BPL or EPL? An American tries to identify fantasy opportunities

Fantasy is fun because it has a blend of random chance (game to game stat volatility) and fan skills (identifying players on upward trends). Keep this in mind and don't overreact to weekly performances, especially early in the season when things are shaking out.

For a fantasy NFL example: In week 2 in the NFL last year, Jason Snelling was a top fantasy rusher and Kevin Walter was a top fantasy receiver. So don't overreact to Ivan Klasnic scoring some goals early on. On the other hand, Darren McFadden and Arian Foster were already putting together consistent running performances. So do keep an eye on Matthew Jarvis and Danny Welbeck. The key is to identify trends and not overreact to outliers. Recap blogs like this are useful.

In Premier Fantasy, it's easier to pick up your favorites (everyone can own every player) but it's costly to whiff on too many gambles (you only get 20 transfers). While Danny Welbeck did have a great game for Man U and looked really good, you have to weigh that performance against the possibility of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez eating into his playing time. When looking for opportunities, I am looking for players whose playing time is more of a sure thing.

For the above reasons, Wayne Rooney is the only Man U striker I'd be really comfortable owning. He has played the entirety of their matches and seems like the focal point of their offense at all times. Other top teams have similar timeshare issues - Man City looks awesome, but even Kun Aguero has lost some time (to Carlos Tevez), and he didn't score last week while Edin freaking Dzeko got points. Meanwhile, Tevez still costs more than Aguero but barely plays and has done nothing. And yet a fourth Man City striker, Mario Balotelli, has yet to play a single minute this season but costs the same as Luis Suarez of Liverpool - and Suarez has scored a goal in each game he's played!

I'm sure you see my point. Pay attention to opportunity, cause the current pricing makes no sense. I wouldn't want to touch Chelsea's expensive forwards Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba because they are doing a great DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart impression this year, meaning they're eating each other's opportunities up. I strongly prefer a player like the aforementioned Luis 'Suarez' Suarez or Darren Bent of Aston Villa, each of whom is unquestionably the lead striker for their team and should continue to receive lots of minutes and scoring chances.

To me, it feels like nearly all the high-priced midfielders are underperforming to start the year. But it's early, and several big-name transfers just happened - Nasri to Man City and Juan Mata to Chelsea. Getting a player with plenty of chances to score fantasy points is more about attacking chances than minutes, with the top midfield players. Another way to go about it is to identify the guys who take the set pieces (penalty kicks, free kicks, and corners). Every team gets several corners per game and a few free kicks, every one of which could be an assist for the person kicking it.

Since I'm an uninformed foreign viewer, I've turned to several blogs to try to come up with good potential set piece takers. Each list by these blogs shows a few players from each team who are expected to take the kicks:
Fantasy Premiere League Transfers
Fantasy Football Scout
Fantasy Football Info
Premier League Fantasy (my favorite because it shows the most recent week each player took a kick)

My main focus has been corner kicks. Even for mid-level teams, the player taking their team's corners gets maybe 3-5 extra assist opportunities per game. That can be huge. Players like Brunt of West Brom or Larsson of Sunderland may continue to provide value for this reason.

I have promised myself to wait until after this weekend to make any transfers, in order to give the Premier League fully 3 game weeks to establish trends. So far player market values haven't changed too much so it's not overly critical to rearrange for budgetary reasons. But don't wait too long - David Silva is inevitably going to cost $8.50 before you know it.

How are your strategies holding up so far? Are you making any roster adjustments? What trends are you watching?


  1. I actually want to take the strikers analysis a little further. At this point, these are the only strikers that I feel very comfortable will continue to get a maximum amount of scoring opportunities (in order of most comfort to least):

    Wayne Rooney, MUN
    Luis Suarez Suarez, Liv
    Sergio Kun Aguero, MCY
    Darren Bent, Ast
    Robin Van Persie, Ars

    And on that list, Van Persie has done nothing (but played all possible minutes) and Aguero has still lost minutes to Tevez.

    Do you agree with that list? Anyone you'd add or subtract?

    To me there is a quite clear second tier if you are doing some kind of maximized midfield / bargain strikers strategy. The second group includes: Klasnic (BLT), Dzeko (MCY), and Shane Long (WBA). Guys trying to break into that group on mid-pack teams include Gyan (Sun) and Odemwingie (WBA). The expensive foursome of Welbeck and Chicharito (MUN), and Torres and Drogba (CHL) would vault into the top group if only one of each pair would blackmail the other into leaving the country.

  2. Question for you all: Manchester vs Rest-of-EPL; who wins?

  3. Manchester. The new fantasy strategy is to take as many Man U and Man City players as possible. Especially their attacking players.

    How do you feel about Chicharito? On the one hand Welbeck is out, so he should be their main forward alongside Rooney. On the other hand, his team scored EIGHT FREAKING GOALS and he didn't participate in a single one of them (goal or assist). Freak coincidence that he didn't, or a bad omen for his fantasy future?

  4. Good news: I didn't overreact to early season performance and didn't make any moves.

    Bad news: I didn't make any additional moves until today, well past the point when "early season performance" had morphed into "living corpse masquerading as a football player".