The Risers and Fallers in TDS Consensus Ranks
The final TDS Consensus Ranks of the season are here – just in time for you to solidify your title challenge, seal that playoff place, or drag yourself away from wooden spoon embarrassment. And whilst we can debate until Tottenham win a trophy as to the merits of Thomas Partey at 66 or Said Benrahma at 94 (and that’s without Genie’s ”eccentric” takes this time out), what might be more interesting is to take a look and see how these ranks have changed across the season.
After the initial Pre-Season Consensus Ranks back in late July, our TDS team have provided five updates – in September, October, November, January, and now most recently in March. For those unfamiliar with the rankings, each of our writers ranks their top 150 players in terms of fantasy value for the rest of the season (based on Fantrax Default Scoring), and then with a bit of mathematical wizardry courtesy of DrafterThoughts, a consensus list is produced.
Across the season, a total of 238 different players were deemed worthy of the ultimate honour of seeing their name within the Consensus Ranks. Only 78 players appeared in all six lists, whilst 53 players visited the promised land on just one occasion. You can check out the full list of players at the bottom of the page, but our main focus for this article is to highlight five players who have soared up the ranks and five players who have dropped like a lead balloon.
Bernardo Silva (Pre: 119, Sep: 126, Oct: 83, Nov: 42, Jan: 23, Mar: 20)
The most high profile error by our TDS writers this season comes in the form of Manchester City star Bernardo Silva. Ranked #119 in Pre-Season, the midfielder has been an integral part of Pep’s side – so much so that he has started every game since the opening day defeat to Tottenham. This presence in the side is the reason for the ranking discrepancy. It was widely known that Manchester City were willing to let Silva go last summer – and that Silva wanted to leave too – had the right offers come in. The Pre-Season rankings had to reflect a possible departure, or if not that, at least a disillusioned and unwanted player probably on the fringe of the squad. The arrival of Jack Grealish – with nobody in that area of the pitch of note departing – seemed to confirm all these suspicions. But Guardiola would give Silva a chance, and Silva would take it and not let go. Already on 2,406 minutes (the previous two seasons he had 2,065 and 2,030), he is on track to play more minutes, score more goals, and – crucially for fantasy managers – score more points than he ever has during his time in the Premier League. With a WAR of 1.501 (12th best in the league), it would seem that our rankings are still not giving the Portuguese his due.
What about next year? Silva’s spot in the team is always going to be under threat – it is the nature of being at Manchester City. With Julian Alvarez set to arrive, and Erling Haaland reportedly close to doing so too, it is likely that Phil Foden returns to the midfield and eats away at his minutes. Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez – both 31 – may be less of a threat but you’d have to think that £106m man Jack Grealish will be relied upon more, whilst youngster Cole Palmer should also see some time. All things considered, we are probably seeing the peak of Silva as a fantasy asset right now, but if he’s available in 4th round next season then you’d have to grab him, maybe even the back end of the 3rd.
Martin Odegaard (Pre: n/a, Sep: 58, Oct: 90, Nov: 134, Jan: 53, Mar: 29)
After signing for Arsenal on August 20th, Odegaard debuted at #58 on the Consensus Ranks. Coming off the back of a loan spell in which the Norwegian started just 9 out of 18 possible league games and accrued a Solly-March-like 9.1 PP90, the rank was perhaps a little high (the shiny new toy effect in fantasy!). Outside of a match-winning display in a dire 1-0 win away at Burnley, Odegaard’s impact at Arsenal was minimal (admittedly more so in fantasy than in real life), and he lost his place in the starting 11 in October and November – leading to rank of #134. But as Arsenal improved, so did Odegaard (or should that be the other way around?). Since December 1st, Only 16 players have scored more points than the midfielder. He has become integral to Arteta’s new-look Arsenal, even managing to keep fan favourite and (in my opinion) superstar in the making Emile Smith Rowe out of the side. As the apparent captain-in-waiting, it would appear that game-time won’t be an issue, so the only question is whether Odegaard can build on his five goals and three assists and become a real attacking threat akin to a Mount, Fernandes, or even teammate Saka.
What about next year? Should the Arsenal project continue to impress, we may well get used to seeing Odegaard’s name in the same fantasy conversations as Reece James, Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Jadon Sancho – the four players closest to him in our latest ranks. But the midfielder – like many players of course – does seem to ebb and flow with the fortunes of his team. An FP/G of 10.1 in victories is contrasted with a 7.6 in defeats, so draft position may depend on how much you fancy Arsenal’s chances. Like with Silva, I think if he’s there in the 4th round you absolutely have to take him.
