In this column we’ll be reviewing the previous weekend of #FPL – trying to find interesting notes that may have slipped through the cracks and briefing managers on the story lines that developed. While we may touch on top performances, injuries and the like, this column is intended to delve a bit deeper. We’ll also touch on fantasy premier league draft returns – with Togga the preferred format of the author – @FantasyGaffer
Jack Cork – The Southampton midfielder is priced £4.4m and earned 8 FPL points in gameweek 4, quadrupling his pre-match total. Cork was seeing his first 90′ of the season, with his previous two appearances limited to 13′ and 20′, respectively. The lad born Jack Frank Porteous Cork may hold some value as a fifth midfielder, a true bench player, with the possible potential to score a handful in a pinch. But he is well down the pecking order at St. Mary’s and, even at his meager cost, cheaper alternatives can be found.
So why are we discussing him at all? Because the next eight (8!) on the bounce will see Southampton face sides outside the title race and none with particularly glowing defensive records. There will never be a better time to acquire Cork and to put the savings to use elsewhere in a 2:2 transfer ahead of GW5.
Chelsea – If you haven’t read the earlier post written about Cesc, you should do so now. The 27-year-old Spaniard has set a few records, had you heard? At £9.3m, there is certainly room in your side for him and without the crippling cost of many less successful peers (£10.8 and falling is Yaya Toure). At 43.8% owned, Cesc appears in the third-most FPL squad sheets – behind only club and country teammate Diego Costa (51.7%) and Liverpool’s youthful indiscretion, Rahmeem Sterling (47.3). We’ll discuss Sterling below, but the truth is that both Costa and Fabregas are playing at such a level that FPL managers cannot afford to chase differentials, nor save for a rainy day and all that.
Chelsea are going to continue to punish opponents defensive lapses, through Fabregas, Oscar, Matic, Ramires, Schurrle, Diego Costa, Remy and Co. (it’s an impressive compliment of attacking players) and without owning stock in the above list, your side will – and likely already has – fall by the wayside.
Aston Villa – Kindly take a moment to assess the plight of one Mr. Paul Lambert and his squadron of unflappable veterans. Following a chippy win at Anfield, they will be rewarded with a home encounter against Arsenal, a trip to Stamford Bridge, a visit from the reigning League winners before arriving at Goodison to face Everton in gameweek 8. There is no worse stretch of fixtures imposed on any side in the League this season. All credit to Lambert’s achievement to date – Aston Villa have earned their 3-1-0 record. What they have not done is score many goals – four in four matches. What they likely will be unable to do is maintain their current defensive form – one goal allowed in four matches. And with the sum total of those two points goes any rational reason to retain Villans in your squad.
Truth be told, we like Andreas Weimann quite a bit in #Togga leagues, and his price in FPL is low enough to justify higher than his current ownership (£5.6 and 6.8%, respectively) – but managers unwilling to suffer the fallow period should sell now and look to reacquire him ahead of gameweek 9.
Raheem Sterling – I wrote an update on Sterling earlier this week at the Togga blog where I re-affirmed my distaste for the over-usage of Sterling by the England national team. Still only 19 years of age, the explosive winger played the full 90′ in both of the Three Lions matches during the “break”. Sterling, who only played the final 30′ of the loss to Aston Villa, has looked visibly fatigued at the end of League matches against both Manchester City (78′ played) and Spurs (85′). It was sporting of Brendan Rodgers to save the England internationals legs, just so they could be taxed to the limit by Roy Hodgson.
This is a tricky case – he is owned in the second-most FPL sides and clearly has the ability to surpass 150 points for the season. At the same time, there will be a number of two-point outings in the mix. He played 2219′ in the league last term and, with Champions League and two domestic cups to chase, it is hard to see him earning significantly more time this season. There may be no more enjoyable way to watch a match than to own the most dynamic player on the pitch, but it is equally frustrating to see him substituted early or left on the bench. The situation bears monitoring moving forward.
