Heading into the final weeks of the summer, many a fantasy football manager begin to prepare their teams for the upcoming season. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be creating a guide for managers to use when making decisions regarding Fulham players. This will be a three-segment guide, with a section dedicated to defenders, midfielders and attackers.
For analysis regarding FFC goalkeepers, refer to my previous article. Before we look at who some of the better options may be, let’s look at what makes a successful fantasy defender. To begin with, if they were off the pitch regularly, no matter how skilled, steer clear; good fantasy players feature week in, week out. In this sense, the younger the player, the better. You’ll next want to see if they can get forward as well as defend. The highest scoring players are decent at both, perhaps slightly more focused on attacking. Finally, you want to ensure that the player plays alongside other decent defenders and isn’t booked too frequently (yellow cards cost you valuable points). Please note that the points earned statistics come from Barclays’ Official Fantasy Game on premierleague.com, and that your league may use a different scoring system.
Fulham possesses a combination of useful and detrimental fantasy players. We’ll establish the worths of Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird, Carlos Salcido, John Arne Riise, Stephen Kelly, Phillipe Senderos, Rafik Halliche and Matthew Briggs. Only Riise failed to feature in a match for the Whites last season, as he is a new arrival from Italian side Roma. Briggs and Halliche didn’t figure in for significant time (each less than 200 minutes), so their statistics are essentially meaningless. John Pantsil, who departed for Leicester, Martin Skrtel of Liverpool and Jose Enrique of Newcastle have been added in to provide comparison.
We’ll begin with The Whites’ centre halves Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird and Phillipe Senderos. Martin Skrtel is included in the statistics for comparison.
Brede Hangeland: Fulham didn’t have a better defender than the towering Norwegian, who was a rock both defensively and offensively. His six goals were joint top of the league along side Robert Huth of Stoke City and his eleven chances created for other players were very impressive for a centre-half. At the back, he was very solid, giving the ball away only nine times in thirty-seven matches. Hangeland is solid choice for any fantasy team, but expect him to be picked by a significant amount of your competitors. It will be very difficult for him to improve on what will likely be his best ever year last term, but he’s still a solid choice. Verdict: Buy
Aaron Hughes:Often partnering Hangeland in the center of The Whites’ defense, Hughes has proved to be a reliable performer over his time at The Cottage. He scored just once and created only eight chances, numbers which are significantly inferior to those of Hangeland, but still acceptable for a central defender. His disciplinary record is outstanding, with no cautions in thirty-eight league appearances. Hughes is a very steady performer, available at a very reasonable price in most leagues, and provides a good alternative to the popular and expensive Hangeland. Verdict: Buy, and don’t tell your mates!
Chris Baird:A man who can play nearly anywhere in a back four, Baird would be a useful addition to any Premier Leauge side, but is his fantasy value as good? To begin with, he didn’t play as much as Hangeland or Hughes, though he did appear in roughly 70% of the Cottagers’ matches. He probably should’ve played more than he did, as the John Paintsil proved himself insufficient in nearly every way. His twenty-two chances made are decent, as are his pair of goals that he scored. He should score a chunk more than the 99 points he managed last year. For an in-depth piece on Baird, check out Gates’ article here (Baird Profile). Verdict: Buy
Phillipe Senderos: Frequently injured and infrequently chosen to play, Senderos is a squad player at The Cottage. He isn’t an offensive threat and will likely play a similar role to the one he played last year, occasionally replacing injured and suspended players when the manager doesn’t have any alternatives. The fact that he once played in the Arsenal defense says it all. Steer clear of this injury prone, ineffective, Swiss defender. Verdict: Don’t buy
On the full back side of things, the Cottagers certainly had some troubles. John Pantsil couldn’t stop scoring, but the only problem was that it was always into his own net! Carlos Salcido wasn’t much of an improvement. Don’t forget that Chris Baird frequently featured as a full back as well as a centre-half, and was the only consistent performer.
Carlos Salcido:Suspect defensively at times, the Mexican international hasn’t exactly won over the hearts of Whites supporters. He registered a paltry two assists, while giving the ball away close to twice a game without any real offensive advantage. He dribbled past opponents less than once a game, which is pathetic in comparison to the sixty-five of Jose Enrique, which is maybe slightly better than average at best. There is some hope in his 88 attempted crosses, but that shouldn’t be enough to convince you to buy him. There are dozens of better alternatives at other clubs, and with the arrival of John Arne Riise, his minutes will likely be even fewer than last year. Verdict: Don’t buy.
Stephen Kelly:Like Senderos at centre-half, Kelly will likely be a reserve for the bulk of the Premier League season. There isn’t much hope for him to improve on his position at the club, and there’s no reason to believe he will be a breakout fantasy star. Verdict: Don’t buy.
John Arne Riise:There is new, but familiar, name who will be joining the Whites next year in the form of John Arne Riise. The Norweigian, who has a rocket of a left foot, may wind up playing as a winger further up the pitch, but should provide many dangerous balls into the box for the likes of Dempsey, Zamora and Dembele to get on the end of. His weakness is certainly defensively, as many a Liverpool fan can tell you. But if you want a look at the kinds of things he can do in the final third, take a look at this:
Let’s hope he replicate this success at the Cottage, but for now, his defensive shortcomings and injury problems should keep you away. He may turn into good value later on, but wait for the first few weeks to pass to see if he can perform at both ends of the pitch. Verdict: Don’t buy (yet)
Matthew Briggs and Rafik Halliche didn’t play big roles last year, in fact they both played so little that their statistics are meaningless. Briggs is one for the future, but neither should be on your radar now.
I’ll be back with a preview of midfielders next. Thanks for reading.