Arriving with a price tag of £60 million means expectations and Angel Di Maria has more than matched those expectations – both in real life and in the world of fantasy football. Di Maria started slowly against Burnley and since then has just continued to pick up steam. Silky touches, classy assists and sublime finishing has seen him become the midfielder everyone wants to watch. The only person he trails in fantasy this year is Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has also been a joy to watch while he has been running the rule over the Swansea midfield. Many people would have expected to see Eden Hazard or Yaya Toure topping the table at this point in the season and you will see how they have fared so far further down the article.
Once again I will be looking at midfielders not only by their fantasy points score but by adding in some analysis based on the fakepremierlg performance rating (FPR) which looks at how consistently players have helped fantasy teams over the first seven weeks. In addition, once I again I will try and outline so match ups where teams are playing weak defences over the next month and there may be the potential for their team to score some goals.
So without further adieu, lets take a look at Di Maria and his midfield counterparts!
Fake Pigskin Exclusive: Join Monkey Knife Fight and Get an Instant 100% Deposit Match PLUS a Free $5 Game!
The Top 5
Sigurdsson (Swansea) 46 Points (One Goal, Six Assists, Three Clean Sheets): The whole of Swansea was buzzing for the return of Sigurdsson and they have not been disappointed. Sigurdsson has had an assist in four out of the seven games they have played this season. Two of those games he hasn’t had an assist in Swansea have failed to score as well. He’s currently ranked 5th in FPR, confirming that he is a solid fantasy player you want to own this year if you can.
Di Maria (Man United) 43 Points (Three Goals, Three Assists, Two Clean Sheets): The arrival of Di Maria after two games has proven to be an awesome thing for Fantasy owners as he has had three 10-plus point weeks and currently ranks joint first overall in FPR for midfielders. He has been a constant menace on the field for the past four games. Di Maria will be a player you want to own every year without fail.
Chadli (Tottenham) 42 Points (Four Goals, One Assist, Three Clean Sheets): Starting the year, Tottenham had so many potential midfield options that Chadli slipped under the radar but right now he’s someone fantasy owners are firmly locked onto. An absolute bargain late in drafts has turned out to be the joint top rated midfielder based on FPR and is someone that is featuring heavily in his new managers plans. I expect a little regression to the mean, but Chadli came to the UK with a strong reputation and there is no reason he cannot build on that.
Fabregas (Chelsea) 41 Points (Seven Assists, Three Clean Sheets): Opinions were split on how Fabregas would fair for Chelsea this year with some people querying that if Barcelona didn’t want him he could be done. How wrong he has made those people look! Six assists in the first four games this season immediately saw him become a fantasy darling for owners. Currently ranked sixth in FPR, if he continues providing an assist a game on average and then chips in with a few goals he could easily finish the year as the best fantasy midfielder and reward owners handsomely.
Sterling (Liverpool) 40 Points (Three Goals, Two Assists, One Clean Sheet): Nobody was sleeping on Raheem Sterling this year after he burst onto the fantasy scene last year in limited playing time. After coming off the bench in a losing effort to Villa I don’t think fantasy owners have to worry about him not starting the majority of games this year. He has got off to a relatively inconsistent start with high scores of 7, 10 and 13 being balanced with 2,1 and 2 point weeks and that sees him sit 25th in FPR so far this season, but as he adapts to his first year as an every week starter we should see more consistency develop. He is definitely not a man to sell right now!
Fake Pigskin Exclusive: Join Monkey Knife Fight and Get an Instant 100% Deposit Match PLUS a Free $5 Game!
Yaya Toure (Man City) 19 Points (One Goal, Two Clean Sheets): The top scoring midfielder last year was taken in the top five of most drafts and has been a constant source of frustration. It took him until week 7 to score and he has yet to register an assist. Perhaps something we all missed was that until last year he had been a 140 points a season player scoring just 6 goals in each of those three years. At 31 years old there was potential to read too much into one season for a player who was always seen as a solid player who scored the odd goal, as opposed to being relied on as the talisman for fantasy teams. He currently sits 79th in the FPR rankings with his first six weeks scoring a combined eight points. You cannot get the value you will need on him right now so you have to hold him and hope that he can at least be the solid 140 point -player he was with potential to be a little better than that as the season grows. I am worried.
