After mega-hauls for both Bodo/Glimt and Kristiansund, and fixtures coming thick and fast – is it time to wildcard? The argument for wildcarding this early because of big results for just two teams in one gameweek may sound like a poor one, but it’s not just about that. Bodo/Glimt have scored 10 goals in 2 games, while Kristiansund followed up their 0-0 draw in Trondheim up with a 7-2 demolition of newly-promoted Aalesunds. The Norwegian league may be many things, but boring it ain’t.
Not only should Kristiansund have possibly beaten Rosenborg, but in Amahl Pellegrino (9.1m) they have one of the most exciting attacking players in the league. Bodo/Glimt are also building on their brilliant campaign last season which saw them finish second to Molde, who were quite frankly streets ahead of everyone else. Bodo/Glimt are a team full of talented midfielders – much like rivals Molde – who are a reliable source of points for Fantasy managers. They scored 64 goals last term and they’ve got off to a flyer already.
Rosenborg are yet to score and were lucky not to lose their opener against Kristiansund. They were also perhaps fortunate to lose by only one goal at Molde who squandered multiple chances. After succumbing to an opening-day 2-1 home defeat against Sandefjord, Odd were humbled by Stromsgodset, losing 1-0. Despite spirited performances from Vebjorn Hoff (5.5m) and 18-year-old Joshua Kitolano (5.0m), they were unable to break through a stubborn Stromsgodset defence with centre-back Niklas Gunnarsson (4.5m) and central midfielder Ipalibo Jack (4.5m) notably resilient. Rosenborg and Odd finished third and fourth last season on equal points – just two behind Bodo/Glimt – but already seem miles off the pace.
Brann have made a solid start to 2020, with a 2-1 win at Haugesund which was promptly followed up with a superb 3-0 home victory against Viking – Gilbert Koomson (7.0m) in particular putting in brilliant performances in both fixtures. Sarpsborg are yet to score, Viking have conceded 7 goals already and Mjondalen have kept 2 clean sheets in a row. To many this season is not going the way it should be and that will be raising red flags within the Eliteserien Fantasy community, hence the need for this post.
So, is it time to wildcard? Is this actually something we should even bother asking ourselves right now, or are we in danger of knee-jerking and trying to jump on bandwagons that don’t even exist? One thing I’ve found to be quite interesting is player ownership and how the majority of high-scoring players aren’t the most-owned assets per position.
I’ll list the top 5 owned players (by % ownership) per position along with their value and total points so we can better understand how ownership, value and points are lining up after the opening two gameweeks. I understand this metric will not be 100% representative of player worth, but it will provide an insight into who the majority of managers favour, and whether or not they are right to.
Top 5 Most Owned Goalkeepers:
1) Marcus Sandberg (6.0m) 21.7% – 6,1 = 7pts
2) Iven Austbo (5.5m) 16.8% – 0,2 = 2pts
3) Sondre Rossbach (5.5m) 16.6% – 1,2 = 3pts
4) Kristoffer Klaesson (5.0m) 15.7% – 8,1 = 9pts
5) Gudmund Kongshavn (4.5m) 13.0% – 0,0 = 0pts
Average Cost: 5.3m
Average Points: 4.2pts
Klaesson owners are the real winners here. At 5.0m he is reasonably priced and has more points than the most owned goalkeeper in the game. Let’s not forget that Sandberg amassed a huge 146 points last season, one of the highest points totals in the game. At this point in time, the most popular goalkeepers are hard to justify having when there is so much value in cheaper alternatives.
Top 5 Scoring Goalkeepers:
1) Sosha Makani (4.5m) 4.7% 7,6 = 13pts
2) Ali Ahamada (6.0m) 2.1% 2,10 = 12pts
3) Serigne Mbaye (4.5m) 5.7% 6,5 = 11pts
4) Andreas Linde (6.0m) 8.8% 2,7 = 9pts
5) Kristoffer Klaesson (5.0m) 15.7% 8,1 = 9pts
Average Cost: 5.2m
Average Points: 10.8pts
Brann’s Ahamada is a new signing so perhaps it’s not too surprising his ownership is so low. But so far, so good. McDermott is out until September so it’s understandable that not many have taken a risk on Mbaye, but those who have backed him will be happy with 11 points even though he conceded two goals in one game.
