Thursday, 30 July 2015

How to spend wisely in pre-season

Guest post by @fplchips

 
Can you bend it like Adam?

With the new Premier League season almost upon us, Fantasy Football addicts are frantically tracking transfers, following pre-season friendlies and studying the fixture lists. Like all my FPL decisions, I base my GW1 squad on two things: gut instinct and cold, hard stats. I won’t bore you with the inner workings of my gut, but I do want to shed some light on the stats I use to get the most out of my £100m starting budget.

I'm only considering value for money based on last year’s stats here and you should use this information alongside fixtures, rotation, friendlies and hunches. There’s no guarantee that last year’s form will carry over, but it’s the only data we have at this point. The aim is to create a short-list of players that represent good value and to identify any who may have slipped under the FPL price-setters’ radar.

For each position I’ll be highlighting:

  • Star Player - scores highly in all areas, though perhaps less so in value.
  • New Arrival - a player with good stats, who should do even better at his new club.
  • Hidden Gem - a real find, someone with good points/game who for one reason or another played less games last year than I expect them to play this year.
  • Auto-rotation - low value, but very high points/game. This player should be paired with a regular starter with decent value/game on the bench. Think of it as fixture proof rotation.
  • Bargain basement - great value at a rock-bottom price.

My choices are based on a spreadsheet that takes Starting Price, Points and Game-time from last season and calculates *Value, Points/Game and Value/Game-time.

*NB: whenever I talk about value I'm referring to points/price, not price.

Goalkeepers

Star Player - Pantilimon

I had him for most of last year and the reason was simple: no-one else matches his points/game. His value is also high and will sky-rocket if he keeps his place under Advocaat.

Consider: Fabianski, Mignolet

New Arrival - Petr Cech

No-brainer here. Petr Cech’s points/game ratio is extremely high and his increased game-time at Arsenal will boost his value. I expect their defence to improve with Cech in goal.

Hidden Gem - Butland

Jack Butland is Mark Hughes’ first choice keeper and if he can maintain his points/game throughout the season he’ll offer unbeatable value.

Auto-rotation - Myhill

Boaz Myhill’s points/game was second to none whilst deputising for Ben Foster last year. Given the uncertainty over Foster’s fitness in the short term and Myhill’s low price, he is the ideal auto-rotation candidate. Pair him with the likes of Ruddy on the bench.

Bargain basement - Ruddy

In order to judge Ruddy, I dropped his 2013/14 FPL stats into my spreadsheet, so do bear this in mind. He scores highly for value as well as value/game-time. The only area he falls short on is points/game, but if you’re looking to save money then Ruddy’s your man. Whilst you’re at it, you could pick Rudd as your bench warmer - he’s as cheap as the proverbial FPL chip.

Defenders

Star Player - Terry/Ivanovic

Take your pick, it’s so hard to split these two. Both offer unbeatable points/game and, despite their premium price tag, both represent good value. If you really can’t afford one of them in your team, then Azpilicueta and Jagielka offer increased value for slightly fewer points/game.

Consider: Jagielka, Azpilicueta

New arrival - Clyne

Ever improving and now playing for a Liverpool side that sees attack as the best form of defence, Nathaniel Clyne scores highly in all my stats and offers better value than Terry or Ivanovic. Liverpool’s defence was comparable to Southampton’s overall and his high transfer fee should ensure that game-time isn't reduced.

Consider: Wisdom, Chester

Hidden Gem - Huth

Forget Bellerin, if Robert Huth can translate points/game into a long stint in the first team, he’s the stand-out candidate here. Even with the tinkerman in charge, I would expect him to double his game time and points tally. If he did, his value would match that of Terry and Ivanovic.

Auto-rotation - Kolarov

Every year I think about playing Kolarov in this role and every year I don’t. The stats say yes, but my gut says no. The fact of the matter is that when he’s on the pitch Kolarov scores big points. Granted he will pick up the odd one-pointer from a two-minute cameo, but more often than not he plays against the lesser teams and he delivers with aplomb. Maybe this year my gut will permit me to buy him.

Bargain basement - Morgan

Very hard to recommend a £4m defender when looking at last year’s stats because they all played very few games and the promoted teams have no stats (with the exception of Norwich players from two years ago). There are lots of options at £4.5m, most carry some risk, but based on the stats alone I'm going for Morgan. He may miss the opener, but he’s the stand-out option in that price-bracket. Let’s hope the tinkerman thinks so too.

