fantasy football tips

ATFPL Team of the Season

Gummi Fantasy Football Tips

With the season over and the new fixtures having been published All Things FPL (ATFPL) wanted to revisit once more last season’s top Fantasy Premier League (FPL) performers with an eye on next season.

Instead of doing the normal team of the season article, we wanted to set up some limitations to make the team a bit different and force us to look outside the box. Just a bit; we are still in the box, but at least we are peeking out.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • We’re picking a whole FPL squad, consisting of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders, and three strikers.
  • The total value of the team can not go over the initial FPL maximum of 100 million, using the price of the players at the start of the season.
  • Only three players from each team, as per the FPL rules.
  • Although the top FPL scorers are prioritised, we also consider value, especially for the defenders.
  • Players with limited game time are in the conversation, as well as players that enjoyed extended runs of great returns, even if they were not consistent over the course of the season.
  • Underlying statistics are considered, even if it did not result in matching output in FPL points.
  • The formation is the FPL preferred 3-4-3 with a goalkeeper, two defenders, and a midfielder on the bench.

Grab yourself a coffee as this one is a long read so without delay lets get this show on the road.

Goalkeeper and Defenders

Fraser Forster – 118 Points

Representing a fantastic Southampton defence, Fraser Forster is the first member of ATFPL’s team of the season. Despite ranking only eighth in total FPL points due to his injury in Gameweek 30, Forster’s combination of a reasonable starting price of 5.0 million and Southampton’s 14 clean sheets in his 30 appearances — one more than champions Chelsea — makes him our keeper of choice.

Bolstering the case for Forster’s inclusion is the fact that Southampton kept only two clean sheets in the eight appearances without Forster in a relatively easy schedule, including games against Hull City, Sunderland, Stoke City, Leicester City, and Aston Villa.

Looking at the underlying club numbers, we see that Southampton’s defensive resolve in the games including Forster was no fluke as the Saints had the lowest amount of goal attempts conceded (9.73 per game) and were third in goal attempts conceded in the box (5.6 per game, below only Manchester City and Chelsea).

Forster conceded few goals from big chances, an indicator of Forster’s prowess in one-on-ones. Forster allowed only a little under a quarter of big chances to result in goals, the lowest percentage of keepers. Forster compares favourably to David de Gea — considered by most the best keeper of the season — who conceded from 27% of big chances coming his way.

Forster was a fine pick with a non-playing 4.0 million substitute keeper and even better in a rotation pair. In fact, 10 of his clean sheets came at home with Southampton failing to keep home clean sheets against the better attacks (Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea) good mid-table to European contenders (Swansea, Liverpool), and only one surprise in QPR.

At least one pick from Southampton’s defence was a given and Forster got the nod over other impressive candidates in Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand. All three will be solid picks next year — if they all remain under Ronald Koeman’s tutelage — but could be hampered by an inflated price.

John Terry – 173 Points

Alongside Branislav Ivanović, John Terry was arguably the best defender this season and was even touted by some as the true player of the season. In Fantasy terms, Ivanović was more impressive given his attacking output and without the restraint of team value, the Chelsea pick would have gone too the powerful Serbian.

But Terry was majestic for Chelsea, playing every minute of every league game, receiving only two yellow cards and no reds and boasting an impressive 90% pass completion rate. His consistency saw his price rise by 0.6 million, the fourth highest rise (behind only Ivanović and Southampton fullbacks Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne). Initially priced at 6.5 million versus Ivanović’s 7.0 valuation, the Chelsea teammates were separated by only two Fantasy points come the end of Gameweek 38.

His fantastic 4.55 points per game — second only to Ivanović’s 4.63 — were collected on the back of 17 clean sheets, five goals from 19 goal attempts in the box, and 14 bonus points.

A Chelsea defender was an obvious pick and going on points per game alone could have warranted up to three picks. With José Mourinho at the helm next year an investment in the Chelsea defence is recommended — the main question will be who to pick. With both Terry’s and Ivanović’s price likely to rise, a riskier investment in César Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, or even Kurt Zouma could be an option. But based on this season, it will be between the reliable Terry and Ivanović.

