I was away last week visiting beautiful Whistler (highly recommended to all) but we're now back on track with this week's Fanning the Flames piece. We're not too far removed from the Gameweek 3 piece so there's some familiar names and narratives here, but let's press on regardless.
Alexis Sanchez continues to produce shots at an alarming rate but simply cannot catch a break. The Chilean's 28 total shots and 21 SiB lead the league and come close to doubling the totals of his fellow midfielders. His production is a microcosm for Arsenal's "struggles" to date with the team leading the league in SiB by a distance (ARS 79, SOT 59, MCI 51) yet only having five goals to show for their efforts. Sanchez has had a large amount of his efforts blocked which is somewhat tricky to explain, and a quick look at last year's stats tells a similar, if less dramatic story (42/121). Last year also tells us that he was able to convert 13 of his 71 SiB into goals and so there's really no reason to expect his conversion rates to be particularly unusual. With seven SoT we'd expect him to have at least a couple of goals by now and we can be fairly comfortable that continued play like this will lead to such rewards in the future. Indeed with just 13% ownership, and a decent run of fixtures on deck after a trip to Stamford Bridge, he seems like a strong buy candidate.
Harry Kane has been somewhat maligned this year with some "one year wonder" whispers creeping into the darkest depths of internet comment sections (partly reflected in his early price drop). In truth his numbers are relatively good to date and the sticking point should be his price tag rather than his performances to date. If you liked him at 9.5m to start the year I haven't seen much to change that view, but I'd still personally find it hard to justify that investment over the likes of Lukaku, Benteke or Giroud.
It's a somewhat similar story with Wayne Rooney who's seen a lot of divestment already, although partly encouraged by his injury status of course. His data is fine and doesn't do much to alter ones opinion, but again, I didn't like him over the aforementioned players to start the year and the production doesn't sway me the other way either.
I don't think anyone is seriously fooled by Steven Naismith's haul this week so we'll pass on him but the next name is one that has piqued some interest. Dimitri Payet's ownership is up to 10% which is quite significant for a largely unknown asset with a mid-level price tag. If you see his shot line of 8 total, 4 SiB, 3 SoT and 3 goals and believe that warrants a 7.6m investment then I have a sizeable plot of Florida swamp lamp you might be interested in. Now, some of this investment may be based on his performances on the field (I haven't seen a full West Ham game yet this term) and he does bring a healthy assist threat to the party (16 created chances) so it's not that there isn't hope here, I'm just not sure he's all that more than a promising lottery ticket, which could also be said of someone like Xherdan Shaqiri who's produced a similar shot line (7/4/1) in just over half as many minutes as Payet and comes at a lower cost and significantly lower ownership (3%). The standard line applies here: buy if you like the player but there's not enough here if you're just chasing the production.
There's a trio of surprise success stories with Bafetimbi Gomis, Riyad Mahrez and Callum Wilson enjoying explosive starts to the year. Those all appear on the list, the real story is not the gap between their xG and actual goals, but the fact that their xG numbers are terrific. At 3.0, 2.9 and 2.7 respectively, this trio have numbers which can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league right now, and yet all come in a bargain price. Yes, everyone is on Mahrez already (43%) with Gomis (28%) and Wilson (26%) not too far behind but these ownership rates are not only justified but likely too low. These aren't just cheap players getting a but lucky, they are performing at an elite level and the kind of flexibility you get by installing a ~6.0m players who can start every single week is huge.
I think we can safely conclude that Arsenal are due for some better luck with no less than five players making an appearance here, having collectively "earned" an expected 5.8 assists but having actually been rewarded with just the one. Other than that quintet not too much stands out here.
David Silva has played well this year and has widely been singled out as the lynchpin in this impressive City side, and while that may be true, from a fantasy perspective his totals aren't quite as convincing. He's never been one for huge goal threat numbers (8 shots, 4 SiB and 2 SoT) but his assist totals are supposed to compensate for any deficit here yet 12 created chances place him alongside the likes of Nathan Redmond and Jose Jurado. Of course, we can reasonably suggest that Silva's created chances will likely be converted at a higher rate than that pair thanks to presence of the likes of Sergio Aguero but when you consider than Yaya Toure has the same CC to date and Navas is just behind with 10, it starts to look like Silva is a touch overvalued (it should be noted he has played a game less than Yaya, which given the small samples here is not insigificant). Silva could well have a huge season and he remains one of the best in the league, but these numbers should give some pause before writing him in for a historic assists haul.
People seem to have avoided the Wes Hoolahan bandwagon as yet but the Marc Albrighton express is getting somewhat crowded. The Leicester man has created 10 chances and earned 3 assists for a 30% A/CC rate. Even if you believe Leicester are for real and will continue to create chances at a healthy clip, the rest of the team except Albrighton are seeing their chances converted at a 19% rate; significantly lower than the former Villa man. Given his profile as wide player throwing balls into the box, it's tough to think they are subject to a better conversion rate than a carefully crafted through ball.