Anthony Gordon (Pre: unranked, Sep: unranked, Oct: unranked, Nov: unranked, Jan: unranked, Mar: 38)
One man not at the mercy of his teammates is young Everton winger Anthony Gordon. Since establishing himself as a regular back in mid-December, Gordon has registered five double-digit returns, only one of which has come during an Everton win. The Englishman has thrived of late, despite his team’s struggles, and has a PP90 of 13.6 over the last 11 games (for comparison, Bruno Fernandes’ PP90 this season is 13.8). It has been a meteoric rise to prominence, and one reflected in the rankings – it is only in the latest iteration that his name has finally made his way to the board. Gordon may have taken his time to become a fantasy asset this season, but his arrival has been spectacular. No player has made a greater jump than his 113 spot rise between January and March*. Gordon has started all seven league games in Frank Lampard’s managerial reign, often at the expense of more senior figures like Andros Townsend, Dele Alli, Alex Iwobi, and Anwar El-Ghazi. If he is able to stay in favour, and if Everton’s roster returns to full fitness, then an Anthony Gordon feeding the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, and Demarai Gray could be a very tasty scenario for fantasy managers.
*excluding new arrivals like Coutinho, Kulusevski, etc.
What about next year? Assuming Everton stay up – which is no safe bet at this stage – you would like to think that Gordon can kick on and improve even further. The explosive fantasy potential has been shown with returns of 32 points against Brighton and 34 against Leeds, so it’ll be interesting to see whether more consistency can come with the increased experience. The current #38 ranking is likely inflated by his current hot-hand and Everton’s extra games compared to most teams, but at this point, I’d be looking at him in the 5th or 6th round.
Joel Matip (Pre: unranked, Sep: 116, Oct: 81, Nov: 88, Jan: 72, Mar: 25)
The biggest change from our Pre-Season ranks to our most recent March ranks (not including players transferring into or out of the league, i.e. Adama Traore or Philippe Coutinho) is centre-back Joel Matip. The Liverpool man has the 5th highest FP/G amongst defenders, so it is no surprise that he has risen from unranked to #25. Matip has undoubtedly benefited from finally having a prolonged run free of injury. In 2020/21, five separate injuries (most notably, the ankle injury suffered in January) led to him starting just nine league games, which is one more than he managed in a similarly injury-hit 2019-20 season. He has already managed 676 more minutes than in those two seasons combined and is easily on course to surpass his debut season at Liverpool when he played 2,457 league minutes. The fears of injury had led to Liverpool splashing out £36m last summer on young French defender Ibrahima Konate and these two factors explain his unranked status heading into the season. Since then, though, he has risen steadily through the ranks and now sits at a season-high #25, the second highest ranked centre-back and just six spots behind his teammate and partner in crime Virgil van Dijk. Side note: Matip’s FPG, PPS, PP90, gPPS, WhoScored rating and average WAR are all superior to the great VVD’s. Just saying.
What about next year? There will always be concerns about Matip’s health but if there’s one thing that De Bruyne’s comeback season of 2019/20 taught us, it’s that you don’t not draft a player because of the potential that they might get injured. Minute-for-minute, Matip is probably a better fantasy asset than van Dijk (blasphemy, I know) but, despite having himself a stellar season, it is Matip’s place in the team that will be under threat, whether because of injury, rest, or the form/ability of Konate. Personally I’d take him late in the 5th, definitely in the 6th – though it should be noted that I tend to rank defenders lower than most, so even the 4th round could probably be justified.
Ethan Pinnock (Pre: 149, Sep: 118, Oct: 71, Nov: 38, Jan: 44, Mar: 56)
Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock would have been an unfamiliar figure to many draft fantasy managers at the start of the season, but 29 games and 272.75 points later, the towering centre-back has become a cult figure in the community. His league-leading 138 aerials won dwarfs even that of James Tarkowski (117), Virgil van Dijk (96), and Joel Matip (86), and is the primary reason why his ghost points per 90 sit at 10.6 (6th best in the league amongst players with at least 50% starts). The unknown quantity perhaps explains why our writers were reluctant to catapult him into the seriously high ranks sooner – it wasn’t until November that he broke the top 50, despite at the time being the 11th highest scoring player in the league. By that point, Brentford had established themselves as a decent enough team (more so by the eye test than their 14th place league position) and Pinnock’s sample size had grown large enough to suggest he wasn’t just in a Shane-Duffy-like purple patch. Still, it would be the zenith of his fantasy appeal, as defensive frailties (1.27 goals conceded per game in the opening 11 matches compared to 1.74 goals conceded per game in their last 19 matches) have hurt his production. The Jamaican now sits at a very respectable #56 (ahead of the likes of Tomas Soucek, Ollie Watkins, and Paul Pogba) and is one of only two Brentford players ranked in the top 100.