Neil Taylor – 109 Points

The first true value pick of the ATFPL team of the season, Neil Taylor of Swansea is the cheap reliable defender you need in a rotation system. He was initially priced at 4.5 million (and rose to 4.8 million) and registered an impressive 13 clean sheets — only defenders playing for Chelsea, Southampton, and the aforementioned Lescott kept the same amount or more.

While his point scoring came largely on the back of clean sheet points — and less importantly, four bonus points — he still managed three assists. The assists should be repeatable next season as he has the underlying statistics to back them up with 22 key passes (18th of defenders).

Although Taylor registered only six clean sheets at home, Swansea mainly denied goals for opponents in the bottom half of the table (10 out of 13). This could give rise to expanding defensive rotations for Swansea to include easier games away from home next season, as Fantasy managers will surely look for bargains in Garry Monk’s defence.

Joleon Lescott – 127 Points

Although Joleon Lescott played every minute of every game once Alan Irvine gave Lescott his first start in Gameweek 5 due to injury/fitness, it wasn’t until the appointment of Tony Pulis as the Baggies manager in the beginning of January that he became a Fantasy force.

With 15 clean sheets and an impressive 44.12% clean sheet ratio, Lescott was close to becoming a defensive elite in a bottom half team. In essence, that is what Pulis does for Fantasy managers.

To understand the draw of a 5.0 million priced defender posting these kind of numbers it is worth looking at his 3.74 points per game. Firing up the ATFPL Fantasy Premier League Statistics page and sorting by defenders and points per game we get a picture who his Fantasy peers are: Defenders from the best teams (Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United), players from defensively sound Southampton, and Everton defenders with a surprising amount of goals (Phil Jagielka) and the evergreen assist machine in Leighton Baines.

If Pulis remains WBA coach the price of WBA defenders will be one of the more interesting aspects of the new prices of the the 2015/16 FPL game. After all, WBA only kept five clean sheets before Pulis’s appointment and then went on to registers 10 clean sheets in 18 league matches after January 1st. That is a 55.6% clean sheet ratio folks.

Midfielders

Eden Hazard – 233 Points

The Chelsea attacking midfielder and player of the year is the most obvious choice in the team. He topped the FPL charts with an astounding 233 points, thanks to 14 goals and nine assists. He has earned the trust of manager José Mourinho who played him in every league game — Hazard missed only 48 minutes of playing time.

The tricky Belgian registered the second highest points per game average (6.05) after Sergio Agüero and received 42 bonus points, 10 more than Harry Kane in second — on bonus points alone Hazard would have registered around three points per game.

Hazard was a fantastic target for the captain’s armband due to his consistent home form. Looking only at home games his points per game jumps to a captain’s worthy 7.26 versus the less inspiring but still decent 4.84.

The underlying statistics on Hazard are unsurprisingly spectacular and we could go on an on about his FPL prowess. Let us try to get through the most exciting bits in one fell swoop. Ready? Hold your breath and go: Hazard played the highest amount of key passes (101); had the seventh highest amount of goal attempts (78), third most shots inside the box (49), and joint third highest shots on target (33); completed 1.165 passes in the final third, again the highest in the league; dominated dribbles attempted (279 versus second highest 196) and successful dribbles (179 vs 115); and had the third highest amount of touches (3100) for the season.

Let us just agree that, barring the FPL deities slapping an ungodly price on the winger, he will be one of the first names on your team sheet come next season.

David Silva – 191 Points

And now onto the much maligned but amazingly consistent David Silva. He had a relatively quiet start to the season (returns in three games out of nine), frustrating his owners with all-around great displays without Fantasy rewards. To many in the ATFPL community, this had become known as doing the “Silva” – little did we know he would end up with the joint fourth highest Fantasy score.

Then injury struck before Gameweek 10 and Silva looked to play little part in shaping the FPL landscape this season. But boy did he come back with a bang. The midfield maestro delivered four goals, an assist, and six bonus points in four games after coming back from injury in Gameweek 16. After that there was no turning back and Silva became an essential part the FPL midfield. He only blanked in consecutive games once from Gameweek 16 to 38, scored and assisted, delivered five double digit Gameweeks, and ended the season with an impressive 12 goals, 12, assists, and 28 bonus points.

Silva scored well in all major statistical categories, most notably having the third highest points per game (5.97) score after Agüero and Hazard and making a total of 93 key passes, third only behind Hazard and Cesc Fàbregas —  he also scored well in per minute measurements, with a key pass attempted every 28.59 minutes, third behind Mesut Özil and Jesus Navas for players with 20 games or more.