Johnson (Sunderland) 19 Points (One Goal Scored, Two Clean Sheets): Johnson was someone I expected more from than this. He hasn’t been a disappointment in the Yaya Toure description, because at best you were expecting 150 points from him. But, as someone currently on pace for 100 points, his value is that of someone who would have been drafted a few rounds lower than where he was taken. Having an FPR of 1.33 means there is optimism for his season considering that he has at least been useful for fantasy owners more often than not. The fact he has no assists probably counts more for the slow starts his strikers have made than anything, and he is currently on pace for seven goals, which is only one less than his current season high.
Cazorla (Arsenal) 13 Points (One Assists, One Clean Sheet): Cazorla’s value was always going to be limited by the amount of time he could be on the pitch for this season. So far he has played two full games, although he was unlucky not to stay on the field longer last week, and that has seriously limited his scoring potential. The only way he was going to have value was through injuries and for people invested in Cazorla that opportunity has arisen this week due to an injury suffered by Mesut Ozil while away on international duty. With Ramsey also a couple of weeks away from being fit, I expect to see Cazorla get more playing time and with it should come more opportunities for solid point-scoring. If you own Cazorla, the next month consists his now or never time for fantasy value.
Coutinho (Liverpool) 8 Points: There were high hopes for Coutinho in fantasy football this year, especially early in the season with Lallana returning from injury. But seven games in he has yet to register a score of more than two and has struggled to exert his skills on the Premier League this season. He needs injuries to the other midfielders around the squad to earn full playing time to make him a number two or three midfielder for fantasy. Currently ranked 105th in FPR rankings, he is among the least consistent players at his position this year.
Salah (Chelsea) 1 Point: I wasn’t expecting too much from Salah this year considering the rest of the talent on this squad, but I WAS EXPECTING SOMETHING! He has played a total of 9 minutes in seven premier league games this year. If you haven’t already then just get rid of him as he needs a plethora of injuries to see regular playing time that could see him become fantasy relevant.
High FPR guys
Richardson (Aston Villa) 21 Points, FPR: 1.71 (One Assist, Four Clean Sheets): Richardson has quietly been above average this season, scoring a minimum of two points a game and a maximum of five. Without doing anything spectacular he has quietly become a solid player who can make up numbers week to week, but doesn’t offer any real boom potential.
Hazard (Chelsea) 39 Points, FPR: 1.71 (Two Goals Scored, Two Assists, Three Clean Sheets): Expectations of Hazard were sky high and that is emphasized by the fact he is currently 6th overall in fantasy points and is being dropped in leagues every week. He has yet to score below two fantasy points, but people unfairly expect more than that from one of the best players in the Premier League. If you own Hazard stick with him because there will be plenty of good weeks and barely any less than average weeks.
McArthur (Crystal Palace) 13 Points, FPR: 1.75 (One Assist, Two Clean Sheets): Since arriving on deadline day McArthur has been a constant part of the Palace team. Averaging over three points a game, McArthur has yet to score less than two points in any single game week, making him a solid week to week player off the waiver wire but with next to no boom potential.
Ward Prowse (Southampton) 17 Points, FPR: 1.80 (Two Assists, Two Clean Sheets): I made a mistake last week when I referred to Ward-Prowse as a bad fantasy option. He has been surprisingly solid this year having scored an average of 3.4 points when healthy, making him a solid cheap option in leagues. However, solid is not something you want to stash given the fact he’s out until the end of November more than likely.
Moses (Stoke) 20 Points, FPR: 1.80 (Three Assists, Two Clean Sheets): Okay, so this is a demonstration of how the Fakepremierlg performance rating is not something that should be taken in a vacuum. Right now Moses and Ward-Prowse are rated fractionally below Di Maria who has at least 20 points more than either of them. However, what it does tell you is that Moses and Ward-Prowse have been solid, consistent players who will help give you a head to head boost over other players at that position. Moses has been a constant threat and it makes me so happy that Chelsea let him go out and show what he can do so fantasy owners can benefit. He is on a roll of three assists in three games, but right now has been struggling a little with a thigh injury so don’t rush out to get him.
