Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dousing the fire, fanning the flames: Gameweek 23

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.

Theo Walcott
There's nothing not to like here especially as Walcott was able to show against West Ham that he can still be an extremely fantasy asset alongside Giroud and he doesn't need to be in the solo front man role. The discount he brought to the table over the likes of Mata and Cazorla is of course now gone, but even at this higher price he remains excellent value for money. With the potential conflict of his contract situation now also behind us, I see no reason - statistical or otherwse - to doubt Walcott's fantasy value.
Status: Buy

Lukas Podolski
The data really doesn't backup what Podolski is doing, though I do believe he - along with the likes of van Persie - are over performing versus the model due to (a) superior ability and (b) a higher quality of chance received. That said, aside from two big games in GW17-18 against Wigan and Reading, he's only managed to notch more than two total shots in a game once and has just a single game (GW4) where he hit the target more than once. Podolski is a very good player and one of the better finishers in the league but those kind of numbers are always going to limit his upside and now the double gameweek is behind us, it's probably time to move on, even if the upcoming games do look useful on paper.
Status: Sell, though the next couple of games at least come at the Emirates suggesting this move isn't a huge priority

David Silva
First things first: on a personal biased level I love David Silva. I love watching him play, I love the fact that he's a genuinely world class player in the Premier League and I love the fact he does his work on the right side of Manchester. I've been dying to get behind him in these very electronic pages, and yet now I have the perfect chance, I'm somewhat lukewarm in the upcoming praise. His numbers are solid, perhaps even good, but the model puts him behind Mata, Bale, Walcott, Cazorla, Hazard and even Fellaini, and I'm not sure there's too much scope to argue based on not just the results (all those players trump Silva in points to date) but also the process in generating those points.

Now, I always say I'm much more willing to take risks on genuinely talented players even when the numbers aren't necessarily screaming 'buy', and Silva certainly fits that role, yet City place just fourth in forecast goals over the next eight gameweeks, without too many fixtures which suggest a huge points haul for the Spaniard. We do need to note, of course, that of those aforementioned six players, all are currently held by between 17-34% of all managers, with Silva coming in with just 6%. So if you're looking to really push the limits with differentiators he is certainly one of the few players not held by the masses who is capable of genuinely elite points totals, yet, if I had to choice one or two of these players to target, I would still lean towards Rooney or Aguero over the Spanish maestro, simply based on the lack of upsude his underlying stats have shown this year. He's extremely ownable and along with that aforementioned group of six players and Michu forms a group of midfielders who have really distanced themselves from the pack and will likely form the basis of the majority of midfields from here on in. It's tempting to try and get away from the masses but I'm not really convinced this is the right place to do it, unless you really need to start making up ground, and fast.
Status: Monitor for signs of improvement but until I see a bit more in terms of goal threat he remains a very good fantasy asset priced like an elite one.

Jonathan de Guzman
As a Canadian resident I am supposed to downplay de Guzman's abilities as he isn't too popular on these shores given his constant refusal to accept a place in the national side. However, his underlying stats are pretty solid and so I'm putting aside my new loyalties to try and be objective. He's getting a healthy, though inconsistent amount of shots over the last few weeks, often boosted by his set piece duties, though these of course will be outside the box, thus providing a substantially lower goal threat. The lack of assist potential is a concern though and if we believe his potential is largely limited to scoring goals (rather than assists) this puts him against the likes of Puncheon, Marveaux and teammate Hernandez, two of which come at a substantial discount. His ownership number makes de Guzman worth looking at but I'm not sure I see the potential here to justify him being anything more than a 5th midfielder gamble.
Status: Monitor

Oliver Giroud
The data has been good when played, but with Walcott looking good up top and a number of options ready to supplement the team in midfield, Giroud's playing time looks like it could continue to be sporadic.
Status: Sell

Steven Fletcher
Fletcher continues to tick along at a decent rate, though his 12 total shots (10 SiB, 7 SoT) aren't overly encouraging. Saying that though, it makes no sense at all to sell Fletcher as he faces a nice run of games over the next seven weeks or so and given his solid returns he could even be a 'buy' for that period. I thought his ownership number would be an issue but I'm slightly surprised to see it down at 6%, so there's really no need to force the issue looking at more speculative names given Fletcher's proven history. The model isn't crazy about Fletcher's prospects, preferring the like of Benteke, Lambert and Berbatov, but it's close enough to be arguable and only Benteke comes as a real differentiator from that group.
Status: Buy for the fixtures, stay for the consistent returns

