Thursday, August 23, 2018

How much extra value do premium defenders need to offer? Part II

Previously we looked at some data from last season and tried to set a rough benchmark as to how much value you need from premium defenders in order to be worth their higher price tag. If you didn't catch that piece then I'd encourage you to do so, but if not, the TL;DR is that we estimated that you should be aiming to earn somewhere around 26 points attacking points (goals, assists and bonus points) for every 1.0m extra invested over a player in the same team i.e. Alonso over Luiz or Walker over Stones. It's also worth re-empahasising that this would exclude any playing time concerns, which further complicate things somewhat.

The below graphic starts to plot the defenders from each team to quickly highlight the potential areas where the more expensive players are starting to show their value. I must note here that two gameweeks is too soon to draw any strong conclusions based on the underlying stats, but then again, we need to start making transfer decisions now so like it or not this is what we have. My own approach is to keep my prior based on what we know from last season or beyond, taking care to adjust it as new data comes in, and not tear it down based on one or two good games. After the vizualisation I will flag a few names that have caught my eye:

Chelsea were the team that inspired this piece and Alonson was the specific player. Despite Azpilicueta's 14% ownership and assist at the weekend, there is really no way to justify him in your team based on the 2nd level data (shots and created chances), although if you dig a little deeper into attacking touches and passes, the Spanish duo start to look more comparable. Rudiger has offered a decent amount of attacking threat but with Alonso stronger claim on a starting spot and a general preference for the consistent threat from attacking full backs over the sporadic returns from centre backs scoring from set pieces, I would give the nod to Alonso there without much question. Luiz makes the decision close as now you're talking about a little over a million pounds, which would play out to be something like 30 points, and we know that Luiz carries his own threat, not just from headers but from taking set pieces himself and even the odd long range thunderbolt. The expected points gap through two games is about 2 points which puts Alonso ahead of schedule in justifying the premium, and again, with the higher likelihood of holding his starting spot I think this is one area where the most expensive defender is actually worth the premium. The 26% ownership is a bit of a turn off and the fixture list is good rather than great, but if you're buying Chelsea I would agree that Alonso is the best way to do so.

Crystal Palace
After his run to end last season, I expected Van Aanholt to be a significant bandwagon pick this season. However, it looks like his price tag probably scared many off initially, and then the subsequent emergence of Wan-Bissaka as a 4.0m starter and Schlupp as a defender-playing-in-midfield option, the former Chelsea man is somewhat being ignored. Based on this early data I would say that decision looks smart, although Schlupp could well lose playing time now Meyer looks ready to slide into midfield and Wan-Bissaka will miss a game through suspension. The youngster's attacking threat make him incredible value at 4.0m but even if he fell out of favour, the likely replacement would be another 4.0m man in Kelly, and it's really hard to see Van Aanholt generating enough points to justify a 1.5m premium over either of these options.

Maguire is obviously a threat from set pieces and this is one example where that prior shouldn't be overtaken by two games of blanks from the England man in terms of shots on goal. That said, Chilwell really impressed against Man United and has already generated some decent attacking data, all while costing 0.5m less and being something of a differentiator. This is a close one and picking Chilwell might be being a touch too clever, although I can't help but feel that some of Maguire's perceived value comes from his marauding runs upfield and his place in the England team, which count for nought in fantasy football. I was also surprised to see that he wasn't even particularly a bonus magnet last season with just 10 points on 716 BPS. This one is arguable either way, and despite the advantage Chilwell shows here, you can also make the case for Pereira, who has some very nice level 3 data (touches in the final third etc).

Man City
This one looks like no-brainer given the start Mendy has enjoyed, and I don't really have any push back on that conclusion, other than to say that his price is already up to 6.2m, he's already owned by 27% of managers (and rising) and given his playing time last season, it's not hard to imagine sitting out a game or two in the near future, which would frustratingly be likely to come against an easier opponent. It's all but impossible to choose the more expensive Walker though, so if you are looking to go in a different direction to access this City defense then you're stuck playing the Pep Guessing game between Stones, Laporte and Kompany. I didn't list goalies here, but Ederson is probably the best pick after Mendy given his lack of rotation threat and the potential for the odd assist.

It's a credit to fantasy managers and an indication that generally people are getting more savvy with the fact that what appear to be the best option from a number of teams are currently the most selected player, including Arsenal (Bellerin), Brighton (Duffy), Burnley (Tarkowski), Man Utd (Shaw), Liverpool (Robertson) and Watford (Holebas).

I will add this vizualisation to the man menu and check back in a couple of gameweeks to see if anyone new is emerging.


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