Friday, 24 July 2009

Early Picks - Week 1

Okay, so with 3 weeks still to go, a bunch of new signing still to come, and some existing players still to be added (the disappearing Dirk Kurt & Tim Cahill), it's very early to be picking a team...however, I have done just that. While I'm not going to reveal my exact team (it's going to change anyway) I have listed a few players on my mind at this early stage.

It's worth noting how I pick my players. I reckon that if you can be hitting an average of 90-100 points per round of fixtures (double that in 2-game weeks) you've got a pretty good chance of finishing in the Top 500. You have £100 million to spend, so I look at a player's price and decide if I think they will "return their value"... a player who costs me £6 million should really earn me 6 points. If all my players return their value, I'm looking at 100 points. It doesn't always work out exactly, but it's an effective way to approach the game each week.

e.g. For Week 1...
Didier Drogba has a market value of 10.68. He is playing 2 games, so the question I ask myself is: Do I think he will get around 21 points (2 x 10.68 = 21.36) for the week? If I do (which I do) then he will be considered.

However, if I look at Steven Gerrard, he has a market value of 20.45 & is also playing 2 games, so do I think he'll score 40 points (2 x 20.45 = 40.90) for the week? Despite the fact he is a great player, it's a big ask with an away fixture against Tottenham first up, so it's possible he is a bit too expensive for Week 1.

I hope that makes sense - I'm sure a lot of you do the same thing.

I also try to pick 1 player each week who I feel very few other teams will have. A good example in the past has been my unlikely hero, Danny Higginbotham, who scored twice for me on the 2 occasions I picked him in the 07/08 season. Sunderland had home games on both occasions & I'd noticed he was getting forward for corners in previous games I'd seen on TV. I got lucky the 2 weeks I picked him, but a lot of the successful players take risks & get lucky. I'd encourage anyone playing the game this season to make 1 "hunch" pick each week - it's very satisfying when it works!

Anyway, bare in mind I am only interested in players who I feel will definitely have 2 games in Week 1. The teams involved in 2 games (assuming Fulham reach the next stage of the Europa League) are Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Wigan, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Stoke, Hull, Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Burnley.

So based on that...

Rooney, Drogba, Torres, Berbatov, Defoe, Owen, Anelka, Rodellega, Doyle, Ebanks Blake.

From these the dream team is clearly Rooney, Torres, Drogba given the match-ups, but it's impossible to afford all 3 without gutting the rest of your team. Rooney is the premium pick ahead of Torres in my opinion, while Drogba is great value.

There are some alternatives in a cheaper bracket, such as Rodellega, who finished the season strongly and has decent fixtures for Wigan, whilst Berbatov & Owen are affordable, but who will start both game? Defoe will always rack up points with the number of shots he takes, and real outsiders are Wolves' Ebanks Blake or Kevin Doyle, who both only needs 2 shots on target in each of their 2 games to return their value for the week. Doyle has Premier League goals & experience, so could be a good dark horse. You also have Ricardo Fuller & Fraizer Campbell (who costs under 5) as cheap options, but I doubt I'll be considering them.

At the moment my front 3 will come from these 10 players, but of course a few new signings will be arriving before the season kicks off and with new forwards always added around the price of 6.37, there could still be some bargains to come. My top pick at the moment is Drogba - he offers the best value for money vs fixtures & potential points return. He'll be in my team if the team news says he's fit.

Lampard, Gerrard, Valencia, Malouda, Zhirkov, Lennon, Jordi Gomez, Sebastian Larsson, Kightly, Lawrence

Outside of my Strikers I will always try to pick players who take freekicks, corners &/or penalties. You must do this if you want to be successful - players who take set pieces will always put up points, even if they're on the losing team

My dream midfield would include Lampard, Gerrard & Valencia but again it's not really possible as it would cost me over 50% of my budget. I think it's going to come down to a choice between Lampard & Gerrard, I'm leaning towards Frank because he's a bit cheaper and has better fixtures. Valencia is also a great pick.

After that it comes down to players who are likely to attack & take set pieces. From an attacking point of view, Lennon & Malouda will both be flying but are a touch expensive. Jordi Gomez will probably feature for me as he has a great left foot as witnessed for Swansea and I believe he'll take alot of Wigan's corners & freekicks (and is very cheap). We know from previous seasons that Larsson does the same for Birmingham and is another great option. Lawrence does the same for Stoke but they don't have great fixtures (@ L'Pool) & Zhirkov, while cheap, still doesnt have a work permit so may not be match-fit for the new season (and will have to overtake Malouda).