What about next year? With his aerial ability and ghost point magnetism, Pinnock should remain a valuable fantasy asset next season. That said, #56 is far too high for me. Since the turn of the year, the defender’s FP/G has fallen to just 7.75 – just ahead of Tyrick Mitchell and Kurt Zouma, and just behind Marcal and Tyrone Mings. In fact, 124 players have a better FP/G during that time. Whether Brentford can continue to punch above their weight in an increasingly competitive middle tier of the Premier League remains to be seen, and it’s that uncertainty that would make Pinnock a 7th or 8th rounder.
Harry Maguire (Pre: 48, Sep: 50, Oct: 66, Nov: 83, Jan: 115, Mar: unranked)
9.5, 10.5, 8.5, 9.1. Those are Harry Maguire’s FP/G’s for the previous four seasons. It’s no surprise, then, that Mr Popular was ranked at #48 back in preseason, only the second centre-back to break the top 50. The Manchester United captain had just been an integral part of the England team that had reached the final of the European Championships and, according to WhoScored, had been the 4th best player at the tournament with an average rating of 7.62. Maguire is proof (if you needed it) that football fans' opinions are about as nuanced as an Adam Sandler movie. Fast forward eight months and you would be forgiven for thinking that Solskjaer/Rangnick had been starting a 48-year-old player from the Andorran second division all season. Has he had a poor season? Yes. Is he the worst player in the league that deserves the ridicule he gets (and booing from his own fans when he puts on an England shirt!)? Absolutely not. Manchester United have been a mess all season and Maguire has been the (main) scapegoat for it. His slow slide down our rankings should, in hindsight, have been quicker, but a guaranteed starter from a big six side is (and should) always going to warrant greater tolerance from fantasy managers.
What about next year? Players can have bad seasons, but to think that Maguire is done for would be to think that either his lack of confidence is irretrievable, or that the 4+ very good (perhaps even excellent?) seasons before then were a fluke. Manchester United will improve defensively next year (they’re currently on course to concede over 50 goals for just the second time in Premier League history, so the bar is admittedly pretty low), and with a much needed break over the summer, I think the defender will return to the high 8’s in terms of fantasy scoring. In fact, I would say it’s 50-50 as to whether he finishes with better numbers than our riser from earlier, Ethan Pinnock. The 7th round wouldn’t be too high.
Timo Werner (Pre: 49, Sep: 72, Oct: 85, Nov: 120, Jan: 141, Mar: unranked)
Whilst Maguire enjoyed a lazy slide down our rankings akin to child-friendly log flume, Werner’s drop was much more reminiscent of something from Six Flags or Alton Towers, where you have to be over 120cm to get on the ride. A preseason rank of #49 has, quite remarkably, plummeted all the way to the ignominy of now being unranked. Our writer’s impatience with his lack of fantasy value was understandably justified, as Romelu Lukaku’s return to the club on August 12th put a severe dent in Werner’s chances of starting. But the lack of gametime was just one factor. Numerous players have issues in this regard but still earn themselves a place on our top 150 (see Kelechi Iheanacho at #109, Marcus Rashford at #113, Pascal Gross at #124, etc.), and many don’t even have a manager renowned for tinkering like Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. No, what was more concerning was fantasy scoring even when he did start. Werner has made the 11 just eight times this season and has the following returns to show for it: 3 points, 0.5, 17, 1, 1, 1.5, 0, and 1.5. His PPS is a genuinely unbelievable 3.2 – a number worse than that of Ozan Kabak, Daniel Amartey, and Mads Rasmussen. Perhaps that ranking should have taken a bungee jump instead.
What about next year? Werner’s decline had, in fairness, started the season before. For a Chelsea number one forward to be ranked at #49 in pre-season (remember, this was prior to Lukaku’s arrival) is a clear sign of that. To say he has struggled in the Premier League would be an understatement, and whilst predicting Chelsea under the current circumstances is a fool’s game, you’d have to think that if Werner is still here next season that his prospects don’t look any more promising than they do right now. That said, this is still a guy who had a 19.3 PP90 in his last season at RB Leipzig. He’s clearly a very good player and is worth a throwaway pick if he falls to rounds 8 or 9.
