Disclaimer, Tuesday 10th October
This post is currently incomplete because I am bed-ridden with tonsillitis. I started writing it on Friday night with the ambition of creating a full analysis of over- and under-performing players, rankings, fixture analyses, etc. that the space a two week international break can provide. But then I got sick and have spent the last few days unable to think for longer than a few minutes at a time.
However, FPL waits for no man, so I publish below the rankings for gameweeks (GW) 8 to 13 with the notes for forwards and midfielders I made on Friday. I figured it was best to get them out now so the reader has a chance to see them with plenty of time to spare before the GW8 deadline. I will try to update the article throughout the week as my health improves to include my takes on defenders, goalkeepers and the realised points vs. expected points of all positions, but I ask for your patience in that regard.
Finally, a thanks to @FPLStatto for saving me a load of time by sourcing a few of the metrics from the FPL site.
The pre-eminence of the premium forwards this season and the fashion for accommodating them with a four- or five-man defensive is certainly played out here. All the heavy-hitters are present at the top of the list, so there is no need to dwell on that endlessly discussed subject. However, for those going with two of the premium forwards, the two options are a mid-range forward or a budget forward, and here is where this methodology reveals an interesting perspective.
The two popular mid-priced forwards are Jamie Vardy (13th overall rank) and Roberto Firmino (27th), which hardly propels them to stand-out candidates. The presence of Daniel Sturridge near the top of the list (6th) is a potential option in this price bracket, but he’s going to have to play a lot of games injury-free before anyone trusts him as a viable long-term candidate.
The re-emergence of Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez as FPL options (see below) brings the focus onto the budget forwards, of which there do appear to be a handful of options.
Oumar Niasse (2nd) / Dominic Calvert-Lewin (6th): Everton’s dreadful start to the season cannot hide the fact that their fixtures are turning in their favour, and in Niasse and Calvert-Lewin they have budget forwards who have been active in the final third of the pitch when they have been playing. That final phrase is the key, because with Rooney and Ramirez hanging around and the manager yet to work out his best side there is no guarantee either will start regularly. Of the two, Ronald Koeman’s historic dislike of Niasse makes the Calvert-Lewin the better option in FPL terms as a budget enabler. It should be noted also that Calvert-Lewin has currently realised just 75% of his expected points, whereas Niasse is over-performing on 133%, which is statistically another feather in the Englishman’s cap.
Joselu (10th): put simply, he should be scoring a lot more than he is based purely on the amount of shots he’s taking. The quality of the shots on target, and indeed his quality in scoring goals, are not factors in this model and the ‘eye test’ does portray him in a somewhat unfavourable light, however Newcastle’s fixtures are decent and he seems to have cemented his place as the first choice. So as his confidence grows and he gets used to playing first team football again there is potential for him to start converting the chances being presented to him.
Marcus Rashford (11th): at £7.6, he’s arguably more of a mid-priced option, but the youngster does provide a budget alternative route into the Manchester United attack and has started the last four league games, so is certainly worth a look if you need to free up funds.
Turn out the light, the party’s over. FPL managers everywhere have had fun for the first seven games of the season directing obscene proportions of their budget into the three-man premium forward lines and five-man expensive wing-back defences, safe in the knowledge that there was no need to invest anything significant in midfield aside from maybe picking up Mo Salah or Christian Eriksen. Those days appear to be coming to an end.
Eden Hazard (1st) / Alexis Sanchez (4th): The heavy-hitting duo are starting to show the stats and the game time to justify their price tags. Following three cameo appearances from the bench to make sure he’s fit again, Hazard started in Chelsea’s last match in an advanced role, whereas Sanchez completed 90 minutes in the league for the first time this season in gameweek 7. However where Sanchez’s upcoming fixtures are a mixed bag and his FPL potential is compromised by Alexandre Lacazette’s regular position as the number 9 in the team, Chelsea’s dependence on Hazard will surely increase with the injury to Alvaro Morata. A key factor is also Chelsea’s amazing 20 game run where the only really test for their attack is likely to be Manchester United. Oh yeah, and they play Crystal Palace next. Whilst it is still early days with a small sample, and whilst I’m not sure how I’m going to achieve it, getting Hazard in is going to be my priority before the gameweek 8 deadline.
Elsewhere, there are a few names worth taking note of in the midfield that may not be immediately apparent.
Xherdan Shaqiri (6th): The Swiss international has only realised 72% of his expected points this season and his on-pitch actions have seen him jump ahead of the bandwagon Choupo-Moting (11th). After the forthcoming fixture against Manchester City, the fixture list looks good for Stoke and at £5.9 he looks a decent bet if you’re looking to change up your 3rd or 4th midfielder.
Junior Stanislas (17th): also at £5.9, Stanislas proved an infuriating player to own last season after he was mysteriously dropped by Eddie Howe. However, he has started the last two games and registered three shots on target in that time. Gameweek 8 might be a little too soon to be considering Bournemouth assets, but the run of fixtures from gameweeks 11-16 are worth considering if you’re playing a late wildcard.
Finally, because I know I’ll get asked, Henrik Mkhitaryan has an overall rank of 30, and has realised 159% of his expected points.