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Super Palace go ballistic, Toney's pen atrocious
What to make of FPL after a lively Gameweek 30
Hello everyone and welcome to the latest edition of Fantasy Gameweek. The deadline for transfers and changes this week is 11am UK time on Saturday. These are your fixtures for Gameweek 31:
Saturday April 15
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Chelsea v Brighton
Everton v Fulham
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Spurs v Bournemouth
Wolves v Brentford
Man City v Leicester
Sunday April 16
West Ham v Arsenal
Nottingham Forest v Man United
Monday April 17
Leeds v Liverpool
Gameweek 30 saw Erling Haaland (FOR, £12.2m) make a goalscoring return from injury against bottom-of-the-table Southampton, which was entirely predictable. Jack Grealish (MID, £7.1m) also had a big week, delivering 12 points, the same as Haaland. That was also predictable - Grealish was top of Tom’s Risers list last week.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace went ballistic at Leeds, scoring five and making Jordan Ayew (MID, £5.2m) and Michael Olise (MID, £5.5m) the top-points scorers of the week with 14. That was definitely not predictable - it took Crystal Palace eight games to score their previous five goals in the Premier League.
That is the beauty of Fantasy Premier League - and football. As we have said before, you need to play this game with the assumption that week-by-week football is riddled with uncertainty, luck and close-calls. Gameweek 30 saw a collection of single moments that could easily have gone differently and made the gameweek look drastically different for your team. For example, Mo Salah (MID, £12.8m) and Ivan Toney (FOR, £7.8m) missed penalties. That is a seven-point swing for Salah (-2 for missing the penalty instead of 5 for the goal) and six for Toney (-2 for the penalty miss and 4 for the goal). They probably missed out on bonus points because of their penalty misses too. That means if you had both of those players last week then you are at least 13 points worse off than you might have been just because of two kicks of the football.
Similarly, owners of Kaoru Mitoma (MID, £5.7m) and Alexis Mac Allister (MID, £5.5m) can rue these two having a goal controversially ruled out by VAR for handball and then missing out on a penalty when Mitoma appeared to be fouled. PGMOL, the organisation which oversees Premier League referees, said that it should have been a penalty. Even Haaland owners have a reason to be rueful. Pep Guardiola substituted the Norwegian forward and then just minutes later Man City were awarded a penalty, which could have given Haaland another hat-trick and more FPL points.
The point here is this - avoid the temptation to read too much into one gameweek. You can gain an edge in FPL by thinking long-term. This is a season-long game, not a week-by-week game. Use that to your advantage. That is why Fantasy Gameweek looks at the risers and fallers and the underlying data over a longer period. The FGPE index tracks the value of a player over the whole season.
You didn’t need Gameweek 30 to know that Haaland is a goal-machine. Haaland is now in 78% of FPL teams, a percentage that is rising. The forward is among the most transferred-in players ahead of Gameweek 31. Grealish is top while Olise also features…
If you don’t have Haaland this weekend for Man City’s match against struggling Leicester then you are taking a big, big risk. Only do it if you are happy and understand those risks. For instance, if you are looking to catch someone in your mini-league who has Haaland then going without the forward is an option, especially if you don’t have your free-hit, because Man City do not play in Gameweek 32. You could instead anchor your spending around Harry Kane (FOR, £11.7m) and Salah, who also have attractive fixtures and a match in Gameweek 32. Other than that scenario, the risk of going without Haaland isn’t worth it. Your ranking in your mini-league and overall will take a big hit if Haaland racks up more goals against Leicester, who, remarkably, haven’t kept a clean sheet since before the World Cup in November 2022.
These are the top transfers-out ahead of Gameweek 31. The injured Marcus Rashford (MID, £7.2m) leads the way, but we don’t actually know how long he will be out for yet…
Anyway, let’s get into Tom’s Risers and Fallers, followed by the latest Impect data and then the FGPE index…
Crystal Palace attackers
Crystal Palace attackers have been thrust into consideration in FPL following the appointment of 75-year-old Roy Hodgson as manager.
If that is a sentence you didn’t expect to read in April 2023, it feels similarly weird to write it. But as always in fantasy football, it’s important to focus on what we see on the pitch rather than pre-conceived notions of any manager or team.
In the last two fixtures under Hodgson’s direction, Crystal Palace have scored seven goals and had a total of 57 shots, including 17 shots on target. Against Leicester City in Gameweek 29, their expected goals (xG) figure was 2.26, according to Impect. In their following fixture against Leeds United – a game they won 5-1 – their xG was 3.03.
To give you an idea of how that compares, in their 4-1 win against Southampton, Manchester City’s xG was 2.87. We are talking here about an attack that, based on the last two fixtures alone, is performing at an extremely high level.
There are, of course, significant caveats to consider. Those statistics have been wracked up against two of the worst defences in the division, but next up are Southampton (A), Everton (H), Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) and West Ham United (H). At this stage of the season, you can’t label any game as easy, but that list of opponents shouldn’t put anyone off investing in Palace’s talented midfielders.
More obviously, the sample size of two games during which Palace have excelled needs to be measured against a season where they have been mediocre. However, there is an argument that the rest of the campaign has been a significant underperformance given the attacking weapons they have.
With talisman Wilfried Zaha (MID, £7.2m) injured, either Eberechi Eze (MID, £5.4m) (12 FPL points in the last two games) or Olise (16 points in the last two games) could be excellent pick-ups this week, perhaps in place of the injured Marcus Rashford (MID, £7.2m).
Ivan Toney (FWD, £7.8m)
If you owned Brentford and England forward Toney ahead of their Gameweek 30 fixture against Newcastle United, you were likely disappointed by the 4 points he registered.
