Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gameweek 36 Preview

We've already talked in some detail about specfic players to target this week, with the below data supplementing that analysis:

Clean Sheet Forecast Data

Attacking Forecast Data

Individual Forecast Data

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gameweek 36 double gameweek advanced preview

It's been increasingly hard to differentiate our teams of late, and those who tried to do just that without van Persie these past couple of weeks were burned with a couple of 16+ point performances. All is not lost though, and the fixture Gods have dished out one last chance to gain some ground on your opponents, or, one last offensive to repel, depending on your position within your respective mini-leagues.

That position is going to dictate your strategy and so we need to dig a bit deeper than simply trying to maximize the points in the '36' column on the forecast charts (if indeed you believe any of the forecast on this lowly blog). First then, let's look at the main options, their forecast points and ownership numbers:

The first obvious point is that not all double gameweeks are created equal and some caution should be exercised about piling on players from Chelsea, and to an extent Swansea, given the relative strength of their opponents in gameweek 36. Mata and Hazard owners will obviously be pleased with the extra fixture and thus you would certainly lean towards keeping that pair over someone like Cazorla or Gerrard, but with one fixture coming at Old Trafford and the other seeing Tottenham come to Stamford Bridge, the ceiling (if not the floor) of the Chelsea players is somewhat limited.

The second general point to note is that a large number of the best options for the double gameweek are already owned by 15%+ managers. Again then, choosing your options is going to depend on whether you need to gain/defend ground, so for each team we're going to highlight picks for each instance.

Finally, I am putting defensive options to one side here, as the strategy there is much simpler (chase the lower expected goals conceded numbers and do with the cheapest defensive option available in each respective team).

The Elite
Chelsea - @MUN, TOT
With three genuinely elite and widely held options in Ba, Mata and Hazard, Chelsea will play a big role in GW36's double gameweeks, though the strength of those fixtures really leads me to push them down the list of desired targets. If you already own them, it's almost certainly worth holding on, but otherwise it looks like a move which carries a higher floor than normal, but a ceiling which doesn't particularly inspire.

If you're leading your league: If your key opponent holds one or more of this trio you might want to consider bringing them in, just to hedge against the possibility that both these fixtures turn into high scoring affairs (that could certainly happen at Old Trafford if United decide to play a very expansive game now the title is wrapped up). If that's the case, I would target Mata if you just want Chelsea cover, or whichever player your opponent holds if you're really trying to just hold on.

If you're chasing the pack: It's likely that your opponents own at least one of these players and this isn't where I would be targeting my transfers. Of course, if your opponents are stocked with City and Spurs players with no Chelsea coverage then the likes of Mata or Hazard make sense, but all else being equal I'd look to players with more upside than this group

Man City - @SWA, WBA
We have five potentially viable options here who are held by 5% of less of all managers, yet with City's form and Mancini's penchant for wholesale changes, I'm not sure I even feel confident picking who might play 120+ minutes, never mind who will enjoy predictable success.

If you're leading your league: There is less incentive to push the issue here so while you'll definitely want to look at Tevez - who probably grades out as the best safety/upside forward for the remainder of the season - there's probably little reason to get involved with the Aguero/Dzeko/Silva group, who all have the potential to succeed but are far from guaranteed playing time (in Silva's case more related to injury than rotation).

If you're chasing the pack: If you need to gain ground then one can make a pretty strong argument that you need to heavily invest in this City team. Unless your opponent is asleep at the wheel, they'll almost certainly have a couple of players from the Mata/Hazard/Bale/Tevez/Michu group so if you want to gain serious ground you'll need to either hit the jackpot with non-double gameweek picks, or roll the dice with a couple of the riskier double gameweekers. Tevez is the obvious pick, though too comes with significant ownership numbers, so that really just leaves Aguero and Silva (if you're going to take a flyer on City players, looking at mid level options like Milner or Yaya doesn't seem like the best way to use your transfers). There hasn't been much indication to date that they'll be ready for the West Ham game, so despite that appetizing fixture, you might be best served holding off this week then bringing that pair in for one last roll of the dice if they're cleared to play in GW36.

Tottenham - SOU, @CHE
Given the strength of that second fixture, I wouldn't try and press the issue here and would offer the same advice for everyone, whether leading or chasing the pack: buy Bale. He was a good buy option this week despite the slight injury risk, but having come through the City game unscathed, he now reclaims his spot as the best projected midfield option for the remainder of the year, and arguably the best combo of floor/ceiling among all players. Such is the strength of his forecast points, he looks like a good option to take a four point hit four, other than for Mata and Hazard whose own double gameweeks should keep things close.

With the uncertainty of everyone else's playing time, I believe there are better ways to use your remaining transfers than to chase anyone else from this team.

