Fantasy EPL imposes a strict set of criteria when assigning success. Players have a limited number of ways to score — goals, assists, clean sheets, saves and bonus points — but the underlying statistics provide myriad possibilities for evaluating talent and projecting future fantasy EPL success. We’ve given a quick review of the top five most successful midfielders as determined by Fantasy Premier League points earned.
This was written after the completion of gameweek six and the players we’ve chosen under each paragraph are typically selected from similarly priced players. Obviously, if funds were no option we would always choose to replace Damian Duff with David Silva. That sort of analysis helps no one and we’ve attempted to avoid it here.
5. Maroune Fellaini, £7.3m, 31.0% selected
Fellaini is the second Toffee’s midfielder we would own behind Steve Pienaar. Assuming that you’re only going to own one, it is close to a coin-flip as to which to own. However, Fellaini has benefited from the absence of Nikica Jelavic to play further up the pitch and should be relegated to a holding role with the big striker fit. We’ve written about this before so please read League Cup Recap for an analysis of Fellaini’s positioning. Within Moyes’ squad, he is the top scorer with Jelavic (3) and each has contributed one assist. The Belgium international has been third best at creating chances. Obviously we remain in awe of Leighton Baines ability to put the ball into dangerous situations and Steve Pienaar (12) is a bit behind the left-back but still ahead of Fellaini (11). Funds matter and we would prefer to own Pienaar for £0.6m less at £6.7m.
Below, we’ve listed three players we would feel comfortable transferring in for Fellaini, one substantially less expensive in Adam Lallana — priced £6.0m, selected 1,5% of FPL sides, created 10 chances. The key to owning several expensive options, and we do advocate owning several midfielders who happen to be high-priced, is to find fourth and fifth options for £6m or less. There are several listed in the article for your consideration.
We’d Sell Him For: Aaron Lennon, Samir Nasri, Adam Lallana
4. Damian Duff, £6.3m, 9.2% selected
Duff has created only seven chances this term, which is third among Cottagers. More concerning is that his seven chances created have come in 523′ while Bryan Ruiz has created eight chances in 292′ and Dimitar has created a team-high nine chances in 225′. There is nothing wrong with owning a player like Duff, he earns minutes, is constantly involved in the build-up and will have several games like his gameweek 2 performance against Manchester United where he scores a goal and picks up seven Fantasy Premier League points. That Duff currently sits third among all midfielders in the Official FPL is a testament to his professionalism and ability. He has three goals, one assist and has collected three fantasy bonus points. The problem is his price. For £6.3m we would like to see a player who is more involved in the final push towards goal. Duff is clearly not the preferred attacking option — he is behind Berbatov and Petric — or the talisman in the midfield — a healthy Bryan Ruiz has taken over Clint Dempsey’s role this term — or the player with the highest fantasy potential for the price — that title still belongs to £4.7m-rated Alex Kacaniklic. This means that we are turning our attention elsewhere and selling Duff while his value is high. It is worth noting, he has seen net transfers in for five straight gameweeks and his price has already risen 0.1m since the close of GW6.
We’d Sell Him For: Ricardo Vaz Te, Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble
3. Michu, £7.3m, 31.6% selected
The much longer-named Miguel Pérez Cuesta has been a remarkable story this season. He leads Swansea with 14 shots taken, six shots on-target (Dyer) and four goals scored. We had discussed earlier in the year that Michu was getting a number of looks from clear-cut chances but Opta appears to have re-assessed the statistics and have credited him only two clear-cut chances this season from which he has scored one of his four goals. Michu has been pushing further up the field even when he is not deployed as the second-striker. Against Everton, Michu was slotted into the centre-attacking-midfield role, in the hole behind Danny Graham. One week later he was lined-up in the centre of the middle “3″ in a 4-3-3 against Stoke City.
However, his starting position did not dictate the tactics as Michu (No. 9) pushed further upfield than Pablo (No. 11) and level with Nathan Dyer (No. 12), both of whom were lined-up to either side of Danny Graham at the start of the match. Michu’s advanced position could well help him continue his scoring exploits but we’re not counting on many assists. A 10-goal season is certainly well within his grasp having already scored four, but based on the team statistics over last season and the first six fixtures this term we would not wager on it.
