We are at the crossroads as the season has ticked over the half way point. Looking forward can be pretty difficult, especially for the top 10 sides who started so brightly (West Brom, Everton) or have been quite up and down (Arsenal, Liverpool). Combine that with the double gameweeks & ‘winter’ wildcards and all hell can break loose.
Jonny Evans: Few players have provided me as much fantasy joy as Johnny Evans (in the defensive bracket). Despised in public eyes around the world for not being of ‘Manchester United’ quality he quite often flies right under the fantasy radar for no good reason. Having snagged him at 4.3 last season he returned me a tidy 4.7 points a game. Quite simply I was laughing all the way to the bank (he shot up to 5.3 by seasons end).
Things were set to change with the return of Vidic with Evans apparently in a tussle for a starting role with Ferdinand & Smalling in pre season. All of the mentioned players have fallen by the wayside with various injuries (including Evans) making it extremely difficult to enter the inconsistent Manchester United defensive unit. Thankfully United have got their captain back (Vidic) and clean sheets have followed. As I looked to push all my spare change into Vidic this interesting quote appeared & my eyes lit up:
“We are rotating at the moment with Rio and Vidic. The return of Smalling and Jones is definitely a help because we can then alternate Vidic and Ferdinand. Jonny Evans has been absolutely magnificent and he’s progressed by playing regularly. With Smalling and Jones, their careers at United have been interrupted by injury, and you hope long-term things will settle down for them and they’ll be okay.”
The first key point is that Ferdinand & Vidic are set to rotate for the rest of the season. As much of a goal threat as Vidic is without week in week out appearances 6.6 is a joke. The second point is that Ferguson is very happy with Evans level of performance this season. He has put a lot of faith into the youngster over the years and can obviously see the potential starting to bloom.
Jonny is in good form recently scoring 19 points in the last 3 games (6.3 per game). This has been due to the return of the United regular back 4 to provide some stability (combined with a goal in the other game). With 3 goals and an assist this season Johnny is proving to be a problem off corners and set pieces. It is therefore interesting to see he has a minimum 1.9% ownership compared to Rafael’s 14.2% when there is only 3 attacking points difference between the two (24 (2 goals 4 assists) vs 21 (3 goals 1 assist). Not to mention the 0.2 price difference between the two (which 3 weeks ago was a handy 0.7 difference). [Evra’s attacking points are about 39 not including bonus]
Sadly Evan’s did not appear in the match against Liverpool. I had written this piece fully expecting him to play but an injury issue appeared. Ferguson was as sly as usual with his response:
“Jonny Evans felt his hamstring yesterday afternoon. I was at Nottingham [watching Forest v Peterborough] and got a message at half time. He trained in the morning so it was strange. But Vidic and Ferdinand are experienced and you can’t say any more than that. They were brilliant.”
Brilliant they were indeed keeping Suarez at bay. Not that Fergie would have really wanted to play Vidic the risk of injury was quite high in such an intense game. It resulted in Vidic playing his second game in a week picking up further problems with his knee. This injury will take extra monitoring & again strengthens the job security of Evans as soon as he overcomes his hamstring complaint.
In the last few days (weeks I guess) Evra has again come on the fantasy scene. After appearing slightly over the hill and prone to the occasional rotation Evra has been on a blitz of late. At 7.1 I don’t see much value when you consider the randomness of attacking returns from defenders. Although I am convinced footballers have unexplained (via statistics) consistent patches where they are full of confidence, the team is playing well & everything seems to happen through them.
This is Evra’s time he has racked up 10-10-6-10-9 quite incredible really. Baines had a similar run at the start of the season and it did not last beyond 7 games (when he takes penalties, free kicks & corners). Evra has also not scored more then 1 goal in the premier league in the last 5 or so seasons. Defenders are so unpredictable at 7.1 the risk is high when a regular united asset can be claimed at 1.3 less.
Jonathan Walters: A frequent feature in the Out of Position (OOP) discussions over the past couple of seasons Walters is one of the most complex fantasy players. A couple of own goals against Chelsea along with a penalty miss firmly puts him in the out of form bracket (for this week at least).
Jonathan Walters somehow sits 13th in midfield for total points with little or no consistency to be found in that haul. Walters has returns in 6 of 22 games (27%) quite pitiful for the weekly points haul. I quickly had a look in the similar price bracket and found Kevin Nolan (6.5). Kevin is a much better fantasy asset in my eyes has returned in 6 of 21 games (28%). On amount of returns & hence total points they are almost the same. The key difference is consistency all 6 of Kevin’s returns were in the first 11 game weeks. Therefore if you had of started the season with him up to game week 12 you would have had a very remarkable 54% chance of returns during a game. Walters provides no such consistency his returns are spread in a 3-8-1-4 (games between returns) compared to Kevin’s 1-1-2-2-10.
The reason why Walters presents us with such an interesting situation is because he often plays behind Peter Crouch in a 4-4-1-1. He pretty much has been the second striker in the team in the last few years (role is now changing). Combine this with the fact he takes penalties and you have one seemingly decent fantasy pick. Scores of 140 & 109 at the relevant price levels (6.0 & 5.4) are not to be laughed at. The fact he is now 6.5 provides very little upside (in terms of points to value) with the extra money spent better elsewhere.
It quite simply baffles me that he has 8.3% ownership for someone who is fairly priced, inconsistent and in a team that traditionally does not score many goals. My closing point has to be that I have stumbled across the official Stoke City fantasy league. It provides an interesting insight into: who the players rate within the club, who is good at fantasy & who they rate from other sides. Only 3 of the 20 players have Walters (interestingly enough both of the first choice goalkeepers, he must be impressive in shooting practice).