Posted on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 by everesty nuralia pritama
I've missed a couple of 'fanning the flames' pieces over the festive period as the games have simply come too quickly to stay on top of. Given the fact that the wildcard window is about to open, I thought it might be useful to look over the last four gameweeks of action and perform the same analysis as we normally do; deciding whether their success is legitimately repeatable.
As in prior weeks, each player is assigned a 'buy', 'hold/monitor' or 'sell' status. These do not necessarily reflect what I would personally do, rather what I suggest to be a decision based in logic. For example, I might feel that Rooney represents better value than van Persie, but I would still 'buy' the Dutchman's success and consider him very ownable. The different assigned statuses are summarised as:
- Buy - the player can be purchased immediately taking consideration of his playing time, fixtures, injury status etc. This status does not necessarily mean you should buy him now as it depends who else you own, only that it is reasonable to do so.
- Hold, and/or monitor - if you own the player you're not in a rush to sell him but there's sufficient risk here to justify potential buyers holding off.
- Sell - the player has too many risks and should either be sold or not purchased. This does not mean he might not have value in the future, just not right now.
The below analysis is best reviewed alongside the player dashboards, which show all the stats highlighted within the narrative.
Gerrard isn't getting a ton of attention despite his big points haul over these past few weeks, likely due to the assumption he has lost a step and can't recapture his previous stardom, not to mention that very steep price tag. However, his underlying stats do backup very solid production and his eight SiB over the last four gameweeks put him third among all midfielders (behind Young and Walcott). His stats support someone is very ownable but there are two issues which will likely preclude any investment on my behalf. First, of course, is that price tag which puts him in elite company and alongside players like Gareth Bale and Juan Mata who have shown an ability to deliver both consistently and with high upside. The second issue is how Gerrard fits into his own team, as he can sometimes be pushed a bit deeper when Henderson or Shelvey start, and thus he might struggle to generate the volume of shots required to deliver consistent points. I like his prospects and if you're in a hole in your leagues, he's the kind of player who can deliver enough points to close a large gap, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready to at the top of that list just yet.
Status: Monitor, or a speculative buy if you need substantial differentiation in midfield
I've been a vocal advocate of Walcott's game in past seasons (at least for fantasy purposes) but his contract situation and the arrival of fresh talent at the Emirates made him all but impossible to own. The move up front has made a huge impact to Walcott's numbers though, allowing him to rack up 17 total shots and 13 SiB over the last four gameweeks to lead all midfielders, and that's despite Arsenal having a week off! We've seen some decrease in chances created and so those three assists over the last two games are likely not sustainable, but they should be more than compensated by the extra goal threat.
I think it's naive to think that Giroud - who himself has notched six goals in limited minutes - is simply going to be a sub from here on in and thus Walcott isn't going to get 19 starts up front. That said, the other wide options for Arsenal have been solid rather than spectacular so I would suggest that when Giroud does play, Walcott will still be given every opportunity to play alongside him, only in a slightly deeper role.
The contract issue looks like somewhat of a non-issue as Wenger has shown not only a commitment to play him in the last month, but also a willingness to deploy him in his favoured position through the middle. If something changes in the future - which is a possibility - we may need to move quickly with Walcott but until then I'm more than happy to own him. The fact his xP numbers are well below his actual points isn't necessarily a slight, given that he's averaging 13 points a game, it only highlights that this torrid rate is not sustainable. His underlying stats are great and given his advanced deployment and the upcoming double gameweek, he looks like a great buy for now and for the future.
I've been a big fan of Cazorla this season and have suggested he's been undervalued, and often underheld, for much of the season. However, the numbers have really caught up with him of late and his excellent underlying stats have dropped to a level of just being good. On a per minute basis, he still remains about as good as anyone not named Silva at creating chances and with Walcott, Giroud and Podolski all looking sharp in front of goal, those chances should continue to be converted at a decent rate. However, his goal scoring threat has really slowed down lately and his seven total shots (just three SiB) are not indicative of an elite scoring midfielder, even if you allow for the fact he's play a game less than most others.
