Never a bad idea to post a photo of this guy, is it? (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
To be honest, in my failed attempt to create season reviews for all of the teams in the Premier League, I've written more about the teams at the top of the alphabet - Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, and Everton plus Liverpool - and far less about those elsewhere. As a result, I'm going to change things up and just start throwing out team previews in the order that it strikes my fancy. Since there are three of us working on the project, it will also significantly reduce the burden of coordination which you don't care about but we do.
The beginning point for this season's previews is the premise that all players who have played a full season or more in the league without any significant injuries are valued just about correctly by both the Yahoo and PremierLeague.com formats. From that starting point, we will examine the players from each team to determine who is likely to increase or decrease in value based on other circumstances (changes in team performance, changes in projected playing time, change in injury status, etc.). There will, of course, be players that are worth buying at "fair" prices because they are consistent producers but those names are likely fairly obvious to you. The payoff for each team preview will be the players you should favor because they have a good chance to be more valuable than their price and those you should avoid because they won't be worth it.
As virtually unchanged (as of this writing) defending champions who won the league by a hair on the last day of the season, City are a fascinating picture. As a team with a large roster of quality players, they also pose a number of difficulties for fantasy managers.
After the jump, we'll break down Manchester City from just about every angle you can imagine that might help you figure out how best to incorporate their players into your fantasy team:
Quick Recap of Last Season: City finally reaped the first significant reward for all of the money they spent over the past few years with a league title that came in the form of what many called the most exciting moment in Premier League history with Aguero's stoppage time goal to win the title on the final day. David Silva rose to be one of the preeminent creative players in the league and Sergio Aguero had an exceptional debut season on the Blue side of Manchester while Vincent Kompany, Jolene Lescott and Joe Hart anchored an extremely stingy defense.
What's Changed: Not a lot really. City haven't made a single acquisition over the Summer that could impact the first team and/or fantasy fortunes nor have any of the departures represented players who would open more playing time for current squad players. Mancini is basically saying "let's run it back".
Real World Projection: While Manchester United have added a significant piece in Kagawa and gotten a "like new" signing in central defense with the return of Vidic and Chelsea have added an exceptional piece in Eden Hazard it feels more likely that City's lead will grow at the top of the league rather than shrink. More of City's players have room to improve and fewer of their players are facing potential age-related drops in form. They have to be viewed as the favorites for the title and a deeper run in the Champions League in 2012-13.
Fantasy Production: Manchester City scored a total of 3487.5 fantasy points across all players in their 2011-12 title winning season. Despite four forwards competing for starts, goals, and fantasy points City saw 3 of it's top 5 fantasy producers (Aguero, Dzeko, and Balotelli) come from that position. David Silva was the only midfielder to break 200 points in the Yahoo format and Kompany, Lescott, and Clichy were the significant contributors at the back. Joe Hart was outstanding with 326.5 points in net. The rest of the positions either didn't get enough fantasy action or saw too much rotation to register a significant and consistent fantasy scoring.
Fantasy Gold: Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Jolene Lescott, and Joe Hart are the core of the team and should start the vast majority of City's matches. This will make them worth the fairly high prices that all of them earned through exceptional seasons last year.
Fantasy Ups and Downs:
- Carlos Tevez - After his "vacation" for much of the second half, his price dropped. Assuming he starts the season at the Etihad he has the potential to outstrip his modest 12.99 price as Sergio Aguero's most consistent starting partner.
- Mario Balotelli - His profile has only climbed after a strong Euro2012 tournament but he could be in for a drop in fantasy value as his price remains high (14.04) while there is significant potential for less playing time if Tevez is in place as Aguero's partner.
- Edin Dzeko - What happened to the scourge of the first 11 weeks of last season? Apparently now he is the ultimate in luxury items - a very good forward who is unlikely to play too much.
- Emmanuel Adebayor - Speaking of luxury items, this guy is likely to have almost no value unless he moves on from City. You have to expect that Spurs will come back for him but what a plunge in fantasy value if they don't.
- Samir Nasri - Surprisingly, Nasri was City's second most productive midfielder last season despite only having 8 matches where he scored in double digit fantasy points. With a fairly reasonable 12.52 price and some upside with more playing time and better integration into the team Nasri could be a minor bargain early in the season.
- Alexander Kolarov - Wouldn't it be great if he went somewhere he were going to play regularly? Kolarov is a great fantasy player but one who looks likely to be relegated to only occasional participation as Gael Clichy seems to have become the presumptive starter at left back. The hope here is that a run of time on the bench followed by a Clichy mid-season injury will make Kolarov a bargain late-October, early-November pick-up.
- Micah Richards - You get the feeling that Mancini doesn't love him, don't you? If he manages to overcome this and secure a regular first team place then at 8.95 he's a great bargain as he'll likely produce as much, if not more, than Gael Clichy for about 75% of the price. Probably the most upside you'll find on an established team like City.
- Pablo Zabaleta - As much as he's a player I'd love to have on my team, the numbers are a bit deceiving here. Zab isn't a first team regular but he's sure priced like it. For a guy who only played 21 times and only went into fantasy double digits 6 times his 11.59 price tag is just way too high.
First Five Weeks: City face an average first five weeks with Southhampton, @Liverpool, QPR, @Stoke, Arsenal representing the early going for the champs. You obviously want in as much as you can on the opening weekend but after that City players won't have any extra value based on their schedule over the first five weeks.