He was the key orchestrator at Manchester City with over 2146 attempted passes and a more impressive number of 915 successful passes in the final third, second only behind Hazard. Looking at more numbers, Silva just looks better and better. He has 190 probings in the opposition box (again second, this time behind only Fàbregas), 29 through balls (second behind Alexis Sánchez).

Silva will surely start with a higher asking price than his initial 9.0 million this season. Nevertheless, with the added goal threat and 12 or more assists in his last four seasons he will be a Fantasy force to reckon with, whether he ends up in our team or not.

Alexis Sánchez – 205 Points

Was often the driving force in Arsenal’s attacking play with his boundless energy, relentless hassling of defenders, and cutting directness — as mentioned in Hazard’s section above he was second only to the Belgian in successful dribbles.

The Chilean isn’t really a midfielder in the classic sense, often staying high up on the pitch. Over 60% of his passes were attempted in the final third, the joint highest in the game with (surprise, surprise) Hazard. That a bigger part of their passing happens in the opposition third than every forward in the game speaks volume of their role as true attacking midfielders.

Being an attacker reaps Fantasy rewards; Sánchez scored 16 goals and made eight assists — he made for a great target for the armband at home with nine goals and the the bulk of the assists coming at the Emirates. He even made for a good captain away from home as he averaged a fantastic 5.86 points per game.

As with other players in the team of the season, Sánchez is no statistical slouch. He was a major goal threat all season, registering the fourth highest number of goal attempts (121), fifth highest number of shots inside the box (68), and third highest number of shots on target (49). He was also sixth in number of key passes.

This number of shots equates to a goal attempt every 24.37 minutes, a similar number to the most prolific forwards and second only to Charlie Adam among midfielders — the difference being that Sánchez took mostly shots in good positions while Adam’s quality of shots varied wildly.

The same applies to Sánchez as Hazard and Silva for next season: he will be a major FPL player unless he is priced out of consideration. This is especially important for Sánchez as he is the only Arsenal midfielder that can be considered a guaranteed starter. With the plethora of options Arsène Wenger has at his disposal, a secure place in the starting lineup may well be worth the increased price.

Gylfi Sigurðsson – 154 Points

We’re back to value considerations as we welcome fellow Icelander Gylfi Sigurðsson to the team. After three years of limited minutes for Swansea and Tottenham, this season marked his first full involvement and consequently his best ever return. He was seldom spectacular but remarkably consistent, with Fantasy returns in 13 out of 32 appearances.

Sigurðsson is, in the words of Stoosher, an “enabler”; a mid-priced midfielder that you get in to be able to afford the Hazard’s and Sánchez’ of the game, yet returning a steady stream of Fantasy points to bolster your standings. There were other candidates, but Sigurðsson was our Little, Small, Wee Bear; containing just the right mix of points returns, consistency, and price.

He was so important for Swansea all season long, coming in first or second for the team in all the most important Fantasy categories; goals, goal attempts, shots on target, assists, key passes, and passes in the final third. In short, most of Swansea’s attacking play went through him. But he wasn’t impressive compared only to his teammates. He was impressive, period.

Sigurðsson made the joint third most assists (10), backed by the underlying statistic of making the top ten in key passes made (73). In fact, all his passing stats are noteworthy considering his modest starting price (6.0 million) and playing for a team that ended in eighth spot. For example, he registered in the top 15 in both successful crosses and through balls. More importantly, he created the joint second highest amount of big chances, a similar amount as creative geniuses such as Hazard, Silva, Santi Cazorla, and Juan Mata.

For next season, take a look at the possible enablers in midfield. The prerequisites are prices in the range of 5.0 (if you are lucky) to 7.0 (any higher and the savings to returns ratio becomes debatable), an attacking role in their teams, and preferably statistics that back up the choice. It may be that Sigurðsson will be viable again next season, for example if his starting price is at 6.5. If so, he is one to stick in your team and keep there.

Forwards

It was a strange season for forwards, as only three of them — all included in the team — scored over 150 points for the season. Sergio Agüero, Harry Kane, and Charlie Austin made the top ten in total points with Diego Costa the closest competitor down in eighteenth.

