Robin van Persie was supposed to be the one that was injury prone. This is just another lesson for all of us regarding the unpredictability of injuries and how we all tend to put too much stock in the “injury prone” tag. Check out this excellent article on “recency bias” for further evidence.
For fantasy owners, at least it clears up the “striker by committee” possibility that was looming at Old Trafford. It is van Persie who will be getting the call while Wayne Rooney recovers from this nasty gash.
Of course van Persie is still priced through the roof and not a no-brainer purchase, but in a vacuum he’s again the undisputed #1 striker in the EPL and at least back in the discussion. You’ll have to make sacrifices at other positions to afford him, but it could be worth it some weeks.
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Rooney came off the bench Week 2 and rumors are swirling about a decline in production and a falling out with SAF. Most or all of that is probably overblown but it’s another positive for van Persie’s outlook.
The other player that needs a mention is Shinji Kagawa. He got his first goal with his new club and he looks every bit the attacking fantasy-friendly option that was advertised. He’s worth adding in all fantasy leagues, with the only caveat being that he’ll be doing a lot of traveling for Japan during the international break. He will almost certainly be given a game or two on the bench for recovery time so be prepared for that.
Aside from Carlos Tevez, there’s been very little fantasy value here and the additions at the close of the transfer window make it all the harder to figure. David Silva has been particularly poor after a long summer and didn’t even start against Liverpool. Joe Hart has surrendered four goals on a total of five shots, which has ruined the value of the highest priced fantasy keeper and all his defenders.
It can only get better. Hart didn’t suddenly forget how to play the position and this weekend’s game against QPR presents a perfect opportunity to get a clean sheet and put it all behind him. Sergio Aguero should be back in action soon. Much to Roberto Mancini’s dismay, Aguero got the call for the Argentina national team during the international break. On the bright side, it means the knee can’t be all that bad and he should fit right back in with Tevez when he returns.
The Blues are off this week, so the only problem fantasy owners face is whether or not to hold or sell Eden Hazard and some of the other stars. With his price rising almost daily, Hazard would be tough to drop, even for a week. He has been far and away the best player in the league.
Fernando Torres’ outlook suddenly looks bright. He stumbled his way to a goal against Reading that should have been called offside but he looked more confident against Newcastle and chipped in another. Eden Hazard could be the player that salvages his career.
Branislav Ivanovic is the next obvious choice, but it gets difficult to find value after that. The David Luiz / Gary Cahill rotation makes it tough to invest in either. Frank Lampard’s value is too dependent on playing time and penalty kicks. Eden Hazard is stealing a lot of Juan Mata’s thunder.
Arsene Wenger actually said, “There’s something missing” after the club’s second scoreless match. The supporters are restless and pressure is going to build on Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski. Right now, neither player is worth his price. Things could get really ugly if the Gunners don’t add anyone else before the transfer window closes.
There’s value elsewhere on the club. The Alex Song departure opened the door for Carl Jenkinson to get playing time. Arsenal isn’t going to keep 38 clean sheets, but Jenkinson has earned bonus points in each of the first two matches and is still priced at only £4.6 in the FPL game. The other player to target is Santi Cazorla. His price has been kept in check by the lack of goals, but the talent is obvious and the points will come.
So far there’s not much positive to report and fears are growing that AVB is finding a way to destroy another perfectly good London club. This one doesn’t have a Russian billionaire to rescue it so this is a dicey proposition.
The Luka Modric saga is finally over with the Croatian midfielder off to Real Madrid. His replacement Moussa Dembele doesn’t have the same quality, but he’s a talented fun-to-watch midfielder in his own right so there’s not a huge drop off there. Like Modric, Dembele could be an excellent real-life player but still have very little to offer in fantasy games. Emmanuel Adebayor is also back with Spurs, so there’s talent at striker too, although he can be hot-and-cold.
We still have faith in Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Even though the later was a surprise scratch last week, the departure of Rafael Van der Vaart should clear the way for plenty of playing time and he just takes too many set pieces to lose value. For now keep the faith in Bale and Sigurdsson, who could both explode for huge fantasy points against struggling Norwich this week.
Luis Suarez is scoring again. His stunning free kick would have been the match-winner against Man City if not for Martin Skrtel’s mistake. Suarez also scored a goal against Hearts during the Europa qualifier on Thursday so he could be getting some mojo back.
Aside from that, let the dust settle at Anfield before committing to Liverpool players. Fabio Borini has appeared in every match under Rodgers but hasn’t produced anywhere near enough points to put him into fantasy discussions given all the other talent at the position across the league. Joe Allen has played exceptionally well and has an astonishing pass completion percentage, but plays far enough back to limit his fantasy value. It still sounds like the Clint Dempsey transfer is going to happen, but give it some time to see how he fits in with the others.
Charlie Adam is out to Stoke where he fits the mold of a Tony Pulis rough-and-tumble midfielder with solid set piece ability. Jordan Henderson has fallen out of favor and was offered on loan. Stewart Downing may be transitioning to left back, which doesn’t do much for his fantasy value aside from the fact that it could at least get him some playing time. It does muddle the value of some other defenders, but keep an eye on Martin Kelly who could get some chances in an attacking role while being listed as a defender in fantasy games.
They lost their manager and Joe Allen to Liverpool and still rolled to two victories with a +8 goal differential in their first two matches. There’s another storm to weather with Scott Sinclair being shipped out to Manchester City but this club has done a wonderful job of adapting. Nathan Dyer looks like he’s again going to be a fantasy steal, Ashley Williams and Angel Rangel are excellent fantasy defenders, and Michel Vorm might be the best keeper in the league. The true revelation is of course Michu, who has three goals and an assist through two matches and shows no signs of slowing. This again looks like a team that’s going to provide excellent fantasy value all year, just keep in mind they haven’t had to face any top teams yet so this is probably as good as it gets.
We haven’t seen the full potential from Newcastle yet because they’ve started with tough matches against Spurs and Chelsea. That has kept fantasy values down, with the exception of Ben Arfa and Demba Ba. There are still questions with Ba and how he will fit with Papiss Cisse. Even though Ba has been the fantasy player through two games, there are reasons to think Cisse will still be the better long-term option. Look for a bounce-back match this week from Tim Krul and some others as they welcome a struggling Aston Villa to St. James’ Park.
While the Cottagers are losing a lot of players, Martin Jol might have gotten the steal of the transfer window in Dimitar Berbatov. After wasting away some of the best years of his career on Man Utd’s bench, Berbatov will be reunited with Jol and he’s sure to be a regular with Fulham. Berbatov scored 27 goals in two seasons at Tottenham with Jol as his manager so this looks like a match made in heaven. The only problem is that it clouds Mladen Petric’s value. With both Dembele and Dempsey out of the equation, there should be room for both players but it is certainly possible one emerges as the guy to own and we might have to wait a few weeks to make that determination.
The Hammers looked awful last week, but Andy Carroll finally saw the writing on the wall and agreed to a loan that might become permanent. He’s a much better fit in Big Sam’s system than he would ever be under Brendan Rodgers at Anfield so this is a big boost for his fantasy value. He’s still a one-dimensional fantasy player but he should get his share of goals.