Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Week 37 - Player Picks

"Week 37 - The Penultimate Week" is here, and while I'm sure there's still plenty of excitement left from a fantasy football standpoint as you try to hold on to/stage a late fightback for top spot in your Blog Leagues/Private Groups, the top of the Premier is more-or-less decided.

Man Utd are almost home and dry - with just a point required from either Blackburn or Blackpool to seal their 19th title, it's theirs. Man City secured the final Champions League spot last night so that's done, while in-form Liverpool are set to usurp Spurs to the final Europa League place.

I never want Spurs to lose and I'm feeling really down about the end to a season that promised so much (9 points from the last 10 games is relegation form btw), but I won't be disappointed if we don't have to take part in that muddled mess of a competition next season. The majority of Liverpool fans I know don't want the distraction either.

So anyway, that's the top pretty much sorted, but that doesn't mean there isn't huge drama still to be found in these closing weeks. I'm not talking about this weekend's FA Cup Final between City & Stoke, or even the Champions League Final on May 28th between Barca & Utd; it's the 6 teams fighting for their lives at the foot of the Premier League table.

If you narrowly miss out on a title, finish 5th and miss the Champions League or lose in a Cup Final, it hurts, but there is no greater devastation than relegation. Look at sides like Southampton, Charlton, Leeds & Sheff United; dropping out of the Premier League started a major decline, down not one, but two leagues in quick succession. It's scary - your best players will be sold, no more big wages or transfer fees, far less TV money, smaller crowds. Some clubs come back from it, but some can be (and have been) badly damaged, so when you think about it there really is no bigger prize than staying up.

Blackburn, Birmingham, Wolves, Blackpool, Wigan & West Ham are the sides who could still go down. Blackburn & Birmingham sit on 39 points, 3 points above the drop-zone with a better goal difference than teams below them, so they have a bit of breathing space, but it's going to be so tight between the current bottom four. Here are their fixtures for the teams...

Blackburn (39 points) - Man Utd, @Wolves
Birmingham (39 points) - Fulham, @ Spurs
Wolves (37 points) - @Sunderland, Blackburn
Blackpool (36 points) - Bolton, @Man Utd
Wigan (36 points) - West Ham, @Stoke
West Ham (33 points) - @Wigan, Sunderland


When you look at those fixtures it's hard to know what's going to happen, but you'd think West Ham are all-but-gone. They're rock bottom & 4 points from safety, so it must be two wins for 39 points to give them any hope. That still may not be enough, so sadly I think it's over for them.

As for Birmingham, Wigan, Wolves & Blackpool, they will all feel they can win their remaining home game, but Blackburn face United, so they could find themselves right back in serious trouble.

The final day of the season is always a lottery, but I'm going to make my bold predictions: Birmingham (Draw,Draw), Wolves (Draw,Win) & Wigan (Win,Draw) will get out of trouble, so Blackburn (Loss,Loss), Blackpool (Win,Loss) & West Ham (Loss,Win) to go down.

It's guess work of course, there will be more twists and we don't how things will end. All we can be sure of is three teams will be relegated and it will damage those teams and hurt their fans, far more than any Chelsea/Arsenal/Spurs fans have been hurt this season.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on who will go down/survive?

Moving on to an overall look at this week's fixtures...

Stand-Outs
MAN UTD @ Blackburn
CHELSEA v Newcastle
ARSENAL v Villa
MAN CITY v Stoke


Man Utd need a point to seal the title but I'm sure they'll win, while the other sides are playing their final home game of the season and will want to put on a show for the home fans (usually open games with plenty of attacking points available).

Should-Win
LIVERPOOL v Spurs
WIGAN v West Ham
BLACKPOOL v Bolton


I think the three home teams here all have a great chance of wins, Spurs & Bolton are struggling while I'm not sure West Ham have anything left, especially away from home.

Draws/Close
Sunderland v Wolves
Birmingham v Fulham
West Brom v Everton


Draw, Draw, Draw.

