We here at Blog Central have always enjoyed the notion of getting on the bandwagon of specific players early. Those of you who have been reading know that we were high on Ashley Young before Watford and Young made their Premier League debut. We were on Dean Ashton as he came on with Norwich. We were on Milner before he was on the outside of the England squad. We had you invested in John Pantsil from Week 1 last season. You get the idea. Now, not all of our faves pan out but we seem to be right more often than not. It is with this in mind that I bring you the latest addition to our 2009-2010 bandwagon. Joining Yayga (that's Rodallega for those who haven't been participating in the live chats over the weekend), Milijas, and Jordi Gomez is...
...wait for it...
...Hull striker Jozy Altidore!
OK, for those of you following the blog here in the US, this doesn't come as much of a shock. Throw in
1) a healthy dose of patriotism,
2) seeing him lots of times against CONCACAF competition,
3) the hope for an evolutionary Brian McBride/the American Drogba,
4) my reaction to his first match and change (sub appearance with an assist and a near miss last weekend and a goal in midweek in Carling Cup action), and
5) a cheap price
and you have the perfect recipe for me to get really excited for the Jozy-at-Hull era. I'm thinking Zaki-at-Wigan early last season without the attitude problems and injury issues. With any luck Yuri Zhirkov will get healthy and will join the rest of our bandwagon crew in enabling us to have 3 or more of Rooney, Drogba, Lampard, Gerrard, Cesc, and a decent defence without completely gutting the fantasy squad. In any event, consider yourselves in on the big secret from America if you weren't already. This kid is young, as physically gifted as anyone who has ever come out of CONCACAF, and has already started performing on big stages (see his goal against Spain in the Confederations Cup leading to the US win).
One two notes before we get to the analysis...
1) I want to compliment the overall bad@ss-ness of those who have joined our Private Groups. I'm at about 3500 in the overall standings which in most years is good for the top one or two percent. In our private groups, I'm no higher than 24th out of 100. (24th in Beat the Bloggers 5; 31st in BtB 3; and 35th in BtB 1). I'd like to think that our advice has something to do with the high quality of the scores in these groups. Regardless of the truth in that statement, I'm going to go on thinking that to make myself feel better about the fact that I'm not doing better in those groups.
2) We here at the blog would like to say a fond farewell to Dean Ashton who is going to retire due to the effects of his ankle injury. As was mentioned above, we've been on that particular bandwagon for as long as there has been such a bandwagon (OK, mostly it was me). I particularly liked the combination of skill and power in his game and am bummed that we will be deprived of seeing him come into his prime.
OK, on to the analysis...
So, the big question is what to make of Burnley after consecutive upsets of ManYoo and Everton? On the road...at Stamford Bridge...I'm not willing to give them the same credit. I doubt they'll get crushed as they've been stout in the back but I don't think Chelsea will share the fate of their Top 6 brethren from last season.
Elsewhere, high-flying Spurs have a favorable match-up with Brum traveling to the Lane. Citeh will take their shiny new defence to Fratton Park to face a decimated Pompey side that is likely to struggle to contain mid-table attacks let alone Citeh's array of stars. I'm not sure what to make of the Wolves/Hull match-up other than that it puts players from both sides into contention.
Liverpool's visit to Bolton is attractive for the Reds on paper but outside of Gerrard it's hard to get too excited about their prospects based on the results this far - especially on the road.
The rest of the match-ups are fairly even with players from neither side being more attractive than usual based on the opponent. This doesn't mean that they aren't attractive at all, just that you shouldn't go "all in" for ManYoo players with Arsenal coming to Old Trafford (or the reverse).
Remember now, the below is only taking into consideration current market prices. If you have players way below current market value we trust that you'll know enough to keep them if it is really a bargain that will pay off in future weeks (Drogba at 10) as opposed to one that isn't likely to be worth the wait.
Best Value Striker of the Week:If you go with the match-ups then I think I have a surprise pick for you this week in Robbie Keane. He's on the edge of being a premium striker but he's definitely an inexpensive option compared to the likes of Rooney, Drogba, RvP, and even K2. Second place in this category is Tevez who continues to be enticing at a relatively low price but in what should be a prolific attack against poor competition. That said, Tevez has also produced very little thus far this season so beware. Other options include Yayga against struggling Everton who have to be demoralized from the sale of Lescott and will be returning from a Europa Cup trip to the Czech Republic.
Best Premium Striker of the Week: Hard to choose between K2 and Drogba in this category given early season performances and this weekend's match-ups. I'd give a slight advantage to K2 because he is more prone to scoring in bunches and doing it against inferior opposition. That said, Drogba is a little less expensive so we can call this pretty close to a wash. Robinho is also interesting here based on his propensity for scoring phantom points even when he doesn't actually score (as opposed to someone like DBent who either scores or does very little most weeks). Definitely NOT the week to go after Rooney or RvP - one of them might have a great weekend but that's a lot of money to gamble on thinking you know which one compared to the alternative uses of that money.
