Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 21

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.

Luis Suarez
Suarez has been simply outstanding of late and the consistency shown in his xG chart is almost without precedent (even compared to the great van Persie). His points production has been better away from Anfield this year but his home stats are actually slightly better and there's no reason to question him anywhere. That said, two dark clouds loom on Suarez's horizon which might surprisingly make him a potential 'sell'. First, it's simply the tough fixtures that Liverpool have coming up, which sees them travel to Old Trafford, the Emirates and the Etihad in the next four weeks. Suarez has already notched goals against City, Chelsea and Everton this year so we're not saying he can't have success in these games, just that in terms of probable outcomes, your chances of a big performance are reduced. The model isn't necessarily scared by these games, but again, the numbers are more in the range of a Berbatov/Benteke type player for the next four games, rather than pushing the elite as Suarez would normally be expected to do.

The second potential issue doesn't concern me too much, and that's the arrival of Daniel Sturridge. My initial assumption was that the talk of Sturridge demanding to play through the middle was overblown but Rodgers said he's willing to move Suarez "for the good of the team" and noted that Sturridge's "best position is as a central striker". Perhaps Suarez' shot totals decrease a bit in a deeper role, but as with Rooney earlier in the year, the fact he starts deeper for a given move is hardly evidence he won't get his chances, and often that kind of role can lead to arriving in the box at the perfect time to get the best quality of shots. The fact that Suarez is prone to being a bit greedy is also a bonus here as you have to think that wherever he plays he'll get his chances and an improvement to Liverpool's strength and depth is surely a net benefit (or at least a break even) to Suarez's fortunes. 
Status: I'm happy owning Suarez if you have other needs to address and don't plan to wildcard, especially given the juicy Norwich (H) in the middle of those tougher games. However, if you are wildcarding this week or have transfers to spare, it makes sense to lose Suarez for four weeks and then buy him back in GW26 after which the fixtures look like smooth sailing

Robin van Persie
van Persie stole the highlights this week with a beautifully taken goal against Wigan, though his stats for the week were actually a little lower than we've seen in prior weeks. Perhaps he regresses a bit, perhaps his ability alongside great players makes him less likely to; either way he's going to rack up huge points: a fact that has never been in issue. The fact that he was matched by Suarez (almost 4.0m less) and Aguero (3.0m less) once again came close gives us some confidence that you can succeed without the Dutchman, but as noted in this week's lineup lessons, I believe that task becomes harder with both Aguero and Rooney sidelined. If you can comfortably own him and have a lead in your league I don't blame you for holding steady (indeed that's the optimal strategy) but if you need to make up some ground, I believe there are ways to do so without van Persie and wiping 14m off your budget and then competing with just 10 men every week likely isn't up there with the best of them.
Status: Buy, but as a weekly reminder, if you need to make up ground on people, you need to consider if there's an alternative way to invest your 14.0m

Javier Hernandez
I would love to put a huge buy stamp on Hernandez, and if you look at the data (which basically puts him alongside van Persie) it might still be worth the risk even if we believe he might not play every week. If there was a game this week we'd have two weeks without Rooney and thus Hernandez could well be worth the risk but for just one week, plus the added risk of a fit again Kagawa playing off van Persie, I think you have to side with a steadier option like Berbatov, or try and target the double gameweek with a Giroud or Podoloski play.
Status: If you're wildcarding this week it's not a bad idea to plug him in for one week and then keep him for a second if Rooney proves not to be fit, but otherwise it doesn't seem wise to use two transfers here to get him for  a limited spell. 

Mark Noble
Penalty duties are a great asset for a player to have but if the majority of your value is tied up in them it doesn't bode well. Noble has yet to register a shot on target from open play this year so unless you plan to start him every week and hope West Ham get another four penalties in the second half, you can probably do better, even for a player of his budget price tag.
Status: Sell

Sergio Aguero
I've been high on Aguero for some time and it's been good to see his points production start to catch up with his impressive stat sheet. The hamstring injury is therefore a big blow, though it doesn't look too bad and came at a good time with the FA Cup game this week followed by a tricky trip to Arsenal in GW22. After that the fixtures look great and, if fit, I genuinely believe Aguero can not only produce enough points to justify a 3.0m discount on van Persie but can come close to matching him on a weekly basis (not level, but close). If you're wildcarding this week you may as well sell Aguero as you can't be sat on a profit. If not, you really need to assess what you think Mancini will do and how long you believe Aguero will miss. With Tevez, Dzeko and Balotelli ready to fill in he doesn't have to be rushed back so I wouldn't be too surprised to see him start on the bench in GW22/23, and thus if you can spare transfers it's worth looking at alternatives for a short loan spell (though with Rooney injured, Suarez facing touh fixtures and Ba/Torres suddenly in a position battle it isn't immediately obvious who that would be). 
Status: Long term he remains a strong buy but if you have the freedom to get out then back in in a few weeks, I'd make that move and save yourself the headache of 10 days turning into a three week absence