I'll add, it's a fair point to think it's better to pick players with something to play for, and I'm tipping a lot of the relegation threatened teams to win during the run in, but I still thinks these could be tight, nervy affairs, lots of bookings and not a lot of goals. Of course, the major risk for the "stand-out" teams with nothing to play is that they may rest/rotate some players, so team news will be really important on Friday. It's up to you which way you go!

Players...

KEEPERS
Van Der Sar
Carson


DEFENDERS
Vermaelen
Kolarov
Fabio
Skrtel
Luiz
Figueroa
Heitinga
Caldwell
Craddock


MIDFIELDERS
Lampard
Nani
Adam
Walcott
Valencia
Kuyt
N'Zogbia
Silva
Hitzlsperger
Thomas
M.Taylor
O'Hara


STRIKERS
Van Persie
Suarez
Drogba/Torres
Hernandez/Berbatov
Sturridge
Odemwingie
Rodallega
DJ Campbell


I'll get some analysis done for the players tonight or tomorrow.

My own team is still as it was on Monday:

Carson, Craddock, Figueroa, Vermaelen, Hitzlsperger, Valencia, Silva, Lampard, Suarez, Van Persie, Drogba

As mentioned earlier, team news is going to be vital this week, so please check back for the Update post on Friday. Fabio, Nani, Adam, N'Zogbia, Torres & DJ Campbell are all still in my thoughts to come in but it will depend on what we hear from the managers!

I'll leave it there for now - please let me know how your team is shaping up.

Cheers,
AM

58 comments:

Eddy E said...

Thanks AM... Glad to see you engaged with couple weeks left... oh and first ;)

madness said...

the picture made me laugh...

Data Head said...

AM, I did a little research into the Leaderboard and found that in addition to the [AM]-tagged teams, there are at least five others that belong to one of your blog leagues, including two in the top ten, and the illustrious Matang Gerdu itself. I suspect that there are others, as well, such as Chaos above. (You would know better than I.) There were a few Fantasy Premier League bloggers, as I'll call them, and two or three identified S11s, as well as Fantasists. The only blog at least equally represented as yours is the Hong Kong-based bff group, who seem to keep within their own network, group-wise.

kwyjibo said...

So, do you think they are now regretting their decision to give West Ham the Olympic stadium?

Emon said...

most likely this is gonna be my team

Hart @9.69
Kolarov @6.92- Luiz @5.96- Lescott @7.13- Vermaelen @5.88
VDV @6.14- Silva @7.52- Yaya @8.38- Adam @17.03
RVP @17.82- Suarez @7.20

My biggest downfall this year was dropping RVP at 9.08. After the reports said he was gonna be out 5 weeks i dropped him, just like almost everyone else. Should have waited a week or two on those reports, oh well you live and learn.

HarambeeStars said...

Interesting predictions AM. Here's mine

Blackburn (L,W) - 42
Brum (D,L) - 40
Wolves (W,L) - 40
Wigan (W,L) - 40
Blackpool (W,L) - 39
West Ham (L,W) - 36

Wigan to go down on GD. Hopefully, for everyone's sake, SAF won't field a reserve team in the last game.

My current team:
Green
Kol Vermaelen Heitinga
Hitz Valencia Adam N'Zgobia
Suarez Drogba Rooney

HarambeeStars said...

Just realized my team and predictions contradict themselves...I have to drop Green and get someone else :P

Raconteur said...

AM, great post about relegation, always like some discussion not just about fantasy football. For me, West Ham, Blackpool & Wigan are all goners. But it could easily swing with a win or two for Blackpool or Wigan.

On your player picks, i know you're going to add some analysis, but what are your thoughts on Luiz's chances of playing, considering the way he was unceremoniously taken off by Ancelotti at half time. Will he consider dropping him for the rest of the season in favour of Alex?

Also a little surprised not to see Maxi up there. I know his price has rocketed, but pre-BD, for 14.5 mill, he's on form, seems like a streaky kind of player. No love?

Itchy said...

I have Kolarov at discount but given he will no doubt play in the Cup final, is there not a rotation risk for the Prem game against Stoke?

