On Bale

Well, I said nice things about Spurs (deservedly) and ManYoo (also deservedly) and wasn't particularly enamored with Arsenal's performance despite their win and yet the shouts of "you're biased" still came ringing in the comments section of "First Impressions and Second Thoughts."  Honestly, I'm coming to enjoy it a bit so keep it up.  To the extent that I have time, I'll continue to discuss my (non-biased) rationale for my opinions.  The main subject of displeasure this time around was the fact that I called out Bale as still not being fantasy value on a weekend where the Bale fantasy apologists were still glowing from his 29 point, 2 goal effort.  For those who still don't believe me that you should have sold him weeks ago despite this past weekend's outburst, here are the numbers:

Since Bale's last major outburst in Week 2 (33.5 points), he has been averaging 10 points/match and has cost approximately 15.  Over the course of 11 matches, you've gotten approximately 110 points from him at the combined cost of about 165.  For those of you who had Bale from the beginning of the season, you got those same 110 points for a cost of about 132.  So, what else could you have had for your money over that stretch that leads me to believe that you should have spent differently?

Solid Midfielders
Here's a list of 4 midfielders whose price ranged between 6 and 10 for the same 11 weeks.  They ALL totaled between 96 and 105 points total over that same 11 match span for combined prices of between 75 and 85.  If you want to talk in averages, you paid between 12 and 15 per match for 10 points from Bale while you would have paid between 6 and 9 for 9 points per match from: 
  • Stuart Holden 
  • Charlie Adam
  • Chris Brunt
  • Marc Albrighton
  • Rafael van der Vaart
Premium Midfielder
If your response to the above is "I had a few of those guys and had the money to spend on Bale" then the next question would be, is there a better premium player you could have had than Bale? Hello Nani...  The ManYoo midfielder wouldn't have made you very happy this past weekend but over the 11 match stretch since Week 2, his price has been slightly lower on average than Bale's but we'll call them roughly equivalent because we don't want to go back and do the math.  For that similar investment, you would have gotten 14 points/match from Nani and 10/match from Bale. 

Premium Keeper
OK, Neal's discussed nothing but midfielders so far and I can't have 6 midfielders so where else could I have spend my money that would have been a better value?  Petr Cech, despite giving up 3 goals in a bad loss at home this past weekend has scored more points than Bale in this time frame.  The difference isn't much but his price has been similar to lower so he's been equal to better value since that time. 

Premium Defender
Think Bale has been the best value at the back over the time period in question? Not so fast my friends.  No one's choice for best fantasy player in the Prem Nemanja Vidic has actually out-pointed your friend Mr. Bale since Week 2 118 to 112.5.  Not a big difference but Vidic's price has been lower all the while as well.  Even better still is Leighton Baines who has 121 points in the same time period.  He's been expensive but not as expensive as Bale.  Heck, even Liam Ridgewell comes in pretty close at 94 points compared to Bale 112.5 over the 11 week stretch. Pretty sure Liam's price would have been significantly lower than Bale's over that time as well. 

Premium Forwards
This is the big red herring of the season so far.  You HAVE to have two forwards but none of them have really justified the investment since Drogs lost his mojo after Week 7.  Tevez is in the same ballpark as Bale but playing the match-ups and shifting horses has been important here. 

If you check back to my posts early in the season, I was all in on Bale (for much longer than I should have been as it turns out).  I don't have a bias against him, just against spending money on non-performing assets.  That said, if you look at the numbers, unless you had money for Bale AFTER buying Cech, Vidic, Baines,  Nani, Adam, Brunt, Holden, VDV, and two reasonably priced/reasonably productive strikers then you could have done better than buying Bale.  This leads me to the conclusion that unless you can predict when he's going to hit for 25 plus points, he's not great value, even at 12. 

If, as was mentioned in the comments thread, Spurs start collecting some clean sheets (they have only 1 so far this season) or Bale's teammate's start helping him out (he has a criminally low 1, count 'em 1, assist despite creating as many chances for teammates as anyone in the league) then Bale might represent value to those who have him at 12 and MAYBE those who got in at 15.  Unless he becomes Henry in his prime, he's not going to represent value at 17+.  Oh, and after 13 matches, does it seem reasonable to assume that Spurs are going to turn those two things around?  Possible, especially if they acquire a better striker or two in January but seems sort of unlikely until then. 

So, those of you who think I hate Bale and Spurs, I'm probably not going to convince you otherwise, but at the very least you can see that I base these things on some actual data rather than just saying "Hmmm, Bale, he plays for Spurs, how can I slam him so I can forward my pro-Arsenal agenda?"  My goal, as always, is to help you pick a better fantasy team and beat your friends.  Even when it means writing this entire article and having to give due credit to two ManYoo players, another Spurs player, and a Chelsea player while not mentioning a single Gooner.

