Sometimes you just have to stretch a little bit to include the things you want to include in an article. Today, I'm stretching to discuss globalization and the fact that all of our sports and teams have an increasing global appeal. From, US-born, FIFA-playing NFL wide receiver Adam Thelien wearing an Arsenal shirt pre and post match for the Vikings match in London over the weekend to the Philadelphia Eagles acquiring UK-born, Texas-bred Arsenal supporter Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins this morning, it was a big week for NFL/Premier League crossovers. Thielen even celebrated his touchdown with and homage to his FIFA hero Thierry Henry. If he had somehow invoked Dennis Bergkamp at some point over the weekend he might have become my new favorite NFL player.
That said, part of the reason this introduction speaks to me so much is that my NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, acquired their own Gooner this morning as they participate in the NFL equivalent of the January Transfer Window as the NFL Trade Deadline comes to a close today. Ajayi also had the opportunity to play in London earlier this year and he got to meet his childhood hero Henry and share a perhaps-too-long hug:
Here's hoping that Ajayi and the Eagles can best Thielen and the Vikings and any other closet Gooners out there on their way to something that the actual Gunners haven't accomplished in years.
Speaking of the January Transfer Window, it is about time to start planning for the second half of the season. Obviously, the transfer window isn't likely to start impacting actual playing time for another two to three months but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be looking ahead to how you might want or need to reconstruct your draft fantasy squad to be prepared. Here are some players whose value is likely to either rise or fall significantly come January (or thereabouts):
Potentially Gaining Value
Yannick Bolasie - There's no transfer market implication related to this one but let's not underestimate the impact that Bolasie's injury has had on Everton's season so far. Crystal Palace was a much better team when Bolasie was healthy and available and Everton, regardless of who is managing them by then, should find themselves both better and more balanced once Bolasie returns. The question for draft managers in leagues where squad size is limited is how long you can afford to hold him knowing that he'll definitely be out until early January or so. Recommendation: Late-November Pick-up (unless you have a "dead" spot in your squad already
Seamus Coleman - Speaking of premium Evertonians projected to be returning from a long-term injury. Coleman has been an excellent fantasy player contributing more than his share of goals, assists, and lean sheets over the course of his career. Recommendation: Mid-December Pick-up (there are more defenders out there that could approximate Coleman's value)
Olivier Giroud - With a World Cup coming, it's hard to see Giroud being content with sitting on the bench at Arsenal all season. Whether it is a loan or a permanent move, I wouldn't be shocked to see the France international connected with a move again come January. Recommendation: Wait until there's a concrete rumor and then pounce.
Christian Benteke - If Palace's aweful start combined with Benteke's injury had him dropped in your league, it's probably time to pick the big Belgian up as there's still potential in the combination of Townsend, Zaha, and Benteke once all are healthy and playing together again. Palace are unlikely to be actually good but throw in relegation-related desperation and you have the makings of good fantasy things that aren't nearly as good in the real world. Recommendation: Pick him up ASAP for a late-November return.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Another player returning from injury but the big Swede is a must-have over the second half of the season for fantasy managers who invested in Romelu Lukaku early in their draft. Recommendation: mid-to-late December pick-up. He might get a start over the festive period.
Ross Barkley - Whether via new manager or new surroundings, Barkley should be back in the second half of the season and unless he moves to a big club where he's likely to sit on the bench he's a potential starter returning to fantasy relevance.
Islam Slimani - Who knows exactly how things will shake out under Claude Puel but Slimani has shown some potential in the rigth system, Leicester City just isn't the side that employs that system. I wouldn't be shocked to see him moved within the Premier League to a place where he might play, and score, more often. Recommendation: Wait until January and see if the rumors justify this one.
Demarai Gray - If Mahrez goes then Gray may finally get his chance to start regularly. His goal at the weekend was certainly more fluke than skill but he has been highly thought of for some time and is still young enough to come good with playing time. Recommendation: If you have Mahrez and a spot to work with you might want to pick Gray up as a handcuff in early January.
Adam Lallana/Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Neither of these guys are one-for-one replacements for Coutinho but if the Brazilian leaves they'll likely be part of the short-term solution to replacing him. Recommendation: Definitely worth picking up one or the other as a handcuff as January approaches.
Wayne Rooney - Really, this could go either way. If Bolasie, Coleman and Barkley all return and inject pace, talent, and diversity to the Everton attack then Rooney could become the ideal orchestrator who can contribute both goals and assists. On the other hand, Everton could realize exactly how limited Rooney is at this point and decide it's time to dip back into the transfer market for a longer-term answer at forward sending Rooney to the reserve role that many think he's best suited for at this point in his career.
Potentially Losing Value
Joselu - Hard to say that the Newcastle forward has a ton of value at this point but with new ownership on the way and results in the early going strong you have to assume that the Magpies are going to do their best to bring in a replacement for the former Stoke City man.