The Others
Swansea - MCI, @WIG
If Tottenham's team can be boiled down to one player than I don't know to communicate the gulf in class between Michu and the next player in this Swansea side. They could end the season with five midfielders with over 100 points, yet none of them outside Michu have really offered anything approaching consistent returns despite flashing promise at various times this year.

If you're leading your league:Bringing in Michu is probably a good defensive move given his huge ownership numbers, though I suspect that a portion of those owners will be teams who aren't currently active, as many of the 'busier' managers have moved the Spaniard on after a much quieter second half at the Liberty Stadium. While many are down on City, their defense is still pretty useful and they've only conceded more than once just eight times this year, with two of those coming back in August. The Wigan fixture looks more promising but then Swansea have been fairly miserable away from home of late and thus I wouldn't be expecting fireworks there either.

If you're chasing the pack: There's a chance that your opponents won't hold Michu of course, but it's likely that at least some of them do and that makes him a lot less attractive if you need to make a move. All things considered, you would obviously pick him over most (or all) players without a double gameweek, but I'd suggest the data shows he is one player you don't need to target and thus your precious transfers might be better used elsewhere if looking to differentiate.

As a defensive blocking option Michu makes a lot of sense, but be sure to understand the kind of (limited) ceiling you're buying into before paying a premium.

West Brom - WIG, @MCI
Along with Silva (if fit), Lukaku offers the best combination of points upside, job security and low ownership percentage, and thus should certainly be considered as a transfer target for GW36. For those needing replacements for Suarez or Giroud, or looking for greater upside than the likes of Benteke or Berbatov, you could do a lot worse than targeting Lukaku, starting this week with his trip to Southampton.

If you're leading your league: Lukaku does carry some risk as he does occasionally start on the bench, and with West Brom safe, there is at least some incentive to play Long as Lukaku looks set to return to Chelsea in the summer. With the low ownership numbers seen across this team, this might be one side to ignore if the onus is on your opponent to make ground on you.

If you're chasing the pack: Lukaku looks like a good player to back to differentiate your team, even if we're not crazy about the underlying data observed in his dashboard. It's a bit disconcerting that he hasn't yet netted against of the league's best teams so that trip to City starts to look like a two-pointer but you'd really fancy him at home to Wigan and the potential penalty duties do give him the chance to contribute against anyone. Despite that home game with Wigan, there really isn't too much to get excited about elsewhere in this team, so while you'd obviously play Morrison if you own him, I wouldn't be rushing out to bring him in given the other available options.

Wigan - @WBA, SWA
Wigan are possibly the hardest team to deal with for the double gameweek as they get some fairly favourable fixtures and have players able to take advantage, yet haven't really been able to play with any consistency so far this year. One plus is that the fixtures surrounding the double are also fairly useful with two home games (TOT and AVL) and then a tough trip to Arsenal.

If you're leading your league: As with the other non-elite teams, it's likely that the best pure-points-maximization strategies lie away from Wigan and you're almost certainly better served simply plugging Tevez in for Suarez or Bale for Cazorla, or whichever transfer blocks your opponents teams the best. While I'm a big fan of Maloney and Kone, there's a reason they're are owned by 5% or less managers and that lack of consistency makes them a risk you don't need to take if you're in a position of power.

If you're chasing the pack:If you need to take a risk then Kone, and to a lesser extent Maloney look like great options to try. Kone grades out slightly below Lukaku in terms of the model, but if you were going to give a range of outcomes, the mode might be higher for the Wigan man given the easier fixtures and the higher chance that Lukaku is benched or simply shut out against City. As for Maloney, he is sensational value at 5.1m, but the sticking point is that transfers are limited and his lower ceiling makes it harder to justify using a four-pointer on. If however things are desperate and you absolutely need to roll the dice, he looks like by far the best budget midfield play for the doubles.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gameweek 32 Preview

Clean Sheet Rankings

Attacking Rankings
Individual Rankings 
Note: Individual rankings are based on an historical average data model only and no account is taken of expected playing time or rotation risk. Where a players is confirmed as injured or suspended I endeavor to remove them for the below listings but assumptions regarding rotation are not otherwise included in the below analysis.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lineup Lessons: Gameweek 31

Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Gervinho, Cazorla, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Gibbs

Fabianski got the start between the sticks and despite conceding in what looked like a very promising defensive fixture, he'll represent tremendous value at the GK position if he can keep that job. I wouldn't bet on that for the long term but if your holding someone who looks playable in virtually every game remaining (like Begovic, for example) I'd be okay taking that risk as, if nothing else, it'll free some cash up rather than holding two 5.0m options, one of whom will possibly never play. I'm amazed how Podolski has been marginalised in the second half of the season but needless to say he, along with the other midfield/forward hybrid options don't look very ownable right now. Cazorla was a great play this week due to the fixture but I wouldn't get too carried away with his success as the underlying stats are still only so-so and he doesn't carry the kind of upside you get with Bale or possibly Mata. That said, the fixtures continue to look promising and in Walcott's absence he's the safest way to tap into this Arsenal side.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Sylla, Westwood, Bannan, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, N'Zogbia, Delph, Bowery, Dawkins, Lichaj

Not too much excitement here and N'Zogbia's place on the bench confirms his brief flash of fantasy relevance was merely a mirage. Somehow Benetke continues to put up excellent stats in this side and remains very ownable despite his lack of surrounding talent (though to be fair Weimann and Agbonlahor are a decent duo).

Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand, Mikel, Lampard, Moses, Oscar, Marin, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Luiz, Ramires, Hazard, Benayoun, Ba

Benitez was up to his old tricks, rotating Hazard, Mata, Ba and Cole with one eye on the upcoming FA Cup fixture and his team was duly punished by a Southampton side who are continuing to impress after a shaky run of form threatened to drag them into the relegation fight. Given the fact they won the game, the future headaches are likely to continue (especially as they are also still in Europe), starting with the loss of their double gameweek in GW33. This may however provide an opportunity to mix and match assets to take advantage of more doubles, so long as sufficient planning is undertaken. They do play in Europe this week but the game is at Stamford Bridge, and after this week's loss at Southampton, one would imagine the majority of the fantasy stars will be restored this week. Despite his couple of goals of late, the uncertainty surrounding Ba's playing time prevents me from throwing him into that category I'm afraid.

Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Coleman, Gibson, Osman, Mirallas, Jelavic, Anichebe
Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Stones, Duffy

Without seeing the game it's hard to tell from average position charts, but I believe Everton spent at least part of this game with a back three, which fits their personnel quite nicely, allowing Heitinga and Distin to play, while avoiding the awkward shoe-horning of someone into that right back spot who doesn't really fit. The key for fantasy purposes would be Baines' potentially advanced role, though the data from this one game doesn't suggest a radical change. Everton's fixtures make me really question whether this move would be enough to compensate for a presumed reduction in defensive point potential.

Schwarzer, Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Karagounis, Sidwell, Dejagah, Ruiz, Berbatov
Subs: Etheridge, Frimpong, Richardson, Hughes, Rodallega, Frei, Emanuelson

Nothing really to note here with little interest in this team other than the usual suspects in defense and Dimitar continuing to Dimitar. Be careful with those fixtures though before penciling the Bulgarian in for the remainder of the year.

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

Sturridge starting on the bench was a real blow as he was forecast for a big game by the model but one certainly wouldn't expect that to be a trend and the former Chelsea man looks set to be a good play again this week. With other double gameweek options developing, it's possible that Sturridge is the better Liverpool front man to keep here, freeing up the Suarez-level money to use on the van Persie's of the world when playing twice in a week. Not too much else to note in this side, and while I've been impressed with Coutinho's on the field work, his underlying stats are underwhelming thus he remains a very speculative 7.0m flyer rather than a logical investment of mid level cash.

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

I've long given up speculating on this lineup and the thought of Aguero finishing the season with less playing time than Andreas Weimann and Jamie Mackie is enough to bring one to tears, but alas, Mancini has shown distain for winning games all year so let's move on. The team fared just fine without the Argentinian this week and have created a decent haul of chances of late, suggesting there's hope that some value can be squeezed from this team for the remainder of the season. You wouldn't want to invest this week of course with a trip to Old Trafford on deck but after that they face a fairly favourable schedule and if the team suggests they're ready to show their true talent they could represent some useful high end differentiation, particularly in Silva and Aguero (if he's played).

Man Utd
De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Anderson, Carrick, Young, Kagawa, Rooney
Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Cleverley, Powell, Welbeck

Widespread changes here, as expected, with the Chelsea game just two days later, so we shouldn't read much into any of these decisions. With United no longer competing on any other fronts, we will hopefully see the starters returned to the first team for the remainder of the year, though the fact that the title is also virtually over does increase the risk of players being given the odd game off to give youngsters their games or give players with single digit appearances enough games to earn a winners medal. The loss to Chelsea also guaranteed the double gameweeks for GW33, and the likes of van Persie will become hot topics in the next week or so.

Elliot, Simpson, Yanga-M'Biwa, S Taylor, Anita, Cabaye, Sissoko, Gutierrez, Obertan, Gouffran, Cisse
Subs: Harper, Perch, Good, Gosling, Birigimana, Marveaux, Campbell

At this point in the year, we would normally be concerned that a team like Newcastle might take their proverbial foot off the pedal with nothing left to play for, but after some poor results and form, they find themselves in a position where they're not technically safe from relegation. For fantasy purposes that is arguably a good thing as it ensures the team will continue to play hard, though that still doesn't answer the question of who one would want to target here. The starting lineup is pretty settled other than Obertan and Marveaux but finding value is still somewhat tricky.

