Buy Low, Sell High

There are some crazy valuations out there right now and while I am guessing that prices will stabilize in the not too distant future, the following might be worth considering when putting your team together for this week:

Sell High - Henry/Reyes/Bergkamp, Arsenal - This may not be the week but theoretically, at some point, there will be a lean week and one or more of these guys will drop in value (probably Reyes).
Buy Low - Michael Forssell, Birmingham - Maybe he was a one season wonder but its too early to assume he isn't going to produce. At 1.00, its worth picking him up if you need a cheap striker.

Sell High - Thomas Gravesen, Everton - With Everton having two games this week, there is some chance to get some solid points out of Mssr. Gravesen but there's a very good chance that he will drop in value even if he does well. Probably only worth keeping if you have money to burn.
Buy Low - Muzzy Izzet, Birmingham - Birmingham can't score 0 or 1 goals all season with that amount of talent can they?

Sell High - Kenny Cunningham, Birmingham - Why up on other B'ham guys and down on Kenny? Its all about average value, he's currently averaging 6.80 points per game because he's only played one game. Halving that with a mediocre effort this weekend puts him at great risk of losing a lot of value. If he gets carded, say goodbye to your investment in him.
Buy Low - Jon Spector, ManYoo - Cheap, two games against bad teams, 'nuff said.

Sell High - Paul Robinson, Tottenham - At some point someone is going to break through on Tottenham's mediocre defense and he's going to plummet. Birmingham isn't the perfect candidate but a 1-1 tie with few shots on target (sounds like B'ham doesn't it?) could wreck Robinson's value.
Buy Low - Mark Schwartzer, Boro - Crystal Palace has had a nice start to the season but a home win with a few saves and a potential clean sheet makes Schwartzer a bargain at just over 2.

Friday Morning Team News

Bargains o' the Week - Week 3

Another week and some patterns seem to be developing early. Chelsea's defense is tight but their offense is disjointed so probably a good idea to pass on their midfielders and strikers until they start to figure it all out. Arsenal continues to pour in the goals with enough regularity that their third choice striker (Reyes) is the second highest point-getter among forwards despite not having started the last two games. Further down the table, the newly promoted sides haven't produced a ton of fantasy points but are hinting that they won't be pushovers. Still high from our recommendations of Alan Smith and Andy Cole last week, its on to this week's bargains:

Christiano Ronaldo/Louis Saha, ManYoo - Ronaldo played 60+ minutes in ManYoo's Champions League game on Wednesday and might figure in the plans for this week's double and while Saha didn't get in the game on Wednesday, he was on the bench for the first time this season. Both are inexpensive and (may) play twice.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Pompey - He hasn't really broken out yet this season but he's seemed to be on the verge and he's playing at home vs. a so-far listless Fulham team.

Honorable Mention - Nicky Anelka, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Kanu, Robbie Keane, Juan Pablo Angel

Paul Scholes, ManYoo - with two games this week and a return of some of Sir Alex's offensive weapons, Scholes might find a little more room at the top of the box for his patented blasts. Unlike his midfield cohort Ryan Giggs, Scholes is inexpensive base on his year-to-date performance.
Muzzy Izzet, Birmingham - Izzet has yet to really break out at Birmingham but for 1.00 he's a decent bet for anyone looking for a cost-effective midfielder who could have a great week. Last season he was a guaranteed 10 points with and upside of around 20.

Honorable Mention - Robert Pires (a bargain at 14?), Danny Murphy

Joseph Yobo, Everton - he was a stud last year and has underperformed in Everton's first two games so he is affordable. Yobo plays twice this week and while Everton aren't a great bet for a clean sheet in any game, he gets into the offense enough that there is some potential there for 2.13.
Jonathan Spector, ManYoo - he played effectively on the left of defense in the Champions League game on Wednesday and rumor has it that the young American will stay on the field as ManYoo's defense continues to be shorthanded. This one is a bit of a risk but with two games against inferior opponents, it might be worth taking if you can't afford sure things Gary Neville and John O'Shea.

