Those who keep an eye on our Suspension Tightrope widget on our homepage will be aware that the yellow cards are steadily racking up for several Fantasy Premier League players – and indeed have already resulted in a suspension for one FPL favourite.
Jose Holebas (£4.9m) became the first Premier League player of 2018/19 to accumulate five yellow cards and will now miss Watford’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers in Gameweek 9 a result.
The occasion of the Greek left-back’s suspension and that it’s the international break seems a good time to take stock of the disciplinary situation around the top flight.
With the yellow card amnesty not until after the completion of Gameweek 19 (after which the threshold moves up to ten yellow cards), then those FPL players already sitting on three and especially four cautions have a long way to go before they are in the clear.
For ease of reading, only the players highlighted in bold below are the ones walking the disciplinary tightrope.
Holebas has worryingly reached the “magic” five yellow card mark quicker than he did in 2016/17, when the veteran full-back went on to rack up 14 cautions in just 33 appearances.
The Watford left-back’s five bookings have come from just ten fouls but are illustrative of his tendency to take drastic measures when caught out of position after bombing forward.
As well as Holebas, Watford have another player unavailable for the trip to Molineux.
Christian Kabasele (£4.5m) was dismissed after collecting two yellow cards in the 4-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday and will now serve a one-match suspension in Gameweek 9.
The absence of Kabasele and Holebas could mean promotions off the bench for Adrian Mariappa and Adam Masina (both £4.3m) at centre-half and left-back respectively, though the Hornets are well-stocked for defenders and could even drop midfielders Etienne Capoue (£5.0m) or Nathaniel Chalobah (£4.5m) into the backline.
Cardiff City are currently appealing Joe Ralls‘ (£4.8m) controversial dismissal for serious foul play in the 1-0 defeat to Spurs, but if unsuccessful, Victor Camarasa (£4.5m) could move back into the centre of midfield for the three fixtures in which Ralls is suspended. Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m) is nearing a return to fitness and could also step in.
Finally, Wes Morgan (£4.5m) will sit out Leicester City’s next two fixtures after picking up his second red card of the season in the defeat to Everton on Saturday. Jonny Evans (£4.9m) looks to be the likely beneficiary, though Caglar Soyuncu (£5.0m) is an alternative.
On Four Yellow Cards
Three players are on four yellow cards, though only one of them will likely be of any interest to FPL managers. Central midfielders Etienne Capoue (£5.0m) and Harry Arter (£4.9m) are both owned by less than 0.5% of Fantasy bosses, but another caution for either player would result in a ban and be a big blow to their respective clubs following their early-season performances.
Zanka (£4.5m), however, is owned by over 230,000 FPL managers and those Fantasy bosses who are sitting on the Danish centre-half for Huddersfield Town’s forthcoming run of good fixtures between Gameweeks 10 and 15 (one of the best in the league on our Season Ticker) will be hoping the towering stopper can dodge another caution over the coming weeks.
Only one FPL defender has committed more fouls than Zanka this season, however.
On Three Yellow Cards
There are 18 FPL players sat on three cautions which, although still two yellow cards from a suspension, doesn’t leave them with a lot of leeway considering the cut-off date for a one-match suspension is after Boxing Day.
There are several high-profile FPL assets among the seven defenders on three yellow cards. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m), Harry Maguire (£5.5m) and Luke Shaw (£5.1m), owned by 21.1%, 15.7% and 10% of Fantasy bosses at the time of writing, are currently sat on three yellow cards and while that fact is unlikely to prompt mass sales among existing owners, it is something to consider for those FPL managers who are contemplating a move for one of the above trio.
Maguire’s Leicester City indeed top our Season Ticker from Gameweek 10 onwards, while there will be plenty of interest in Liverpool’s watertight defence (five clean sheets in eight matches) and Alexander-Arnold with the Reds’ fixtures turning for the better after the October international break.
Matthew Lowton (£4.8m), Sokratis Papasthopolous (£5.2) and Southampton wing-backs Ryan Bertrand (£4.9m) and Cedric Soares (£4.4m) complete the septet of sinning stoppers.
There are nine midfielders who are just two bookings away from suspension, but there are few Fantasy bosses who will be affected.
Central midfielders Granit Xhaka (£5.3m), Philip Billing (£4.5m), Mario Lemina (£5.0m), Dale Stephens (£4.4m), Dan Gosling (£4.9m), Jefferson Lerma (£4.5m) and Oriel Romeu (£4.4m) are amongst the group, with any high ownership (Stephens is the most popular, sitting in 5.4% of squads) likely to be for their budget price tag and suitability as “bench fodder”.
Having racked up eight assists in 2017/18 and proven that he is a threat at direct free-kick situations this season, Xhaka is a cut above the other budget buys listed above.
Any worried owners should be slightly reassured after the elevation to the first team of Lucas Torreira (£4.9m), who has helped unburden the Swiss midfielder from some of his defensive workload. After ten fouls and three yellow cards in the first four league fixtures of the season, Xhaka has committed only four offences and stayed out of the referee’s notebook completely in the last four Gameweeks.
Robert Snodgrass (£5.4m), meanwhile, has lost his place in the West Ham midfield in recent weeks and is only owned by 0.1% of FPL managers in any event.
Matt Ritchie (£5.9m) also has limited appeal from a Fantasy perspective but his Newcastle side are about to embark on an excellent run of fixtures in which they play none of the “big six” in the coming ten Gameweeks.
The Scotland international has a hat-trick of yellow cards to his name, however, and only three midfielders have committed more fouls than him this season.
There are only two strikers on three yellow cards but both feature in the top five of most-owned FPL forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m).
Zaha’s three yellow cards have damaged his score on the Bonus Points System this season as they have all come in fixtures in which he has scored.
With five tough matches coming up (Palace sit bottom of our Season Ticker), Zaha is currently the most-sold forward of Gameweek 9 and it will be interesting to see if he collects a fourth yellow card during this daunting period of matches – that would perhaps deter investors for when the Eagles’ fixtures turn for the better in Gameweek 14.
Kane’s booking against Cardiff City on Saturday came in the incident that led to Joe Ralls’ dismissal, while his two previous cautions against Newcastle and Manchester United were for bad fouls.
While his current yellow card count won’t be too big of a concern just yet for existing owners, a fourth yellow card picked up over the next six fixtures would certainly influence the FPL market ahead of Spurs’ excellent run of matches from Gameweek 15-21.
Below are position-by-position tables of the FPL players who have committed the most fouls in the league this season, highlighting the repeat offenders who are perhaps likeliest to pick up cautions going forward and cost their owners points or hamper their scores on the Bonus Points System.
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