goal potential is unquestionable, especially if his G/SoT regresses in the coming weeks. QPR's fixtures are solid rather than spectacular but given Cisse's 1.1% ownership, he's certainly worth a look.
Status: Monitor, or a very speculative buy

Luis Suarez 1
We know that Suarez sometimes has difficulty converting his shots at a league average rate, so we'd expect him to underperform his xG, but if he keeps churning out seven shot games I have no doubt the fantasy points will continue to flow.
Status: Buy