Quick Reminder, Real Life
A better than expected return to the Premier League for a team that was in all sorts of disarray when they went down two seasons ago. Incredibly a similar cast of odd characters that managed to get relegated amongst dysfunction and squandering of talent came back and not only stayed up but were good for 12th place despite losing their first choice keeper for a long stretch, their big off-season attacking acquisition for nearly the entire season, and selling their best forward in January. I don’t think even the most optimistic Geordie would have expected that finish if you’d told them that news ahead of the season.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan had great return seasons in both the Premier League for real and as fantasy standouts. Their performances continued to be strong their prices came up but both were exceptional bargains for the first half of the season. Likewise, Andy Carroll was a revelation early in the season before getting hurt and then sold off to Liverpool for a ton of money in January. The lone real disappointment was Hatem Ben Arfa who got hurt early before we got much of a chance to find out if he might live up to the hype that surrounded his move to the Prem from Ligue 1.
- Big Sam Getting the Band Back Together - As part of reconstituting his 2006-07 Bolton squad at West Ham, Kevin Nolan was sold off by NUFC.
- Funny to think about the extent that such a traditionally English club has embraced French players over the last year. Ben Arfa arrived last summer and now Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux have joined him.
- Enrique Out? - The summer started with rumors that better-than-average left back Jose Enrique wanted to move to a bigger club. Thus far, that sort of opportunity hasn’t presented itself but Liverpool keeps being mentioned so hold tight on this one.
- Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba Ba - SportsCenter fans will know how that tune goes and NUFC supporters will learn to love it as they managed to replace Andy Carroll with a striker who had a very good first half season in the Premier League last year. He isn’t the physical presence that Carroll was but he’s the all-around striker that can take some advantage of Barton’s crosses as well as combining nicely on the ground with HBA, Cabaye, and Marveaux.
Because NUFC’s departures (Carroll and Nolan) have Premier League track records and only one of their replacements (Ba) has any, it is hard to feel good about a prediction but I like what Newcastle have done this summer assuming they don’t regress too badly at left back. Cabaye is a better #10 than anyone NUFC have had in recent memory. Marveaux should fill what was a bit of a hole on the left of midfield and if he’s healthy, Ben Arfa is likely to play off of Ba as a withdrawn forward. If you’re playing in the Ligue 1, that’s probably good enough to be in contention for the title. In the Prem, it could be good enough to improve upon 12th place.
Probable Starting XI
Harper, STaylor, Coloccini, Simpson, Enrique, Tiote, Cabaye, Marveaux, Barton, Ben Arfa, Ba
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - I have a hard time believing that I’m about to type this but the closest thing NUFC have to fantasy gold is Joey Barton. The one-time bad boy of the league has mellowed (a little bit) and has consistently produced big performances for NUFC. His price is a bit higher than I’d like to see it but he produces.
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Cabaye (newcomer) isn’t going to be a Nolan/Lampard like goal scorer so much as an Alonso-like creator who lies a bit deeper, gets assists and could well take PKs based on his past history. His upside is Charlie Adam and his downside is Michael Carrick (a big difference, I know, but this is Newcastle).
- Marveaux (newcomer) we like our French wingers here at the blog, expecially in the phantom point-driven Yahoo game. I can’t say I’ve seen much of him and apparently injuries have been an issue so this one might be a “wait-and-see” situation.
- Ben Arfa (relative newcomer) had a decent start to last season with a goal in four matches but that’s not really a big enough sample to make any decisions on. At his opening price (under 4.00), he’s worth a look if/when he’s healthy.
- Traps - Honestly, there aren’t any players here expensive enough or with a big enough reputation that they fit in the “trap” category. You could argue that Ba fits best based on the fact that we have a limited sample to judge him on but he could just as easily be as good as his first half-season so calling him a trap would be a bit harsh.
Studs: Joey Barton is 6M and should take penalties and free kicks. He’s priced right and should produce well for a 4th or 5th midfielder - solid acquisition for many fantasy managers who will get more assists than goals but will be consistent. Danny Simpson (4M) is a cheap stud as long as he holds on to the right back spot. There aren’t many defensive starters in the league who come in at 4M so even if he stays stuck to your bench most weeks, he could be a ‘bench’ stud and free up cash for other more expensive options.
Duds: Don’t sign a Newcastle goalkeeper unless it’s clear they have a #1 option. Krul and Harper are both 4.5M but even Fraser Forster (who isn’t even listed in the game) is battling for the number one jersey. Avoid those ‘keepers for now. Tiote (4.5M) should start alongside Barton in central midfield and is SO CHEAP but also has a poor disciplinary record and rarely scores goals. Don’t buy him unless you need a last resort 5th midfielder, though as a “dud,” selection you could do way worse than a starting midfielder priced at 4.5M.
On the fence: Demba Ba played well for West Ham last year and should lead the line this season so at 6.5M he’s priced pretty fairly. On the fence as he only featured for West Ham for ½ a season.