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Mathematical Musings: Oppositional Targeting by Position for FPL GW30 and Beyond

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My last Mathematical Musings post contained oppositional targeting charts with home and away splits for the first half of the season, so it is time for an update covering the first 10 games of the second half. This contains Official BPL data as before, with a bonus of adding Fantrax for the first time. You will want to look over these numbers to help you make all of your difficult choices in optimizing fantasy line-ups for GW30 and beyond.

We've all heard that orange is the new black. Is Southampton the new Tottenham?
We've all heard that orange is the new black. Is Southampton the new Tottenham?
Steve Bardens/Getty Images

2015 was so long ago, it's almost like it was another year entirely. At the turn of the calendar, there were a dozen Republican Presidential candidates, whereas there's a mere quartet now. David Bowie, Alan Rickman and the guy who played Schneider from One Day at a Time were alive and kicking, while now they are all cavorting about in the mad throes of celebrity afterlife.

As for the Premier League, at the midway point Arsenal sat atop the standings, Crystal Palace was in fifth place (boasting the second stingiest defense) and Chelsea was all the way down at 14th. Now Arsenal has slipped to third place (or fourth if you'd like to give extra credit to Manchester City's game in hand), Palace has plummeted to 15th and the Blues have climbed up to the 10th spot. Amidst all that tumult and more since the first half of the Premier League season ended, it's not a bad time to recalibrate with some updated data charts covering the past 10 weeks (GW20 through GW29).

[NOTE: These statistics are for starters only, for reasons explained in the previous post, and they are per player per game averages except with respect to bonus points. As well, due to the limited number of games in GW27, not all teams have played five home and away fixtures.]

OFFICIAL BPL FANTASY

Strikers

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away Games
LIV 5.80 CRY 6.00 NEW 6.60
CRY 5.75 NOR 6.00 LIV 6.13
NEW 5.70 LIV 5.43 STO 5.67
NOR 5.08 SUN 5.29 ARS 5.60
SWA 4.78 NEW 4.80 CRY 5.56
SUN 4.73 CHE 4.50 AST 5.43
AST 4.69 SWA 4.33 MUN 5.29
STO 4.42 AST 3.83 SWA 5.22
MUN 4.31 BOU 3.57 WAT 4.50
ARS 4.25 ARS 3.29 NOR 4.29
WAT 3.67 EVE 3.20 WHU 3.86
WHU 3.36 MUN 3.17 MCI 3.83
EVE 3.20 STO 3.17 SUN 3.75
MCI 3.07 WHU 2.86 EVE 3.20
CHE 3.00 WAT 2.83 LEI 3.00
BOU 2.88 MCI 2.56 SOU 2.57
LEI 2.77 LEI 2.50 BOU 2.33
TOT 2.33 TOT 2.34 TOT 2.29
SOU 2.21 SOU 1.86 CHE 1.71
WBA 1.67 WBA 1.67 WBA 1.67

As for Game Week 30, a takeaway here is that if you've got Arsenal's Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck, you may be better off looking to bench Gunner attackers against West Brom (if the game is not postponed, that is) in favor of a more favorable option; Albion has held strikers such as Diego Costa, Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy in check recently, with none scoring more than 2 points. On the other hand, Benik Afobe of Bournemouth could be a good bet against Swansea, which has struggled against strikers as Joel Campbell, Jermain Defoe, Anthony Martial, Solomon Rondon and Wayne Rooney have each notched 8 points or more. Otherwise, you don't really need the chart to tell you to start Sergio Aguero against Norwich, do you?

Of course, keep in mind that many teams start only one striker (or none), so as with keepers, the data for strikers paint a more restricted picture than as with midfielders and defenders.

