Premier League: Life without Lukaku

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” or so the saying goes. As fantasy managers find something to pass the time this weekend, many are reviewing and preparing their squads for the upcoming DGW, as we have 9 week of play remaining. Riding the success of three green arrows into the international break, I feel my squad has turned the corner and I’ve gained nearly 500k spots, positioned at 1.1m with 1400 total points. Not ideal, but it’s been a challenging season. To think, I had this all figured out after GW6 sitting at 29k, on the back of three green arrows.

Bold moves may mark the start of GW30 as I prepare my strategy and transfers through GW34. I am without a WC, which I activated in GW21 to rebuild my team as I was struggling with just 3 green arrows out of the previous 10 weeks. While I am holding my FT until late next week, we wait and watch the international matches in hopes EPL players stay in form and more importantly, healthy. Seamus Coleman has already been lost for the rest of the season due to a broken leg. That is one transfer I hadn’t accounted for.

Plans for GW30 now include 3 transfers; Sanchez, Lukaku and Coleman out for Vardy, Mane and Fuchs. Yes, you read that right, I plan on moving the most in form forward, Lukaku. The next two matches are away to Livepool and Man United, two games in which he didn’t return points earlier in the year. In fact if you look over his Merseyside Derby stats, he has just two goals since joining Everton. His home performance is stronger than on the road, with 12 goals in 13 matches at home versus 8 goals in 14 matches on the road. He’a also created 3 more chances (20) at home than on the road. His shot accuracy remains constant at 66% in both cases.

Introducing Vardy will be the first time the Leicester man has made an appearance on my squad. His form and that of the Foxes has been lacking much of the year, as they push to stay clear of the relegation zone. Since Craig Shakespeare has taken the reins, Leicester has been undefeated in 4 games, advancing to the quarterfinals in the UCL and now 6 points clear of relegation. Vardy has been reborn, so to speak with returns in his last 3 games, including 3 goals. Up next for the Foxes, home tilts against Stoke City and Sunderland. Based on form and fixture, Vardy could put together to solid performances.

“The Vardy Experiment” will only be for 2 weeks, as I plan on getting Lukaku back for GW32, when the fixtures turn more favorable for Everton. As for Sanchez, Arsenal need his performance to excel in order to secure a top 4 finish. Much like Vardy, running a starting XI without Sanchez is a risk that I could take. Selected by just 26.2% of fantasy managers, does that make him essential? Fantasy Football Geek shows us that just 40% of the top FPL managers (10) he follows has Sanchez. Combine his number with that of the top 10k fantasy managers and Sanchez still misses the 50% cut for being “essential” in our fantasy squad. Conversely, Mane is owned by 90% of the top managers he followed and 54% of 10k manager, making his inclusion “essential.”

Statically, Sanchez has the advantage over Mane in many categories on the comparison matrix at Squawka.com. That doesn’t come as a surprise. Both midfielders have scored 34 points over the last 5 game weeks. Sanchez a bit more consistent with a single no return against Chelsea. Mane scored 29 points hitting braces in two games and no returns in the other 3 games. On the pitch, we all know Sanchez IS Arsenal, his involvement is key to their success. Mane is a cog in a talented midfield with Coutinho, Lallana, Miler, Wijnaldum and Firmino. You take a gamble when you transfer in one of the “big three” (Coutinho, Mane, Firmino) that they follow through from week to week with returns, while Sanchez carries a better consistency.

While I swore off Mane after last time, I swore I wouldn’t go without Sanchez after posting The Sanchez Effect. Now it appears the tables could be reversed…again! Thankfully we have another week to wait and watch, to work on our strategy to get through DGW34 and beyond. Sanchez due to his high price tag doesn’t allow me the necessary budget to make the necessary moves to get me through GW34. Mane, however, does. Not that I will let that sole fact be the deciding factor.

Premier League: The Sanchez Effect

Can a single player make or break your fantasy EPL season? While there isn’t a correct answer, I bring forth evidence in the case of Alexis Sanchez, carrying 187 points into GW28, leading all other player in fantasy football this season. With Copa América Centenario hosted in the United States for the first time, Chile saw their way through to defeat Argentina in the final on June 26. The EPL season kicked off on August 13 with international players returning from summer duties fatigued. Sanchez started the new season off slow with just 1 goal in his first 4 games and a knock after the 2-1 victory over So’ton in GW4.

