PP90 Against: The Run-In
Strap yourselves in, this is a long one.
First of all, just a quick refresher to anyone who doesn’t know what PP90 is. PP90 refers to Points per 90. This tends to be a better metric for judging a player’s value than total fantasy points which can overvalue individuals who play 90 minutes week in, week out or FP/G (fantasy points per game) which undervalues individuals who get subbed on or off regularly.
PP90 Against calculates the average PP90 earned against each team for each position. To do this, we sum all of the ‘total fantasy points’ scored against a team, sum all of the ‘minutes played’ against a team, divide the former by the latter, and multiply the resultant number by 90.
Boring maths aside, PP90 allows us to see which teams are good for our Fantasy EPL players to face, and which ones aren’t. This information can then help us decide who to start and who to bench; for instance, it may seem sensible to always play your Liverpool assets regardless of opposition, but in Gameweek 23 – when they faced off against Manchester City – the PP90 Against data would have suggested otherwise. As it turns out, only Mohamed Salah scored more than 7 points. On the flip side of that, in that same gameweek, three of Tottenham’s backline had ownership percentages of less than 50%, but a game against West Bromwich Albion was very favourable according to the PP90 Against data. If you’d picked any of them up, you’d have been rewarded with 12.75 (Davison Sanchez), 9.75 (Ben Davies), or 9.5 (Toby Alderweireld).
With Gameweek 30 on the horizon, we really are into the business end of the season. And whilst having only a few games left may not be ideal if you’re left chasing first place, or on the outside looking in at the playoffs, it does mean that from a data perspective, we have a hell of a lot to work with now. 29 Gameweek's of Premier League football have given as a good idea of which teams are best to target – and which are best to avoid – at each position. Here are those numbers to help you in the final push for Draft Fantasy glory.
PP90 Against: Goalkeepers
The PP90 Against numbers for Goalkeepers present interesting reading: you have three super-favourable sides to face (Burnley, Sheffield United, and Fulham), three very nice sides to face (Chelsea, Wolves, and West Brom), five super-tough sides to face (Everton, Leicester, West Ham, Tottenham, and Man City), and then a bunch in the middle. The standout here, of course, is Chelsea. Chelsea give up 7.75 points to opposition goalkeepers – 4th highest in the league – so don’t be afraid to target them from a streaming perspective. Everton, also, might seem a little odd. Goalkeepers facing Ancelotti’s side has returned just over 4 points on average this season, and 74% of the time they have scored fewer than 5 points. It may not seem a tough fixture looking at their 8th spot in the table, but it’s the hardest in the league from a goalkeeper’s fantasy perspective.
Looking ahead at the run-in, we can see that Wolves have a very nice schedule coming up, and so at 67% ownership, Rui Patricio could be the answer to many managers’ streaming questions for the remainder of the season. Other good candidates include Leno (75%), Sanchez (67%), and the Man United keeper (De Gea: 67%, Henderson: 50%), though Fulham and Areola (50%) actually have the second best-run if you exclude their blank in GW33. On the flip side, there are some big names that warrant avoiding, including Ederson (100%), Lloris (100%), Schmeichel (100%), and Dubravka (58%).
PP90 Against: Defenders
Onto the Defenders, and the PP90 numbers here are far more staggered, with very few clusters of teams. Not surprisingly, the bottom two teams in real life (and lowest two scoring teams) also give up the most points to defenders in Draft Fantasy. After that, Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Fulham also provide nice matchups. By contrast, we have Manchester City, who are on another planet to everyone else. To put into context just how crazy Man City’s PP90 Against number here is – and how hard it is for defenders facing them – a defender would have to take on Pep’s side five times before they are likely to exceed the points they would get in one game against Sheffield United. Neighbours United, Leicester, Chelsea, and the Merseyside duo of Everton and Liverpool also provide tough matchups. It is perhaps surprising to see just how closely these numbers reflect the current league table – with few “out of place” teams here (not good for a Draft Fantasy manager looking for a competitive advantage!).
Onto the upcoming schedules, and again, Wolves and Arsenal lead the way. Nuno’s men really do have a great run of fixtures coming up, so the likes of Willy Boly (33% ownership) and Jonny (33%) should be scooped up immediately. Given Arteta’s fondness for mixing things up, it’ll be harder to take advantage of Arsenal’s favourable run-in via the waiver wire, however, a cheeky trade offer for Kieran Tierney may see you get great value. Chelsea and Leicester – teams with the 3rd and 4th best remaining schedules – have defenders with high ownerships already except, strangely, the 8.12 FP/G Wesley Fofana, who at 58% ownership should also be snapped up if still available. Finally, if you’re in a 12-14 team league and want a real deep pick, Ryan Bertrand (42%) might be worth a shot. The left-back is suffering from the same hit-or-miss-itis that Lucas Digne has, throwing in frequent minus scores with the occasional double-digit haul.