Cazorla remains very ownable and you obviously won't want to be selling him so soon before Arsenal's double gameweek but with his ownership number creeping over 20% and his price at an all time high, there's a case to be made to making the switch to Walcott or one of the other elite options.
Status: Buy for the double gameweek but consider selling long term if that goal threat doesn't return
Robin van Persie
Nothing really to note here as van Persie continues to do very well, even off the bench. History would still suggest that his current conversion rate will regress slightly and the return or Kagawa adds one more option to increase the likelihood of rotation, but if you have the cash to spend, there's no arguments here that van Persie is a decent way to spend it (even if, in my view, it still isn't the optimal way).
I was a big fan of Jones back in Sunderland days but I've been pretty dismissive of him this year at Stoke, working on the assumption that Crouch would eventually retake his spot at the apex of Stoke's 4-5-1. Jones isn't going to continue scoring at his current clip (based on just four SoT in the past four gamweeks) but those 12 shots (11 SiB) are very decent for a mid-level forward, never mind one available for just 5.0m. Jones has a huge home/away split so far this year which may put some off, but I actually see that as an advantage as you're only going to be spot starting him anyway so I'd prefer to be able to better forecast when those games will occur.
If your plan is to snag a cheap third forward and spot start him, Jones is a good option as his next six home games see him face just one tough opponent (CHE in GW22). Given the strength of the elite forwards and the decent mid-level depth, I'd personally favour grabbing one or two budget midfielders but if you want to go cheap up top, Jones is probably neck and neck with Ruiz as good as it gets.
Status: Buy if he fits your strategy but temper your expectations based on those underlying stats rather than his actual points scored.
When Fellaini picked up his suspension I didn't give Pienaar too much attention given the fact that his value to date has been mainly wrapped up in his assist potential, which I feared would suffer greatly in the Belgian's absence. Interestingly, in the last four weeks his profile has switched, with just four chances created but a solid nine shots. Fellaini is back this week - though I'm not sure his absence was the leading factor in this role reversal - so we'll see what Pienaar does in the coming weeks and if his shot totals are for real. For his price I'd say Pienaar is solid, rather than spectacular value and at his price tag really already includes a lot of upside.
Status: Just a monitor for me, as I don't see a whole lot of upside given Pienaar's price and ownership numbers
Podolski should be fine and has exceeded the expectations of many given his deployment on the left, which hasn't really slowed down his goal threat. At 8.2m he looks a touch overpriced but he's a good way to access this free scoring Arsenal team if you can't fit the talented midfield duo in. As much as I like him, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that sky high SoT conversion rate which now sits at 60% and looks set for regression unless you believe him to be a very special goalscorer.
Status: Buy for the double gameweek but long term he's probably stuck between the elite and the mid-range options and could be sold unless you're desperate to access this Arsenal side.
As the chart above shows, Suarez is in the somewhat unique position of not only delivering excellent actual points, but also backing them up with tremendous xP scores. His shots have been off the charts and it's encouraging to see a good proportion of them taken inside the box. Throw in an elite assist potential (not just for a forward but among all players) and you have a recipe for excellent returns. The only issue is the upcoming fixtures which see Liverpool travel to Man Utd, Arsenal and Man City in the next five weeks. Can Suarez have success in those games? Absolutely. But, you're looking to improve your probability of success and the chance of big hauls in those games is surely diminished. If you're making a transfer this week, and have a spare transfer to use in a few weeks (or plan to use the wildcard), Suarez makes a lot of sense to capitalise on the visits of SUN and NOR but long term I think I'd be wanting to stay away until GW26 after which Suarez looks about as good as anyone for the rest of the season.
Status: Hold, or buy for the short term but be careful of those tough away trips
Though Lambert remains a solid mid-level option, this recent uptick in points is really a mirage, with two goals coming off just five shots, only two of which hit the target (though one of course was a penalty). The model likes him to nicely tick along at 4-5 points per game and that's pretty valuable for a ~6m forward, but just be careful you know what you're buying here and don't assume Lambert can be used to replace the production of a Ba/Defoe type on a weekly basis.