The inclusion of Kane and Austin made life a bit easier for Fantasy managers as the money saved upfront could be spent on several elite midfielders or a pair of defenders from the top teams. In fact, Kane and Austin proved to be the second and third best value picks of the season in a game where the focus is often on which of the pricey forwards to include in your team.

Sergio Agüero – 216 Points

Sergio “Kun” Agüero scored the most goals in the league, adding 10 assists for the double-double, recorded the highest amount of points per game (6.55), and was second only Hazard in points scored (216 versus 233) on 800 less minutes.

Simply put, Agüero is the most dangerous attacker in the Premier League. He led the league with 17.16 minutes per goal attempt (148 in total), most shots in the box (115), and shots on target (62). This led to him scoring every 97.65 minutes, a statistic bettered only by Theo Walcott’s five goals in 441 minutes for players with over ten games (on a side note, Walcott’s numbers are fantastic; he is one to watch out for next season).

Agüero enjoyed a fantastic end to the season, scoring nine goals and providing three assists in the last seven league games. This upturn in form coincided with Manuel Pellegrini sticking to a one-striker system well suited to the Argentine striker. It would be wise to monitor Manchester City’s purchases over the summer and watch City’s first games closely to figure out whether Agüero will stay alone up top.

An injury free Agüero is likely to finish every FPL season as the top scorer, especially in the right system, so it is his price that will determine his viability. But with talent like this and four seasons of proven potent goalscoring, a price hike to 13.0 or even an astronomical 14.0 million would do little to dissuade ATFPL that he will be essential next season.

Harry Kane – 191 Points

This years revelation, Harry Kane came out of nowhere (or the Europa League for the pedants) to finish the joint fourth highest point scorer in the FPL. He was one of three players to score 20 goals or more in the league, finishing the second highest with 21 goals to Agüero’s 26.

From the middle of December to the end of March Kane was unstoppable. He scored 17 of his goals in the 15 Gameweeks in that timeframe, adding four assists for good measure.

The Tottenham striker has the numbers to back up his production. He was in the upper echelon’s in shooting statistics, ranking fifth in goal attempts (112), sixth in shots inside the box (66), fourth in shots on target (49). His per minute stats were equally as impressive, with 23.04 minutes per goal attempt (fourth among players with at least 20 appearances), and 122.90 minutes per goal (seventh).

With a starting price of 5.0 mil, Kane is arguably the best value forward ever to grace the FPL game. Sadly, his price will skyrocket, putting him in the category with Rooney, Sturridge, Costa, and Giroud. At those prices he’s still a viable pick, but becomes one of the candidates instead of an instant buy.

Also, it has yet to be seen whether he can sustain his form over multiple seasons although the signs are good. He is the third youngest player to break the 20 goal barrier in the Premier League, has the numbers to back up his production, is not overly reliant on pace, and seems to be a level headed individual.

Charlie Austin – 176 Points

The only bright light in QPR’s season, Charlie Austin did his best to keep the Hoops up with his 18 goals, eight assists. His efforts earned him 176 Fantasy points, the eighth highest score of the season.

Like Kane, Austin was fantastic value over the course of the season. For a starting price of 6.0 mil you got a player that blanked (scored 3 or less points) in consecutive Gameweeks only four times. Three of those times were two Gameweek blanks while the fourth was a four game streak from Gameweek 32 to 36 including games against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

This consistency is reflected in his points per game score of 4.49, the highest by a healthy margin of the clubs in the bottom tier of the league.

Amazingly, Austin was second only to Agüero in number of goal attempts (148) and shots on target (53) and third in shots inside the box (75). In per minute terms Austin managed a goal attempt every 23.61 minutes, fifth among players with at least 20 appearances.

Given QPR’s relegation and Austin’s consistency, he will surely end up at a new Premier League club next season and will be one to include in your shortlists. He has already proven he can score in a bad team and could be priced relatively low, especially if he ends up at a mid-tier club, but as always the question remains how quickly he will adapt to a new team.

The Bench

Costel Pantilimon – 123 Points

Sunderland owe a lot to Costel Pantilimon’s heroics as he was a big part of keeping the Black Cats alive for one more Premier League season. The Romanian national is included in the team of the season as a representative of the cheap rotation keeper and as a punt towards next season — a team managed by Dick Advocaat is likely to avoid the relegation battle.