Christian Benteke
I like Benteke a lot and consider him very ownable so any concerns I have should not detract from his overall promising profile. However, it needs to be mentioned that nothing has really changed in Benteke's profile of late, other than the number of SoT becoming goals, and as we've seen before, those kind of drastic changes generally tend to regress back to the mean over a longer period of time. His xG data suggests he's getting some chances though not enough to generate consisently great returns and the fact that Villa have been shut out in six of the last 10 games is going to make Benteke a 'feast-or-famine' type player, making it harder to own him unless you plan to do so for a longer period of time and play him every week (for fear of missing one of those big games). That said, that same criticism can be levelled at most players from weaker sides and for 6.7m we shouldn't be expecting consistently great production. 

Given the strength of the immediate fixtures (SOU, @WBA, NEW) it seems sensible to stick with Benteke for the short term, but once the fixtures take a turn for the worse, Villa's lack of overall ability will likely impact Benteke to the point where one of the other promising mid-level options becomes more attractive. 
Status: Hold, or short term but but start making plans to move on from GW25 onwards

Andreas Weimann
The same logic for Benteke applies here, though with Weimann taking a smaller piece of that already small pie, it's going to be even harder for him to succeed. If you're sticking with a budget forward he's close to bring as good as it gets (though K.Jones looks better based on his small sample and Graham has been great recently) and his last five games have seen his generate three very promising stat performances. Agbonlahor looks like he could be back soon which adds an air of uncertainty to his future and thus I find it hard to vault him over the likes of Ruiz or Di Santo who bring an added level of job security to go with their decent upside.
Status: Monitor to see if he can hold off Agbonlahor but otherwise this looks too risky for the modest upside

Steven Gerrard
It's pretty safe to say that fantasy managers are not at all convinced by Gerrard's revival as despite climbing up to third among all midfielders in points, he still finds himself with just a 6% ownership. Before Sturridge arrived I was starting to come round on Gerrard (though probably not to a degree I'd happily have slapped a buy tag on him) but now I'm even less sure. If Sturridge plays up top with Suarez behind then Gerrard will either have to play 'out wide' or as one of the two pivot midfielders, neither of which would suggest the kind of points required to justify a 9.4m investment given Gerrard's relative strengths. It's possible that Suarez lines up wider and allowed Gerrard to play in that hole, which would be more promising, but this uncertainty is just another reason not to get overly excited despite Gerrard's excellent recent points haul.

Gerrard's dashboard has some interesting patterns, and we can see that he's been taking more of his shots inside the box (SiB%) and thus his share of Liverpool's SiBs has also increased (pSiB%). This still leaves some somewhat mediocre xG numbers though and with a potentially deeper or wider role suggesting his shots may well come from further out once more, I don't see enough here to put him in the same class as Bale, Mata, Cazorla etc
Status: Monitor his role but it's tough to see him justifying that price tag with any consistency

Alex Kacaniklic
When he's played he's put up good fantasy numbers but with such sporadic playing time and minutes it's impossible to draw any reliable conclusions based on the data and thus a play here would be one rooted in speculation. Given his talent and price tag there's worse players to speculate on but I'd like to see him start two or three games in a row before getting involved.
Status: Monitor

Gaston Ramirez
Big things were expected of Ramirez yet while his points production has actually been solid when healthy, like this week's haul, they often haven't been backed up by good underlying stats and thus it's very hard to suggest Ramirez offers anything more than Puncheon, who comes at a 0.7m discount. Ramirez's ownership number (0.5%) is attractive though and there's enough talent here to potentially make him fantasy relevant but  with his assist data falling off a cliff and no real improvement in goal threat to compensate, he doesn't look like a player poised for a huge second half right now.
Status: There's sufficient talent and opportunity for Ramirez to succeed so he's worthy monitoring but, again, picking him at this stage is based on historic speculation rather than anything he's really achieved to date

Wayne Routledge
Routledge isn't without some charms, given his ability to come in with the odd big game, but his underlying stats have really suffered of late, often due to the return of Hernandez, and the minutes Graham has been getting, which has pushed Routledge deeper into midfield. In a vacuum he's probably just about ownable but if you want to grab someone in this Swansea side other than Michu, Hernandez is looking like the better prospect for the second half.
Status: Sell, though I wouldn't say it's time to make a panic move yet