Bale continues to be perhaps the best combination of sustainable, elite production and though his suspension this week is very badly timed given the fixture, it does give him a week off, which might have come anyway, and he should be good and rested to be picked up again when you pull the trigger on your wildcard.
Status: Sell him for this week if you have the fixtures to spare (or plan to wildcard next week), but long term he's a buy
Kone looks set to depart for the African Cup of Nations so will likely depart after GW22, returning around GW27 depending on Cote D'Ivoire's progress. When playing I'd suggest his stats are very much for real but he's unfortunately one player we'll have to forget about for a while.
Not too much to add for Mata as he continues to deliver at a high level. His goal scoring threat has been elite while his chances created has taken a slight downturn of late but I wouldn't really have any concern about Mata contributing in either category. I'd be willing to pay the premium to get Mata over Hazard and if you're targeting him, this is the week to do it with QPR coming to Stamford Bridge.
My initial instinct was to scoff at the return of Lampard, but in truth his underlying stats have backed up much of his production and he's shown that even at his price tag he could be a viable option. Only Bale and Walcott have taken shots at a higher rate recently, while he's even been able to create a number of chances to boost his assist potential. The issue, of course, is playing time and I'm just not convinced that Lampard will get enough of it to succeed. It's frustrating to forecast success for a player then watch his succeed while being helpless to act, but at 8.4m it's just going to be really hard to watch him sit on the bench every three weeks, or worse, come on for 15 minute cameos, as he has done five times already this season. If Oscar were to pick up an injury, or we somehow received word that Lampard's place in this side is more secure I'd be very interested but until then I just can't get behind the former fantasy great.
Status: Monitor for confirmation of playing time
Lennon is a good example of why I have some issues owning van Persie. The difference between him and Bale is currently 2.6m while the difference between van Persie and Aguero (or anyone else but Rooney) is 3.0m+. The gap between these two sets of pairs is currently fairly comparable but you need to account for the fact that Bale has played 300 minutes less than Lennon, after which the gap would obviously be much wider. Throw in the fact that grabbing Aguero/Bale gives you much wider scope to transfer around to take advantage of fixtures and you'll hopefully see my point. Anyway, with regards to Lennon, he's a fine player and should continue to generate points at a decent rate but he doesn't offer much upside and doesn't really have the stats to backup his current goal tally, never mind any further potential.
Status: Hold, or even buy for the next two weeks but long term I like Bale a lot more
Ba's underlying stats have been incredible of late and despite his very good returns, you can easily make the case that he has actually been even better (given that the model tends to undervalue the top end of the market due to better conversion rates and maximum bonus points). The upcoming fixtures don't give too many causes for concern and at 8.5m Ba will remain one of the best value options around.
For anyone wondering, and to save you a quick bit of Googling, Senegal didn't qualify for the African Cup of Nations so Ba is staying at Newcastle unless someone meets that reported release clause.
Brunt is creating a decent number of chances which could give rise to a solid points haul but with all his shots coming outside the box, I'd be concerned that goals are going to be tough to come by. If you're going to invest in someone taking pot shots from outside the area I'd prefer it to be Taarabt, even if his created chances are converted less often.
Status: Monitor given his past success and created chances but we'll need more SiB before this becomes a buy
Walters continues to tick along with very good points production but these underlying stats show some cause for concern. Three total shots (two on target) isn't going to support huge goal totals in the future and a quick glance at his average position charts shows him playing a deeper role on occasion with Etherington (GW18 and GW19) seeing more advanced play to support Jones. At 6.6m Walters can still have some value but if he continues to play like he has the past month, he's not going to perform as he has in the first half and thus is someone who should be considered for sale, especially given the upcoming fixtures.