Santi Cazorla
Cazorla had been taking a lot less shots on goal of late so it was good to see him notch nine attempts over the two games this week. The fact that only three came inside the box puts a slight dent in out enthusiasm, but still, it's a good start considering four total efforts he'd managed over the last four gameweeks. The model likes Cazorla to continue his success and now Walcott's price and ownership numbers have risen, that choice is essentially a toss up. If pushed I'd still probably favour Mata and Bale in the elite midfield group, while Walcott's value is probably a touch higher that the model says, as that data is largely based on him playing out wide, thus as good as Cazorla looks, he might be the fourth best option in a  group where most teams can afford at most three players.
Status: Buy, though I would personally favour a couple of other options

Adam Le Fondre
I won't dwell here. Statistically Le Fondre is Reading's best forward, perhaps player, but he isn't getting regular minutes so, alas, remains unownable.
Status: Sell for now, though monitor

Joe Cole
I can't say I was ever a huge fan of Cole's work, though he joins an officiant West Ham team that generates a lot of chances inside the box, at least some of which should fall Cole's way. He may also get to create some of them via set pieces and open play, giving him the ability to contribute in all categories. At 5.6m he's an interesting prospect and one who we should monitor closely over the next couple of games. It's too early for me to get involved just yet, though the upcoming games do offer some promise for those looking to differentiate.
Status: Monitor, or a very speculative but logical buy

Jordan Henderson
This isn't as laughable as you might think but even though Henderson has been okay on occasion, his playing time is still far from guaranteed and the limited upside doesn't come close to offsetting that risk.
Status: Sell

Christian Benteke
There really is a lot to like here and Benteke can stake a pretty strong claim to being the best mid-level forward available. What I really like about Benteke's stats of late are how is really punishing the weaker teams, which makes him easier to start and bench if your squad depth lends itself to such a strategy. Over the last 10 games Benteke has faced five 'easier' teams (RDG, QPR, WIG, SWA and SOU) and he's notched shot totals of 7, 6, 4, 3 and then a lone poor game with just a single shot at QPR. The upcoming games are good enough for Benteke to succeed and his 3% ownership number makes him one of the players with genuine upside not already held by the masses.
Status: Buy

Yohann Cabaye
After a uneventful return to the side in GW22, Cabaye looked very good this week, adding five total shots with three on target (including a beauty of a free kick) and a couple of created chances. In a vacuum he's probably a bit overpriced given his lack of advanced play, but he's in a solid side, surrounded by good players and thus the chances should continue to come his way. He might not be the optimum play in his price bracket, but then constantly returning to the same old group of players who have already had success this year isn't doing you any favours either. He lacks of the upside of some freer scoring midfielders available at close to his price but he's also entrenched in this side and should get steady minutes and production from here on: a value not to be ignored.
Status: Tentative buy

Craig Gardner
Who can resist a defensively minded midfielder playing right back for mediocre team? Oh right, everyone. Status: Sell

Steve Gerrard
Gerrard is getting a healthy amount of shots but for a player in his price bracket we're seeing way too many of them coming from long range. With Sturridge now presumably in the first team, Gerrard will likely spend some time in a deeper role, further limiting his production and thus after a brief flirtation with staging an unlikely fantasy comeback I'm less enthused by his future and find it tough to put him in that elite group.
Status: Sell, based on the fixtures and a forecast decline over the longer term

Frank Lampard
The penalties are a bonus and Lampard can still get on the end of Chelsea moves when everything falls into place, but I worry that there's a lack of consistency in his potential here, not to mention the consistent threat of losing playing time to the likes of Oscar or even Ba, should he be asked to take a spot out wide, forcing either Mata or Hazard inside. The suspension to Hazard means the playing time should be okay for the next couple of weeks, but long term this still doesn't appear to represent an optimal use of 8.5m
Status: Long term sell, though he's a hold based on the assumed playing time in Hazard's absence

Juan Mata
Nothing to add here. Mata is great and while the underlying stats aren't always eye popping, they're more than enough to make him of the best players at any position in the league.
Status: Buy

Luis Suarez
After some concern about how Suarez would lineup with Sturridge on board, we got a number of positive answers, with Suarez managing three shots and a very promising five created chances. His days of notching seven shots every week could be limited, but provided the quality of shot is improving, his overall threat should continue as an impressive rate. Throw in that extra assist potential and I'm more than happy to keep Suarez very close to the top of the overall rankings.
Status: Buy

Robin van Persie
The Dutch man had one of his least impressive statistical games this week but after picking up just 6 points last week despite a monstrous 8 shot performance, I'll give him a pass for overachieving a bit this week. With Rooney and Aguero back to fitness we all face some questions whether we want to sell van Persie and use the 3.0m elsewhere but that's some ground that doesn't need retreading right now.
Status: Buy

