Don't believe the hype - Chris Brunskill
It's back after a baby and work-induced hiatus. We'll go around the league and check in on what happened and how it might be relevant to your fantasy decisions for next week and beyond.
Hard to say whether this was a good weekend for me or not. I went the path less traveled and only selected 3 two-gamers. The first part of the strategy (the weekend part) went well with 87 points while many others I saw posting were in the 40s, 50s and 60s. The question is how the mid-week match will eat into that cushion. If points continue to be hard to come by for Sunderland and Reading players not named Nicky Shorey, Adam Johnson, and Adam La Fondre then I'll be in good shape. If, somehow, it is a high scoring affair then I'll be much less happy.
I'm equally uncertain how to take Arsenal's win. First things first, they won which is an improvement over recent matches. The downside is that, like the North London Derby victory, there are some mitigating circumstances. Against Spurs it was a stupid red card from K2. Against West Brom it was two dubious penalties that took us from nil-nil bore-fest to 2-0 Arsenal win. If you're wondering how I got to TWO dubious penalties, here's my logic. The Cazorla dive was obviously a poor call so there's the obvious one. On the second one, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was fouled inside the box but to get there with the ball in his possession he basically pushed over a Baggies defender. The push went uncalled and the play continued with The Ox getting fouled and winning the penalty. Unless Arsenal can count on a continued string of bad luck and poor decisions befalling their league opponents it is hard to view this victory as the beginning of any sort of turnaround.
So, how about the news from the rest of the league:
Arsenal: Are there any non-Cazorla-at-opening-day-price Arsenal players worth owning these days? At retail, the only candidates would be Cazorla and (maybe) Szczesny if you believe that the defense will continue to produce clean sheets even as the attack sputters. Dismal days from a team that used to have fantasy options galore.
Aston Villa: 9, 16, 12, 7.5 - those are the last four matches from Brad Guzan who was priced at 2.52 when that run started. He's now 7.97 and probably a little more expensive than you'd like but Villa have been playing better and he's been the major beneficiary.
Chelsea: What to make of Fernando Torres? The Good - his two straight braces; The Questionable - the opposition came in the form of one Norwegian team with nothing to play for in the last Champions League group stage match and the other was Sunderland who have been barely better than a Championship-level club thus far this season; The Ugly - managers have had to buy in with Torres facing a week off for the Club World Cup silliness in China. All of that leads up to me not having picked him despite the potential uptick after he's back.
Everton: What a comeback late against Spurs. The downside is that Fellaini, Pienaar, and Jelavic are both priced high enough that they aren't great value unless there is either a beneficial match-up or a two-match week.
Fulham: A solid bounce back against Newcastle with strong performances from Duff (finally), Sidwell (Nik shaking head), Rodallega (I'd almost forgotten he was still alive), Berbatov, and Schwarzer. The question is whether any of these guys can be counted on. Duff was cranking out points like it was the mid-2000s earlier in the season but has been on the periphery for a while. Would be nice to see him put another sustained run together.
Liverpool: A huge win in the absence of Luis Suarez against a very solid West Ham side. Raheem Sterling was the fantasy leader with 13.5 points and somehow Glen Johnson only managed 9 points despite an amazing goal. Other than Sterling and Johnson though, there wasn't much to love as no other Liverpool players went over 4. Oh yeah, Joe Cole went into double digits but lets not pretend he's a relevant fantasy player.
Manchester City: Can anyone think of one single reason that Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez weren't starting against United from the opening kickoff? Decisions like those make both City supporters and fantasy managers hate Roberto Mancini.
Manchester United: My theory at the beginning of the season was that RvP and Rooney would both function at about 75% to 80% of last season's production based on the presence of the other taking away fantasy points. Checking in:
- RvP 2011-12 after 16 match weeks = 281 points
- RvP 2012-13 after 16 match weeks = 209 points
- Rooney 2011-12 after 16 match weeks = 220 points
- Rooney 2012-13 after 16 match weeks = 141 points (with the caveat that he has only played 12 matches - extrapolated to 16 matches his total would be about 188)
In both cases my estimates were either just about right or perhaps a little optimistic. Both players fantasy production is significantly down even if their prices are still extremely high. Something to think about when you're selecting premium players.
Newcastle: Speaking of Rooney - you can have Demba Ba's almost identical point production this season for about 5 less than it will cost you for Rooney. Just saying.
Norwich: Quite a run they're having, huh? I hope people picked up Snodgrass on the BD. His price is up significantly but his production is in the same neighborhood as Rooney's and Ba's and he's still priced under 18. More fodder for your brain when considering "premium" priced players. More famous doesn't always mean better value (in fact it is very often the reverse).
Queens Park Rangers: A 500 year old defender and a lunatic substitute forward get all the points for the Rs, not exactly anything you can make plans around from a fantasy point of view, is it?
Reading: It's just after halftime during the Tuesday match with Sunderland and it's looking for all the world like we should have stayed away from these guys even considering they had two matches.
Southampton: No return date listed yet for Adam Lallana. Hard to know whether any absence represents a chance for someone else to step up to and into his points (at a bargain) or a significant decrease in the value of any and all remaining Saints attackers. We'll be waiting on that particular injury news intently. Very nice match from Puncheon in the meantime.
Stoke: The defense has been strong and with Ryan Shotton's red card and Andy Wilkenson's return to health, there could be a solid bargain available here although Everton may not be the team to expect a clean sheet against.
Sunderland: Even if they manage 3 points in the real standings between their two matches, the issue is that their fantasy points, when they come at all, are too unpredictable. Adam Johnson gets the goal and only significant points against Chelsea but he's subbed out by halftime against Reading with little-to-no obvious contribution.
Swansea: MICHU MICHU MICHU MICHU MICHU MICHU MICHU That is all.
Tottenham: With Bale out and Defoe having a poor match, Jan Vertonghen is really the only guy you could justify purchasing last weekend who returned solid value. Good thing Bale is scheduled to be back this weekend.
West Brom: The wheels are coming off a bit on the early-season success story. Arsenal have been presenting great chances to all comers recently and the Baggies couldn't manage to come by any. Seriously, they had exactly FOUR players score over 1.5 fantasy points this past weekend and two of them (Popov and Rosenberg) were substitutes. That is the definition of ugly.
West Ham: Not much other than Noble's penalty here but if the WBA slump is a real thing it should be better next weekend as the Hammers travel to the Hawthornes.
Wigan: James McCarthy had played 15 matches before Saturday (all starts) and scored 50 fantasy points in total. He managed 29 on Saturday. If that doesn't scream "outlier" then I don't know what does. I hope no one is counting on him on the BD - even WITH those points factored in he's only averaging 4.94 points/match for a newly inflated price of 10.78. Even at his BD price, he's not worth it.