Camp, Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, E Bennett, Hoolahan, Kamara
Subs: Steer, Whittaker, Holt, Fox, Becchio, Tierney, Tettey

We're seeing rotation up front between Holt, Kamara and Becchio, though with three starts in a row and some solid underlying stats, I would probably lean towards Kamara if pressed. Given his price (5.0m) and the arguable position that van Persie is a must own player for United' double, it's possible that he might have a place in our thoughts given a lack of too many other 5.0m options, especially given the home fixtures against Swansea and Reading in the next three weeks. The rest of this side is fairly predictable, though unfortunately so are the mediocre returns.

Julio Cesar, Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Traore, Townsend, Mbia, Jenas, Taarabt, Zamora, Remy 
Subs: Green, Park, Mackie, Granero, Onuoha, Ben Haim, Hoilett

Can we stop talking about this team yet? In reality their season is over, though Remy at least gives us fantasy fans something to talk about. 11 SiB in the last five games is a decent haul and offers promise for the final weeks of the season, starting this week with a home game against Wigan. If you're sat on a ~7.0m player and could use the extra million to significantly improve elsewhere I'd be interested in Remy, but considering the weakness of his team, I'd be hesitant to put too much faith in him continuing to score goals at his current rate.

Taylor, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey, Leigertwood, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu, Pogrebnyak
Subs: McCarthy, Gunter, Le Fondre, Hunt, McCleary, Morrison, Akpan

Remy stops us ignoring QPR altogether, while Reading's version of that player can't get in the first team. Bad news for them but good news for me as I don't need to waste any more precious kilobytes talking about this awful side.

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

Clyne and Puncheon appear to have been reinstated after brief absences and can probably both be owned again with confidence (though you'd be wanting to rely on them as good bench options rather than true every starters). Rodriguez has been putting up some very useful numbers of late and will be touched on in this week's fanning the flames while the rest of the team remains largely unchanged.

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

Wilson is possibly the best value defender in the game right now and his 1% ownership really just speaks to managers not reviewing all their options at the end of a long season. The 1.9m saving from Shawcross or 1.6m from Huth should be no brainers for the numerous managers who hold that useful pair. Not much to interest us on the attacking side of the pitch though, though at the least the main options are fairly entrenched in Pulis' weekly lineup.

Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose, N'Diaye, Gardner, Johnson, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham
Subs: Westwood, Kilgallon, Larsson, Colback, Mangane, Wickham, Mandron

With a new manager coming in it's tough to make any assumptions about long term playing time, but looking at the bench suggests that there aren't a great deal of options for Di Canio to opt for.

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

Nothing happening here and despite the double in GW36, the upcoming fixtures for Swansea paired with a lack of need to win games makes me nervous about grabbing anyone from this side.

Friedel, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton, Parker, Dembele, Bale, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Adebayor
Subs: Archer, Assou-Ekotto, Caulker, Livermore, Holtby, Huddlestone, Defoe

We'll keep an eye on that Assou Ekotto situation but I would expect him to be restored this week and wouldn't suggest Naughton will be a long term option. Regardless, Dawson is the pick here given his combination of security and price tag. The front options all look pretty safe in this side though with Defoe lurking it's always tough to categorically state that Sigurdsson or even Adebayor won't be rotated every now and then. The other wordly Bale however looks undroppable and the bye in GW33 may warrant suffering through given his form and the promising remaining fixtures after the off week.

West Ham
Jaaskelainen, Reid, O'Brien, Collins, Demel, Nolan, Jarvis, Diame, O'Neil, Carroll, Vaz Te
Subs: Henderson, McCartney, Tomkins, Collison, Taylor, C Cole, Chamakh

No lineup notes here, though we do need to talk about Carroll in more depth, who has put up some very solid numbers since returning from injury six weeks ago. He'll miss this week's trip to Anfield due to the terms of his loan deal but might represent a sneaky option (though still overpriced) for the final stages of the season.

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

No real issues here either and it's good to once again see Long and Lukaku deployed together. With little left to play for there is a twinge of doubt in my mind that Clarke may start leaning towards playing Long over Lukaku given the fact that the Chelsea man will not be returning next season, but for now that point seems moot.

Robles, Scharner, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, Gomez, Beausejour, Maloney, McManaman, Kone
Subs: Al Habsi, Caldwell, Di Santo, Henriquez, McArthur, Espinoza, Stam

I am personally amazed that Robles is holding off Al Habsi in goal, as I consider the latter to be one the better 'keepers in the league. Robles' 4.0m price tag makes him viable as a rotation/bench option, though I'd have serious concerns about assuming that number one shirt is his to keep. Though we are seeing some decent reliability in this lineup, it's still hard to see value outside of the much fancied pair of Kone and Maloney.