Tim Howard, ManYoo - getting a bit repetitive? he's relatively cheap and gets two games that should be wins and could easily be clean sheets.
Shaka Hislop, Pompey - not as good a bet as Howard and a little more expensive but if the thought of a Red Devil on your fantasy squad turns your stomach, Hislop at home vs. Fulham is a good risk at a reasonable price.

"Je suis le plus grand footballer au monde et un goujon énorme d'imagination ! Montez-moi au titre! Mais dites-svp moi, Yahoo!, pourquoi ma valeur fallining est-elle plus rapidement que Heskey dans une brise?"

Book Review: How Soccer Explains the World

Not REALLY About Soccer...
I have to admit to being a fan of any author who can take a fairly dull topic - like political science, anthropology or business - and write an engaging book. I find that in most cases where this is achieved, it is done with the use of a more interesting subject as a lens through which the story is told. How Soccer Explains The World by Franklin Foer does an excellent job of just this. The generally dull topic that he has chosen to write about is globalization. The reason you're reading about this book on a soccer site, is that he uses soccer as the backdrop to describe how the liberalization of global trade and the proliferation of brands from Nike to AC Milan have impacted the world and in many cases not impacted the world where we thought they might. If you're looking for stories of football heroics and celebrity gossip, then this probably isn't the book for you but if you are interested in learning a little something about the world around you with the beautiful game as the backdrop all wrapped up in an easy-to-read package then I heartily recommend this book.

Midweek Buzz

Here are some of the important things that we are following as the week progresses:

1) Liverpool's two new signings, Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia, are in the fold and Rafa Benitez is talking them up for their debuts in central midfield and on the right wing respectively.

2) ManYoo and Everton with doubles this coming week - vs. Blackburn and Everton no less. Assuming that no one gets hurt in Champions League duty, the Devils should be featured strongly in your side this coming week. Also worth considering Joseph Yobo from Everton in your defense - he's relatively cheap and has a strong track record of getting into the offense.

3) Viduka is back and Boro have been a fairly productive offensive team and until the results of today's match come in, he's still cheap. Remember, you don't have to feed him.

4) JPA - as correspondent Rob Stoltz predicted, Juan Pablo Angel had a brief cameo over the weekend that yielded nothing. As a result, he's down at $1 before the Wednesday games. Definitely track his progress and decide if he's worth picking up for the day or even for next week.

5) Arsenal - can they keep scoring this many goals? If not, someone's fantasy value is bound to drop.

Enjoy the midweek games, Bargains o' the Week and Buy Low, Sell High will appear as soon as possible after scores have been posted and values have changed.

Profitable (2)

Today fantasy managers had the opportunity to buy the players who scored well in yesterday's matches and add to their salary cap, as Yahoo! updated points and values outside of it's trade blackout. Hopefully you made some coin on Reyes, Pires, Clement, Job, Queudrue, etc.

If you didn't shame on you! But do try to make some money this week if Yahoo! doesn't lock down trades during and after the mid-week games.

Just don't tell Eliot Spitzer.


Andy Cole and Alan Smith. Cheapest forwards, and today the biggest returns - 2 goals and 1 goal and 1 assist, respectively. Not bad for a $3 investment. Wish I had them on my team. :-(

Something to think about

"Players who have not played yet and can play in crucial positions are important. For example, if you think I will play the first three games this season with the same two strikers then you are wrong."

-Jose Mourinho, on his rotation policy

An Angel in Your Line-up...?

Could it be? Are there truly any angel's playing in the EPL? Well there may be one angel - to be specific a Juan Pablo Angel. Not only a potential savior and guide away from relegation for Aston Villa, JPA may just be what your burgeoning fantasy team needs to provide a spark of life - a revelation - so sayeth I.

Although this may be discouraging news to those of us looking for the perfect price point, the most recent news being that he will make a 'surprise' appearance at the weekend against West Brom. While I don't necessarily advocate picking him up now as he will most likely only feature for 10-15 minutes if Villa find themselves pressed by Albion, I do think he may nearly be the perfect buy for next week. If one does the math, the ethereal Columbian may find himself with a perfect price after the weekend. With his price dropping from a season opener of 13.75 to 8.57, in a perfect world, he could potentially drop another 2 points if he remains on the bench this weekend. In any event, should he play, or not, he is being set up as the shining star for next weeks pick.