He isn't sexy or exciting but Osman continues to generate decent numbers and is solid value at 6.3m. However, as with Lennon above, sometimes it's worth sacrificing in other areas to make an upgrade and the 1.1m required to move from Osman to Fellaini really is a no-brainer. Now, the next five games look pretty solid on paper so there is a case to be made for doubling down on Everton players and Osman is a decent way to do that, given his substantially lower ownership number (1%) versus Pienaar (14%). I'd be okay owning Osman and he's a good way to double up on a good team, but I can't easily condone selecting him over Fellaini who simply dominates his underlying numbers.
Status: Monitor, and only buy to double up on Everton options
Oscar's underlying stats have actually been less appealing than Lampard so from a fantasy perspective we should probably be rooting for the Englishman to win more playing time to give us more options. All the arguments against Lampard apply here too yet he doesn't bring a history of goal scoring or even one for this year.
Pilkington is right there alongside the Walters and Osman group and given his price tag (5.8m) he therefore looks fairly attractive. His SoT conversion rate was incredibly low to open the year but has been slowly regressing, which has seen his points tally rise too. Are you super excited to own him? Probably not. But if nothing else, fixtures against NEW, @QPR and FUL in the next six weeks at least makes him a decent spot starter.
Which three midfielders lead the league in created chances over the past four gameweeks? Bale, Silva, and, well, the fact I'm typing this under a header labelled "Stewart Downing" probably gives it away, but still, shocking, right? Throw in seven shots (three SiB) and you get a very reasonably midfield option who's held by no one (0.5%) and whose shaky reputation is likely to limit any future bandwagons. With the transfer window open there's a non-zero chance that Liverpool strengthen and Downing gets pushed aside once more, but for now, he looks like one the better options in this side and is taking his chance to excel. Given the underlying stats of late and the difference in ownership numbers, I'd be strongly inclined to make the leap from Sterling to Downing if you believe Liverpool's uptick in scoring is for real.
I'm more nervous about Taarbat than I was a few weeks back as while the efforts from long range were always a concern, the 1:16 ratio over the past four weeks is pretty disastrous. However good you are, the conversion rate for those efforts is just so much lower than with SiB that you have to significantly downgrade his goal potential to the point where in of itself it barely supports his ownership. The good news is that he also brings a good assist threat (10 CC) and so he should at least deliver some points while we wait for him to take a shot he might actually score. Given the upcoming games I'm okay taking a backseat on the Taarabt bandwagon to see where QPR go in the next few weeks, and then consider reinvesting in ~GW25.
Benteke continues to get some chances but Villa are in such woeful form that even while a large share of their shots translates into a modest haul. The upcoming fixtures are good enough to think Villa will recover a bit so it's far from panic time for Benteke owners, especially given that he's still well priced and acts as a decent differential option.
As noted above, Pilkington is worth a look in this Norwich side, though I'd still take Snodgrass, who shades the underlying stats here too. I'm not too sure why he's so much better away from home but I don't have any particular concerns about playing him in all but the hardest games. His chances created numbers have been steadily increasing giving him the chance to contribute in all categories, which is rare among his similarly priced peers. The upcoming games aren't great but there's enough there to warrant keeping the buy tag on Snodgrass.
No one creates chances to a level even close to Silva when City are ticking, and given the depth of talent up front, those chances should continue to be converted at a decent rate. His 6% ownership rate is considerably lower than the majority of elite midfielders and so, again, if you need to start making some ground on your opponents, Silva is quite possibly an excellent place to start.
Much like Lampard above, there's much to like here but without guaranteed minutes (and they're far from guaranteed with Tevez now fit and Balotelli being close) it's impossible to pay such a premium price. Get back to me when someone gets injured or sold.
In terms of underlying stats, Aguero has been as good as anyone over these past few weeks, and it isn't really clear what might have caused his conversion rate to drop. Still, I'm more than happy backing him and believe he will deliver sufficient value versus the likes of van Persie to make the 3.0m savings worth while.
I'm not in on Yaya yet I'm afraid. He has enjoyed a bit of time playing in that advanced role which gave him so much joy last year but with Tevez and Balotelli back in the frame, and Nasri only out for a couple of games, I don't see that situation really continuing. He's off to the African Cup of Nations in a week or so anyway so he's immediately a sell, and based on what we've seen so far this year, I don't believe he's a buy target on his retuen.
