EPL Fantasy Forecast

31 10 2008

I’m a giant fantasy nut.  No, not Dungeons and Dragons-style.  And not NSFW-style.  But fantasy sports.  I’m currently in no less than 7 leagues.  Three NFL pools, one NHL, one MLB, one NBA and one EPL.  In fact, I flew to Edmonton in large part so I could participate live in a NBA pool that’s been running for 6 years now with a bunch of friends from my university days.  Thanks to the internet, fantasy sports has grown immensely.  The first pools I ever participated in were far more archaic.  I remember filling out a form in The Province newspaper before every hockey season, where you had to choose one guy per box of 5 players and then mail it in to them.  Every week, they would post the top 100, and I recall one year making the top 30 or so.  In high school, me and some friends conducted an NBA fantasy draft.  Every Tuesday when The Province would print the total stats, I would spend my entire morning classes tallying up the totals.  By lunch, I was near assaulted as my fellow poolies would run over to see the total scores.

But as I said, thankfully, the internet has made things far more efficient.  There are countless pools you can join and writers whose job is to talk specifically about fantasy stats.  Unfortunately, fantasy soccer is lagging behind the other sports.  It’s much more difficult to find insight on soccer fantasy stats.  Premierleague.com, which has a great fantasy league that I have joined (1st in the Whitecaps league, 5th in the Team 1040 league, thank you very much), has one writer called The Pundit, but that’s about it.

So I am here to change that.  Every Friday (and Tuesdays when the Prem are playing midweek), I will post some thoughts on players you might want to look at for the coming weeks – players on the upswing or ‘buy-low’ types.  If you aren’t signed up to a league, I recommend the Team 1040 one: sign up at http://fantasy.premierleague.com and join the league with the code: 345327-124472.

So without further ado…

Players to target:

Robinho (Manchester City): After City shocked the Prem and scooped up Robhino at the close of the transfer season, many pegged this squad to challenge the big 4.  They have been wildly inconsistent thus far, beating Portsmouth 6-0 and then losing to Wigan the next week, and knocking off Stoke 3-0 then losing 2-0 to Middlesbrough a few days later.  Inconsistencies aside, this team will find their form and already score a boatload of goals.  As Robinho learns his role on the team, he is only going to get better, and I predict his hat-trick last weekend is a sign of things to come.  His next three oponents include bottom-dwellers Bolton and Spurs, followed by the surprising Hull City.

Jump on the Robinho bandwagon now, before his price soars.

Chelsea: Other than a setback to Liverpool, Chelsea have scored 10 goals in October.  With injuries to stars such as Carvalho, Essien, Ballack, Cole and Drogba, it’s a testament to this side’s depth that they can continue to fill the onion bag.  This is a perfect time to snatch up players that are seeing an increase in playing time.  While Lampard is the obvious name here, Anelka is making the most of the increased playing time, with three goals in his last five matches.  Likewise, Florent Malouda has two goals and two assists in his last three and has seen the full 90 minutes in his two of his previous three outings.  Meanwhile, you can consider Deco to be fully back from his injury, having played major minutes in the last two.  Before his injury, he had two goals, so look for him to regain his striking touch in the coming weeks.

Fulham: Guess which team sits amongst the big 4 in terms of goals conceded?  Little Fulham have only allowed eight goals this season, and with upcoming matches against Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham and Liverpool (all middle of the road in offensive production), that trend should continue.  That makes any of their defenders – including Hangeland and Konchesky – a bargain pickup.  Keeper Mark Schwarzer is also a consistent producer and should remain a top keeper throughout the season.

Tottenham Hotspur: This team is still a ways away from turning things around.  On Wednesday, they looked woefully inept against Arsenal and needed two late-game strikes to salvage a tie.  But teams always respond well to a new coach, at least at the outset, and Harry Redknapp is one of the best in the biz at firing up his troops.  Tough matches ahead versus Liverpool and Manchester City, but this still might be a nice time to buy low on what is clearly a talented roster.  Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Bentley and Jenas are all strong buys right now.

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