Midfielders

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away games
NOR 4.64 NOR 4.63 NEW 4.85
CRY 4.40 CRY 4.53 SUN 4.84
AST 4.37 BOU 4.30 AST 4.75
NEW 3.96 AST 3.73 NOR 4.65
SUN 3.83 EVE 3.27 MCI 4.41
MCI 3.78 STO 3.27 CRY 4.24
STO 3.58 MCI 3.21 WBA 4.12
WBA 3.48 LIV 3.06 STO 3.88
LIV 3.33 WAT 2.96 LIV 3.55
BOU 3.32 CHE 2.93 WHU 3.35
WAT 3.13 NEW 2.86 ARS 3.31
EVE 3.09 MUN 2.83 WAT 3.30
ARS 2.92 WBA 2.78 SOU 3.20
SOU 2.85 SUN 2.74 TOT 3.00
MUN 2.80 ARS 2.48 EVE 2.82
CHE 2.76 SOU 2.45 MUN 2.77
TOT 2.70 TOT 2.36 CHE 2.55
WHU 2.67 LEI 2.33 SWA 2.39
SWA 2.29 SWA 2.18 BOU 2.24
LEI 2.26 WHU 1.90 LEI 2.18

While Swansea gives up plenty of points to strikers, it really shuts down midfielders; amazingly, only Gareth Barry and James Ward-Prowse have managed 6 points or more against the Swans in any of the past 10 games, while bigger names such as Dele Alli, Ross Barkley, Yohan Cabye, Christian Eriksen, Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have been held in check. As such, you should probably not expect much from Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie and Junior Stanislas. Conversely, the Swans' Andre Ayew and Gylfi Sigurdsson will probably have more success in that match-up, as Bourmemouth is more accommodating to midfielders than to strikers.

Defenders

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away Games
WAT 5.88 WAT 5.30 NOR 6.45
AST 4.82 AST 4.28 WAT 6.43
NOR 4.40 ARS 3.90 SOU 5.56
STO 3.92 STO 3.56 AST 5.30
SOU 3.79 SWA 3.53 NEW 5.16
NEW 3.67 TOT 3.35 WBA 4.32
WBA 3.40 EVE 3.26 STO 4.28
CRY 3.34 MCI 2.86 CRY 4.00
ARS 3.13 CRY 2.71 BOU 3.60
BOU 2.98 WBA 2.57 WHU 3.10
EVE 2.89 SUN 2.45 LIV 3.05
TOT 2.85 MUN 2.38 MUN 2.67
SWA 2.76 BOU 2.35 SUN 2.57
MCI 2.64 NOR 2.35 EVE 2.50
MUN 2.52 SOU 2.29 MCI 2.35
SUN 2.51 LEI 1.90 ARS 2.32
LIV 2.49 LIV 1.73 TOT 2.32
WHU 2.12 NEW 1.64 SWA 1.94
LEI 1.68 CHE 1.41 CHE 1.57
CHE 1.50 WHU 1.26 LEI 1.48

With both in the top five overall in the most points given up to defenders, as well as in the applicable home/away splits, the Stoke/Southampton game should be pretty profitable for both sets.

Keepers

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away Games
WAT 5.50 TOT 5.40 NEW 6.40
NEW 4.78 WAT 5.40 NOR 6.00
TOT 4.40 ARS 5.00 WAT 5.60
NOR 4.10 STO 4.40 SOU 5.20
STO 4.10 EVE 4.20 AST 4.60
LEI 4.00 LEI 4.20 BOU 3.80
ARS 3.80 CRY 3.60 LEI 3.80
AST 3.80 LIV 3.50 MUN 3.80
BOU 3.60 BOU 3.40 STO 3.80
CRY 3.60 SUN 3.20 CRY 3.60
SOU 3.60 AST 3.00 SUN 3.40
EVE 3.56 MCI 3.00 TOT 3.40
SUN 3.30 WBA 3.00 WBA 3.20
LIV 3.11 NEW 2.75 CHE 2.80
MUN 3.10 SWA 2.60 LIV 2.80
WBA 3.00 MUN 2.40 EVE 2.75
MCI 2.89 NOR 2.20 MCI 2.75
SWA 2.50 CHE 2.00 ARS 2.60
CHE 2.40 SOU 2.00 SWA 2.40
WHU 2.10 WHU 2.00 WHU 2.20

Leicester's Kasper Schmeichel looks like a nice play this weekend based on the overall numbers, and even moreso given Newcastle's home/away splits as the Magpies give up the most points to keepers when away. Of course, with only one starting keeper per team per game, home and away splits should probably not be relied upon for as reliable a predictive value as with the other, more well-represented positions.

Picking a Captain

I like to look at bonus points when choosing a captain. This is a gander at which teams allow the most bonus points per position; there are no home/away splits given the limited numbers.

