Before I preview Week 2, here are thoughts for those new to fantasy football. We all have our club favorites. For Sir John, his love of Chelsea began 45 years ago when he was stationed in the Navy in London. However, there is a reality of fantasy football that runs at odds with football purists who look with disdain at how we can be happy with the success of players and teams that we don’t support.
For managers who handle their rosters with their heads and not their hearts, fantasy football presents a different set of dynamics; namely we can be joyful for players or teams that we can’t stand. Filling your team with only players you like will usually leave you in the middle of the pack. For example, while I am not remotely a fan of Manchester City and abhorred the behavior of Carlos Tevez last season and hate his (and others) infantile, jersey-lifting goal celebrations, I want him to get a hat trick every time out. It is what it is. He is on my starting XI. However, when (if) I transfer him, I hope he scuffs every shot and gets his PK’s blocked.
Now to the ten-game Week 2 schedule along with fantasy implications:
Saturday, August 25
Swansea City-West Ham United
- The early match features the Swans, fresh off a 0-5 road massacre of QPR. Dyer and Michu had braces and Vorm got his first clean sheet. Manager Michael Laudrup has reason to smile, even though the Swans have a Carling Cup match next Tuesday.
- West Ham and Big Sam nailed boring Aston Villa at home for the Hammers opening victory. Kevin Nolan got the lone goal in the match. Fantasy players worthy of points were James Collins and the goalkeeper with the alphabet name, Jaaskelaninen.
- Man Yoo’s home opener will have supporters in full voice and demanding more than they saw at Everton. Fantasy implications of Nani’s rotten performance and contract demands are that the hotheaded winger may be headed to the bench and perhaps off the team. Tomorrow, Ashley Young will replace him. Injuries are many with Rio out; however, SAF’s pet defender Jonny Evans is projected ready to go. It’s not known if Carrick and Valencia, sentenced to emergency defensive duties can be returned to midfield.
- Pudgy Wayne Rooney will be looking for goals, RvP will have had five days to train with his new teammates, including the sensational Kagawa who may be on the assisting end of passes for goals and who might notch one himself.
- Fulham is in second place after their massive home result; however, the Cottagers were road kill last season. They are without Clint Dempsey; but against Norwich City they had plenty of ammo. Petric had a brace and Duff, Sidwell and Kacanliklic (4.4) with the lowest fantasy salary of any scorer, all got a goal. Hangeland and Riise are nails on defense, as is Mark Schwartzer; however, last week was then and Saturday is Old Trafford.
- The late game is a great match-up with Chelsea at home again following an easy road result at Wigan and a fight for their lives against pesky Reading. The Blues play a Newcastle team that thoroughly dominated an impotent Liverpool. Chelsea also is close to signing Victor Moses from Wigan. This is an intriguing move on the heels of a new four-year contract for Sturridge. At Wigan, Moses operated as a forward; however, he plays more as an attacking midfielder and is listed on the fantasy site at that position. His 5.8 market value is low and those future six-point goals will be sweet to managers who hold him. It is doubtful if he makes the Chelsea lineup tomorrow. There is a long list of Chelsea players who have just slipped a notch in the food chain.
- Newscastle offers huge fantasy potential in Ba and Ben Arfa who both scored in Week 1. Ba’s goal was his first in 14 matches, while Ben Arfa’s PK came late and quashed cynics (including Sir John) that Newcastle’s fifth-place finish last season was a one-hit wonder. Cisse, the second half scoring sensation last season had a quiet opening game but everyone remembers his sensational goal against the Blues last season. Distribution quality comes from Cabaye.
- Other than Darren Bent there is very little fantasy value with Villa players. Agbonlahor is out injured; however, even when fit, he is nothing compared to his 13-goal season three years ago. New manager Paul Lambert inherited a team, largely unchanged that had 17 sleep-inducing draws and scored only 37 goals in 38 matches.
- Everton’s usual slow start was not evident in their 1-0 home result over Man Yoo. Fellaini is more than a curly-haired tower and seems ready to score more than his career high PL goal tally of three goals in one season. Everton is a good bet for multiple clean sheets with depth on defense and the great Tim Howard in the onion bag. David Moyes optimism is tempered with injury concerns for Distin and Jelavic, out with knocks and no return date.
Norwich City-Queens Park Rangers
- This game is between the bottom two teams that gave up a combined ten goals in their first games and scored zilch. Pee-youuu! Grant Holt is a good fantasy point producer up front, but beyond that, manager Chris Hughton has precious little.
- Mark Hughes has a team full of fantasy potential in Junior Hoilett, Park, Taarabt, Fabio and newly signed Chelsea defender Bosingwa. The Rangers can’t possibly be any worse than they were at home against the Swans.
