A Note from Neal: I would like to re-introduce the audience to one of the leaders in the field of forecasting player performance from league-to-league and division-to-division. Aaron Nielsen has amassed a massive database of player performance data from over 60 leagues around the world over a number of years. Using this data he has developed forecasting tools that have helped him accurately project player production as they make the leap from “lesser” leagues (e.g., Holland, Portugal, MLS, the Championship) to the Premier League. In addition to working with clubs to help them scout players, he has consulted on the development of betting lines, video game characteristics and, most importantly to us, fantasy games. His Fantasy Points Value (FpV) metric focuses on expected point production vs. the price of the player in question. This one is particularly useful if you are playing in a league where you are choosing a player for an entire season or looking for early season bargains to stash on your bench.
Aaron’s FP/90 metric projects a player’s production per 90 minutes. This one could just as easily be called Player Quality. This sounds like the one you want to focus on all the time but it doesn’t take durability or projected minutes played into effect. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey rated highly by this measure for their efforts last season but neither were very durable. If you’re choosing among a number of players for a single week that you’re pretty sure are going to start then this is a solid metric to look at. Just be careful with players who have injury histories or competition for their positions who rate highly on this dimension.
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The statistical techniques Aaron uses to create his forecasts is his secret sauce but fortunately he has agreed to share some of the results as we look to unwrap some of the more difficult issues that face fantasy managers each season: how will the new players to the league perform and how will the newly promoted teams/players do?
In part one of his four part analysis, Aaron focuses on newly promoted Queens Park Rangers. Parts two and three will focus on Leicester City and Burnley with part four targeting the new players coming in to the league’s established teams.
I’ll let Aaron take it from here and be back at the end to wrap things up:
What's Interesting About QPR?
The biggest question regarding Queens Park Rangers both in terms of where they should place in the table and judging them for fantasy purposes is if they are going to hold on to the players in their squad. Doing this analysis three weeks before the close of the transfer window makes the projections somewhat risky given that Harry Redknapp is involved.
Take Loic Remy for instance. There have been a number of rumors about the France international joining a number or Premier League and foreign clubs. Remy scored 14 goals in the Premier League with Newcastle United and could produce the same with Queens Park Rangers or a non-contending club. On the other hand, if he joins a contender the question becomes how many minutes will he get and in what position? Depending on where he ends up and how he’s used he could be either be a fantasy steal or bust.
The other player in question is Adel Taarabt. Taarabt has always been an erratic personality at the best of times but he also has the potential to be a high quality fantasy performer given his propensity to shoot on sight and create opportunities for other. Taarabt looked comfortable on loan with AC Milan which means, like Remy, he could be transferred out of the league and out of your fantasy game at any time up to the close of the transfer window.
With Remy and Taarabt, Queens Park Rangers could be firmly mid-table club in the league this season. Harry Redknapp has had a productive summer with the signing of Cardiff best (real and fantasy) players: Steven Caulker and Jordan Mutch. The recent signing of Mauricio Isla from Juventus could change the formation and give the club the freedom of playing with two strikers up front. Finally, before we get to the fantasy prospects for QPR’s players, please remember that these projections are likely to change as ‘arry makes his late-August roster tweaks.
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It’s hard to call this guy a “prospect” since he’s 31 years old and much maligned but Joey Barton must be considered in salary cap formats. Barton provides comparable offense to most defensive midfielders in the league and in fantasy leagues that provide bonus points for plays such as passes, tackles and interceptions Barton excelled as he was involved in almost 3000 plays with QPR last season. Barton also takes free kicks which provide plentiful opportunities to score points. He is also an option to take penalties which will lessen the damage of the inevitable red card.
Another hot fantasy prospect for the Rs is Charlie Austin, The 24-year-old forward was destined to be signed by a Premier League club before Redknapp swooped in and signed him for their Championship campaign last year. Austin got hurt during the season but still managed to score 17 goals in 37 games and has scored double digits of goal in every season of his football career including 25 goals in 2012-2013.
Other QPR players to consider are Danny Simpson, Steven Caulker, Rio Ferdinand, Adel Taarabt, Jordan Mutch, Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips. All players should attain decent statistics throughout the year and based on how fantasy games are structured. Keep in mind that newly promoted clubs are usually highly undervalued in a salary cap leagues and in draft/auction formats they are often ignored by all but the savviest of managers.
Projected QPR Starting XI with 2013-2014 English Premier League Expected Results:
Others: DF Nedum Onuoha 9.8 FPV, 2.6 FP/90, MF Junior Hoilett 13.8 FPV, 3.2 FP/90, MF Jordan Mutch 12.2 FPV, 4.6 FP/90, MF Shaun Wright-Phillips 8.8 FPV, 4.0 FP/90, FW Bobby Zamora 7.6 FPV, 4.8 FP/90.
More From Neal: As Aaron mentioned in the piece, Barton, Caulker, and Austin are the interesting stories here with Remy joining them if a) he can stay healthy and b) he stays period. I've been through both an auction and a more traditional draft over the past week and I'm pretty sure that no one even thought about Joey Barton. In formats (like Yahoo! where Barton is a mere 5.00) that include passes intercepted and tackles along with goals and assists he could be a big bargain.