Chris Brunt
Brunt looks to be firmly entrenched in this side and comes with a decent skill set, but if you're comparing him with James Morrison it's tough to really see much value here (though Morrison himself has lost some appeal given his new found penchant for only shooting from long range).
Status: Sell

Clint Dempsey
With Adebayor away Dempsey might see some extra playing time but its nowhere near secure enough for me to get involved here. Let me know if he moves to back Fulham before the transfer window closes.
Status: Sell

Charles N'Zogbia
Hello old friend, it's been a while. After back to back starts and, more importantly a couple of interesting stats, we can finally put N'Zogbia back on the collective radar after what seems like an eternity frozen out of Villa Park. Seven attempted dribbles (five successful) in just 67 minutes tells the tale of a player who has potentially recaptured some of his attacking confidence which saw him become a very useful asset during his time at Wigan. Those dribbles only turned into a couple of shots and three created chances but even that instantly makes him the second best option in this Villa side and one to watch more closely in the next game or so. He isn't dirt cheap at 5.8m and it's hard to see him suddenly generating the kind of points to make him a steal at that price but he has the potential to make an impact and is owned by no one (0.4%) so he's worth keeping in mind.
Status: Monitor

Gabriel Agbonlahor
We just said that N'Zogbia was the second option to look at in this Villa side, and for now, there isn't a third
Status: Sell

Carlton Cole
No guaranteed playing time without much upside doesn't excite anyone.
Status: Sell

Loic Remy
I haven't seen a great deal of Remy during his time at Marseille, though I've seen enough of him in a France shirt to convince me he can succeed in this league. Drafting anyone from this QPR side is a risk, as evidenced by some of the previous intrigue I've had for Taarabt and Cisse (both of whom have generally underwelmed in terms of points production), but as we've seen with Benteke and with players like Yakubu in the past; good players can have success in weaker teams, providing they are efficient with their chances. This doesn't mean we need them to convert at an unsustainable rate, just that if Remy is going to succeed he's going to need to get a high rate of quality chances and hit the target at an elite rate. There are of course a myriad of reasons not to look at someone like Remy and it goes without saying that if my life depended on it I would prefer Berbatov or probably Lambert and Benteke. However, at this stage of the season it's all about calculated risks and, though we don't have data to back it up, I believe Remy falls into this category. The fixtures make it a little tough to buy in here though as QPR face a mixture of very hard (MCI and MUN) and very solid (NOR and SWA) games over the next month. Perhaps we can just look at this as a period to review the French forward, targeting GW28 as a time we might want to recruit Remy for the final push if he continues to impress as he did on his debut.
Status: I'd like to say buy but the fixtures limit this one to a monitor

Adel Taarabt
There's really not much more to say about Taarabt. His stats are good (though too many shots are still being taken from long range) but for a number of reasons they aren't turning into fantasy points with any predictable consistency. He's still ownable and still brings a better upside than most of his peers but I'm wait and see how Remy fits into this side before getting too hyped up with Taarabt again.
Status: Monitor

Tom Cleverley
I'd love to get involved here and add another potential United player to our shortlists, but with Kagawa back in the frame (and having already played in one of those two pivot roles), Cleverly faces yet another threat to his playing time. Given his lack of upside when he does play there isn't enough here to warrant having a 5.6m midfielder sit every few weeks.
Status: Sell

Stewart Downing
I feel a little bad for Downing as after his finally started to show his worth to this Liverpool side, Sturridge comes along and occupies one of those front four positions, leaving Downing to compete with Sterling and Shelvey for just a single spot. I've suggested over the past few weeks that Sterling's playing time was bound to come down, so Downing should still get some games, but like with Cleverly, I'd like to see my mid level midfielders playing every week unless they offer extraordinary upside, which Downing doesn't. He would only appear to be viable if Sterling was to totally drop out of this team due to injury or simply being shut down for the year given his age.
Status: Sell

Adam Johnson
Johnson continues to deliver good points production but we've reach a point where his lack of underlying stats are a real concern. His last five games have seen him create 0-0-1-1-1 chances yet he's come away with a couple of assists, while his SoT totals of 1-1-0-1-0 hardly support his two goals either. He brings a secure playing spot and is involved in a lot of the good things Sunderland do, however, whether if you think you're buying a player who can consistently deliver 6-12 point performances on a regular basis I believe you're going to be disappointed. If money were no option I'd like Johnson given the above facts and his low ownership number but at 6.7m he just looks too pricey and t's hard to see how he's better than the rest of that ~6.0m group who come at a reasonable discount.
Status: Sell

If you were creating a list of players who would play the most minutes without making any other fantasy contributions, Lucas may well top it. In 671 minutes he's had one touch inside the opponents' penalty box and hasn't registered a single shot.
Status: Sell

