A big difference between traditional Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Football and the new draft format championed here at Fantrax is the scoring system. Fantrax offers a much more intelligent way of scoring points, such as through the adoption of the widely regarded “Togga Scoring”. The reason I mention this is because, in traditional FPL, focusing on the big three – goals, assists, and clean sheets – is absolutely essential to success. But in Togga Scoring, you can maneuver your way to victory through other means: The Underlying Numbers.
The underlying numbers include key passes, shots on target, successful dribbles, accurate crosses, aerials won, interceptions, clearances, and tackles. They explain how, in Gameweek 5, Gerard Deulofeu put up 39.5 points despite getting just one assist. Or how TAA accumulated 22.25 points despite not being involved in a goal or keeping a clean sheet – more than what two-goal Callum Wilson scored! It also explains how I was beaten in my league despite scoring 133 points and with my opponent only managing three goals, one assist, and zero clean sheets. But I’m not bitter about that at all. Moving swiftly on…
Before we look ahead to Gameweek 6, I’ve seen a lot of talk in the Twitter community about how “FPL experts” rarely go back and evaluate the advice that they are giving. In no way am I claiming to be an expert, but I am fortunate enough to have a platform from which I give advice (based almost exclusively on data), and I think this point is a very valid one. So for each of my articles, I will start by looking back at what I got right and wrong last time out in the underlying numbers.
Last Time Out: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Four good, five bad, and one (very!) ugly. Not a great start, but as I pointed out last week, this is based on a VERY SMALL sample size. As the season progresses, and the data builds, my confidence in the underlying numbers will also increase, and hopefully, we will start seeing a bit more green and a bit less red on the tables above.
This self-reflection did teach me one thing though: it was a very poor decision to use the word “Avoid” when identifying certain players. Just because a player hasn’t been accumulating many points on the underlying numbers, doesn’t mean they should necessarily be avoided. As we will see shortly, Tammy Abraham and Daniel James are still overwhelmingly reliant on goals and assists…but if they keep getting them, no manager will care one bit! A more appropriate word to use would have been “Caution”, and that is what we will go with from now on.
The example of Daniel James – despite the red in the table above – is a really good example of why “Caution” would have been a completely fair assessment of the player. Three days after publishing the previous article, James scored a great curling shot and brought home 23.5 points in United’s draw away at Southampton. But then in Gameweek 6 – unable to find the net, or assist someone else – he scored negative 0.5 points! So whilst his FP/G may have increased since the first article, the identification of him as a player to be cautious of would’ve been accurate. Daniel James really has – so far – lived and died by his goal involvement.
Gameweek 6: Targets and Tales of Caution…
…Underlying Numbers in the Defenders
Only defenders with at least 10 total fantasy points and FP/G of over 6 are included in the above table.
Target: Ricardo Pereira (7.7 FP/G; 100% owned; 15.7% clean sheet reliance)
The Leicester full-back was a legitimate 3rd round draft-pick, but with a current FP/G of just 7.7, he could be testing the faith of those who own him. Now could be the time to throw out a trade. Leicester’s defence is very, very good, even if they have only kept one clean sheet, and they have two home games coming up – one against possibly the worst team in the league.
Target: Matt Lowton (7.2 FP/G; 18% owned; 16.7% clean sheet reliance)
Defenders with a 7.2 FP/G should be owned in more than 18% of leagues. Especially ones from a decent defensive side (Burnley have the 8th best xGA) that have two games against newly promoted clubs coming up next. Even if Burnley do concede, Lowton’s underlying numbers should salvage an acceptable score (among defenders: tied 9th for key passes, tied 9th for tackles won, and tied 13th for interceptions).
Caution: Kyle Walker (4.9 FP/G; 100% owned; 49.0% clean sheet reliance)
It wouldn’t take anyone by surprise if Walker was dropped this weekend after his performance at Carrow Road. But even if he does retain his place in the City lineup (perhaps as a centre back??), whether he retains his place in your fantasy lineup should be even more questionable. A 4.9 FP/G is unheard of for a full-back from a top six team, and speaks to the fact that Pep’s preferred route of attack has so far been down the left hand side of the pitch.
Caution: Victor Lindelof (6.1 FP/G; 68% owned; 39.7% clean sheet reliance)
I really don’t have anything against Lindelof – honestly! It’s just that he should not be 68% owned based on the data. Upcoming fixtures away at West Ham (5th highest xG) and home to Arsenal are not kind, and if they concede, the 0.4 tackles per game and 0.8 interceptions per game aren’t doing much to boost his points. His aerials won are above average, but neither West Ham nor Arsenal have been long-ball teams so far this season.
…Underlying Numbers in the Midfielders
Only midfielders with at least 10 total fantasy points and FP/G of over 7 are included in the above table.
