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Fantrax EPL: Race to the Most FPts - A 23/24 End of Season Review

We've finally come to the end of the season and what a goal fest it has been. With a record high for goals and record lows for clean sheets, it has truly been a volatile season! The typical shortage of good forwards bemoaned by draft fantasy managers has become a thing of the past. That has been replaced by a severe drop off in midfielder depth, while defenders have continued their inexorable slide towards insignificance. This review will make sense of it all and look back at the ebbs and flows of player performance in a crazy campaign.

Bukayo Saka

Overview


Another season has come and gone in a flash, or a slog depending on your fortunes over the past nine months. At this point, most of you will likely be looking forward to taking a well-deserved break and watching some International football without any fantasy implications, with the Euros and the Copa America kicking off in less than a months time. So as has become custom, I've tried to keep this season review as a light touch and let the animations do most of the talking. You can read as much as you want, but if not, you you can kick back and watch the points race. Spoiler alert, Bukayo Saka consistently monstered his way to the most FPts and Cole Palmer, despite not starting the first 6 games, smashed his way through the field to end up in 2nd place!


Since the Premier League reduced the number of teams to 20, we have seen the yearly average for goals hover just over the 1k mark. Last season saw the highest on record with 1,084 goals, only to be outdone this season with an absurd 1,197 goals! There has been a significant shift away from teams taking the safety first route, and that has been particularly apparent in the promoted sides. We had the likes of Burnley and Luton going for it, and Sheffield United excelling in being completely rubbish (97 goals conceded). In total, the promoted sides have contributed by conceding 253 goals (21% of the total)! As you'll see in the animations below, there are significant fantasy implications of this trend. Notably, barely any good defenders exist in the game now, so the ones that do should rightly be coveted given the replacement value available. We're getting more goals now so more forwards are viable, yet we have fewer forwards in the 'elite' bracket, with only 7 in the top 25. The opposite is true for midfielders; we have15 forwards in the top 25, but the drop off in replacement value on the waiver wire has been huge.


Race to the most Fantasy Points


While we'll largely focus on fantasy points, it's worth noting that only points that were scored when a player starts a game are counted, as we would never start these players, unless we've backed ourselves into a corner. So Darwin Nunez may feel hard done, as his 12-minute cameo brace for 19.5 points in GW3 against Newcastle won't be included! There will be some very valuable players, who have a high PPS but limited starts, who won't show up as well on a graph like this (for example, Michael Olise or Kevin De Brunye, who missed a lot of time through injury). But, let's face it, the top 25 for overall points will be the elite players and if you've had any of these players on your roster, their consistency will have massively helped you to wins over the whole season.


The bar chart is interactive, so you can filter for any position by clicking on the key at the top. Each time you click on a position in the key it will add/remove that position from the graph, so you can remove all but one position to look at Defenders for example, or any combination that you like, such as Midfielders and Forwards together. So this will bring a bigger range of players into view. You can also pause/start the race and drag it to whichever GW you fancy. If you want the graph on a bigger screen you can click on the link here: 23/24 Fantrax FPts Race. If you are interested in looking at the chart I created for last season, check that out here: 22/23 Fantrax FPts Race.


The headlines may be taken by leaders Bukayo Saka, Cole Palmer and Bruno Fernandes but the depth of quality (or lack thereof) in elite midfielders is really quite striking! There were a lot of breakthrough seasons by midfielders, with the aforementioned Cole Palmer, Phil Foden (finally!), Anthony Gordon, Morgan Gibbs-White, Declan Rice and Rodri all making significant improvements on what was expected of them pre-season. Also a special shoutout to Palace boys Eberechi Eze, who made the top25 despite significant injury struggles, and Michael Olise who was even worse off through injury with just 14 starts, but stepped up his level unbelievably, scoring at an insane rate of 21 PPS!



Fallers

As we watch the animation our eyes will quickly identify players that move to the top, and it's interesting to watch the ones that had a hot start but fell away as the season wore on. Here I'll highlight a few of those players that caught my attention.


