Fantasy Statistics Deep Dive

I check the stats so you don't have to

Joshua King or Callum Wilson? — March 20, 2019

Joshua King or Callum Wilson?

Joshua King (6.5) and Callum Wilson (6.5) make up a dynamic strike partnership that most fantasy managers will be familiar with by now. With the run of easy fixtures in Bournemouth’s future, many are wondering which of the two evenly priced forwards is the better option. With the abundance of excellent forward options available, the three spots available are all precious, so i’ll be taking a deep dive into their statistics and comparing them to provide some insight.

Not only are the two strikers even in price, they’ve both scored 11 goals apiece. We start to see a difference when looking at assist statistics, where Wilson has laid on 6 (and 3 assists for drawn penalties), while King has only managed a paltry 3. What makes this even more impressive is that Wilson has managed this in only 1906 minutes, compared to King’s 2395.

This chart compares the expected statistics of both forwards. Wilson has registered 10.89 xG, indicating a negligible over-performance of 0.11, while King has a very similar xG of 10.88, over-performing by 0.12. However, due to Wilson’s more limited minutes, he has 0.51 xG per 90, while King only manages 0.41 per game. Looking at the creative side, Wilson is much more of a creator as well, laying on a total of 4.85 xA, indicating an over-performance of 1.15. King has provided 3.64 xA for his teammates, suggesting an under-performance of 0.64. Due to the same minutes related issue, Wilson again trumps King with his 0.28 xA per 90 compared to King’s 0.11. From what I have already said, it’s looking clear that Wilson is the superior option, but I have to take another dig at King’s statistics even more to give a fair comparison.

King is the main penalty taker for Bournemouth, which is obviously a positive for fantasy managers. However, in the expected goals model, a penalty awards 0.76 xG, and Bournemouth have currently receive the second most penalties of any team in the Premier League with 9, which is obviously not going to be sustainable. These penalties have had a significant impact on King’s statistics, so to compare his value in open play to Wilson’s, I will use his Non-Penalty Expected Goals (NPxG).

Once penalties are removed, King sits at 6.32 xG, so when you consider that he has only bagged 6 non-penalty goals, shows that he is performing true to his underlying stats. These stats are however, much worse than Wilson’s. It seems as if, were it not for all of these penalties, King would not even be in the conversation for one of the three precious striker slots.

Wilson carrying King, as per usual

To wrap this up, I think its pretty clear that Callum Wilson is the better option going forward than his Norwegian teammate. His attacking statistics are better even when penalties are included in King’s, and absolutely dwarf them when they are excluded. While being a pen taker is a boon to a player’s fantasy viability, Bournemouth have already been fairly fortunate in the amount they have received, and it would be unwise to assume they will continue to be awarded to them at the same frequency for the remainder of the season.

Verdict: Wilson is the man

Jeffrey Schlupp — March 19, 2019

Jeffrey Schlupp

The German defender Jeffrey Schlupp (4.5) has caught manager’s eyes in the past few gameweeks, as he moved to an out of position role in center midfield, earning him 4 goals and 1 assist in the process. The attacking returns on top of the clean sheets he earns from his DEF listing make him an attractive prospect for the tail end of the season, so I’ll be taking a look into his statistics to see if his returns are sustainable.

The total xG generated by Schlupp this season is 2.60, indicating an over-performance of 1.40, while his total xA is at 1.29, suggesting an under-performance of 0.29. While he has only managed a meager 1269 minutes this season, his statistics since his positional shift are looking very good. Registering 1.42 shots per 90 and 0.92 key passes, really highlights his involvement in palace’s attack. One thing to note is that his xG and xA are both higher than those of the other popular cut rate attacking defender, Fabian Schär.

Jeffrey’s shot locations are also quite encouraging to look at. The majority of them coming from inside the box on the left hand side, he seems to be prone to decent shot selection rather than just letting them rip from wherever. However, I do notice he has only been on the end of two high xG (good scoring opportunity) chances, with most of his shots being 0.1 xG or less.

Many managers are hesitant when considering Schlupp, as the majority of us own the legend Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and are uncertain whether a defensive double up on palace would be a good idea. Well, I think it wouldn’t be the worst of ideas. Palace currently sits in 13th place, but only 7 teams have conceded more expected goals against. To add onto this, with the acquisition of Batshuayi, there has been a certain attacking impetus added to the side that had been missing over the earlier parts of the season, with palace scoring 8 goals in the last 3 games. Although they only generated 3.95 xG in this period, Schlupp will be an integral cog in the newfound strength of palace’s attack.

