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.
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 three of his four part analysis, Aaron focuses on newly promoted Burnley. Parts one and two focused on QPR and Leicester City respectively while part four will shine the spotlight on 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:
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Many experts, including most bookies had Burnley being favorites to be relegated from the Championship to League One last season. They turned that storyline on its head and ended up coming in second to win automatic promotion to the Premier League for the 2014-15 season. Last season’s line-up featured a very small core group of players each of whom played a lot of minutes with 10 players seeing more than 3000 minutes. Of that core group, the forward combination of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes scored 41 goals to help the club secure promotion. 2014-15 represents the second time Burnley will play in the Premier League and like their Premier League predecessor in 2009-10 that lost 24 matches and conceded 82 goals, it seems likely that this edition of Burnley will struggle again in the top flight.
American-owned Burnley represents the smallest community to ever have a Premier League club and limited budget means the club struggles in terms of signing high profile players from England or abroad. One stylistic advantage the club will have moving up a level is that even in the Championship they were used playing a counter attacking style that conceded ball possession to their opponents. Since that will inevitably be the case against Premier League opposition in almost every match, being comfortable in that mode will be of some benefit at least. I expect Burnley to play a 4-2-3-1 formation that typically features nine man behind the ball and a lone forward to chase when opponents have the ball in their defensive half.
Like last season, most experts and bookmakers expect Burnley to be relegated this season. This expectation combined with their conservative, defensive-minded playing style means their players will valued cheaply in budget games or not signed in draft/auction fantasy formats. Despite the dire predictions, there are some interesting players on the roster that we will discuss here despite the fact that fantasy points may well be at a premium akin to the last time they were in the Prem.
For me three Burnley players stand out as potential fantasy prospects although I do have some concerns they will not get the same playing time or be as successful against tougher competition. Danny Ings and Sam Vokes each scored 20 league goals last season. Ings is the more of a long-term prospect and might be in the frame for an eventual English National Team spot as he can can also play in midfield where I expect him to play more this season. His versatility will mean that he is highly likely to log heavy minutes this season which is always a factor when evaluating the fantasy potential of players new to the league. Vokes is more of an outright striker but the downside for him is that he may be sharing playing time with former England prospect Marvin Sordell and new signing Lukas Jutkiewicz. Given the uncertainty around playing time, Vokes’ upside is likely as a reserve in formats that allow a deep bench.
My Burnley sleeper pick heading into the 2014-2015 fantasy season is right back Kieren Trippier. Over the last two season has been responsible for orchestrating most of Burnley’s offensivve production including 26 assists over the last two English Championship seasons. This past season he also had 80 key passes and over 1800 passes overall as well as 14 shots on target. His high-risk, high-reward style is the ideal for fantasy prospects so long as your league doesn’t count passing accuracy where he has come in at a mere 62% over the past two seasons. Steven Reid may compete with Tripper for minutes but with goals likely to be at a premium for the newly promoted side they seem likely to favor the attacking Tripper with Reid in reserve to help close out matches if they ever get ahead.
Projected Burnley Starting XI with 2013-2014 English Premier League Expected Results
Others: GK Matt Gilks 9.0 FPV, 3.0 Fp/90, FW Lukas Jutkiewicz 10.6 FPV, 3.3 FP/90, FW Marvin Sordell 11.0 FPV, 3.6 FP/90.
Final Note from Neal: As you can see, there isn’t a lot to love here even in comparison to the relatively modest numbers found in the other newly promoted teams. Thus far this summer Burnley have been very conservative and have added relatively little despite multiple seasons of Premier League-related revenues to come. This has all the hallmarks of fantasy rottenness unfortunately.
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