I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to get this post out sooner, I have been busy attempting to write a best man’s speech for my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want to split my writing focus between the two projects as I might end up advising those attending the wedding to get on some obscure Italian player who has decent underlying stats!
This blog post will be looking at Serie A and La Liga to see, using proven fantasy football analysis, which players are likely to hit the ground running next season. As with Parts 1 and 2, I am only considering players who are likely to start every game during the first six matches. That’ll take us up to the start of October 2018, by which time the Champions League and Europa League will be in full swing and we can add form to the mix.
Does the player have a favourable set of fixtures?
To answer this question, I have once again (crudely) graded teams out of ten based on their odds to win the league. Juventus are the favourites to Serie A and so have been given the highest rating (10). At the time of writing, my bookmaker of choice has SPAL and Frosione as the teams with the longest odds to win the league and so they are given the lowest possible rating in my fixture difficulty scale (1). In La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid have earned the highest rating (10), whereas Huesca have the worst (1).
Having crunched the numbers, the teams with the seemingly easier start are:
|Team||Fixtures||Average FDR||Adjusted FDR|
The Adjusted FDR column factors in the quality of both teams.
From the above stats, it is clear that Barcelona have the best start to the season. This is good news as the majority of traders will have already invested heavily in Barca with players like Messi, Coutinho and Alba, etc. These players should keep you in good stead.
Another thing that you will notice is that every team listed is a season keeper (i.e. a team you’d expect to do well in the vast majority of their matches, no matter the opposition). The conspiracy theorists among you might wonder why the ostensibly bigger teams, who will be representing Spain and Italy in Europe, find themselves with an easier start.
Does the player have good underlying stats?
In my last two posts, I wanted to give a mix of high, medium and low-value options. I’ve tried to do the same here. I also didn’t want to be too uninspiring and so I have included a new category of “super-obvious” players especially for Messi and Ronaldo. I won’t go into too much justification for them. The justification is simple: MB + PB = £££.
All PB data in the following tables are from the excellent product by Noirx4. If you haven’t already, get in touch with about trial data. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the avoidance of doubt, the PB data is taken from last season’s performances. This means that Ronaldo’s stats will be based on his Real Madrid performances. It remains to be seen whether he can be as dominant at Juventus, but I would expect so.
Super obvious picks
|Messi (Forward, £11.03)|
|Base PB||Max PB||Shots||Key Passes|
|Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward, £9.55)|
|Base PB||Max PB||Shots||Key Passes|
|Cards on the table, Coutinho was one of the first players I bought for 2018/19. The reason for this is that his stats are comparable to Messi (albeit with a lower frequency of high scores). I expect Barcelona to do well again next season and possibly win the Champions League. They are currently the third favourites (behind Man City and Juventus). Ideally, I would like Coutinho to take more shots from inside the box at Barcelona (last season he took 0.6 shots in the box after his move but has a career average of 1.1 shots per game from inside the box).
|Antonie Griezmann (Forward, £5.81)||61||289||2.3||32.1|
|I was very close to including Griezmann in the “super obvious picks” section. However, as he does not currently offer much in terms of media buzz, I have decided he should be just an obvious pick. There may be concerns that his dividends were inflated due to Atletico’s run in the Europa League last season but his underlying stats are solid and show he should perform well no matter the competition.
|My first draft of this article noted that Ramos is less expensive than Marcelo despite being more prolific in terms of dividend wins. However, he rocketed up 60p or thereabouts after scoring a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup. A defender who is on penalties is an extremely attractive prospect. Especially when that player has a nose for goal in normal circumstances. Since the inception of performance dividends, Ramos has bagged 5 positional and 1 star player wins. If he keeps penalties in his arsenal this season, I think he’ll be the defender with the highest number of dividend wins come the end of the season.
|Miralem Pjanic (Midfielder, £3.09)||108||253||1.7||66.7|
|Pjanic has previous at being able to win performance dividends. He is also the subject of ongoing transfer rumours but I expect him to stay. The downside to Pjanic is that the majority of his shots come from outside of the box, with only 0.2 shots per game from inside the box. His base is a great starting point and he can be expected to bag dividends whenever one of his distance shots hits the back of the net.
|Ivan Perisic (Midfielder, £2.18)||74||342||3.1||37.5|
|This was one of the easiest selections in this article. Last season Perisic had the highest max rating in the Inter team. He also takes more shots per game than Icardi (3 shots per game). Perisic also took roughly the same amount of shots in the box (2.1) as Icardi (2.2). These are a striker’s numbers from a midfielder. If Perisic was a few years younger or classed as a forward, his price would be much higher. As things stand, I think he represents excellent value. By way of comparison, Ever Banega is about 60p per future more expensive than Perisic even though Banega takes almost half the amount of shots per game than Perisic and has comparable statistics in key passes. Perisic has a higher ceiling than Banega, but a lower floor.