Consider: O’Shea, Martin Olsson

Midfielders

Star Player - Hazard

There are three candidates and none should come as a surprise. I'm plumping for Eden Hazard, as he scores highly for value, points/game and value/game. However, Sanchez and Fabregas are priced in such a way that you essentially get what you pay for; there’s very little between them.

Consider: Sanchez, Fabregas

New Arrival - Sterling

Just short of the quality of those three is Raheem Sterling. If he can benefit from Manchester City’s exuberant, attacking style, then he may just surpass our star midfielders in all three categories. Beware though, if he doesn't start well he could fall by the wayside, like so many of his compatriots have at the Etihad.

Consider: Milner, Cabaye

Hidden Gem - Walcott

OK, so not very well hidden, nonetheless it’s hard to see how Theo Walcott won’t increase his game-time from last year. With such a high points/game ratio and the possibility of playing as a striker, it would take a brave manager to leave him out, assuming he can stay fit.

Consider: Ward-Prowse, Deulofeu

Auto-rotation - Adam

Charlie Adam may not be the first name that springs to mind in pre-season, but his points/game are impressive and at just £6m he would make an excellent auto-rotating midfielder.

Consider: Rosicky, Osman

Bargain basement - Aarons

Price and game-time are so closely linked here that it’s hard to find true value, but there are plenty of players with high points/game who could do a useful job if they get a run in the side. I'm going for Newcastle’s Rolando Aarons based on his points/game last year. However, as he only played four times, I must confess my gut had a say in this.

Consider: Dyer, Albrighton

Forwards

Star Player - Kane

Despite his price hike, Harry Kane still offers good value for money this year. It remains to be seen whether he can re-enact his breakthrough season, but it’s frightening to think that if he does, his value will increase due to increased game-time.

Consider: Ulloa, Berahino

New Arrival - Benteke

Benteke’s rebirth under Sherwood was perhaps even more impressive than Adebayor’s under him at Spurs. If Liverpool can adapt their play to get the most out of Benteke, then his value/game will rise sharply.

Consider: Ings, Adebayor

Hidden Gem - Adebayor

Despite only playing a handful of times last year, his points/game remained high and he’s so good under Sherwood that he warrants another mention here. If he gets anywhere near his 2013/14 stats he’ll make a mockery of his £6m price tag.

Consider: Gomis, Rodriguez

Auto-rotation - Cisse

With a points/game ratio second only to Sergio Aguero (in Aguero’s best season to date) Papisse Cisse is the archetypal auto-rotator. At just £6.5m, back him up on the bench with a regular starter from one of the promoted clubs and you’ll be in auto-rotation heaven.

Consider: Crouch, Gayle

Bargain Basement - Bojan

You’ll probably have to look at the promoted clubs to find cheap striker options who play regularly. Instead I’ve picked three slightly more expensive players, with good points/game, who should get extra game time and kick on from last year (so a sort of budget hidden gem). Bojan stats lead the way here, especially with the new additions at Stoke.

Consider: Ideye, Diafra Sakho

So there you have it. Hopefully by getting better value for money across your team you’ll be able to squeeze in that extra big hitter you’ve been hoping for.

Hit me up on Twitter and let me know if you found this useful.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

5 mistakes that #FPL managers will make (Guest Post)

Here we are just days before the new Premier league/FPL season starts. It goes without saying, it’s been a long summer with no fantasy football. After finishing at an overall rank of 2,973 I just had to go through my team's FPL season one more time. I noticed that I made many HUGE mistakes which I should have avoided, but in turn cost me a spot in the illustrious top 1k!

Can you kick out your mistakes from FPL?

Anyway, here’s my top 5 mistakes; I hope you all have a read and learn from my own FPL experiences...

1. Listening to other people’s advice more often than your own
Don’t get me wrong, getting advice from other people is always helpful. However, you can’t let other people influence your final judgement if you’re not 100% convinced. Only YOU know what’s best for your team. Don’t let other people choose your team for you, that’s your job!!

2. Silly captain picks
On some occasions last season I got so frustrated at not being able to improve my overall rank significantly that I just wanted to take huge captain gambles (risk v reward) in-order to succeed. Unfortunately whenever I did that it just backfired and made things worse than the status quo. Everyone has a series of bad weeks, it’s just a matter of how to deal with those weeks that makes a good FPL manager. Choose a reliable & proven captain each week.

3. Early transfers
Making early transfers a few days before the deadline just to avoid price rises is wrong in my opinion. Good points win you mini-leagues and accumulate green arrows, NOT team value! A lot can happen to your players in the days before a Gameweek. The only scenarios I can recommend early transfers is if you really want that player and think he will perform well in the long term or if a 0.1 price rise means you will be unable to afford the player.

