In the continuing effort to keep improving what we do here at the blog, I'm going to try out a new format for our weekly wrap-up of the week that was in fantasy EPL. The week didn't start particularly well with Arsenal and Sunderland from either my personal point-of-view as a supporter or from an entertainment standpoint for neutrals. From there, it was all good as Swansea, Fulham, and West Bromwich scored in bunches while Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, and even Manchester City (albeit in a winning cause) struggled.
We saw a raft of new and exciting attacking midfielders from Santi Cazorla to Shinji Kagawa to Eden Hazard to Michu to Marouane Fellaini (who isn't entirely new but is new to being an attacking midfielder in the Premier League). The big question after taking it all in is "what of what we saw is real and what is just a one week anomoly?" We'll try to sort that all out as we head into the Chelsea vs. Reading midweek match and then Week 2. To that end, we'll take on one issue per team:
Arsenal - Abou Diaby and Carl Jenkinson should not be starting for a Premier League team with any aspirations - when are Arsenal going to start a season with a settled starting line-up? On the plus side, Santi Cazorla looks like the real deal and someone you should be considering in the Yahoo format until his price rises significantly. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will be fine - it just wasn't their day on Saturday, it happens.
Aston Villa - With so many new players, Villa supporters have to hope this is just a case of taking some time to get things together. It was a fantasy wasteland against a newly promoted team with two guys who scored four points each (Nathan Baker and Fabian Delph) earned back their cost - not good news any way you slice it.
Chelsea - Great fantasy returns from the first match, especially in the PL.com format where the penalty Eden Hazard drew counted as a second assist. The thing to watch here is the fact that Chelsea would have conceded (at least once or twice) if they'd been playing a team with even a solid attack. The midfield with Frank Lampard and Jon Obi Mikel between the attackers and the defense isn't going to get it done.
Everton - Hard not to love Maroune Fellaini's performance and the fact that Everton now have a plethora of attacking options with Fellaini, Pienaar, Jelavic, Naismith, and Kevin Mirallas. That David Moyes can certainly rock a transfer window.
Fulham - Was Fulham that good or is Norwich going to be that bad with Championship players and a new manager? We'll certainly have an eye on Mladen Petric and Sascha Riether who look like they are the most likely to sustain their Week 1 performances.
Liverpool - UGH - a TOTAL of 12.5 fantasy points between the lot of them after accounting for the negatives posted by Lucas, Agger and Andy Carroll. They fired King Kenny for this?
Manchester City - Jack Rodwell certainly didn't help anyone understand the acquisition or the price associated with it as he basically gave Southampton their second goal by making a great back pass right to their attack. They survived the day but certainly didn't look exceptional and it could get worse if Aguero is out for any length of time. On the plus side, Samir Nasri was exceptional. The only caveat is that Nasri was that good for the first few matches of last season too and then settled into mediocrity.
Manchester United - Well, Kagawa was really impressive. Now about those forwards who are supposed to be the greatest thing going. I'm sure they'll look better once they have at least a second central defender healthy beyond the recovering Vidic. Kagawa should be a keeper as he racks up assists.
Newcastle United - A nice start with Demba Ba showing he isn't dead yet even with Papiss Cisse taking his favored spaces on the field. Hatem Ben Arfa was also good - the only thing to worry about there is that he doesn't get many points when he doesn't score and given where he plays, he won't score enough to justify a price over 8 or 9 in the Yahoo format.
Norwich City - Look out below. The concern was that they might be vulnerable to a second year swoon with a new manager and no significant additions to the roster. Well, Week 1 certainly leads you to believe that they could be headed for a big fall. We'll monitor their match this week with fellow Week 1 disaster QPR to see how bad things have gotten. Not much to love from Week 1.
Queens Park Rangers - Most of the team stunk including early season hope Fabio who went negative. The bright spot was that Adel Taarabt managed to put up decent fantasy points on phantom points alone. This bodes REALLY well for the rest of his season because I think QPR will improve.
Reading - A solid effort but nothing that really stood out from a fantasy standpoint. Jobi McAnuff was OK but certainly not enough to justify keeping him beyond this week's two-gamer.
Southampton - What a great performance against the defending champions. They ultimately lost but you have to love what you saw from Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana. We'll all be very interested to see how they perform against teams that aren't predicted to win the league.
Stoke City - How did Michael Kightly's price get that high? I honestly can't explain it from someone who has barely played over the last few years. I have to say I'd be far more intrigued if he were priced in the 5s or 6s at this point in his career.
Swansea City - Wow, just wow. We LOVE us some Michu even if his success owned itself partially to Robert Green who was a bit of a disaster (again). I'd be cautious about Nathan Dyer who had a brace but there is little in what we saw from him last season that indicated that Saturday was anything more than an anomaly. Michu, on the other hand, has shown that type of performance before in Spain so there's no reason to think it's a fluke - he's a keeper. Very interested to see how Chico does in his second match.
Tottenham - Siggy was adequate and Defoe came through but Spurs looked shaky. Is it the curse of AVB? Is it just that they, like Manchester United, are banged up down the middle with Scott Parker injured, Jan Vertonghen not ready, Luka Modric in flux and no center forward yet acquired? Whatever it is, Spurs players have to be viewed with suspicion until the spine is back up to speed.
West Bromwich Albion - Six different Baggies scored more fantasy points as individuals than Liverpool did collectively. Hard to imagine that will continue and I'm not sure there's anyone there that represents long-term value. Romelu Lukaku scored a goal on his debut but coming in as a substitute makes it a risk as big as the forward himself to pick him up even at his crazy-low BD price.
West Ham United - A lot of old heads who have found their way to Upton Park were at the top of the points haul for the Hammers with Kevin Nolan, Jussi Jaaskelainen, and James Collins atop the charts. Of the value plays, Ricardo Vaz Te was OK with an assist but didn't return his cost and the rest of the guys on "entry level" pricing failed to make a serious impact. More to follow when Modibo Maiga gets a start - he put up 4 in a substitute appearance which is promising without killing his cheap price.
Wigan Athletic - Not a lot of fantasy performance for Wigan despite doing a solid job against Chelsea after the two quick goals. The struggle against good teams will be scoring - it will be interesting to see if the attack is any more potent against teams less talented than Chelsea.
So, that's what we saw in Week 1 - what struck you? How did you do?