It was not a particularly happy week for my teams in either the Yahoo or PL.com games. I was, of course, very happy with the Arsenal outcome even if I didn't get any fantasy benefit from it but on a fantasy weekend like the one just past, you take what you can get.
Perhaps the most remarkable turnaround of the weekend in both fantasy and reality was the last 15 minutes between Southampton and Manchester United at St. Mary's. A lot of fantasy managers had put a lot of money into getting Robin van Persie for this match-up despite a prohibitive price. Following his cheeky PK attempt that Kelvin Davis saved, it was looking like a pretty rotten choice. Fantasy managers and Sir Alex Ferguson both have Nigel Adkins to thank for their salvation. In quick succession, Adkins took off his three most dynamic players - Rickie Lambert, James Puncheon, and Adam Lallana - and the bottom dropped out of a 2-1 lead. You could perhaps see the logic if Adkins had locked down the back by bringing on extra defenders and/or holding midfielders but instead he brought on lesser attackers, two of whom were making their Premier League debuts. The Saints had been giving as good as they got up until this point but the new entrants were not able to keep up the attacking threat nor did they provide possession or defending bite. It was a poor decision at the time and the consequences were to be expected with RvP and RvP owners in fantasy the beneficiaries.
I heard a comment somewhere that rang true on the topic. It wasn't any particular genius displayed by SAF or Manchester United ON THIS DAY that swung the tide but rather it was the benefit of years of comebacks that caused Adkins to make a panic move. It may be that the Saints' attackers would have tired over the final 15 minutes and the same thing would have happened minus the substitutions but for my money, I'd want my best guys out there if I had a chance to beat the Red Devils.
Beyond the collapse at St. Mary's, here's what we learned from Week 3 in the Premier League and how it might be beneficial to your fantasy team:
Arsenal - Podolski is going to be a major improvement on Gervinho or Arshavin. He's got an edge to his play both going forward and tracking back that bodes well. Giroud has now missed two that he should have made or at least gotten on target and he needs to break his duck in the next match or two. Finally, I appreciate what the Arsenal defense has accomplished in not conceding through 3 matches but for anyone who watched the match yesterday, I invite you to tell me that you feel comfortable with how they played. It felt like they would have let in 2 or 3 goals if their opponent had an efficient finisher.
Aston Villa - Well, they picked up a point which is nice. Still not a lot to love from a fantasy standpoint with only two Villains having eclipsed 10 points. The only thing to note is that the two who did are still cheap with Clark at 7.02 and listed as a defender being of mild interest.
Chelsea - They almost got a great result yesterday but thanks to RvP, they didn't pick up any ground while sitting out the weekend. One question for Blues supporters though, why on earth didn't you guys go after RvP? How insane would that line-up be with him at the center of Mata, Hazard, et al? Not like you don't have the money.
Everton - As poorly as it went on the field for Everton, it went even worse in fantasy with early-season darling of the big hair Marouane Fellaini going negative along with Distin, Hibbert, Howard, and PNeville. The only bright spot was Leighton Baines who managed 10 despite the otherwise dim Toffees performance.
Fulham - They've never been particularly strong on the road and they were even less so with Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey both gone with no obvious replacements on their way in. Somewhat intriguing in the ugly loss was Nik's favorite player, Steve Sidwell who went for 13 despite no goals nor assists. His price (7.33) and his production thus far this season makes him interesting when Fulham have even an OK match-up. Damien Duff also continues his impressive start to the season - 10.5 on a bad day for Fulham leaves him averaging 16.17 across three matches. Feels like the mid-2000s for Duffman.
Liverpool - Wow, that pretty much stunk. They created some chances but couldn't cash them in. The most promising thing I can see right now is Raheem Sterling who came the closest of the Liverpool players to scoring and is priced at 2.66. Hard to see him losing his starting spot given the alternatives and his play on Sunday.
Manchester City - Tevez, Dzeko and Yaya Toure continue to roll along racking up the fantasy points while the rest of the highly paid (and high-priced) City squad continue to do little of fantasy value. With Aguero likely to return for one of City's next two matches, one of the three City point producers is likely to see the bench again. Maicon anyone?
