In this weekly series, our resident data expert attempts to predict the newest bandwagon according to underlying statistics, formational changes and more. Here, we preview Gameweek 24 of Fantasy Premier League.
In this new weekly series, I’m going to be using data to evaluate current bandwagons and predict future ones.
FPL is all about getting on and off of assets at the right time, but what we’re going to see is that a lot of the time, it’s about not getting on at all.
False dawns, anomalous performances and tempting fixtures create a minefield of ways to blast yourself into trouble. Hopefully with this series, you can pick the right path through the chaos.
In this section, I evaluate the three current most popular early bandwagons for GW24, and whether they can come good for their new owners…
Goodbye KDB, hello Gundogan. In GW23, Gundo celebrated his 10th attacking return in 11 games. He has blanked only 3 times in that run.
The revelation that is Ilkay Gundogan has made a mockery of FPL’s pricing structure, and (with the help of other budget options) has left the team value brigade in the dust.
On the back of three big chances, 2 goals, a missed pen, max bonus points and a 3rd double digit haul in 5 games, Gundo has already been brought in by over 300K new owners for GW24.
Gundogan Underlying Statistics
The underlying statistics only reinforce Gundogan’s threat. Yes, he is overperforming his xG significantly (by +50%), however, he is collecting significant xG, and has shown a propensity for scoring low xG shots.
His conversion rate is outstanding, and more similar to famously clinical elite strikers Kane (17.6%) and Vardy (23.4%) and even exceeds the majesty of what Son has achieved this season (30.1%).
Gundogan vs. City Teammates
The main concern with selecting any City player is that only 3 slots are available.
City’s recent defensive prowess has seen many adopt a 2 defender, 1 midfielder strategy. It’s beyond the scope of this article to explore the optimum strategy, but certainly decisions must be made.
The above table shows that Gundogan is categorically the best option in terms of value. He is currently performing best in terms of goal threat but offers much less in creativity.
Crucially, if Gundo did regress to his xG, he’d still be performing on par with Sterling (at least if he stays on pens).
Should owners worry that City will be playing a range of top half teams over the next few GWs?
Gundo laughs at fear. He has 4 returns in his last 3 games against top 10 teams (Liverpool, Chelsea and Villa), and what the above graphic cannot display yet is the expected explosion of City DGWs, which is likely to see home games against Wolves and Southampton added to GWs 26 and 27.
Verdict = “Juggernaut”
The word ‘juggernaut’ comes from a massive wagon that would carry statues of a Hindu god through the streets in a procession. Worshippers are said to have thrown themselves beneath the wagon as a religious sacrifice.
Gundogan receives the highest bandwagon rating – juggernaut. It’s hard to imagine still not owning him, but if you haven’t jumped already, you need to before the Gundo wagon crushes your rank.
This FPL favourite sits on a DGW in GW24. DCL has had legendary purple patches over the last two seasons, and managers have clamoured to get him into their teams (316K transfers in at the time of writing).
DCL started this season with 10 goals in 9 games. However, Everton’s numbers have famously dropped off due to injuries.
DCL’s numbers first 9 vs second 9
- xG per 90: 0.8 vs 0.42
- G per 90: 1.11 vs 0.11
The drop off in numbers is alarming to say the least, but in DCL’s last two games, with Digne et al. firmly back, he has collected an xG of 1.38 and claimed 2 goals and an FPL assist.
James Rodriguez, Richarlison and Digne have a combined 15 assists (including FPL assists) this season from an xA of 7.08 and their return to the line-up is a massive boost to DCL owners.
Digne in particular has been impressive with the quality of chances he offers up. His 6 big chances created is bettered only by Robertson (8) and Shaw (7).
However, Digne has played only 12 games to Robertson’s 23 and Shaw’s 21, which highlights how Digne significantly raises DCL’s appeal.
The major appeal in DCL, however, is not limited to hope of a return to his best. The major appeal is his fixtures. Of all the non-City DGW players, DCL is the most exciting.
He has a favourable game against Fulham, who despite improving in recent games, have poor underlying numbers that suggest they will struggle to contain an Everton attack firing once more.
His second game against City is less attractive, but DCL will be essential to any hope Everton have of an upset, having been directly involved in 56% of Everton’s goals while he’s been on the pitch this season.