Mjondalen’s run of clean sheets has to come to end soon, but for the time being, those who backed Makani will be delighted with his contribution, though he’s likely occupying a place on a lot of benches. Linde sits in fourth place with Klaesson on nine points, but with half his ownership mainly due to costing 1.0m more.
With goals being synonymous with Norwegian football (no club averaged less than a goal a game last season) choosing defenders for their clean sheet potential usually comes second to how likely they are to get attacking returns. For the even slightly familiar, the name Alexander Stolas (7.5m) – recently back from injury – should ring a few bells. The Eliteserien’s answer to Alexander-Arnold has scored eight goals and racked up sixteen assists over the last three years.
Top 5 Most Owned Defenders:
1) Christophe Psyche (5.5m) 33.2% 1,1 = 2pts
2) Fredrik Bjorkan (6.0m) 30.5% 1,1 = 2pts
3) Andreas Hanche-Olsen (5.5m) 29.4% 8,2 = 10pts
4) Sulayman Bojang (4.5m) 22.3% 1,0 = 1pt
5) Bismar Acosta (5.5m) 16.6% 0,6 = 6pts
Average Cost: 5.4m
Average Points: 4.2pts
The most popular defender in the game – Christophe Psyche – managed just a few minutes against Rosenborg at the end of the game but played the full match in Kristiansund’s 7-2 demolition of Aalesunds. At 5.5m he is far too expensive to be a rotation risk and has returned just two points so far. Bjorkan is seemingly waiting for his moment to get involved with the goal-scoring at Bodo/Glimt as he is yet to register an attacking return despite his team having scored ten times already. It’s worth noting he was also subbed off just before the hour against Viking.
Bojang has only managed 75 minutes of football even though it was widely assumed he would be one of the first names on the Sarpsborg team sheet. 4.5m for a defender who is often deployed out of position seemed too good to be true – perhaps it was.
Being a Brann defender, Acosta’s high ownership is no surprise (they had the joint third-best defensive record last season) yet even he had to settle for a place on the bench for their opening fixture against FK Haugesund. Vegard Forren’s (5.5m) arrival from Molde potentially diminishing the 33 year old’s appeal. Hanche-Olsen has done nothing to make his owners worry, although there are nine defenders with more points than him already and not one of them costs more. In fact, six are actually cheaper.
Top 5 Scoring Defenders:
1) Stian Gregersen (5.1m) 10.9% 5,11 = 16pts
2) Markus Nakkim (4.6m) 6.8% 9,7 = 16pts
3) Sondre Johansen (5.5m) 8.8% 5,9 = 14pts
4) Ruben Kristiansen (5.5m) 3.6% 2,11 = 13pts
5) Vetle Dragsnes (5.0m) 3.2% 7,6 = 13pts
Average Cost: 5.1m
Average Points: 14.4pts
Once again the majority of the points lie in assets that are not particularly well-owned, with the exception of Gregersen who has not only experienced a price rise already, he is the third most transferred in player of the round. At just 5.0m the Molde defender looks to be a no-brainer as Haralseid has been ruled out for the rest of the season and with Molde being in short supply at the back, he looks to have cemented his place already.
Three of the other top-scoring defenders are Mjondalen players. While they represent incredible value for money, the question has to be asked – how much longer can we expect them to keep clean sheets? They’re the only team to not concede in both of their games and while they have faced twenty-two shots in those fixtures, only six have been on target. Nakkim, Johansen and Dragsnes have accumulated a huge 8 BFP between them even without registering a single goal or assist.
