Out-of-Position: Attacking MidTuesday, August 06, 2013
This is a series of post looking at the Yahoo! Fantasy Football player listings and try to identify players that play a more advanced, or a more withdrawn, role from the one in which they are listed. If you missed it, here's part one, focusing on players listed as defenders.
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Now, part two - the midfielders playing as forwards.
In today's more fashionable formations, the attacking midfielder can play as a wide striker (4-3-3) or a withdrawn forward (4-2-3-1, or 4-4-1-1, etc). In many of these formations the difference can be a fine one, but a fantasy manager would be wise to take any advantage on offer.
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On the other hand, fantasy managers need to be wary of midfielders that play in defense. They're more a liability as their focus leads them to more fouls and cards while their positioning means fewer chances to score. Making matter worse, they're not eligible for clean sheets points when they do their job well.
But let's look at the positive's first.
Forwards listed as midfielders
- G. Bale, Tottenham Hotspur - If he stays at Spurs, Bale will be one of the most popular fantasy players, despite being one of the most expensive. And for good reason. He was incredible last season. For our purposes, he was given a central , free role in Andre Villas Boas' side. He was often the most forward player for Spurs with Jermaine Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor pulling wide to make space for the Welshman. Now that will be Roberto Soldado's job, but Bale will continue to be the attacking hub of the team. Unless he's not.
- Santi Cazorla, Arsenal - Carzola drifted between attacking midfield and left-sided attacker in Arsenal's team last season. In either role, he was free to drift into space to collect and distribute the ball. With Tomas Rosicky seemingly healthy again and shining at the end of last season as a number 10, Cazorla may start this season on the left of the front three.
- Theo Walcott, Arsenal - On the opposite flank from Cazorla will surely be Theo Walcott. Theo was great last season, and his time as a central striker in Olivier Giroud's absence very rewarding. But even cutting in from wide areas, he allied finishing to his pace - often he would score early in matches and Arsenal would struggle through the next 80 or so minutes. He is one of the few names on this list that is really more of a forward than a midfielder at heart, and as such, he could be an extremely valuable fantasy asset again this season.
- Marouane Fellaini, Everton - Fellaini is an interesting case. His best position is probably in defensive midfield, and he may find himself playing there more this season. But as an attacker, he has the physicallity and attitude to be great. He famously "beasted" Manchester United in the opening match of last season, and finished as Everton's top scorer with 11 league goals. But for now, buyer beware.
- David Silva, Manchester City - Like his countryman, Cazorla, Silva saw time at the number 10 and on the left of the front three. There's more competion for places in attack at Manchester City this season, and indeed Stefan Jovetic can play those same two roles. But only one of them is listed as a midfielder. Advantage: Silva.
- Michu, Swansea City - He's already started plundering goals in the Europa League. Swansea have bought well, and Michu should be allowed to play in his favoured withdrawn forward role all season. While we'll miss him as the number 9, he should partner well with Wilfred Bony and I expect both of them to be valuable fantasy assets. But only one of them is listed as a midfielder. Advantage: Michu.
- Jonathan De Guzmán, Swansea City - With Michu moving back to a more withdrawn role, we'll likely see De Guzman at his natural midfield role. At times when Michu was moved to the 9, De Guzman found himself at the 10, and that's why he makes this list. Like Fellaini above, it may not happen that often this season.
- James Morrison, West Brom - James Morrison had a very productive early season, playing off the lead striker for West Brom, whether it was Shane Long or Romelu Lukaku. As injuries, absences, and suspensions took their toll on the squad - most notably for Fabrice Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob - Morrison was required deeper in midfield. If those two are healthy, he may be given the forward role again, though the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Markus Rosenberg may be ahead of him on the depth chart.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tottenham Hotspur - He was Michu before the English-speaking world knew of Michu, but he's been wasted at Spurs. His best role is clearly playing in a free role off a lead striker, but the question is if he'll ever get that opportunity with Spurs. Maybe if Bale leaves for Real Madird...
- Stephane Sessegnon, Sunderland - Sessegnon seemed to be on the way out of Sunderland but has survived Di Canio's cull so far. He can play in the hole or out wide, and on form he can be a valuable fantasy attacker.
