Fantasy EPL managers enjoy a conflicted relationship with Fulham’s midfield this season. The middle of the pitch at Craven Cottage has been an interesting place this year. At times it has boasted one of the top players in 2011-12 fantasy EPL (Clint Dempsey), one of the top players this season (Damian Duff), one of the best values (Alexander Kačaniklić ) and the heir apparent to Dempsey’s mantle (Bryan Ruiz). Following the first international fixtures of the current break, it seemed a good time to examine the fantasy EPL options in Martin Jol’s side.
First up, the good news:
Alexander Kačaniklić scored his first international goal as Sweden defeated the Faroe Islands 2-1 on Friday night.
We tweeted the relevant information last night @FantasyGaffer — follow, why don’t you — and believe that the international goal is a bit of good news for the youngster in terms of BPL playing time.
— FantasyGaffer (@FantasyGaffer) October 12, 2012
As noted in the Tweet, he has featured in all seven of the Cottager’s Barclays Premier League fixtures this term, but he has not played a full 90′ since the opening day and has failed to get 60′ in three of the seven. 19 of his season total 26 points in the Fantasy Premier League were earned over two gameweeks – GW1 when he scored a goal (nine points) and GW4 when he recorded two assists (10 points). His price remains fixed at £4.7m after starting the year at £4.5m. He is selected in 8.9% of FPL sides. Important to Kačaniklić, fantasy EPL and Jol; the Costa Rica fixture left Fulham with a fresh injury concern:
Everton’s Bryan Oviedo featured for the whole of Costa Rica’s 1-0 win in El Salvador but Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz was taken off just before half-time with a problem with his right adductor muscle and is a doubt for the match with Guyana on Tuesday.
The FFC site (quoted above re: Kačaniklić) makes no mention of an injury and merely states:
In Group B of the North, Central and Caribbean set-up, Bryan Ruiz played the first half as Costa Rica defeated El Salvador 1-0.
If Ruiz is going to miss any time with an injury, the door would have to remain open for Kačaniklić and perhaps increase the fantasy EPL value of Damian Duff in the short-term. We have not been particularly kind to Duff, despite his excellent return at this early stage, writing:
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′.
Most Creative Midfielders, where the above quote originated, suggested selling Duff for Ricardo Vaz Te. It would have been a good bit of business. Duff has recorded two FPL points in each of his subsequent fixtures for a total of four, while Vaz Te recorded 11. Yes, we’re aware that Vaz Te is a forward in FPL and Duff is a midfielder, but the point was that Duff is not as involved in the build-up as the Hammers man (who is actually deployed by manager Sam Allardyce in a substantially similar role as Duff). Of course, with Vaz Te sidelined for weeks with an injury, Duff is once again the more attractive FPL option.
Duff has played 613′ this term, scoring three goals (GW1, 2 & 5) and providing an assist en route to 37 FPL points and 10.1% selection. The Irish international has been involved in the attack substantially for three of the Cottagers seven fixtures — GW1, two chances created with one assist; GW4, three chances created; GW7 two chances created. In the other four fixtures he has created a total of two chances. This is a problem for fantasy EPL players because, in Duff’s case, it is compounded by a lack of scoring chances. Duff has taken his goals well, scoring three on eight shots (six on-target), but has not managed a shot in either of Fulham’s last two BPL fixtures. In each, he played the full 90′. We still do not advocate owning Duff over similarly priced options like WBA’s James Morrison (Morrison: Fantasy EPL Breakdown), but prolonged absence for Ruiz could see Duff take a more active role in the attack and retain great FPL value.
The man himself provides limited fantasy EPL value when healthy. Bryan Ruiz has played 382′ and recorded three assists. His FPL price of £5.9m is in line with his production and he is selected in few enough sides to make an interesting play for those trailing in their mini-leagues. However, he is rated a forward by the FPL and that is the kiss of death. A healthy Ruiz opens the match and provides a boost in value for Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric, perhaps at the expense of Kačaniklić and Duff. An injured Ruiz will open the door for Kačaniklić and will require Berba to make more chances himself. We continue to avoid Steve Sidwell despite his £5.0m price and two BPL goals because he has created two (2) chances this term. Kieran Richardson has played 173′ and Giorgos Karagounis has only 29′ under his belt.
Fantasy EPL analysis continues during the international break – perhaps the odd Sunday post tomorrow as well – so check back as we return to our normal schedule ahead of gameweek eight action.