Fulham may be everyone’s second team this season (or is that just me?!) but it may be time to sell high(ish) on those defensive assets. It’s not going to be easy for Andersen (8.07 FP/G), Tete (7.98), Robinson (7.72), Adarabioyo (6.87), and Aina (6.26) to keep pulling in those numbers with the second hardest schedule in the league. The same applies to Man City’s stars, and owners of the likes of Cancelo, Stones, Dias, and Zinchenko also have to contend with the real possibility of rotation and general easing up now that the league is all but won. If you can get someone to take these guys off your hands for a good price, it would be worth doing so.
PP90 Against: Midfielders
Okay, let’s get it over and done with. City’s PP90 Against is ridiculous. Again. Avoid them at all costs. Good, now we can discuss the rest. As with the defenders, West Brom and Sheffield United give up the most points (though this time West Brom are “champions” – congratulations Big Sam). After this we have a trio of clubs who might be of interest to the Draft Fantasy manager. Leeds, in particular, are probably not seen as one of the better teams to target for midfield waivers, but they have the 3rd highest PP90 in the league and it may be possible to take advantage of that. Southampton too – terrible form aside – aren’t a side you immediately look to as an opponent for potential free agent pickups, but they should be, sitting as the do with a 9.34 PP90. On the other end, just 0.82 separates Chelsea’s 2nd placed PP90 Against and Wolves’ 8th placed PP90 Against, so it makes sense to just avoid everything from Nuno’s men down, if possible.
If you have space on the bench to accommodate their blank in Gameweek 33, then Spurs midfielders may be the ones for you. Games against Man United, Everton, and Leeds look far more daunting than they actually are (good! Other managers may trade them for cheap!), to the point where they actually edge out their North-London neighbours for the best run-in if you exclude the blank gameweek. That said, Arsenal’s midfield assets should still be sought after with determination – their toughest matchup according to the numbers is in Gameweek 30 against a Liverpool side that have the 11th highest PP90 Against in the league, and they also face two “should be” whipping boys in Sheffield United and West Brom. I like a trade for the 5.62 FP/G Martin Odegaard – he has certainly passed the eye test in recent weeks and could see his Draft Fantasy numbers start to reflect that soon. Southampton (blank gameweek excluded), Wolves, and Liverpool should also be targeted, with the likes of Nathan Redmond (50% ownership), and the returning duo of Theo Walcott (33%) and Daniel Podence (50%) prime candidates.
Even allowing for the blank gameweek, Fulham have one of the toughest upcoming schedules for midfielders, so the stuttering Zambo train, at 58% ownership, may need to come to a complete halt. Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey (75%) and Ryan Fraser (67%) also have ownerships that are probably too high, given the PP90 Against numbers (oh, and given how terrible Newcastle are). Finally, cashing in on the likes of Jack Harrison (10.0 FP/G), Matheus Pereira (9.3), and James “Darren-Anderton-Doesn’t-Have-Nothing-On-Me” Rodriguez (10.92) could also be very astute moves, considering their upcoming fixtures.
PP90 Against: Forwards
What is this? Someone close to Man City’s PP90 Against numbers?!? Yes, Chelsea are formidable too. Not quite City level, but damn close – if you have a forward taking on one of these two, sit them. After that, however…it’s not too bad. Brighton giving up over 9 points as the 3rd lowest PP90 is alright, and so a matchup for your forward against Potter’s men is still favourable to a matchup for your defender against Newcastle (provided they both play equal minutes, of course). There are, though, much better teams for your forwards to face. In fact, there are seven that look particularly promising according to the numbers. The best of these is, perhaps surprisingly, Leeds. Bielsa’s side give up 13.09 points to opposition forwards – half a point more than the next highest, West Brom.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane owners, rejoice. 29 weeks of waiting for your first round picks to repeat their 2019-20 feats may finally pay off. Games against Leeds, Newcastle, and Southampton have got points written all over them – to the extent that even a trade for Roberto Firmino may be in order! Another shout out must be given to Tottenham though, who again have a very nice schedule outside of that Gameweek 33 blank. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min may not be obtainable, but a punt on Carlos Vinicius isn’t out of the question after his nice performance against Aston Villa last week. A run in the side for the Brazilian could come just at the right time. Enquiring about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, and Adama Traore is also advisable. The three forwards have failed to hit their expected heights this season, but with their upcoming fixtures, could be about to change that. Want a low-risk option? Try one of the Burnley forwards. It’s likely to be Chris Wood plus one, with Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez, and Matej Vydra almost evenly splitting game-time in 2021. The former might be the preferred choice for Dyche, and with an ownership of just 17%, could be a very nice pickup.