Bonus Pts Allowed by Team Strikers Midfielders Defenders Keepers
SWA 10 SUN 13 WAT 19 MUN 3
MUN 8 AST 12 NOR 12 NEW 3
AST 6 NEW 12 AST 11 SOU 2
CRY 5 WBA 10 SOU 10 SUN 2
LIV 5 NOR 9 LIV 9 TOT 2
NEW 5 CRY 8 NEW 9 WAT 2
STO 5 STO 8 WBA 9 CHE 1
ARS 3 MCI 7 CRY 7 NOR 1
MCI 3 WAT 6 STO 7 ARS 0
NOR 3 TOT 5 EVE 6 AST 0
WAT 2 WHU 5 TOT 6 BOU 0
WHU 2 ARS 4 WHU 6 CRY 0
SUN 1 LEI 4 SUN 4 EVE 0
BOU 0 MUN 4 MUN 3 LEI 0
CHE 0 SOU 4 ARS 2 LIV 0
EVE 0 EVE 3 SWA 2 MCI 0
LEI 0 LIV 3 BOU 1 STO 0
SOU 0 BOU 2 CHE 0 SWA 0
TOT 0 CHE 2 LEI 0 WBA 0
WBA 0 SWA 2 MCI 0 WHU 0

You generally want to captain a striker or midfielder since they tend to average more points than defenders or keepers. Benik Afobe, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy look like good options for strikers, while Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Riyad Mahrez offer attractive choices for midfielders.

Then again, defenders have been piling up bonus points lately, so if you're feeling bolder, a Manchester City defender could pay off, as could Kasper Schmeichel in the nets.

FANTRAX FANTASY

As players of both formats well know, Official BPL and Fantrax have not only widely different scoring systems but also different positional designations for several key players and no captain bonus. (Booooring!) Thus, you will not be surprised to see a fair amount of variation with respect to oppositional targeting between the two systems.

Strikers

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away Games
NOR 12.13 NOR 17.33 LIV 12.63
LIV 11.00 CRY 11.13 ARS 11.40
CRY 9.62 LIV 9.38 SUN 11.40
ARS 9.41 AST 7.86 WAT 10.71
AST 9.31 NEW 7.57 AST 10.44
SUN 9.17 SUN 7.57 SWA 10.22
NEW 8.75 SWA 6.60 NEW 9.67
SWA 8.32 ARS 6.57 MUN 9.63
WAT 7.93 WHU 6.25 STO 9.00
MCI 7.31 BOU 6.22 MCI 8.75
MUN 7.22 MCI 6.58 NOR 8.67
STO 7.00 CHE 5.57 CRY 8.13
WHU 6.69 STO 5.50 LEI 7.25
BOU 5.25 EVE 5.40 WHU 7.13
LEI 5.24 MUN 5.30 SOU 6.60
WBA 4.71 WAT 5.14 WBA 5.57
EVE 4.67 TOT 4.71 BOU 4.45
CHE 4.56 WBA 3.86 TOT 4.29
TOT 4.50 LEI 3.44 EVE 4.14
SOU 4.39 SOU 1.63 CHE 3.78

So, um, yeah, Sergio Aguero at Norwich looks like the pick of the week in Fantrax. You might want to have him in your team there. Otherwise, Albion's Salomon Rondon and/or Saido Berahino could be sneaky good picks (again, if the Arsenal/West Brom game is not postponed.)

Midfielders

PPG Allowed by Team All Games
Home Games
Away Games
MCI 8.11 CRY 8.10 MCI 9.33
CRY 8.00 AST 7.58 LIV 9.18
AST 7.95 BOU 7.57 NEW 8.81
LIV 7.62 MCI 7.20 AST 8.40
NOR 7.47 NOR 7.00 SUN 8.04
NEW 7.26 EVE 6.85 NOR 8.00
WAT 7.09 WAT 6.61 CRY 7.91
SUN 6.65 CHE 6.46 SWA 7.80
EVE 6.63 ARS 6.27 WBA 7.65
TOT 6.58 TOT 5.86 WAT 7.59
ARS 6.50 MUN 5.84 TOT 7.21
BOU 6.41 NEW 5.35 MUN 6.90
MUN 6.40 LIV 5.33 ARS 6.75
WBA 6.20 LEI 5.24 STO 6.64
SWA 6.18 SUN 5.14 EVE 6.27
CHE 5.95 SOU 5.00 WHU 6.14
STO 5.81 WHU 5.00 LEI 5.86
WHU 5.60 STO 4.86 SOU 5.52
LEI 5.55 WBA 4.68 CHE 5.35
SOU 5.26 SWA 4.55 BOU 5.06