Kightly is an interesting one; an attacking winger for Wolves and having seen many of their games last season he is a player I'm really excited about seeing step up a level. He's cheap and could be a decent "hunch" pick for Week 1. Finally, if you want to fill a space to save some £££, good ol' Aaron Mokoena has been shifted into midfield & can be snapped for under 1.5 units, although he's likely to get more game time for Portsmouth, so expect plenty of yellow cards.

My top pick: Lampard is a no-brainer in my opinion - buy buy buy!

Bosingwa, Evra, Painsil, Ricketts, Givet, Hreidarsson, Wilkinson, Queuedrue

Anyone who played last season will know that Bosingwa and Paintsil were a Godsend, especially if you'd picked them up in Week 1 for around 5 units each and kept them for the whole season. This year they both start more expensive, but are both still good options, as is Evra.

However, I never spend too much on my defence unless I have spare money left over, so i'll be keeping it cheap & simple, probably avoiding Evra & Bosingwa, with Givet or Wilkinson likely to be slotted in at under £5 million...and I'm keeping an eye on Sam Ricketts, Hull's attacking fullback who I believe is on his way to Portsmouth to replace Glen Johnson, and costs just 5.85. There's really not a lot of choice defensively, so I'm hoping some more cheap options might show up as transfers happen in the next 3 weeks.

My top pick/s: Sam Ricketts, if he moves to Pompey*, and MAYBE Evra if I have money left over!

* He has now moved to Bolton, who have 1 he's no longer someone i'll consider, perhaps looking at Herman Hreidarsson instead.

Kirkland, Van Der Sar, Cech,

Not too much to talk about here. I almost always go for the cheapest keeper who isn't likely to get trounced 4-0. My pick is likely to be Chris Kirkland as he's good value and has decent fixtures...but if you find yourself with loads of money left over you could be greedy and go for Van Der Sar or Cech. One note of caution - avoid Paul Robinson like the plague, no matter how cheap. He has cost me so many negative points over the past 2 seasons because he only seems to make 1 save a game and often concedes 2 or 3.

My top pick: Kirkland

That's it - they'll be another post on player picks nearer kick off! Please feel free to comment on this post / post your team up for me to rate.


Remember you can join my blog league which already has 30 members:-
Group ID#: 223
Password: yahoo


Assistant Manager said...


Paicey said...

Excellent stuff AM. You've got me fired up now, with my team confidently picked... and due to change a hundred times before the 15th.

Do you know when we will know about Fulham playing 1 or 2 games in the first week? I may have to switch out Konchesky quick smart.

Keep it up.

Assistant Manager said...

Hi Paicey...cheers for visiting & commenting. I believe we'll find out about Fulham on August 6th, as that is when they play the 2nd leg of their Europa tie. If they go through to the next round they will not play their 2nd scheduled game in Week 1.

Anonymous said...

Some good picks there AM! I'm enjoying reading your blog by the way

I had most of the popular picks already in my squad, and was just waiting on news for the odd tweak here or there..

What do you think of Crouchy going to the Lane then..

Crazylegs Kev..

jest said...

tottenham always seems to have a bad start, i would avoid crouch at least for week 1

Assistant Manager said...

Hi Kev,

Glad you're enjoying it! Things will definitely change in the next few weeks...

I'd agree with Jest, if Spurs do sign Crouch I wouldn't be looking to get him until I saw how he settled. At a fantasy cost of almost £10 million there are better options imo.


Anonymous said...

Hello again AM

I wasn't looking to pick up Crouchy mate and I don't know where that idea came from, obviously jest got the wrong end of the stick there..

I was actually asking your opinion on what you personally thought about Crouchy coming to spurs, if it goes through of course..

Crazylegs Kev

Assistant Manager said...

Ah right, yeah Jest confused me! ;)

Erm - not over the moon to be honest mate, but that's because I had my heart set on Huntelaar (been a big fan since his Ajax days). Crouch is a good player and could link well with Defoe again, but I wanted a bigger name. Delusional Spurs fans hey...


Anonymous said...

Hi AM .. im Kavedas and im in your group . good blog and best of luck

Assistant Manager said...

Thanks Kavedas, good luck to you too!