4. Last minute changes
Most of us have this problem. Our team is all sorted on Friday night, captain is picked and bench is sorted in the right order.  On Saturday morning, 30 minutes before the deadline we get that drastic feeling that we NEED to change everything! And then immediately regret doing so when the deadline passes. Trust the decision you made and were certain of from onset unless some last minute injury news comes through. If you can’t do so, try to isolate yourself from FPL until the deadline passes, do other home activities to get your mind away from your team!

5. Not Jumping on the bandwagons early enough
This is probably my biggest mistake from last season. Your calculations on this need to be spot on. Jumping on the bandwagons early (or getting a player just before he becomes part of a bandwagon) is very important. It will ensure that you don't avoid missing out on early gains but also allows you to avoid the huge price rise. Unfortunately I missed out on many players before they become bandwagons (i.e. Harry Kane) in 14/15 while everyone else around me seemed to have them.
P.S: Be careful when you jump on a bandwagon. Don’t just get players in because they performed well in the previous week. Do your research and be 100% certain that the player can keep up his form in the coming weeks!

Written by @FPLPlayer

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Inside the Hornets' Nest (Guest Post)

Watford won promotion to the Premier League after clinching second place in the Championship last season. If they are to have any chance of avoiding the same fate as Aidy Boothroyd's team of '06-'07, they will have to score goals and rack up a few clean sheets. This article will examine their squad highlighting their best FPL prospects as I did for Bournemouth and Norwich.

WARNING: (Do) Approach (but) with caution!

First 8 PL games:

August

Everton (A)

West Brom (H)

Southampton (H)

Man City (A)

September

Swansea (H)

Newcastle (A)

Crystal Palace (H)

October

Bournemouth (A)

After a glance over these fixtures, especially the home games, it should be blatantly obvious that Watford players are well worth considering for your Gameweek 1 squad.

Goalkeepers

Heurelho Gomes 4.5
Probably best known for his blunder filled stint as Spurs' number one. Gomes kept 15 clean sheets last season which roughly translates as one every three games. However he still conceded 50 goals! Nailed on starter but I think there are better options in the league.


Giedrius Arlauskis 4.5
If you were playing "Premier League Player Name Scrabble", I would I highly recommend him, but we're not. In FPL terms, he is not worth selection. He has one competitive appearance for Watford (ever!) and the Lithuanian's price is 0.5 higher than many other sub keepers so he isn't even a viable placeholder.


Verdict:
Give them both a skip.


Defenders

Gabriele Angella 4.5
The Italian centre back has a fantastic attacking record for the Hornets, netting 11 and assisting a further 7 in 81 appearances. That works out as a goal or assist every 4.5 games. If he could maintain these returns in the Premier League he would be value for money.


José Holebas 4.5
This guy is one of the main reasons I wanted to write this article. Every time I see him mentioned in FPL circles, it's because someone has been overly simplistic and believes he is an out and out attacker that will get a steady stream of goals and assists. I'm here to burst this bubble. Most of the career goals and assists the left back got came in his stints in the Greek Premier League and the South Region German League. His time in Europe's marquee leagues have been far less fruitful. Don't be gullible and fall for skewed stats!


Miguel Britos 4.5
New 6ft 2' signing in from Napoli. He is unlikely to score much, as demonstrated by his meagre 3 goals in 99 games in Naples.


Sebastian Prödl 4.5
Another of Watford's 9(!) summer signings. The Austrian appeared 22 times for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last season. Doesn't come with much attacking potential so not the best option in this line up.


Craig Cathcart 4.5
The former Man Utd defender comes with little enticement. New signings mean he is expected to lose his spot in the first XI.


Miguel Layún 4.5
Media and fan reports alike say that the Mexican was poor last season in the Championship. His position in defence may well be at risk because of this. He can play OOP (out of position) in midfield so he could be deployed here. His attacking potential is questionable wherever he plays anyhow.


Juan Carlos Paredes 4.5
Capped 52 times for Ecuador and Watford's main right back last season where he managed no goals and 4 assists in 39 games. New signing of Nyom may hamper his chances of starting.


Allan Nyom 4.5
New signing from Spanish club Granada. He wasn't lethal in attack getting only 1 goal and 1 assist in 34 matches. I can't be certain if he will get the nod ahead of Paredes and frankly, he isn't worth choosing even if he does.


