Community Special: The Trade-Maker! With FPLTaniwha
Ah, the trade. Like a goal from John Arne Riise, they are often too rare for one’s liking, but spectacular when they do happen. It’s not that people are inactive, or that individuals are happy with their teams, or even that negotiations just naturally drift away unsettled. The scarcity comes down to fear. The fear of being mugged off. And I would put money on it that the same is true for most managers in most leagues.
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But no more. We at FantraxHQ are here to help. The Inner Geek has taken the Community Special to the trade table and will analyze your league’s rosters to find the players that should be swapping hands right now. A fair, honest, and impartial third party, think of the Inner Geek as everything that Mina Raiola is not. This week our winner was FPLTaniwha. Congratulations – now get your league to read these eight no-brainers and let the trading commence!
Side note: out of interest, I analyzed the teams before looking at the league standings. Here is what I predicted the table to be, based on the players currently in each squad…
Annoyingly, I was actually weighing up Gruber Falls or Green Eggs for the 5th and 6th spots, and likewise, Lemon Yoshi and Real United for the 7th and 8th spots, but ended up going the wrong way round in both cases! Still, not a bad shout by and large!
Even if your league hasn’t been chosen this week, there is guaranteed to be some useful insights for you below!
Note: Player positions are based on FPLTaniwha’s league.
Kinda integral to this article is a view of all the team rosters, but before we do that, let’s break down how we analyze these squads. There are six types of players in Fantrax and these are outlined below. These categories are based on years of painstaking research, iteratively driven algorithms, and objective, independent evaluations, and in no way were thrown together in 20 minutes on Wednesday. With such a thorough approach, you can be sure to use this setup for your own trade negotiations. Just remember, players can and will fluctuate between the categories throughout the season (see Raheem Sterling dropping from Elite to Premium), so be sure to update your own version regularly.
Pantchester United trade John Stones (11.3 PP90) to South Coast Taniwha for Gareth Bale (17.9 PP90)
Okay, so we’re going to do this in order of “Blockbuster-yness”, from mild (e.g. Arsenal sign Pablo Mari) to earth-shattering (e.g. Figo switches from Barca to Real). Hence starting with a center back who has started just nine games this season for a winger who will be lucky to start nine games for the rest of his career. We often talk of trades as being sell-high, buy-low scenarios; well, this is perhaps the epitome of that for Pantchester. Stones has started eight of City’s last nine league games and even bagged a brace in his last outing. His FP/G of 11.25 is 6th highest amongst defenders to have played more than four games. You don’t have to be genius to figure that this isn’t sustainable, but a look at Stones’ FP/G’s from previous seasons may still surprise you as to the extent of decline that we should expect. 4.2, 6.0, 6.4, and 4.9 are his averages in his four seasons at City…not good.
South Coast Taniwha, with just three defenders on their roster (one of which is rotation-risk Luke Shaw…more on that later), could do with taking a punt on Stones maintaining at least some semblance of respectability. They also don’t need Bale, given that he makes up one of five forwards. If 161 minutes of league football this season can count as a player, that is. The Bale carrot will dangle enticingly for all managers until he heads back to Spain, departs for China/MLS, or retires to his life on the golf course. Unfortunately for South Coast, the carrot that might’ve brought in a 2nd or 3rd rounder a few months ago, will probably have to settle for a center-back that, until a few weeks ago, was universally streamable. It’s not flashy (I did say I would start at the Pablo Mari hype level), but it’s a pretty risk-free deal for both parties, and it will kick things off nicely.
Griffos Giants trade James Justin (8.3 PP90) to Real United for Bernardo Silva (6.1 PP90)
Griffos Giants sit atop the league and may be tempted to believe that changes should be avoided. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, after all. But to win a Fantrax fantasy league, you need to be constantly looking to adapt and improve. Ricardo Pereira came off the bench against Chelsea on Tuesday to make his first league appearance since his horrific cruciate ligament injury, which immediately places the starting spot of Griffos’ James Justin under threat. Justin is a decent asset, but few will likely see him as a worthwhile trade acquisition. Except for maybe Real United.
