Applying FPL analysis to the Index (Part 1)

Who will hit the ground running: Part 1 (EPL and Ligue 1)

My Index trading experience has been a varied one so far. I’ve attempted day trading, in-play, rumours, etc. None of these methods have played to my strengths. I am a fantasy football obsessive with over a decade of experience. According to the @PremierFPLTools metric, I am in the top 600 managers in the history of FPL (with a pinch of salt).

Now that we are entering domestic performance buzz season again, I am looking to try and find a way to use that experience to identify who will hit the ground running.

When looking to buy a player in fantasy football I ask three questions:

  1. Does the player start?
  2. Does the player have a favourable set of fixtures?
  3. Does the player have worthwhile underlying stats in his price bracket?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then tend to avoid that player. If the answer is yes, then I add that player to my watch list to buy him at the earliest opportunity. One of my favourite things about the Index is that you are not limited to a set number of players. Finances permitting, you could buy ever single player on your watch list!

Does the player start? 

This blog post will focus on players who are very likely to start every week in the first six fixtures. There are one or two speculative picks though to keep things interesting. It is impossible to say at this stage that a player who started last season will continue to be a starter this season but an assumption must be made unless there is evidence suggesting otherwise (i.e. injuries, media reports or a replacement being signed).

While there is no doubt value in finding the player who is likely to break into the first team and getting on board before he does. That is a difficult skill to master. When the first competitive line-ups are announced, an incorrect punt will likely mean a loss.

Does the player have a favourable set of fixtures?

Moving to fixtures, I only ever look at the next six fixtures. This is a decent enough sample size to balance out any cruel variance that may be experienced (15.8% of the season). Looking at the first six matches will take us almost into October 2018. By then, the season will have fully bedded in, the early performers will be known and European football will have started once again. By that point, we can start to add form into the mix.

Which teams have a favourable start to the season? To answer this question, I have (crudely) graded teams out of ten based on their odds to win the respective league. In EPL, Manchester City are favourites and so are given the highest rating (10). Cardiff have the longest odds to win the league and so have been allocated the lowest rating (1).

Having crunched the numbers, the teams with the seemingly easier start are:

Team Fixtures Average FDR Adjusted FDR
PSG 1-2-1-1-6-6 2.83 0.28
Chelsea 2-8-4-3-1-5 3.83 0.48
Man City 8-2-6-4-4-1 4.17 0.42
Montpellier 2-3-6-2-5-7 4.17 0.60
Dijon 7-7-7-1-1-2 4.17 2.08
Lyon 3-2-5-7-1-9 4.50 0.50
Bordeaux 5-5-9-6-1-2 4.67 0.58
Everton 6-4-3-2-5-8 4.67 0.67
Liverpool 5-4-2-6-8-4 4.83 0.54

The Adjusted FDR (“Fixture Difficulty Rating”) column factors in the quality of both teams. The middle two are solely based on the perceived ease of the opposition.

By whichever metric you use to choose players, one thing is certain: PSG should be gold.

Does the player have good underlying stats?

Now comes the trickier part of the assessment. Looking at the players and deciding if they are a worthwhile investment. Some players will flatter to deceive in a spell where they over-perform. Others will have good stats but have just been unlucky. Others are just obvious.

I’ve gone through each of the teams with seemingly easier fixtures and picked out any players who I think are worth investing in. To have quality rather than quantity, I will pick two players per team. I don’t want this article to be too uninspired so I have categorised picks as “obvious” or “cheeky”. A cheeky pick is someone under the radar in comparison to his team-mates (e.g. an injury replacement, a new transfer, someone entering the last year of his contract and needing to perform in the shop window).

All PB data in the following tables comes from the excellent product by Noirx4. If you haven’t already, get in touch with him about trial data to see if you like the product. His email address is: Noirx4@hotmail.com.

Obvious picks

 

Neymar (Forward, £13.08)

Image result for neymar

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
PSG 133 357 4.5 66.8
Surely you don’t need convincing? PB + MB = £££

 

Marcos Alonso (Defender, £1.45)

Image result for marcos alonso

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Chelsea 95 208 2 40.8
A tougher pick as it will be a change of system at Chelsea and there are significant doubts as to whether Hazard will stay at the club. Last season Alonso put up decent stats in what was a poor season by Chelsea standards. Alonso is always good for a goal as can be seen from his shots. Alonso had the highest shots per game rate of any PB eligible defender. He’s the 47th defender by price which seems off to me, it should be higher. It remains to be seen if Sarri’s new style restricts Alonso’s attacking option. I hope it doesn’t.

 

Kevin De Bruyne (Midfield, £4.27)
Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Man City 105 210 2.5 72.8
There are often arguments about whether KDB is worth his price. However, he is the surest route into the City line-up. He is a tremendous footballer, pass master and assist king. De Bryune has scored 7.75 goals per season in the league over the last four seasons. When he scores, he will be thereabouts for dividends. An interesting fact is that last season he had higher shots per game than Jesus.

 

Jerome Roussillon (Defender, £0.49)

Image result for Jerome Roussillon

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Montpellier N/A 128 0.9 32.3
His record last season included three goals and three assists. His contract is up at the end of this season so will need to perform. A shot per game is good for a defender. By way of comparison, he has the same shot taking rate that Otamendi had in EPL last season.

 

Naim Sliti (Midfielder, £0.58)

Image result for naim sliti

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Dijon N/A N/A 1.9 25.6
Down as a midfielder but plays a bit further forward. With Chang-Hoon injured, Dijon will need Sliti to fill the void. Down as a midfielder who has a shot taking rate of a forward. Probably one of the better options in the sub-60p price bracket and worth a look.

