Thursday, July 28, 2011

Notebook Preview: Blackburn Rovers

Looking back at last season
  • Rovers had the 7th best home clean sheet total (7) while struggling mightily on the road (1). The difference in GPG at home (0.84) and on the road (2.26) was the largest in the league.
  • Joined Arsenal as one of two teams to average more goals away from home (1.26) than at Ewood Park (1.16). 
  • Failed to score 10 times all season. 2 of these came in the first 18 games, 8 in the final 20 games after Steve Kean took over as manager. 
  • Rovers 'keepers ranked 2nd overall at home in P$ with a tremendous mark of 0.990. Much like the previously discussed Villains, the defense makes a potentially nice spot start at home.
  • The Rovers midfield was a wasteland outside of Gamst Pedersen, with the group averaging just 3.4 PPG, better than only Birmingham. 
  • The front line scored 311 points between them, good for a ranking of 6th, but they were too widely dispersed to make anyone overly valuable. A more regular partnership might be worth a look given their low price tags.
  • The top scorer for the team were Hoilett, Kalinic and Roberts who all chipped in with 5 goals. 
  • Entire team earned just 95 bonus points all season, 28 of which may be gone (Samba 17 and Jones 11). That should create opportunities for others to bad their scores.
Predicted lineup (4-5-1)
Robinson (5.0m), Givet (4.5m), Samba (5.5m), Nelsen (5.0m), Salgado (4.5m), N'Zonzi (5.0m), Emerton (6.0m), Olsson (5.5m), Gamst Pedersen (6.5m), Hoillet (6.0m), Roberts (6.0m)

Safest Picks
Paul Robinson . . . Rovers' 'keepers ranked 12th in points last season but 4th in P$ considering Robinson's low price . . . rise to $5m might price him out of being a true steal . . . much better at home (4.6 PPG) than away (2.6 PPG) . . . loss of Samba along with departed Jones would leave massive question marks over the teams defensive qualities . . . 4th in the league in saves which can get him out of trouble when his defense lets him down

Ryan Nelsen . . . club captain should play every game when fit . . . chipped in with 3 goals and 2 assists last year in 27 games worth of minutes . . . xP of 122 would have ranked him as as top 20 defender last season, one of a handful available for 5.0m or less . . . departure of Samba/Jones will hurt defensively but also frees up 28 bonus points which captain Nelsen could sweep up

Upside Plays
David Hoilett . . . on pace for 11 goals and 23 bonus points last season . . . ability to slide out wide will help him stay on the field when a traditional 4-5-1 rather than 4-3-3 shape is maintained . . . averaged 4.3 PPG after Kean took over the team including 4 goals in the final 7 games . . . lack of assists is a concern . . caught the eye of the bonus judges last year (9) which could change under the new system

Mauro Formica . . . not even included in the game yet, Formica is a very deep sleeper . . scored a couple of goals in preseason . . . Kalinic appears to be on his way so minutes could open up soon . . . not worth more than minimal investment but worth a look in case he's added to the game for 5.0m

No Thanks
Pretty much everyone else. The team can rival any other in the league for a lack of fantasy talent and I would imagine most teams will go the entire season without ever even flirting with a Rovers player. The current outlook is bleak for Steve Kean's men.

Fixtures
Wol, @AV, Eve, @Ful, Ars, @New, MnC, @QPR

aFix: 1-6-1
dFix: 2-4-2

The lack of quality isn't helped by the fixture list which sees three very good teams go to Ewood, likely negating any home field advantage they enjoyed last season. Such is his ability to generate decent point hauls from nothing, Robinson still deserves GK-combo consideration, but unless someone in midfield or the front line separates themselves in the early weeks, steer well clear for now.

Conclusions
I hate being down on a team out of the gate, instead considering myself a sports optimist who never leaves a game early and can easily convince a crowd (or at least myself) that Kevin Davies is one of the best forwards in the country. That said, there really is little to get excited about for this team.

It's not that they are totally devoid of talent, but more that their average-good skills seem to have been overpriced by the market makers. Heading into the season I had targeted Hoilett, Nelsen, Robinson and Gamst Pedersen as players to check the price of, but all have come in at least 0.5m over where I would have felt comfortable rostering them.

The back-line remains a decent home spot start option and at 5.0m Robinson is still in the conversation but with Given, Schwarzer and Jaaskelainen available on better teams for the same price, it's hard to get overly excited about the occasionally porky Yorkshireman. Nelsen, as club captain, looks promising but again there are other options who carry a higher ceiling without sacrificing much in the way in of safety (Bardsley, A Hughes, L Young).

On the attacking side of the field, the front line has some potential but the value is way too dispersed to consider any one of the group right now. I liked Hoilett as a super-cheap bench player in the 5.0m category but at 6.0m there are probably better options available (A Johnson, Kalinic). Again, Gamst Pedersen has ability and so peaks my interest but his price tag puts him in a group of players with which he simply does not compete right now (Etherington, Albrighton, Henderson).

The team previews should continue to roll in over the next few days, with a bumper edition over the weekend. All the previews can be found collectively here. Twitter users can follow the latest news and ramblings over at @plfantasy.

1 comment:

Arhaych said...

Excellent yet again. I agree with your assessment, although I was swayed by Gamst Pedersen at some stage.

A request for a short article - I'd love to know who is in your thoughts (assuming you play the game, of course) if you don't mind divulging.

Cheers!