So sayeth I - add a blessing upon your team - and look towards the heavens...

Friday Morning Team News

The Roman Empire

We love the Fantasy EPL mentality that Mr. Abromavich has brought to Chelsea, but we're not sure he's picking the right guys up front. To prove our point, we'll be tracking the fantasy totals of Roman/Jose's current strikers against the ones they've kindly loaned out to their rivals (specifically Carlton Cole and Mikael Forssell). Even with a 3 striker to 2 advantage the Banished lead those still around by the narrow margin of 21.60 to 20.40.

After Week 1:

The Most Favored:
D. Drogba - 5.30
E. Gudjohnsen - 10.20
M. Kezmen - 4.90

The Banished:
C. Cole - 16.70
M. Forssell - 4.90

Buy Low, Sell High - Week 2

Since Yahoo! has decided to turn the Fantasy EPL game into a stock market-like exercise, we've decided to follow suit and present our predictions for the "business" side of the EPL fantasy world. For you managers who have purchased a player who has increased in value, we'll tell you when he's likely near his peak. Likewise, for those of you who have made some bad choices, we'll suggest some guys who might help you start the process of financial recovery - after all, it would be a shame to ruin your entire season by blowing your budget and having to run out the entire Crystal Palace line-up until Chelsea buys some more expensive continental talent in January. So here it goes...

Alan Smith, Buy Low - the poster boy for buy low as ManYoo's only real striker this week at 2.75
Jose Antonio Reyes, Sell High - after a blistering start, he is at risk of playing less than the full 90 as Pires comes back to health and Bergkamp remains uninjured. A great player at 15 or 16 but consolidate your gains and invest in someone who is sure to play.
Drjbil Cisse, Sell High - more likely than Reyes to play the full 90 but he plays only once this week. Take the money you made last week and invest in someone who is going to play twice.
Andy Cole, Buy Low - not for everybody and certainly not the greatest striker ever but he's cheap. If you had a rough week last week and are looking to make a few dollars back, Mr. Cole is likely to start both games this week and it would be difficult not to appreciate from his current 1.00 valuation.

JayJay Okocha, Sell High - If Alan Smith is the poster boy for Buy Low, JayJay is the poster boy for Sell High. Like a .com stock in 1999, Mr. Okocha is grossly over-valued and selling him now will get you Henry plus fund a few bad mistakes that you are bound to make later in the year.
Patrick Berger, Buy Low - The oft-injured Berger has proven himself to be a great fantasy player when he can stay out of the trainer's room. At a devilish 6.66 and playing against Charlton, he could be a steal.
Freddie Ljungberg, Sell High - Like Reyes, Freddie shot out of the gate quickly on the opening weekend but will be at the same risk that Reyes is - there just aren't enough goals to sustain Henry, Reyes, Bergkamp, Pires, and Ljungberg valuations. We've seen over the last few years that Henry will keep getting his but Freddie is likely to be up and down so if you have him when he goes up, its probably time to sell. He'll be available a bit cheaper soon.
Dennis Rommedahl, Buy Low - Not much EPL history for this guy but after seeing his spectacular play in the 2002 World Cup and 2004 EuroCup, it leaves us wondering - how did he end up with Charlton - at some point during the year, Sir Bobby will be wondering how he passed this guy up for such a minimal transfer fee.

Ashley Cole, Buy Low - As documented in the Bargains o' the Week feature, Mr. Cole is cheap, playing two home games against mediocre competition and gets involved in the offense (he should have had Pires' goal last week).
Lauren, Buy Low - ditto, except the thing about Pires' goal.
David Unsworth, Sell High - another sort of obvious one, but the chances of him sustaining a 22+ valuation is pretty slim.
Pascal Cygan, Sell High - so why would we advocate selling this Arsenal defender since we've told you to buy up all the other ones? well, because if you think Arsenal defenders will get a lot of points from clean sheets, why not sell this one at 8.63 and buy one of the cheapies (see above). If you think that The Man from the Future is turning into an offensive force, well, enjoy life on your own little planet mon ami.

