The ESPN game was covered in this post, and this is the abridged Buying Guide for that game. Keep in mind, the rules are a bit different with respect to transfers, pricing and scoring.
Immediately you’ll notice that there are a number of pricing discrepancies between ESPN and the Official Fantasy Premier League – for the most part we’ll ignore those here but we wanted to use one example for emphasis.
Mario Balotelli is priced £7.8m. He is the sixth most expensive forward and is rated ahead of Tevez (£7.6m), Suarez (£7.5) and Ba (£7.4m). Because the prices in the ESPN game fluctuate based on performance (and not selection), there is a premium of buying players based on their early schedules and expected playing time. FantasyGaffer’s initial selection is below, and it becomes apparent that the quality of player/squad that one can assemble in this game varies greatly. This is largely because of the price tiers in ESPN. The most expensive forwards are Rooney and Van Persie (£9), most expensive midfielders Bale (£9) and David Silva (£8.9), most expensive defenders Terry (£8) and Kompany (£7.9) and the most expensive goalkeepers is Joe Hart (£8).
It is not hard to make a team when the price caps keep more available players at lower prices. This does have one interesting consequence, players are not owned in the same quantities as the Official Fantasy Premier League because you do not have to chase bargain players:
Rather, you can assemble a Dream Team — or Galacticos, if you prefer — and largely ignore players from the lower half of the table. For that reason we’ve broken this buying guide into two sections. The first is Who Would You? where we examine two players of the same valuation to determine where to spend your salary most wisely. The second section is a quick list of bargain prices. These are typically players we’ve already touted in our Fantasy Premier League Buying Guide - but we’re drawing your attention to them here because of the price, their early schedule, or both.
WHO WOULD YOU….
Buy for £7.5m in midfield?
Chelsea’s Oscar, Man United’s Kagawa and Tottenham’s Rafa Van der Vaart are all priced £7.5m. Because Chelsea faces a double in GW 1 — and corresponding blank in GW 3 — we’ve examined the opening three fixtures for each player:
Kagawa, Manchester United:
|20 Aug 20:00||Gameweek 1||Everton (A)|
|25 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 2||Fulham (H)|
|02 Sep 16:00||Gameweek 3||Southampton (A)|
The problem with Kagawa is that he plays in a midfield that was already flush with high-profile players. Ashley Young, Nani and Anotonio Valencia are all top midfield options in their own right, but the young Japanese star has the ability to stake a place. He is given an early boost by the prospect of having midfielders slot into the defensive line as SAF scrambles to find replacements for his injury-decimated defense. Carrick seems the most likely, but there have been rumours — mostly from our Tweeps — of Valencia at right back. Still, Kagawa will need to work to become a central part of the attack.
|19 Aug 13:30||Gameweek 1||Wigan (A)|
|22 Aug 19:45||Gameweek 1||Reading (H)|
|25 Aug 17:30||Gameweek 2||Newcastle (H)|
The opening schedule is both kind, and a bit of problem. Investment in Chelsea needs to be tempered by the immediate need to spend transfers. With only 20 in the first 21 gameweeks, we’re not willing to risk one on the young Brazilian — who is likely behind all of Mata, Hazard, Lampard, Mikel, and Ramires for a starting role.
BUY: Van der Vaart, Tottenham:
|18 Aug 17:30||Gameweek 1||Newcastle (A)|
|25 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 2||West Brom (H)|
|01 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 3||Norwich (H)|
In the corresponding fixture last season, Rafa scored one of Spurs two goals in a 16 October draw at
Sports Direct Arena St. James Park. The other two matches provide ideal scoring opportunities for a side that scored 39 goals at White Hart a year ago. Given his place in the centre of the midfield, the presence of Gylfi and Gareth on the wings, and Spurs current lack of a high-profile striker, we are expecting that this will be Rafa’s team and the goals will flow early.