Ekstrand/Pudil/Hoban/Doyley
New signings and limited ability mean these lads won't feature much this season.


Verdict
Rumours are circulating about Quique Flores' plan for Watford's defence. These are mostly centred on whether 2 or 3 Centre backs will be deployed. Angella sticks out as by far and away the most attractive option of all. He has legitimate attacking potential to build on any defensive returns the Hornets manage to get.


Midfielders

Almen Abdi 5.0
If you visit a Watford fan website, you'll leave with the impression that Abdi is the best thing since slice bread! All jokes aside, Abdi is the creative mastermind who makes Watford tick. In 93 games, he has got 23 goals and 14 assists. He is made even more viable by the fact that he is on free kick and corner duty. Fear not, he won't be leaving Vicarage Road any time soon. He just signed a new 3 year contract.


José Manuel Jurado 5.5
The joint most expensive Watford player in this year's FPL. To say his career path is extraordinary would be an understatement. A product of Real Madrid, he transferred and was a success with arch rivals Atlético. Eventually he was snapped up by Schalke before moving further east to Spartak Moscow. After all that extravagance, he has just arrived at Vicarage Road to be the subject of my writing! The Spaniard certainly has the potential to be an FPL gem if he adapts to the style of English football. To illustrate his attacking ability, I'll show you his career stats: Played 321 Goals 45 assists 43. Jurado will play on the wing or as an attacking midfielder and could be this year's Michu. The only issue is the word "could". Nobody can be sure if he will succeed so I'm going to hold off for a while before bringing him in.


Étienne Capoue 5.0
Defensively minded signing from Spurs. He will be a great signing for Watford to solidify the centre of the park but won't be a good FPL points magnet.


Ben Watson 4.5
No goals all last season. Seems to be in line to be dropped to the bench to make way for new arrivals. Avoid.


Ikechi Anya 4.5
A lot of people are looking at the cheap and pacey Scotsman as a viable option to fill their 5th midfield spot. I must warn you, he has no final ball and will be an impact sub at best. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware).


Valon Behrami 4.5
Like Capoue, a defensive midfielder who will rarely provide assists or threaten an opponents goal. His attacking record for his last two clubs, Napoli and Hamburg, is testament to this. 0 goals and 0 assists in 93 games!!!


Tözsér/Fabbrini/Dyer/McGugan/Murray
None of these will figure much this season unless an injury crisis or major change occurs. Maybe they would get a chance if results went south. Nevertheless, don't pick them. Tözsér is in this list because he has announced he is leaving the club. He would have been a good choice and may well be for a different team.


Verdict
Abdi and Jurado look like exciting differentials. Both have proven themselves as able attackers in different leagues, especially Jurado whose record in La Liga was very impressive (P126 G19 A17), granted that was years ago. There are risks attached to both, but isn't there always?


Forwards

Troy Deeney 5.5
The striker's scoring record has been well advertised online recently. If you somehow didn't hear it, he got at least 20 goals every season for the past 3 seasons. The captain is 100% guaranteed to start if he is fit. To add more reasons to get him, Deeney also takes penalties and got 10 assists on top of his 21 goals in 42 games last season. If Watford are to survive in the Premier League, they will certainly need Troy Deeney firing on all cylinders.


Odion Ighalo 5.0
He has done so well in pre-season games against lesser opposition that he has crept onto the FPL radars of many managers. Certainly worth considering him if you only have 5.0 to spend on a bargain basement 3rd striker. I'll stick a warning tag on him though. He didn't always start for the Hornets last season. He often acted as an effective impact sub. Watford will need to play defensively to  get through the majority of their matches next year so I wouldn't be surprised if Ighalo was sacrificed for a fifth defender or midfielder.


Matej Vydra 5.0
If Vydra lived up to the record of his virtual double on my football manager save, I would be shouting from the rooftops promoting him. However he hasn't reached those lofty heights in his career yet and will be no better than a rotation option when the curtain is raised on Gameweek 1.


Fernando Forestieri 4.5
4th choice striker who won't get game time unless Watford's strikers have an injury crisis. Not a good option.


Verdict
Deeney has an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Austin before last season began. He could very well make it to those heady heights, it's impossible to tell. When you're dealing with his price range, Wilson of Bournemouth is the comparable choice. Choosing the correct one could make or break your early season points haul! Ighalo looks like a great option if you only have 5.0, but I can't comprehend people wasting a precious striker spot on someone you can't be sure will play.


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or want to contact me, you'll find me on Twitter: @FPLStag