Joachim Andersen was one of the stars of the early part of the season. From GW1-GW8 he was on 15.6 PPS. But that quickly unraveled as he mustered just 5.3 PPS for the remainder of the season. Yet that was still enough for him to stay in the top 25 scorers until GW16. Sure, he had a couple of goals in that stretch, but he was playing like a man possessed, hoovering up defensive actions while also getting forward and racking up key passes and shots. Sadly Palace's form took a turn for the worse under Hodgson which saw him shackled until Glasner took over and he became a steady asset again as the Palace defence improved remarkably. But if you were lucky enough to punt on him early in the season, you'll always remember those heady days!


Dominik Szoboszlai was the darling of Klopp's new 'Liverpool 2.0' at the beginning of the season, on set pieces, looking extremely attacking and unfortunate to not have picked up more attacking returns. Yet after GW10 with an extremely healthy 13.1 PPS, his minutes started to get managed and his role became less prominent in the team. As a result, he eventually dropped out of the top 25 by GW19 and that early form never returned. Whether it be through fatigue or injury, it's something that could play on the mind of fantasy managers come next season's draft, especially with him losing his spot to Harvey Elliot towards the season. So he could be a bargain, but he could also be a huge trap - high risk, high reward!


Boy did Julian Alvarez enjoy his time as KDB's replacement, an absolute steal for most in Round 4+ in drafts. He stormed out of the blocks and just kept starting every game until GW25 with 13.1 PPS. Despite being used more as a utility player after that (with just 8 PPS in 6 starts), he still just squeaked into the top25, quite a feat!


It's easy to forget how well Moussa Diaby started the season, he immediately looked like the signing Leon Baily was meant to be back in 2021, racking up 11.8 PPS in the first 12 GWs. This kept him in the top 25 until GW15. However, he lost his way in the middle of the season as Emery's trust in him eroded, while the aforementioned Bailey was handed the reigns and just didn't let go. Diaby did, however, have a bit of a renaissance at the back end of the season starting 7 out of 9 games with a few big scores thrown in, which will keep fantasy managers interested going into the draft next season.


The Sick Notes

Keiran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold had some great spells during the season only to be scuppered by injury. Trippier didn't hit the same heights as last season, yet he still put up an extremely useful 13.7 PPS up to GW23. This saw him sit 6th in FPts, until the rapid decline of Newcastle's form, then his own knocks meant a disappointing end to the season. Meanwhile, Trent had a troubled start to the season in terms of fantasy as he spent more time in midfield and Szobo took over some sets. But it did all eventually click as he had a mad spell from GW9 to 19, where he was on 17.8 PPS and was the highest scoring player during that period. It was a pity that came to an end through injury and his return was extremely underwhelming.


It was a sad reminder seeing last season's Brighton heroes Solly March and Karou Mitoma in the top 25 early on but succumbing to season ending injuries. Mitoma didn't quite hit the heights of his debut season, registering just 10.5 PPS in his 15 starts, but it was a still a body blow to managers who held him through the Asian Cup only to see him injured just a couple of weeks after returning. March did at least look close to his best form, but unlike Mitoma he put us out of our misery early on after suffering an ACL injury in GW9.


James Maddison was the star of the first quarter of the season as Ange ball reeked havoc on opposition defences. Maddison was at the heart of this, scoring and assisting for fun and with a ton of key passes and shots on target thrown in. He topped the FPts chart by GW9 with 18.6 PPS, so it was a real shame we didn't get to see more of him as he and Spurs struggled for form on his return from a two month long absence.


Mohamed Salah unexpectedly bossed the first half of the season on 17.1 PPS in 20 starts, making those who took Haaland or Bruno ahead of him look on wistfully. But he was never quite the same after departing for AFCON, leaving mangers with a sense of dejavu from 2021. This time, though, he came home early through injury and missed a total of 9 GWs. While the Egyptian was still decent fantasy-wise (15.6 PPS), he had his minutes managed and wasn't immune to a benching. His overall play was still good, but he was so wasteful in his finishing, as were his team mates, with just 3 goals from 6.3 xG and 1 assist from 2.5 xA in that period. It was still good enough for him to only slip to 7th in total FPts showing the class of the player, but it will be difficult to trust him staying consistent next season, especially with a new manager coming in.