L'Orange Noir

Assistant Manager said...

Raconteur - Good post mate, I know what you're saying. I will add in my analysis that Luiz is only worth it at discount as all the other Chelsea defenders have been unaffordable for months. If Alex is set to continue then obviously Luiz drops out.

As for Maxi - look, the guy has been garbage for 18 months & although he has been on an amazing scoring run I still don't believe in him. If Carroll starts alongside Suarez then I think Maxi may get less chances to get forward as he'll be wider and Suarez will fill the recent Maxi role behind Carroll. Kuyt is only in because he gets penalties - but then if I had Maxi at his pre-pre-pre update prices I would keep him. :)

MB said...

Foster,
Luiz, Vermaelen, Fabio
valencia, moses, larsson, giggs,
odem, hernandez and rooney

I love this team but I'll wait and double check on team news on luiz, giggs and fabio before getting too excited.

Raconteur said...

Ah, the old adage of "Form is temporary, class is permanent"? I can understand the thought, as he's definitely not a player good enough for the top 4, but he's in the back of my mind and still on my teamsheet for now. Good point on the return of Andy Carroll, as that will definitely hamper his points haul. I'm going to be so gutted come next season when Suarez costs all of 22mill. He's the new RVP!

On a non-football related note, how's things with the fiance, are you planning your wedding yet and got any confirmed dates?

David said...

FFS is reporting that Parker is back in first-team training, which suggests he will figure this weekend, especially with WH facing the drop for anything less than a win.

Is he factoring into anyone's logic, or are folks staying away on the chance that he might start from the bench?

David said...

Another question--does Parker's improving health put Spector's status under threat?

Chaos said...

Hey Data Head, yeah I found this site too late to join one of the Leagues related to it.

Anyone else finding this week really difficult? I currently have 6 players from teams in the bottom 5!

Oh and slightly away from FF, have just been informed by my Dad that I met Stanley Mathews when I was 10 and shook his hand....

jddh1982 said...

Al-Habsi anyone? Figured playing against West Ham could prove good for him if he keeps a clean sheet. He'll have to make quite a few saves I think.

Eugene said...

do you guys think essien is worth a shot this week? have less than 8 left for a forward / mid...

kendo said...

Fancy west ham to get a result jddh!

kendo said...

Emon looks like you have held on to value players at discount rather than go for match ups each week do you think this has been more effective?

Emon said...

yes in my opinion i think it can me more effective when you hold on to certain players at discount. like i said my biggest downfall was dropping RVP at 9.08 i would of had an extra 8 or 9 mil to spend on other players. i have finished 1st in my group the past 3 years and im currently 58 points down to my friend who's in first. he held on to RVP at 9.08 unlike me he waited it out. those false injury reports really pissed me off. i knew RVP was the top striker in form so i was forced to pick him back up for market price which was 17 mil. another x factor player my friend in first place has had is joey barton at 5 mil pretty much the whole season. hes one of the top fantasy scorers this year. certain players can make a big impact if you hold on to them. i usually tend to hold on to players if i have them at a discount of 2-4 mil. once or if they drop back down to the price at which i bought them at, then i obviously drop the player.

Assistant Manager said...

Kolarov at 4 is the only player I regret dropping all season because I spent the spare money on junk that got me nothing. I know I've said it a billion times, but just look at the Top 20 at the end of each season. The very top players very rarely hold discounts, and they're successful every time - it's been the same for each of the 7 years since I started this game.

No doubt there are those very rare occasions it's worth it (Kola@4, Bale@2, RvP@9, Drogba@10 etc) but the 2-4m discounts are mostly a waste of time imho.

Chaos said...

Emon I do understand where you are coming from, but how are you doing?

I'm 31st overall, but like AM, Nik, Guru, Blog God, Kolarov is the only one I really feel I probably should have kept.