Pantilimon kept 11 clean sheets, joint sixth highest, but jumps to third highest when considering his clean sheet ratio (39.29%) as Vito Mannone played the first nine games of the season – Pantilimon trailed only David Ospina and the aforementioned Forster for goalkeepers that played more than 10 games.

Pantilimon, standing at over two metres tall, is dominant in the air and has a surprising amount of saves (109) considering his clean sheet ratio. He recorded 3.89 saves per game, the highest for goalkeepers with over 20 games.

He was Sunderland’s top FPL scorer despite making only 28 appearances and is one to consider for next season’s rotation as he’s unlikely to go up in price given Sunderland’s overall performances. In fact, he could even be bought as a cheap keeper on his own with the right combination of clean sheets and saves.

Kieran Trippier – 118 Points

Kieran Trippier is the second relegated player to be included in ATFPL’s team of the season. This is in part due to the need to balance the budget as per the limitations but more so because of some interesting underlying numbers, including 10 clean sheets and four assists.

Trippier had an insane 234 crosses attempted and 91 succeeded, leading the league in both categories and is also the only defender in the top ten. To put the numbers in context the defender with the second most amount of crosses attempted and succeeded, Leighton Baines (a player renowned for his crossing), attempted 68 and succeeded 49 times.

Trippier was also the defender with the most attempted passes in the final third (761), but only sixth in successful passes in the same area (331), which can be attributed at least in part to Burnley’s struggles.

The Burnley full-back also excelled in the more important key pass statistic, delivering 64 key passes (a key pass every 53.38 minutes), second only to Leighton Baines for defenders. To put this into context of defenders again, Trippier ranks 16th overall to Baines’s 11th and the next defender is all the way down in 49th (Ivanović).

Recent rumours indicate Tottenham are in for the full-back, understandable given the numbers above. With similar chances of clean sheets and the price likely to stay at 5.0 million he could be a bargain given his attacking numbers. Tottenham scored 30 more goals than Burnley, meaning Trippier’s key passes and crosses are more likely to lead to goals and FPL points.

Aaron Cresswell – 129 Points

Next up is another attacking minded defender in West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell. Cresswell’s scored two goals, delivered four assists, and registered nine clean sheets for an overall FPL score of 129, 11th best for defenders.

Priced at 5.5 million, he is at the fringe of budget player category but is included due to his mix of clean sheets, attacking output, and attractive underlying numbers.

Cresswell was heavily involved in West Ham’s attacking play, attempting 532 passes in the final third (fourth among defenders), 117 crosses (again fourth among defenders), and most importantly 35 key passes (fifth among defenders).

He was also a decent goal threat for a defender with nine shots on target (sixth among defenders) from a goal attempt every other game, although most of his shots came outside the box.

The arrival of Slaven Bilić puts a question mark over Cresswell’s role in a new system at West Ham with the Croatian likely to play a more attacking brand of football. This should enable the left-back to be more involved the attacking third registering more key passes and shots, but could come at the expense of clean sheets. Given his price he is more of a wait-and-see player or a pre-meditated gamble.

Stewart Downing – 160 Points

The second West Ham player in the ATFPL team of the season, Stewart Downing, is a safer pick than Cresswell for next season due the likely added emphasis on attacking football and Downing’s relatively cheap price compared to the elite midfielders.

He is another midfield “enabler” (see the discussion on Gylfi Sigurðsson) — a budget midfielder that delivers FPL points, while enabling purchases of the most expensive players — and a damn good one at that. He ended the season with the 14th highest FPL score on the back of six goals and eight assists, his best return since 2010/11 — not bad for a player initially priced at 5.5 million.

He did the most damage in the first two-thirds of the season as West Ham’s season petered out after they had secured their position in the Premier League — this affected Downing who scored only once and made no assists after Gameweek 27.

His underlying numbers are impressive. He delivered 85 key passes — trailing only Hazard, Fàbregas, and Silva — and made the second most successful crosses (82) from the third most attempted (163). He also ranked 24th in goal attempts (70) although most of his shots came from outside the box.

The combination of a new coach, Downing’s low profile, and bad end to the season could convince the FPL gods to give him a reasonable price. If so, he’s on ATFPL’s shortlist to balance out purchases of the elites.

About the contributor

Gummi

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