It was a pretty good fantasy week across the board for me. I wasn't too invested in either Sunderland or Reading where a lot of people got hurt when the match was cancelled due to a water-logged pitch. I did take a hit in the Yahoo game over AVB's inexplicable decision to bench blog favorite and my current, non-Arsenal soccer crush Gylfi Sigurdsson. In the PL.com game, I was equally shocked to find that Mark Hughes decided to leave out Adel Taarabt and Roberto Mancini decided to bench Joleon Lescott. Those two absences, combined with Ian Harte and Jobi McAnuff being idle due to the rain out meant I took one zero for McAnuff even after my bench was exhausted.
Despite a few disappointments, the rest of the week went well. I picked up 129 points in the Yahoo game bringing my total to 276.5 which is good for 1098th overall in the Yahoo league. In the PL.com game I managed a very solid 68 points despite the absences but even that showing wasn't strong enough to keep me up at the lofty status I enjoyed after last week's matches. I am at 179 points overall which is good for 4,730th overall which isn't at all bad out of 2,233,810 people who are playing.
So, that's how I did. We'd love to know how you're doing in the comments section. Before you get to that, here's what we learned during the second week of the fantasy season:
Arsenal - Everyone who had two straight goalless draws for the Gooners, raise your hands. Anyone with their hands up is lying. Santi Cazorla continues to rack up points despite Arsenal being goalless. The other concern coming out of this week is the potential rotation between attacking players as Arsenal look for the right combination.
Aston Villa - Um, things aren't quite clicking at Villa Park are they? Despite getting worked by Everton, Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker had good outings in the Yahoo format racking up defending points which is worth noting since both are cheap. The problem is that this implies that Everton were doing a LOT of attacking if they scored three goals and still provided that many defending points for Villa's defenders. Karim El Ahmadi scored but didn't do much else this week or last so I'd call it an anomaly.
Chelsea - That Hazard kid is pretty good, huh? How good is he? He seems to have made Fernando Torres relevant again which is some achievement. I'm keeping Hazard through the guaranteed zero in the Yahoo format because I know I'll be keeping him for the rest of the season and I want to keep the discount. I'm ditching all other Chelsea players for the off week.
Everton - They're playing against type and having a strong start to the season. Marouane Fellaini continued his strong play and Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic joined him in the goal-scoring ranks. Leighton Baines has been consistently worth his very high price so far which is a great outlet for all the money you're saving in the Yahoo format with all of the cheap midfielders you likely have.
Fulham - They started brightly at Old Trafford but couldn't sustain it against superior talent. Bryan Ruiz and Damien Duff have been the consistent performers and Mladen Petric was a DDG desperation kick-save away from building on his great Week 1 performance. Ruiz and Petric look to be the primary beneficiaries of Clint Dempsey's absence.
Liverpool - That was a little bit livelier. The problem for fantasy managers is that two of Liverpool's three relevant fantasy players - Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard - are expensive enough that they aren't good value. The rest of the team was pretty rotten from a fantasy standpoint (both formats).
Manchester City - What's gone wrong with Manchester City? Has Roberto Mancini decided to intentionally tank the first few games to motivate his bosses to spend some money on players who have a chance to start regularly? Whatever it is, the defense has been rotten and the attack has barely been enough to compensate for it. If not for a Skertl gift to Tevez, City would have lost to the Reds.
Manchester United - The attack was a lot better with Robin van Persie leading the line and Shinji Kagawa playing behind the forwards. With Wayne Rooney having picked up a nasty gash, RvP reverts to his status of last season - he's really expensive but he'll be worth it from time-to-time. The one concern is that outside of what was an exceptional goal, he was still very isolated from the rest of the attack. He only had the one shot on target and only got in one successful cross other than that. Rafael actually had the best day among United fantasy players and I'm sure many got him on the BD. The only worry with him is that he isn't a guaranteed starter with SAF looking to use Antonio Valencia at right back when he isn't playing on the right of midfield.
