Friday, August 15, 2014

Fantasy Football - 6: Getting Ready for 2014-15

Lab Record Type Section


This post is part 6 of a series of number crunching posts I intend on doing on some EPL Fantasy Football data I have.This is a tiny tips and advice post for the season ahead.

Part 1 has the main introduction and some other relevant details and assumptions and things like that. It also has the Dream Team of the Year and Weekly Dream Teams which I shall be referring to frequently.

2014-15 Season: Fixtures

I plan to periodically run some analysis on the data as the season proceeds and keep you folk in the loop. I shall try and minimise my punditry, speculations and personal opinions, although I could quote some of my more famous colleagues employed at BBC, Sky Sports, etc.

I'm using the below predictions as an indicator of how tough teams will be to beat over the year

Using these predictions, here's a diagram to help you find the easier fixtures over the year -

Look for horizontal green or black stretches and try and pick your players from those teams.
View image in a new tab for larger, better version
Suggestions welcome for better representations. I might try and make this interactive later sometime.

I'd stay away from Arsenal, Everton, and City for the first few gameweeks, and probably bring in Liverpool players only from week 3 onwards. United, Chelsea, and Spurs might be the teams to invest in at the start. Other teams to avoid are AVL, LEI, WBA, and maybe CRY who have an easy set of fixtures but are without Tony Pulis as of yesterday.

How much does the opposition matter though? Check out part 7.

2014-15 Season: Popular Players

These are the most popular players as of 15th August, 8 am GMT -

Position Player Team Popularity Price Popularity Rank
Goalkeeper Tim Howard Everton 26.40 5.50 8.00
Goalkeeper Tim Krul Newcastle 20.90 4.50 17.00
Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill West Brom 20.10 4.00 20.00
Goalkeeper David De Gea Man Utd 19.20 5.50 21.00
Defender Dejan Lovren Liverpool 33.60 5.50 4.00
Defender Mathieu Debuchy Arsenal 22.60 5.50 11.00
Defender Alex Bruce Hull 21.70 4.00 12.00
Defender Ron Vlaar Aston Villa 21.60 4.50 13.00
Defender Gary Cahill Chelsea 20.30 6.50 19.00
Defender Leighton Baines Everton 18.40 7.00 22.00
Defender Geoff Cameron Stoke 16.20 4.50 25.00
Defender Luke Shaw Man Utd 15.20 6.00 27.00
Defender Steven Caulker QPR 14.00 5.00 28.00
Defender John Terry Chelsea 13.00 6.50 30.00
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey Arsenal 34.50 9.00 2.00
Midfielder Raheem Sterling Liverpool 29.10 8.50 6.00
Midfielder Ross Barkley Everton 28.50 7.00 7.00
Midfielder Juan Mata Man Utd 22.70 9.00 10.00
Midfielder Alexis Sánchez Arsenal 21.20 10.50 14.00
Midfielder Francesc Fábregas Chelsea 21.10 9.00 15.50
Midfielder Eden Hazard Chelsea 21.10 10.00 15.50
Midfielder Gnegneri Yaya Touré Man City 20.70 11.00 18.00
Midfielder Jordan Henderson Liverpool 15.50 6.00 26.00
Midfielder Christian Eriksen Spurs 13.70 8.00 29.00
Forward Wayne Rooney Man Utd 45.50 10.50 1.00
Forward Diego da Silva Costa Chelsea 33.70 10.50 3.00
Forward Daniel Sturridge Liverpool 29.80 11.50 5.00
Forward Olivier Giroud Arsenal 24.80 8.50 9.00
Forward Bojan Krkic Stoke 17.00 5.50 23.00
Forward Romelu Lukaku Everton 16.30 9.00 24.00

This list indicates that people are picking the best set of players without really looking at the fixtures. The most popular keeper, Howard, faces Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and United within the first 7 weeks. The most popular defender, Lovren, has City and Tottenham in weeks 2 and 3, and Everton soon after. Ramsey is the most popular midfielder with 34.5% ownership with fixtures against Everton, City, Tottenham, and Chelsea within the first 7 weeks. You can expect them to flourish during the season but with such a tough run of fixtures, I wouldn't be rushing to have them in my team right now. Also, based on my probably incorrect understanding of how prices change, it is highly likely that these high popularity players with low prospects to begin with have nowhere to go but down during the first few weeks.


