Fantasy EPL Gameweek 11: EPL Points Against…A Strategy for Streaming
A common draft strategy voiced during pre-season was to not waste a pick on a goalkeeper. Or at least not to waste a high/moderate pick (i.e. first 10 rounds). This is something I strongly believe in. Goalkeepers for the big teams often face few shots and are therefore very reliant on clean sheets for their points, whilst goalkeepers for the small teams are, clearly, at risk of conceding a lot and therefore actually ending with negative points. Finding the happy medium is an almost impossible task and one that is most effectively achieved on a week-by-week (“streaming”) basis by looking at EPL Points Against.
EPL Points Against…What is it?
EPL Points Against calculates how many points a position, in general, is averaging against a particular team. For instance, if the ten goalkeepers that have faced Arsenal so far this season have scored 2.25 points, 0, 16.25, 8, 0, 0.25, 6, 0, 11, and 4 then the EPL Points Against would be 4.78. It is essentially putting objective values to things that we already think of when making defensive decisions: “Watford failed to score again on the weekend…who are they facing this week?”, or “City are averaging over three goals a game…better avoid any Southampton defenders…” If you adopt a streaming strategy, then these numbers can be vital.
But who to get? A buddy in my league, despite spending the whole summer admitting that I was right and that he would go for the streaming strategy, took Alisson in the 7th round. His explanation was that he didn’t want the hassle of having to research who to get each week. The hassle of having to dig into the numbers; looking at opposition, past scores, trends, and many of the other things that could influence a goalkeeper’s points potential. It was a fair response. But he didn’t bank on these articles being written.
Every other week I will take on that hassle for you, and – hopefully – identify the best streaming options for goalkeepers and defenders based on EPL Points Against. Yep, defenders should be streamed too! You have to start at least three defenders, and one or two of them may well be high draft picks. But the draftable defender list does not go three circuits deep. And so that third defender should again be a week-by-week selection based on the EPL Points Against, allowing you to have hopefully stacked up on midfielders and forwards – where the big points are generally earned. Don’t worry if you didn’t adopt this strategy in your draft though – you can still trade your way into this position. If you do, then follow these articles and I will help you stream your way to success.
Last Time Out in EPL Points Against: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
As mentioned in a previous article, rather than just giving out advice without any sort of accountability, I will instead, be taking a brief look back at my predictions each week to assess how I fared. Here is who I predicted to produce the goods in Gameweeks 9 and 10, based on EPL Points Against:
Gameweek 9 Targets
Paulo Gazzaniga (0 points at home to Watford), Tom Heaton (6 points at home to Brighton), Simon Francis (n/a at home to Norwich), “Tottenham fullback” (Aurier 14.25 points, Rose 3 points, at home to Watford).
Watford had the worst shot-to-goal conversion rate in the league…then they went to Tottenham and scored from one of their two shots on target, ruining the much needed clean sheet for Gazzaniga. I would say this is the risk you take when one of the big teams faces a little team, but calling Tottenham a big team right now is very generous. Goalkeepers are averaging 6.01 points per game, so we’re fine with Heaton matching that in Gameweek 9. Just when you think Simon Francis will walk into a Bournemouth team renowned for leaking goals, they keep back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time since January. If you were alert and spotted his absence, hopefully, you would have picked up another Bournemouth defender instead – they all did well, scoring between 8.5 and 17.25 points. Let’s pretend I didn’t hedge my bets when writing this, and instead, committed to Aurier. A very nice return for the right back, even if he can’t defend.
Gameweek 10 Targets
Mat Ryan (6 points at home to Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (14.5 points away at Watford), Martin Montoya (-1.5 points at home to Everton), Arthur Masuaku/Aaron Cresswell (1.25 points for the latter at home to Sheffield United).
Streaming – in my opinion at least – isn’t a case of finding the 20+ pointers (you’ll be disappointed far more often than not if you go with that approach!). It’s about staying afloat and allowing your big guns to win you the game. So, just like Heaton, Ryan hitting the goalkeeper average in Gameweek 10 ticks the box. That’s not to say a big return is unwelcome of course. And Bournemouth’s Ramsdale did just that, pulling off some great saves to get the cherries a draw, and more importantly/annoyingly, give my opponent 14.5 points. The less said about the defensive picks the better. Both Montoya and Cresswell produced surprisingly little going forward, and the goals they conceded were therefore hugely detrimental to their point’s totals.
Distinctly average last time out, epitomized best by the Heaton and Ryan picks. A couple of shockers with the gameweek 10 defenders, but the Ramsdale call and Bournemouth defender produced the goods. Remember, the beauty of this data is that it is not dependent upon the individual player, so if someone doesn’t start – like in the Simon Francis instance – if you trust the numbers that stated Norwich were giving up decent points to defenders, then simply switching in another player makes sense.
EPL Points Against: The Goalkeepers
Gameweek 10 produced the two highest goalkeeper scores of the season so far – Krul’s 26.25 and Gazzaniga’s 26 – and remarkably, both were achieved without clean sheets. This has meant that the EPL Points Against of Manchester United and Liverpool have risen dramatically and we should be aware of outliers such as these when looking at the data. That said, goalkeepers facing United at home do tend to score well, with Rui Patricio’s eight points being the lowest of the five that have done so. At the other end of the scale, Gunn’s minus six might also seem like an aberration, but a matchup against Leicester has proven tricky all season (admittedly not nine goals conceded tricky, but still). The Southampton “stopper” (and I use that phrase lightly now) is the sixth goalkeeper to score negative points against the foxes this season, and explains why Brendan Rodgers’ men have the lowest EPL Points Against by some distance.