Newcastle United - Hard to blame them for getting worked by a superior Chelsea team at Stamford Bridge. I wouldn't panic - they're an above average team that came up against a team that looks ready to contend for the title. The interesting question going into next weekend is who between Demba Ba (who has been more involved than he was over the second half of last season) or Papiss Cisse (who hasn't done much so far this year) is the better choice at forward. Tough call.
Norwich City - Not a lot of fantasy points outside of the goalscorers Pilkington and Jackson. Ruddy managed double digit fantasy points despite allowing a goal and only getting a draw which is impressive. Perhaps the most interesting performance came from Robert Snodgrass who was a phantom point king going for 11.5 points despite only getting an assist from the "major" categories. I'm not ready to dive in since he's a forward but I'm certainly paying attention where I wasn't before - especially since his price is a reasonable 7.14.
Queens Park Rangers - Where did the phantom points go? They managed a goal this time around but only Zamora, the goalscorer, managed a decent day. Very disappointing that Djibril Cisse missed his penalty even if he was given an assist in the PL.com format (I don't get it but I'll take it since I have him).
Reading - Not much to say about a team that got rained out. A bummer for any fans who traveled the 3+ hours to get to Sunderland only to have to turn around and head home without getting to watch a match. Ditto the fantasy managers who invested.
Southampton - That Ricky Lambert was good again despite So'ton not getting any goals this time around. Both he and Lallana look like they'll be exceptional fantasy values if you pick them up while their prices are still reasonable. It will be very interesting to see how the pair does against Manchester United's questionable defense next weekend. That won't be a decision for the faint of heart.
Stoke City - I love to see an American having a great fantasy weekend but having watched the Stoke vs. Arsenal match all the way through, I'm not sure I saw 17 points for Geoff Cameron. Stoke have already signed Maurice Edu and there are rumors of Richard Dunne coming in from Villa so I'll be curious to see what Cameron's role is going forward. He should be a solid option next weekend if you got him on the BD though. Michael Kightly looked like a solid option for the second weekend in a row - especially in the PL.com format where he's really cheap.
Sunderland - I left them out last weekend and this weekend they decided not to play so I guess we'll have to wait until Week 3 to figure out what I have to say about the Black Cats and to see them play with new signings Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson. Should be interesting to see how they line-up.
Swansea City - Wow. Just wow. Just when you thought they might collapse after Brendan Rodgers, Gylfi, Joe Allen, and Scott Sinclair left, they've gotten better. The points have come from everywhere. I could talk about Michu but you know about that. I was most impressed by Nathan Dyer who looks a lot more dangerous being allowed to move infield from the wings more often than last season when he was always out wide. I discounted his Week 1 excellence but he looked like he might be able to sustain strong performances.
Tottenham - Does AVB just hate Londoners? First he did his best to ruin Chelsea and now he's out to do the same at Spurs. Maybe I should give him a break with Scott Parker - who was critical to Spurs' success last season - out of the line-up but I don't understand his approach which would be fine if it were working but it isn't. Like last season, things aren't looking good across the board in North London after two weeks. Defoe did have a second strong weekend in a row just in time to (likely) be benched for K2.
West Brom - A solid start to life as the lead dog for Steve Clarke with 4 points from matches against Liverpool and Spurs. Because I can't go a week without talking about him, Romelu Lukaku continues to be a problem for fantasy managers - he's averaging 9.25 points/match as a substitute for a very low price but can you really bring yourself to start a reserve at any position? If Mr. Clarke would start the large Belgian (it does appear to be the Year of the Belgian in the Premier League after all) then fantasy managers everywhere would be very happy with the option.
West Ham - That was a really poor effort against Swansea both from a fantasy and reality standpoint. It won't always be that bad but it sure felt like the Hammers gave up after about 60 minutes. I'm staying away from them on the road until they prove that they're worthy of inclusion.
Wigan - You usually don't think of Wigan and lots of fantasy points together but that's exactly what happened this weekend. I don't know if I'd get carried away (I know a lot of people were excited about Al Habsi for next week) but they certainly looked more mid-table than relegation-struggler, didn't they?