Target: Luka Milivojevic (7.4 FP/G; 96% owned; 0.0% goal/assist reliance)
Five games in and the penalty king has yet to place the ball on the spot. He’s yet to do anything of note to be honest (though it doesn’t help when your team is creating the fewest amount of big chances in the league). Nevertheless, last season’s ever-present is still ticking along at an okay rate, thanks largely to 11 key passes (tied 6th most among midfielders). Palace is a notoriously slow starter, so if the same rings true this season, look for Milivojevic to be hitting double-figure points sooner rather than later.
Target: Philip Billing (7.3 FP/G; 39% owned; 0.0% goal/assist reliance)
Billing might not ever become a 10+ FP/G fantasy option, but to be just 39% owned is criminal. With his interceptions (1st among midfielders), aerials (5th), and tackles (tied 8th) the midfielder should consistently rack up the points a la Wilfred Ndidi. He had an 8.1 FP/G in his two-goal, zero assist campaign for Huddersfield last season, so bet on him to surpass that in a better and more attacking Bournemouth team.
Caution: Erik Lamela (10.9 FP/G; 86% owned; 55.1% goal/assist reliance)
The Tottenham man has had a fine start to the season – he has the 8th most fantasy points among midfielders so far. But the majority of those are a direct result of a goal. And that’s why you need to proceed with caution if you own him. Leicester on the road is a very tough matchup next, and if Spurs fail to find the back of the net, that current FP/G could easily be cut in half.
Caution: Ryan Fraser (6.6 FP/G; 97% owned; 45.5% goal/assist reliance)
Fraser’s back! A goal on the weekend will kick start his season! Right? Let’s just put the brakes on a second here: if you didn’t see it, his goal was one of those fortuitous free kicks that’s mainly meant as a cross, so we shouldn’t really read too much into that. And if you discount that, then his already below average FP/G drops to just 4.8. He looked decent when he came on, but being dropped to the bench in the first place is a worrying sign. I’m a Fraser owner, so I really hope I’m wrong with this one.
…Underlying Numbers in the Forwards
Only forwards with at least 10 total fantasy points and FP/G of over 7 are included in the above table.
Target: Gerard Deulofeu (11.0 FP/G; 79% owned; 10.9% goal/assist reliance)
Gerard Deulofeu was the best player on the pitch in Watford’s game against Arsenal last week. In fact, it was probably the best individual performance I’ve seen this season; he absolutely tore Maitland-Niles apart – and that is not meant as a slight on the Arsenal right back. Yes, the Hornets have to go to the Etihad this week, and then to Molineux, but as long as they get this man the ball, his underlying numbers will make sure he racks up the points.
Target: Che Adams (3.7 FP/G; 29% owned; 0.0% goal/assist reliance)
Southampton’s Che Adams has scored zero goals and missed five “big chances” in the league so far, but as the ex-pros often tell us during commentary, it would be more worrying if he wasn’t getting into those positions in the first place. He’s also creating enough (four key passes but zero assists), so it might not be long until his goal involvement drought ends.
Caution: Tammy Abraham (16.5 FP/G; 97% owned; 76.4% goal/assist reliance)
Like with Lindelof, I’m sticking to my guns when it comes to Tammy (or rather, sticking to what the data is telling me). A 76.4% reliance rate is HUGE, and with Chelsea’s next game coming against unbeaten Liverpool, it could be a difficult day for the young Englishman. To be fair, these analyses do not take into consideration lost points (own goals, dispossessions, cards, etc), but even with these accounted for, Abraham’s reliance is still at 63.3%. Sell high, perhaps?
Caution: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (15.7 FP/G; 100% owned; 65.0% goal/assist reliance)
In last week’s article, whilst discussing Jamie Vardy, I indirectly showed that Aubameyang has been the most clinical forward in the Premier League over the past two seasons. Sunday he demonstrated why. He had 33 touches of the ball. And he scored twice. That ratio can’t have happened too many times in the past. It’s very hard to justify ever dropping Aubameyang…but Arsenal head to Old Trafford in two weeks…want to know his points hauls on the road at the big six last year? Chelsea: 6.5. United: 2. Liverpool: 2.5. City: 3. Tottenham: 4. Yeesh.
The Final Whistle
So that’s your lot for this week’s underlying numbers. Try to get your hands on Riccy P, Lowton, Milo, Billing, Deulofeu, and Adams. Perhaps temper expectations for Walker, Lindelof, Lamela, Fraser, Tammy, and Aub. Next week the EPL Points Against returns. Note, all fantasy points numbers are based on the Togga-scoring format, whilst % ownership was correct as of Tuesday 17th of September. Predominant sources used include www.premierleague.com, www.understat.com, www.sofascore.com, and www.whoscored.com. Follow me at https://twitter.com/the_innergeek.
Good luck in Gameweek 6!
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