Friday, February 7, 2014

Can Sturridge replace Suarez?

I've noted a couple of times this week that I'm personally looking to make changes to my side given budgetary constraints and I assume at least some of you are in the same (or similar) position. I'd suggest the most common solution is to go with a "stars and scrubs" strategy, holding the star players like Suarez and Aguero (when healthy) while trying to fill your squad with a smattering of low priced picks who you believe you can squeeze enough value from to give you the edge. Generally, this strategy can work quite well as (a) you're better off with two players who score 8 points and 4 points than two who score 6 due to the ability to captain the star player, and (b) the game tends to leave a number of players undervalued due to a sudden increase in playing time or player improvement.

However, at this stage in the season, I am concerned about the lack of budget options. The best budget options have been bid up to mid level prices and thus if you want to hold onto the likes of Suarez you need to take a serious risk somewhere else, either backing sporadic starters like Januzaj or Gnabry, or pinning your hopes on one of the new arrivals to the league. This piece is not arguing against that strategy - as I'd suggest there remains enough promise at the budget end to make it work - rather it will try and establish how much you loose by making a downgrade at the top end of your team and what that can buy you in return.

I'm going to focus on the comparison of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, but you can make a similar comparison to Negredo/Aguero, van Persie/Rooney or Hazard/Oscar. Indeed, I will try and visit some of those pairings in future posts, but for now, let's look at the Liverpool duo.

Below is a snapshot of the two players' performances to date. I have only included games where they both played as (a) this is the reality of the current situation and I don't want to distort data with shots earned in a different position to the one currently occupied, and (b) if either player were to get injured, the argument becomes moot:

Note that the "expected" part of the above is based on the expectation of goals and assists based on their actual shot totals (rather than what the model suggests as a forecast).

So in all we have Suarez scoring two more goals and three more assists which equates to around 20 extra points. That's a pretty significant number, especially if you assume you'll be captaining the player every other week or so. The current iteration of the model is less bullish on this gap and projects just a 10 point gap for the remainder of the year, the difference largely being due to the fact that a projection model is never going to forecast Suarez to have a 10 shot game, as was the case in GW11. The degree to which you feel this kind of model underestimates Suarez will likely be instructive on how you interpret the rest of this post.

The current price difference is 3.6m which is also significant, although that number is greatly reduced for anyone who's held Suarez for a long time (I hold him at 12.1m for example, which gives a premium of just 2.3m). It's impossible to give a complete list of options for what that money can buy you, but here's a few ideas to put the numbers into context:

Lambert > Negredo +2.8m : Forecast gain of 25 points for the season (16 points using regressed rates)
Wilshere > Ozil +3.7m: Forecast gain of 9 points (16 points regressed)
Mirallas > Silva +1.9: Forecast gain of 21 points (16 points regressed)

It's coincidence that all the above options came out with a regressed 16 point gain but I guess it's a decent benchmark to sum up the kind of haul we can expect. Depending on how you feel about the model's view of Suarez, there seems to be an argument here to making the move to Sturridge and using that money to upgrade elsewhere. The captaincy issue is worth considering, though if you'd upgrading from a mid range option to an elite player, you will likely consider captaining them once or twice too, which would reduce that impact.

If your team is swimming in cash, I'm not sure this move makes sense. Suarez is essentially owned by everyone who's paying attention so you're opening yourself up to a huge risk by not owning him and I wouldn't advise making that play just to upgrade your first bench slot or to grab a slightly better 'keeper pair. But, if like me, you are struggling to even to put together a strong eleven, it looks like you might be able to squeeze more value out of Sturridge and another top flight player than Suarez and a mid level option. A final complication for those who've held Suarez for a while is that once you sell, you might not be able to afford to bring him back so this would be one mistake that literally cannot be rectified. This is about as hard of a decision as it gets, but I can't help but feel that continued inaction for those who have a low value team is going to lead to slow reduction in mini-league leads.


Steven said...

My approach is to deploy both. And it's working well. I do have a captain conundrum from week to week, but they are both producing at phenomenal rates.

Steve Poster said...

As I observed in the expected assist and goals it will be Suarez edge to top in the event. I think it will be a tough match to see.

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