You’re in for a treat in this article. Just looking at numbers simply isn’t enough for @fplhaggis, he loves to add colour with imaginative writing too – enjoy.
Fantasy Premier League Pre-season. A time for joy at the impending return of our glorious time-sink of choice. And indeed optimism for the adventure that beckons before us. How will we fare this year we wonder, freshly charged from sunlit weeks spent poring over the posthumous remains of ghoulish season(s) past.
A time suitable for dreaming; I have always been a dreamer. I had entered my thirties before considering that I was cutting it a bit fine to be receiving my first International call for the dark blue colours of Scotland.
And so to a team who have exemplified this sentiment over the previous three seasons following Fosun International’s investment, and under the stewardship of manager Nuno Espirito Santo; Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Zeal of Freshness
In this time they have progressed from Championship champions to a side with genuine Premier League pedigree. For many onlookers, exiting the Europa League at the quarter final stage would seem to be the zenith of this journey. But not to this Wolves; you can bet your bottom escudo that they consider consolidation to be a dirty word, and will again attempt to smash through the perceived glass ceiling of Top 4 status. There is a zeal of freshness about this philosophy which contrasts with many of The Establishment clubs.
This is felt no starker than when viewing the current incarnation of Tottenham Hotspur under Jose Mourinho, where we bear witness to a manager clinging to the ideals which brought unlimited success some two-decades ago; the Portuguese’s arch-pragmatism at the back-end of the pitch now so entrenched that it is in danger of ‘jumping the shark’.
Boringly Good FPL Option
With the transfer of FPL darling Matt Doherty (6.0) between these sides, we find a suitable manifestation of this contrast; will the adventurous wing back continue to rack up the points at both ends of the pitch as he has done so diligently for two seasons?
This is a move which combines a tantalising triple threat; Mourinho’s pursuit of an effective low block, Doherty proven fantasy gold as an OoP defender in the final third, and the Irishman now tasked to supply the ammunition from wide areas for current golden boot favourite Harry Kane (10.5).
However, it also quite a vanilla talking-point. We can reasonably estimate that the outcome of this switch to an orthodox Lilywhites attacking full-back role will see similar defensive returns, goals down, assists from crosses up. The Irishman remains a boringly good FPL option.
Multitude of Options
What is more uncertain is how this move will affect Wolves in the new season. The midlands side have been happily married to their 3-5-2/3-4-3 set-up for two long, rotation-free, fantasy seasons, the latter a record-breaking 14-month campaign which culminated with an August exit from the Europa League.
And it is here that we are now presented with a multitude of options whom should be monitored with anticipation. Due to Jonny’s (5.5) long-term injury and the departure of Matt Doherty, Nuno Espirito Santo will be forced to regenerate a side which has undergone minimal change since their top-flight arrival.
A Sound Purchase
The obvious beneficiary of this is Ruben Vinagre, who can be accommodated in our selections at the budget-friendly price of £4.5m. However, this is assuming the side who conceded the least big chances last season (51) will stick with a 3-man defence – a change to a back 4 would limit the attacking license of these Wolves defenders and also threaten the starting place of card-magnet Romain Saiss (5.0) who would likely drop out ahead of the immovable Wilfried Boly (5.5) and club captain Conor Coady (5.0).
There is also question marks about the role of new arrival of Marcal (5.0) and rumours emerging about a potential swipe for Brazilian International Alex Telles – the latter had free-kick and penalty scoring duties at Porto and has Fantasy Gold written all over him. Statistically a Wolves defender looks a sound purchase, but it is hard to predict which one will prove best value.
At the other end of the pitch, Wolves will be aware that they need to add more goals to their defensive solidity.
Such a change in emphasis would improve the prospects of several assets; despite a misfiring campaign last time around Diogo Jota (6.5), now listed in midfield, has long-threatened a break-out season, Adama Traore’s (6.5) place must be assured in the XI unless injury strikes, but potentially in a deeper wing-back role. Both Pedro Neto (5.5) and Daniel Podence (5.5) have shown exciting glimpses of fantasy potential and the signing of £35m wonderkid Fabio Silva (5.5) adds yet another another option into the mix.
Moment of Grace
Without the distraction of European football this season, and in the context of a compressed season where the Big 6 plus Leicester will be forced to rotate heavily, a nailed asset from the above group could provide a fantastic enabler for our squads.
A tricky start with fixtures away to Sheffield Utd and at home to Man City, coupled with a rush on assets from both Manchester clubs following the GW1 blanks will provide a moment of grace to see how they line up in the opening fixtures before making a purchase.
Prepare for Podence
To fairly review the credentials of these forward options, we must consider the significant imbalance between their game-time last season. The below table measures their 19/20 full season KPIs on a per-90 minute basis.
Although he only featured for 287 minutes in total last season, Daniel Podence looks very interesting; more of an end product player in profile, he was almost Raul Jimenez’s equal for rate of goal attempts at over 3 per 90 minutes, but was also only narrowly bettered by Adama Traore in chance creation.
A look at The Scout’s prediction model for the opening six game weeks sees Jimenez way out in front as we might expect; tipped again to provide tremendous value for money as a mid-range forward. If you are the kind of manager who enjoys a 38-game lock, then the Mexican Marksman is a sure bet like no other in the league; never injured, never rotated, always finds a way to tick along.
Daniel Podence tops the GW1-6 value chart amongst these other forward options; if he can nail down a spot in a reshuffled frontline he should be considered as a mid-range alternative to current favourites Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle, 5.5) and Stuart Armstrong (Southampton, 5.5).
100 Point Threshold
A bonus table for those who like looking at numbers – this is data for the Wolves frontline from my own (untested!) season projections model. It is largely based upon expected data from last season with a few rudimentary weightings.
The key column is xPTs / VAPM on the far right, which also has Podence fares well in the value stakes even with just over half of a season’s game time. With minutes closer to the likes of Diogo Jota I would expect him to comfortably break the 100-point threshold for the season.
@FPLHaggis’ Hint: Aside from Jimenez, a watching brief for now (including the defence) ahead of a potential Podence purchase around GW4.
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