Friday, August 24, 2012
ESPNsoccernet: August 23, 10:15 AM UK
Pleased to Michu
The season is but a few days old, yet the fantasy forum is already full of tales of woe of misplaced trust in star names as well as frustration over injuries and managers' selections.
A dangerous approach to a poor opening weekend is a knee-jerk reaction in the transfer market, bludgeoning your transfer allocation on an instant rebuild when in truth we've learned little about what is to come.
Every year we see players hit the ground running, but few of these instant stars go on to prove value for money in the long term. In fact Clint Dempsey, the top-scoring midfielder in the fantasy game last season, barely got among the points in the first month of the campaign 12 months ago - scoring once in the first six Premier League games.
Then there was Shane Long, who appeared to be one of the signings of the season when he scored against Manchester United and Chelsea in the first two matches. He became the hottest property in fantasy, the classic case of 'horseboltage' - where managers bring in a fantasy player the moment the points dry up. Long scored six more goals in the other 36 fixtures.
This season's candidates are already starting to show their faces, with Swansea City midfielder Michu already up 1.8% in ownership since the weekend. Only Carlos Tevez has seen a sharper rise, up by 3.7% as managers react to the news that Sergio Aguero is out of the picture for the next two gameweeks.
Michu slipped under the radar of most fantasy managers prior to the big kick-off. He was owned by just 0.5% of teams, but Michu's pedigree showed he has the ability to both score and provide goals at the highest level after he scored 15 goals and gave three assists for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga last season. That put him ninth in the scoring charts and made him the top-scoring midfielder in the Spanish top flight.
He netted twice and also picked up an assist in the rout of Queens Park Rangers, and it's hard to argue that he will follow in the footsteps of Long and fall back into relative Premier League obscurity. He is in a team, and playing for a manager, which will continue to attack and the shackles will not find their way onto his ankles. He may be £5.5 million for now, but he won't be next week.
Swansea City's fixture list makes a punt on Michu, and Nathan Dyer who also scored twice, all the more attractive. With West Ham and Sunderland both at home next there is obvious value to be had both with their attacking players and the defence which proved such a fantasy hit last season. Then they travel to Aston Villa, before entertaining Everton. It's away to Stoke after that before Reading visit the Liberty Stadium.
The other big headline maker was Chelsea's Eden Hazard. He was involved in five of Chelsea's six goals over the gameweek, picking up three assists, and with 16 points sits behind Michu and team-mate Frank Lampard in the midfielder points table. Chelsea players have of course played an extra game now, and will sit out gameweek three, making them suspect transfer options.
That has not stopped Hazard's ownership climbing by 1.2% since Sunday, with his price of £8.0m sure to rise at the first fluctuation point. So it's a case of key early strategy here if you want the likes of Hazard, or Branislav Ivanovic who is remarkably the top scoring player in the game at this early stage. Do you bring in a Chelsea transfer target before the end of the week, in the knowledge that you will pick them up before they rise in price and accept they will sit on your bench for a week?
The one striker to stand out above all the rest was the £6.2 million Mladen Petric, another player to be involved in a five-goal thrashing on the opening day. Petric could prove to be one of those players who doesn't have long-term value, especially if Fulham end up splashing the cash they are likely to get from the sale of Clint Dempsey.
But misfiring strikers from the Bundesliga seem to be finding a good home in England, as Fulham found last season with the loan signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak from Vfb Stuttgart while Demba Ba wasn't exactly prolific prior to arriving at West Ham, then Newcastle, from Hoffenheim.
Petric, now 31, scored seven goals for Hamburg last season in 28 appearances and with two on his debut for Fulham he will expect to far exceed that total this campaign. Although Fulham do face both Manchester clubs in the next five gameweeks, they also come up against West Ham, West Brom and Wigan by which time we should have a better idea of Petric's merits.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a handful of questions which we get asked time and time again here at ESPN Fantasy Towers, all of which are explained within the rules but which keep cropping up regardless. In a bid to cut down on the flood of emails into our inbox, here's an attempt to clear a few things up.
1) Can I sign a striker in place of a defender?
The answer to this is 'no'. As set out in the rules, you must have a squad build of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three strikers. It is part of the strategy we decided upon for the game that if a manager wishes to play three strikers, or in fact five midfielders, they do so at their own risk in the knowledge that if one of those players does not play there is no bench player to come on as a sub.
2) Why can't I reorder my subs?
Subs only enter the pitch on a like-for-like basis: so a midfielder for a midfielder for instance. You will only have the option to reorder your subs if you have two players from one position on your bench, which is the case if you play any other formation than 4-4-2.
3) My bench player hasn't been scored, I want my points NOW!
As it says within the game console, subs only become active at the end of the gameweek - which is when the very last game is played, not the end of a given day. Remember that sometimes a gameweek can be stretched out, such as by Chelsea-Reading, so there will be occasions when subs may not be activated when you might be expecting
4) When do player prices fluctuate and what is that based on?
They change at the gamelock each and every week (which is almost always a Saturday) to affect transfers made for the next gameweek. Fluctations are based on performance and not transfer market activity. The first fluctuation takes place this Saturday.
5) Why didn't my player get an assist?
And finally the most controversial question. ESPN's stats provider has a specific definition for an assist, or a key contribution as it is otherwise known. Here it is in all its glory:
"An assist is awarded to a player who plays the final successful pass which leads to a goal. Please note that Key Contributions are not awarded to players who are fouled for free-kicks or penalties which lead to goals, for own goals or for goals which result from rebounds off other players, including the goalkeeper, or the woodwork."
ESPN FC's new Premier Fantasy mobile site has just gone live, meaning you can follow your points live during a matchday and make transfers easily without fiddling around with the actual website on your device. Simply go to, or perhaps even bookmark, this link - http://es.pn/premier_mw_UK - and you will be able to waste away all your transfers at your leisure.