To wrap things up, I’d say that you would be hard pressed to find a better deal at 4.5 than Jeffery Schlupp. The attacking returns will slowly trickle in over the rest of the season, and with the clean sheets palace love to keep, Schlupp is sure to get you some decent returns.

Shots/90: 1.42
Key Passes/90: 0.92
xG/90: 0.18
xA/90: 0.09

Verdict: Baller

Harvey Barnes — March 15, 2019

Harvey Barnes

Harvey Barnes (5.5) is an attacking midfielder that has recently burst onto the scene with Leicester. Despite looking like he’s about 14 years old, hes proven himself to be somewhat useful, although he is yet to score a goal. In 631 minutes, he has racked up 2 assists. I have a feeling that he will be a fantastic asset for the remainder of the season, so I will take a deep dive into his statistics to see if the returns will keep on rolling in.

Harvey has managed to put up 2.40 xG, indicating a significant under-performance of 2.40 expected goals, and has laid on 1.36 xA for his teammates, which is an over-performance of 0.64 expected assists. It’s very promising to see these numbers compared to his actual stats, which suggests that he has been unfortunate not to score already, and perhaps the goals are coming right around the corner.

Now, before we look at his stats per game, its important to note that he has played a very limited number of minutes, which will obviously have an effect on his stats and distort our predictions of whether he will be able to sustain these numbers. That being said, he has an absurd 4.28 shots per 90 minutes, taking 7 shots in the game versus Brighton in Gameweek 28! To put this into context, Agüero averages 4.36 shots a game and is the best striker in the league. On the creative side, he also provides a respectable 1.43 key passes for his teammates per 90.

Next I will assess his shot locations. Its quite promising that most of his efforts come from inside the box, but he does seem to still fancy the occasional strike from range. One negative I would draw from this is that the chances he receives are not very high quality (xG <0.10), but this could improve as the squad warms to Brendan Rodger’s tactics.

To wrap this all up, I think that it’s very probable that while he may cool off a bit, the goals are coming very soon for Harvey Barnes. Especially at his cheap price of 5.5, you won’t be able to find better attacking value for the upcoming fixtures, where Leicester play Burnley (a), Bournemouth (H), Huddersfield (a) and Newcastle (H).

Shots/90: 4.28
Key Passes/90: 1.43
xG/90: 0.34
xA/90: 0.18

Verdict: Baller

Dwight McNeil — March 14, 2019

Dwight McNeil

Dwight McNeil (4.4) is a very tasty differential player in the sub 5 million midfielder category. The ginger Mourinho has breathed new life into this Burnley side, adding attacking output to the defensive solidity we’ve come to expect from them. Not unrelated to this sudden vein of form, is the introduction of the 19 year old Dwight McNeil, who has already provided 1 goal and 3 assists in only 893 minutes. I’ll be taking a deep dive into his statistics to see if these returns are sustainable.

For a player in a defensively minded Burnley side, these attacking stats are quite inspiring. McNeil bangs 2.02 shots per 90, and lays off 1.71 key passes for his teammates. These attacking numbers outshine those of other popular midfield option David Brooks, but his xG per 90 lets him down, at 0.14 per game compared to Brooks’ 0.30. This however could be attributed to the quality of players around him and the goal scoring opportunities that are created for them.

Now, McNeil is sitting at a healthy 1.47 total xG, meaning that he’s actually under-performing his expected goals by 0.47. and his xA is currently at 2.28, indicating a sizable over-performance of 1.72. It’s always a very good sign when players’ expected totals are staying near their actual output, as it suggests that they’re not simply being fortunate in their returns. The over-performance on expected assists does somewhat concern me, as the majority of McNeil’s points have come from assists, leading me to believe his game to game average score may cool down in the near future.

The left midfielder certainly isn’t afraid to bang a shot from range, with many of his attempts coming from outside the box. However, two of these are from direct free kicks, which indicates tremendous value from a 4.4 million player. The rest of his shots are taken from good locations in the box, generating a few >0.10 xG chances. It should also be noted, this is a lot of shots to be taken in just 893 minutes! You would be hard pressed to find a more attacking minded player in his price range.

To wrap things all up, these stats suggest to me that McNeil has a significant attacking role within Burnley and will continue to trickle in small returns over the rest of the season. I’ll be bringing him in on my wildcard to replace Victor Camarasa (4.6), as McNeil is the outstanding choice among super cheap starting midfielders, and would make a sensible choice for the 5th midfield slot for any manager.

Shots/90: 2.02
Key Passes/90: 1.71
xG/90: 0.14
xA/90: 0.23

Verdict: Baller

Romelu Lukaku — March 13, 2019

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli (10.8) is a giant of the premier league, already the 19th highest scorer in the competition’s history with 113 goals, and at 25 years old, he has plenty of time to move even higher on that list. This season however, he has only managed a somewhat disappointing 12 goals and 0 assists in 1768 minutes.