Manchester United - The biggest story of the weekend for United was certainly RvP's heroics but it papered over the disaster that has been the United defense. Ricky Lambert physically dominated Rafael for his goal and Evra was made to look pretty bad on the other. If you ask me, and by reading you at least sort of are, I'd stay away from the United defense for now. They just don't have it together.
Newcastle - Hatem Ben Arfa was a popular pick this weekend and he came through with an amazing goal. My biggest concern with the Frenchman as a long term hold, even at a reasonable price, is that you just can't count on the spectacular goal every weekend. Cabaye is much more reassuring to me even for a higher price as he managed 11.5 points despite NOT scoring or getting an assist.
Norwich - He hasn't arrived with the same fanfare as Ricky Lambert or Kevin Nolan but Robert Snodgrass is quietly looking the part of a bottom end of the table fantasy contributor. It isn't just the two straight double digit performances and the goal this weekend. The thing that makes you take notice is the phantom points that he's racking up - 7 successful crosses, 5 corners won, 8 fouls won, and 6 tackles won in addition to 3 SOTs and a goal. That sort of dynamic performance leads you to believe that he'll get you something even on the weeks when he doesn't score for you.
Queens Park Rangers - Mildly interesting weekends from new boy Esteban Granero and Fabio who went for 8.5 and 8 respectively despite cheap prices. Neither were sensational but for a team that only has one player (Zamora) in double digit fantasy points TOTAL for the season so far, we'll take what we can get when it comes to highlights.
Reading - They should be well rested after a postponement, a bye week and then an international break.
Southampton - Rickie Lambert continues to be the star of the show with another goal and 16 points over all. James Puncheon was also very good but it was hard to tell if this owed to him being good or Patrice Evra continuing to decay in front of our eyes. I'd keep Lambert if you have him at a discount for sure.
Stoke - Jon Walters doesn't look like a very good player when you watch him but he certainly plays like it from time-to-time. His price is too high in Yahoo but in the PL.com game he's listed as a midfielder and extremely cheap. Probably best suited for your bench in that game but a strong choice given price and production.
Sunderland - Martin O'Neill got a lot of grief for the price he paid for Steven Fletcher but it certainly looked worth it after the former Wolves forward scored a debut brace. Here's the problem: he's now fairly expensive and his efficiency (he scored two goals on two SOTs) works against his fantasy value. He got exactly 1 fantasy point outside of his goals. If he's not scoring goals, he's not getting you points.
Swansea - Even in dropping their first points of the season there were fantasy points to be had from the Swans. Michu, Dyer, De Guzman, and Routledge all went into double digits with Dyer being particularly impressive - he's currently the 7th most productive fantasy player overall among players who have played in all three matches.
Tottenham - The fantasy numbers are as dire as the production on the field with a substitute - Dembele - the only guy in double digits after his sweet goal. Inter Milan wish they had known the secret to stopping Gareth Bale from making an impact a couple seasons back but the answer is apparently making AVB his manager. Throw in the uncertainty over who the first choice starters are and Spurs are a tough choice in fantasy even with Reading next up.
West Brom - Who would have guessed that the top 5 in fantasy points for goalkeepers after 3 matches would be Petr Cech (38), Ben Foster (36), Jussi Jaaskelainen (35), Michael Vorm (30.5), and Vito Mannone (27 despite just two matches). The same can be said for the top 5 defenders where Gareth McAuley is second behind early season sniper Branislav Ivanovic but ahead of Leighton Baines and everyone else.
West Ham United - They were exceptional against Fulham at home with Jussi, Vaz Te, Nolan, Matty Taylor, Guy Demel, and Winston Reid all in double digits. Before you go in the tank for the Hammers please remember the following: 1) as good as they were this weekend, they were that bad against Swansea last weekend; 2) Matty Taylor is likely to see his impact lessened with Matt Jarvis' return even if he retains a starting place; and 3) Kevin Nolan is definitely a hot/cold fantasy player. My inclination is to put the Hammers into Fulham territory - consider them at home but ignore them on the road.
Wigan - Franco di Santo and Shawn Maloney were the only two Wigan players worth commenting on from the 2-2 draw with Stoke. Both players look like they have a chance to be useful spot starters in your fantasy team as they've looked good consistently. There is some talent elsewhere but it isn't consistent enough for your line-up unless you're desperate.