The Week Ahead - Never Manage Alone Edition, Part 2: Yahoo Player Recommendations

Click here for Part 1 - a look at the opening week's schedule plus a big announcement.

For a day when nothing concrete really happened, it has been a crazy day. The Tevez/Nasri swap was thrown out there and led to Jeremy's excellent post on other potential swap deals that might make sense for both clubs. I'll throw in a slightly smaller deal into the mix as my contribution to rampant speculation about transfers that will never happen:

Niko Kranjcar for Nik Bendtner
No, there's no way that these two North London rivals would get together and voluntarily do a swap deal but it would make sense. With Nasri and Cesc presumably on their way out, Kranjcar would be a logical short-term replacement for Nasri as a creative midfielder who tends to play a little wider than the average central midfielder but isn't a true wing player either - perfect for Arsenal. Not earth-shattering, but a good fit. Bendtner would be a great fit going back in the other direction. He may be a jack@ss but even in part-time duty, he's been more productive than either of Spurs' "big" forwards Crouch and Pav. Throw in the fact that Bendtner is young, has upside, and that his aristocratic wife could more than hold her own socially with Sylvie van der Vaart at team functions and you have the makings of a great swap that will never happen. As a Gooner, it would be a lot of fun getting to root against Bendtner for the next 5 years too.

Back to the swap deal that may come to fruition, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Here are some quick thoughts on the pros and cons of the deal if it has been correctly reported:

  • In Tevez, Arsenal get a playing asset rather than cash that they generally don't spend much of.
  • They get that asset in return for an expiring asset in Nasri who was, by all reports, going to leave for free next summer.
  • Tevez is really good.
  • If they were going to sell Nasri to a Premier League rival, I'm much happier with it being City (who really don't need him and for whom I don't see him as a huge upgrade on what they've got) instead of United where he'd fill a more pronounced gap. I'd rather offload him to Italy, Spain or Russia but if it had to be England, this is the best possible situation.
  • Getting the want-away elements out of the Arsenal dressing room can be nothing but a positive despite the talents of the players involved, it has clearly created an environment that the players can't overcome and overall negative momentum for the team.
  • Maybe this gets Arsenal out of the "we'll never buy a great player at his peak" mentality (the first evidence of Stan Kroenke's influence as owner? You could never see Wenger signing up for this entirely voluntarily could you?)
  • Did I mention that Tevez is really good?
  • Tevez never really seems to be happy so it seems highly likely that we'll be right back here in this spot next summer with Tevez agitating for a move elsewhere "to see his children". We'll call that Summer of Cesc, Part IV: The Tevez Drama when it inevitably happens.
  • As Jeremy accurately pointed out, it isn't clear how RvP and Tevez might work together given that Arsenal have been favoring what is essentially a 4-3-3 with RvP playing the only role I can see Tevez occupying which is the central #9 figure.
  • If the presence of RvP and Tevez dictates a move towards more of a 4-4-2 formation then what becomes of Gervinho who looks perfectly suited to one of the roles supporting the #9?
  • Assuming Cesc goes as well, have Arsenal lost too much creativity while replacing that creativity with big attacking names that are less creative and more goal-scorers? That's a big burden to put on Wilshere, Ramsey and someone who might be purchased either now or in January.

OK, enough speculation on random things and on to the main event, our first week's worth of player recommendations for the Yahoo! fantasy game. Keep in mind that the Spurs match has been postponed due to the riots but that the rest of them are likely to come off as scheduled.

