Friday, December 13, 2013

Going streaking

Whether you're lucky enough to still have your original wildcard stashed away in your back pocket or not, as we approach the second wildcard window, it's worthwhile putting together a transfer plan to best exploit the fixtures on offer. We have at least four transfers before then (GW16-19) followed by the important period right after we play the wildcard, so with that in mind, let's try and identify a few fixture streaks during which we might want to target specific players.

For simplicity I've only looked at streaks of four gameweeks here. In reality we might want to dig deeper into streaks where you like three out of four games, or four out of six, but this is the starting point, for better or worse. Double gameweeks will also likely cause chaos at some point too, but without knowing where or when they'll strike, their impact is ignored for now.

The below table shows the expected goal total over the four highlighted games above or (below) the team average. So a score of -1.5 suggests that the model believes Arsenal will score 1.5 less goals over those four games than their average GPG to date would suggest (that GPG is based on actual goals scored/conceded, not regressed or expected goals).

I'm going to keep the analysis brief as this data really speaks for itself, but there are a few comments to make on a couple of these streaks.

Arsenal and Liverpool have been firm favourites of fantasy managers to date, yet appear to be risky investments in the immediate future based on the above (more on Arsenal in the longer term below). Both face three away games in the next four, including trips to the likes of the Etihad, Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane. Does this mean you should be targeting Suarez and Ramsey for sale? Probably not, as they still do very well in the weekly rankings, but the lesser players from those sides should be considered expendable, particularly on the defensive end of the pitch.

Sunderland look like they enjoy incredibly easy fixtures as they're forecast to well exceed their goals scored and conceded tallies to date. However, this is more a product of the model thinking they've been somewhat unfortunate to date rather than the fixtures being unbelievably favourable. Saying that, over the next eight gameweeks they do get a number of promising fixtures (NOR, @CAR, AVL, @FUL, SOU, STK) so players such as Giaccherini or Johnson could make useful 4th midfielder types in paired with the right complementary piece.

The model loves Arsenal after GW19, and well it might given their fixture list of @NEW, CAR, @AVL, FUL, @SOU and CRY. This is one situation when careful planning is required, as to potentially get a 1.5 goal bonus on top of the excellent form this team has already shown suggests we should really be trying to squeeze an extra Gunner in our team for this period (the start of that period nicely coincides with the opening of the transfer window so they should be a hot commodity for wildcarding teams).

Another team whose assets you will want to maximise coming out of the transfer window is Man City. They get CRY, @SWA, @NEW and CAR from GW19 - 22, a period of fixtures that suggests we should try and squeeze at least one more attacking player into our sides alongside the presumably ever present Aguero. It isn't always easy to identify such players in this changeable City side, so here's hoping we're seeing some vintage David Silva play by the time Santa delivers that appetising run of games.

West Brom are a massively underrated defensive side with ownership numbers of 3.0% or less across the whole back five. Granted, the results of late have taken a turn for the worse (no clean sheets in the last five games) but they still boast excellent +/- scores of -19% at home and away and have four teams on deck who are all struggling for goals right now (@CAR, HUL, @TOT, @WHU).

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