Larsson (Sunderland) 29 Points, FPR 1.71 (One Goal, Two Assists, Two Clean Sheets): I expected Larsson to be good this year but I didn’t expect he would be one of the more consistent midfielders in the league. If you take out his goal scoring week he has averaged over three points a week which will be above average every week.
Routledge (Swansea) 31 Points, FPR: 1.71 (Two Goals, One Assist, Three Clean Sheets): Another man who has yet to score less than two points a week Routledge has cashed in on Swansea’s hot start to be a solid option for fantasy. Right now he is on to score 150 fantasy point this season which is more than he has ever had so regression would be expected. However, Swansea look really good this year and I see that continuing and he will be one of their main guys going forward.
Low FPR guys
Wilshere (Arsenal) 19 Points, FPR: 0.67 (One Goal, One Assist and One Clean Sheet): Wilshere’s role generally means he isn’t the most reliable fantasy option, but for someone who was drafted in many leagues being the 101st ranked midfielder in FPR is stunningly disappointing. He is essentially droppable everywhere because you can find either more reliable options, or options with greater week to week upside than he offers.
Chamberlain (Arsenal) 18 Points, FPR: 0.71 (One Goal, One Clean Sheet): A big part of Chamberlain’s poor FPR is the fact he has only played more than 60 minutes three times this season and has only played the full 90 once. With Walcott returning soon his chances of that playing time growing is not looking good with Arsenal preferring to use him as an impact option of the bench occasionally, as opposed to an every week starter. His boom or bust potential is high but this year he has been far more bust than boom!
Drinkwater (Leicester) 9 Points, FPR: 0.50: Drinkwater was one of my preseason sleepers but he has been absolutely horrific so far, having failed to score more than two points in any single week. Right now he is un-ownable
Navas (Man City) 15 Points, FPR: 0.67 (Two Assists): Another man whose key problem is his time on the pitch. Navas has only played more than 30 minutes once this season and that resulted in his highest fantasy points total of the year so far. Until he has guaranteed playing time I think he is un-startable across all leagues, but he’s one injury away from more consistent playing time, meaning his is still ownable.
Januzaj (Man United) 6 Points, FPR: 0.20: So much hope, so little production. Januzaj was a popular late round pick in most leagues but the addition of Herrera, Di Maria and Falcao have meant there has been little playing time for one of the hottest prospects in the league last season. A good indication of how the last two arrivals have hurt his time is that in the first two weeks he played a combined 85 minutes but since then he has amassed a measly 32 minutes playing time and three fantasy points. I don’t feel he fits Van Gaal’s scheme and therefore can be dropped in all leagues.
Montero (Swansea) 7 Points, FPR: 0.00: One way of looking at Montero this season is Navas without the potential upside. Montero has appeared as a sub in all seven league games this year but has yet to make a significant impact in those appearances. Full time minutes may see him have value but right now I don’t see it happening and he can be dropped across all leagues.
Good Month Coming?
Itallics = Good Match Up, Underlined = Bad Match Up
Chelsea: Crystal Palace (A), Man United (A), QPR (H), Liverpool (A)
Liverpool: QPR (A), Hull (H), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H)
Swansea: Stoke (A), Leicester (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H)
West Brom: Man United (H), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A), Newcastle (H)
Bad Month Coming?
Crystal Palace: Chelsea (H), West Brom (A), Sunderland (H), Man United (A)
Everton: Aston Villa (H), Burnley (A), Swansea (H), Sunderland (A)
Man United: West Brom (A), Chelsea (H), Man City (A), Crystal Palace (H)
QPR: Liverpool (H), Aston Villa (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H)
Stoke: Swansea (H), Southampton (A), West Ham (H), Tottenham (A)
West Ham: Burnley (A), Man City (H), Stoke (A), Aston Villa (H)
Again, I haven’t included injuries here because of the international break, meaning a lack of news about some players and rapidly changing situations surrounding others. As always any questions come find me on twitter following the link below!