BARGAIN: As we’ve noted above with Rafe, Spurs open with three matches that could see them jump out to a 3-0-0 record on the back of a bushel of goals. Key in the success of Spurs this season will be the integration of Gylfi Sigurdsson. He showed in the summer friendlies that there is no reason to doubt the youngster ability to mesh himself with his incumbent midfield mates. ESPN clearly does not believe this is the case. While Bale sets the bar for midfield at £9m, and Rafa can be had for just £7.5m, Gylfi can be had for £7.2m. This is
Buy for £5.5m in defense?
The options at £5.5 currently are an odd collection. Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates, Swansea’s Neil Taylor, and Savic of Manchester City. The new look formation that Roberto Mancini unveiled opens the door for more rotation in the squad, but Savic would still appear to be somewhere around 6th choice at the back. A move by Man City for Liverpool’s Daniel Agger could see increased playing time for either Carragher or Coates, but would be the final nail in Savic’s fantasy premier league coffin.
|18 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 1||West Brom (A)|
|26 Aug 16:00||Gameweek 2||Man City (H)|
|02 Sep 13:30||Gameweek 3||Arsenal (H)|
|15 Sep 17:30||Gameweek 4||Sunderland (A)|
|23 Sep 13:30||Gameweek 5||Man Utd (H)|
Regardless of any questions over playing time, and there are many for this duo of Reds defenders, the opening five gameweeks do not provide much value. Even the travels to West Brom and Sunderland are not prime fodder for a clean sheet as both sides are capable of popping up with a late goal – just ask Sebastian Larsson. There are no bargains to be had in Liverpool’s back four, and if you believe in Rodgers’ new system at Anfield you will need to invest in Johnson or Enrique.
Savic, Manchester City:
|19 Aug 16:00||Gameweek 1||Southampton (H)|
|26 Aug 16:00||Gameweek 2||Liverpool (A)|
|01 Sep 17:30||Gameweek 3||QPR (H)|
|15 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 4||Stoke City (A)|
|23 Sep 16:00||Gameweek 5||Arsenal (H)|
Savic was used as a substitute in the Community Shield win over Chelsea. With Mancini using a 3-4-1-2 formation, and with David Silva on the bench to start, this is not likely to be the final formation but there are several ahead of Savic in the que. Kolo Toure had no qualms voicing his displeasure at Mancini, and the centre half is just one of the competitors for playing time. The current injury to Micah Richards does provide a bit of a respite, and perhaps a bit more opportunity for Savic, but we’re not investing on a lark.
BUY: Taylor, Swansea:
|18 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 1||QPR (A)|
|25 Aug 12:45||Gameweek 2||West Ham (H)|
|01 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 3||Sunderland (H)|
|15 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 4||Aston Villa (A)|
|22 Sep 12:45||Gameweek 5||Everton (H)|
It is not just the opening five matches that set up well for Swansea, but the first eight. Those gameweeks will be vital to Michael Laudrup’s ambitions and we expect he will capitalize on the defensive foundation left by Rodgers for early season success. Five of the first eight fixtures see Swans playing at Liberty Stadium where they are nearly impregnable. On hie merits as a force from the back, Taylor is FantasyGaffer’s selection over Ashley Williams. Note: we would rather spend 0.2m less and own Taylor’s teammate Angel Rangel for £5.3. Mind, we’re also suggesting that Taylor be sold at the conclusion of GW8, as his results over those matches should provide a decent advance in his value.
BARGAIN: The above mentioned Angel Rangel is a steal. It is theft. THEFT! A £5.3m price is simply too low and he will undoubtedly increase in value between now and the conclusion of gameweek eight. Starting in gameweek five, Southampton’s Jos Hooiveld would be a decent investment. We’re not certain when he would be in your side, but we expect that his price will drop from the current £5m as Southampton face City, Man Utd and Arsenal in three of the opening four gameweeks. After that, the Saints have an easier four game stretch. One fact you should know: Jos Hooiveld scored seven goals in 36 appearances in the Championship last season.
Buy for £6.4m at forward?
The options are varied, to be sure. Stoke’s Peter Crouch, Holt of Norwich, Ameobi (Shola) of Newcastle and Gabby Agbonlahor from Aston Villa.