Cheers - Neal


  1. Great article and analysis, and I appreciate the food for thought. Like you, I find it hard to justify Bale's price week in, week out, so I dropped him a while ago and never looked back as he scored under or just around 10 for a stretch of weeks there. I'd be willing to take the gamble for a lower cost (ie: Kolarov or J-Boat), but for 12-15 and hoping he scores 15 points or more, not for me. If I am going to gamble on an expensive player going big, it would be a striker - just more chances for a couple of goals, even with a little look (ie: Gyan at Spurs).

  2. I meant with a little luck, not "look". Sigh.

  3. Anonymous6:49 PM

    Bale is still a big time player.
    Selling him is not a very smart decision because
    of weeks like this that the likes of Ridgewell, Baines are not likely to have.
    Example: Last year scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea and getting me bountiful points.
    Also with the injury crisis the value of his performance is vital and I think he will flourish in the coming weeks although they are against tough opposition.

  4. Ok, so in retrospect, assuming your clairvoiance allowed you to choose correctly, there are maybe a half-dozen other players who marginally beat Bale on a points-per-price ratio over the period. Moreover, Bale is clearly not one of those players who just lucks into a massive game and then disappears. Like many speedy wingers, like Walcott, Lennon, Nani, etc., he creates 30+ points of opportunity (I just created a new statistic) each match that are heavily dependent upon the forwards to convert into actual points in the game. This can be true for other positions as well, e.g., Hutton will send in a dozen crosses, but is Crouch leading the line or will they sail over the rest of the Tot forward options? With Bale, you are gambling on someone who will pay out periodically, but with a lot of other FEPL options (Berb, anyone from Arsenal not named Cesc, etc), you're just gambling.

  5. Anonymous7:22 PM

    solid article for reading.

  6. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Nice article. I'm also contemplating selling bale but every week I convince myself he deserves another chance to score points. Bit of a headache deciding when to let go

  7. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Are you trying to make everyone sell Bale? In my private group of 12, all the top 5 have Bale :)

  8. Anonymous10:11 PM

    That Crouch is 6.7ft doesn't mean he should get on the end of every cross, like i commented on a previous post; throwing crosses into the box doesn't mean anything if your team mates don't get it. Your ability to actually pick out a team mate with a pass or cross is what sets you apart from the others. Bale just crosses into the box and hopes somebody gets it thereby giving the ball to the opponent. Maybe we should actually look at goals that Spurs have conceded as a result of such misplaced crosses.

  9. Wales will rise again10:27 PM

    God, you are a moron. I used to follow this blog religiously but your anti-Spurs sentiments are just ridiculous and your analysis is completely flawed.

    Again, for the folks in the back row (which is where you seem to be sitting):

    Bale has averaged 12.65 poitns per game over 13 games.

    For those that bought him in Week One, he costs in the high 12s/low 13s.

    That is the VERY DEFINITION OF GOOD VALUE. Absent having the foresight of knowing when to selectively pick Bale - or any other player for that matter - in weeks where he blows up and when to avoid him when he "only" return 8 points, he is the most consistent, high performer in YFF. Period. End of discussion.

    Is it any surprise that your supposed svengali status as a fantasy prognosticator drastically falls short of you actual performance as a fantasy player?

  10. If I still had Bale at 12.xx I would view him as value and keep him for the season, just because he's a defender playing midfield who is as good or better than comparable midfielders in the 12 range and has the added bonus of a chance at clean sheet points, which surely Spurs will get 5-6 or so somehow before the year is over. If it's between Bale and someone like N'Zog, Downing, or Gamst(comparably-priced MFers) I'll go Bale every time.

    Plus with so many cheap/productive midfielders and all the expensive strikers misfiring, you can afford to spend at the back for consistent if-somewhat-below value output, punctuated by the occasional huge week, and doing so opens another MF slots so you can own more of the cheap/consistent guys. He's had a bad few weeks here, but I think people who held him will probably do better over time than those of us who mixed and matched, unless we got really lucky our choices while doing so. In my case, I dropped him so I could start spending big money elsewhere, and I've been wasting that scratch on no-shows like Tevez, Fabs, Berbs, Bent, etc over the past few weeks. I wish I had stood pat and still had him at 12.xx going forward. Since I don't, I probably won't spend on him or view him as value very much up at his current price, though that could change if Spurs either get knocked out of Europe or start getting a few more clean sheets, or if the kick-taking situation changes for whatever reason.

