The leading question of this post is: If you could pick one player from each 7th–12th side, who would it be? Over my next few articles, I’ll be analysing each team in the league to give you my favourite pick from each. I hope that from these articles, you’ll be able to see what I’m thinking for each side going into the 2020/21 season.
For those of you who missed part 1, feel free to check out my thoughts on the top 6 from last season here: If you could pick one player from each Top 6 side, who would it be?
In this article, I’ll be looking at the middle of the table (WOL, ARS, SHU, BUR, SOU, EVE) and having a look at which player I like the most for my team.
Wolves (16 wins, 9 losses: +7 Impact points)
Wolves really impressed me last season, especially in the defence department. They had the second lowest expected goals against all season: 37.39; only 0.39 behind United in first.
They were actually slightly unlucky with the clean sheets they did get, underperforming by 2.61 and conceding 40 across the season.
Offensively, they don’t have too much to write home about. They had the 7th highest expected goals last season with 54.22, only 0.51 ahead of Everton. Whilst I like certain options like Jota, Traore and Podence – the rotation is rife and starts are uncertain. In W Fansports this is especially significant, as they miss out on the match completion bonus points.
One player who seems to dodge this rotation is Jimenez (9.0m), but for me there’s an option even more tempting than him – you’ve probably heard already…
Rúben Vinagre (4.0m)
6 starts for Vinagre last season, so a very small sample size to go on. In these 6 games he gained 3 clean sheets, losing only 1 point from conceding 2 goals. 50% of the games he started ended in a clean sheet, so there are some promising signs here.
With Jonny out for around 6 months and Matt Doherty signing for spurs, I believe this is Vinagre’s spot to make his own. It’s also worth noting that Marcal has just signed for Wolves, recently playing at Lyon on the left of a back 3. I personally think that he’ll be a rotation option, potentially for both Saiss and Vinagre – but a few fans have spoken out saying that he’s really not that strong a left-wing back, again indicating it is Vinagre’s spot to lose.
Whilst Vinagre didn’t generate any attacking returns in his 6 starts last season, he puts up some decent underlying statistics and I expect him to get 1-2 goals and 4+ assists should he be a regular starter next season.
Arsenal (14 wins, 10 losses: +4 Impact points)
A change of management saw Arsenal appoint Arteta in late December of last year. Similarly, to the Mourinho appointment, there’s a lot of talk about the impact people believe he has had on the club. One of the biggest hypotheses is that the defence has improved – I’d like to take a look at the underlying statistics before, and after, the appointment to see if this is true.
Before Arteta appointment:
- Games: 17
- Total xG: 22.78 (1.34 xG90)
- Total xGA: 25.60 (1.51 xGA90)
- Games: 21
- Total xG: 28.05 (1.33 xG90)
- Total xGA: 31.65 (1.51 xGA90)
The underlying statistics are borderline identical in both scenarios. The only difference was that they underperformed their numbers slightly before the appointment and massively over-performed them after!
For this reason, I will not be investing in the “improved” Arsenal defence – unless they have an exceptional run of fixtures (they don’t). The only one I would consider is Leno, because the Arsenal keepers had an exceptionally high volume of saves last season.
This leads me to believe that the best Arsenal asset at this moment in time is…
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (11.0m)
Aubameyang was the 8th highest scorer in the W Fansports game last season, accumulating 202 points. He scored an almost golden boot winning 22 goals and generated 5 assists. But the thing that catches my attention, and for me highlights his W Fansports value, is the 31 bonus points he generated for completing matches. Aubameyang is simply too important to the Arsenal side to take off and he clearly has the stamina to do so. He completed 31 matches out of his total 35 starts – an 89% completion rate.
You might have noticed that I’ve estimated him to have a worth of 9.5 million, proving him to be over-valued in the W Fansports game. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. For starters, Aubameyang generates almost double the amount of attacking returns in favourable fixtures, so we can pick the correct moments to have him in our teams. Another reason is that the low value comes from his over-performance of the previous season, something I don’t really expect him to continue – but that’s not to say he won’t!
Let’s return to our question: If you could only pick one player from each 7th–12th side, who would it be?
Sheffield United (14 wins, 12 losses: +2 Impact points)
Let’s jump straight into the numbers for Sheffield United, because I want to be sure that they were deserving of their 9th finish.