|Alesander Kolarov (Defender, £2.07)||78||235||1.8||56.8|
|Last season Kolarov should have delivered more dividends but was unlucky not to do so. That is not to say he disappointed, as he had four wins. Very few defenders take more shots per game than Kolarov. He twins that with an admirable passing rate. If Kolarov was younger, he would be worth a lot more. Kimmich is the highest priced defender but Kolarov takes more shots, has more key passes, has a higher maximum score, and only slightly fewer passes per game than Kimmich. Age is no barrier to dividends so Kolarov is my pick.|
|Malcom (Forward, £3.04)||82||174||2.1||38.6|
|I strongly considered going for a player who is often under Messi’s shadow and so goes under the radar (Suarez) or a defender (Pique) as it is a position I think is undervalued across a lot of the Index. However, I have gone for Malcom because he is £1 cheaper than the other u23 wingers at the Classico clubs (Dembele and Vinicius Junior). Malcom is not yet assured of a start, which is probably why his price is where it is. If he gets a chance, and takes it, he may be a shrewd acquisition.
|Gelson Martins (Forward, £1.91)||68||168||1.5||29.9|
|It remains to be seen whether Martins will be a starter for Atletico, however, when compared to fellow recent signing Thomas Lemar, Martins may be under-priced. Despite comparable underlying stats (Lemar took 1.6 shots per game last season with 37.2 passes per game), Martins is 59p cheaper than his new team mate. This puts him in the same bracket as Max Meyer, Harry Winks and Chris Nkunu. That said, in the UEFA Super Cup, Martins was benched as Atletico went with Koke and Lemar in the wide positions. His best hope may be Koke being moved into a more central position. Perhaps monitor team sheets first.
|Casemiro (Midfielder, £2.03)||85||247||1.1||58.2|
|I struggled to find someone who I could justify as a “cheeky” pick at Real Madrid as they’re full of household names. I have selected Casemiro as, I think, he is comparatively undervalued. His underlying numbers are marginally lower than Kroos and Isco, however, he is £1.20-£3 cheaper than that pair. Casemiro has demonstrated a higher ceiling than Isco (who last season achieved a max performance buzz score of 222) and so he represented an opportunity for a decent return on investment. He has won positional and star dividends previously.
|Sami Khedira (Midfielder, £1.08)||51||194||1.2||36.6|
|Khedira’s contract is up in Turin at the end of the season. He was rumoured with a move to the Premier League over the summer and could very well be the subject of such rumours again over the course of next season. His imminently expiring contract is also an incentive for him to perform well when given the opportunity (he started 24 games last year). As far as Juventus midfielders go, he is relatively inexpensive coming in at a little over £1. Likely due to the fact he is 31 years old.
|Stefan De Vrij
|It remains to be seen how De Vrij will settle in to his new team. However, I think he is undervalued when compared to Skriniar. The new recruit from Lazio is almost 85p per future cheaper. The underlying stats do not justify such a significant price gap between the two. Admittedly Skriniar has achieved higher maximum (240). However, their base scores are comparable and, vitally, De Vrij has a stronger nose for the goal. Last season he scored every six matches. I see no harm in having both De Vrij and Skirinar in your portfolios.
|Bryan Cristante (Midfielder, £1.62)||71||160||2.1||42.8|
|Cristante recently joined Roma from Atlanta on loan but there is an option to make the deal permanent if he meets certain performance targets. He therefore has a very strong incentive to perform well. Last season he took 1.5 shots per game from inside the box, scoring 9 times. He may no longer be the big fish in a smaller pond, but if he can put up comparable numbers I expect him to do well at Roma. However, if he underperforms and Roma opt not to make the deal permanent (which I think is unlikely) then he may be subject to transfer rumours in 2019. I think this is a pretty low risk investment when you look at it that way. Cristante takes as many shots per game as Coutinho (and more from inside the box) with a higher passing rate but is £3.35 cheaper!|
I hope you have enjoyed my forward look for all of the PB Leagues. I’m planning on doing a check-up article in a few weeks to see how the selected players are doing in terms of PB scores, capital appreciation and, most importantly, in dividend yield.
May your portfolios (and, if you are playing FPL, arrows) be green!