Fantasy Focus

The money makers

November 11, 2008
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Part of the art of succeeding in fantasy games with fluctuating values is to play the market as you would any other: buy low and sell high.

Amr Zaki
GettyImages / LeonNealAmr Zaki: Controversial striker.

The profits from capitalising on hidden gems at the start of the season can enable you to end up with a far superior squad, but only if you play it right.

At the last price fluctuation 12 players had seen a price rise of £1m or more since the beginning of the season. The trick now is to sell at the right time.

Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips and Amr Zaki of Wigan Athletic sit at the top of the table, well clear of anyone else, with price rises of £2.7 million. It was better for SWP but last week he dropped £0.2 million as people decided to cash as Mark Hughes' side struggle. That may well be a wise choice.

The future of Zaki is proving to be a far more difficult decision. The Egyptian was the bargain of the season, starting at £5.5 million and now peaked at £8.2 million. But with only one goal, and that coming from the penalty spot, in the last four matches it looks as though it's time to cash in those chips.

There are two enticing options to replace the Latics' forward. The first is Spurs striker Darren Bent who saw his price drop out to £5.9 million under Juande Ramos. Now he's scoring a glut of goals and looks a steal, up to £6.0 million now. Swapping Bent, now sixth in the table for strikers, for Zaki would leave £2.2million in the pocket and the ability to strengthen elsewhere. It could be the cash you need to get Cristiano Ronaldo into your team.

Also hugely tempting is Nicolas Anelka at Chelsea after his five goals in two matches took him onto 57 points and above Zaki to be the highest-scoring striker in the game and second only to team-mate Frank Lampard, who is on 59, in the overall standings.

The problem with Anelka is that you can never be 100% sure he's going to stay in the scoring mood. Added to that, with Didier Drogba coming back to fitness it could be that he does not play every match.

Even so, there will be money to be made. The Frenchman is currently valued at £7.6 million after beginning the season on £7.0 million. The combined effect of his hat-trick and brace is bound to have managers rushing to work him into their teams. Even before that latest double he was joint 19th in the money making stakes. Come Thursday morning he could rise as high as £8 million.

Many managers are also dumping Neves Denilson of Arsenal. Another bargain buy in the summer at £4.5 million, he's made £2 million though after dropping £0.2 million last week alone it appears certain that more and more managers are opting to take the money and re-invest. It would appear that most are using that money on Hull City's Geovanni who remains top of the value for money table at 8.41 points per million. Anelka is second (8.29) and Bent third (8.17).

Most profitable players

Shaun Wright-Phillips Man City £2.7m
Amr Zaki Wigan £2.7m
Neves Denilson Arsenal £2m
Stephen Ireland Man City £2m
Jose Bosingwa Chelsea £1.8m
Frank Lampard Chelsea £1.7m
Jermain Defoe Portsmouth £1.5m
Geovanni Hull £1.3m
Robinho Man City £1.2m
Cristiano Ronaldo Man Utd £1.2m
Jamie Carragher Liverpool £1.1m
Michael Turner Hull £1m

Unless you have spare money in the bank there are few other viable options in terms of midfielders. Despite Rory Delap now being fourth in the value for money league (7.92) and costing a pittance at £4.8 million interest is minimal, transferred into only 544 teams over the last few weeks. Despite his price it would appear unlikely there is long term gain to be had.

Also making £2 million is Stephen Ireland at Man City who, unlike SWP, saw his price rise slightly last week probably due to him being £1.7 million cheaper than SWP and having scored five more points. That's the effect of the name more than anything else and Ireland actually may be the more reliable option across the season.

Three defenders have risen by more than £1 million though no goalkeeper appears in the list. This is probably due to managers sticking with goalkeepers from the season's start more than they would an outfield player. The top keeper is Petr Cech of Chelsea who is up £0.7 million. His team-mate, Jose Bosingwa is up £1.8 million and tops the defensive list both in terms of points and profit. Frank Lampard, the top midfielder, has risen £1.7 million.

Completing the set are Jermain Defoe (£1.5 million), Geovanni (£1.3 million), Robinho and Cristiano Ronaldo (£1.2 million), Jamie Carragher (£1.1 million) and Michael Turner (£1 million). And Ronaldo could have been picked up at a snip for £11.2 million prior to his return from injury, meaning some astute managers will be £2 million up on his transfer.

If Spurs' form continues then David Bentley is an option having dropped £1.2 million to just £6.1 million. The Ramos effect has made him a bargain if Harry Redknapp can get him playing and his price has already begun to recover. Then there's the snip of Fernando Torres, now £9.6 million due to his injury problems but back playing again.

The dubious honours of biggest money loser goes to Joeleon Lescott. Many managers who jumped on that bandwagon based on his scoring exploits last season have quickly backtracked. Down £1.8 million to £4.2 million and with Everton rediscovering their form it may be time to revisit Everton defenders.