Peter Cech, Sell High - last week's (semi) surprise starter was lucky to come up against a ManYoo side missing most of its good players, especially those known for putting the ball in the net. He's going on the road and going to face Chelsea's most productive striker from last season - Mssr. Forssell.
Dean Kiely, buy low - unless last year was an illusion, Charlton are better than last week's performance at Bolton. The bet here is that bargain basement Kiely (1.00) will rebound with two solid games at home this week and Charlton will get at least 4 points for his efforts.

Bargains o' the Week

No Brainers...
Ashley Cole and Lauren, Defenders, Arsenal - both are available on the cheap, play both of this weeks games at home, play against mediocre (at best) competition therefore increasing the chances of one or two clean sheets and get into the offense as well offering the possibility of more points.

Worth Looking At...
Kolo Toure, Defender, Arsenal - all of the virtues of the two above with the exception of his offense which is usually limited from his Centre Back role.

One Game Bargains...
The ManYoo trio of Alan Smith, Paul Scholes & Ryan Giggs are all very affordable, playing against Prem newbies Norwich at Old Trafford, and bound to have a chip on their shoulder after a lackluster performance vs. Chelsea on the opening weekend. The only downside is that ManU only plays one game this week due to their Champions League qualifier.

Other Notes...
Arsenal, Newcastle, Southampton and Charlton all play two home games this week. In addition to ManYoo (see above), Liverpool, Everton and Pompey only play one game this week.

Our MV(f)P: We Hardly Knew Ye...

We take this time to pay tribute to last year's MV(f)P - that's Most Valuable (fantasy) Player. Sure Thierry Henry scored a ton of goals for Arsenal on the way to an undefeated season and got a ton of fantasy points for those owners willing to sink a third of their budget into buying him but, for fantasy football purposes, he cost too much and so we can't consider him a viable MV(f)P candidate. Our MV(f)P entered the Premier League to little fanfare and honestly, he was not much more than an average player for his club over the course of the year. He was a little slow and got caught up in the attacking zone a little too frequently but in the wonderful world of Fantasy Football, none of that matters. What did matter to those with the foresight to pick him up at the beginning of the year for the bargain price of just under 2.5 is that he consistently bombed free kicks and crosses on net and into the box resulting in a steady stream of fantasy points. Our MV(f)P: Michael Tarnat. We wish you well in your new life as the biggest fantasy bargain in Bundesliga Fantasy Football. Runners up: Frank Lampard & Muzzy Izzet with honorable mention to Steve Watson for one of the best single game performances by a defender in recent memory.

Stay tuned for this year's candidates for MV(f)P...

Sometimes it's helpful to read the article

For instance "Mutu Ready to Go" sounds like he's finally on his way to Juventus. Actually he's "ready to press his claims for a place in the Chelsea team after recovering from a niggling injury complaint."

Good luck to him then. But Jose Mourinho, and fantasy managers, are going to have enough trouble picking from Drogba, Kezman, Gudjohnsen, Robben and Duff.


So Soccer (or Football or Futbol or whatever you call it wherever you come from) is the most popular sport in the world? How come there's no good information out there on the topic. Here in the States, even professional hockey, which ranks a distant 4th to (American) Football, Baseball, and Basketball features in-depth season previews and entire magazines dedicated to nothing but Fantasy Hockey. A number of friends and I have been playing in Yahoo's Fantasy EPL league for the last few years and have bemoaned the lack of information available on the Web. Sure there are facts available on Soccernet, Football365 or but where are the opinions by people who claim that they are Fantasy Sports experts to help us set our line-ups each week? Information about "who's hot?" and "who's not?". And more importantly, where is the information on who is likely to have a bad week because they never play well on the road vs. Everton because they were once engaged to a girl who was a die-hard Everton supporter and the mere sight of an Everton jersey throws him off his game?

Well, we can't claim that level of inside information but over the last few years our league has been very competitive and has yielded a great deal of IM-based debated that I think might not only be of some interest to the Fantasy EPL community but might get a laugh as well.

So here it is...

We'll try to have at least some commentary in advance of each week about how to optimize your line-up and beat the hell out of your friends.

Cheers - Neal