Thursday, August 19, 2010

EPL Fantasy Draft Review




Time for another fantasy English Premier League fantasy season. This is the fourth year my friends and I are running our own league. This year we are up to 12 teams, one more than last year, with a few dropping out and a few new additions, or promotions and relegations as we like to call them. We do our own league because there is not a draft based EPL fantasy league out there. Everything is based on salary cap. We do a draft. That makes it more fun, more entertaining, more cut throat, and more fragile. Every pick counts. The scoring is pretty simple with goals, assists, clean sheets, and team of the week getting points, and red cards own goals, and goals against getting negative points.


What sets the EPL fantasy draft apart from other fantasy leagues is the high level of uncertainty. Players are constantly moving between European Leagues. It’s possible that one of your top picks could not be in the Premier League in a few weeks time. Just imagine if you drafted Greg Jennings and he only played one game with the Packers before moving to the CFL. There is also a high amount of uncertainty among starting lineups. There are only a few defenders for the top teams that you can be sure will start every game. And unlike the NBA and NFL, for the most part, you do not want players from bad teams. Because scoring is so scarce and bad teams give up lots of goals, there are not players like Stephen Curry or Andre Johnson out there.
Ok, let’s get to the draft.

Round 1







1. Wayne Rooney – Striker – Man United – I had the privilege of drawing the number one pick. I was deciding between Rooney and Drogba, but went with Rooney because I feel even in a down season, he’ll still score 15 goals. Drogba could get 35, but he could also get 7. Rooney was the safer pick.
2. Cesc Fabregas – Midfielder – Arsenal - This manager is a super Arsenal fan and refuses to take players from Tottenham, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, or Man City. Obviously, he is handcuffed, but Fabregas is definitely a top 5 pick. Speculation of a move to Barcelona has ended, so he should perform this season.
3. Didier Drogba – Striker – Chelsea - Definitely the right pick here. His hat trick in the opening weekend has already proven that.
4. Frank Lampard – Mid – Chelsea- Due to being his fantasy team captain last season, Lampard was the league’s leading point getter. He has performed at a very high level all four years of this league, and there is no reason he should stop now.
5. Steven Gerrard – Mid – Liverpool – Gerrard was last year’s #1 pick, but injuries kept him from reclaiming that honor again. He will get points and will probably be in the fantasy team of the year. The only question mark is how Liverpool will play this season.
6. Robin Van Persie – Striker – Arsenal – Van Persie is one of the best goal scorers, when he plays. He seems to be injured a lot, so this pick has a bit of a risk.
7. Carlos Tevez – Last year’s third leading scorer after Drogba and Rooney, there was a little uncertainty if Tevez would stay at Man City, but now, he seems the only City striker who will get the start virtually every week.
8. Fernando Torres – Striker – Liverpool – Injuries are a concern, but Torres is dynamic when he plays.
9. Nicolas Anelka – Striker – Liverpool – I’d say the top 8 picks are pretty cut and dry – all are clearly in the top 10 and would only move up or down a few picks, but after that 8, things are a bit less transparent. There are a lot of good players, but as you’ll see by the next picks, not of the caliber of the first 8. I see Anelka as a player on the way down, so I would not like him at #9.
10. Andrei Arshavin – Mid – Arsenal – Probably the midfielder with the best upside remaining in the draft, but tailed off last year after an amazing first 4 months in the league.
11. John Terry – Defender – Chelsea – Probably not the player you foresee taking with your first pick, but pretty safe as the Champions will get lots of clean sheets and Terry will start every game despite his World Cup woes.
12. Antonio Valencia – Mid – Man U – This is probably the first pick I truly question. Valencia is a great player, but not a huge goal scorer. I think better midfielders were available.







Round 2
13. Petr Cech – Goalkeeper – Chelsea - Getting the best goalkeeper available is a good move, not sure if he is 13th pick worthy, maybe a bit safer than the last pick.
14. David Silva – Mid – Man City – A big risk here. City has loads of midfielders and Silva is unproven in the EPL, but it could be a stroke of genius before the end of the season.
15. Patrice Evra – Def – Man U – Of the big four, Man U and Chelsea are your surest bets for cleansheets. And on those two teams, there are probably only 4 defenders you can be certain will start every week. Evra is one of those.
16. Florent Malouda – Mid – Chelsea – For my opinion, better than Valencia and Silva. He seems to score goals every season and still be underrated.
17. Glen Johnson – Def – Liverpool – A great attacking defender. He will chip in some goals and assists, but will Liverpool’s defense consistently produce the clean sheets like years past?
18. Darren Bent – Striker – Sunderland – Streaky striker. I like the pick, but I’m not sure if he can match last year’s form, especially at Sunderland, especially without his strike partner Kenwyne Jones.
19. Joe Cole – Mid – Liverpool – A bit high at 19. I don’t recall Joe Call having a strong fantasy season in the four years of this league. Too many injuries. Maybe the new club will help.
20.Thomas Vermaelen – Def – Arsenal – Surprised to see Vermaelen, last year’s top scoring defender fall this far. He scores goals. He defends very well. Arsene Wenger has an eye for talent. Maybe people are not convinced about Arsenal.
21. Pepa Reina – Goalie – Liverpool – Not much about this pick, right place I guess.
22. Aaron Lennon – Mid – Tottenham – Has the potential to be one of the best fantasy midfielders in the league. Seems a little high, but maybe not at the rate midfielders are going.
23. Marouane Chamakh – Striker – Arsenal – I think Chamakh will be a very important player for Arsenal. Look for him to pair well with Van Persie, but I’m not sure that necessarily means fantasy success.
24. Ashley Cole – Def – Chelsea – I was thrilled to get Ashley Cole with the 24th pick. I see him as a scoring, assisting, cleansheet producing defender, definitely a first round talent.