    Just in general, it's frustrating to not have anywhere to spend all of this money this year. I'm almost tempted to get like Bale, Baines, and ACole, and stop spending at all up front or on premium Mids. Or maybe you're on to something with the premium GK route, though that goes against everything I stand for when it comes to YFF, such as that is.

    At any rate, I'm doing horribly so far this season, so I should probably consider blowing it all up and trying some crazy stuff, especially with few if any double-gamers on which to hang my hopes for a monster week and consequent big turnaround.

  11. @Wales - Fair point on Bale's average points over the course of the season so far, but save for the occasional week where Bale does blow up, he's subpar for his price, even if you bought him at 12 and change. If every player on your roster returned "only" 1/2 or even 2/3 of his cost almost every week, you'd wind up with 50-75 points per week (before discounts) and have no chance at winning even a private league. How can you possibly say Bale is the most consistent high performer in YFF when, without his 33.5 and 29 point weeks, averages just 9.27 points/week. Having 2.5 points one week and 29 a couple weeks later isn't consistency.

    There's nothing anti-Spurs about this post; you're obviously a Spurs fan blinded by your own "sentiments." Bale is one of my favorite players in the world and one I model my own game on, but the facts are there and not really disputable if you look at it without bias. Don't be a hypocrite.

  12. I believe bale could surpass giggs.

  13. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Hey Neal,

    First of all, this above is a great analysis, if nothing, then all those anti-comments got you to do what you do best, give a solid fact-based Fantasy analysis, which we bums are too lazy to do. This analysis shows why people read you and not you us.

    I was also one of those who voiced a 'Bale is a Fantasy Stud' cry. But that was just stating a difference of opinion not saying you are anti-Bale or Anti-Spur.

    At 12 Bale is a definate keeper, yup on 17 maybe not. My observation is that CL weeks his production is low (but havent done the maths, maths is *HARD*), so if TOT get dumped out of CL, I think, Bale will be a season keeper for me.


  14. Wales will rise again1:17 AM

    Gavin - b/c if you subscribe to the "buy and hold" theory and don't cherry pick players from one week to the next, Bale will return his value over the course of the entire season. No question whatsoever. You can live with the off week where he returns 4 points b/c you know that in the long run he will return 12-13 on average. If you have a crystal ball and can prognosticate when he - or any other player - will have his big weeks, more power to you.

  15. Great analysis & enjoyable reading as always, thanks Neal.

    I'm still keeping Bale at 12 though :)

  16. Anonymous4:49 AM

    How about the same analysis with Malouda, I have lost the faith with his performances recently. As you say, there appears to be better value midfielders. This spotlight on a single player could be the start of something beautiful...

  17. Anonymous5:29 AM

    I don't realy understand the argument in this article.
    For instance - you can have all above mentioned cheap midfielders and than you can also have Bale.
    Why is it a case of either/either instead of and/and.
    I think that this season we have ebough cheap quality players that are here to enable us to have "expensive" Bale who is still No.6. in terms of average points per game. If you see that Gordon and Walcott are ahead of him than he is basically on the 4th place regarding average points.
    If you look at that stat than he is much more valuable than Drogba or even Nani at their cheapest.
    I think that whoever has him for 12/13 pts should hold on to him as he is consistant. And nobody says that you are not alowed to have those cheapos like Barton, VDV, Brunt etc... :)

  18. Anonymous5:56 AM

    @Wales -Barton at 5.+ has average of 9.5 that's better than Bales take it or leave it, not that i agree with Neal most times. Simply put Bale is not the best performer.

  19. Anonymous6:00 AM

    but if bale is not the best performer than Drogba is truly a terrible performer and we shold never take him in our team.
    If we go only by that logic than Drogba is one of the worst performers if we take price/points ration in consideration.

  20. Anonymous6:29 AM

    @ the moment Drogba is far from the best and Nani has performed better than Bale so far, is average is lower than his starting cost. The players who've averaged more than their starting price and are more consistent are the hits. Not one good week and several high weeks. I dropped Bale Drogba and malouda after game week3, frankly only Drogba could come back if at all.

  21. Anonymous6:34 AM

    I know we all picked Bale feeling Spurs will get the occasional CS but that has not happened.