City Options – Hard to know exactly how Mancini is going to handle things with his forwards. If Aguero is going to play he’s the obvious choice. If not, it’ll likely be Dzeko and Balotelli. Dzeko is probably a better overall bet of those two but you could certainly see Balo hit for a hat trick against newly promoted Swansea. He could also see Red within 5 minutes.
Carroll – Until we hear or see otherwise, we’re a little skeptical about whether Suarez will be ready to start the season after his Copa America exertions. Assuming that’s the case, Carroll is the obvious replacement.
Gervinho – Who knows what’s happening at Arsenal with comings and goings but Gervinho was the best non-RVP player in pre-season so it’s hard to believe he won’t start the opener at a very affordable cost.
Holt – Hard to know what we’re going to get for a 30-something forward who has never played in the division but he’s starting off against weak opposition (@Wigan) and scored for fun last term in the Championship (which you could argue is where Wigan should be minus N’Zogbia) so if you’re looking for a low cost forward who could pay off, he’s the bet.
RvP – If you have the money, he doesn’t tend to disappoint when he’s healthy. Yes, even at this price and on the road.
Zamora – If you’re looking for something more in the middle of the road with a great opportunity to pay off, Zamora against Villa seems like strong potential value to me. I don’t see any chance of rotation (like Dzeko/Balotelli/Aguero/Gervinho), he’s proven in the division (unlike Holt), and he’s playing at home (unlike RvP). That doesn’t mean he’s a better choice than all those guys, just that he isn’t as far off as you might think.
Rodallega – Playing at home against a side that has moved up two divisions in two seasons and hasn’t done a full make-over. Seems like a great opportunity for the one outstanding player left at Wigan to shine.

Taarabt – Everyone’s favorite to be this year’s Charlie Adam/Chris Brunt as a promoted midfielder who breaks out with a great combination of goals, assists, and phantom points.
Silva – He was disappointing from a fantasy standpoint last season but every time I see him he seems to be growing into his facilitator/creator – I’m not sure he’ll ever be a prolific goal-scorer but he appears poised to up his output of phantom points and assists. I think of him as pre-injury Stuart Holden+ from a fantasy standpoint.
Yaya Toure – I’m sold on Yaya the player in the real world. I’m not sold 100% on him as a fantasy regular but I am sold on him at a reasonable price at home against Swansea.
Downing – I’m guessing that the popular pick from Liverpool’s midfield will be Adam on the assumption that he’ll start with Gerrard injured. That could be very solid reasoning but with Meireles and Aquilani hanging around he’s certainly under more pressure than Downing who is really the only option for his spot. Throw in having Carroll to aim his many crosses at and I like his chances.
Nani/Young – I’d love to say that you should go with both but that’s probably going to be difficult to achieve within the Yahoo salary cap. Nani had the standout performance against City in the Community Shield. That said, my guess is that Ashley Young will be the more consistent performer week-over-week as he piles up the phantom points that Nani used to get a lot of. Nani will have some great matches but his overall productions will likely tail off from last season.
Dempsey – If you want to stay true to the “pick players who are playing at home” mantra then you might want to strongly consider Dempsey over either of his expensive ManYoo counterparts.

John Arne Riise – Assuming that Spurs end up being the only London-based match postponed due to the riots, JAR ends up being a strong bet for Fulham playing at home against a Villa side missing a bunch of attacking options from last season’s squad.
ManYoo RB – My excitement about the person filling this role deflated a bit with DDG’s concession of Dzeko’s goal last Sunday but whether it is Smalling or Rafael, this represents a solid option as a low-cost defender.
Agger – He, his tattoos, and his pile-driver of a long shot are back and seem likely to start at CB at a very reasonable price for homestanding Liverpool. Solid value pick.
Gibbs/Verm – Per the off-season realization of the skewed value of players playing at home topped off by Arsenal’s leaky pre-season, I’m a little hesitant on this one but if one or both of these two are healthy then the price is certainly affordable.
Richards – He looked seconds away from a red card in the Community Shield but he also won’t be playing Manchester United this coming weekend. This leaves Richards as a very affordable starter for a championship contender playing at home against a newly promoted team and that’s a good thing.

Hart – Yes, he’s expensive but with City’s great home match-up for the opener, he’s worth finding the money for. He may not get a ton of saves but he should get into at least the low double digits.
DDG – Now that Friedel is unavailable, De Gea is the best of the cheap options – I can’t say I’m really sold on him in Week 1 on the road but if he enables something else, he’s worth considering.
Schwarzer – If you’re looking for the option that comes in less expensive than Hart and less worrysome (and more expensive) than DDG then Schwarzer is your guy. A little more than I’d like to pay at 10.74 but not a budget buster either.


  1. Neal, excellent post and analysis. I expect readers of this blog and AM Blog to have a composite team with roughly 8 of the 11 players identical, so there would either be a group with which to share high-fives or there'd be company in misery, post-week. What is really spurring me to write, though, was the part about home teams in the Dempsey write-up.

