Season Preview: Stoke

Overall Outlook - By all rights, I should dislike Stoke as the logical successors to Big Sam's Bolton and Mark Hughes' Rovers as big, bruising purveyors of a direct and brutal brand of football but for some reason I find myself wishing them well in their push up the table.  Perhaps I like the fact that they have tried something a little different in using Rory Delap's throws as a serious weapon.  Perhaps I like the way they play tough football without it getting as dirty as Bolton and Rovers have been (or at least been perceived).  Perhaps it's because they clearly don't have an alternative way of surviving and yet other teams can't find a way to beat them at the only game they are capable of playing.  For whatever the reason, I find myself quietly and somewhat apologetically wishing Stoke good fortune.  With today's rumor that they will sign Kenwyne Jones - a player I like - that affection will only increase as will the likely fortunes of Stoke who badly need a striker capable of more than the 5 goals that led the team last season.  That Jones fits the rugged profile of the Stoke player is an even bigger bonus.  I have a hard time seeing them getting significantly better but they seem poised to stay firmly rooted in the middle of the table.

Projected Starters - Sorensen, Faye, Shawcross, Huth, Higgenbothem, Eth, Whitehead, Delap, Whelan, Fuller, Jones

In the Rotation - Collins, Lawrence, Diao, Wilkenson, Sidibe, Tuncay, Beattie

Kicks - While Stoke don't tend to get a ton of points off of kicks, the nice thing is that most of them fall to one guy - Matty Etherington.  This makes him more valuable than you might expect. 


  • Kenwyne Jones, F - Not a lot going on for sure at Stoke this summer but assuming this move happens (and apparently he's at Stoke for a medical today) then Stoke have given themselves a major upgrade at striker without sacrificing any of their toughness.  Adding a striker capable of 10 to 15 goals to a team whose highest scorer last term had 5 goals is sort of a big deal don't you think?  Seems like Jones should be more of a focal point for Stoke as well so that should help his value some too.  I like it for everyone involved including fantasy managers;
Rising Youth
  • Ryan Shawcross, D - Probably more famous for his "tackle" on Aaron Ramsey last season than his play on the field but that is more up to the amount of coverage that story got and the general lack of coverage of Stoke City in the national and international press because Shawcross is a strong young player.  Assuming he rebounds from his issues last season, he'll likely be the rising anchor of a very solid defence.  Not a great fantasy player but definitely worth a look when Stoke are playing at home against bottom-half opposition;
  • It looks like he'll start the season on loan but England U-19 striker Louis Moult looks to be an eventual solution for Stoke as a partner for Kenwyne Jones.  In a squad with very little promising youth, he's probably second in line behind Shawcross who has already broken into the starting rotation;
Fantasy Breakdown
  • Best - Eth is the man - not much else to say here unless Kenwyne Jones comes in and leaves his injury issues behind him at Sunderland;
  • Best Value (non-newcomer) - Not a lot of great value on this squad because they don't tend to generate a ton of fantasy points but Andy Wilkenson, when he starts, is an excellent value who is typically available fairly cheap;
  • Best Projected Value - Since we've already discussed KJones, it's worth using this space to point out that Begovic would represent some nice value if he took Sorensen's place which doesn't seem like a bad idea to us;
  • Worth Considering With Good Match-ups -  Etherington, Jones, Sorensen;
  • Worth Knowing If He's Starting -Begovic, Lawrence, Shawcross, Sidibe

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