Fantasy Files: Gameweek 30

by Chris Glover

This is the hardest time of year for fantasy league as big scores in mini leagues look insurmountable and most teams become fairly homogeneous with 5 or 6 ‘must have’ players forming the back bones of most successful sides. Add in a growing injury list, suspensions and rotation for European games and it becomes increasingly hard and frustrating to field a side you are truly happy with.

However, 9 games is almost a quarter of the season so it’s way too late to give up just yet. Instead, you need to re-evaluate a few things and dig even deeper to find those differentiators.

Before we get into the weekly rankings, let’s get some perspective on the form teams. Below are the goals per game since the halfway point of the season:

  1. Arsenal (2.1)
  2. Chelsea (1.9)
  3. Man Utd (1.9)
  4. West Ham (1.8)
  5. Man City (1.8)
  6. Everton (1.7)
  7. Aston Villa (1.6)
  8. Newcastle (1.5)
  9. Tottenham (1.5)
  10. Wolves (1.4)
  11. Liverpool (1.4)
  12. Fulham (1.4)
  13. Blackpool (1.4)
  14. Blackburn (1.3)
  15. Wigan (1.2)
  16. West Brom (1.2)
  17. Bolton (1.1)
  18. Sunderland (1.1)
  19. Stoke (1.0)
  20. Birmingham (0.9)

 

The top three teams tell a familiar story but in fourth place, West Ham look to be the biggest standout here. 10 weeks ago I would have said that no one in this team justified fantasy consideration (with Parker the only one in consideration) but suddenly the arrival of Ba and the return to fitness of pre-season favourite Hitzelsperger have not only given us new options but also rejuvenated the form of Parker and Carlton Cole. The game this week (at Spurs) throws some cold water on this enthusiasm but still the Hammers deserve to be much more widely held than they are (only Parker is over 3%) and anyone still holding Bolton or non-Adam Blackpool assets should consider this move as soon as possible.

No team has more clean sheets than Arsenal (7) since week 19 while previous reliable units like Man Utd (3), Birmingham (2) and Sunderland (3) have been less valuable. Along with Arsenal, Fulham and Man City have been dominant at home, adding four clean sheets a piece leading to bargain defenders like Djorou (1.607) and Hughes (0.854) to rank among the best value defenders in aPPMS. Clean sheets in general don’t seem to be getting easier to come by though we are seeing somewhat of a greater concentration towards the top end units (Arsenal, Chelsea, City and Spurs make up four of the top five teams). It may be worth shifting a couple of extra million into your back line to invest in these units.

Looking to individuals, it’s a few old friends who have had the most success but fantasy managers have generally been slow to jump back on board. Van Persie (11%), Fabregas (7%), Rooney (17%) and Lampard (7%) have all been very good since the half week point but only Rooney is getting serious fantasy attention (and even he is still owned by half as many people as his slumping teammate Berbatov). Of course Fabregas is now injured and out of contention but the other three (along with the consistently brilliant Tevez and Nani) are the best premium options right now. Malouda (22%), Arshavin (10%), Gerrard (7%), Drogba (18%), Torres (7%) and even Berbatov (32%) owners might want to make some moves very soon (Berbatov is the trickiest decision as you must balance his great fixtures with the increasing likelihood of rotation).

With that in mind, here are the picks for this week:

Clean Sheet Rankings
(Clean sheets kept – opponents failed to score)

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

 

Attacking Rankings
(Expected goals scored)

  1. Arsenal (2.36)
  2. Tottenham (2.21)
  3. Man Utd (2.03)
  4. Blackburn (2.01)
  5. Aston Villa (1.79)
  6. Chelsea (1.53)
  7. Birmingham (1.48)
  8. Sunderland (1.33)
  9. Everton (1.30)
  10. West Brom (1.29)
  11. West Ham (1.27)
  12. Wigan (1.27)
  13. Fulham (1.15)
  14. Man City (1.12)
  15. Wolves (1.07)
  16. Liverpool (1.03)
  17. Blackpool (1.03)
  18. Newcastle (0.96)
  19. Stoke (0.90)
  20. Bolton (0.88)

 

Captain Stats
It’s hard to look beyond the pair of Arsenal and Man Utd this week as both teams enter the week in decent goal scoring form and get a decent fixture to capitalise on.

Man Utd
Readers will know that I generally don’t love the United midfield from a fantasy perspective and the captain picks normally start and end with Nani. Despite being upset at Carragher, Nani returned to action in midweek and one would think he should play against Bolton this week (though the timely return of Valencia does through a small shadow of doubt over Nani’s guaranteed place). Given that GiggsPPG) and against teams conceding 1.5 goals or more (7.17 PPG) he looks like a great play this week.

It seems Berbatov is too risky to captain right now given the rotation risk and while Hernandez is in as good form as anyone, he too looks too risky to captain (though I think his success when playing now makes him ownable). That, of course, leaves Rooney as the remaining option, though you are far from scraping the barrel if you look to him for the armband this week. In the second half of the season Rooney ranks second among all players in points with 71 (Van Persie has 72) and has added five quality games with four of these turning into double digit performances. He doesn’t have the home/road splits that teammate Nani shows (Rooney is averaging 6.18 PPG at home) but he’s scored 6 in 8 against Bolton while wearing a United shirt while Bolton have somewhat struggled against the top line strikers this year (Drogba, Torres, Anelka, Tevez and Bent have all netted against them).

At this point in the season, ownership percentage should play a role in how you pick your captain with Nani (43%) being the more defensive pick over Rooney (17%) if you are protecting a lead. Of this pair I actually like Rooney a bit more but always be mindful of the managers you are competing with before taking an unnecessary risk.

United defenders make good budget options this week as the injuries to Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea and Rafael mean Smalling, Brown and Fabio look all but assured to provide low cost access to a top team (whether or not this is a top defensive unit without Vidic and Ferdinand is however up for debate). That said, I am not willing to hand the armband to a defender on an injury depleted team given that none of these players (or Evra) give a good chance of offensive points.

Arsenal
This is a great fixture for the Gunners but their, ahem, arsenal is a bit depleted so they may struggle to capitalise. Fabregas and Walcott would have made nice captain picks here but in their absence it looks like Van Persie and Nasri are the best (and only) options here. As noted above Van Persie is the form player in the league during the second half of the season and appears to be the safest pick who also enjoys huge upside (four double digit games in his last six). Van Persie has actually been better away from home (6.83 PPG) than at the Emirates (5.33 PPG) and he is crushing teams who concede 1.5 GPG or more for 7.6 PPG. Nasri has returned from his injury in good form adding 5 bonus points in two games and deserves ownership consideration once again. That said, he hasn’t reached double digits since GW16 and has only registered one quality game in that time frame. Own? Yes. Captain? Not yet.

Others
Lampard and Tevez have the form but I am always reluctant to captain players in these top of the table clashes which can often be nervy affairs with goals coming from unlikely sources.I wouldn’t necessarily sell Tevez to get Rooney for the week but given you must surely own either Nani, Rooney or Van Persie I’d look elsewhere this week.

I’m not ready to welcome Bale back into the captain frame just yet and Defoe doesn’t have the form to warrant ownership never mind captaincy right now.

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