Luke Shaw (Pre: 26, Sep: 29, Oct: 38, Nov: 49, Jan: 74, Mar: 132)
Luke Shaw, off the back of a 10.3 FP/G season, came into the year highly rated. A Pre-Season ranking of #26 was higher than fellow wingbacks Joao Cancelo and Andrew Robertson. Looking back, it was clearly a far too optimistic ranking for a player that had only started more than 20 league games in two of his seven seasons at the club and had FP/G’s of just 7.2 in 2019-20 and 7.6 in 2018-19. Still, I don’t think anyone would have foreseen Shaw’s current predicament. A time-share with Alex Telles, perhaps. Telles had looked decent when given the opportunity and with Shaw’s injury history, could quite easily eat into his game time. But a situation where Shaw’s PPS would sit right alongside Billy Gilmour’s and Fabian Schar’s at 6.7? Surely not. Goal involvement hasn’t really changed (he has three assists this season compared to one goal and five assists last season), but pretty much everything else has. Shots on target have decreased from 0.20 per game to 0.06, tackles won from 0.95 to 0.75, accurate crosses from 0.88 to 0.64, interceptions from 0.68 to 0.52, successful dribbles from 1.22 to 0.41, aerials won from 1.29 to 1.16 – the list could go on. It’s small numbers, but they all add up.
What about next year? With a new manager incoming, and therefore Shaw’s place in the side very unclear, pre-season will be key in identifying exactly where the England left back falls on draft day. In 2020/21, he accumulated the 28th most WAR in the league, despite starting just 27 games, so the upside is clearly there. A guaranteed starting spot and some strong showings from United could see him taken as high as the 5th round, but for me that’s too high for someone with this many question marks. It’s very dependent on pre-season, but taking him in the 8th round wouldn’t be the worst thing.
Nicolas Pepe (Pre: 55, Sep: 66, Oct: 59, Nov: 85, Jan: unranked, Mar: unranked)
Competing with Timo Werner for the title of Most Disappointing Premier League Arrival in Recent Years is Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe. At a club record £72m, it’s safe to say that the Gunners faithful would have expected more than the 16 goals and 8 assists that have been returned from 75 games in almost three seasons now. It may be even more frustrating from a fantasy perspective as Pepe has shown flashes of being a very productive asset in his all-too-short time on the pitch. Indeed, his PP90’s of 12.0 in 2020-21 and 12.2 in 2019-20 are comparable to the likes of Ivan Toney, Bernardo Silva, and Jack Grealish this season. It is this potential that led to the ranks in the 50s and 60s early in the season, but as the year progressed, and Pepe’s contributions to the side diminished to the point of being practically invisible, fantasy value was eventually reflected. With Arsenal flying high and Arteta looking to have finally found an 11 that he’s happy with, it would seem that Pepe will have to settle for minutes from the substitute’s bench, which, to be fair, is far more than he was getting at the turn of the year.
What about next year? You would imagine that Arsenal would like to sell Pepe in the summer, but the issue is whether they can find anyone to pay a sufficient amount both as a transfer fee and in wages. If the Ivorian’s time at the club does continue into August then there are only three scenarios in which he becomes a draftable asset: 1) two of Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, and Smith Rowe sustain long-term injuries (unlikely), 2) Arteta finally decides to try out Pepe as a centre-forward, to some success (very unlikely), or 3) Newcastle come sniffing around for some sort of late-in-the-day deal (who knows!?).
Vladimir Coufal (Pre: 47, Sep: 51, Oct: 64, Nov: 97, Jan: 127, Mar: unranked)
Runner-up in West Ham’s Player of the Year last season, Coufal entered 2021-22 as a fairly sought-after defensive commodity. The Czech fullback had played 90 minutes in 33 of the 35 games in which he was available after joining the club, and on the fantasy front had returned 325.5 points – good for 9th in the league amongst all defenders. Yet despite West Ham enjoying a fantastic start to the season (they were 3rd in the table when our November ranks came out), Coufal struggled. Even before the groin injury which saw him out of the starting 11 for six games in October and November (the first two for the injury, the next four because of the form of Ben Johnson), Coufal was not hitting the heights of the previous year. His PPS sat at just 7.0 and it didn’t change when he returned either, though it did become far less consistent (three negative returns since December after having just one in his previous 47 matches). With Coufal no longer an essential piece of the West Ham jigsaw, the club have made the wise decision for the defender to undergo surgery on that troublesome groin, and whilst he should see the pitch again this season, from a fantasy perspective, managers should certainly be taking a “wait and see” approach.
What about next year? Presuming the injury is one in which Coufal fully recovers, you would probably expect him to bounce back and become a viable fantasy asset again. The dizzying heights of #55 may be gone, but certainly a pickup in the lower rounds of the draft could be merited. It will, of course, depend on his place in the side. Moyes has seen success with a back four this year, so if Ben Johnson continues to develop, then it becomes a 50-50 shot between Coufal and Cresswell as to who misses out. If it’s not Coufal, then a punt around the 11th or 12th round could prove very fruitful.
The Final Whistle
So there we have it - five risers and five fallers in our Consensus Ranks across the season. Let us know which players you think will continue on their trajectory, and which will simply see the 2021/22 season as an anomaly. As a parting gift, here's the change in ranks of some of the best players in the game...
And don't forget to check out the full list of Consensus Rankings for March '22!!
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