Best Bargain Striker of the Week: See the note on Jozy Altidore above. I'm definitely in. If he's not your cup of tea then Doyle has to be interesting assuming he's healthy again. Finally, I realize that he has a tough match-up on the road vs. ManYoo but Bendtner has looked very strong thus far this season. I'm not necessarily in for him this weekend but as Arsenal's schedule starts to look a bit easier in the coming weeks he's definitely going to start getting his points. If you're looking for someone who you might be willing to take a risk on at a low price (as opposed to risking a ton on RvP) then Bendtner might be your guy.
Best Value Midfielder of the Week: Until he stops producing (or his price goes way up) the clear answer here is Stephen Hunt. Hull may not be a glamorous side and their match-up is only slightly better than average this week but Hunt has shown that he's going to produce whether it is goals or crosses or corners won, he's going to do the job. My expectation is that with Altidore providing a better target, that Hunt will get more assists and more SCs than he has thus far with Hull's anemic strikeforce. The goals may wane but at 8.88 you're not going to do any better. Heck, you may not do better at 10 or 11. Aaron Lennon is improbably the next best option for the money here with Nani coming in third despite the match-up with Arsenal. You probably just want Nani in the line-up at a reasonable price unless he's hurt or ManYoo make the (unlikely-but-still-rumored) move for Arjen Robben.
Best Premium Midfielder of the Week: What to make of the situation? Gerrard has performed well despite Liverpool's rotten start and Lamps has been only mediocre despite Chelsea's strong start. Chelsea has the more favorable match-up so I'm going to give Lamps one more weekend before I make the move to Gerrard. If he doesn't figure out the diamond formation against Burnley then I'm good ditching him.
Best Bargain Midfielder of the Week: Hunt is really the answer here but we've already written about him so I'm going to go against last year's experience and suggest that Deco is an interesting option. He seems to have adapted to the new Chelsea diamond and he's producing decent fantasy stats at a low price. As we've previously noted in this space, he did the same thing early last season and then did pretty much nothing the rest of the season but we're not talking about a big investment here so it may be worth considering based on the match-up. Wilson Palacios is another option here as are re-emerging Blog Favorite Jason Koumas and new blog shiny objects Jordi Gomez and Nenad Milijas - neither have fantastic match-ups but neither are bad match-ups either.
Best Value Defender of the Week: I'm sure I'll be accused of jumping on the moneytrain here and to some extent that's true. My pick is Micah Richards. As Jeremy mentioned in his Lescott-to-Citeh posting, Lescott isn't necessarily any more valuable after his move but his addition/presumed replacement of Richard Dunne increases the values of Richards, Wayne Bridge, and Shay Given who should see more clean sheets as a result of the improved central pair of central defenders. At 7.36, it's hard to argue with Richards both this week and as a long term investment. Quietly, Tyrone Mears has crept into this discussion as well, he's not so cheap that I can put him into the "Bargain" category but Mears seems to be potentially emerging as this year's Pantsil.
Best Premium Defender of the Week: I rarely go in for premium priced defenders but that doesn't mean that there isn't value in doing so. If you're going to splash the cash this weekend, then John Terry has to be the answer. Hard to see Burnley getting a goal against Chelsea despite their improbable heroics thus far. Throw in the fact that JT hasn't gotten much going on target yet this season and you have to think he's due for at least an SOT or two if not a headed goal from a set piece. Not a guarantee, just worth noting. I'd give Ledley King a nod as a secondary option here as well - certainly not someone you want to count on week-to-week since he'll take up a chunk of your budget but given the match-up and assuming that he won't injure himself between now and the weekend (a big assumption I know) he is worth a look.
Best Bargain Defender of the Week: Richards fits this category but there are a bunch of other guys who you have to put into the picture and decide which version of imperfect you prefer. SeaBass is probably the next best of the bunch given the match-up. You can also throw in Hutton to that mix. My reservation about the Spurs defenders (including King from above) is that I can't get away from the fear that they'll give up a bad goal and turn very strong weeks into mediocre ones very quickly. Other options include Wilkinson who is at home but doesn't have a great match-up in Sunderland who are off to a good start. Old favorite Pantsil who also has a tough match-up @Villa but continues to be good value despite a year's worth of evidence that he should be priced higher. George McCartney is another attractively priced option even though he's on the road.
I haven't really changed my tune much on this so far this season - Given is the man (even at 9 but much more so at 6) . Foster is still a great option even if he isn't necessarily a great option THIS week - for some reason he's still only 8.17. Those two should probably be the beginning, middle, and end of your goalkeeping ruminations. If you have to go low, Myhill has been excellent and is still exceptionally cheap despite that fact. The only other guy in the equation on paper is Tim Howard but given that he's at -7.5 per match you have to take that with a grain of salt. I'd much rather think about him on the BD than for this week since Everton is still highly suspect.
Sorry for the lateness of the post, I've been traveling like crazy for work and for nearly two weeks and this is the first chance I've had to get my thoughts together. See you tomorrow for Injuries and Suspensions and then on Saturday for our live chat.
Cheers - Neal