Luck plays a major role in fantasy sports, especially fantasy soccer. A quick glance at the ESPN Premier Fantasy League leader board reveals the inconsistencies that each team faces every week. In fact, if you plotted the top scorers' weekly point totals, it would resemble a picture of the Rocky Mountains. The luck that factors into Premier League scoring each week can come in forms good and bad.
An example of bad luck would be an unexpected injury to one of your defenders. Kolo Toure was mentioned here last time and was a late scratch. Liverpool went on to keep a clean sheet in defeating Fulham, and Toure missed out on the action. It can also come against an unexpected performance by an opponent. Going into the match against Tottenham, Tim Krul had allowed the fourth most goals in the Premier League. On the road he faced 31 shots (14 were on target) and allowed zero goals. Andros Townsend led the team in shots and was among the players to come away empty-handed. Or your player could just be left out of the fun: Southampton scored four goals by four different players in a victory over Hull City and Jay Rodriguez, the Saints’ leading goal scorer, was not one of the players to find the back of the net.
While all of those are examples of bad luck, they can all be viewed as being part of a good situation. Continually picking players that are in good situations is the key to success in fantasy soccer. Sure, when you find yourself in a spell of bad luck as described above, it can be very frustrating. However, the odds are good that it will eventually even out. I could write a book about how sports statistics tend to trend towards a mean, but the Bargain Bin is only open for so long. Just know that if you continue to put yourself in favorable situations, it will pay off. Just like it paid off with Tim Howard picking up an expected clean sheet against scoring-challenged Crystal Palace and Wilfried Bony finding the back of the net two times against a Stoke City squad that had been struggling to protect their goal on the road.
Remember to keep your focus on good opportunities and it will pay off in the long run. Week 12 of the Premier League comes on the heels of an international break and provides some very good opportunities. Here is Week 12 of the Bargain Bin: Providing Players In Good Situations.
Tim Krul comes in after having the performance of a lifetime against Tottenham. Fourteen saves marks his highest total since 2009 and just the second time in that span that he has recorded double-digit saves. Look for him to ride a wave of confidence as Newcastle play host to Norwich City. The Magpies have kept a clean sheet in each of the last three matches against the Canaries. On top of that, Norwich City have struggled this season to score on the road, ranking 18th out of the 20 Premier League clubs. They also rank 18th in shots attempted in road matches, so the Canaries prove to struggle with the attack away from Carrow Road. As long as Krul can keep from getting over-confident, he has a great opportunity to keep a clean sheet.
Mathieu Debuchy benefits from all the same stats that Krul did above. Since all defenders get credit for a clean sheet, you want to make sure you pick the player that has the chance to provide extra value on top. Debuchy leads all Newcastle defenders in shots and shots on target. In addition, he already has a goal and an assist during Premier League play this season. Take the clean sheet points and hope for some extra scoring from the Magpie defender.
Gareth McAuley and West Bromwich Albion have kept two clean sheets and allowed just one goal in their last three home matches. This Sunday they host an Aston Villa squad that has managed just two goals in their last four road games. That math works out quite nicely for McAuley to pick up points via a clean sheet. In addition, both of McAuley’s goals scored this season have come from a header and Aston Villa have struggled to win ariel duals this year. McAuley should provide some good value this weekend.
Marko Arnautovic has done nothing but take shots since joining Stoke City at the end of the summer transfer window. He has taken 23 of them in just eight Premier League matches this season. This Saturday, Stoke City host a Sunderland squad that ranks last in goals allowed and 18th in shots allowed this season. Arnautovic should find plenty of opportunities to put the ball on net, and with some of the good luck he should find the back of it for your fantasy squad.
Robert Brady has finally returned to full fitness for Hull City. Not that it ever mattered for the Tiger midfielder; he managed to score two goals and record an assist while playing through the pain, but now that he is healthy, he should have an easier time creating chances. This week he’ll get to face struggling Crystal Palace, who have allowed the second most goals so far this season and will be under pressure all day from a Hull City squad that likes to play in their attacking third while at home. Brady is the Tigers’ leading goal scorer and should lead the charge Saturday in their hunt for three points.
Wilfried Bony will continue to be the main attacker for Swansea City while Michu (ankle) continues to miss time. With the midfielder likely out until December, Bony will continue to take a high number of shots, including this weekend against Fulham. Working In Bony’s favor, only one team allows more shots at home than Fulham and the road team in the last three matches between these two squads has won by a total of 8-1. Swansea are averaging 2.5 goals per game in their last two Premier League matches against Fulham and there is no reason to expect that trend to cease. Bony finds himself in an great opportunity to add to his team lead in goals scored.
Yannick Sagbo also finds himself seeing additional opportunities because of an injury to a teammate. Since the match when Sone Aluko injured his calf, Sagbo has scored two goals in his Premier League appearances. He is second on the team in shots over that time and is taking advantage of the increase in scoring chances he is seeing. We’ve already discussed Crystal Palace’s tendency to allow goals and Sagbo should see himself planted in the attacking zone taking aim on a struggling defense. Look for Sagbo to join the others discussed here and provide good value in Week 12.