In the search for attacking points at a bargain basement price, savvy Fantasy managers need to look for the unlikeliest of players in the most improbable of places. At first glance, perhaps, Reading’s Jobi McAnuff, the 31-year journeyman midfielder with just one international cap to his name for Jamaica, represents a ludicrous route to Fantasy football glory.
Dig deeper, however, and he emerges as not only a solid Fantasy prospect but a possible contender for bargain of the season. Those eagle-eyed Fantasy managers who have already taken a close look at the assists table will have seen that McAnuff nestles in joint third place with Juan Mata on five, just behind Eden Hazard and Carlos Tevez – despite playing for one of the Premier League’s least attacking sides.
This ability to lay on chances for others has been a hallmark of his career, spent largely in the second tier of English football. In Reading’s successful promotion season of 2011/12 he registered 12 assists as well as five goals and, over the previous six seasons, where he also played for Championship stalwarts Watford and Crystal Palace, McAnuff amassed a total of 48 assists.
Aside from his clear attacking potential, a favourable run of fixtures over the next five Gameweeks (qpr, NOR, EVE, wig, avl) have propelled the Royals winger onto our newly-updated Watchlist rankings. Price is another factor. In the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, McAnuff started at 5.5 but is now available at just 5.1, with an ownership of 1% making him a standout selection among the game’s differentials. In the Sky Sports game he is priced similarly (5.0) but only 0.3% of managers have noticed that he has now amassed 38 points, four more than Steven Pienaar and five more than Hatem Ben Arfa, who is owned by a quarter of Sky players.
With 31 points in the FPL game he is Reading’s most impressive Fantasy performer so far and has accrued the same number of points as the similarly priced Raheem Sterling, for example, though investing in McAnuff comes with a slight health warning. As shown by Tuesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal, clean sheet points are certainly unlikely for McAnuff, as Reading have conceded in every game so far this campaign. In addition, McDermott’s men have only mustered 11 goals so far, notching four on the road, meaning McAnuff’s team mates will need to step up their game if the wide man’s creative endeavours are to be further realised.
While the 7-5 home cup defeat by Arsenal last Tuesday may have felt like “a funeral” according to the Reading manager, the signs are positive that the team will improve and gather more attacking returns over their forthcoming kind run of fixtures, though. McDermott has moved away from a more cautious 4-4-1-1 in recent games, with a shift in formation to 4-4-2 in three of the last four Gameweeks producing seven goals. If Reading can pick their chins off the floor after the midweek Madejski defeat, the short-term at least looks potentially prosperous for McAnuff’s possible suitors.