 

Memphis Depay (Forward, £3.33)

Image result for memphis depay

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Lyon 93 277 2.9 31.0
The fourth top forward going by base PB. If he stays and Fekir leaves (as many expect), he will be the main man. He thrived in that role at the end of last season. He’s had steady investment in summer despite not featuring at the World Cup.

 

Francois Kamano (Forward, £1.17)

Image result for francois kamano

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Bordeaux 56 215 1.8 17.7
With Malcom almost gone, I think Kamano will become the star man at Bordeaux. He will also be playing in the Europa League this season if Bordeaux navigate the qualifiers. He is only 22. With 23 starts last season he bagged 8 goals and 4 assists. He should do more this season and thrive once Malcom leaves for a new club.

 

Ademola Lookman (Forward, £1.86)

Image result for ademola lookman

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Everton 45 236 1.2 19.8
Lookman thrived at RB Leipzig and I fully expect him to get a chance to start the season at Everton. The fans are pushing for him to get that chance. He was given the chance to start on 14 July during pre-season and bagged a hat-trick. If Lookman is given a chance to start regularly, his price will grow (for example, Sancho is priced 64p more at the time of writing despite an inferior PB average, max and shots per game). There are rumours of a permanent move to Germany, that wouldn’t be a bad move at all and may even help his case.

 

Virgil van Dijk (Defender, £1.93)

Image result for virgil van dijk

Team Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Liverpool 84 174 1.1 81.2
A lot will be wondering why this isn’t Salah. He surely should be the epitome of an “obvious pick” after last season. However, with more competition, if Fekir signs, I think Van Dijk is more obvious. His PB last season was curtailed by a lack of goals. That trend surely won’t continue with the rate he shoots. He has the highest base of any Liverpool player, when he scores it will mean buzz.

 

Cheeky picks

Player Base PB Max PB Shots  Passes 
Layvin Kurzawa (Defender, £1.24) 57 194 1.1 46.3
This was a difficult pick as most PSG players are household names and they are in a state of flux with the new manager. Kurzawa’s stats compare very favourably with Meunier. He takes 0.6 more shots per game than the Belgian attacking right back but is 30p less.
Michy Batshuayi (Foward, £1.76) 13 169 2.9 17.7
This is probably the most speculative/cheating pick in the list. Last season in the Bundesliga only Lewandowski, Aubameyang and Werner had a higher shots per game rate than Batshuayi. He played very infrequently during the World Cup so, subject to signings, may be given the chance to show what he can do to start the season. He had this role before and failed to take it, but if given the opportunity he’ll know this is last chance saloon. The reason this pick is cheating is because he may not even be with Chelsea if Dortmund get their way. In my view that would be ideal. Batshuayi shouldn’t be £1.50ish cheaper than Werner going by their stats. The reason he is cheaper is because of his injury and lack of guaranteed starts. To me, that suggests considerable room for growth.
Aymeric Laporte (Defender, £2.70) 133 219 0.3 90.1
Laporte is here because of his likely value at the start of the season as he will start given no World Cup. However, his price has already inflated because of that common presumption. He won’t start every week (sadly) as City has a wealth of options at centre back.
Ellyes Skhiri (Midfielder, £0.64) 71 162 1.1 44.8
This slot, or the obvious pick, would have gone to Nordi Mukiele (19 years old, a base of 96 and recently signed for RB Leipzig). Skhiri has decent stats but is unlikely to deliver a big enough score. However, Skhiri may be a decent shout on a single match day and Ligue 1 have a propensity to organise matches on a Friday night.
Julio Tavares (Forward, £0.48) 12 143 2.0 20.1
A textbook forward who does nothing unless he scores. He was top goalscorer last season for Dijon and like Sliti will need to do more with Kwon Chang-Hoon likely to be out for the start of the season.
Leo Dubois (Defender, £1.17) 97 239 1.3 40.4
Dubois has just signed from Nantes where he was a set piece machine. His shot taking for a defender is excellent. Whether he can keep this up at his new team (and cement a place in the team) remains to be seen but at a low-ish price he’s worth the investment.
Youssouf Sabaly (Defender, £0.76) 62 163 0.3 44.5
This slot would have gone to Kounde but he isn’t on the Index yet. Watch out for his IPO. Sabaly is a playmaking full back who had five assists last season. His lack of shot taking is a worry.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Midfielder, £1.26) 99 200 1.4 25.9
Until Everton sign someone, it can be assumed that Siggy will be on the majority of set-pieces. Silva will get Everton playing better football than Big Sam and Siggy will be at the heart of that.
Andrew Robertson (Defender, £1.45) 74 215 0.5 64.6
Robertson’s stats compare favourably to Alexander-Arnold. He has more passes per game but a marginally inferior (0.1) shots per game. The gap between the pair is not sustainable and I think Robertson will rise if he starts this season like he finished the last.

 

There we have it. Hopefully, some of the 18 players listed above will hit the ground running and gain some early buzz wins (and the price growth that will come with it).

Stay tuned for Part 2. Best of luck and may your portfolios be green!

 

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Brave Heart
Written by Brave Heart
Started on the Index Jan 2017 (seriously since April 2018). I'm an FPL obsessive who is looking to try and use proven fantasy football strategies to profit on the Index. A long suffering Liverpool and Scotland fan.
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