- Total xG: 45.81 (1.21 xG90)
- Actual goals scored: 39 (1.03 G90)
An underperformance of 6.81 goals. This might seem a lot but, on average, the bottom 10 sides underperformed their goals by 5.82. I believe Sheffield United to have a bottom 10 offence, so I can see them underperforming their goals by a similar amount next season.
- Total xGA: 52.04 (1.37 xGA90)
- Actual goals conceded: 39 (1.03 GA90)
Sheffield United over performed their defensive statistics by 13.04. This, is not the average in the league, in fact it’s the highest over performance in the league by almost 4 goals. Let me be clear, I do NOT believe they will perform to these levels next season, so I’ll be looking at their underlying statistics instead.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the United defence! 52.04 xGA puts them 8th in the league for defensive numbers, so definitely still worth the consideration – especially in W Fansports.
Jack O’Connell (4.5m)
Why are they a better consideration in W Fansports? The prices of course! But why O’Connell? The price of course!
Let’s take a look at the defensive assets we have on offer:
The initial reason I chose O’Connell over Egan, Stevens and Baldock was the price, did I tell you about his price? However, as I looked deeper into the underlying statistics I made some interesting findings. Combined xG90 and xA90 for these defenders:
- Baldock: 0.02 xG90 + 0.04 xA90 = 0.06xGI90
- Stevens: 0.04 xG90 + 0.15xA90 = 0.19 xGI90
- Egan: 0.08 xG90 + 0.01 xA90 = 0.09 xGI90
- Basham: 0.01 xG90 + 0.04 xA90 = 0.05 xGI90
- O’Connell: 0.03 xG90 + 0.11 XA90 = 0.14 xGI90
O’Connell has the second highest expected goal involvement of all United defenders, they’re not numbers to scoff at either! 0.11xA90 put him roughly 31st out of all defenders for assist numbers. Very respectable considering the 4.5m price tag and strong Sheffield United defence.
Burnley (15 wins, 14 losses: +1 Impact points)
I think we can agree, the first Burnley player that comes to the mind of a fantasy football manager is Nick Pope.
It’s no secret that Dyche sets up the side in a way that forces the opponents to shoot multiple low chance shots throughout the match, which has proven to benefit any keeper that ends up between the sticks for Burnley. Each keeper has continued to impress with their saves made throughout the season, something that I expect to continue as we enter the next one.
Unfortunately for me, I believe him to be priced slightly too high for consideration at 5.5m. So I will be looking elsewhere for value at the back in my side. In a similar vein, the defenders are also priced slightly high – the best and highest value asset being Taylor (4.5m).
So if not the defence, where should we look?
Chris Wood (7.0m)
Chris Wood amassed a very respectable 130 points during his 27 starts. Scale those to the full 38 games and Wood totals a very impressive 182 points, especially considering his measly 7.0m price tag!
Looking at the underlying stats we see Wood ranked 7th out of all players last season for expected goals. He under-achieved his 17.23 expected goals; could we see a regression towards the mean next season for Chris Wood?
Unfortunately, he’s no chance creator, I imagine he will get very few again next season. But this isn’t an issue. After analysing his last season on W Fansports, combining his threat in front of goal with his 63% match completion bonus, I have valued his worth at 9.28m. A very substantial difference of 2.28.
Should Burnley display some good form, and move onto some better fixtures, he’ll be a great addition to many sides in W Fansports. Also, Wood has scored 9 goals in pre-season. Not bad, not bad at all.
Southampton (15 wins, 16 losses: -1 Impact points)
A team of many ups and downs last season. They started the season extremely averagely, got massacred 9-0 at home to Leicester, then with a formation switch went on to secure results as one of the best teams in the league. Over gameweeks 1-9, Southampton ranked 17th in the league, underperforming many of their statistics. If we look at the games after the defeat, 11-38, Southampton ranked 7th in the league across these matches. An impressive change of results! Did anything change?
I’d like to show you a comparison of statistics before and after the 9-0 defeat.