    Last month, I engaged in a little back-and-forth with one of your readers who mentioned your advice to pick home players and not hold anyone for long periods of time. The latter topic is for another day, but regarding the former, picking home players is definitely following the numbers. However, I would emphasize that this is the case only for non-fixed players in your squad. As you stated above about RvP, he can cover his immense cost whether at home or on the road when healthy, and there are sure to be a few other "roster" players in this or any other season. It is those transient week-at-a-time selections that ought to be home players, if probability means anything.

    - D.H.

  2. DH,

    You cant use RVP, arguably the best fantasy forward in the league (when healthy), as a counter-point to an otherwise sound strategy. There are a handful of atypical players, and then there are the other 95% of the players, who ultimately are the ones that will win fantasy leagues.

  3. so thought i would keep everyone up to date with our little denilson. i am lucky enough to have denilson leave my favorite team and go to my second favorite, Sao Paulo. woh is my luck.

    denislon came in a substitute for his first 2 appearances to get his feet wet. he got 1 assist. he has started the last four games, getting one more assist. his passing is really good. but here comes the bad part. he has gotten sent off the last two games. in both games Sao Paulo lost being a man down.
    Sao Paulo with lucas & casemiro, Flamengo with ronaldinho gaucho, and corinthians, with not one great player, keep alternating for first place. if denilson had gone to somewhere else, Sao Paulo would have a sizable lead.

  4. @Greginho - sorry to hear Denilson is following/haunting - makes me worry he'll choose to get me next and come to Philly Union or DC United

    @DataHead - I'd agree with you that there may be players who end up being long term holds but RvP at 22 isn't one of them. RvP at 12 last season certainly was but I'd rather spend that money in other ways on weeks where ARS have tough road matches (e.g., united, Citeh, liverpool, Che, stoke, and Fulham come to mind). The guys I'm considering for potential long term roster spots would be Taarabt, Gervinho, Rafael, and Kun. Even so, the analysis I based my "don't fall in love" advice was the success of someone who has finished Top 10 overall multiple times. Basically, home players trump keeping cheap producers when they're on the road. If you've got something else analytical that runs counter, we're all ears.

    Cheers - Neal

  5. @Neal,

    Gibbs (if healthy), and DDG surely would be tempting long term, right?

    Presumably Gibbs is worth 8-10m if starting (+6/8 discount) and DDG worth 10-12m (and we all know the haunts of trying to pick a keeper week in and week out).


  6. Hello Neal,

    Could you please help us with the 3 players playing free kicks, corner kicks in the 3 promoted teams, QPR, Norwich ans Swansea?
    they will be key players at 6M

  7. @United and Neal, I agree with both of you, but I didn't explain my point well. It doesn't take an RvP-caliber player to be a long-term hold, and at 20.00+ in cost, he is not the smartest long-term investment for this season. But Kolarov from last year (@4.xx) and Bale from the year before (@3.xx) were players who just showed up on the map one day and were worth holding regardless of home/away matches. I was hoping to point out that a sound strategy takes advantage of these fixed players for at least several weeks at a time while rotating home players from week to week around them. There's no high-placed team I've seen that doesn't adopt this strategy. Apologies for the confusion, no disrespect meant.

    - D.H.

  8. Anonymous12:20 PM

    At Liverpool, with Johnson out, Insua out (of favor), Aurelio is a good bet to start. And @3.60 he's a great bet! Even if Adam gets his set pieces.

  9. Rohan Trivedi12:38 PM

    Dzeko and Albrighton
    Torres and Hoolahan

    I am well aware about the slump in Torres' form and his concussion but something tell me he is going to have a good season.

    If I do pick Torres, it will be the biggest gamble of the season for me but I am willing to take it.
    I just can't decide if I want to.

  10. shhhh on grant holt
    he's supposed to be my little secret

  11. Anonymous3:04 AM


    If you want to pick Gibbs, be warned that he's bloody injury prone and the odds of him going through a long profitable run is extremely slim. I am extremely angry at Wenger for not getting Enrique, he's affordable and he at the very least wouldn't be a sicknote like Gibbs.

  12. neal, no denilson will not go to united or union, he will follow my teams and go to the crew. lets hope he goes to the galaxy though.