First of all, just a quick refresher to anyone who doesn’t know what PP90 is. PP90 refers to Points per 90. This tends to be a better metric for judging a player’s value than total fantasy points which can overvalue individuals who play 90 minutes week in, week out, or FP/G (fantasy points per game) which undervalues individuals who get subbed on or off regularly.
PP90 Against calculates the average PP90 earned against each team for each position. To do this, we sum all of the ‘total fantasy points’ scored against a team, sum all of the ‘minutes played’ against a team, divide the former by the latter, and multiply the resultant number by 90.
Boring maths aside, PP90 allows us to see which teams are good for our fantasy players to face, and which ones aren’t. This information can then help us decide who to start and who to bench; for instance, last week, sitting Timo Werner – a certifiable first-rounder – against Manchester City would have been the advised move because City has the lowest PP90 Against for Forwards in the league. It can also help us in waiver wire and free agent pickups; for example, in GW17, picking up Emile Smith Rowe may have been suggested, given that Arsenal’s opponents West Bromwich Albion have the highest PP90 Against for Midfielders in the league.
Heading into GW18, we now have a decent chunk of data to work with. As such, the following PP90 figures can be dissected in the hope of giving you an advantage in your league this weekend.
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EPL Points Against – Goalkeepers
No surprises that Burnley and Sheffield United are the teams to target when streaming goalkeepers. The two clubs have the 4th and 2nd fewest shots per game, respectively, in the league and combine that depressing statistic with the two worst goals per shot ratio in the league too. Not a good recipe for finding the back of the net.
Fulham is a close 3rd (they are equally impotent, though they do try a bit more), whilst midlands duo Wolves and West Brom take 4th and 5th spots. After this, you have five teams for which the data is playing with intuitive fire: Arsenal, Chelsea, Leeds, Man City, and Man United are all ones that instinct would suggest to avoid, but for which the numbers don’t necessarily agree. It should be noted though, that the difference from Arsenal in 6th “worst”* PP90 Against to north-London rivals Tottenham with the best PP90 Against is just 2.43; that’s smaller than the difference between Arsenal and Burnley. It would take a brave manager to back a goalkeeper facing any of these, but if the first five aren’t available, then the numbers have your back.
In terms of teams to avoid…the list is long. Or rather, the list is currently ambiguous. What may help make decisions is knowing the standard deviations of goalkeeper scores. Higher standard deviations reflect more volatile performances, whilst lower standard deviations reflect more consistent performances. Whether you want volatile or consistent will depend on your individual matchup (and perhaps your personality too!). Of the lowest PP90 Against (from Liverpool to Tottenham), the order of most to least volatile is as follows: Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool, Leicester, Brighton, Southampton, West Ham, and Newcastle. So if you’re stuck for a goalkeeper, and don’t need to take a risk, back the goalkeeper facing Steve Bruce’s men. And if options really are limited, and you need a big score to give yourself even a sniff of a chance, despite the league-best PP90 Against, it may actually be advisable to go with the goalkeeper facing Spurs.
*”worst” is a case of perspective…I’ve never really figured out whether to see this data from a fantasy manager’s perspective and therefore attribute a high PP90 as “best”, or from an IRL club’s perspective and see a high PP90 as “worst”.
- The average goalkeeper PP90 so far this season is 5.90.
- Burnley is the only team against whom a goalkeeper has yet to score negative points. Rui Patricio came closest, with a zero-pointer in GW14.
- 10/16 goalkeepers to have faced Spurs this season have scored less than 6 points. Removing Darlow’s GW3 heroics when he scored 21.5 points against them brings their PP90 down to just 3.07.
- The record for the highest goalkeeper score was broken in GW15. Incredibly, it was the Leeds keeper Meslier who set it again (he has the second-highest with a 24-pointer against Everton). He scored 27 points in the 1-0 win against Burnley. There have now been 10 instances of 20+ scores by goalkeepers this season.