- The Saints were greatly encouraged by their gritty showing on the road against Man City. If manager Nigel Adkins does not start Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis, he is out of his mind. Lambert’s prolific goal scoring against lesser competition was up to the task when facing the defending champions and Davis scored a fine goal. Adam Lallana looks up to adding more assists and while Kelvin Davis registered a PK save, it was a feeble effort by Silva.
- After losing at the DW to Chelsea, Wigan seems headed for another season on life support. They have a superb GK in Al Habsi who is a good fantasy pick but now have lost Victor Moses. The Latic’s Premier League survival has now arrived in the ICU.
- While Kieran Richardson wants to leave Sunderland, manager Martin O’Neill needs people who want to stay to give the kind of effort that held Arsenal scoreless. Sessegnon (6.6) is a streaky fantasy player who is listed on the Black Cats ESPN team roster as a midfielder, but the fantasy game classifies him as a striker.
- Like Southampton, Reading will take heart with how they played against top competition. Their Russian striker is a load and had a brilliant header that portends goals more to come.
- AVB’s home debut at White Hart Lane was given a boost with the late acquisition of Emmanuel Adebayor whose permanent transfer from Man City is critically needed. Adebayor is also a good fantasy pickup at 7.5. Adebayor, on loan at Spurs last season needs no time to get used to his teammates, other than Sigursson and Vertonghen who are new. It is impossible to know what goes on in the mind of AVB who chose to start ancient William Gallas over Ajax transfer Vertonghen last week.
- Gareth Bale has not scored a goal in 15 matches, RVdV was on the bench to start the last game, Modric is as good as gone, Aaron Lennon does a lot of running but the key is the man from Togo who scored 17 goals in 32 PL games.
- The team that may be the biggest PL surprise this season is WBA. The Baggies looked very good in dominating Liverpool in their home opener. As long as Shane Long is kept away from PK’s, this is a good team with Odemwingie, Gera, Ridgewell and Lukaku capable of big fantasy games. Ben Foster is solid in the net.
Sunday, March 26
- The early match sends the Gooners to tough Stoke. The Potters give up few goals and last year scored the least. Stoke drew with Reading on opening day and Michael Kightly got the goal. There are few players who stand out for fantasy points, especially on offense. And that includes Peter Crouch who is 6’7”.
- Defensively, Tony Pulis got a huge lift when Robert Huth made a miracle recovery from meningitis and played well in the opening game. The German and Shawcross form a tough tandem on defense.
- Arsenal could have one of the big fantasy finds of the season in high-energy midfielder Cazorla. Vermaelen is always a fantasy point guy while Giroud and Podolski didn’t show much in the opening 1-1 verdict against Sunderland. Gervinho started but has not made any impact and Diaby is not likely to make Gooner faithful forget Song who is now at Barca. Arteta runs things well and Ox-C is due back from injury but Koscielny is out hurt for this game.
- The most frustrating player for manager, Arsenal’s supporters and teammates has to be Walcott. He can be brilliant and just as quickly you forget he is on the pitch.
- This will be fun to watch. Brendan Rodgers' team had a great preseason and looked lively and ready to rebound from a yucky eighth place finish. When they took the pitch at WBA they looked more like a Cesspool. As the game went on, Suarez was forlorn fiture. Lucas promised good fantasy returns but he was anonymous. In preseason, Steven Gerrrard, reminded footie fans of what he was like when he was 22 and not his current 32. At least against WBA, he suddenly looked closer to “When I’m 64”.
- Liverpool went for Joe Allen instead of Clint Dempsey and Allen looks like little fantasy help. Stewart Downing is awful, Henderson is a bust and Shelvey, who should be playing is on the bench. Raheem Sterling could be the answer, but fantasy managers can only thrive in the here and now. Borini may come alive. Pony Tail will languish on the pines.
- It is a pity that Aguero is out injured, perhaps for a month, but even so, there will be no shortage of quality with Tevez unleashed alongside either Dzeko or Balotelli. Fantasy managers always take risks on Mancini players beyond Aguero, Tevez, Hart and Kompany. Dzeko came off the bench first when Kun departed, so he may get the nod for the first XI. Samir Nasri may be headed for the kind of season he had in 2010-2011 when he scored 10 PL goals for Arsenal.
- Not many points beyond clean sheets come from Zabaleta; however, Lescott is good in front of the net on set pieces.
- The key to Man City is Yaya Toure. Sir John believes when Toure plays up front, rather than a holding midfield position, goals and assists are more frequent.
After Week 2 is over, there are roster decisions for fantasy managers because Chelsea and Reading will not play in Week 3.
Until later, I remain,