Nicky said...

have to echo nik/chaos. you see people on here who still hold van deer vaart for 6, foster for 5, adam for 5 but they are never doing too well. the sacrifices they made to keep players in suspensions/double weeks/blanks weeks etc simply arent worth it, proved by top players not doing it

Emon said...

yeah true i think it also depends on if you're competing against people in your league or the world. i think i also have a problem with holding onto or choosing players that i personally like as in style or team. i always seem to be choosing players from the bigger or top clubs most of the time, so i tend to over look a lot of good players from average teams. been playing YFF since 2006. i currently have 3,055.5 points and im ranked 6,554 over world rank. nothing compared to a lot of you guys on here but i also dont live in england or europe so its a litte bit harder to get information, footy is not as big over here.

Emon said...

how do you say these guys like adam or vdv are not good season keepers. if you sort list by top fantasy point scorers for the season these guys are in the top 1st or 2nd page. drogba(two years in a row) VDV, adam, RVP, barton odemwengie, hart, cech.

Assistant Manager said...

Key mistake - people think if they sell players at discount for weeks they don't play/are suspended/have bad fixtures/blank weeks they can't then buy them back at a more expensive price. I sold Adam at 6ish when he missed two games earlier in the season, spent that 12 million wisely over those 2 weeks, and then bought him back as required for a more expensive price when he had good fixtures. You can take the good times and lose the bad times by being smart. - that's what the top players do - but it's hard to make that jump. It took me a long time to be convinced, but it honestly works if you stick to it as a rule throughout a season.

Emon said...

yeah i guess you guys are right though cuz im obviously not taking the right strategy if you guys are ranked in the top 100 every year. i just find it hard dropping players at discount for some reason.

Assistant Manager said...

Emon - completely understandable mate, if I remember correctly it took me 2 seasons of playing this game before I cracked the top 400-500 for the first time. Ignoring discounts and basing it on match-ups only is the most successful strategy...it's hard to do though!

Emon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emon said...

also i wanted to get some thoughts on what people would think about a EPL fantasy based daft system just like NFL,MLB or NBA where there would only be one of each player on each team in your league instead of having copy cat teams. by the end of the season its seems people have about 75% of the same team. i think the scoring in YFF is the best out of any fantasy leagues but the only problem i have is the fact that people can have the same players, no sense of ownership. if you guys or anybody knows any fantasy leagues that have a draft based with no salary cap, please let me know.

kwyjibo said...

@Emon - NFL, MLB and NBA have a draft in real life, which is why I think they do it. Whereas Football does not have a draft. It's not really something that is part of sport outside of the United States, since Universities in many other countries don't really have major sports programs. All the pro teams have their own youth training programs instead, and invest their own money bringing up players.

So, you are not likely to find a Fantasy Football game that does it since the concept is really kind of foreign to the sport.

ebi s. said...

Van der Vaart @ 6.14, average score of 11.91, easily covered the weeks he missed. The last 3 weeks he missed-18.42, you can invest that on a player who gets benched or picks up a knock in training. I picked up Higuain for 25m and he scored 6points,
19m wasted

I agree with the philosophy of picking on match-up, i was probably the first to ditch Drogba early on but holding vdv is been worth it.

ebi s. said...

I have had Van de Vaart for 32 weeks @6.14, investing 196.48 in that period and he's returned 297 points in that time, 100 points extra.

Arizona6 said...

So here's a classic: I hold VDV at 6 and who would I get for him if I could spend up to 8. I already have Hitz.--- gutierrez, lennon, SEB, Ward (wol)-- Not too easy IMO. I'll have to keep a tired VDV and his penalty kick, .... get my 5 points and be done with it. I would get Hitz instead if I didn't already have him for less than 6.

I love comparing Nik's suggestions with my BD picks- much better at it now than in the first ten weeks when I didn't really know any players or a strategy. (around 1400 now) Thanks. Nik.

Arizona6 said...

Here's a silly question:

Let's say I remove a player (VDV) in order to search for another player, but decide to keep the original player (VDV, for example). Why is it so easy sometimes to just pop him back in, but other times the green "add" button is whited out/unavailable and you have to undo all your "about to sell" players? Any simple solution or is this too scilly a question.?

Edgar Newt said...