Are you surprised to see Manchester City atop this list with Liverpool also in the top five? Those are tough teams! Then again, when you think about all the phantom points players get due to activity, it makes sense. On the other end, are you surprised at all to see Chelsea and Stoke roughly in the same class as West Ham, Leicester City and Southampton? Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri and Dusan Tadic may not be particularly attractive this week, while Robbie Brady and Nathan Redmond could pan out nicely.  Then again, the variation between top and bottom in midfield is much less with midfielders than with strikers, so oppositional targeting may not take on quite as much importance.

Defenders

PPG Allowed by Team Home Games Away Games
WAT 10.49 WAT 10.15 WAT 10.81
STO 8.41 TOT 8.75 NOR 10.65
AST 8.33 AST 8.10 LIV 9.25
NEW 8.19 MCI 8.09 NEW 9.25
NOR 8.15 ARS 7.90 SOU 9.21
TOT 8.15 STO 7.85 BOU 9.00
LIV 7.65 EVE 7.26 STO 9.00
ARS 7.56 SWA 7.26 WBA 8.60
EVE 7.43 NEW 6.88 AST 8.55
MCI 7.41 MUN 6.86 CRY 7.79
BOU 7.20 CHE 6.63 EVE 7.61
WBA 7.05 SUN 5.90 TOT 7.53
SWA 6.85 LIV 5.76 ARS 7.20
MUN 6.79 NOR 5.65 WHU 7.14
SOU 6.62 WBA 5.57 MUN 6.71
CRY 6.38 BOU 5.40 MCI 6.53
SUN 6.10 LEI 5.35 SWA 6.48
CHE 5.93 CRY 5.10 SUN 6.29
WHU 5.77 WHU 4.52 LEI 6.10
LEI 5.73 SOU 4.15 CHE 5.29

If you were wondering if Leicester City was a mirage, these and most of the previous charts have told you that the Foxes are indeed for real. Not that you were planning to have too many Newcastle defenders in your team anyway, right?

Interestingly, whereas Southampton has conceded the fifth highest average to defenders in Official BPL, it has allowed the sixth lowest in Fantrax. I recommended both Stoke and Southampton defenders in Official based on overall ranks as well as home/away splits; the same recommendation for both teams' defenders holds for Fantrax, but for Stoke this is due more to the extreme home/away splits as the Saints give up the fifth most points to defenders on the road compared to the fewest at home. You probably should not feel as confident rolling equally with both teams defenders in Fantrax as in Official.

Keepers

You may have expected Manchester City's Joe Hart to be a strong play, but Norwich has been surprisingly stingy with respect to giving up points to keepers in recent home games while it has fared poorly away. Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel stands out as the obvious choice given the favorable home match-up against Newcastle.

PPG Allowed by Team All Games Home Games Away Games
WAT 9.70 TOT 12.20 NOR 12.80
NEW 9.00 WAT 9.80 NEW 12.40
CRY 7.70 CRY 9.40 WAT 9.60
TOT 7.30 ARS 9.00 AST 9.40
NOR 7.00 EVE 7.40 SOU 8.40
AST 6.70 NEW 4.75 CRY 6.00
ARS 5.30 CHE 4.40 STO 6.00
STO 5.20 STO 4.40 MUN 3.20
EVE 4.63 AST 4.00 LEI 2.80
SOU 4.00 BOU 3.60 TOT 2.40
BOU 2.82 LIV 3.50 BOU 2.17
LEI 2.80 LEI 2.80 SUN 2.00
SUN 2.40 SUN 2.80 ARS 1.60
SWA 2.10 MCI 2.60 SWA 1.60
CHE 1.90 SWA 2.60 MCI 1.00
MCI 1.89 NOR 1.20 EVE 0.00
MUN 1.30 WBA 0.60 WBA -0.20
LIV 1.11 WHU 0.60 CHE -0.60
WBA 0.20 SOU -0.40 WHU -0.60
WHU 0.00 MUN -0.60 LIV -0.80