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Fantrax EPL: The Perspective - Jack, Jadon, and TAA

Football is all about debates and fantasy football is no different. Sometimes, though, we can only see one side to an argument. Perhaps it's our club bias, or a grudge held against a player who caused you to lose a matchup seven years ago. Whatever it is, do not worry. The Inner Geek is here to lay down the logic for both perspectives. This week we're taking a look at three stories of the utmost importance as we hit the peak of draft season.

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Jack Grealish: value up or value down?

Current ADP (August 4th): 5.2

TDS Rank (July 28th): 4th

Okay, so full disclosure; I’m a Villa fan. And as a Villa fan (or at least, 99% of them) I absolutely love Jack still. And I'm actually quite happy this transfer has happened. The guy deserves it and I cannot wait to see him show the world what everyone at Villa saw for 90 minutes every single week. This guy is a baller. But who cares about “real life”? Is his value higher or lower now that he has moved to Manchester City?

Without doubt, it’s gone up: See above re being a baller. For real though, if you thought Grealish was good at the Euros in his preposterously short appearances, that is probably him playing at 10% of his level. He is just a sublime footballer that will fit in perfectly at City. Him next to KDB in the middle, with Foden out wide and potentially Kane (or even Messi?!?) up top? Just hand Pep the title now. In terms of Fantrax, though, you just have to look at the numbers. 427.5 points at 16.4 FP/G (4th best in the league), points per start of 17.7 (2nd best), points per 90 of 17.6 (tied for 3rd best), and GACS percentage of just 35. These are “next best thing to KDB and Bruno” numbers. And they could easily go up when he’s playing in a team that has a good shot at winning 30+ games and scoring 100+ goals this season. Yes, I get the worry about playing time, but remember, lineups don’t lock in the traditional draft format of the game, so when Pep rotates, you can just place him on the bench. Even just 20 games from Jack Grealish could be enough to help win you your fantasy league. Is the 3rd overall pick really that crazy?

100% it’s gone down: Yes, he’s a good player. But Manchester City have a LOT of good players. I present exhibit A: Riyad Mahrez, and exhibit B: Phil Foden. Mahrez started 23 games last season, and Foden started just 17. Yes you can bench them, but the 4th or 5th pick on someone who will start probably 50-70% of games? That is an absolute no go. Even taking Grealish in the first two rounds would be debatable with those concerns looming. And even if he does start 30+, is he going to be the force he was when he was the undisputed main man at Villa? It is very unlikely. He’s good, but KDB is king. Those free-kicks and corners that he was in charge of may still come his way, but it’s a big risk considering who City also have ready and able to take them. And then finally, you could even make a case that Grealish will fail at City. Not necessarily because of his talent – I think there’s no question (in my, possible claret-tinted glasses) that he’s good enough. But rather, will his perhaps questionable attitude be tolerated at the Etihad like it was at Villa Park? I can imagine breaking quarantine to go an all-night party, crashing your Range Rover, and then being photographed looking worse for wear with one flip-flop on might not go down too well with Pep. Sorry, but his value just has to drop.

Jadon Sancho: hitting the ground running or stalling on arrival?

Current ADP: 8.8

TDS Rank (July 28th): 11th

The biggest transfer of the summer (as of this writing) to the biggest club in the world – how can it go wrong? Manchester United acquired England’s 21-year-old Jadon Sancho for the meagre price of just £76.5 million in a deal that seems a lifetime ago, but will it all work out when the action starts on the pitch?

He’ll hit the ground running faster than that Norwegian hurdler!

In the three seasons in which he established himself at Dortmund, Jadon Sancho scored 37 goals and had 41 assists in 92 games. Across Europe’s big five leagues he’s in the 93rd percentile or higher for assists, expected assists, shot-creating actions, passes attempted, progressive passes, progressive passes received, progressive carries, and dribbles completed. It’s safe to say he’s a good player. And he’s gone to a good team. With Rashford out, Martial injured/out-in-the cold, Cavani heading into his 35th year, and Bruno perhaps due for a little regression, someone is going to need to step up in attack. That man will be Sancho. Oh, and as a final little plus, I collected data and published an article a few years ago whilst as a writer for Togga (God rest it’s soul) that showed that whilst incoming transfers from Europe tend to struggle in the Premier League, the league which tends to cope best with the jump is the Bundesliga. Timo Werner haters may laugh at that, but there’s been a lot of good acquisitions from Germany in the past. Sancho should be another, particularly as he won’t have the language or cultural barrier to overcome.

