A fantasy football manager’s deadline day perspective
With the transfer window closing later tonight, fantasy football managers will be eager to assess all the ins and outs, in their attempts to gain an edge over rival managers for upcoming daily games and season-long contests.
One area that is well worth focusing on is players that may be misclassified. A defender, for example, playing in a more advanced role or a midfielder playing as a striker. There are usually two or three standout candidates each year, with Eric Dier being one who springs to mind from last season, having been categorised as a defender in almost all formats prior to the start of that campaign.
Claude Puel has made it pretty clear that he intends to use Nathan Redmond as a striker this season, so he is one player that warrants special attention, having been classed as a midfielder in most formats for the 2016/17 season. However, the arrival of the brilliant Sofiane Boufal could shake things up even further. The Moroccan schemer is a class act and definitely one for the notebook, once he’s up to speed in terms of physical preparation for the new season.
The transfer clockwatch always makes for fascinating viewing, so try to assess which players offer the most versatility in terms of starting position and also contemplate how any deals might affect set-piece taking going forward.
Players that play further forward than their stipulated playing position are generally thought to have the potential for bigger fantasy scores due to an increased likelihood of them being involved in key actions such as goals, assists and shots on target, metrics which are generally rewarded by a generous sprinkling of fantasy points.
But what about when the reverse happens – a midfielder playing in defence, for instance – does this automatically rule them out of a fantasy manager’s thinking?
Fernandinho – Manchester City’s new full-back
With İlkay Gündoğan closing in on first-team football and widely expected to occupy the holding midfield role, Manchester City columnists for the Manchester Evening News put forward their best City XIs for the current campaign. Interestingly, two of them went for Fernandinho at full-back (one at right-back and one at left-back).
This sort of move makes sense since Pep Guardiola likes to reinvent his players. The former Barcelona coach likes his full-backs to move inside, something Fernandinho can do seamlessly, while none of the four full-backs on City’s books are entirely convincing in that respect. It’s worth recalling that Philipp Lahm moved in the opposite direction for Guardiola at Bayern Munich, having played the majority of his career at full-back.
At 31 years of age, time is obviously against Fernandinho, who is averaging a WhoScored rating of 7.49 in the current English Premier League season but what would the implications be for his fantasy scores, were he to be deployed as a full-time full-back? Would he be able to get forward to good effect to increase his assists tally? Midfielders are generally subject to different scoring criteria than defenders, with different game formats having exclusive scoring rules. Positional requirements will also need to be factored in, with actions such as clean sheets likely to have a negative impact on a midfield player, that occupies one of the defensive slots. Having said that, when a player undertakes a new role his tackling, crossing, interceptions and fouls numbers are likely to vary accordingly, so it may have a positive or negative affect, depending on the scoring system in place.
New managers, new tactics
An influx of new coaches ahead of the 2016/17 season has seen tactical diversity that is unparalleled in the Premier League era. Puel, Guardiola and Antonio Conte are all capable of flexible innovation so the mission for the fantasy football manager is to gauge how any new faces may be incorporated into their line-ups. Formations such as 4-2-4 and 4-1-4-1 are being used, while the 3-man defence is back in vogue.
All eyes will be on those deadline day moves – can you unearth a hidden gem that will transform your fantasy football fortunes this season?
The clock is ticking!