Pedro Neto was looking like the steal of the draft early on. His 15.4 PPS in the first 10 GWs was an insane return and he looked so lively in the new look Wolves team under Gary O'Neill. Sadly, he couldn't manage to stay away from injury, with what was a deemed a relatively minor issue putting him out for 10 GWs. He then broke patient managers' hearts by succumbing to an effectively season ending injury a few GWs later. It will be interesting to see how his persistent injury record factors into his ranking next season and whether he manages to secure a move away from Molineux in the summer.


Consistent Stalwarts


While it's fun to look at the players who had wild swings in form, it's worth acknowledging the ones who just consistently started every week and racked up the points for us.


Sean Dyche and James Tarkowski reunited is just a match made in heaven for Fantrax points and he duly delivered, ending up 20th in total FPts. Everton didn't have the best of starts as they significantly underperformed their xGD, but once things got back on track there was no stopping Tarks. He certainly won't be ignored come draft time next season. More on him later in the ghost point section, where he unsurprisingly dominates!


Bukayo Saka seemed to be constantly on the edge of missing a game every week, yet he managed 35 starts and just constantly put up points every week at an average of 16.8 PPS. Likely the 1-1 draft pick contender next season! Other key pass merchants worth mentioning are Alfie Doughty, Pascal Gross and MGW, whose consistency of starts, set pieces and and ability to rack up KPs for fun contributed to some of the best floors out there.


Ollie Watkins started 37 games at 13.7 PPS, tearing up the Premier League with 19 goals and 18 assists! You just cannot underestimate how easy that makes your life as a fantasy manager, while his 59 pointer mid-season would have won you your gameweek single-handedly. A 2nd round steal for managers lucky enough to have drafted him!


Risers


While the above players stayed consistent or fell away, the following players had slow or non-existent starts, yet turned their form around to dominate in the back end of the season. To highlight these players I thought it was worth including an animation that starts at the halfway point of the season in GW20 as there was a fair number of players that had huge swings in performance.  A link for the 2H race can be found here: 23/24 Fantrax 2H FPts Race. Often we can glean information from end of season form for next year's draft, so it's worth checking these players out in more detail to see how you want to value them, amongst all the other factors.


A player like Kai Havertz is the perfect example of this. A bit part utility player in 1H where he scored 6.8 PPS from 12 starts turned into the nailed centre forward in 2H with 15.8 PPS! So while he only just makes the top 25 overall scorers, looking at just 2H, he's in the top 5!



It's a bit of struggle with defenders, as mentioned above they have been pretty lacklustre this season, but Ben White is certainly worthy of praise. The Arsenal defence was the only show in town for clean sheets, with 18 in total, which White benefitted from, but we also saw an uptick in his fantasy performances in the second half of the season with more defensive options utilised at left back in Kiwior and Tomiyasu allowing him more license to get forward. 11.9 PPS in 2H saw him get into the top 20, but the golden period was between GW27 and 34 which saw him score an insane 18.2 PPS. One of the only standout defenders from the season!


Let's finally get to the Premier League's young player of the season, Cole Palmer. What a season this lad has had, I'm not sure what Poch was smoking over at the Bridge to leave him out of the XI for the first 6 GWs, but boy did Palmer make up for it. He became the talisman for a young team stripped of its established stars, scoring 22 goals and providing 14 assists on his way to an absurd 19.5 PPS! He even had a spell between GW27 to 33 where he averaged 34.4 PPS, throwing out 50+ point games for fun. Yes there's the elephant in the room with 9 of those goals coming from penalties, but he developed so much through the season that any penalties were just the icing on the cake and not as significant a portion of his points. It's absurd to think that whoever was lucky enough to have picked him up the first week he started was effectively picking up a 1-1 draft pick, the standout best player in the game. At any rate, along with Saka he will be a player in high demand in drafts this summer and could easily be taken 1-1, although doubts could linger on what his role in the team could be with a new manager at the helm.