Sorry, but I think he’ll be stalling…

The history of the Premier League is littered with big name transfers from oversees that failed to deliver (at least in their first season). Kai Havertz and Timo Werner last season; Nicolas Pepe, Tanguy Ndombele, and Sebastien Haller the season before; Kepa, Naby Keita, and Fred in 2018/19. The list is long and to say that it is out of the question for Sancho to join that list would be beyond foolish. He is clearly a very good player, but how he settles in at United is unknown. Ole’s system will obviously play a part, and United’s best attacking players are on the left side (even Bruno drifts that side from his central midfield role). For sure, Sancho was brought into balance that out, but the Shaw-Rashford-Bruno triumvirate is still likely to eat into his numbers from Dortmund. Perhaps it’s just me, but if I were a United fan, I’d also be a little concerned that when it mattered most, Gareth Southgate opted for Foden and Saka ahead of Sancho at Euro 2020. Is Sancho not as good as Bukayo Saka? I can definitely see Sancho taking a little while to find his feet.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: part of the elite or overvalued asset?

Current ADP: 12.0

TDS Rank (July 28th): 10th

TAA’s ADP currently has him as the last pick of a traditional 12-team first round, but the drop-off to 13th is considerable (Watkins’ ADP is 15.32). The numbers suggest he’s the last of the elite (though admittedly there are probably sub-tiers within this elite). Is this status justified?

Hell yeah he is!

We’re all guilty of recency bias. Yes, TAA slightly underperformed last season, but let’s not forget what he did in 2019-20. Under the new scoring system he would have scored 534.5 points (2nd best in the league) and have an FP/G of 14.07 (7th best) that season. That is the very definition of elite. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a world class player that, at the age of just 22, may still be getting better. He is phenomenal going forwards, and with VVD back for Liverpool, could see some defensive scoring return too. And whilst the lack of locked lineups and sizeable benches allow you to accommodate for the Mahrez’s and Foden’s of the game, let’s not forget that having an absolute guaranteed 90-minute player in your team can be an absolute dream. No worrying about rotation, no concerns over being subbed off early. TAA can probably be nailed on for 35 starts right now. The first three rounds of the draft are exponentially more important than the rest and playing it safer here is the wise move in my opinion. There are not many better guarantees than TAA.

No chance!

We’re not saying that TAA isn’t a good fantasy player here. But is he a notch above the likes of Foden, James Ward-Prowse, Maddison, Sterling, Mahrez, and Havertz, like the ADP’s suggest? And do we need to take a defender that high anyway? The next highest defenders are Andrew Robertson and Luke Shaw with ADP’s of 23.29 and 28.4, respectively. Last season TAA had the 34th highest points per start (11.4) and a points per 90 of 11.8 that was easily surpassed by Joao Cancelo (14.1), Jamie Vardy (13.4), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (13.0), Adama Traore (12.9), Harvey Barnes (13.0) and numerous others. OverThinkingFootball’s WAR ranking was kinder on the Liverpool right back, but still had him 13th for total WAR, just ahead of Ilkay Gundogan, and 25th for average WAR, behind the likes of Rodrigo, Jesse Lingard, and Matheus Pereira. TAA right now is being overvalued. Let the others take him in the first round and bolster the midfield and forwards – they are the important positions.

The Full-Time Whistle

So there we have it. The Jack, Jadon, and TAA situations analysed from both sides. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

  • Despite my love for Jack, his value just has to come down with the move to Manchester City. You want 400+ points from your pick if you're selecting in the top six. I think I'd still take him in the lower reaches of the first though, and if he were to fall to the second, I think he's a steal.

  • Sitting on the fence a little with this one, though if you forced my hand I would go with stalling on arrival. I'm not one to take a risk on ANY arrival from oversees, no matter how good they look or how great their stats are. Sancho, for me, is a second round pick and his current ADP of 8.8 is classic 'shiny new toy' + 'Manchester United asset' biases.

  • Another mighty tough one, and this time I'm going to edge towards TAA being part of the elite. His second half of the season was exceptional, and his final two months absolutely frightening. I have less love for defenders than the average fantasy manager, but would still be happy taking the Liverpool man late in the first round.

What do you make of it all? What perspective are you taking? Let us know below!

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