What We Learned: Week 1

With one match left to go tomorrow (Monday), the first thing we learned is that when your fantasy pundit spends the summer harping on the fact that you should spend your time, effort, and budget picking home players that we won't see a home win in week 1.  I stick by my initial hypothesis that you should strongly favor players playing at home but this was certainly not great positive reinforcement early for those who might have thought I was off-base with my analysis.  At the end of the season though, I'm pretty sure you'll be happy if you keep the faith with the home players.

In other news from the first weekend of Premier League (and fantasy) action:

  • The Great Hope: The highly anticipated Adel Taarabt was in the middle of everything for QPR but it didn't translate into much for either him or his team as QPR got worked over by a Bolton team that wasn't supposed to have much of an attack.  I'm not ready to give up hope but certainly bears watching.
  • Unheralded Return: Chris Eagles wasn't nearly as highly touted going into the fantasy season but he had a solid return to the top flight that would have been even better but for the goal he caused being ruled (correctly) as an OG.  Unless SWP finds his way to the Reebok Eagles has a chance to be a strong fantasy option.
  • The Great Hope, Part II: DDG has now let in two weak goals in two weeks including the Community Shield.  With United's defense also ailing (more on this later) you have to worry that he's just not ready to be the fantasy savior.  The question is whether he'll grow into the role over the course of the season or whether he's the second coming of Manual Almunia (talented but prone to big errors that will ultimately undermine his confidence and that of his teammates). 
  • United D Crumbling Early: Rio usually waits until mid-season to start the ailing process.  This season he has not only gone out early but he's managed to take Rafael, Evra, and Vidic with him.  Yup, that's the entire starting back line.  Good thing that SAF loaded up on depth over the last 12 months or so. Smalling, Evans, Jones, and Fabio have looked good over the summer but combined with DDG that's a lot of youth at the back.  Would have been interesting to see how that worked out if Odemwingie had been healthy today.
  • Gervinho Review: Talk about a mixed bag.  He was their brightest attacking player for most of the match (damning with faint praise though) but he couldn't seem to get the end product quite right.  My guess is that he'll be fine but we'll have to wait until he returns from suspension to find out.  And what a mess that exchange was - not much more to be said about Barton is there?
  • Formica Rising: My apologies to Mo (of Mo Rules fame) for talking him out of Formica on the basis of a strong pre-season. My logic was that we've seen lots of strong pre-seasons from light weight players unable to carry it through to the real thing.  Apparently this was the exception and wow could Rovers use the attacking help.  
  • Next Wigan Generation: With N'Zogbia doing his thing at Villa Park it is time for Victor Moses and Mark Davies Ben Watson to show what they can do.  Davies got the points, took kicks (including a PK), and generally had a strong opener.  Moses didn't get the points but looked strong in all accounts. 
  • Gibbs/Verm Make It a Full 90: The defense looked extremely solid - I know NUFC isn't exactly an attacking juggernaut but that wasn't necessary to open up Arsenal last season so this is a step forward - especially given that Gibbs/Verm are cheap.
  • Chelsea Doldrums: Hard to tell how to take the nil-nil draw at Stoke.  You could look at it as bad luck since Begovic made some nice saves and Stoke parked the bus in front of the net in the form of four pretty good central defenders.  You could also look at it as a combination of fading forces (Lampard, Drogba, Elk), overrated guys (FloMal, Torres, Kalou), and guys who are too young (Ramires).  Probably somewhere in-between but it certainly wasn't a debut that had United and City shaking in their boots. 
  • Fortress Fulham: A good idea not to forget that Fulham don't give up many goals when playing at home.  Riise will be a great pick at the Cottage until his price starts to rise.  Zamora also had a strong match with phantom points. 
  • Albrighton Still Waiting: We all thought that with Downing and Young in new places that Albrighton would be promoted from the bench to the starting line-up.  Instead, McLeish went with Heskey, Agbonlahor, DBent, and N'Zogbia in the attacking spots. 
  • Liverpool's New Attack: I'm not sure what happened in the second half but the first half was very impressive.  Adam looked like he is going to pick up where he left off.  Suarez is just really good, maybe RvP good.  Carroll got a LOT of chances and while he didn't get them on target this time around he'll certainly get around to it if that keeps up.  Downing was the only one of the group who looked like he might struggle to match last season's production.  He rattled the crossbar with one shot but he wasn't as integral to the attack as I'd expected.  While this group is starting I'd guess their value will go Suarez > Adam > Carroll > Downing.
  • BFAY Returns: He didn't get credit for the goal that would have taken his day over the top but he sure looked like someone who is underpriced even though he is carrying a pretty high price. Oh, by the way, the "Returns" is the return of the "BF" status.  His favorite status has been under question due to his price in recent seasons but he seems to have upside again at the heart of what appears to be a spectacular United attacking side.
  • Berbs Really Demoted: It was hard to believe that Berbs was benched behind Chicharito over the second half of last season but the Mexican forward's production justified that choice.  The fact that Berbs is now apparently behind Danny Welbeck is downright shocking.  Welbeck wasn't great today but he's worth a look in fantasy if he's going to continue to start opposite Rooney until Hernandez is back.  
  • United's Midfield Kids: Where was the spectacular passing we saw against City in the second half? Anderson and Cleverly were adequate but certainly not up to the standard they set last Sunday.  Neither looked like they were ready to break out as a fantasy star.  
  • Wolves Win: It went down to the final day last season for Wolves.  That this season started with a road win is a big deal. Maybe I was just a season ahead of my time in jumping on the bandwagon last season.  I don't think they'll be great but between other teams (Rovers, Wigan) taking a step back and none of the newly promoted clubs looking like world beaters Wolves might have a solid road to the top half of the bottom half.
Early Thoughts for Next Week: Given (home vs. Rovers); Howard (home vs. QPR); Heitinga (home vs. QPR); BFAY (home vs. Spurs); Smalling (home vs. Spurs); RvP (home vs. LIV); Suarez (away to ARS); Larsson (home vs. NUFC); Sessegnon (home vs. NUFC); Aguero (starting debut? @ BOL).  There will be more (likely from EVE as we find out more about who will be healthy/starting).

