Fantasy Files: Gameweek 27

by Chris Glover

I watched the Super Bowl with envious eyes this week, imagining how different fantasy football – or indeed the real game – could be if we had access to the multitude of stats available in the NFL. Yards after catch, tackles for loss and average yards per carry are just a sampling of some of the statistical treasures available at your finger tips in the American game, and that’s before you get into the ‘moneyball’ world of Defense Adjusted Value over Average. Traditionalists will cry that you can’t quantify the genius of a Xavi pass or an off the ball run from Messi and I would generally agree, but that isn’t to say statistics don’t have more to offer the beautiful game from both a real and fantasy perspective.

I think it would be great to know how many times Ronaldo beats his man on the left versus on the right of the pitch, or how many interceptions Busqeuts makes in the middle of the field and what his next pass tends to be. The use of pro zone started some of this in the professional game but it is only very recently that tools like The Guardian’s chalkboards have been available to the masses to allow us to enjoy the game on another level. Hopefully we will see some further development here in the coming seasons.

Until then, we will have to make do with good old fashioned goals scored, conceded and historical head-to-head records, which brings us to this week’s rankings. Eight teams get double gameweeks which could lead to more monstrous scores, as was the case back in GW24 which featured huge games from players such like Berbatov (29 points), Adam (17) and A.Young (16). The headline team with two games is clearly Arsenal making the likes of Van Persie and Fabregas hot properties. There is value to be found elsewhere though so be sure to investigate all the options before making your moves this week (a fuller analysis can be found here).

Clean Sheet Rankings

(team clean sheets home/away – opponents failed to score home/away)

  1. Arsenal (4 – 5) and (4 – 5)
  2. Birmingham (4 – 5) and (4 – 3)
  3. Liverpool (6 – 6)
  4. West Brom (1 – 6) and (1 – 5)
  5. Blackburn (5 – 3)
  6. Man Utd (7 – 4)
  7. Stoke (2 – 4) and (2 – 2)
  8. Sunderland (7 – 2)
  9. Blackpool (0 – 5) and (0 – 2)
  10. Tottenham (1 – 2) and (1 – 0)
  11. Newcastle (3 – 3) and (3 – 4)
  12. Chelsea (3 – 2)
  13. Fulham (6 – 5)
  14. Bolton (3 – 3)
  15. Everton (2 – 3)
  16. Wigan (3 – 1)
  17. Wolves (1 – 2) and (1 – 3)
  18. Man City (4 – 0)
  19. West Ham (0 – 2)
  20. Aston Villa (0 – 0)

Some will no doubt take objection at not ranking all the DGW teams at the top but, for most, the fixtures are just too tough to justify such a ranking. If your plan is to take the 4 appearance points and run then you might want to adjust the rankings accordingly but I stand by the above as giving you the best shot at clean sheets.

Attacking Rankings

(Predicted goals for the week)

  1. Arsenal – 5.2
  2. Blackpool – 3.9
  3. West Brom – 2.9
  4. Tottenham – 2.8
  5. Birmingham – 2.7
  6. Newcastle – 2.5
  7. Stoke – 1.8
  8. Wolves – 1.7
  9. Chelsea – 1.7
  10. Blackburn – 1.7
  11. Man Utd – 1.5
  12. Everton – 1.4
  13. Sunderland – 1.4
  14. Liverpool – 1.3
  15. Aston Villa – 1.3
  16. West Ham – 1.2
  17. Fulham – 1.0
  18. Man City – 1.0
  19. Bolton – 0.9
  20. Wigan – 0.7
Captain Stats

Gameweek 24 helped serve a reminder that if you have a single premium team with a double gameweek, you probably need to be picking your captain from them (Berbatov, Nani and Rooney all had double digit performances). This week Arsenal are the clear favourites for fantasy success (Spurs would be closer but without Bale, Modric and an in form striker they really lack too many options outside of the calf strained van der Vaart).

Van Persie is clearly the form fantasy player in the Arsenal team with a frankly ridiculous 50 points over the past 4 gameweeks and 5 quality games in the last 6. When you consider that he has faced just one team who concede more than 1.5 GPG this season but gets two of them this week, his upside for the week is unmatched. His status as a differentiator is gone (21%) but his ownership still ranks well below Berbatov and Tevez and is still a way to gain some points over the inattentive managers. The presence of Chamakh worries me a little as does his flu, so the potential for rotation or early withdrawal is there but so long as you think he can play 120 minutes or so, he should have enough time to shine.

Fabregas, who himself has 47 points over the last 6, is still a differentiator (11%) and it’s this point which makes him intriguing this week. I don’t believe in players being ‘due’ a goal but given the number of shots he has had over the past few weeks (16 over the past 5), the regression to the mean would indeed suggest that a goal will come soon. His 10 bonus points over the past 6 weeks are great and he generally produces points in more categories than Van Persie. Like Van Persie, Fabregas has the flu but he makes a slightly safer pick than the Dutchman due to the lack of obvious replacement for him and his status as club captain. Picking him is a risk and there’s a real possibility it could be a Nani/Berbatov GW24 situation, but sometimes you need to make a bold decision to gain some ground.

A decent outside bet is Theo Walcott who has been astonishingly good from a fantasy perspective this season and is currently level with Van Persie (151) and just one behind Fabregas (152) in aPoints. My concern is his 11 bad games (3 points or less) compared to just 6 quality games (6 points or more). In fact, in every game but one he has either contributed double digit points or 3 or less. His 5 double digit games are as many as Van Persie and Fabregas combined. He is surprisingly owned by more managers (15%) than Fabregas so his differential potential is lower than you might expect but you can be sure that the vast majority of those owners won’t be captaining him and so you could gain ground if you need to make a last gasp move up the charts.

Bacary Sagna is the pick of the defenders with Djourou injured but despite the great fixtures I do not think this unit is captain worthy right now. They were a shambles in the second half against Newcastle and while a single clean sheet looks like a decent bet, the chance of double digit production from Sagna and co looks unlikely.

Final Word

Before loading up on the double gamers, be mindful that, at the moment, Arsenal, Tottenham and Birmingham don’t have a game next week, though there is speculation that the North London derby will be played in the midweek of GW28 provided Arsenal avoid the need for an FA Cup replay. This shouldn’t dissuade you from loading up on the aforementioned Gunners but you want to think twice before using valuable transfers on Birmingham players just for one week, unless you are sure they fit your long term plan.

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