- Vicente Guaita still holds the record for the lowest goalkeeper score this season. His -13.75 points in GW14 against Liverpool is one of 53(!) negative scores by goalkeepers so far this season.
- Crystal Palace continues their enigmatic opponent status, with Aston Villa’s Martinez scoring 20 points against them in GW15 and Leicester’s Schmeichel scoring -2 points against them in GW16. Incredibly, from their 17 matches this season, six have now come away with double-digit points and six have come away with negative points.
EPL Points Against – Defenders
There’s much greater variation when it comes to PP90 Against for defenders – great news for those employing a streaming strategy. Unfortunately, the data here isn’t revealing anything that secret though. Even someone who has never watched football (maybe even Michael Owen and Garth Crooks too, though that’s not certain), could tell you that you want your defenders playing against the likes of Sheffield United, West Brom, and Burnley. These three relegation-threatened clubs sit 4th, 7th, and 2nd for number of high passes made this season, which given the value of aerial duals won in Fantrax scoring, may help explain their high PP90s here…that and the fact that they’re the three lowest scoring teams in the league of course.
The other end of the spectrum is basically all of the title challengers (except Everton obviously). In fact, the nine lowest PP90s are the top nine teams in the league currently…have we stumbled upon an odd predictive metric?! Anyway, avoid Liverpool like the plague (or COVID) and avoid Manchester City and Everton almost as much.
- The average defender PP90 so far this season has increased very slightly to 6.38.
- 54 out of 69 defenders (78%) to have faced Manchester City this season have scored less than the average DEF PP90. Liverpool’s is slightly lower (77%), though they have inflicted more and larger negative scores on their opposing defenders.
- 49 out of 69 defenders (71%) to take on Sheffield United this season have scored more than the average DEF PP90. Incredibly, 40 out of 69 (67%) have scored 10 or more.
- Ben Chilwell’s 40.25 against Crystal Palace in GW4 has been beaten by the smallest of margins. The record score for a defender this season is now Kieran Tierney’s 40.50 against West Bromwich Albion in GW17.
- Nathaniel Clyne’s -15.00 against Liverpool in GW14 remains the lowest defender score so far this season, with Lewis Dunk’s -14.75 against Manchester United in GW3 a very close second. His Brighton teammate Dan Burn takes bronze with the -14.50 against Wolverhampton Wanders in GW17.
EPL Points Against – Midfielders
Big Sam’s new side have an unenviable and sizeable lead atop the PP90 Against table for midfielders. They are followed by Sheffield United and then, perhaps surprisingly, Leeds United. Marcelo Biela’s side, therefore, may provide the first instance of hidden gems from a streaming perspective. Leeds has a blank in GW18, but take on Brighton in GW19; Bissouma and – if he starts – Lallana are two with low ownerships that could be taken advantage of here.
Some very interesting teams situated at the opposing end, with West Ham, Aston Villa, and Arsenal part of a seven-team group with the lowest PP90s Against. Manchester City takes the top spot (this is a consistent theme: if your outfielder faces Peps men, sit them), but there’s just 0.4 between Arsenal in 2nd and West Ham in 7th. Like Leeds, West Ham doesn’t have a game in GW18 (though with all these blanks, you probably won’t have the option of sitting anyone anyway), but in GW19 they take on Burnley. McNeil owners might want to keep him on the bench if he does start – it’s not as tasty a fixture as it first seems.
- The average midfielder PP90 so far this season is 8.19.
- The highest score achieved by a midfielder against Manchester City this season is just 17 points (free lifetime subscription to my articles if you can guess who*). Just 11 of the 71 (15%) to have faced them have returned double-digits, whilst 18 (25%) have scored fewer than 2.
- 36 out of 93 midfielders (39%) midfielders to take on Sheffield United this season have scored 10 or more points. West Brom have a lower percentage (32%), but have had five(!) players score 30+ points against them (Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi, Mason Mount, Wilfried Zaha, and Bertrand Traore). To put this into context, Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester City, Sheffield United, and Tottenham Hotspur have all yet to have a single player score 30 or more against them.