Hope you enjoyed even if it wasn't the best fantasy weekend ever. 


  1. I think you mean Ben Watson for Wigan, not Mark Davies :)

  2. Larsson did look good against Liverpool. What a goal!

  3. So Rafael is out, Ferdinand is out, and Vidic might be out? Without Vidic and with De Gea on a learninr curve, I have no faith in MUFC keeping a clean sheet against mid-level and above competition. The offense looks fine, but that D is, as you say above, crumbling.

  4. Akshay12:55 AM

    downing hit the cross bar.. shouldnt that be counted as a shot on target?? the points dont reflect so.. morever yahoo say no SOT'S for downing if you click on his profile

  5. Anonymous3:05 AM

    Akshay - I think "on target" would be if the shot was going to go into the goal but was blocked. The cross bar is not on target, just v close.

  6. Sauce3:07 AM

    @Akshay The target in SOT being the part of the goal that counts as a goal i.e. inside the frame, not hitting it.

  7. Hello Neal,

    Can you help us with who plays the free kicks/Corner Kicks in all teams.. for example

    Man united: BFAY
    Chelsea: Lampard/Malouda/Drogba
    Liverpool: Adam/Downing
    ManCity: Silva
    Tottemham: VDV/Bale
    Arsenal: ??
    QPR: Tarabt??
    Swansea: ??
    Norwich: Hoolahan??
    Wigan: ??
    Sunderland: Larsson??

    And so on.. it will help enough in chosing players

  8. Akshay3:47 AM

    @ sauce: okay that clears it.. thanks :)

    now that also means successful crosses are those that are met by a player and directed towards a goal but are saved? rite?

  9. hmm, after reading that write up you'd have thought that United lost rather than already being 2 points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal

  10. @Nour, although the table is not completely updated (Anderson took several corners for Man U, for example), I like checking Fantasy Football Scout for information on set pieces.

    @Neal, a lot of managers made sensible home team picks and have had mediocre results, myself included. It would be easy to say you should have gone with some of your (away) hunches, but how often would a team of hunches work out? By the way, my apology for creating a fuss over home picks in general. I should have thought more carefully about wording before posting.

    - D.H.

  11. @ Data Head, that was awsome, thank you very much

  12. When is the blog going to do a weekly fantasy podcast? Would be perfect for the launch of the new site.

  13. @United - SBNation will (hopefully) enable us to do something like that in the near future. I know they have people who can produce such things.

    @DataHead - No worries, always happy to hear different points of view and incorporate them when they turn out to be based on solid reasoning. I'll I ask is that you be respectful and you were that so no complaints here.

    @MB - I was taking this from a fantasy standpoint. I think we all had incredibly high hopes/expectations for United coming into the season based on their acquisitions over the summer. Based on DDG's performance and the injuries, I think we should temper those expectations for now with respect to DDG potentially being a season-long no-brainer in your fantasy line-up. I still consider United the favorites for the title, just not by as much as I did before seeing DDG flop around the last two Sundays.

  14. Fair play neal, one of my failings as a fantasy manager is that i'm still picking a team from a football fan's point of view rather than as a fantasy manager. Reckon Smalling and / or Jones may find a way into my team

  15. Utd defensive crisis. VDV anyone? Yes please!

  16. Anonymous5:09 PM

    aguero,what a player,sensational

  17. Aguero looked magnificent today!! Great energy & movement, super touch, not afraid to shoot...the kid is YFF gold!

  18. I should add that his interplay with Silva was sharp, so playing with the quality of the City squad, he could rack up the goals and YFF points.

  19. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Just noticed that Aguero's price jumped massively after his first EPL match. A price increase is to be expected, but the size of the increase (+4.44) seems large compared to years past (when new players usually didn't have a big price increase until their 7th appearance, IIRC). Have Yahoo changed their methods for calculating player prices?

  20. Hi Neal,

    Wasnt on the barn Door live last week and will probably not be until sometime November. In the midst of house moving and all that crap.

    Firstly congrats and good job on the upcoming merger with Nik and the guys from NCNB. Think a lot of us frequent all 3 sites anyway. Looking forward to it.

    Secondly....defenders with clean sheets seem to be getting a bit more points this season. Makes choosing defenders more interesting compared to previous seasons of just getting the fullbacks. Now if only S.Taylor was cheaper for next week...he's bound to get a headed goal for some annual chest thumping badge kissing celebrations against Sunderland.

    Thirdly....Is Aguero the new Tevez....or the new Ronaldo. Will he get 20 points agaisnt all opponents or just the weak ones? Doesnt matter much cause everyone will get him. Thanks god i barn doored him at 6.52. However i still dont trust Mancini...he might just start Tevez and Balotelli next week for the heck of it.

    Rooney looks up for it this season...now without the distraction of his receding hairline maybe his problems of last season have been solved.

    And oh....good luck everyone for the new season.

    Joe (Newcastle fan)

  21. Anonymous8:11 AM

    RVP, Young or Malouda as captain for next week?