Points per 90 (PP90) is far from a new idea. Indeed, both @PlanetFPLPod and @mathsafe_fpl tweeted great threads about exactly this in the last 48 hours (I’d highly recommend following them if you don’t already). Unfortunately though, both of these threads were centered on the traditional FPL format, and not the Togga Scoring draft version available on Fantrax. This article aims to fill that void, as well as present a slightly different way of using this data.
Every season there are hidden gems. But by looking at PP90 from last season, we might be able to unearth them. We can identify players who weren’t given many opportunities, but when they were, they racked up the fantasy points. Calculating the discrepancy between actual points per game (FP/G) and PP90, and then examining which players with these large discrepancies are poised to see an increase in minutes, can allow us to identify potentially undervalued players.
Two seasons ago, 20 of Bernardo Silva’s 35 EPL appearances came from off the bench. But he still managed to score six goals and make another four. By my estimates, his FP/G would have been just over six points, but his PP90 would have been around 12.5 points. The following season he became the eighth highest scoring midfielder in the league, and is now almost certainly a first round pick in most drafts. Can we find this season’s Bernardo Silva?
2018-19 FP/G vs. PP90
The figure below compares the FP/G with the PP90 for all the midfielders who played over 300 minutes last season. Obviously everyone bar the un-subable (I think I’ve just made up that word) Luka Milivojevic has a greater PP90 than FP/G, but there are certain players whose discrepancy should pique the interests of FPL managers heading into the new season. Let’s take a look at five in detail now. You can click on the chart to see it full size.
Note: numbers are based on a slightly-tweaked Togga scoring system, though the relative differences should be similar across all scoring formats and the underlying logic the same.
Kevin De Bruyne
FP/G = 11.08; PP90 = 19.45.
Okay, so to kick things off with KDB is a little strange. How can he be a hidden gem? Fair point; he’s not. But he’s almost definitely undervalued. To see the best player in the league falling outside the top five picks in mock drafts is criminal. I even saw him slide into the second round in one. This guy should be the second name off the board (behind Salah, if you’re asking). He had an unfortunate season last year, but to say that his injury history is concerning is going overboard for me. The two seasons prior to that he played in 73 out of Manchester City’s 76 league games. If he plays over 30 games this year, he will score over 550 points. Only one player managed that last season. This is your number two pick people.
FP/G = 7.93; PP90 = 15.52.
Like many people, I’m high on Barkley this year. Chelsea’s transfer ban, Hazard’s exit, the injuries to RLC/CHO, and a manager who most likely will realize Kante is a defensive, not attacking, midfielder, all point to Barkley adding considerably to his 1,241 minutes last season. Barkley was involved in six goals from his 13 EPL starts in 2018/19, but his FP/G was dragged down by seven games in which he was subbed on for less than 20 minutes (contributed nothing each time). He’s also got the Premier League’s all-time leading midfield goal-scorer managing him now, so a 15-goal campaign is pretty much guaranteed, right? If Barkley is still there in the fourth, I’d be very tempted to take him. If he’s still there in the fifth, I’d definitely do so.
FP/G = 8.17; PP90 = 13.05.
Fun fact: Iwobi has played more minutes for Nigeria this summer than he did for Arsenal over their final 12 league games. This worries me from an FPL perspective. A full pre-season would have put Iwobi in pole position to cement a first-team spot now that Ramsey is gone and Ozil is, Ozil. A three-week holiday would almost certainly see someone else get the chance to take advantage of an opening two games consisting of a Steve-Bruce-led Newcastle and a home game against Burnley. Only Aubameyang played in more league games than Iwobi last season, but 13 of the midfielder’s came from the substitute’s bench. If he can turn a few of those into starts, we might see a season with over 2,500 minutes. Which at last season’s rate, would equate to a 362.5 point haul.
FP/G = 9.31; PP90 = 14.21.
Scoring goals was a problem for Newcastle last season. They had the third lowest xG in the league and netted just 42 times. To address those problems they decided to sell (or not pursue buying) the two players who combined to score 23 of those. It’s a bold strategy Cotton. So why should you look at Shelvey? Well, Rafa is a great manager, but he’s a defensive one. You wouldn’t exactly call Steve Bruce an attacking manager, but you’d expect to see Newcastle go forward a bit more now (Sheffield Wednesday averaged 1.5 goals/game under him, a rate which would have made them 8th top scorers over a full season). Shelvey had a 9.31 FP/G despite being in-and-out of a defensive-minded team and only scoring one goal with one assist. These are floor values for him. Just the slightest of improvements will take him above the 10 FP/G threshold…only 11 midfielders achieved that last season.
FP/G = 6.36; PP90 = 11.78.
Here’s the curveball for you. The guy that has been going undrafted in most mocks. Meyer could be your late round sleeper though. With Zaha intent on leaving, someone will need to step up to replace both his minutes and his attacking threat, and why not the man capped four times by Germany? This is a guy that only 18 months ago was being sought after by the likes of Liverpool, Roma, Arsenal, and Atletico Madrid. An 11.78 PP90 extrapolated over twice the amount of minutes (he had just 1,410 last season) would put him in Nathan Redmond territory. FYI, Redmond has been going in the 4th-5th round of most mock drafts. Not bad.
2019/20 is still probably a bit too soon to consider Phil Foden as a viable FPL option, but you never know what can happen in football. At the same age, Raheem Sterling scored 9 and made 5 in his breakout season for Liverpool…he didn’t have KDB, Sane, the Silva’s, and Mahrez in his way though. Speaking of which, Riyad Mahrez had the second highest PP90 of all the eligible midfielders and has received a lot of love on Twitter recently. I’ve always resisted playing Pep Roulette (unless it’s KDB)…and I’m not going to start with a guy who will only finish playing in the AFCON on Friday. Ruben Loftus-Cheek would almost certainly be part of the detailed analysis above if it hadn’t been for his dreadful Achilles injury. November is the most realistic return date – but this is too far away to waste both a draft pick and a space on the subs bench on him. Stuart Armstrong had big potential as a sleeper pick for a promising Southampton side, but the signings of Adams and Djenepo have greatly dampened his chances of increasing on the 1,431 minutes he played last year. And finally, it’s a similar story for Michail Antonio. The West Ham midfielder went under the radar last season, racking up fantasy points and playing well when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, those opportunities might actually decrease this year with the arrival of Fornals and the return to fitness of Yarmolenko and Wilshere.
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