Gameweek 11 Targets
Aaron Ramsdale (22% ownership; FP/G = 6.25)
I’m backing the Bournemouth keeper again in Gameweek 11 (and he’s actually a good option in Gameweek 12 too!). A game against Manchester United might sound daunting, but – Norwich result aside – United’s away day woes have been well documented, and as mentioned above, it’s a fixture that has been kind to home goalkeepers. There’s a real chance that Martial’s return could single-handedly steer the United ship around but let’s trust the numbers and hope Ramsdale makes it three great returns on the spin.
Martin Dubravka (35% ownership; FP/G = 6.42)
Alternatively, you could opt for Newcastle’s Dubravka between the sticks. West Ham has the fifth-highest EPL Points Against for goalkeepers, and it stays relatively high (7.70) even when facing them at the London stadium. Newcastle has been noticeably worse on the road compared to at home, so it would be a risk, but this West Ham attack hasn’t really clicked just yet and the Magpies might be able to keep things tight. Last year Dubravka was one of the rare players to have a significantly higher FP/G away from home (7.08) compared to at home (3.64), though that has yet to manifest itself this season.
Gameweek 12 Targets
Tim Krul (13% ownership; FP/G = 9.16)
A huge game for both Norwich and Watford when they square off at Carrow Road in Gameweek 12. The Hornets have now blanked in six of their 10 Premier League games, and though they did get on the score sheet at Tottenham the last time they were on the road, this matchup still makes too much sense to ignore. Despite having probably the league’s worst defense, Norwich’s goalkeepers have scored nicely at home, with the Newcastle game being the only one in which they have failed to hit league average.
Angus Gunn (14% ownership; FP/G = 2.88)
Yes, the goalkeeper that hasn’t returned a score above zero in his last five games. Before that, though, he did bring in 17.25, 12, and 14 points in consecutive weeks. If Southampton haven’t been irreparably damaged from the mauling by Leicester, then Everton at home could be a nice matchup to rebuild the confidence. The EPL Points Against of Marco Silva’s men is 8.80, rising to 9.90 when they are away from Goodison Park.
EPL Points Against: The Defence
We had our first two-goal-defender performance of the season when David Luiz and Sokratis netted against Palace, but it was the 54.25 point performance of Ben Chilwell that really stole the show. It was (I believe) the highest haul from a single player since Mohamed Salah hit 61 points against Watford on March 17, 2018. Needless to say, Southampton’s EPL Points Against increased considerably, though it should be noted that Burnley’s defence scored a similarly high 83.25 points against them back on the opening day. Elsewhere it was another bad day at the office for defenders facing Manchester City. The negative points accrued by Mings and Co last weekend put City’s EPL Points Against for defenders back into the negative numbers – extraordinary numbers. Not surprisingly Liverpool also remains a tough attack to face for defenders, whilst at the other end, it is Newcastle, Watford, and Crystal Palace who are more hospitable to the streaming strategy.
Gameweek 11 Targets
Dan Burn (50% ownership; FP/G = 8.95)
The center-back turned left-back was the man of the match in the 3-2 win against Everton according to WhoScored. In fact, of the regular 11, the site has him as Brighton’s best player so far this season, with an average rating of 6.98. Graham Potter’s men will be favorites in Gameweek 11 at home against Norwich, who have an overall EPL Points against of 8.47 which rises to 12.74 when facing them at home. Even if an upset were to occur, it shouldn’t be too disastrous – the only time Burn has scored less than four was, not surprisingly, against Manchester City when they lost 4-0.
Aaron Cresswell/Arthur Masuaku (33/31% ownership; FP/G = 5.45/9.50)
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, if that’s the case, call me insane. The Masuaku/Cresswell option just has to pay off in Gameweek 11. They play Newcastle at the London Stadium, a team with the highest EPL Points Against (10.60) and one that increases still further if you face them at home (11.68). If they don’t do well here then I will officially never mention either name ever again.
Gameweek 12 Targets
Matt Lowton (59% ownership; FP/G = 8.80)
West Ham at home is a favorable fixture for defenders, with the Hammers having an EPL Points Against of 8.44 overall, rising to 9.98 when they are on the road. Lowton is the lowest owned of Burnley’s defenders, despite having an FP/G of 8.80 and even in their defeat to Chelsea last weekend – where they conceded four goals – the right back picked up a respectable 7.5 points.
Jetro Willems (18% ownership; FP/G = 9.07)
Newcastle has conceded just three goals at home this season – tied for lowest in the league – and Bournemouth have failed to achieve an xG of over 1 in Gameweeks 8, 9, and 10, so the signs are good for a strong defensive showing. There’s likely to be a number of options available on the free agent list, but Willems may the best. The Dutch loanee has been one of the bright sparks for the Magpies and has already tallied one goal and one assist for the club.
So that’s it for Gameweeks 11 and 12. The EPL Points Against suggest that the best low ownership route to goalkeeper points may be through a Ramsdale/Dubravka then Krul/Gunn combination. For defenders, we’re looking at the likes of Burn, Creswell, Lowton, and Willems, though teammates of those four will also be viable options according to the numbers. Remember, next week we go back to the underlying numbers and check out which players are reliant on the main three (goals, assists, and clean sheets), and which ones rack up the ghost points.
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