Fantasy managers need more than 5 defenders in their teams
The meta-game of Africa Fantasy: defenders, temperatures and rotation
This article was written before the Mauritania vs Angola match. Some information is not up to date.
In the last article, we raised question marks whether Premium forwards will justify their price tag in Africa Fantasy given the consistent delivery from the defenders in round 1.
With round 2 about to wrap up, Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria secured their 2nd clean sheet in the AFCON and qualified to the next round. In terms of Africa Fantasy, we got further evidence that defenders offer excellent value in terms of price per points. Since the last article, defenders took the fantasy game to another level not only by keeping clean sheets, but also by scoring goals. Many fantasy managers wish they had even more than 5 spots in their teams for defenders, because there are so many excellent options in this game.
What else have the defenders done in AFCON2019?
GameWeek 1 finished with a 2–0 win to Cameroon over Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau gave Cameroon a very good game until the 66th minute, when the center back Yaya Banana (5.5M) scored the first goal for Cameroon, making him the first defender to score in AFCON2019.
The second group stage round kicked-off with Egypt vs DR Congo, a game where many managers gave the armband to either Mohamed Salah (13.0M) or Mahmoud Trezeguet (8.6M). However, the highest points scorer was Ahmed Elmohamady (6.5M), who scored 12pts with a goal and clean sheet. He has now 19pts in Afica Fantasy, joined highest points scorer with Omeruo (6.5M), who also scored a goal and clean sheet for Nigeria in, yet again, a difficult 1–0 win against Guinea.
Interestingly enough, the top 5 points scorer in Africa Fantasy so far are all defenders with Elmohamady (19pts) and Omeruo (19pts) at the top. If we expand the list, only 18 players scored 13pts or more in the entire game. Those are 3 goalkeepers, 11 defenders, 2 midfielders and only 2 forwards. This is a clear message from the defenders that they are worth every penny and they made it very hard to justify going with the very popular 3–4–3 or 3–5–2 formation.
We should also give an honorable mention to Kazapua (4.0M / NAM), one of the most valuable goalkeepers in the game, who scored 9pts in 2 games without a clean sheet in the cup thanks to his 11 saves, more than any other keeper. We tipped him in the previous article as a perfect example to the cheap goalkeepers with huge saves potential and he proved it again vs South Africa, finishing at 5pts in this game.
Has the goals per match ratio improved in the recent games?
In the last article, we mentioned that the goals/game ratio was at 1.76 goals/match at the time of publishing the article. Now, AFCON registered 43 goals in 21 matches (2.05 goals/match) which is almost exactly the ratio of AFCON2017 in Gabon with (2.06 goals/match). However, we found a specific pattern in when these goals are scored.
Everyday we have three matches, with kick-offs at 14:30 GMT, 17:00 GMT and 20:00 GMT. In the six matches played at 14:30 GMT, only 8 goals were scored (1.33 goals/match), while the 17:00 GMT kick-offs registered 11 goals in seven matches (1.57 goals/match). However, the evening kick-offs were more festive games to the fans, with 24 goals in eight matches — more than the two earlier kick-offs combined! — shooting the ratio up to (3.0 goals/match).
The most sensible explanation to the huge gap in the ratios is due to the high temperature, up to 38°C, during the first two kick-offs, which makes the games slower in the build up, with less creativity and more fatigue to the players. On the other hand, the temperature cools down to 25°C in the late matches, allowing the players to increase their work rate and, therefore, the teams can play quicker and make the games more lively.
Round 3 will only have matches at 16:00 GMT and 19:00 GMT, so there is an opportunity for fantasy managers to, potentially, consider targeting defenders from 17:00 GMT games and midfielders and forwards from 20:00 GMT.
Are we facing rotation risks from the qualified teams?
So far, we know that Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco booked their ticket to the next round, which makes their assets at rotation risk. Round 3 is the only opportunity to rest their key players and bring on fresh legs to prepare for the knockout stages. Egypt is yet to secure the 1st spot in their match vs Uganda so for now we can only advice to keep an eye on the news and press conferences for more clues about the lineup. Rotation is more likely to happen with Algeria, who will definitely qualify as group B winners regardless of their last game result vs Tanzania, who has also nothing to play for, with Kenya and Senegal playing for 2nd and 3rd spot.
- Once again, Defense proved to have the upper hand over the Midfield and Forwards with more points scored and more value for money. Managers should make sure they have five strong defenders moving forward into round 3.
- Kazapua (4.0M) and Akpeyi (5.1M) are currently the most valuable goalkeepers in terms of points for money. Investing in them for round 3 may offer good return from them, subject to any rotation risk.
- The 20:00 GMT kick-off games registered more goals than the earlier kickoffs combined, so fantasy managers may consider investing in defenders from early kick-off games and attacking assets from the late kick-off games.
- Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco booked their ticket to the next round. Beware when investing in these teams, as head coaches may bring on fresh legs and rest their key players for knock-out stages.