- Kevin Nolan, West Ham United
- Wes Hoolahan, Norwich City - These two are interesting. Both are the most advanced midfielders in a 4-4-1-1, but they have very different roles on their teams. Nolan is there to score goals - he's basically a second forward. When he doesn't score, he doesn't do too much else. Hoolahan is a more creative player. He's there to spray passes and influence the build up. But for fantasy purposes he's lost. He's the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Of the two, Nolan has had the much greater fantasy impact. While Norwich have bolstered their attack, Nolan gets to play alongside Andy Carroll, and the two suit each other very well.
- Phillipe Coutinho, Liverpool - Coutinho took the league by storm after moving to Liverpool from Inter Milan in January. Worries about his lack of size were moot as he settled into the Premier Leage and immediately began creating goals for the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. He made the left of the front three his own, and is unlikely to be displaced by Raheem Sterling or Luis Alberto, etc. He's still well priced in the Yahoo! game and I for one am all in.
- Shinji Kagawa, Manchester Utd - Kagawa never settled - or was never given a chance to settle - in his first Premier League season. However, he is likely get more playing time under David Moyes, especially if Wayne Rooney puts in a transfer request. Kagawa is deadly played behind a lead striker *cough*RVP*cough*, which is why he makes this list, but could also play in an advanced role on the left. Definitely one to watch this season to see what his role becomes.
- Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle United - Ben Arfa has a terrible injury history, and Newcastle are a club in disarray (what is new?). But when he is healthy and playing on the right of a front three he is the club's most creative players (with apologies to Yohan Cabaye). He should link well with Papiss Cisse and new signing Loic Remy and will score goals as well as set them up.
- Pablo Hernández, Swansea City - Left side of a front three again. Hernandez didn't set the world alight last season, but I did have him in my fantasy team for one of his three league goals last season. So there's definitely some residual good will there. Also, his place seems more secure while Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge vie for the one spot on the right.
- Steven Davis, Southampton - While it may not continue this season, Davis had a run of games at the back half of last season in the hole behind Ricky Lambert.
- Charlie Adam, Stoke City - While it may not continue this season, Adam had a run of games at the back half of last season in the hole behind Peter Crouch. And it was a disaster. But the experiment might continue. Adam is best as deep-lying midfielder, passing the ball out to quick wide players. That would be a perfect role at Stoke who can pair him with Steven N'Zonzi and have the likes of Michael Kightly, Jermaine Pennant (to Wolves washouts?), Matty Etherington... ok, so maybe Stoke need to work on the quick wide player part of the plan. But Adam may again be tasked with scoring goals, and should be back on free kicks, and is well priced for a player of his fantasy credentials.
- Raheem Sterling, Liverpool - Sterling tore up the early part of last season! He was a dirt cheap midfielder playing in attack. What more could a fantasy manager ask for? He was shut down by Brendan Rodgers after a too-long run of matches. Injury played a part, but so did the form of Phillipe Coutinho. Sterling may not be a regular this season, but he's still well priced and would be worth a punt when we know he'll get playing time.
- Mohamed Sissoko, Newcastle United - Sissoko is a classic box-to-box midfielder who is being asked to reinvent himself as a number 10. He spent most of last season playing off Papiss Cisse, but other than his first few matches (THAT performance against Chelsea!) he didn't return much for the fantasy investment he got. It seems like he'll be played in an advanced role again this season but Hatem Ben Arfa is probably the better option, with just a thin price differential.
- Luis Alberto, Liverpool - Another young attacker brought in by Brendan Rodgers, but unlike Iago Aspas, he's listed as a midfielder. Definitley one to watch if he gets playing time as an attacking midfielder or possibly even (and this is the hope) across the front three.
- Emanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland - A coup for Sunderland, and possibly fantasy managers. We all saw him as an attacking winger for Italy this summer at the Confederations Cup. But he can also play in the hole, and that may be his best option at Sunderland with Sessegnon moving out wide. As a cheap midfield option, Giaccherini will make a lot of fantasy squads.
- Brek Shea, Stoke City - Injured again, and yet to make any impact at Stoke City. But his best position is on the left-side of the attack and one day, hopefully, we'll see him there for the Potters.
- Jesus Navas, Manchester City - Right-side of the attack and a very direct player. He's cheap as a new addition to the League. He doesn't score often, so he may not be the best choice in all games, but in the Yahoo! format he will earn a TON of fantasy points from corners and crosses.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal - It remains to be seen if the Ox's best position is in attack or midfield. But he's still priced like a new player and with Gervinho gone, he's one step up the depth chart for one of the wide attacking roles for Arsenal.
Next time: Defenders listed as midfielders (booo!)