There is a spot of favoritism in the names below. HBA is a FantasyGaffer favorite, though the statistics do not paint him in a better light that Michu. Both players have created nine chances – level with Shaun Maloney, Kyle Walker and Peter Crouch, among others. What we prefer about Ben Arfa is his ability to make something from nothing (59% success on 41 dribbles attempted) and his ability to impose himself in the teams attack – his nine chances created lead the Magpies. Michu has only embarked upon two dribbles this season. The leading Swansea dribblers are Nathan Dyer (27% success on 30 dribbles) and Wayne Routledge (46% success on 24 dribbles. Each of Michu’s teammates have created a similar number of chances — Dyer (seven) and Routledge (leads club with 10) — and are priced well below his £7.3m. Dyer can be had for £5.8m while Routledge is £5.1m and likely to drop following 0′ in gameweek six. Holding Michu is not a problem, but we do not have faith that his name will still be among the Top 10 at his position after another six fixtures are in the books.
We’d Sell Him For: Juan Mata, Steve Pienaar, Hatem Ben Arfa
2. Gareth Bale, £9.3m, 13.9% selected
Bale is simply untouchable. His powerful run at the Manchester United defense on Saturday illustrated his pace, power and cool finishing ability. While Moussa Dembele was credited with a fantasy EPL assist on the play, it was the Welsh winger who picked up the ball just inside his own half and made a meal of the Red Devil’s defense. In the same match, it was Bale’s thunderous shot that was parried into the path of Clint Dempsey to provide the opening of the American’s account. Bale had entered Saturday’s match level with Aaron Lennon with 15 chances created. While Lennon put in a good shift, he still sits on 15 chances while Bale has created 18 — moving into level third in the Prem on 18 (David Silva, Gerrard). The key with Bale is always patience. His opening price of £9.5m, the time necessary to adapt to Andre Villas-Boas’ tactics and the assimilation of a number of new faces led many fantasy EPL managers to transfer the winger out of their sides. In gameweek 2, 3, 4 and 6 he suffered negative net transfers in Fantasy Premier League including -98593 in the run-in to his 11 point outing vs. Reading.
We’d Sell Him For: No one.
1. Eden Hazard, £10.3m, 43.0% selected
Hazard posted double-digit fantasy premier league point totals in each of the opening three Barclays Premier League fixtures, but has tallied eight points over the last three. Despite the recent dip in FPL form, Hazard has been playing top football and continues to enjoy selection in better than four of every 10 FPL sides. Like Michu, we’ve previously written that Hazard’s early pace was not sustainable over the full season. Unlike with Michu, we have continued to show patience and voiced our support for selection of the Belgian going forward. Hazard has created 11 chances, good for level 17th in the Premier League this season. He is now level with Juan Mata for top creator in Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea side. The problem is that Hazard’s Opta statistics have benefited from his early season successes against lesser opposition.
According to Opta, Hazard has 486′ in the BPL this term. In his first three matches (two of which came in gameweek 1) he recorded one chance created in each, with each chance resulting in an assist. In his match v. Reading in gameweek 3, the attacker recorded better than half of his 11 total chances this season — 6 chances created resulting in two assists. In his other five fixtures he has created only five chances and failed to create a single chance in the victory against Arsenal. He is in pace for 70 chances created this season which could easily see him record double-digits in goals and assists.
Fantasy EPL managers should recall, last season two players created better than 100 chances for their Premier League sides. One was David Silva, the other was Hazard’s teammate Juan Mata. Mata is now back in the fold and took Frank Lampard’s position in the middle of the field against the Gunners. We have faith in Mata’s track-record and would not hesitate to own both Hazard and Mata. Based on the Belgium international’s role in the front line for Chelsea and involvement in the final third we would not currently sell him for his club-mate. We are only willing to sell in fantasy EPL for players who’ve created substantially more chances for their side and Mata does not yet fit that description.
We’d Sell Him For: David Silva, Santi Cazorla, Steven Gerrard
Fantasy EPL tips and analysis, Opta stats, starting XI’s and the occasional laugh that lands wider the mark than Defoe’s left (see, exactly like that) please follow us @FantasyGaffer, email firstname.lastname@example.org and check back to the site for updates every week day.