City’s defence vs Fulham’s defence (rank) last 5
- xGC: 2.73 (1st) vs 8.63 (16th)
- GC 1: (1st) vs 7 (12th)
- SiB C: 17 (1st) vs 53 (17th)
- xGC from set plays: 0.8 (4th) vs 1.6 (13th)
- BCC: 2 (1st) vs 13 (18th)
Meanwhile, Everton are ranked 1st for set piece xG over the last 3 games (1.43 xG), from which DCL has 2 goals.
Verdict = “Jump”
The Fulham fixture is enticing enough to bring in such pedigree, but the City game offers another chance for DCL to show what he’s worth. Many (wrongly) wrote DCL off for the United game based on form, but with form back, surely DCL is the best way to attack the DGW?
A sudden return from injury of a key player is just what Mourinho ordered (read: planned). However the season ends for Spurs, the way Kane has adapted his game will attract admiration from all.
24 goal involvements in 20 games this season means it’s no surprise people are jumping back on this extremely rewarding bandwagon.
Spurs first 11 vs last 11
- xG: 16.79 vs 12.01
- G: 23 vs 13
- xG performance: +37% vs +8%
- Big Chance Total: 29 vs 25
- Big Chance Scored: 18 vs 7
- Big Chance conversion: 62% vs 28%
- Shots: 125 vs 116
- Shots in the Box: 82 vs 66
- SiB % of total shots: 68% vs 57%
- Shot conversion: 18% vs 11%
The alarming drop off in chance creation for Spurs has been further exasperated by a drop off in conversion rates.
Kane first 11 vs last 9 per start
- G: 0.91 vs 0.56
- xG: 0.61 vs 0.4
- xG performance: 49% vs +39%
- FPL A: 0.73 vs 0.11
- xA: 0.12 vs 0.07
- xA performance: +502% vs +69%
- BPS total: 32.5 vs 20.1
- Big chances total: 0.82 vs 0.67
- Big chances scored: 0.55 vs 0.33
- Big chances conversion: 67% vs 50%
- Goal conversion: 19.5% vs 15.2%
Kane has suffered a drop across the board as well, although notably not in keeping with the sharp decline of the team as a whole.
His big chance conversion and goal conversion rates remain solid. However, he is receiving less service and Son’s insane conversion rate has naturally dropped off meaning Kane is no longer receiving a supply of assists.
With City next (see their defensive record above), interest in Kane is questionable. Of the two Spurs assets, Son would surely better suit the counter attacking tactics usually employed by Mourinho in such games.
Further, West Ham continue to post impressive defensive numbers, and therefore the GW25 fixture doesn’t look any more enticing.
In the context of the decline in returns, and the abundance of options at the moment, the jump back on Kane appears nostalgic.
Verdict – “Swerve” (for now)
This isn’t the moment for a nostalgia pick. With so much ownership elsewhere, the cost of an unlikely Kane haul against City is acceptable.
Should Kane come through that game and the West Ham one with an upturn in underlying numbers, we’ll be ready, especially with the more favourable run afterwards.
Indeed, Tottenham are likely to have a very favourable gameweek 26 double against Burnley & Villa/Fulham/Southampton. Come back in GW26 and we could be looking at a potential triple captain option.
In this section, I look ahead to GW25 and beyond and try to anticipate who will be the among the biggest bandwagons for GW25.
An easy-on-paper game against West Brom in GW24 means we could be seeing a few United differentials appearing in GW25 squads.
With premium midfielders blanking, Rashford may tantalise a few. More deservingly, Shaw is looking set for a small bandwagon based on his recent creative heroics.
Shaw vs popular creative defenders per 90
While other defenders do hold more threat than Shaw, his crossing prowess and ability to create big chances is unrivalled.
However, it is Cavani and not Shaw that we turn our attentions to here.
Cavani vs popular forwards per 90 this season
Cavani has the highest G per 90 of all 8 forwards with other players (Kane, DCL) needing to noticeably outperform their xG to come close. Vardy is another case that will be explored later.
What’s noticeable when we look further into the numbers is that Cavani does not necessarily see as much of the ball or have as many shots as his rivals.
However, he is incredibly clinical (55% BC conversion and 25% shot conversion), performing at the levels we’re used to seeing from Vardy, although we can see the likes of Wilson and DCL have raised their games significantly – hence why they are receiving so many plaudits this season.