Dimitar Berbatov
After some up-and-down performances during GW14-18, Berbatov seems to be back on track, though it's likely this is still in part due to the changing strength of schedule. That leaves some question marks over what happens in the coming weeks as Fulham face both Manchester teams in the next four weeks. The model data doesn't look great for the Bulgarian, but he's still one of the better mid-level options and other immediate options don't look obvious, unless you have scope to perhaps plug someone like Benteke in for four weeks and then move back to Berbatov when the fixtures clear up somewhat. A move like that is probably optimal but Berbatov at least has some good games coming up so for his price I'd still be okay just accepting the lower returns and concentrating on other areas of the team.
Status: Hold, but if you don't own I might consider delaying your purchase to avoid those tough fixtures.

Raheem Sterling
I like Sterling quite a lot and he's been of the better finds in fantasy this year, but the concerns for the second half out weigh any upside and thus I consider him to be very sellable. His age and lack of experience with long seasons is going to catch up with him in terms of either being rested (which has already started to happen) or a decline in form due to fatigue. The arrival of Sturridge makes him a lot easier to drop, and one wouldn't be surprised to see more arrivals at Anfield in the next month too. Throw in Liverpool's extremely tough fixture list and Sterling's large ownership base and you have the recipe for a player whose production will likely slow and who's price could accordingly suffer.
Status: Sell

Adel Taarabt
We were hoping that under Redknapp Taarabt might be forced to take more sensible shots, but the charts in his player dashboard show him percentage of shots inside the box (SiB%) in steady decline, which has also led to a decrease n the percentage of QPR's SiB he accounts for (pSiB%). Nominally he played as a forward against Chelsea but he didn't touch the ball in the opponent's box and while his assist was a nice touch, it was hardly a defense splitting pass: the type which shows a repeatable influence in a side's play. Three of QPR's next four home games see them face tough opponents (TOT, MCI and MUN) and thus Taarabt's upside really looks pretty limited, barring some kind of impact arrival at Loftus Road to turn this side around.
Status: Sell and continue to monitor

Shaun Wright-Phillips
If I'm selling Taarabt then Wright-Phillips has no chance. From limited viewings this year I'd say that Wright-Phillips is currently trading on name rather than end product.
Status: Sell

Emmanuel Adebayor
Statistically Adebayor is an interesting case as he's sometimes being deployed deeper than we might expect but is puttng up decent stats and has the potential as a differentiator (even if he is a bit pricey). However, we still aren't sure if he's going to the African Cup on Nations or not and thus t's impossible to buy in just yet. If he stays we can take another look in a week or so.
Status: Sell

Victor Anichebe
I really like Anichebe and if I was a side looking for help up front, I might be placing a call to Goodison to see just how much Everton want to hold onto him. However, fantasy football is as much about opportunity as talent sometimes and with Fellaini back and Everton boasting a number of options included Jelavic, Mirallas and Naismith, it's impossible to forecast Anichebe to get enough playing time to contribute under the current circumstances.
Status: Sell

James Milner
When Nasri returns from suspension Milner will likely once again become a fringe player, and even that's assuming City don't further strengthen in January.
Status: Sell

Bryan Ruiz
Ruiz is a good player and has looked better this year after a slow start to his Fulham career, but he simply doesn't look like scoring with just two SiB since his return from injury (in 225 minutes) and while the chances created are great (seven), Fulham are converting them at a 16% clip which gives him a predicted one assist for two and a half games: not really a points haul to get you overly excited. For a sub 5.5m forward you can't expect too much and if you're stuck with needing a player in that role Ruiz deserves consideration, but his upside is really limited and I'd try and move money around before settling on the Costa Rican. 
Status: Buy as one of the best budget forwards but given his limited upside I'd try and free up some cash to upgrade to someone like Lambert if possible

Theo Walcott
After an explosive start to his career up front Walcott was kept quiet in this one and was somewhat fortuitous to get away from the game with a good points haul. That said, the fact he is taking set pieces is going gives him a higher likelihood of getting some of that fortune and given the way his other games have gone of late, I'm not going to be too down on him after one poor Arsenal display. The upcoming fixtures are very good, especially as the double gameweek now negates that tricky trip to Chelsea and barring any changes, Walcott looks as well placed as anyone to take advantage of them.
Status: Buy

Clint Dempsey
With Spurs playing that 4-4-2 system (or, Adebayor playing in a 4-2-3-1 however you look at it), Dempsey's chances have been limited of late. If Adebayor does indeed go on tour with Togo, Dempsey might see some more action, but even then he faces stiff competition from Sigurdsson and I'm not too excited to pair moderate upside with job insecurity and a high price tag.
Status: Sell but monitor his playing time

