Quick Reminder, Real Life
The beginning of last season was OK but the real damage was done in the second half. After losing 2-0 at home to Pompey on December 11th, Norwich only lost one more match for the rest of the season (@ fellow promoted side Swansea City in early April. Not bad for a team in their first year back in the Championship.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
Since Norwich wasn’t in the league last season we don’t have any Premier League fantasy stats to regale you with but here are some statistical highlights from their successful promotion campaign. Grant Holt registered an impressive 21 goals and 14 assists while finishing as a close runner up to Adel Taarabt in the league’s POTY race. Canadian International Simeon Jackson chipped in 13 goals despite starting only 20 matches (he came in as a sub in an additional 18). Wesley Hoolahan added 10 goals and 9 assists from midfield. Despite their success, clean sheets were not a regular feature for the Canaries with the club registering only 11 over the course of the season (compared to 15 by 2nd place PL finisher Chelsea in 8 fewer matches).
- Spurs RB Loanee of the Year - Last season it was Kyle Walker going to Villa and making fantasy managers happy with a bargain. This year’s Kyle is Naughton and he could be equally interesting as an attacking RB for Norwich.
- Spare Forward - James Vaughn has struggled to assert himself at top-half Everton so he takes a drop down to the bottom half to see if he can finally break through as a first-teamer in the Prem.
Call it the Blackpool Story, Part II if you’d like. Hard to imagine a team that was playing in League One two seasons ago and hasn’t made any big money signings making much of a dent. To make things even more difficult, this isn’t exactly Reading of a few years ago who were bursting with young up-and-comers. Many of the key players are in footballing middle age - hard to imagine that they were all just overlooked as Premier League quality players.
Probable Starting XI
Ruddy, Naughton, Whitbread, De Laet, Tierney, Surman, Hoolahan, Fox, Bennett, Holt, Jackson
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - Hard to predict anyone you’d consider fantasy gold from a newly promoted team that doesn’t have any established Premier League players on it. On the plus side, there are ample opportunities for players “On The Rise”
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Hoolahan (newcomer) is probably in a better position to succeed than fellow promotion hero Grant Holt (see below). Midfielders (like Brunt and Adam last season) who get their points through a combination of goals and assists tend to fare better in the transition than their free-scoring forward teammates.
- Holt (newcomer) is 30 years old and will be making his second step up in competition in 2 years. There’s a chance that he’s a late bloomer and he’ll be up to the task but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. The players who make the transition successfully tend to be younger ones who are coming into their own as they make the move up. I see his upside as Kevin Davies-level production.
- Naughton (newcomer) hasn’t gotten much of a run at Spurs but has the chance, along with ManYoo loanee Richie De Laet to bring up the level of Norwich’s defense. If they can scratch out some clean sheets, he could be a great fantasy value.
- Traps - No real traps here but there’s a chance that Simeon Jackson loses some playing time to Vaughn.
Studs: Pretty simple stuff here when it comes to value within the Norwich ranks but it remains to be seen how they will cope with the step up to the Premier League. Holt (5.5M) and Hoolahan (5.5M) are the relatively ‘big’ names you can invest in that should hog set pieces, goals, and assists and provide decent production for the price whereas at the back it all points to Manchester United loanee Richie De Laet - who is priced at just 4.0M. He looks a certain starter in the centre of defence for the Canaries. Don’t underestimate Holt or Hoolahan as Norwich beat Parma 3-0 this pre-season and also chalked up 7-0, 8-0, and 11-0 victories against lower league opposition. They’ll get their goals.
Duds: I don’t see too many duds across the board here because Norwich players are so cheap though former Everton speedster James Vaughan comes into the Fantasy Premier League game priced at 5M and unproven. Will probably not be worth it taking a stab on Vaughan as he competes with Holt for minutes and goals, despite his previous England youth team pedigree.
On the fence: Another former Everton player, John Ruddy, is set to start as the #1 in goal for Norwich and comes in at just 4.0M in the Fantasy Premier League. Cheap as chips, yes, but don’t expect too many clean sheets. Ruddy is fine as bench fodder if you need to spend your cash elsewhere and are looking to save, but you really don’t want to be playing him week in and week out.