Cavani is also seeing significantly better-quality chances with his 1.3 BC per 90 towering over all but Vardy’s 1.21 BC per 90.
West Brom defence last 5GWs (rank)
- GC: 15 (19th)
- xGC: 9.59 (19th)
- xGC from set piece: 1.8 (15th)
- SiB C: 61 (18th)
- Big Chances Conceded: 15 (19th)
Clearly, West Brom continue to struggle. They are propped up in the defensive form tables by virtue of Southampton haemorrhaging 9 to United in GW23.
Not only are West Brom vulnerable to conceding a volume of chances but also high-quality ones (15 BCs in 6 games). As explored above, Shaw is particularly adept at creating big chances, and Cavani is particularly adept at converting them. It looks to be a match made in heaven.
With a couple of difficult games ahead, and so many excellent attacking options available, the move for Cavani will raise some eyebrows. However, the Newcastle game and the prospect of a DGW in GW26 could make this a shrewd move.
Manchester United could potentially face Chelsea & Crystal Palace in DGW26.
Verdict – “Swerve” (just about)
If I could make this transfer this GW without a hit, I honestly would, but I’ll pull myself just short of recommending it. The point swing for the right forward option over the next 3 GWs is going to be massive, you need to make sure you’re on the right end of it.
This is the brave leap of a differential, not a safe switch to the new template and should be treated with appropriate caution.
However, for those looking to WC soon, the short-term pay-off of Cavani could be explosive.
Either way, I expect that he could do well against West Brom, which may tempt even the more serious FPL managers to begin looking his way ahead of Newcastle and the subsequent double gameweek.
The suffering of FPL’s wealth of options is set to continue or even worsen. The premium forward options had yielded to injuries, but a change is coming…
Under Tuchel, Werner has begun picking up minutes and FPL points once more. Ings, Vardy and Kane have all returned from injury.
An array of options were explored above in the Cavani analysis, but there are also number of ‘due’ forwards.
Forwards variance from xG last 5
- Antonio: -1.72
- Vardy: -1.3
- Diagne: -1.13
- Firmino: -1.12
- Adams: -1.12
- Origi: -1.12
- Ings: -0.97
- Werner: -0.94
While much has been made of Antonio, he is too much of a current bandwagon for me to claim as a future one. Among many worthy contenders, it is Vardy that we turn to.
Vardy vs popular forwards last 5GWs (per 90)
We saw in our above piece on Cavani that Vardy was significantly underperforming his xG – an unheard-of occurrence in recent years.
His early season xG taunts have been undone by the recent collapse of form that has seen him go 6 games without a goal. This is an aberration, and will stop imminently, not least because of the quality of chance creation behind Vardy in the form of Maddison.
Despite extremely variable service over the years, Vardy has consistently remained on par or above his xG (these statistics are taken from Understat).
Liverpool defence last 5GWs (rank)
- GC: 8 (13th)
- xGC: 7.95 (14th)
- SiB Conceded: 35 (7th)
- Big Chances Conceded: 10 (12th)
While Liverpool is perhaps not the kind of team you generally want your forwards to play, the counter attacking style of Leicester, and particularly Vardy, is suited to this kind of fixture.
Liverpool’s game against City doesn’t help their recent numbers, but it in no way justifies them being so mediocre, which only further highlights their recent vulnerability and the drop in confidence.
The incoming reschedules from the FA Cup are likely to mean the Burnley game in GW29 moves to GW26, which means Leicester have a very promising run of games.
Verdict – “Potential”
While Vardy has the pedigree to take a leap in faith, and in some ways, Liverpool offers an attractive time to do it, the reality is that there are so many good options and transfers are scarce.
That being said, the underlying statistics suggest that Vardy is underperforming his xG, which does not often happen for the English Veteran.
With great fixtures from GW26 onwards, it could be worthwhile getting ahead of the curve with Jamie Vardy, if you are looking for a premium striker in your team.
That being said, budget players have dominated this season, and it will take some serious numbers for the premiums to start demanding our attention again.
Thank you for reading!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first in this new Weekly Series on Bandwagons. Please retweet, follow and join the discussion.
If I get calls wrong, let me know about it!
All statistics are taken from FFScout (which I have a paid subscription to) unless indicated otherwise.