However, as discussed earlier, those returns were massively deflated by a rare penalty miss and his underlying data during the game was once again exceptional. On another day, Toney could easily have scored a hat-trick.
Over the course of the season, Toney has been one of the most prolific and best-value players in FPL, scoring 18 and assisting another four to reach 160 points – behind only Haaland and Kane in the points stakes and, crucially, at a fraction of their price.
On the data front, his Offensive Impect score is better than 81% of strikers, placing him among the very top performers.
The next two fixtures - away at Wolves and then home against in-form Aston Villa – won’t be easy, but Toney has proven himself capable of delivering big returns against any defence.
Ben White (DEF, £4.9m)
When it comes to picking defenders in FPL, we always advocate backing players that offer upside at both ends of the pitch, ideally at as low a price as possible.
Arsenal and England defender White, priced at below £5m and clearly first-choice right back in one of the league’s stingiest defences, has ticked two of those boxes for a while now.
That should have been enough to have him at least under consideration for your FPL team, albeit potentially constrained by his low attacking threat and the fact you can only have three Arsenal players in your squad at any one time.
Two goals and an assist in his last five outings, with both goals coming from open play rather than set pieces, are evidence of a player increasingly getting involved in the final third of the pitch. In the 4-1 win against Leeds United in Gameweek 29, White was Arsenal’s top attacking threat, according to Impect’s data analysis.
The recent lack of clean sheets is an irritant rather than a concern, and fixtures against West Ham (A) and Southampton (H) offer the perfect opportunity for White to deliver positive returns in both attack and defence.
Leeds United players
As much as they have improved under Roy Hodgson, no side can lose 5-1 at home to Crystal Palace and expect to avoid appearing in the Fallers column.
Leeds were simply abject in this game, registering an xG of 1.06 against their opponent’s 3.03. A week prior against Nottingham Forest they delivered a much stronger performance, both to the naked eye and based on the data, in a 2-1 victory, but that followed a 4-1 humbling at the Emirates stadium against Arsenal.
There are talented players here, but Javi Garcia’s side are simply impossible to trust in FPL, even with a wobbly Liverpool side heading to Elland Road in Gameweek 31.
Leicester City players
What on earth has happened at Leicester City? After a 4-1 hammering of an admittedly abject Tottenham Hotspur side came hot on the heels of a 4-2 demolition job of Aston Villa at Villa Park, we were salivating over the FPL prospects of what looked like one of the most dynamic and undervalued attacks in the league.
Was James Maddison (MID, £8.2m) a must-pick? Or was Harvey Barnes (MID, £6.7m) the value option? What about Kelechi Iheanacho (FWD, £5.9m)? Might there even be an argument for selecting all three…?
Since then, Leicester have lost seven out of eight Premier League fixtures, with the other game being a creditable draw away from home against Brentford. They were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Blackburn Rovers 2-1, a game during which they could easily have been 4-0 behind after 60 minutes.
Leicester have failed to keep a clean sheet during that run and haven’t scored more than one goal in any fixture either. The appointment of Dean Smith as manager until the end of the campaign may generate a bounce in fortunes, but that’s unlikely to come in Gameweek 31 away against Man City.
Chelsea have failed to find the net in three Premier League games and drew a blank again in the Champions League, albeit away from home against Real Madrid.
That impotence in front of goal is hardly surprising given they lack a genuine goalscorer (excluding perhaps Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (FWD, £8.4m)) and are attempting to integrate so many new players into a system presumably designed by now-sacked former manager Graham Potter.
There were at least signs of solidity at the back against Liverpool but organising a tight defence isn’t exactly what interim manager Frank Lampard is known for. With all that considered it’s hard to make an argument for any of Chelsea’s expensively assembled side – including Reece James (DEF, £5.8m), a Fantasy Gameweek favourite and arguably one of the best attacking right-backs in the world.
Now let’s look at how Premier League players rank in key performance indicators from Impect, our data partner. These rankings are based on data from December 26, the first gameweek after the World Cup, and each player must have played at least 25 per cent of the minutes available since then to be included.
Offensive Impect - overall attacking effectiveness
Harry Kane - 100
Ollie Watkins - 99.3
Erling Haaland - 98.7
Marcus Rashford - 98
Jack Grealish - 97.3
Kevin De Bruyne - 96.7
Solly March - 96
Kaoru Mitoma - 95.3
Mo Salah - 94.7
Alexis Mac Allister - 94
Post-shot xG - quality of chances and quality of shot
Ollie Watkins - 9.59
Harry Kane - 8.54
Marcus Rashford - 7.04
Erling Haaland - 6.65
Ivan Toney - 6.03
Mo Salah - 5.79
Alexis Mac Allister - 5.73
James Ward-Prowse - 5.63
Brennan Johnson - 5.62
Solly March - 5.61
Offensive Impect, defenders only
Lewis Dunk - 100
Trent Alexander-Arnold - 98.4
Kieran Trippier - 96.9
Luke Shaw - 95.3
Pervis Estupinan - 93.8
Ben White - 92.2
Marcos Senesi - 90.6
Joel Veltman - 89.1
Virgil Van Dijk - 87.5
Gabriel - 85.9
Finally, let’s look at our updated FGPE index. This is how players rank by value and upside. Our FGPE algorithm calculates a score for each player based on their points-per-million and performance relative to others in their position. Jason Steele’s (GK, £3.9m) position in the rankings is distorted by only playing six games. However, as a sub-£4m goalkeeper for one of the top-performing teams in the league he is living up to his name…
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Best of luck in Gameweek 31. Please share Fantasy Gameweek with those you think will find it useful and interesting
Graham and Tom