Going through 27 weeks of statistics I did not start the season with Sanchez, opting for the big price tags of last year’s superstars, Riyad Mahrez (240 pts) and Dimitri Payet (171 pts), partnered with Dusan Tadic and EPL newcomer, Gastón Ramírez. N’Golo Kanté rounded out my midfield, starting on the bench after be categorized as a midfielder, from a defender last year at Leicester.

Sanchez: GW1 thru GW6 = 46 points

Sanchez GW7 thru GW11 = 26 points *

Sanchez WG12 thru GW14 = 38 points*

Sanchez GW15 thru GW20 = 33 points *

Sanchez GW21 thru GW25 = 40 points

Sanchez GW26 thru GW27 = 4 points (GW26 blank)

TOTAL 187 POINTS (* indicates player owned)

Returns were few and far between to start the season. Mahrez appeared to be starting where he left off last year with 8 points in GW1 but just 1 assist would follow over the next 9 game weeks. His tenure was short lived. Payet quickly picked up a knock after just 24 minutes and missed the next 2 game weeks, he too was transferred out. The combination of Tadic, Hazard and De Bruyne would only account for 20 points through GW6, while Sanchez would more than double that output with 46 points through the same period. In GW3, GW5 and GW6 Sanchez would record double digit returns of 16, 10 and 14 points (4 goals/3 assists). I had been a casualty of “The Sanchez Effect.”

Interestingly enough, at the conclusion of GW6 my global ranking was 29k! The highest I have recorded in nearly 4 years of playing fantasy EPL. So, did I miss his contribution? In some respect, I did. Total at the end of GW6 was 356 points or 59.3, just 0.7 short of my goal of 60 points/week. To start the season Sanchez scored 46 points through GW6, a difference of 26 points when compared to the three pronged attack of Tadic, Hazard and De Bruyne.

  • Tadic GW1 thru GW3 = 7 points *
  • Hazard GW4 thru GW5 = 3 points *
  • De Bruyne: GW6 = 10 points *

Those additional 26 points would put me at 382 points through GW6 (avg 63.6/points/week) and in a much stronger position two weeks after activating my WC. It wasn’t until GW7 that I introduced Sanchez to my starting XI. Not surprisingly, he fell out of form, with just a single double digit return in GW10 (13 pts.) against Sunderland.

The only period in which not owning Sanchez worked in my favor was introducing Sadio Mane for GW26 and GW27. Then again Arsenal didn’t play in GW26 and Sanchez was benched to start the match against Liverpool in GW27. You can track Sanchez in the list below.

Starting XI – Go ‘Orns

Tadic GW1 thru GW3 = 7 points *

Hazard GW4 thru GW5 = 3 points *

De Bruyne: GW6 = 10 points *

TOTAL = 20 POINTS (difference of 26 points)

Sanchez GW7 thru GW11 = 26 points *

Hazard GW12 thru GW14 = 15 points *

TOTAL 15 POINTS (difference of 23 points)

Sanchez GW15 thru GW20 = 33 points *

Ozil GW21 thru GW25 = 19 points  *

TOTAL = 19 POINTS (difference of 21 points)

Mane GW26 thru GW27 = 15 points *

TOTAL 15 POINTS (difference of -11 points)

TOTAL DIFFERENCE 59 POINTS (1249/1343)

GLOBAL RANKING: 1418120 794860 = 623260

Sanchez has been a key player for many this season, seen as a de facto captain on a weekly basis. Part of why I moved Sanchez was the lack of returns when I gave him the armband, it became frustrating week in, week out to see single digit returns. Many of the game weeks in which I owned Sanchez I missed out on the double digit returns, always questioning myself when it came to him.

Now 59 points through GW27 isn’t much. It would still put me behind of where I was last year at this time. 59 points is the difference between being ranked at 1.4m and 796k, a difference of 623k. One can