Before the defeat:
- Games: 9
- Total xG: 13.64 (1.52 xG90)
- Total xGA: 12.74 (1.42 xGA90)
After the defeat:
- Games: 28
- Total xG: 42.40 (1.51 xG90)
- Total xGA90: 39.49 (1.41 xGA90)
I’m actually really surprised at these findings. They are almost identical before and after, but I was told they improved after switching to a 4-2-2-2!? Interesting… definitely interesting…
But does this indicate they are not worth the investment? No! Even without the “improved” performances, Southampton still finished 6th in the league for expected goals. 11th for expected goals against. Whatever they are doing, they are doing it right, I expect them to continue their attacking prowess in the 2020/21 season.
Che Adams (5.5m)
Che Adams… 5.5m… In my opinion, the single best value asset you can put in one of your forward slots.
I’m obviously a fan of Adams myself, but let me try and convince you too:
- He has the 14th highest xG90 of all players in the game to have played at least 1000 minutes: 0.48. For comparison, Ings has the 12th highest with 0.5. Ings is 3 million more.
- He has the 63rd highest xA90 in the game, only 0.01 behind Alli at 0.16. Ings is 134th with an XA90 of 0.09. Ings is 3 million more.
- This puts Adams’ xGI90 (expected goal involvement, xG90 + xA90) at 0.64. 16th highest in the game. Ings is 29th with 0.54. You get the picture, he’s potentially better than Ings AND he is 3 million cheaper.
- Looking at the restart, it only gets better: Adams ranks 10th of all players for xGI90 (0.74 = 0.62 xG90 + 0.12 xA90). Last comparison, Ings was 32nd with 0.46.
Overwhelming statistics, you can see why I’ve given him a worth of 8.3m for next season. That’s a difference of +2.83 over his starting W Fansports price of 5.5m.
So why doesn’t every man and their dog have him in their teams? Uncertainty of starts. Adams played 1096 minutes last season, starting 12 matches and completing 0 of them. Adams received 0 bonus points for completing matches last season. Adams also underperformed his expected goals – but this is mostly caused by his expected goals of ~2.5 in his first 5 games where he converted 0.
So the big question: will Adams play more minutes next season? I believe yes. He wears the number 10 shirt for Southampton and I believe he’ll be given a good go next season. In the 2019/20 season he started the first 6 matches in a row, but his lack of goals saw him to the bench. So I guess it’ll all come down to whether or not he can convert, and that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Everton (13 wins, 15 losses: -2 Impact points)
I like Everton players as fantasy assets, Digne has been an absolute mainstay in my teams for the last couple of years. They’re having an excellent transfer window, bringing in James Rodriguez, Allan and Doucouré – they’re really strengthening their squad.
They had the 7th highest expected goals conceded last season, so they’re a fairly strong unit at the back. I also believe the new signings will only strengthen this, making them more enticing. They’re also reasonable in attack, ranking 8th among all teams, but they underperformed by a lot. In fact, the only 2 teams to underperform their expected goals last season were Watford and Norwich; both got relegated. This underperformance of expected goals combined with, in my opinion, some overpriced attacking assets; making me think perhaps the value with Everton lies in the defence.
Mason Holgate (4.5m)
Let it be noted that I would have chosen Mina (4.5m) over Holgate, but it appears that Holgate is more likely to be the starting centre back out of the two.
Whilst his numbers are not fantastic, and his worth does not appear to be much more than his price, there’s still some promising signs.
- 4 assists are pretty decent numbers for a 4.5m centre back who only played around 2000 minutes last season.
- He has some goal threat, 0.6 xG90.
- Everton’s solid underperforming defence should turn a corner this season, I believe their base numbers will increase even more than last season’s statistics with their defensive midfield signings.
- Everton have a really nice set of fixtures to start the season and rotate well with other sides. If you were to rotate Holgate with a Wolves defender, the hardest fixture they would have is Leicester up until gameweek 16.
I’m not particularly happy with this Holgate as my only Everton pick, but with their high prices and lack of clarity on how they will perform next season, it’s the best I could find!
Who missed out?
That concludes my analysis on the above listed teams. Some of them were quite close, so I’ve listed below the other players I considered:
- WOL: Patricio, Jota
- SHU: Egan, Ramsdale
- BUR: Taylor, Pope
- SOU: Bertrand, Vestergaard
- EVE: DCL, new signings?
- The FPL to W Fansports journey
- If you could only pick one player from each 13th–20th side, who would it be?
- Rule Comparison FPL & W Fansports – Part 4: Forwards
And if you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! There’s just too much money on the line for you to miss out, and with this analysis, you’re a step ahead of the rest!