Anonymous said...

I think Gerrard facing a leaky Spurs defence that will likely be missing King, Dawson and Woodgate, could score pretty well...

Assistant Manager said...

I must admit I wrote this article before I heard about Spurs' defensive crisis. However, I'm confident King will start the season, maybe with Corluka as his partner in central defence. Still, Gerrard is now a more interesting pick than he was last week, but I'm still looking at Lampard ahead of him.


Anonymous said...

Hi AM,

thanks for the precious info. I had build up my team and with a lil bit confident could lead my league. But sorry to said that I think I will not join your league bcoz with a lot of teams with same players, it could be some probs, right? Anyway I will follow ant update. See ya


Assistant Manager said...

Hey Real9 - I think the teams picked in our Blog League will be more varied than you should join too!

Anonymous said...

Why would you multiply the market value by number of games? You don't have to buy him twice that week. If anything, I'd think you'd divide-- ie, Gerrard gets 2 games @20, whereas Lampard gets 1 game@20. If they score the same per game, Gerrard is twice as valuable this week.

Assistant Manager said...

Hi Miles - as it's a double game week, I'm picking all double game players. If all players score their value in both games I would score 200 points. It's very unlikely to happen, but it's how I approach it.

Both Gerrard & Lampard have 2 games scheduled. I'm predicting whether I think Gerrard is capable of pulling in the same number of points as his value multiplied by the 2 games, which is 40 points. I don't think he will given his fixtures. Lampard costs around the same but I prefer his 2 fixtures & I believe he will score 40 points. Therefore I prefer him to Gerrard in Week 1.

Obviously, if Gerrard had 2 games & Lampard only had 1 then Gerrard would be my pick by a country mile! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi AM,

Greetings all the way from Melbourne, Australia! Great blog with some very insightful comments certainly around the initial set up of your team. Having been an avid fan of YFF since the early '00s it is crucial to get the 'core' of your team set relatively early in the piece to ensure your success throughout the season. What are your thoughts on Reina as a keeper, and also Vermaelen as a defender?

I look forward to reading throughout the season as I try and get a leg up on my friends in our local league!

G said...

Hi AM,
Your tips for the 1st week is awesome and I picked most my squard from your suggestion. This is my first time playing fantasy football.  I want to keep walcott even though arsenal only has 1 game because his value isn't high and it will be a good filler. Do you think it's a good gamble to keep Walcott? From your experience, What is the largest increase in value($) for a player after 1 falubous game? Thank you.


Assistant Manager said...

@1:21am - Melbourne, Australia.

Hey there, thanks for visiting, glad you're enjoying the blog so far!

I agree that it's good to have a core so you don't have to keep changing 11 players every week, but I have never made my keeper a core pick as I think it's good to pick a keeper based on their fixtures each week. However, if you could get Reina cheap you know Liverpool will keep alot of clean sheets so he certainly isn't a bad player to keep hold of. I tend to try and get a couple of defenders in on the cheap & then keep them for the season so Vermaelen could certainly be an option, though i'll wait until after Week 1 as I want all double gamers for the first week!

Good luck!

Assistant Manager said...

Hi G,

Walcott is due a great season, but Everton away is a tough game for Week 1.

As it's your first year on Yahoo you may not be aware of something...Yahoo allows you to buy players after the fixture has finished, before the points are up/before a player's value increases. You don't get the points (obviously, that would be cheating!) but you can take advantage of getting a player before their price goes up. You only have a couple of hours to do this after a match has finished.

Therefore, what you could do is see how Walcott gets on in Week 1 and buy hime straight after Arsenal's game has finished before his value rises, ready for Week 2.

Your last question about the biggest price rise I've seen - it was Arshavin after his 4 goals against Liverpool last April. He went from £7 million upto £20 million after the game!

Anonymous said...

My biggest decision right now is whether or not I feel Torres can produce 34 pts (2x17=34) in his first two matches or not.

For the price of Torres I can buy Bosingwa and Valencia (both have games each could score in) whoes added total of points if they match their price come out to 18pts and 22pts = 40pts which would be the better way to go. Any thoughts?

Dang I have changed my team almost 60 times now lol

Anonymous said...

Anonymous... that's the best part of this game, deciding who to include! I'm sure my team doesn't have one original player from a week ago.. :-)

AM, with City's enormous spend this season (I think they have about 12 strikers by now!)could you see Shay Given as a good bargain in the keeper position given their strengthened defence?