Danny Graham
Graham has looked very sharp over the last two games, adding nine shots (all in the box) and hitting the target six times, trailing only Aguero and Suarez. Graham. Michu and Hernandez looks like a very promising front trio and gives the team a better balance than they get when Michu is flanked by two smaller midfield options from the Hernandez, Dyer and Routledge group. Given his goals you'd imagine Graham will get more chances to play in the coming weeks and at 5.4m could be a very solid option, with higher upside that the aforementioned Ruiz and Weimann. He brings no threat of assists to accompany his goals so his points production is likely to be spiky and the upcoming fixtures don't really make the mouth water, hence I'm hesitant to be overly enthusiastic here. Still, he's a solid player in a good situation with a good price tag so he deserves some closer looks in the next few weeks.
Status: Monitor

Romelu Lukaku
There's only so many ways to write the same thing every week so I'm taking a break this week. Please, Steve Clarke, commit to Lukaku and play him every week, or at least with some regularity. He has played three of the last four so perhaps we're close (he says naively before Lukaku is benched next week).
Status: Monitor

Pavel Pogrebnyak
I don't care how cheap you are; four games in the last five with either zero or one shot does not make someone a viable option. I fear greatly for this Reading side and Pogrebnyak doesn't appear to have the answers to get them out of trouble.
Status: Sell

David Silva
Silva clearly has the ability to be a dominant fantasy player but unlike teammate Aguero - who has been unlucky with shot conversion and injuries this season - Silva really doesn't have much to argue about: his underlying stats just aren't that great. He still brings a sold goal threat but while his assist potential has been good enough at times to compensate, it's taken a sharp decline in recent weeks and there's just not enough here at the moment to (a) justify that price tag, and, perhaps more importantly, (b) justify choosing him over the likes of Bale, Cazorla or or Mata.
Status: Monitor based on talent but I wouldn't be getting involved here without a significant change in the data

The below players enjoyed good statistical days but didn't see the points come their way:

For a while it looked like Oscar might emerge as the best value midfielder in this Chelsea side, but he hasn't really been able to capitalise on some early season form and with Lampard's apparent rejuvenation combined with the arrival of Demba Ba, Oscar's playing time looks to be very much in trouble. There's certainly enough talent here for Oscar to contribute, but without any kind of playing time assurance we can't even begin to get involved here.
Status: Monitor his playing time out of respect for his talent, but we're quite a way from suggesting he's close to ownable.

Jermaine Defoe
I wasn't convinced Defoe would still be in the team by this point in the season but with Adebayor potentially heading to warmer climates for the next month, he once again looks like a steady option at the pinnacle of this useful Spurs team. If I was being picky looking at the last couple of games I'd flag the fact that six of his last ten shots have been from outside the box, but a quick look at his SiB% shows only a very slight decline and he's still sat at over 50%, which is good enough given the sheer volume of shots he takes. The upcoming games look okay in terms of opponent but with four away games and a visit of Man Utd in the next six, Defoe's upside looks somewhat marginal (as evidenced by the model's forecast of essentially four point games every week).
Status: Hold. I've no problem owning Defoe right now but at 8.5m you can probably find better upside somewhere else if you have the flexibility to make moves.

It's not often that Michu underperforms his stats, and for most of this season we've been drawing attention to the fact he's been outperforming them. Over the last four appearances, Michu has still managed to rack up 13 shots (eight SiB) so I don't have any concerns that the points will continue to flow, but I would once again (I know, broken record) suggest that this (one goal every three or four games) is the kind of production we can expect and if you're pencilling him in to double his first half points, I believe you'll be sorely disappointed. Whether or not a more moderate level of production can justify a 8.2m price tag depends somewhat on the depth of your pockets, though the presence of Walcott above him in the shot department, along with other developing options like Young or even cheaper teammate Hernandez, suggests Michu isn't perhaps the obvious candidate some are suggesting.
Status: Definitely hold, and probably buy based on the immediate fixtures but long term I still have some concerns about what you're getting for your investment.


Barrelhouse Flat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B,E0N said...

You say to sell Anichebe but I mean he's priced at 4.3. Find someone better to fill a roster spot (third forward especially) for that price. Relying on him is one thing, but holding him on a roster is another. I think he is one of the most ownable players in the whole league.

Tom Shaw said...

Hi, first time I've commented. Excellent Blog, check it just about every day. My next big decision (not in life haha!) is when to Wildcard. Given the two double gameweeks on the horizon I'm tempted to wildcard now and fill my team with Arsenal, Chelsea and Westham players to take advantage. Then pull them out one by one with gameweek transfers. What do you think?