Troy Deeney/Andre Gray - Marco Silva loves him some under-the-rader transfer moves from foreign leagues and given that things have been going well at Vicarage Road to start the season you'd expect Team Pozzo to back their manager in the transfer market. Look for a forward you've never heard of to arrive for a modest sum and produce better-than-expected results with Deeney and Gray both losing out on even more playing time.
Alberto Moreno - Liverpool HAVE to buy a left back that can play both ways eventually, don't they? Either they give Andrew Robertson a shot after giving him half of a season to bed in or they admit defeat and go back into the transfer market.
Philippe Coutinho - Until the window closes there will be rumblings about Coutinho-to-Barcelona so you have to beware and try your best to read the tea leaves in January as new midfielders arrive as potential replacements in your fantasy squad. The worst case scenario is sticking with Coutinho until the very end and then losing out on all of the potential replacements that arrived earlier in the window. That's a quick and unpleasant journey from premium player to replacement-level player in your squad.
Riyad Mahrez - Same basic message as with Coutinho. Keep up with the news and only react if the drumbeat is getting pretty loud.
Alexis Sanchez - I suspect that the recent rumors are more clickbait than reality but if Sanchez does move to Manchester City in January then there's an entire chain reaction of implications on player value with almost none of it good except for maybe Alex Iwobi or Danny Welbeck who might come in as the replacement for Sanchez at Arsenal.
Forwards at Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Swansea, Brighton, West Brom, and Bournemouth - The goals just haven't been going in for any of these sides. You can say that they are employing a Burnley-like approach to playing tight defense and trying to grind out 1-0 results but at some point it becomes clear that only so many teams can manage that in a given season. The likes of Gabbiadini, Defoe, Rodriguez and Bony will eventually be declared failures and replacements will be sought in the market. Presumably none of the forwards mentioned are integral to anyone's fantasy strategy but it seems likely that even those fringe contributions are going to go away come January.
Defenders Leaving Burnley - It seems likely that someone else further up the table will be seduced by Burnley's defensive results the way Everton were by Michael Keane. There are well-documented examples of players who are products of defense-heavy systems (see Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovern, Asmir Begovic, etc.) who went on to significant moves that saw them far less effective outside of the system that made their reputation. If we've learned anything from the first half of the season it should be that Sean Dyche will have a tight defense regardless of who is in goal or playing CB while the players who produced those results for him previously, may not be able to replicate them elsewhere. Nothing specific to do with that advice right away but definitely worth putting into your memory bank for January and into the summer.
Weekly Risers and Fallers
If the above is the long term analysis of rising and falling values, here's the micro-analysis of the same coming out of Week 10:
- Eden Hazard - he seems to be coming around after a slow start
- Fernandinho - he's never going to be a primary attacker for City but he's starting regularly and there are enough goals going in that he'll probably sustain some level of attacking success based on volume alone.
- Sead Kolasinac - After a few quiet weeks Bosnian Hulk was back at being a monster in honor or the upcoming release of Thor: Ragnarok
- Mesut Ozil - Two strong matches in a row but can he keep it up with a big opponent coming up in City this weekend?
- Wilfried Zaha - Like Hazard, he's coming around after a slow, injury-riddled start to the season.
- Chris Smalling - United are playing very conservatively in the absence of Paul Pogba and if they continue with three at the back then Smalling's value could skyrocket.
- Davide Zappacosta - Victor Moses' injury has given him a chance to play and he's done well with it so far. Will be interesting to see what Antonio Conte does when Moses returns.
- Jay Rodriguez - Maybe his goal against City will give him the boost he and Albion both need at the attacking end.
- Davinson Sanchez - A surprising omission against Manchester United, probably nothing to worry about but something we should be watching in the upcoming weeks
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan - His value seems to be tied to a healthy and happy Pogba playing alongside him.
- Alexandre Lacazette - Arsenal are playing pretty welll but their France international center forward has been frustratingly peripheral to the attack for a few weeks now. He isn't going to be dropped but his value is certainly sub-Jamie Vardy for fantasy purposes whereas he started the season valued well above the Leicester City hit man.
- Aaron Mooy - The work is still there for the Australia international but the goals for Huddersfield Town have dried up. It isn't so much that he's only scored one goal since August but that he did it with the only shot on target he's had in that same stretch.
- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting - Where's that guy that scored a brace against Manchester United?
- Willian - Only five minutes against an opponent where Chelsea should have been giving their starters some rest.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - No Coutinho but still no start. Not a good sign for the former Arsenal man.
- Alfie Mawson - It isn't so much the things he can't control, like his side's results, but that he isn't the prolific interceptor/tackler that he was last season either. That he can presumably control and it just isn't happening for him.
- Hueng-Min Son - Got a start in place of Harry Kane and it didn't go well.
Some big matches coming up this weekend with Manchester City hosting Arsenal and Cheslsea hosting Manchester United in the Mourinho/Lukaku/Matic Bowl at Stamford Bridge. Should be a fun weekend. Enjoy the matches and look out for the rest of our advice here at Rotoworld as you look to adjust your squad heading into Week 11.