SR - Melbourne, Australia

Assistant Manager said...

I am also stuck on the Torres pick...I really want him in my team but I can strenghten elsewhere if I don't go with him. For me it will come down to Tottenham's center back situation, as Torres against a weak Spurs defence & Stoke at home is almost a "must have" pick. I'll probably make the decsion around 11:30am on 15th August :)

If you go with Torres, who will you pick in place of Bosingwa/Valencia?


Assistant Manager said...

@ SR, Melbourne

Conswaila asked me about Given last week on the messageboard of our Blog League & my answer was:-

"Given will be good if Man City sign a defence. At the moment I wouldn't see him as a season keeper because I believe City will leak goals."

With Toure signed & Lescott (possibly) on the way, City are looking stronger & stronger. Given could be a fantastic option.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree, looking to see who they bring in to put in front of Given. I have taken your advice on Jordi Gomez as I don't know much about him however statistically ticks the boxes I follow. Still tossing up Ricketts even though he only plays once.. would like to get in early especially if he gets forward.

Cheers - and go Aussies at Edgbaston!

Assistant Manager said...

Hi SR - I'll keep an eye out on Gomez's starting status, but he should start left wing for Wigan. I think he'll be a great fantasy purchase.

I feel there are better options than Sam Rickett's for Week 1 due to double gamers (if he'd gone to Pompey he'd be in my team) but you could always grab him for Week 2 where he plays against Hull, his former club!

Nope, Go England!...although looks like the majority of today is going to be rained off :(

Anonymous said...

Actually AM, one quick question...

Where do you think the most accurate 'likely' squads are published before the game? The lineups published on yahoo are often very different to the ones that take the field. I often use the BBC website but was wondering if you used a different one?

Currently watching highlights of the Second Test and is making me sick ;-)


Assistant Manager said...

The ones on Yahoo are never accurate - I use the BBC Sport & Sky Sports websites (Sky are normally right up to date with team news)...but I've found one of the best ways to find news is to type the name of the player you're considering into 'Google' and then search for 'News' on that player a few hours before the deadline.

A lot of the time it's the local journalists who have the most up to date team news, so you sometimes find (for example) a snippet of Aston Villa team news in the "Birmingham Evening Mail" which can help in making your decision.

Anonymous said...

Assistant Manager:

Following up Torres debate, I too feel with Spurs defense weak Torres will score, however he needs to do much more than score once to match his price, thats what I am worried about.

But with Torres in I could drop Bos to Edgar of Burnley, hes a possible starter and below 4mil. Burnley have Stoke first, a totally drawable game with United to follow allowing only 1 day rest, could be a gamble but possibly one that could work out.

Cheers :D


Assistant Manager said...

Hi Kellz - assume you're the same Kellz I've read in the comments section of the Official Blog for the past couple of season? Have you joined the blog league? If not, you should! :D

Interesting point - I didn't realise Edgar would be in a position to start for Burnley...he'll definitely come in to my thinking if that's the case, cheap and cheerful defenders is what it's all about. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Yes the very same, I really appreciate your blog site. Gonna be a great read every week as Yahoo drops to boring after the weekend's matches!

I have been talking to others about cheap options, and some top fantasy managers said Edgar had a chance to start so just passing that info along.

Is Gomez a likely starter? I seem to only hear good things on this site. Underrated or undiscovered by others do you think? Hes worth a look, i'd rather have jimenez but at 1 game hes not an option for this week.

I would love to join but I have hit my max groups for this season we'll see if I can drop one :D

Thanks again! Good luck!

Assistant Manager said...

Well thanks for the info Kellz, i'll keep an eye out!

You should definitely join the league, there's a few team names I recognise from last season's Top 50, so it should be quite competitive!

Another interesting defensive option that could come up is Steve Finnan, who's joining Portsmouth. He was a great points scorer in the past, and although 33 now he still gets forward. I'll see how cheap he is when added and he could come in to contention...

Dave said...

Re: some of your suggested picks- just FYI, it has been reported that Kightly and Queudrue are most likely to miss the season openers and maybe more. Perhaps not necessarily "top" picks anyway, but FYI as I said. Perhaps Nenad Milijas makes a nice cheap MF, if you want a Wolves player in week 1. He's been playing support striker in the preseason thus far.

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