Sylvain Marveaux
Marveaux is a really intriguing player who has caught the eye both on the field on the stat sheet in Ben Arfa and Cabaye's absence. With Cabaye back though and Gouffran, Sissoko and possibly Bony coming in, Newcastle suddenly look like they have a lot more depth and thus I fear for Marveauxs playing time for the coming weeks. Of that group (and admittedly not knowing much about Bony) he seems to be the most natural fit on the left wing, so at least until Ben Arfa returns he certainly could continue to play. For that reason I'm okay holding him, but I'd probably take the 'buy' sign off him, given the uncertainty we're seeing with his playing time.
Status: Hold and monitor

The points simply had to slow down after a ridiculous opening to the season, and that has indeed happened with 23 points over the last seven gameweeks (including one game spent on the sideline). The shots are still coming though, and are still focused inside the box, it's just that there being converted at a more normal rate. There's enough here to justify his price tag - which comes in a bracket without too many options - though given his ridiculous ownership number, anyone looking to make ground should strongly consider looking somewhere else. Michu was incredible value at 6.5m but assuming his conversion rates stay at this current league average rate, it's harder to say he's a steal at 8.4m and looks fairly priced.
Status: Hold, though consider looking elsewhere to differentiate

Peter Odemwingie
Odemwingie is a useful player but he can't be relied upon to play every week and the transfer rumours of him  leaving the club are possibly signs that he is seen as surplus to requirements.
Status: Sell

Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge is an exciting new addition to the available options and I'm surprised we haven't seen more managers flocking to him after a couple of early goals in his Liverpool career. It's tough to utilize too much data with Sturridge so we're working on speculation here, but Liverpool look like a very useful team and with Suarez next to him, Sturridge looks well placed to take advantage. There's good depth in that ~7.0m range of forwards but I'd be willing to take a bet on Sturridge if you want to go away from the more widely held options like Berbatov or Lambert.
Status: Buy

Rickie Lambert
No real status change here. Lambert possibly lacks the upside of some of the options available for slightly more money, but his penalty duties give him great consistency and by this point in the season I think it's safe to say that the chance of Southampton simply falling off a cliff is low. I wouldn't want to buy in to this team for the next four games given the fixtures but longer term I'd be happy to plug Lambert in as a third forward.
Status: Sell for the next four games but long term he's still very ownable


Matt Stone said...

Thanks for the excellent statistics based commentary as always Chris.

I'm looking to bring in Rooney this week, which will mean downgrading one of my midfielders:

Cazorla, Walcott, Bale, Mata.

Logic would be to drop an Arsenal player, but I'm finding it very hard to pick between them.

The ownsership levels are around the same, Walcott has a better position and higher threat, but I just can't bring myself to trust in his consistency after previous seasons. Thoughts?

Andy A said...

Hey Chris, I can't believe the quality of your blog is even better this year than last. I really appreciate the effort you put in, please keep it up!


I have used my wildcard this week and would love to know your thoughts on my current team:




Van Persie/Rooney/Le Fondre

By the looks of things I've veered towards the elite/scrubs imbalance strategy which is in stark contrast to my strategy earlier in the season. After the two tough games for Liverpool I may swap Rooney for Suarez and free up some cash to upgrade at the back.

What amendments would you make based on this team?

stooshermadness said...

@ Andy - the first thing I would ask is whether your budget guys rotate okay. Guys like Clyne, O'Brien, Davies, Puncheon, LeFondre. For instance, Swn(Davies) rotate H/A with Rdg, so I might look at Harte or Pearce over Wisdom. Second, I would definitely do Suarez (or Aguero) for Rooney/RvP. Liverpool's schedule looks good after the next 2 and Suarez has proved as good a FF asset as anybody this year and that frees up some cash to strengthen elsewhere. I might also think about Aguero instead of Rooney/RvP, which gives you an easy (c) choice every week since one of the 2 will be hme every week. Third, I'd take a look at your bench again - Nelsen leaves for Canada shortly, Wisdom is subject to Enrique's return, and Cerny of course doesn't play at all.
Hope that helps.

Andy A said...

Thanks Stoosher. You raised some really valid points. It was my plan to swap Rooney/RvP at some stage. The fixture against Soton seemed too appetising to turn down!

Aguero for Rooney (after this fixture) is a great shout, as is Wisdom for Harte or Pearce. I opted for Begovic/Mignolet rotation strategy at the beginning of the season, but it frustrated me so much when I'd have one on the bench and the other kept a clean sheet (even against the supposed stronger team). In the end I gave up!

I really appreciate your input.