The 5 Biggest Boom or Bust Players for the 2020/21 EPL Season
Draft Day is on the horizon for most of us, and whilst it’s great picking up some steady-Eddy’s like James Ward-Prowse and Wilfred Ndidi, the real fun is had in grabbing a Boom or Bust guy. It may not pay off, of course, but you don’t know that now. So for the foreseeable future, you can convince yourself that this is the steal of the draft. The guy that nobody appreciated except for you. The guy that will lead you to fantasy glory. These are those 5.
*Note: here we are talking about Boom or Bust in terms of the season as a whole, not individual games. There are many players who tend to be Boom or Bust on a week-by-week basis – these are ones that generally rely heavily on the rare but lucrative scoring categories (goals, assists, clean sheets) for their points, like Jamie Vardy, Teemu Pukki, or Daniel James.
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5 Boom or Bust Players for 2020
Number 1: Sergio Aguero
THE Boom or Bust player of the off-season this year is City legend Sergio Aguero. His ADP at the time of writing is 24.09 – below the likes of Martial, Ziyech, Robertson, and teammate Gabriel Jesus. It’s shockingly low for someone who will go down as one of the greatest Premier League players of all time (and his ranking amongst the experts has caused debate on Twitter too), but it’s understandable given the circumstances.
The little Argentine magician (that might be the last time we can use that phrase in the Premier League for Aguero if you know what I mean!) is now 32, so you would expect him to be on the decline. He’s also coming back from an injury that seems to be taking longer than initially thought – always a worrying sign. And then there’s the competition of Gabriel Jesus, who had his best season yet in England, and you would put money on him improving again. Fit or not, Aguero could struggle to start half of City’s league games again this season, especially if a certain someone arrives. Yes, he may come on as a sub and score, but realistically you don’t start (in fantasy) a substitute, so his value is far less than what his total points would suggest (the old Mahrez problem). And then in addition, what if he has lost a step with the injury and age? What if that FP/G comes below 10? A 2nd round pick for that lack of game-time and productivity would certainly constitute a bust.
On the other hand…this is Sergio Aguero we’re talking about. He still scored 286.5 points last season, despite starting just 18 games. His PP90 of 17.71 was bettered by only 3 other players (De Bruyne, Mahrez, and Bruno Fernandes). His FP/G’s since the 2013-14 season are 17.3, 18.0, 15.9, 14.8, 17.4, 13.5, and 11.9. That kind of consistency is surely not matched. A fully fit Aguero is a better player than Gabriel Jesus – it’s as simple as that. A fully fit Aguero – presuming Messi doesn’t arrive of course – should play enough and produce enough to end up in the top 10 points scorers in the league. Boom.
Number 2: Hakim Ziyech
Any player arriving in the Premier League for a big fee and a lot of fanfare has the potential to land in Boom or Bust territory. They are an unknown quantity. Yes, they may have done it in another league, but the Premier League is different (or so we are told, anyway). There are endless examples of players who have dominated in one league and failed in the Premier League (Di Maria, Falcao, Depay). Why isn’t Werner here too then, I hear you ask? Well, Werner is coming from the Bundesliga, not the farmer’s league that is the Eredivisie. The Dutch league has brought us such luminaries as Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Davy Klaassen, and Vincent Janssen – guys with incredible stat lines in the Netherlands but who became pale imitations once they set foot on English soil. Another reason is that Werner’s main competition is 33-year-old Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham – a man that needs 33 shots to score a goal. Ziyech, on the other hand, has Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Barkley, and Mount who can all conceivably play there (as well as a potentially incoming Havertz). A few bad games for Ziyech and he could be on the outside looking in. Ziyech could easily end up a (marginally) poorer man’s Mahrez: great PP90, but not enough starts to warrant his current ADP of 19.6. That would be a bust.
But there are numerous reasons to believe that the former Ajax man is the real deal. For starters, his numbers from last season – 12 assists and 6 goals (which puts him in the David Silva production range) – are not a one-off. The season before he had 13 assists and 16 goals, and the one before that he had 15 assists and 9 goals. Even a small drop off from these would result in some big fantasy points. There’s also the fact that Chelsea has gone BIG in this transfer window. There’s a lot to like about the new-look Lampard team, and if even half of the hype is real, then a lot of their players will be fantasy gold this season. If Ziyech gets enough minutes, is it really inconceivable to see him end with 456 total fantasy points and a 12.67 FP/G? After all, those are Willian’s numbers and he’s meant to be an upgrade… Boom.
Number 3: Nicolas Pepe
Pepe has been one of the most talked-about players on Twitter this off-season, with Fantasy Football 92 saying he was “impossible to place” [in terms of rank/mock drafts], and Draft Answers saying that his Player Value Thread “has so far yielded the most surprising votes” (btw, follow these accounts if you don’t already!). It’s perhaps not surprising to see him on this list then.
