Saturday, October 7, 2017

Finding a differentiator

One of the downsides of the fantasy game is the fact that every manager has the same access to every player, which can cause teams to converge as the season goes on. This can lead to the conclusion that we need ways to differentiate our teams to try and gain some advantage over the pack. I would suggest there is some danger in chasing this idea too much as ultimately you need to be chasing points, not just unique points but there is of course some value to having players who offer something a bit different.

The below visualization shows the standard points vs expected points chart but with the marks colour coded based on ownership. The bluer marks are the players everyone seems to own (Lukaku, Kane, Salah etc) while the orange marks show the players flying below the radar.

The first observation is that the vast majority of players are in very few teams so your search for differentiators doesn't need to go too deep. You don't need to be looking at the 4th defender on Brighton's backline to find a variable: Monreal, for example, is the third highest scoring defender to date but is owned by just 6% of teams. The second point to note is that if you look at the ownership charts of the players at the top end of range, they are generally increasing so it's only going to get harder to separate your side from the pack.

A couple of players that stand out for me:

Richarlison (MID, WAT, 6.1m, 6% owned)
As noted above, I think people can get too cute when it comes to looking for differentiators. A team's 3rd of 4th best option might have a nice run but over a few games it's likely that their chances will start to diminish, unless they're in a truly special team (such as Sterling and Sane at City). The beauty with Richarlison is that he is arguably Watford's best player, accounting for 29% of Watford's SiB and 17% of their CC, ranking 1st and 2nd respectively (he trails Holebas in CC). There just aren't that many mid-level midfielders that excite me at the moment and so with so many managers looking to spend 30m+ up top, I am surprised there hasn't been more interest in the Brazilian. Back to back goals in GW6 and GW7 seem to have started to move the ownership needle though.

Sterling (MID, MCI, 7.9m, 6% owned)
This pick may look contradictory based on the suggestion that you shouldn't get too cute with your picks, but such is the potential of this City side, any way to access it is worth consideration. With Aguero out for perhaps 6 weeks there are additional minutes to go around, which should open things up a bit for Sterling (and Sane). Sane has of course outscored Sterling to date but his playing time has been so limited that's it hard to project anything with much certainty. Sterling is not a certainty himself but I prefer his combination of potential and playing time as an additional way to get access to the City juggernaut.

Joselu (FWD, NEW, 5.5m, 1% owned)
The Newcastle man's low ownership is a bit of a puzzle as for anyone who wants two elite options up front plus a selection of expensive midfielders, they need a cheap forward to round out their team and Joselu is about as good as anyone in terms of points to date in that group. His expected points total is even better and with a continued run in the side and a bit more adventure from Newcastle, one could see Joselu being a 8-12 goal man who can be deployed when the fixtures look best. The fact that he's the third most owned forward on his own team is a nice little bonus.

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