  22. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Yeah, lack of CS definetely damaged Bale.
    But he also performs better than his initial price.
    We all know that premium players will almost never have average points highr than their price. That is why we take couple of cheap ones and than we try to have one or two premium players.
    In my eyes Bale is one of those premium players this year, and he is still much better than all other premium players except Nani.
    He is much better in terms price/returns ratio than Fabregas, Gerrard, Rooney, Drogba, Anelka, Arteta etc...
    If someone is arguing against Bale that is ok, but than he should argue in the same way against every other premium player.
    How is it possible to reccomend buying a.cole or baines for some game, and to reccomend dropping Bale if someone has him for his lowest price which was under 13?

  23. Bale is not yet the one player that makes a season for fantasy purposes. Unlike Henry or Ronaldo or Drogba from the previous seasons, Bale plays for Spurs, a team that is not contending for the Premiership crown. There will be weeks where I will happily pick Bale for the right match-up, even at his higher price. For most other weeks, there are usually plenty of choices.

  24. I think everyone is right, for or against Bale. Now to week 14 strikers please i need help.

  25. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Disclaimer: I thoroughly enjoy this blog and appreciate both contributions from Neal and Jeremy. I certainly don't buy into the nonsense that Neal is a Gunner who is masquerading his hatred for *purs (why would anyone need to do such a thing? ;)

    However, I believe Neal was perhaps misguided when he first said Bale is not great fantasy value or any fantasy value period. I don't mean to go all psychobabble but perhaps he is driven a bit too much by the overreacting Bale defenders and responded with this post. In his original post, he was simply "not convinced" he is great value, and now on the reactionary defensive, he appears to want to argue WITH conviction that Bale IS NOT.

    First, it really baffles me how Neal and some others would discount "the blow out" week 1 & 2 (avg 26 points) where he scored high and at the same time include the weeks where he scored really low when calculating the averages. The calculation for such "averages" is fundamentally flawed. Why bother omitting Bale's first two weeks only? Why not omit this last weekend and while u are at it, may as well take out Nani's two weeks above 25, Adam's 3+ weeks where he returned twice or double his cost, Albrighton's last weekend, and Cech's 19, 20 & 28 pts week?
    Consider the discussion of Nani as premium value alternative. I don’t think it’s right to omit the two weeks in which Bale scored 26 avg pts and Nani scored 4.5 avg pts. That's more than a swing of 2.3 avg pt in Nani's favor.

    Second, the only ranking that matters ultimately is the one at the end of the season as in how many points you manage to accumulate based on the cost of 3,900 points. If Bale's performance continues (which is the basic assumption all of us have taken generally in evaluating player value), anyone who buys and holds Bale between 12-13 would have one of the most excellent points return per cost individual player.

    Third, there are other intangibles that cannot be quantified based on average points return. None of which has been brought up in this discussion of a player's fantasy value. I believe that is wrong.

    a) For example, again assuming consistent performance from here on, a player who is match-up agnostic is great value (the benefit is especially compounded if you hold that player at great discount). One personal example would be Adam who manages to score well despite the matchup, scoring well relative to his cost. I believe Bale is also one of these players.

    -to be continued

  26. Anonymous9:44 AM

    b) We are limited by the three formations we must play. It is not just a matter of who other midfielders or strikers you can have but also what other steady or equally performing defenders there are available as alternative to and competitive with Bale. Vidic and Baines were given as examples. If we want to get rid of outliers, let's look at goals scored by both those two.

    Let's start with Vidic first. Astonishingly, he has scored 3 goals in 13 games (0.23/gm). In his time as Man U player, he has scored 0, 4, 1, 7, and 1 each season respectively, which comes out to be about 0.086/gm. So in other words, he has been about 2.7 times as lethal as his previous 5 seasons; Baines has also scored a goal. I guess all I need to say is that he has scored 6 goals from 2002 till now. On the other hand, Bale has had 1 clean sheet and 1 assist in 13 games.
    Would Vidic and Baines look as good in comparison to Bale once the law of averages normalize both the outlying scoring and assist/CS trends? And related to point 2 above, can you READILY find an assortment of players or, more significantly, more than two SINGLE DEFENDER who will give you same points return over the season?

    FURTHERMORE, those are the only players who are competitive with Bale at his price point and performance. What do you do when either Vidic/Baines is injured or suspended? You can't play with two defenders.

    c) The discussion of players especially like Adam and VdV underlies an assumption that is, perhaps too easily, taken for granted. You must have timed your purchase of those solid midfielders so well that their eventual points return average would be equal or better than Bale. What happens if you missed out on any or all of them? Or if injuries happened to them? Then your field of options becomes narrower and your comparison is now between Bale and other players who have performed not as well so far.

