Fulham, Liverpool, Man City and Man United: Fantasy Football studs and duds
The official Premier League Fantasy football game for the upcoming season is now live, with managers all around the world umm-ing and ahh-ing over who to pick, who to leave out, who’s going to be their full season players, captain and vice captain. It's all stressful stuff and I’m here to make those decisions a little easier for you guys with my round-up of fantasy studs and fantasy duds.
Seeing as it is pre-season, I’m going to go through all the clubs and pick out people to look out for, people to not touch with a ten-foot barge pole and the golden boys of fantasy football. Yesterday I looked at Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Everton.
Here is my second instalment looking at Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Martin Jol’s team came a respectable ninth last season, with an impressive 11 clean sheets all season. Therefore the studs are in defence. Brede Hangeland played in all of the clean sheets and although he didn’t score last season the towering centre back scored six in the campaign before, so look to him to get a few this season from set pieces. And former Liverpool man John Arne Riise looked good in his first season in the Premier League after his hiatus in Italy, setting up five goals.
Clint Dempsey is the stud of all fantasy studs. Fantastic to watch, he scored a whopping 209 points, scored 17 goals and set up seven. If he sticks around at Fulham he will be hard to look past at a hefty £9.5m but well worth it for a midfielder. If he follows the rumors and moves to Liverpool, I am hesitant to call him a stud, as I fear the team won’t revolve around him as it does at Craven Cottage. But that’s one to keep a close eye on.
If you are bargain hunting at Fulham, Karim Frei could be what you are looking for. Priced as the cheapest possible (£4.5m) midfielder, Frei is being compared to a young Messi. If Martin Jol decides to utilise this youngster and give him significantly more minutes than the 680 he played last season, he could be the bargain of the season.
Bryan Ruiz is the only dud for me at Fulham. He had a lack of playing time last season due to his injured foot, but 27 appearances and only two goals to show for his efforts Ruiz is a fantasy dud, and cheaper/equal priced more prolific front men are available elsewhere.
A quick note on Hugo Rodellega. His past shows that if he is given the game time he can score the goals, albeit not so much last season, but with the great midfield support from Fulham, this will improve his chances.
It was a mixed season last year for Liverpool. An eighth place finish, a Carling Cup triumph and defeat in the FA Cup Final, but this wasn’t what the American owners had in mind, so they dropped King Kenny after 73 matches in charge. Fenway Sports Group have now hired Brendan Rodgers, hoping he can replicate the possession brand of football Swansea showed, but he seems to be just trying to bring his Swansea favourites with him.
Well enough of that and into the studs and duds. The first obvious stud is Luis Suarez, if he can keep his trap shut. He’s a solid fantasy buy, both for the goals scored points and the incredible number of assists he chalks up. Stevie G was injured for most of last season, but his performance at Euro 2012 was leagues above the rest of the England squad and I would be surprised if this form didn’t continue through into this season.
New signing Fabio Borini is one to watch, scoring nine goals from 24 appearances for Roma in 2011/12. Brendan Rodgers obviously liked what he saw when Borini came on loan for Swansea back in 2010. So with rumours of Carroll's departure, Borini and Suarez are the spearheads of this attack.
Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson are my studs in defence. Reina bagged himself 12 clean sheets while Enrique and Johnson have the ability to drive forward and claim assists and maybe the old goal, especially with Rodgers' game plan.
Adam, Henderson and Downing are the duds of the Liverpool squad and ones to stay away from. Adam is trying to replicate his fantasy gold of his Blackpool days but it won’t happen. Priced at £6m at Blackpool, his price then bloated to £8m last year, but has now dropped to a still-over-valued £7m and not worth it in the slightest.
The reigning champs are the fantasy Premier League ambrosia, if you can afford them that is. Look to their defence for the bargains. Kompany is the highest priced defender at £7.5m but a quick look to his partner Lescott (£6.5m), only one goal fewer and one fewer clean sheet (14 to Kompany’s 15). Lescott is the stud as he is a guaranteed start and with the newly promoted Saints at home first off, good odds are on a clean sheet.
David Silva and Samir Nasri are the playmaker studs in midfield for the Manchester club. Silva is the most expensive midfielder in the game, but after his performance last season the asking price of £10m is worth every penny. I’m also picking Nasri to have more influence on the team this time round building on his five goals and nine assists.
Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) broke the coveted 200-point barrier last season and he will be looking to do it again. He is a goalscoring machine and with the now possible partnership with fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez (who before last season was a fantasy football must buy) the goals will be flowing again this season for City.
The issue I have with City is squad rotation. Balotelli, Tevez, Aguero, Adebayor (more on him later) and Dzeko, and to a lesser extent Johnson, are all given game time to stay happy. If last season is anything to go by, Aguero is the striker who played the most, then Dzeko and Balotelli, in that order. Tevez will muscle in on that though having decided to remain at the Etihad and this will leave a lot of fantasy football managers concerned.
Adebayor had a tremendous season last year; 17 goals, 12 assists and 2,827 minutes played, but for Tottenham. If he is still on the books at City when the transfer window closes he is one to stay away from. But if he has gained that transfer back to Tottenham he is definitely worth the £9.5m price tag.
There are no duds in the starting lineup for the champions.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team will come out all guns blazing this season after winning nothing in their previous campaign. Shinji Kagawa is the only big name transfer so far, and 16 per cent of fantasy managers have already picked the Japanese midfielder. I can't call him a stud just yet, but if he carries on from his impressive performances at Borussia Dortmund (49 games, 21 goals) he could well have the stud title before the end of the season.
Manchester United recorded the most clean sheets last season (20), so normally their defensive players would be a must have, but Vidic, Johnny Evans and Chris Smalling are all in doubt for the first game due to injuries. Phil Jones is the only healthy defensive stud at this point in time with a relatively good price (£6m) and had some promising performances last season. Evra scored healthily last season and is a solid player to have in your backline, but because of his hefty price tag (£7m) I am reluctant to mark him as stud. De Gea is a stud, maybe not because of his erratic nature in real life, but because of the defence in front of him and his shot stopping ability.
Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young are too risky for me, even though they each had great performances last year. The rotation policy of SAF doesn’t guarantee constant starts. If I had to pick the two starting wingers for United it would be Nani and Valencia due to minutes played last season, but Kagawa’s arrival could eat into their minutes as well. It’s a tricky one and one I will keep an eye on during the first few games.
Wanye Rooney is a fantasy stud year after year and cannot be over looked. 27 goals last year helped him break the 200-point barrier. £12m might scare a few people off, but if you can budget him in he will be well worth the money.
Michael Carrick played the most minutes out of all the United team last season, but his game play doesn’t convert into fantasy points, so on this basis he is a dud. Tom Cleverley is also primed for big things but because of the veterans Giggs, Scholes and the newcomer Kagawa, the United midfield will be rotated heavily and thus I can't see the benefit in spending on any of the United centre midfielders, when other teams have more reliable (in a fantasy points sense) players.
Article by Greg Hall
Remember to come back tomorrow for part three of Greg Hall's Fantasy Football studs and duds where he will be looking at Newcastle United, Norwich City, big spenders QPR and newcomers Reading.
Calling all football fans: Do you agree with Greg's analysis? Who are the studs and duds at your team? Who is in your fantasy team? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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