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.