Real United own Leicester’s other fullback, Timothy Castagne. Like Justin, he can play both fullback positions, but he is – this season at least – superior to the young Englishmen both IRL and in Fantrax. You have to think that Leicester’s strongest 11 consists of Castagne and Ricardo Pereira, but with Riccy P’s injury so severe, Leicester’s daunting fixture congestion (they’re still in both the F.A. Cup and Europa League), and the impact of COVID, Justin will still get plenty of chances.
So what would a fair price be in this situation? Bowen, McBurnie, and Bernardo Silva are all candidates, but it makes more sense for Real to let a midfielder go. It also makes more sense for them to keep probably their most nailed-on starting midfielder, Bowen, given the rotation-risk elsewhere in that group. And Bernardo Silva works for Griffos too. McGinn, Soucek, and Grealish are as safe as they come in terms of starters, so the balance of the squad isn’t being put at risk with Silva’s sporadic benchings, whilst the presence of Mahrez in the squad also acts as a semi-handcuff.
No Kanecellations trade Bukayo Saka (10.9 PP90) to Griffos Giants for Gylfi Sigurdsson (11.5 PP90)
Hats off to No Kanecellations – what a squad they’ve put together. Literally flawless. What they are missing – and perhaps what is stopping them from cruising to the title – is that X-Factor. But they’re not going to get it just yet – that comes later. This trade here just gets the feet wet. Digne is back, and Riccy P is almost there, making this backline formidable. So much so that they should cash in on one of them.
Saka for Sigurdsson feels like a win-win all around. No Kanecellations get cover for James Rodriguez’s never-ending spell on the sidelines with a man who probably isn’t getting the Fantrax love he deserves this season, whilst Griffos improve their poorest unit; the defense. The Sig illusion is a great example of why PP90 is a better metric than FP/G. His FP/G is just 7.19 because he’s made 6 sub appearances that have collected a grand total of 7.5 points. Contrast this with his points per start (11.5) and he’s up there with the much loved James Ward-Prowse. Griffos may start wondering why they should let him go…but here it is: when J-Rod is back, Sig is the one who will suffer. Even if that is not in the form of playing time (though, long-term, it probably will be too), it certainly will affect his fantasy value. Points from corners and free kicks – of which the Icelandic midfielder has been primarily on in the absence of Rodriguez (and Digne) – will disappear, and that PP90 is going to creep back down.
Saka gives Griffos three viable defensive options (spoiler: you don’t need Holding, Mina, Mings, or Dier unless they have a favorable matchup) without losing much from midfield. Kanecellations would barely notice Saka’s departure (you never play five at the back in Fantrax) and solve the Rodriguez problem in midfield. Win-win.
Gruber Falls FC trade Alex Telles (10.3 PP90) to South Coast Taniwha for Patrick Bamford (12.3 PP90)
At first glance, this one looks strange. No way does the 211-point Bamford get exchanged for the 49-point Telles. But again, here is the power of the handcuff. South Coast owns Luke Shaw – United’s left back with a PP90 of 13.0 since his return to the side on December 12th. But there will always be the worry that Shaw’s form will dip, one of his many injuries will resurface, or Ole will just simply fancy giving Telles another chance. Telles’ PP90 is a similarly impressive 10.2, so we’ve essentially got the same scenario as with Aurier and Doherty – two players that I’ve championed handcuffing in the past, and have seen handcuffed in many leagues (including my own).