The highest goalkeeper popularity that doesn't make this list is Szczesny at 11.9% ownership so there is a pretty clear cut preference for these four. Myhill is probably the cheaper keeper making up the numbers. De Gea seems like a good choice. Howard has a tough few weeks. Krul's inclusion is probably based on the hope that Newcastle concede a lot of penalties. Mannone with all of last season's heroics under his belt is not here, I wonder if that's because people suspect Pantilimon to be first choice? Neither is Speroni but without Pulis it might make sense to let him be.  Cech still has about 4.9% ownership despite Mourinho having made it clear that Courtouis is his preferred no. 1. No Lloris either, despite the easy run of fixtures to begin with and Pochettino defensive record at Southampton.


Lovren is massively popular but with a tough week 2, and 3, is probably worth a transfer only before week 4. He still has Mignolet in goal behind him, who wasn't particularly reliable last year. No Mertesacker or Koscielny, probably because Debuchy benefits from the clean sheets as much as they do, but also offers attacking points. With Coleman and Baines both at 7.0, people have opted for Baines from the blue side of Liverpool. Cahill's growing reputation is also indicated with more people trusting him than Terry to bring in the points. Despite Shaw's injury, which is expected to keep him out till 13th September, he still has a healthy 15.5% ownership. While Liverpool, Arsenal, and Everton are probably good long-term choices, but with this fixture list I would stay away from them for now. Bruce, again, seems to be making up the numbers. Vlaar's WC performances and low price tag have done his popularity a whole lot of good but is another one of those to stay away from because Villa have a tough week 4 to 9. Despite his own international performances, his team were nothing to talk about defensively over last season, and there haven't been any major changes during the transfer window. I don't know why Cameron is so popular. Caulker did pretty well with Cardiff last year, and is a young chap getting better every year. QPR also have an easy set of fixtures towards the start. Isla might be a more lucrative pick over Caulker though.


Arsenal, Liverpool, and Everton, as I've probably mentioned before, are probably worth staying away from for now. Ross Barkley, at 7.0m, didn't make as many starts start year as I would like to invest in someone asking for 7.0m but he definitely is one for the future. Mata played well in preseason and LVG's more attacking set up is probably going to help him get lots of points up front. Hazard had a lackluster last few months, but Fabregas and Diego Costa have been linking up well in preseason and are probably worth the punt. Yaya, at 11m, is a little too expensive for my liking. If he had had a stellar world cup, I might have considered it but I think I'll wait on him. Eriksen is a very Lallana-esque player and the latter's success under Pochettino at Southampton, along with Eriksen's flourish towards the end of last season, offers a great temptation to have Eriksen in your team. Henderson had a half decent season last year and seems like a good option to make up the two budget positions in the midfield.

Coutinho, at 9.3%, is lower on the list but has been the creative mainstay of the post-Suarez era. Herrera is another one to keep an eye on based on preseason performances. Gerrard used to get a large number of points off of Suarez assisted penalties, and is played in a more withdrawn role as of laste, might see his tally take a hit. Keep an eye out for some of the other low-price options shining. I will, obviously, report it here. And here's how Lampard looks like now -


Rooney has benefited from LVG's tactics to be the runaway favourite at 45.4% popularity. Diego Costa's partnership with Fabregas has shone in preseason and is second on this list. I have a feeling Wenger is going to bring in one more forward, maybe Loic Remy, who is French and therefore meets Arsene's requirements, I'd worry for Giroud. Erstwhile wonderkid Bojan had a good preseason as well and seems like a good choice for the budget third striker role.

Lower down, Lambert's 8.5% ownership might be let down if Brendan Rodgers plays a 4-3-3 or something, in which case Sturridge is going to start. Jovetic also had a good preseason, and with Negredo and Aguero injured, might be a good pick at just 8m. Welbeck might be worth a punt until van Persie returns from injury too.

Other Posts in the Series

Part 1: General Team Composition
Part 2: Picking the Goalkeeper
Post 3: Picking the Defensive Line
Part 4: The Value of Money
Part 5: The Value of Wildcards
> Part 6:  Getting Ready for 2014-15
Part 7: How Much Does the Opposition Matter?

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