Declan Rice was a steady option in the first half of the season, as nailed as you like and putting up a solid 8 PPS. The 2nd half of the season saw him explode as he took on set piece duty and adding more attacking impetus to his game, scoring 5 goals and providing 6 assists on the way to 13.7 PPS. Similar to Rodri they have really bucked the trend in Fantrax of defensive midfielders scoring poorly, they are getting forward more while still racking up the defensive counting stats, a really nice combination.


We were expecting an uptick in form from Bruno Fernandes given his huge underperformance of xG and xA , but we most certainly were not expecting this from Bruno Guimaraes! For context he put up a solid yet unspectacular 8.4 PPS last season, and a near identical 8.2 PPS in the first half of this season. But then the Bruno G we saw when he was first signed in Jan 2022 resurfaced after significant injuries in Newcastle's midfield and attack. This meant he became the more advanced midfielder once more, with an amazing return of 5 goals, 6 assists and 14.3 PPS. Still I would be wary in next years draft, firstly there have been strong rumours of a transfer away, and secondly the return of midfielders such as Joelinton, Tonali and any new signings would see him back to a more reserved role. Still its not the worst bet to make that we get a similar injury situation, given Howe's penchant for overworking his best XI.


I will always look back on this season with very fond memories of Rodrigo Muniz after nabbing him off the waiver wire in 3 leagues. He was facing an uphill battle in the first half of the season as Raul Jimenez eventually started scoring and seemed to have nailed down the forward spot. Yet a timely injury saw him get a chance, but it really was a tiny window of opportunity as Fulham brought in Armando Broja on loan in January. Still he managed to take it, exploding into life from GW23, scoring 9 goals in 15 starts. The spell he had from GW23 to 30 was a joy to behold as he scored 17.7 PPS, every week he was just churning out the points. One of those you had to be lucky enough to jump on at the right time, but boy did it pay off handsomely.


Race to the most Ghost Fantasy Points


Now my colleague and ghost point hunter extraordinaire Ryan Barnes, would not have been best pleased if I hadn't included a race for the most ghost points! You can find link for the race here: 23/24 Fantrax Ghost FPts Race.


The first thing that should be noted is just how many goalkeepers show up on this list, compared to FPts, with 9 out of the top 25! With the -2 for goals against removed, they really come into their own with those saves, in addition to a plethora of high claims succeeded. Andre Onana is one of the biggest beneficiaries here, unsurprising given how many shots United give up! This season, United are ranked 2nd for most shots against (660) and 6th for shots on target against (203), yet somehow rank 5th for goals conceded (58) and 8th for clean sheets (9). A potent combination for a keeper in Fantrax and enough to see him rank 3rd for total ghost points! We also see promoted keepers Thomas Kaminski and Wes Foderingham in the top 25, and I'm sure we would have seen Arijanet Muric up there as well if he had been playing all season, it's just a shame they concede so many goals!


It's telling that there are no forwards in the top 25, as they are more reliant on attacking returns for points. But 9 midfielders have made the list, with most being heavily reliant on probably the most overpowered stat in Fantrax scoring - key passes. So it's no surprise to see prolific shot creators Bruno Fernandes, Bukayo Saka, Pascal Gross and Aflie Doughty at the very top of this list.


But leading the way we have the big man James Tarkowski, not only a prolific shagger, but also an aerial monster leading the way on 143 aerials, while also leading the blocked shot category with 54. That's basically half of his points right there, easy money! Tarkowski under Dyche is a ghosting magnet and he should be highly coveted in next year's draft! Another defender worth highlighting is another ghost category leader, Antonee Robinson, with 80 interceptions, no on is even close to him on that front. He's been such a solid player all season and a lot of that is to do with his solid floor of 9.6 gPPS! It's also worth acknowledging Virgil Van Dijk's return to the ghosting scene. His aerial numbers have been significantly down since the heady days of 18/19 and 19/20 where he was nearing 200 a season, but 140 this season was a welcome return, despite the drop off at the end of the season.



Well, that's a wrap from me for the season, I hope everyone had lots of success in their fantasy leagues and can now enjoy a well-earned break! I'm sure we'll be seeing you all soon enough as we gear up for the 24/25 draft!


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