Wednesday, August 10, 2011
English Premiership Fantasy Draft Review 2011
Time for another English Premier League fantasy draft. As you EPL fans know, there are no good fantasy English leagues out there. They are all salary cap based as opposed draft based which we like here in America. Also, they have stupid scoring systems where you get points for starts, substitutions, shots and a different number of points for goals depending on what position you play. It doesn't take an expert to know that in soccer, all goals count for the same number of points.
To rectify this situation, my friends and I created our own draft league. We keep it simple - points for goals, assists, team of the week, negative points for own goals, goals against, and red cards. Each team drafts 16 players and starts a 4-4-2 every week with a captain having their points doubled. The draft totally changes strategy. Only one team gets Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and the like. There are a finite number of strong defenders and scoring midfielders. Do you go with offense or defense first? You also have all the transfer uncertainty before the season. Big decisions.
Let's take a look at this years EPL Fantasy Draft.
1. Wayne Rooney - Striker - Manchester United - This was the right pick. I took Rooney first last year. He is the most reliable, most consistent player. He may not lead the league in goals, but he will get his points. There is no such certainty with any other player.
2. Robin Van Persie - Striker - Arsenal - Van Persie tore it up at the end of last season. He is a top striker, but can he stay healthy?
3. Fernando Torres - Striker - Chelsea - A bit of a risk here. Torres has not had a good year. He has shown the pedigree in the EPL and seemingly should turn things around at Chelsea.
4. Darren Bent - Striker - Aston Villa - This pick might be a bit of a surprise this soon, but if you look at the stats over the past few years, Bent is a top 3 Premier League striker. Also, due to moral reasons, the manager picking here does not take players from Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man United, or Man City.
5. Florent Malouda - Midfielder - Chelsea - The first midfielder taken. I would not have expected Malouda to be the first taken. Malouda does get his points, but really tailed off during the second half of last season. I question this pick.
6. Frank Lampard - M - Chelsea - Lampard has been one of the best fantasy players over the course of the league. He didn't do as well last year. There is a lot of clamoring about him getting old, but if you look at the games he played, he put up high points.
7. Didiger Drogba - S - Chelsea - Drogba is another player who used to be a certain top 3 pick, but has a few question marks due to injuries and age.
8. Luiz Suarez - S - Liverpool - Interesting choice between Carroll and Suarez. Either could have a break out year or a disappointing year.
9. Rafael Van der Vaart - M - Tottenham - Van der Vaart was a revelation last year, full of goals and assists. He fell off a bit at the end of the year. Can he repeat?
10. David Silva - M - Man City - I like this pick. Silva came on strong last season and is the play maker on a talented city side. He'll have loads of assists and a few goals to match.
11. Andy Carroll - S - Liverpool - See pick #8
12. Sergio Aguero - S - Man City - New players to the EPL are always a risk, but I like this pick. Plug in Aguero for Tevez do you have 20 goals again? We shall see.
13. Nani - M - Man U - Nani I think was the second leading midfield scorer last season. He gets assists and goals. His benching by Sir Alex in the Champions League final does raise some questions.
14. Joe Hart - Goalkeeper - Man City - With no Van der Sar and the lack of a true number 1 at Arsenal, 'keepers are at a premium. I think this is a bit early, but you can't really question it.
15. Wesley Sneijder - M - Inter - Wow. Earliest pick for a non-premier league player ever. Lots of rumors, but a HUGE risk this early in the draft. Wow.
16. Ashley Young - M - Man U - A perennial early round pick with Aston Villa. Now at Man U. That raises his value in my book. Nice pick.
17. John Terry - Defender - Chelsea - Terry is the only player to make the fantasy league team of the year all 4 years of the league. First defender taken and rightfully so.
18. Dirk Kuyt - M - Liverpool - Always under rated at midfielder. Kuyt will play as an attacking midfielder every game. Good pick.
19. Gareth Bale - M - Tottenham - Bale is a good player, but maybe not a top 20 fantasy player. He needs some consistency to become that. Maybe this will be another break-out season, with the stats to match the hype.
20. Samir Nasri - M - Arsenal - Time will tell on this one. If he stays and Fabregas goes, great value at 20, but if he goes to City, where does he fit in?
21. Chicirito - S - Man U - A bit early at 21. I'm not sure if he can match his success of the previous year.
22. Ashley Cole - D - Chelsea - Good pick - a certain starting defender for a top team and he gets forward.
23. Theo Walcott - M - Arsenal - With Walcott you can count on a few great games, frequent poor crosses, loads of speed, and a couple injuries each year.
24. Andrei Arshavin - M - Arsenal - See 23 but with less speed and less injuries
25. Leighton Baines - D - Everton - Baines gets forward, takes great free kicks, will get loads of assists and a few goals. But how many clean sheets can he get with Everton?
26. Nemanja Vidic - D - Man United - A rock in the Man U defense. He is a sure starter and throws in some set piece headers as well. Strong pick as the final one of the second round.
Ok, I'm only giving you the first two rounds. I can't have this blog be too epic. Now I'll take a look at my picks, followed by selected good and bad picks and a brief rating of each team.
Round 1: Torres
Round 2: Arshavin
Round 3: Vincent Kompany - D - Man City - Like I mentioned earlier, there are only a handful of defenders you can pencil in every week for the Big 5 (Man City joins as well). I would put this list as Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Terry, Luiz, De Gea, Evra, Vidic, Reina, Skrtel, Johnson, Hart, and Kompany. This is a short list. These players should be at a premium. Last year, Man City and Chelsea were tied with the lowest goals against. And Kompany is the only sure starter on D for Man City. That's why I took him so early.
4. David Luiz - D - Chelsea - Very happy to get Luiz here. He was number 16 0n my big board and I got him with pick 50. Nice.
5. Mario Balotelli - S - Man City - Head case. High Risk, hopefully high reward.
6. Brad Friedel - GK - Tottenham - Maybe a bit early, but I needed a goalie, and it was him or Given.
7. Mikel Arteta - M - Everton - Good value at round 7 barring any more injury issues.
8. Rafael - D - Man U - If Rafael gets the majority of starts at right back, I'm feeling very good about my team.
9. Marouane Fellaini - M - Everton - Ready for a bounce-back year. Good value in round 9.
10. David "Junior" Hoilett - M - Blackburn - This was my sleeper pick. I probably took him a round or two early, but I did not want to lose him. He is listed as a mid and should start a lot of games as a striker. Break-out year baby.
11. Louis Saha - S - Everton - Getting a starting striker for a top 7 team in the 11th round is great. Injury issues, though.
12. Ryan Shawcross - D - Stoke
13. Youssouf Mulumbu - M - West Bromwich Albion- Good back-up midfielder, another break-out candidate.
14. Ryan Giggs - M - Man U - The old man still has it. But how do you know when he will start?
15. John O'Shea - D - Sunderland
16. Steven Taylor - D - Newcastle - If you can't get a top defender, differentiation in the back is key. This way, goals against are usually balanced out by clean sheets.
There we go, a strong team. A championship team? I am not as confident as last season, but I feel pretty good looking after looking at other teams. Things that will tell the tale are Rafael's starts and if Torres or Balotelli can find consistent form.
Stay tuned for more to come!