As a Raphinha owner myself, I am not liking the look of this table. It will certainly be a case of trying to trade the Leeds star out after Gameweek 30. Four nightmare matches in a row are in store for Raphinha and Bamford – easily the worst schedule when taking into account the blank gameweek. Speaking of which, Fulham have one… but their run-in is still bad. Really bad. Ademola Lookman owners may want to copy the plan for Raphinha. The third big name that may suffer over the next month or so is Villa’s Ollie Watkins. The 8th highest scoring forward this season has games against Liverpool, Man City, and Man United on the horizon…that impressive FP/G of 11.43 is likely to be much lower after all of that.
PP90 Against: Recent Changes
Finally, I present to you, data on recent changes in PP90 Against. Below are the changes since February 16th (post-gameweek 24) – positive numbers indicate teams that have become more favourable to face, whereas negative numbers indicate teams that have become less favourable to face.
Surprisingly, it has become much easier for opposition goalkeepers facing Chelsea over the last five gameweeks. Meslier’s ridiculous 25.25 in Gameweek 28 and de Gea’s almost as crazy 20 pointer in Gameweek 26 are a large reason behind that, so don’t get carried away and think that Tuchel has ushered in an era in which we should target Chelsea for goalkeepers. But if you’re unable to take advantage of the Burnley-SheffU-Fulham trio, then the Blues may indeed be the next best option - even when Chelsea have scored, goalkeepers haven’t done too badly (Pickford returned 13.25 in Everton’s 2-0 loss recently). Leicester have scored 14 goals in their last 6 league games, so it’s no surprise to see them getting even tougher to face. Vardy, too, is one of the most clinical forwards to ever play in the Premier League, and with the 2nd lowest PP90 Against in the league, it’s absolutely essential to avoid having your goalkeeper take on the foxes.
Villa’s attack had slowed down in 2021, even before Jack Grealish got injured – now it has become pedestrian. Their PP90 Against numbers have risen by a massive amount over the past five games – one goal in that time will do that – and when the likes of George Baldock, Conor Coady, and Jamaal Lascelles are scoring north of 15 points against you, you know things aren’t good. But superstar Jack will be back for Gameweek 30, so perhaps that slide will be arrested. Even so, they are certainly no longer one of the (surprising) teams to avoid when it comes to streaming a defender. Arsenal’s recent good run of 2 wins and 2 draws (including an impressive 8 goals against Leicester, West Ham, and Tottenham) has seen their PP90 drop by 0.66 points and whilst that still makes them only the 8th toughest side to face, that rank was 13th five weeks ago. It presents an interesting dilemma for anyone weighing up who to start between a Liverpool defender and an Arsenal defender. The former have a slightly lower PP90 Against, but the two are trending in the opposite direction…I would avoid them both if possible!
Southampton are on the slide when it comes to Midfielder PP90 Against, but that is in large parts down to Messieurs Foden (34.5 points), De Bruyne (26.5), and Gundogan (24.5). Thankfully for Ralph Hassenhuttl, the Saints won’t be facing those guys every week. Leandro Trossard, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Mason Mount, and Stuart Dallas have also all hauled against them in recent weeks though, so whilst the numbers may not be as bad as they first appear, they are still very much a team to target. The effect Tuchel has had is quite remarkable. Chelsea have a real identity about them now (albeit a very boring one for the neutral if you ask me). It makes facing them from a goalkeeper/defender perspective not bad at all but facing them from a midfielder/forward perspective an absolute nightmare. They just don’t let teams have the ball, and whilst Fantrax scoring is great at rewarding those defensive attributes like tackles won and interceptions, it’s still not as preferable as having the opportunity for crosses, key passes, and, of course, goals.
Finally (congratulations – you’re almost there!), we have the forwards. Wolves have been put to the sword by some big names of late, with Riyad Mahrez (30.5 points), Gabriel Jesus (30), Raphinha (25.5), and Sadio Mane (18.5) all going to town on them. The teams next on Wolves’ schedule – Fulham, Sheffield United, Burnley, and West Brom – don’t quite have the same quality in attack, so I’d expect this slide to be halted very soon. Brighton’s PP90 Against numbers for forwards was always going to rise at some point, given how absurdly low it has stayed for most of the season, but it’s worrying for Sheffield United that their 5th worst PP90 Against has only been getting worse recently. At the other end, Leeds may have tightened up by over a point per game, but they remain a team to target; likewise West Brom. Perhaps more relevant is the notion of avoiding forwards taking on Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea, and Man United – these four have become difficult asks for opponents of late. Chelsea, in particular, were able to keep the likes of Mason Greenwood, Danny Ings, Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino all below 5 points since Gameweek 25.
So there you have it. A ton of numbers thrown at you, but hopefully ones that will help you navigate your way to a successful league finish. If you’re looking to stream on a week-to-week basis, look for goalkeepers facing Burnley, Sheffield United, or Fulham; defenders and midfielders taking on Sheffield United or West Brom; and forwards playing Leeds. Alternatively, check out some of Wolves and Arsenal’s assets – they have great run-ins according to PP90 Against.
For all the latest from the Inner Geek, follow @the_innergeek on Twitter!