Alright, I won’t bore you with all 17 rounds. Instead, check out my stellar team.
1. (1.) Rooney
2. (24.) Ashley Cole
3. (25.) Edwin Van der Sar – Goalie’s were going fast, and I think Van der Sar was the best bet only the board, especially already having a first choice striker.
4. (48.) Rio Ferdinand – Injury problems and getting old, but I still consider it a steal at 48.
5. (49.) Theo Walcott – Attacking midfielders on good teams are always a good bet. Walcott did not really perform last year, but I’m looking for him to find his best form this year.
6. (72.) John Carew – Good value for your second striker
7. Phil Jagielka – Strong defender, now playing for England. Everton should be good value in round 7.
8. (96.) Niko Kranjcar – With only one midfielder, needed proven goalscoring. Not flashy and not certain to start, but I’ll stand by it.
9. Johann Djourou – Def – Arsenal – If this guy starts even just half the games, this is a steal, but with injury issues, it might be a waste.
10. (120.) Stephen Ireland
11. Shaun Wright-Philips
– This was a tandem pick here. I figured one would stay at City and fight for a spot and the other would go to Villa and take the place of Milner. Good picks. Best case scenario, both leave City
12. (144.) Sylvain Distin – Its possible Distin will be on the bench, but I again see Heitinga playing a number of different positions and Jagielka and Distin teaming up in the middle with Yobo the odd man out.
13. Joe Hart – This was kind of a defensive pick here. I know that a few people still had not picked a goalie and I know Hart had a chance of starting at City. If he didn’t he could go to Arsenal, Sunderland, or Fulham, which are not bad alternatives. I won this round.
14. Robert Huth – Stoke defender
15. Steven Nzonzi – a bit of a reach for the young Blackburn midfielder. I saw him score a tight goal against Everton, so I see a bright future.
16. Mesut Ozil – Not really a gamble, no down side, but no upside in the end. Real Madrid?
17. David Moyes – This year we are experimenting with taking managers. I don’t think it will have much effect, but either way, got to go with Everton.

I like me team. This is the most confident I’ve felt after a draft. Late round pieces like Hart and Ireland will make those early round picks even better. I could be derailed by injuries and poor form by Rooney. Other than that, I’m feeling good.


Here are some other draft hits:
Mikel Arteta – 5th pick in the 4th round – 6 goals and 2 assists in 13 EPL games last season
Maruone Fellaini – Another Everton player returning from injury, good value in the late 8th round
Milan Jovanovic – Attacking midfielder on a good team in the 9th round – steal
Johnny Evans – Another 9th round steal, will start a lot for Vidic and Ferdinand
Stephen Pienaar – Ok, I rate Everton players, but you can’t complain with Pienaar in the 10th round
Ryan Shawcross – Stoke defender in the 14th round, scored some nice goals last year and broke someone’s leg
Scott Parker – Good midfielding option in the 15th round
Luke Young – 16th round – should get some starts with Villa’s injury problems
Verdun Corluka – 11th round, nice

Some not so clever picks:
Yossi Beneyoun – Too high in the 5th round. Won’t start. Other players drafted around him much more valuable – Milner, Modric, Cuellar, Dunne, Downing, Saha
Zhirkov- 5th round. Ouch! Manager thought he was classified as a defender. Not a good pick either way.
Maxi Rodriguez – 8th round. 19th appearances with Liverpool. 1 goal.
Jonas Gutierrez – 8th round. Interesting choice.
Daniel Sturridge – 9th round. Probably would have been available in the 19th round
Charles N’Zogbia – 6th round, high even if he does stay in England


Teams – I think Rory did well for a newcomer. Usually there is a tough learning curve for new players. With picks like Evra in the 2nd, Berbatov in the 4th and Downing in the 5th, he seems to know what he is doing.
I expect the veterans Worth and Dustin to again challenge at the top, maybe more due to their transfer prowess than their drafts. For Dustin, I don’t expect Dunne and Gomes to have as good a season as last.
BJ – too reliant on Arsenal. Big surprise.
Junkie – a strong start with Gerrard, Vermaelen, Vidic, and Milner. Not sure if his depth will hold up.
Andy – a mixed bag, no big four defenders will give him inconsistent weeks.
Jerry – newcomer showed his naivety with some picks, but Drogba should help out.
Carlo – If Adebayor and Boateng play well for City, he has a chance to challenge for midtable, if not, he’ll be wishing Jesse were still in the league.
Serg – wishing Jesse were still in the league. Good thing he transferred for Balotelli
Raubert – Similar to Junkie, strong beginning to draft, may have what it takes to challenge the leaders
Bryan – I predict another season of languishing in the bottom half of the table.

A few random notes:

BJ has 7 Arsenal players
By the end of the week, Serg probably will have drafted 3 players who are not in the league
11 of Serg’s players have Italian managers
Bryan love Cahill’s, having both Tim and Gary, I believe Trevor is open for the Oakland A’s
Carlo has Paulo Ferreira and Pablo Barrera
Gomes, undrafted last season, 4th round this season
Bridge 7th round last year, 16th round this year
Robinho 1st round last year, 14th round this year

There you go, mostly random thoughts. Thanks for putting up with my over confidence and ribbing. I will own this league.

4 comments:

Uncle Aldo said...

74,000 hits? You Aving a laugh!

Daniel said...

No mention of the good fortune of me getting Vidic in the 3rd round? I can't wait until he wreaks havoc on all of you.

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