As for all United players, one must consider their stats in the Mourinho period and the Solskjaer period separately, as Ole has freed the attackers from the shackles of their defensive responsibilities and breathed new life into their attack. That being said, I still believe their is some truth to the joke that Lukaku plays football like he’s wearing Jeans and Timberlands. I’ll be taking a deep dive into his statistics to determine his viability as an asset for the remainder of the season.

Lukaku’s expected statistics are looking pretty good in comparison to his actual returns. So far, he has registered 12.05 xG, indicating an under-performance of 0.05, and has laid on 1.68 xA, demonstrating a significant under-performance of 1.68, as he has failed to register a single assist. Whenever attacking statistics remain true to expected returns, its a great sign for the sustainability of goal-scoring returns. Lukaku plays a key role in the front line of Manchester United’s attack, banging 2.55 shots per 90 but only laying on 0.87 key passes for his teammates, suggesting that his role is that of the target man.

Taking a look at these shot locations, you can see the signs of an elite forward. Essentially, all of his shots are taken from good positions, inside the penalty area. He has also been on the end of numerous high quality chances (xG >0.10), and has been fairly clinical in converting them into goals.

As previously mentioned, there has been a notable change in Manchester United attackers following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, so I’ll take a look at Big Rom’s stats after the Liverpool game. Since then, he has played 589 minutes, scoring 6 goals and generating 5.83 xG, suggesting that he too has had a notable uptick in form.

With Lukaku’s fantastic goal scoring form (4 in 3), he could be a fantastic differential for the remained of the season, as he is only in 5.1% of teams. However, many managers, myself included, already own one or more United attacking assets, and with their fixtures souring somewhat in the remaining gameweeks, I wouldn’t be too confident in doubling or tripling up on them.

Shots/90: 2.55
Key Passes/90: 0.87
xG/90: 0.61
xA/90: 0.09

Verdict: Baller

Ryan Fraser — March 8, 2019

Ryan Fraser

Ryan Fraser (6.1) is a name most managers are familiar with at this point in the season. The wee Scotsman, who is actually the shortest player in the entire premier league at 1.63m (5’3″), has been the creative powerhouse in the Bournemouth attack. So far, he has registered 5 goals and 9 assists in 2397 minutes. There has been a lot of debate whether or not he is a better fantasy option than his cheaper teammate, David Brooks (5.0), so I’ll be taking a deep dive into his statistics to see if he can maintain this level of attacking output.

Fraser has accumulated 3.09 xG and 9.17 xA, meaning that hes over-performing his expected goals by a sizable 1.91 but under-performing his expected assists by 0.17. Looking at this chart of his attacking output, he really isn’t much of a goal threat at all, only taking 1.24 shots per game. What stands out are his monstrous creative numbers, laying on 2.37 key passes per 90, which surpasses some of the premier league elite, such as Christian Eriksen, who provides only 2.11 a game. These chances are of good quality too, generating an average of 0.34 xA per game.

As previously stated, Fraser is much more of a creator than a finisher, so looking at his shot locations isn’t particularly pertinent. It seems like the majority of his chances are taken inside the box, but nearly all of them are low quality (less than 0.1 xG). The value he provides through his assists does offset his lack of goal scoring prowess, which has made him the top scoring midfielder at Bournemouth and the 10th highest scoring midfielder in the game.

Many managers are struggling with the decision whether to bring in Fraser or his cheaper counterpart Brooks for Bournemouth’s delicious remaining fixtures, so I’ll draw some statistical comparisons between the two of them to make the choice a bit easier.

It’s clear to see that the two of them have very different roles in the teams attack, with Brooks’ goal scoring numbers blowing Fraser’s out of the water, while Fraser puts Brooks’ creative abilities to shame. Some considerations I would have in regards to this comparison, are that Brooks was out injured during the roughest of Bournemouth’s fixtures, while Fraser played all of them, leading to a dip in his statistics. He has actually gone 8 games without an attacking return, creating only a pathetic 0.56 xA in that time! This could be accredited to the lack of Callum Wilson (6.3) in the side, due to injury issues, but frankly that statistic is enough to put me off Fraser. For some context, in the last 3 games that Brooks has played, against City, Chelsea and West Ham, he has created 0.86 xA and 1.29 xG.

As the saying goes, form over fixtures, and Fraser is one of the most out of form players in the entire league. We know the underlying quality is there, and perhaps with Callum Wilson in front of him again, he can recapture the magic. Until then, I’d advise not to be swayed by his points total and consider other options.

