This is the first in a series prompted by Fantasy Football Scout member Ryan, who suggested I look at the “template” Fantasy Premier League options for signs of when it’s time to drop them. This will only be an occasional feature because we need to allow time for change to happen.
Ryan and I thought the current “template” midfield for many FPL managers is: Alexis Sánchez, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Sadio Mané and Dimitri Payet. There are some other popular options out there – Mesut Özil, André Ayew and Georginio Wijnaldum for example – but those five seem to be most frequently seen.
I decided to start by looking at Payet because his upcoming fixture list (EVE, tot, WBA, mun, STO, swa) has some managers wondering whether to keep hold of him.
I’ll come back to the fixture list, but first let’s see how Payet has done since I highlighted him after Gameweek 5.
The number of shots Payet takes is looking healthier over the past three gameweeks than at any time this season. Last time I looked at the West Ham midfielder, I was worried about his Shots on Target (SoT) statistic because he had converted three Shots on Target into three goals by the end of Gameweek 5. That conversion rate has more than halved, though 45 percent could still be a little too high, as the next chart shows.
With the 2015-16 season still relatively young, the usually strong Shots on Target to Goals correlation is not really there yet so we should exercise some caution with this data at the minute. Nevertheless, Payet is a little above the current trend line for Shots on Target to Goal conversion among midfielders who have played more than 500 minutes. He may not continue to convert shots on goal at quite the same rate, but his Shots on Target numbers put him in the pack not far behind Mahrez and Sánchez so he should remain a good option.
Where the Frenchman really excels is Chances Created. He is second in the league by that metric, just behind Özil. However, unlike the Arsenal maestro, Payet’s team mates are not converting anywhere near as many of them into goals, as the next chart demonstrates.
Even with a season-long sample size, the Chances Created conversion rate trend does not usually correlate as well as Shots on Target conversion rate so we should be even more cautious here. However, if I was an Özil owner I’d be mentally preparing myself for the possibility that while assists are likely to continue flowing, the current rate may slow down at some points. With Payet however, there’s reason to be optimistic that more assist points could be on the way because regression for the Hammers midfielder in this metric would bring him up towards the trend line – i.e. in future he may record more assists per chance created than he currently does.
Put simply, Payet may not score quite as often but the potential to deliver more assists may help make up for it.
One key factor left then in deciding whether to keep Payet is the fixture list. To judge that I have charted the average Shots Conceded (SC), Shots on Target Conceded (SoTC), Shots in Box Conceded (SoTC), Goals Conceded (GC) and Clean Sheets (CS) per match so far this season by West Ham’s opponents. I’ve broken those figures down into home and away so, for example, the Gameweek 1 record shows Arsenal’s home defensive form because it was an away match for West Ham.
West Ham’s Gameweek 6 match against Manchester City and, to a lesser extent, the match against Manchester United in Gameweek 15 show up clearly on the chart. Interestingly, Payet’s strong shooting performance in the last three weeks has coincided with meeting opponents who are less prone to giving up shots than West Ham’s rivals in Gameweeks 7 and 8.
However, it is the ability to get goals or tee up team mates that largely defines the FPL value of midfielders. The blue lines on the chart do suggest that, in the next four weeks at least, the Hammers will be facing opponents who tend to conceded fewer goals and record more clean sheets than most of the teams they have played against to date. Whether that is enough to put you off Payet, given his reasonably solid statistics, is another matter.