The Arsenal man has a current ADP of 39.86 – about a 4th round pick. For a 4th round pick you’d be hoping for 300+ points, but would probably accept 250 (the average 4th rounder in my league last season scored 264, though the scoring system is marginally elevated compared to Fantrax scoring). Pepe – who scored 275 points at an FP/G of 8.87 last season – could easily fail to hit 150 this time around. The biggest indication of this is his post-restart production. A PP90 of 6.41 after the resumption, compared to 13.75 beforehand, was one of the biggest decreases in the league. A lot of people are using post-restart numbers for potential clues for the coming season…if they do give us a sign, then the sign is not good for Pepe. Another concern is his place in the team. He started just 5 out of Arsenal’s final 10, often being overlooked for Saka – now free from his duties at left-back. But it’s not just the youngster who may steal his game-time. Willian’s arrival is an obvious one, but there’s also Martinelli’s return from injury, Nelson’s continued development, and potentially Lacazette forcing his way into a makeshift role there. Pepe could easily spend more time on the bench than on the pitch this season.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Pepe owners – there are a number of reasons to believe Arsenal’s record signing can lead you to fantasy glory; one of which is the fact that he’s Arsenal’s record signing. Even if this isn’t an indicator of his ability (which you would hope it would be), you would at least imagine it’s an indicator that he will be persevered with and won’t just get cast aside a la Ozil. Furthermore, there are numbers to suggest Arsenal are on the up under Arteta, and with the manager entering his first full season, a strong season for the gunner’s team would likely mean a strong season for their fantasy assets. And it’s not just Arteta that will be more settled – Pepe himself should be better acquainted with the Premier League and his Arsenal teammates. As first seasons go, his was probably better than people have given him credit for (largely because of the price tag – of which he has no control over). A small improvement on last season – say, 8 goals and 10 assists – would give him Firmino-like numbers (i.e. 10+ FP/G), whilst a sizeable (but not unrealistic) jump – say 11 goals and 13 assists – would give him Son-like numbers. Son is a 1st rounder, FYI.
Number 4: Matheus Pereira
Just like big-name transfers from European leagues, the history of the Premier League is littered with stars from the Championship (or First Division for the old-timers) who have failed to make it in England’s top tier. Cameron Jerome, Dwight Gayle, Tom Ince, David Nugent, Rob Earnshaw, and Lewis Grabban all fit the mold, whilst the King of this category – Patrick Bamford – will be using the 2020/21 season at Leeds as Exhibit E in his seemingly endless portfolio of evidence for his case as a Championship-only player. Of course, this is hardly earth-shattering news, but it bears repeating given some of the hype around this season’s incoming talent – Pereira being top of that list. The West Brom star has an ADP of 60.79 – first pick of the 6th round in a 12-team league. Pereira has looked very good in his 42 games in England, but these have come against defenders of the ilk of Harlee Dean, Matty Pearson, and Callum Elder (don’t worry about Googling these guys – you are right to not know them). How will he fare against Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka? Drafterthoughts has shown that PP90 drops by an average of 29% when coming up from the Championship, so that may give us an idea.
So Championship players – particularly ones being selected in the first half of a draft – have bust potential, sure. But Matheus Pereira is not a Championship-caliber player by a long shot. This is a guy who has come from Sporting’s youth system and has featured in the Portuguese top division as well as the Bundesliga. WhoScored had him as the 2nd best player in the Championship last season (ahead of new Palace man Eberechi Eze and behind Aston Villa target Said Benrahma). He had the most assists (16) and most key passes (2.8 per game) in the league, whilst also scoring 8 goals and taking 2.6 shots per game. The numbers are impressive, particularly so from a Fantrax perspective, where he had an equivalent PP90 of 16.6 – tied with Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara as the highest amongst all promoted players. What’s more, his reliance on GACS (goals, assists, and clean sheets) – something that is rarely sustainable when moving from the Championship to the Premier League – is a very respectable 30%. These numbers are very encouraging and lend support to the hopes that Pereira could be the new Grealish/Buendia. Grealish finished last season as the 12th highest points scorer in the league…if Pereira comes anywhere near that then this is a big-time Boom.
Number 5: Sebastien Haller/Michail Antonio
The final Boom or Bust-er on this list is the West Ham duo of Sebastien Haller and Michail Antonio. Both have relatively high ADP’s (86.63 for Haller, 38.93 for Antonio) that are slightly contradictory when taken together. Antonio cannot hit the heights of post-restart (20.31 PP90) if Haller plays. And Haller cannot justify his 86th pick (same as Chris Wood, i.e. ~8th round) if he isn’t playing. So one of these players is going to bust (at least if we are using ADP as our yardstick).
Antonio was a revelation towards the end of the season, but in fairness, his PP90 has always been excellent – it’s fitness that has been his issue (another reason for a potential bust). He kept West Ham in the league and probably single-handedly delivered one or two wins to his fantasy owners, but he did all of this as the lone striker. One of the big questions that will soon be answered is where Antonio plays this season – does he keep the forward role that was so effective both for the team and the individual? Or does he go back to a midfield position that he’s been known for throughout his career? If it’s the former, then a 4th round pick would be a small price to pay for someone who could easily finish in the top 20 points scorers, maybe even top 10 (he was 3rd highest post-restart). If it’s the latter then that 4th round pick could be quite a price to pay.
Antonio in midfield would, however, mean a likely return to the starting lineup for Sebastien Haller. Similar to Pepe, Haller had a season that was probably better than what it first looks. His PP90 of 12.71 was better than that of Lucas Digne, Harry Kane, Ricardo Pereira, Andrew Robertson, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Jack Grealish. A ‘Boom’ could be waiting. West Ham has some decent pieces in place (admittedly it seems like we say this every year), so if Moyes can find a formula to see them challenging in the top half as opposed to battling relegation, then Haller could be a big beneficiary. His ghost point numbers are exceptional (his GACS reliance prior to the restart was just 23.9%), so if we do see a much improved West Ham, plus a 3,000 minute season for Haller, could we get a 15 goal season? And with it, a top 15 forward in the league for the price of an 86th pick?
*Side note: Haller’s current ADP is exceedingly high for a potential backup forward. By contrast, Divock Origi, arguably a better backup for unarguably a better team, has an ADP of 175. That’s a big bust right there.
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