Daryl Janmaat – 25-year-old Dutch international Janmaat has been the best of the Magpies FPL players this season. His 17 points are six more than the best forward in the side (Emmanuel Rivière, 11pts) and he has both a goal and a cleansheet on his ledger. With 23 caps to his credit, Janmaat is without an international goal which is, perhaps, unsurprising. Before arriving on Tyneside, he played for two season at Feyenoord where he amassed 63 appearances and scored five (5) goals. In his previous post, he turned out for SC Heerenveen where he scored five additional goals. Those came in 84 appearances.
Whatever else we may know about the Premier League, one thing has been proved and that is defender goals are impossible to predict and nearly as hard to come by. Even Leighton Baines has not scored more than five in a season – though he has hit that mark in three of the previous four years. All of which is the long way to say, Janmaat is unlikely to score once every four matches moving forward. What is considerably more likely is for the fullback to earn a clean sheet or two in the immediate future. Newcastle next face Hull (H), Stoke (a), Swansea (a) and Leicester (H). At £5.0 and 4.5% owned, it is worth rolling the dice on Janmaat for the next four gameweeks.
Leighton Baines – In a match that saw Romelu Lukaku opening his 2014/15 account, there was another notable first. Leighton Baines finally earned FPL bonus points – taking all three on the strength of his assist and a BPS score of 38. In the past four seasons, Baines has provided top value for a defender and frequently meets his pre-season price. In 2013/14 he established a new personal high with 26 bonus points, coming in just 2838′ – his lowest total since 2008/09. Baines production from bonus points separates him from the rest of the top tier of FPL defenders.
A season ago Branislav Ivanovic earned just 16 bonus points in 3179 (though he does have 5 already this term), while Baines club-mate Seamus Coleman earned only 20 bonus points despite outscoring Baines 6 goals to 5 and 180 FPL points to 169.
Other ‘premium’ defenders are commanding comparable or greater ownership than the English left back and Baines (15% owned) has seen nearly 150,000 net transfer out in the past three weeks combined and his price has fallen to £6.9m. Ivanovic (23.7% owned), Kompany (13.8%) and Terry (10%) are all within £0.4m of Baines but none is a better bet to reach 169 fantasy points this term. Baines has hit that mark in three of the previous four season – of the other three only John Terry has reached that mark when he posted 172 pt in the 2013/14 campaign. Terry’s previous high-water mark was 150, achieved in 2009/10.
Angel Di Maria – While the point of the post for FPL owners is that Di Maria is a vastly under-owned and highly valuable commodity, is worth noting that he is the most expensive of the four Manchester United midfielders presumed to comprise Louis van Gaal’s first choice starting XI. Juan Mata (£8.8, 12.9%), Ander Herrera (£7.3, 3.3%) and Daley Blind (£5.5m, 1%) are all going to merit increased ownership in the coming weeks.
It is not merely the soft underbelly of United’s league schedule, but the proficiency with which this side has adopted van Gaal’s tactics. While Herrera and Blind are clearly second-choice for FPL purposes, each could be owned as your third Red Devil.
The star of the show was Di Maria. The Argentine international is priced £9.6 as of this writing and will only rise in the coming days and weeks. His ownership is up to 13.4% after six-figure net transfers in each of the past two weeks. Di Maria built on a fine display during the international break by creating six chances against a clearly out-classed QPR side and set the tone for United’s fast paced, pass-driven attack.
There is every reason to believe his 14 point outpouring in GW4 can be replicated against Leicester (GW5), West Ham (GW6) and West Brom (GW8). Even an organized Everton side (GW7) under the superb direction of Roberto Martinez may not be able to contain the myriad attacking options and avenues available to Di Maria.
Moreover, in this particular United side there will be rotation amoung the front three – with Rooney, van Persie and Falcao each likely to lose chances to the others. In a format where forward’s value is tied to his scoring, it is wiser to eschew the selection of a United forward and instead invest heavily in their midfield and fullbacks.
For the Fantasy Premier League Draft analysis– Please read the Togga blog blog.
John Wallin aka Cooper has been playing fantasy sports for more than a decade. An avid supporter of Liverpool since the days of the Spice Boys, he has earnestly worn a white suit on multiple occasions. Prior to joining Togga, he wrote for EPLIndex, MLB.com/fantasy, BackPageFootball and his own site,FantasyGaffer. Follow John @FantasyGaffer.