    In conclusion, I think Neal has undervalued Bale in this last post. The omission of first two weeks is fatal to the validity of the points return average comparison. If we wished to eliminate outliers, we ought to be consistent and apply to both the highs and the lows. Then again, in which case, we would not be talking about projected points return over the season or the season so far but the most consistently high scored points return performer above a certain threshold. I don't think that would be anyone's metric by which a player's fantasy value is adjudged; let alone the idea of points return being the sole determinant factor.

    My apologies for being so long-winded. I think it's a thoughtful analysis from Neal but misguided and therefore deserves a bit of a more thought out response.


  27. Anonymous10:37 AM

    cheers to this article

  28. Anonymous10:40 AM

    can't wait for when everyone here gets to say "i told you so"

  29. Anonymous12:35 PM

    2 points:

    1)For the entirety of 13 weeks has Bale been a good performer? Yes.

    2)Is there reason to believe his form will continue & there is significant "upside" to assists & clean sheets going forward? Yes.

    Great Discussion!

  30. Think it sums up that there's really 2 or 3 camps represented here.

    1. Those that have Bale at 12 or close to that and have held the entire season. They are pleased with the 29 point week and definitely see value in holding and in possible future returns.

    2. Those that sold in recent weeks and perhaps have a bit of seller's remorse (if there is such a thing) from dumping recently only to see a command performance last weekend and are now trying to decide if Bale is worth jummping back in at a BD 15 units or buying at 17.

    3. Those that are lineup streamers - effectively choosing 7-9 new players weekly based on matchups, recent performance, etc.

    Ultimately I think that if Bale is listed as a midfielder in the game, then there is less of this discussion. One of the strategies in the game in recent years has been to buy low on Defenders because of the inconsistency in scoring. Even more extreme was the Mokoena and/or Paintsil strategy in 08 and 09 campaigns--Mokoena was a season long filler for many at 2 or sub-2 and Paintsil represented great value at the back for Fulham around 5. If Bale is listed as a midfielder then the extra points associated with CS's go away and the decision to play him is probably more of a streaming decision based on matchups.

    What is pretty clear is that this season, unlike ones in the past (Ronaldo, Rooney, Drogba), there is no player that one must have to win from start to finish but Bale is probably the closest with Drogba's recent low scoring binge.


  31. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Cheers to this article. Great analysis Neal!

  32. Anonymous9:08 PM

    Reali biased analysis...

  33. Anonymous3:27 AM

    I Picked bale in first week then dropped him & again picked him this week. Good average?

  34. BaleSucks3:47 AM

    Bale sucks, you could use that 12-15 pounts elsewhere.

  35. I agree, but the key thing to remember is that people were expecting MORE from bale week on week...largely due to storming performances in the Champions league. Its difficult to sell a player at +2.5-3 even on the back of ~8 point weeks when in between he scored at hattrick at the San Siro. Your article is correct, but nobody was keeping in thinking he was good value at 8 points. Again, right now its clear that he should be sold, he has tough games coming up, is not likely to do any better on average for any other reason.....and yet I can't bring myself to do it. One of those 8 point weeks the incompetent forwards were inches away from giving him 2 assists and he hit the bar with a free kick....Makes it difficult to listen to the head not the heart, especially as a spurs fan.

  36. The other issue is that for the first time since I began this game there have been some real consistent performers at ~10. I personally usually avoid these guys as there are usually similar players at 5-7 points and you usually want a big striker. This season, however, there are a number of players in midfield and striker putting up solid points week in week out due to the nature of the premiership this year. Long story short, my instincts for players are steering my wrong this year...(proved by combined Torres vs Tevez pick)

  37. Dear People who write this blog (Neal/Jeremy),

    I find it absolutely attrocious that you have not mentioned bla bla and bla bla player in your analysis. I think it's because you guys hate bla bla team and are basically crap....

    Ok actually I'm kidding....for the angry people out there ...come guys...relax. It's a free blog where these 2 apparently very bored (ha ha) guys try to give their 2 cents worth on the fantasy game among other things. So don't get too uptight if Man Utd or Spurs or whichever team doesnt get their due "respect". No one is dissing anyone. We can't go around starting every sentence with "All hail the great Man Utd" or "Spurs the biggest team in London" etc etc.

    Chill people.

  38. Kenneth12:26 AM

    Maybe we should change the focus on this topics from "bale" to "premium df". Is it worth to keep a 12+ premium df whole season? My answer is YES.

    Why? After spending a lot in df, I have limited budget, but I could still find an economy class mf (around 6~8) who keep getting pts constantly this season (VDV, Adam). On the other hand, it is difficult to find an economy class df who get similar pts as VDV or Adam. So my conclusion is that spending a lot in df is not a bad idea this season, considering the formation limitation.