One of the most overlooked aspects of Fantasy Football is the matchups our players face each week. Most players seem to simply follow trends (which can sometimes work) and pick those players who have racked up alot of points to date or in the previous week. However, this obviously ignores the fixtures on the horizon and often leads to wasted transfers and point chasing.
By assigning a figure (1, 2 or 3) to each team based on their performance to date - in terms of goals scored and conceded whilst at home and away - we can generate a strength of schedule for defensive and attacking players.
Based on the next 6 games, the best strength of schedules for defensive players are:
- Liverpool 1.3
- Sunderland 1.3
- Aston Villa 1.7
- Blackburn 1.7
- Chelsea 1.7
- Hull 1.7
(an average schedule would be 2.0)
This clearly shows that Liverpool have a combination of the league's second best defense along with the easiest defensive schedule, which should lead to bumper points for the likes of Reina and Carragher. The slight downside with Liverpool is that aside from these two, no Liverpool player is a guaranteed start, though Arbeloa appears to be playing his way into this club. If you're budget can stretch, I would recommend Reina as the best man to capitalise on this run. Chelsea are also an obvious pick with Alex and Bridge being potential bargains so long as Carvalho and Cole remain out, which should be for at least the coming gameweek.
On the flip side, the following teams have a difficult 6 defensive games:
- Tottenham 2.3
- Portsmouth 2.3
- Man City 2.3
- Bolton 2.3
Tottenham, Portsmouth and City all have fairly ordinary defences and you probably only hold these players based on attacking potential (such as Traore or Kompany). Bolton however have been a useful source of reliable bench men, and it is a shame to lose this option for the next 6 games. However, with 4 road games and home games against Chelsea and Liverpool, you should divest your Bolton assets now, or prepare to stash until Christmas time rolls around.
The best attacking strength of schedules over the next 6 games are:
- Portsmouth 1.7
- Wigan 1.7
- Chelsea 1.8
- Fulham 1.8
- Middlesbrough 1.8
- Sunderland 1.8
As with the defenders, Chelsea are of course an attractive option though fitting in the likes of Lampard and Anelka is easier said then done. Anyone who owns Gerrard or Fabregas though should in my opinion switch to the bonus machine that is Lampard.
The other teams contain some cheaper options that could be very useful players over the coming weeks. Zaki and Valencia will hopefully return to the stunning form of the opening weeks, with Zaki already getting back on the scoresheet in gameweek 11. Bullard has 11 points in the past 2 weeks and could be a nice mid range option, as could his cheaper teammate Gera. However, the pick of mid range midfielders is possibly Niko Kranjcar who returned from injury against Liverpool and scored his first of the season last weekend against Wigan. At just 6.1 he could be a decent replacement for the likes of Denilson whose early form appears to be tailing off.
The pick of the striking options, aside from the obvious Zaki, Defoe and Anelka could be Cisse (if he can stay out of Keane's dog house), Crouch and Alves. All three strikers have 3 goals to their name this term, and it wouldn't be suprising to see one of these three double that tally over the next two months.
On the flip side, the following sides have the worst strength of schedules:
- Blackburn 2.8
- Arsenal 2.3
- Man Utd 2.3
- Bolton 2.3
- Newcastle 2.3
- Stoke 2.3
Blackburn's schedule is devastating and I would recommend selling all Rovers players right now. Despite the schedule I would not necessarily sell Utd players such as Ronaldo and Berbatov, although fringe players like Fletcher and Carrick become less attractive. The same goes for Arsenal with Adebayour, who remains an elite prospect despite the tough fixture list. The other teams don't have anyone who is worth holding through this tough spell and should be divested as soon as possible unless no other options are viable.