Monday, 4 January 2016

Fantasy Football and Unsustainable Form.

It’s been a largely enjoyable fantasy football season so far, but then that’s probably because you have had to be incredibly cavalier not to go along with what has been a frighteningly reliable formbook.

Here are some stats for the top 5 players to date:

%selected by
Points (goals/assists)
Points Per Gameweek
Consistency stat
Riyad Mahrez
153 (13/7)
Before last 3 games, his longest run without a goal/assist was one game
Romelu Lukaku
135 (15/5)
Scored in 7 games in a row
Mesut Ozil
131 (3/16)
In last 16 games, has only failed to score/assist in 3 games
Odion Ighalo
129 (14/5)
In last 16 games, has only failed to score/assist in 4 games
Jamie Vardy
128 (15/4)
Scored in 11 consecutive games, and scores or assisted in 15 consecutive games

I’ve played fantasy football for long enough to know that those ‘%selected by’ stats are unbelievable. To have four players selected by over 50% of managers is in my experience unheard of, and largely down to one thing: the rise of the middle-tier club.

West Ham, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Watford have all been performing incredibly this season, with the likes of Payet, Mahrez, Scott Dann, Ighalo and Deeney all arguably exceeding expectations.

Odion Ighalo mixing it with the big boys.

Combine this with the poor form of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, three of the Premier League’s traditional top 4, and it’s easy to see why rival FPL teams are so indistinguishable from one another. If the expensive players are the form guys, then you have to make some difficult choices. 

This looked set to be the case when Aguero scored 5 and it seemed as if those who could afford him would be the only ones who could compete. If the cheap players are the ones in form, it’s fairly easy to acquire them. Ighalo, Mahrez, Vardy etc represent crazy value, explaining their popularity.

This would explain my result this week. Although I scored poorly, I lost few places as it was likely that those at the top end with me had a similar looking team.

Despite a poor week I only dropped from 27,094th to 29,121st

The question on many managers’ minds then will have been this: how long can the formbook last? Well the Christmas period looks to be hinting that it may be coming to a close.

A glance at some of the over-performing middle-tier clubs suggests as much. Leicester have failed to score in their last 3 games, picking up two draws and a loss in the process. Likewise, Palace have accrued two draws and a loss with no goals, and Watford succumbed to Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, picking up just one point.

Meanwhile there are rumblings from the sleeping giants. Manchester City earned a foreboding 1-2 win at Vicarage Road, ending their dreadful run of away games without a win since September, with goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.

Please don't hit form Sergio, I can't afford you.

Chelsea are now undefeated in four (WDDW) after four losses in their previous six league games, and ended an even worse away run with their first win on the road since August.

And Manchester United, after their encouraging 0-0 draw against Chelsea, won their first league game since November with Rooney and Martial netting against Swansea.

If the formbook falls apart it could make for an interesting second half of the fantasy football season. It’s all about picking the next in-form player before anybody else, and they might come at a bit more of a premium in 2016.