Shots/90: 1.24
Key Passes/90: 2.37
xG/90: 0.12
xA/90: 0.34

Verdict: Not worth it, get David Brooks instead

Fabian Schär — March 6, 2019

Fabian Schär

Fabian Schär (4.7) is a name that has been on fantasy manager’s minds ever since he burst onto the scene with a 21 point haul against Cardiff in Gameweek 23. Since then, he has become a stalwart in Rafa’s rejuvenated Newcastle side, who have won 5 out of 7 games since then, including away at Manchester City, and managed to keep 3 clean sheets in the process. He has returned 3 goals and 1 assist in a meager 1397 minutes since breaking into the starting lineup. However, it must be considered that he is often on the receiving end of the mustard, collecting 9 yellow cards already in his very limited minutes.

Now, its important to not judge the attacking statistics of a defender in the same way one would a forward, as they are hampered by their defensive responsibilities. That being said, these attacking stats are nothing to scoff at. Taking 0.93 shots per 90 minutes and laying on 0.35 key passes per 90 is a decent amount of attacking influence, especially in this notably goal-shy Newcastle side. However, his total xG is at 1.90, indicating a substantial over-performance of 1.10, while his xA is at 0.36, leaving us with an over-performance of 0.64. This casts a shadow of doubt on his viability as an asset able to provide consistent attacking returns through the end of the season.

Now lets examine Schär’s shot locations, which highlight some other issues in his attacking game. In this diagram, goals are represented in green, saved shots in blue, blocked shots in purple and shots that hit the post in yellow. The largest cluster appears to be within the right portion of the penalty area, but there seems to be a trend in that all but one are low xG (low quality) chances, as well as the worrying cluster in the far right, which indicates that he’s not afraid to have a rip from distance, to the detriment of his bonus point potential.

In conclusion, I believe that Schär would be an ill advised pick for your fantasy team. His goal hauls are not wholly supported by the underlying expected statistics, and his teammates Lejeune (4.4) and Lascelles (4.7) are equally able to reap the benefit of the tight Newcastle defense, without the constant stream of yellow cards.

Shots/90: 0.93
Key Passes/90: 0.35
xG/90: 0.1
xA/90: 0.05

Verdict: Not worth it, better options are available elsewhere

David Brooks —

David Brooks

With 6 goals and 4 assists in only 1710 minutes, David Brooks has captured the imagination of FPL managers this season. With his return from injury coinciding nicely with Bournemouth’s excellent run of fixtures, we’ll take a deep dive into his statistics to discover whether these returns are sustainable and determine his viability as a fantasy asset.

His total xG is 5.55, meaning he is over-performing by a meager 0.45, while his total xA is 3.46, meaning he is only over-performing by 0.54. Its always a very encouraging sign when a players real returns are staying true to the underlying expected totals, suggesting that this is not simply a result of good fortune.

To give some perspective outside the realm of statistics, Brooks in now returning from injury after Bournemouth’s terrible run of form and fixtures. At the cheap price of 5.0, he provides supreme value for fantasy managers, in fact he is the highest scoring player at the 5.0 and under price range. Many fantasy managers are unsure whether to bring him in or Ryan Fraser (6.1), for optimum Bournemouth attacking coverage. Fraser had a prolific partnership going with Callum Wilson (6.3) in the first half of the season, while David Brooks has operated quite well with striker Joshua King (6.5) in the following period. Let’s examine the attacking statistics that Brooks has to offer, to determine whether he would be adequate ‘coverage’.

Looking at these stats, I must say that I’m impressed. Brooks is taking an average of 1.89 shots per 90 minutes played, whilst laying on 1.11 key passes per 90. This alone indicates that he is an attacking minded player, so now lets explore his role within the attacking structure of the team. His minutes are fairly evenly split between a central midfield role and as a right midfielder. The majority of his goals have come when he plays in the right midfield position, with only one coming from the center of the park. But his combined xG/xA has been highest in the center of midfield, which would suggest that his optimal position in terms of benefit to the team is there.

Now to the final piece of analysis, shot locations. In this diagram, goals are represented in green, saved shots in blue, blocked shots in purple and shots that hit the post in yellow. I have chosen to omit missed shots. These shot locations are very encouraging. The vast majority of these are taken within the penalty area, showing some maturity with his shot choices, and indicate that he is consistently getting into good shooting positions.

To summarize, at the price of 5.0, David Brooks cannot be ignored. His stats indicate a large attacking threat, coming from sustained high quality chances throughout the season. I predict him to easily bag a few more goals during this sea of green that Bournemouth are now entering.

Shots/90: 1.89
Key Passes/90: 1.11
xG/90: 0.29
xA/90: 0.18

Verdict: Baller