Agbonlahor, Aston Villa:
|18 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 1||West Ham (A)|
|25 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 2||Everton (H)|
|02 Sep 16:00||Gameweek 3||Newcastle (A)|
|15 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 4||Swansea (H)|
|22 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 5||Southampton (A)|
It certainly does not help his case that he is injured to start the year. Gabby started last season on fire – his form through the end of October was excellent. But injuries and over-commitment to defensive tactics led to a poor run from which he never recovered. Aston Villa have a a solid schedule to start and he would likely have been our “Buy” candidate if he were healthy to start the year.
|18 Aug 17:30||Gameweek 1||Tottenham (H)|
|25 Aug 17:30||Gameweek 2||Chelsea (A)|
|02 Sep 16:00||Gameweek 3||Aston Villa (H)|
|17 Sep 20:00||Gameweek 4||Everton (A)|
|22 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 5||Norwich (H)|
The fact is that Shola is third choice at the front for Alan Pardew. It is no slight on him to say the he falls behind Demba Ba or Papiss Cisse, but it does limit his value. With both of the players ahead of him dealing with knocks to start the year, Ameobi looks an attractive bargain option — and he may well prove one — but the opening two fixtures are not the easy opposition we would look for from a discount option. Once fit and starting, we do like Ba (priced £7.4m) over his compatriot Cisse (priced £8m) on price alone. Many forget that just a season ago Ba burst onto Tyneside with similar goal-scoring aplomb. He certainly looked a touch tired after ACoN, but we expect a summer off will have helped restore his legs, shin injury not withstanding.
Crouch, Stoke City:
|18 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 1||Reading (A)|
|26 Aug 13:30||Gameweek 2||Arsenal (H)|
|01 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 3||Wigan (A)|
|15 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 4||Man City (H)|
|22 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 5||Chelsea (A)|
It is officially acceptable to pity Peter Crouch. He certainly deserves better than this. Stoke were poor in attack last season. That Crouch scored 10 last year is a testament to his supreme ability. But in the close season they’ve provided him with no assistance and we can’t help but think he’ll be marked out of games until a second threat emerges. With three of the opening five away from home, including his only two matches against opposition outside of the top four, we’re expecting that his price comes down significantly over the opening two months of the season.
BUY: Holt, Norwich:
|18 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 1||Fulham (A)|
|25 Aug 15:00||Gameweek 2||QPR (H)|
|01 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 3||Tottenham (A)|
|15 Sep 12:45||Gameweek 4||West Ham (H)|
|22 Sep 15:00||Gameweek 5||Newcastle (A)|
We’ve surprised ourselves with the “Buy” falling on Holt. We’re expecting that Holt will be a quick turn-out, a flip for profit, after the trip to Newcastle, if not before. He scored 15 goals last season, and that type of scoring is not likely recreated this year. However, Holt is the target and will be used as the focus of the attack should Norwich be down late. We expect that Holt will foil a few clean sheets on his own, and two or three goals, with an add assist mixed-in, is not out of the question here. Set a valuation in advance of purchase and, once Holt hits the mark, sell him quickly.
BARGAIN: Fabio Borini is a new arrival at Anfield. He was specifically purchased to play in the front three of Rodgers system alongside Suarez. He has already scored in a competitive match for the Reds. He is guaranteed a starting role in the attack of a side that should find the net no fewer than 65 times in 38 games. We have no insight into why ESPN has priced hi £6.6m, but we’re happy to own him for that price. Stephene Sessegnon is similarly priced and only his injury has prevented him from being added here. He would not have been rated ahead of Borini, but the statistics bear out that his 2011-12 season is repeatable if fit.
UPDATE: With the news today that Robin Van Persie is going to Manchester United it is worth noting that Podolski is priced £7.7m and Giroud is priced £7.3m. Podolski looks poised to replace RVP – and is available for £1.3m less than the Dutch playmaker. It is also worth noting that Manchester United is now the proud home of the only two £9m rated forwards in the ESPN game: Rooney and Van Persie.