Speaking of my own league, this trade suggestion was actually inspired by one of the managers in it. He – a Telles owner – traded for Shaw and gave up far more than Patrick Bamford. He gave up Riyad Mahrez! Now, I discussed how Mahrez is the definition of the ‘Single-Game Skew’ but still, that’s a hell of a price. Whether it’s Bamford or Mahrez, though, the logic is understandable, and actually, the numbers partly support it. Bamford has an expected fantasy points just 0.86 higher than Telles and whilst the value of a defender is less than that of a forward (due to the greater ease of streaming), many – including yours truly – believe we’ve seen the best of Bamford already. I don’t think we’re going to see a Pukki-like fall off the cliff (though Leeds and Bielsa have a history of fading down the stretch) but I’ll put money that Bamford’s PP90 isn’t in the double-digits come the end of the season.
Long story short: Gruber needed to get rid of a defender (they have 3 good, guaranteed starters + Aurier/Doherty), whilst South Coast solved their defensive issues. South Coast lose a forward but still have their three best in that position (though admittedly Jota’s return is still a way off), whilst Gruber gets some game-time reliability up top. That’ll work.
Green Eggs And Ham trade James Maddison (14.8 PP90) to Pantchester United for Pedro Neto (14.3 PP90)
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Neto – the golden boy of Fantrax Twitter – being traded for a certifiable 2nd rounder. How has it come to this? Try 245 points at a PP90 of 14.3, starting 18 out of 19 games, and becoming the best player on your team. All for a forward on a side that has been below average in attack so far (he’s only scored 4 and assisted 3 himself!). It’s been an incredible season for Neto, and one that Pantchester may want to cash in on.
With the slightly odd player positions in FPLTaniwha’s league (see: Justin as a midfielder?!), there are quite a few teams in need of a forward. Green Eggs may be best positioned to work a deal though, given the strength of depth and quality they have in their midfield. A trio of near-elite assets in Maddison, Son, and Sterling are joined by rising stars Harvey Barnes and Lookman to make up possibly the best midfield in the league. Frankly, it’s unnecessary. Particularly with Danny Ings’ injuries and Tammy Abraham being, well, not good enough. The forward line is crying out for help.
Neto has been great, but I think Pantchester might be able to scrape by with Kane and Vardy – the 1st and 5th highest scoring forwards in the league. And if Gabriel Jesus can get his act together, then that would be a bonus too. Maddison then comes in to solidify a midfield that is deep, but not dependable when it comes to minutes. El Ghazi has hit the purplest of purple patches, but he will drop out of the Villa team at some point (and that is not even factoring the potential impact of his COVID situation). Barkley and Antonio are made from the same pane of glass. And whilst Gundogan and Pogba have been in great form of late, would it really surprise you to see Pep and Ole bench them in the near future? Maddison allays those concerns.
Green Eggs and Ham trade Reece James (10.9 PP90) to Lemon Yoshi FC for Che Adams (9.8 PP90) and a DEF of Green Eggs’ choosing
Staying with Green Eggs here as they continue to strengthen their forward line. Bringing in Che Adams may not be a fashionable move, but it should pay dividends. Recent injury notwithstanding, Adams has become a key part of what is a good Southampton side, and if he continues to improve IRL, we could see that PP90 increase further.
A month ago, the thought of giving Reece James for Che Adams and a defender might have been absurd. But this is not the same Reece James as back then, and it sure as hell isn’t the same Chelsea. Lampard’s men look lost, and their fantasy assets are taking a beating because of it. Believe it or not, IRL performance and Fantrax scores are generally well correlated, and we see this nicely here with James’ last four games: WhoScored ratings of 6.89, 6.44, 6.18, and 7.02, and Fantrax scores of 4.25, 3, 5.25, and 10.5. Losing James hurts the defense no doubt, but if you have faith in Nuno Espirito – as I do – then Semedo’s improvement and Zouma’s presence (he’ll earn his spot back soon) can help mitigate this. It’s a price Green Eggs should be willing to pay to make a big upgrade in attack. And for Lemon Yoshi, well, there’s a plan to replace Adams…
Gruber Falls FC trade Mohamed Salah (16.6 PP90) and Neal Maupay (9.4 PP90) to Lemon Yoshi FC for Sergio Aguero (5.4 PP90), Adama Traore (11.6 PP90), and Callum Wilson (10.8 PP90)
Now we’re talking. A 3-for-2 trade involving one elite and three premium players. Gruber hand over the man who’s brought in 665, 577, and 510 points over the last three seasons, and who is on course to pass the 500-mark again this year. No, not Neal Maupay, it’s Mohamed Salah. Neal Maupay does go across too though. Aguero, Traore, and Wilson for Salah alone didn’t quite seem fair, so the Brighton man gets chucked in as the kicker.