- Jack Grealish’s 54.50 against Liverpool in GW4 remains the highest midfielder score so far this season. A distant second is Bruno Fernandes with his 42-point haul against Newcastle in GW5, and then Kevin De Bruyne’s 39 against Wolves in GW2.
- Ezgjan Alioski’s -11 against Manchester United in GW14 remains the lowest midfielder score so far this season. Bukayo Sako’s -10.5 against Aston Villa in GW8 is good enough for the second spot with Cheikhou Kouyate’s -8 against Liverpool in GW14 also making the podium.
*The answer is Fulham’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – fast becoming a Fantrax legend.
EPL Points Against – Forwards
Facing Manchester City is bad for defenders. It’s bad for midfielders. It’s absolutely awful for forwards. Their PP90 Against is a massive 1.68 lower than next best’s Wolverhampton Wanderers. Sitting your forward against Peps’ side is a solid rule to follow, though be aware that even City’s PP90 Against here (7.18) is considerably higher than most PP90 Against’s for defenders (and some for midfielders). This means that if you have the option of fielding a forward against City or a defender against, say, Newcastle or West Ham, the numbers would still suggest going with the forward*. Manchester City’s league-best 13 goals conceded plays a large part in these miserly numbers, though the 34 shots on target against also has a big role – the next fewest is Brighton who has given up 15(!) more.
Leeds’ generosity to midfielders is nothing compared to their generosity to forwards. The media darlings (eurgh) have a PP90 Against of over 14, almost a point clear of West Brom in second. Given the injuries that Brighton (Leeds’ opponents in GW19) have up top, Maupay is a definite start for all owners, whilst it would be wise to check their lineup for the potential return of Welbeck or introduction of Jahanbakhsh. West Brom lies in 2nd spot and their next game is against their rivals Wolves – could it be a dream debut for any incoming Wolves forward? Finally, Newcastle sits 3rd, and whilst starting any Sheffield United player right now can seem far from appealing, backing McBurnie (if fit) or one of the other Blades forwards to do the business against the Magpies in GW18 would be a wise move.
- The average forward PP90 so far this season has dropped slightly to 10.76.
- 34 out of 49 forwards (69%) to have faced Manchester City this season have scored fewer than 5 points against them. Jamie Vardy’s 36 point haul for Leicester City in GW3 is more than double the next highest forwards’ score (Leeds’ Rodrigo and Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi, both with 17.5). Remove this Vardy score and Manchester City’s PP90 Against drops from 7.18 to just 6.25.
- 23 out of 46 (50%) forwards to take on Leeds United this season have scored 9.5 points or more. The list of players to have scored 25+ against them has increased from five to seven, with Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane (GW17) joining Mohamed Salah, Anthony Martial, Jamie Vardy, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Raheem Sterling.
- Son Heung-Min’s 50.50 against Southampton in GW2 remains the highest forward score so far this season. Silver medal goes to Riyad Mahrez (49.5 vs Burnley in GW10) and bronze is shared by three players: Mo Salah (GW1 vs Leeds), Harry Kane (GW2 vs Southampton), and Ollie Watkins (GW4 vs Liverpool).
- Helder Costa’s -7 against Crystal Palace in GW8 remains the lowest forward score so far this season. Coincidentally, the second-lowest score also came against Crystal Palace (Aboubakar Kamara’s -6.5 for Fulham in GW6). In third is Raul Jimenez’s -5.5 against West Ham in GW3.
*It’s important to remember that, as the data is dealing with PP90 and not total points, minutes need to be taken into consideration. As such, you need to be confident that your forward will play all/most of the match. Forwards are more likely to be subbed off than defenders, therefore a straight comparison of PP90 Against between positions is not entirely appropriate.
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