Sessegnon has turned his season around after a miserable start to the year and he's been good value for his points haul of late, with some solid underlying stats in terms of both goal and assist threat. O'Neil has also been very reluctant to drop Sessegnon deeper, with Fletcher even playing a deeper role at times to accommodate Seesegnon up top. The key graph from his player dashboard for me is the pSiB%, which shows an increasing involvement for Sessegnon, not accounting for 14% of all Sunderland's chances inside the box. The sticking point is that price tag which is in the Fellaini range, and higher than the likes of Nolan or Snodgrass, but as we've said several times before, at some point you're going to need to force the issue with differentiators and so Sessegnon could well be in the conversation.
Again, to save you a search, Benin are not in the African Cup of Nations so Sessegnon won't be departing for warmer climates.
My own stats would have been boosted if I played in that destruction of Villa back in GW18 and so I wouldn't read too much into Ramires' success. A deeper role and no guaranteed playing time makes this a no go for me.
One shot, one goal, one created chance, one assist: zero interest
I'm quite excited by Marveaux's prospects but the fact that the majority of his shots are still coming from long range suggests his potential is probably limited to a spot starter/fifth midfield type for now, rather than someone who can legitimately come in and start for you every week. Still, at 4.2m that will do nicely and his eight created chances indicate he should be able to contribute in all categories; a rarity among the uber-cheap group.
I can't see Anichebe holding his place in this side when Fellaini returns so his pretty solid underlying stats are something of a moot point.
Those handful of down appearances now appear to be behind Berbatov, and whether they were due to Ruiz's absence or simply tougher games, the future looks brighter for the Bulgarian. The upcoming fixtures have a couple of tough games but overall they're pretty solid and I like Berbatov to continue to return solid, if somewhat unspectacular, points.
Status: Buy, although his lack of huge upside does cause my eye to wander somewhat to other options
I'd love to get involved here but Johnson simply doesn't have the underlying stats to suggest that any of his recent success is repeatable. Four shots and four chances created wouldn't be a disaster if Johnson had already been enjoying a great season but if you're basing a transfer on this meagre showing, I believe you'll be disappointed. In fairness, this run of games saw him face both Manchester clubs so any kind of success deserves monitoring, but I haven't seen enough to suggest he deserves mentioning alongside the likes of Pienaar, Lennon or even Fellaini as his price indicates.
You would assume that Carrick is another player we can instantly dismiss but he's actually put up some useful numbers in terms of generating assists and given the lack of obvious alternatives in midfield to get access to this United side, Carrick isn't totally devoid of appeal. At 5.8m he isn't a steal and a lack of goal threat limits his upside somewhat but he's owned by no-one and appears to be fairly entrenched in this excellent United side. It's not a move I would make by design by Carrick should register as a useful alternative when your other mid-range options pick up injuries or suspensions, especially when the fixtures fall right for the United man.
Status: Monitor, but consider as a spot start sub when other options don't excite.
If Carrick doesn't excite you, maybe Young will. His nine SiB rank only behind Walcott over this four gameweek period, despite not even playing in the 4-3 win against Newcastle. United's depth is the main concern here, especially with Kagawa returning to further muddy the waters, but in terms of true wide players it's still really only Young and Valencia for a few more weeks until Nani returns. Young isn't really a player I would ordinarily target given the risk involved for his price tag, but so long as Nani remains sidelined or out of favour, and United keep scoring at this torrid rate, he offers a reasonable way to access this side, at a price range in which there are few other options (other than the infinitely owned Michu and Yaya).
It's a hard sell to suggest buying an ~8.0m midfielder who hasn't scored all year but a good proportion of his efforts have come inside the box and his seven SoT are the third most among midfielders without a goal (Ki and Sigurdsson). His set piece threat adds a level of certainty to his chances, as does the fact he has two of the best forwards in the league getting on the end of his created chances. Overall he's a risky bet whose underlying stats don't indicate a huge amount of upside. However, he has the talent and opportunity to deliver significant points without being owned by many of your competitors and thus he needs to be considered, at least in the short term.