If you take a look at the league table at the top of this article, you’ll see that Lemon Yoshi and Real United are fighting it out to avoid the wooden spoon. Their squads are horrible and no trade will be able to reverse the damage done in the first half of this season. But here’s an opportunity to learn for next season. And the strategy we’re testing is the “2 plus nothing” strategy. That is, can two elite players carry a team if there’s barely anything of note around it. So Lemon Yoshi go out and get Salah to pair with Bruno. And they pay a hefty fee in the form of a resurgent Adama Traore, a solid Callum Wilson, and the legend that is Sergio Aguero, leaving them only four non-Rainbow players (see “The Categories” above) in Tielemans, Greenwood, and the incoming Maupay and James. It’s the bare bones, but it may work. Hell, it can’t make things any worse.
Trading out an elite is a rare move, especially when you’re not receiving one in return. But Gruber are in a position of freedom. They’re not going to be embarrassed with a last-place finish, and nobody is really considering them as a challenger at the other end of the table either. This is Hail Mary time. The midfield could really do with someone like Traore – the Wolves man has averaged 13.5 per game in his last 4 starts, despite not scoring or assisting. He will score and assist soon, and when he does, that 30+ pointer can win a gameweek. Then you’ve put together a forward contingent of Foden, Wilson, Aguero, Bamford, and Bertrand Traore. That’s legit even if Aguero never gets back to his old ways. Suddenly, this squad bears a little bit of a resemblance to No Kanecellations’ current squad, in that it is very, very deep, albeit lacking a star name. That’s okay though. The star name had only got them a 7-10 record anyway.
No Kanecellations trade Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7.3 PP90), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (7.8 PP90), and Christian Pulisic (9.3 PP90) to Real United for Sadio Mane (14.4 PP90)
Last but by no means least is the big one. The Figo to Madrid. The Sol Campbell to Arsenal. The Juan Pablo Angel to Aston Villa (allow me my indulgences). No Kanecellations is making the move and going out to get themselves a superstar. It makes sense, given that they have 15 very valuable fantasy assets and, last time I checked, they can only field 11 of them. And that’s not including the goalkeeper, so technically, I guess 10.
Whilst this may be the biggest deal of them all, it’s also the easiest. Kanecellations want a superstar but should avoid targeting a title rival – they ain’t giving you him even if it a fair exchange. The first place to look should therefore be at the bottom, which narrows our search down to Bruno Fernandes from Lemon Yoshi or Sadio Mane from Real United. Now, Kanecellations may not have any weaknesses, but it’s easy to see that their midfield and defense are extremely strong. Thus, a superstar forward – i.e. Mane – would be the best fit.
Selling Kanecellations on Mane is unnecessary here. Let’s just say he’s pretty good and move on with it. The issue is figuring out what it will take for Real United to let him leave. There’s no need for Real to drive an unfairly hard bargain here – they have so much dross on their roster that 3 good players will improve them to a greater extent than the 1 elite player that is Mane. This may seem an obvious point, but it’s useful to reiterate: 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 trades are no good if the team receiving multiple players don’t have anyone that they want to release. Fortunately, Real do (they actually have about five, but my suggested drops would be Dendoncker, Gabriel, and Hendrick). Wan-Bissaka, Pulisic, and Auba fit the bill from both sides and would all come straight into Real’s team, finally giving them a respectable starting 11 when everyone is fit.
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