Emon, re your draft question -- my family uses a "no-clones" model for our fantasy EPL play: only one unit of each player in the league. We do a draft at the beginning of the season ("snake style" -- we pick lots and then the first person goes first in the first round and last in the second round, repeat every two rounds) and then have to disclose via email during the week transfers in and out. We started off with a "commissioner" who would gather the transfer requests and then fulfill them on a worst team goes first basis. We got lazy about halfway through the season and thereafter transfers were made on a first come, first served basis (and it has worked fine -- if you make a transfer earlier in the week, you risk hearing late news of a training injury, etc.). Some of us are also competing in a "regular" league so we can compete against "the world".

I have to say that the "no clones" version has really captivated the family and there is a lot more trash talk going on in that league than we used to get in the standard version.

We still use the online fantasy system to keep tracks of scores, etc., but we have our updated rosters emailed to the group every time somebody makes a transfer. It has really worked out and we already have additional people signed up for next season's "no clones" league. I highly, highly recommend it.

Edgar Newt said...

Sorry, one more thought -- we use an online fantasy system that incorporates a salary cap. Not our preference, but we couldn't find a free EPL scoring system we liked that didn't have a cap. It also provides a more realistic budgetary reality (we aren't all Man City, after all).

Emon said...

What site are you using for this "no clone" league? Did you create it? my brother and i have been talking about this for a few days and want to get something going we would like to create the ultimate fantasy league experience. basically taking NFL,MLB,NBA yahoo fantasy draft style/format with EPL yahoo scoring system. i would like to have no player values at all just a simple draft between no more than maybe 12 of your friends. draft pick order for each person is ramdomly selected at the beginning or just drawn out of a hat. for injuries i dont know if you have ever played MLB fantasy baseball but you can put/slide three or four players on the disabled list(DL) and pick up a certain amount of additional players. maybe 15-20 total players chosen in the draft, 11 starting players 4 subs something like that. i would like to incorporate the YFF point system maybe tweaking it a bit goalkeeper wise. ive been seriously thinking about getting some programmers together to create something like this.

Wahyu said...

Nice discussion mate..
back to relegation battle..my prediction they will be

blackpool
wigan
west ham

kwyjibo said...

@Emon - I'm a programmer and I often thought about coding my own Fantasy Football site, but there is one major stumbling block...the stats. In order to do it, you need the stats, and the companies that provide them charge A LOT of money for them.

munafix said...

who doesn't love ollie. i'll be very happy to see another season of him. lets hope they beat the like of obertan, gibson, owen, evans and lindegaard at old traford. of course they'll have to secure 3 points from bolton first.

Edgar Newt said...

@Emon -- we have been using the ESPN EPL Fantasy League because we prefer the scoring system to Yahoo and others. It has a 30 transfer limit over the course of the season and probably is not the right system for somebody coming from the Yahoo or Barclay's Fantasy EPL worlds. That said, it really works for us. Because you have to think two or three times before you transfer out one of your players (because an opponent may snatch him up), the 30 transfer limit really doesn't matter. With 2 weeks left, everybody has plenty of transfers left over.

Emon said...

@kwyjibo - how much do the stat companies charge? i was told yahoo possibly gets their stats from http://www.optasports.com/

Assistant Manager said...

Emon - Opta's Fantasy Football stats package/feed is £6500 per season.

kwyjibo said...

@Nik - Thanks for the info. I didn't actually know the price Opta charges, but I knew it was high. Nope, I don't have an extra £6500!

kwyjibo said...

I don't know, I'm torn between the VdS v Carson decision. I'll probably end up kicking myself for not picking RvP, but I'm pretty happy with my front line:

VdS
Kol(@4.43)-Verm-Craddock
Silva-Hitz(@5.42)-Kuyt-N'Zogbia
Suarez-Odemwingie-Sturridge

I may switch Kuyt to Adam, since Blackpool will have more to play for. I can't see Liverpool or Spurs going all out to try and get into the Europa league! But, Blackpool will be fighting for their life...

gaius marius said...

fwiw, i had a team of mostly discounts in the first half. i stumbled (finally) on AM midseason, and he convinced me to pick matchups.

proof's in the pudding, imo:

first half: 1436 pts in 19 (75 avg), ranked 8421
second half: 1762 pts in 17 (104 avg), ranked 2098

no question left in my mind. the only discounts i've held throughout second half are kolarov @ 5.3 and VdV @ 5.5 -- to which i added suarez @ 7.2. also held foster most of the year at 5.2, but dumped him on the run in.

alvin said...

