Fantasy Football Review: Week 3

The international break means that week 3 feels like a long time ago, but returning to the results has been a very satisfying experience, with 65 points I am pleased to report that I exceeded my target of the average points score and in fact top-scored within our league!  This is likely to be a rare occurrence so please forgive this small boast.

Once again it was the captaincy that proved the crucial factor in my success; with Zabaleta getting a clean-sheet, an assist and a bonus he contributed more than a third of my points on his own.  Man City face Stoke this week and so he is likely to retain the armband for another round.

A lot has happened since Gameweek 3, and therefore there are plenty of factors for mangers to consider this week when picking their team.  The transfer window has shut, at the time of writing 2.1% of fantasy league players still have Gareth Bale in their squads but 6.6% of league players have already put their faith in Ozil.  On top of that the international break has taken its toll providing some injury worries and some interesting questions over form.

Cashing out at the top

Before I consider the impact of transfers and world cup qualifiers I want to touch on a favourite subject of mine as something of a panicky manager.  Olivier Giroud has now scored 3 in 3, as has Daniel Sturridge.  Those of us lucky enough to have benefitted from these runs of form may be starting to bite our fingernails; can either of them continue this good vein and reach 4 from 4?  The optimist says don’t change a winning team, but the odds of continuing a streak must be lengthening…

Ruud Van Nistolroy holds the current premier league record for scoring in consecutive matches at an impressive ten in a row so 4 in 4 would hardly be unprecedented, and in fact last season offers a number of good runs of form to look at for encouragement.  Van Persie managed 4 in 4 three times, extending one of those runs to 5 in 5 and only once stopped at the now underwhelming 3 in 3.

Gareth Bale’s fantastic season included one run of 5 consecutive goal-scoring games.  Benteke managed to get a four game streak running across January and February and Suarez managed an early season streak of four and another later run of 3 in 3, so averaged a 50% conversion rate once at three-in-a-row.  Gerard could manage a single instance of 3 in 3 last season but no more.  For Man City both Tevez and Dzeko managed 3 but neither could get the fourth consecutive goal and Michu got to three twice only to miss out on extending his run both times.

For all that there are clearly examples of extending a run past three-in-a-row, in general, with 20 goals-a-season strikers rare, as my colleague James Bailey has pointed out, the chances of 4 in 4 purple patches appear slim.

With Sturridge missing the international games with a minor injury, he could come back rested against Swansea, or is it might be time to assume he will follow the example of his opposite number Michu and cash out?  Depending on how strong a bench you have it may be possible to hedge your bets and place him in the subs list rather than selling only to buy back a week later when Liverpool play Southampton at home.

Arsenal are away at a struggling Sunderland so I am going to keep the faith with Giroud, despite my own natural pessimism and him not finding the net for France.  But let’s be clear: this is his last chance, a failure in the North East will result in an unceremonious sale next week!

The international break

It has been said more than once that a player struggling for form at their domestic club, especially following a transfer, may benefit from a return to the familiarity of the international team yet you rarely hear a premier league manager espousing the benefits of their players getting 90 minutes for a national side.  There are two key questions for fantasy league players in the week following an international break: are any of your players now injured, to the predictable ire of their salary payers; and does international form carry forward into club games?

Soldado, Navas, Nasri, Lambert, Wellbeck; all of these players scored for their country over the weekend, should we consider these as the first flushings of a goal-glut, or are they simply better served by the tactics and teammates of their national sides?

Soldado has already scored twice this season, denied a 3 in 3 on his North London derby debut he has a chance to continue his good form against Norwich for a Tottenham side finally rid of yoke that was the Bale saga.  Tottenham look like a team yet to fully gel and if they get it right this weekend they could provide points across the park, although Paulinho’s good press has not been converting to fantasy points for me just yet.

Wayne Rooney is still likely to be sidelined by a head-injury and Wellbeck, who has at times looked crowded out when played in a three with Rooney and Van Persie, could shine against Crystal Palace.  Certainly his chances look more favourable than my current second striker Kenwyne Jones who faces Manchester City.  This looks like my favoured substitution this week if I limit things to the free allocations.

Transfer moves

At the time of writing 6.6% of players have picked Mesut Ozil immediately on his arrival to English football, and I can only imagine this will go up as we approach our own weekly transfer deadline.  There is no doubt that based on his form for Madrid he could be a formidable presence in the fantasy leagues.  This poses a quandary for fantasy league managers, do you want to take a leap into the unknown, risking a 2-points-a-week bedding in period, or do you want to be a week late following a man of the match goal and assist debut?

The deadline day moves provide other risks to fantasy league players, for example is Fellaini more or less likely to play well at Manchester?  They are a team more likely to score, but Marouane is at risk of being a smaller fish in a bigger pond, albeit still with the biggest hair.

With the real managers no longer able to chop and change, is this the time to carry out your own deadline day scramble and play your wild-card?  Buoyed by my success last week, I am planning to hold off, but a restructuring to take advantage of new signings, or to rid yourself of those players possibly relegated to the bench (owners of Liverpool centre-backs take note) could be crucial to maintaining good form.

In our league there are 110 points between top and bottom, the league can’t be won before Christmas, surely? But judicious use of a wild-card may prevent you being cut adrift too soon.


  1. Ruud van Nistelrooy

  2. Danny Welbeck

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