EPL or BPL? Striker watch

Changes have been happening in the EPL (BPL).  The transfer deadline finished and Fulham was the fulcrum for two of the most interesting changes from a fantasy perspective: they sent striker Dembele and midfielder Dempsey to Tottenham, and they picked up Berbatov from Man U to play striker for them.  Additionally, the top teams' striker situations are changing: Aguero and Rooney are coming back from injury, changing the outlook for all of the Man City and Man United strikers.

The truth is that there's probably not a ton I can tell you that you can't already read on Premier League Fantasy Football Blog, which is fantastic and much more detailed statistically.  You could stop reading this right now and go there instead, and I wouldn't even be mad.  If you would rather have the thumbnail sketch version of what to pay attention to in the EPL fantasy world, however, here is the rundown:

  • Striker changes - Berbatov is now the lead striker for Fulham; Aguero and Rooney are returning from injury for City and United, respectively; Dembele is now on Tottenham.
Be warned -- Berbatov is apparently hurt and not playing this weekend (week 6)!!  But he looks phenomenal ("like pure class", as Men in Blazers would say) and should definitely be considered a top striker going forward considering his price is only $6.8.  By contrast, Tevez and Van Persie have been by far the best strikers the last few weeks, but the return of their teammates might cut into their minutes.  

Tevez only played 23 minutes last weekend.  If you have him, I recommend selling him and taking the profits.  You may want to immediately invest them in Aguero, who played 85 minutes in his return.  Balotelli and Dzeko have been WAY too inconsistent in minutes to warrant their price tags.  Van Persie I'm not sure about ... he played well even before Rooney was hurt, and United doesn't have a ton of scorers, so I'm not giving up on him.  But watch it closely over the weekend.

I was surprised to learn that the ESPN Fantasy game considers Dembele on Tottenham a striker...  He positions himself and plays a lot like a midfielder, and an especially deep defensive one sometimes at that, but I guess they put him at striker.  As a striker I don't love him for the $6.7 he costs - particularly in comparison with Berbatov.  But someone to keep an eye on.

  • Midfield stars - Dempsey is now on Tottenham; Cazorla and Hazard are awesome; Everton is ascending; Swansea City is slowing down; City and United are confusing.
Dempsey was one of last year's best players, and I have to believe that someone as good as him will eventually do well on a talented team like Tottenham.  However, it might take them some time to figure out the flow, so be patient and watch closely.

On the other hand, Cazorla on Arsenal and Hazard on Chelsea are clearly balling out of their minds right now.  If you watch them play, they are the focal points of all the best attacking plays on their teams just like Silva was for City last year, and the underlying stats back it up according to Prem League Fantasy Blog.  I think they are both must-owns in your midfield, especially considering their teams are good and should score a lot.

Two mid-tier teams with good fantasy options are going in opposite directions - Swansea City seems to be slowing down, and Everton is moving on up.  For Swansea, they had a great start to the year and midfielders Michu and Dyer were the beneficiaries.  However, they feasted on cupcake teams (QPR, West Ham, Sunderland) and are now hitting a much more difficult schedule.  Through Christmas, you can see only three matchups that are as easy as those first three.  I recommend selling high on Michu and Dyer if you can. Everton midfielders Fellaini and Pienaar ("Peanuts") are good options in the same price range.  They've been playing equally well but against better competition, and over half of their remaining games are against creampuff opponents.

I mention City and United because they are once again going to be among the top scoring teams in the EPL, and you want to have their midfielders to participate in that fantasy success, but at the moment they are too crowded and not consistent enough.  Keep an eye on Valencia, Kagawi, Nani, and (when he's healthy) Young for United; also watch Silva, Yaya Toure, and Nasri for City.  At some point 1-2 on each team should break out in a big way, especially with all the talent at striker in front of them.  My personal guess is for Silva to get back on form, and for Valencia and Kagawa to be United's best midfielders.  But we'll see.

  • Defense standouts - star defenders like Ivanovic, Cole, Baines, and Rafael appear to be worth the price
Normally I don't love paying too much for defenders, cause they just don't score enough to be worth allocating your resources to them.  That being said, the four guys above have consistently been getting involved in the offense AND are on teams that can rack up clean sheets.  That is a good combination.  It would also be reasonable to trust guys like Vermaelen on Arsenal and John Terry on Chelsea going forward,  if you like defenders who play some offense.

The other defense note is that this year's surprise team is West Brom, and their defenders can be had relatively cheaply (kind of like Sunderland's D last year).  So far they have some clean sheets and some points, so consider guys like McAuley, Ridgewell, and Olsson from their squad, all of whome are cheaper than $5.5.

Okay that's all I've got for this week.  What other fantasy EPL trends should we be watching?


  1. Have you found any source that can reliable inform you which ManU or ManCity strikers and mids will be starting? Do they even announce starters before the game actually starts? If I was living in the UK, should I be able to avoid a 0 minute game just by paying attention?

  2. Well that's part of the problem - I don't know if what we're getting is the disorganized scraps of information that gets funneled efficiently to English viewers, or if the whole system is just whack. I think the latter though. When you see the lineups being announced at the start of the games (admittedly, on Fox Soccer broadcasts) the announcers often seem surprised at who is/isn't starting. And game times are staggered so it's not a huge help here.

    I thought I had a good source with the Guardian Squad Sheets, but those turned out to be super wrong. So no. I have no idea.

    I'd have to double check this, but I am pretty sure that Valencia didn't even play for United today. And the City striker minutes were weird again. It's a disaster.

    Flip side is that this does add value to locked in starters - Berbatov on Fulham, Suarez on Liverpool (who had a hat trick this weekend), the entire Chelsea team - who will not get their minutes jacked around barring unforeseen injury.