Hi, i think im very sure valencia will play a part in the nxt two games...coz he needs them to qualify for his medals!!!

Emon said...

Wow 6500 a season for a stat tracker company that is a lot of money.

enourouz said...

@kwyjibo - Hey I'm Emon's bro and saw that you are a programmer. I'd be willing to buy the stats if you can do the programming.

I think it's absolutely insane that the most widely viewed sports league in the world has no draft style format for its fantasy leagues.

I understand that in real life there is no concept of a draft in Europe as players are recruited from the youth teams.

However, this is fantasy world and it doesn't have to follow the real life European salary cap. Yahoo has proven the draft works with the NFL, NBA, and MLB fantasy leagues.

All I'm saying is take Yahoo's format extract the entire NFL player database and insert the EPL player database.

You guys in Europe don't know what you're missing with a draft based system. The draft is one of the best parts. I've been getting together with a group of friends since 2000 for a NFL Fantasy Draft. Every year we get together and shoot the shit for 4 hours, drink beers, and draft. It's a ton of fun.

In addition, I really can't get past this concept of having two drogbas in one league. I think its absolutely stupid (I've been playing Yahoo EPL for 4 years now).

The whole point of fantasy sports is to draft and own a team. Then you compete against other teams and make transfers/trades during the season.

Is anyone going to get passed salary cap system? It's like a mind block for a lot of you out there to associate fantasy without players values. American fantasy sports have been popularized since the late 90's. Not quite sure when the first EPL fantasy league was first created but I assume it wasn't until about 5 to 6 years ago. As a result the EPL fantasy world is really lagging behind the rest of the fantasy world.

I'm interested to hear everyone's feeback on this as I can't see why this hasn't happened yet. I want to do this but no programming skills. Anybody who is interested I'm willing to invest half to get this thing going.

kwyjibo said...

@enourouz - I have been interested for a while in making a Fantasy Football site, and so I am intrigued by your offer.

I'm definitely up on the idea, and can even get started on my own. But, the main thing to be aware of is that, to actually create and maintain a site that will (hopefully) have many users, will likely eventually require a team of programmers.

So, I like the idea, but it's going to take some good planning. If you want to discuss it further, let me know and we'll find a way to exchange contact info.

Where are you, by the way? In the US?

C Hawk said...

Here's what ive settled on
Carson
Kolorav Luiz Verm
Nani Adam Hitz Silva
Suarez Odemwingie Sturridge

Unless the team news tomorrow indicate Nani or Verm wont start ill probably stick with this squad.

enourouz said...

@kwyjibo - Sounds good to me. I'm in Seattle. You? Find me on facebook: Easa Nourouzee. I'm wondering if it would be possible to get this up on the web before the start of the 11/12 season. I assume that would involve quite a team and a good deal of start up capital. Let's talk numbers and see what a realistic budget would be to start and maintain.

kwyjibo said...

@enourouz - Just sent you a friend request on Facebook. We'll talk more there so the rest of the people here don't have to be bored with our discussion!

joo said...

this is my first season ever. After missing the first week with 0 points, I'm currently in the top 200, just because of this blog and AM. Thanks.

Cech
Kolarov Fabio Verm
Hitz Valencia Siva Maxi
Suarez RVP Rodallega

-ryan

absolutely brilliant [AM.BLOG]

Chaos said...

Walcott, crazy signing or decent pick?

Tương-Phùng said...

I always heard you guys say that wait 'till the last minute for a sure starting line. But how? Where do you go to get these information? Can you give some url?

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