Status: Speculative buy
I'm not convinced by Fletcher and while it wouldn't be fair to simply throw out those first four games and then call him a 3.8 PPG player, but equally, it's unwise to simply include those goals and assume he'll go on a run again where he literally converts every shot he gets in a goal for a four week period. His true talent is probably somewhere around a four point player, which is fine for 7.0m, but there's absolutely no way I can justify picking him over Berbatov and it's tough for me to see much or argument for his inclusion over Benteke or Kone (although he will depart for the African Cup of Nations so is not an immediately useful pickup).
Status: Hold as there's no desperate reason to sell but I maintain that better value can be found
The below players are highlighted due to the gap between their xP and actual points scored, even if they haven't enjoyed much actual success over the last four weeks:
Adebayor has already got his reward for some solid performances with a goal as I write this in GW21, but unfortunately all this will be for nothing as he rejoins his Togo teammates at the African Cup of Nations. He'll be an interesting player to look out for on his return given his ability and the fact that most teams will look very similar by that point, but for now, he's out of contention.
Status: Sell due to the ACN, but monitor on his return.
Morrison has been something of an enigma all season, delivering excellent underlying stats but failing to convert them in consistent points. In terms of goalscoring the problem has been taking too many shots from outside the area, but in the assist department (two assists from 37 CC on the season) he looks to have been a touch unlucky and his fortunes are likely to improve in the future. He hasn't delivered any fantasy points of note over the past nine gameweeks so it's admittedly hard to get involved here, but the underlying stats remain solid and he's decent value for his 6.0m price tag. He looks startable in the majority of the upcoming games and deserves a little of attention during this wildcard period.
Status: Buy, though not with too much excitement
Rooney's injured was extremely ill times as he had really come into his own and gotten more fortunate with his SoT% to the point where he was really holding his own against the all-conquering van Persie. He's currently pegged to return after the FA Cup game next week so he could be back in the mix for early wildcarders, though I'd want to monitor that situation very closely if you're interested in bringing him back right away. If you're going to carry on without van Persie, I believe that Rooney or Aguero are the best bets to generate not just the ceiling of points required, but also coming with a low ownership number which is likely to remain depressed as all those van Persie struggle to fit them both in. I'd be happy with either and will personally start off with whichever one has the best chance of playing following their respective injuries.
Status: Buy when healthy but monitor closely to see when that is
Jelavic continues to generate decent shot numbers but hasn't captured the imagination with high points totals of late. At 8.1m we're going to need more than 'solid' underlying stats and so while I'm not ready to totally abandon the talented front man just yet, I'd like to see more before putting him ahead of cheaper options like Berbatov, Benteke or even Lambert.
I don't really know what to say about Tevez. When he's played he's been about as good as ever, putting up good underlying stats as well as delivering actual point earlier in the year. However, for me Aguero has been City's best player for a month now and, when fit, it looks likely that he's the first name on the team sheet once again. The fact that Balotelli has been disappointing while Nasri is suspended (and also disappointing means that Tevez should get more chances soon, but as long as Dzeko continues to score, and City continue to win, Mancini seems slightly less inclined these days to rotate for the sake of it. If he wasn't owned by anyone I'd be okay taking a risk here, but at 30% ownership, it's likely that a number of your opponents hold him and thus he becomes less attractive.
Status: Buy if you believe he'll play but don't assume that's the case
Meh. Odemwingie has some potential but he gets pushed out wide in most games and yet doesn't really respond with an increased assist threat like someone like Podolski has. He's managed just three SiB over these past four gameweeks, half as many as Lukaku who has played 33% less minutes.
Category Article Cazorla, Dousing the Fire, English Premier League, Fanning the Flames, Fantasy Sport, Football, Gameweek 20, Kenwyne Jones, Pienaar, Premier League Fantasy, premierleague.com, Robin Van Persie, Steven Gerrard
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