Top 5 Most Owned Midfielders:
1) Magnus Wolff Eikrem (12.5m) 42.2% 9,3 = 12pts
2) Kristoffer Zachariassen (8.4m) 36.6% 3,1 = 4pts
3) Emil Bohinen (6.0m) 32.5% 3,1 = 4pts
4) Patrick Berg (4.5m) 28.9% 4,9 = 13pts
5) Philip Zinckernagel (8.2m) 26.6% 11,8 = 19pts
Average Cost: 7.9m
Average Points: 10.4pts
Magnus Wolff Eikrem requires no introduction – the man is the best player in the league and his high ownership reflects that. His moderate points total of 12 is mainly due to going off injured against Aalesunds, and then against Rosenborg he was let down by criminally wasteful finishing by Ohikhuaeme Omoijuanfo (11.0m).
The less said about Kristoffer Zachariassen the better, for Rosenborg fans’ sake and ours. What a let down he’s been. He’s scored 18 goals and got 10 assists in the last three years which prompted his move to Rosenborg, but has looked an entirely different player since joining.
Before the season started, Emil Bohinen looked be the perfect fourth midfielder. 6.0m for a player who got 9 attacking returns last season along with 10 clean sheets and 14 bonus points? Again, an absolute no-brainer, surely? Apparently not. The youngster has played a less attacking role so far and has blanked in both games.
Patrick Berg is the perfect enabler – at 4.5m he represents the cheapest price bracket for midfielders – and what an enabler he is. Even though he went all through last season without scoring or getting an assist, the 22 year old is already off the mark after two games. He played 90 minutes in both fixtures and even though his team-mates are outscoring him, he’s the one getting the bonus points, winning 3 against Viking and then 2 at home to Haugesund.
Another Bodo/Glimt player, Zinckernagel, has started the season in incredible form. 3 assists and 1 goal in 2 games has seen his price rise twice already. In sixth place is Ulrik Saltnes (7.5m) – another Bodo/Glimt midfielder – who, with 16 points so far, deserves a special mention as he is the joint fourth highest scoring midfielder in the league.
Mainly due to Bodo/Glimt scoring for fun and Eikrem being Eikrem, there is somewhat more correlation between ownership and points scored with midfielders than there is with goalkeepers and defenders. When looking at the top 5 points scorers in midfield, only one is owned by less than 12%. Bizarrely enough, just 8.6% of teams have the mercurial Jens Petter Hauge (7.6m). With his impending move to Cercle Brugge edging closer by the day, most are avoiding him in favour of his teammates, but with 21 points he’s the third-highest scoring player in the game and could be a great short-term differential.
Top 5 Scoring Midfielders:
1) Amahl Pellegrino (9.1m) 14.2% 3,23(!) = 26pts
2) Jens Petter Hauge (7.6m) 8.6% 11,10 = 21pts
3) Philip Zinckernagel (8.2m) 26.6% 11,8 = 19pts
4) Ulrik Saltnes (7.5m) 22.2% 7,9 = 16pts
5) Niklas Sandberg (7.5m) 12.3% 9,7 = 16pts
Average Cost: 8.0m
Average Points: 19.6pts
This is where we begin to see even more correlation between ownership and points scored, with only Jens Petter Hauge being in less than 12% of teams. What’s even more eye-opening is that the next 5 highest scoring midfielders have an average cost of 5.6m but have scored 69 points between them. You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand numbers like that.
Bodo/Glimt have 4 midfielders in the top 10 for points scored so far. They are proving to be the unstoppable force that has got a lot of people worried; echoes of managers questioning the logic of playing an early wildcard are starting to be heard and perhaps with good reason.
Only 5 forwards are into double figures for the season which is hardly surprising as no less than twenty midfielders have got 10 points or more. Many of those are playing in more advanced roles than their classification would imply, and in doing so are poaching points from our actual forwards. From what we’ve seen so far there’s a lot of points to be gained from bringing in midfielders who won’t break the bank. But what about the big boys up top?
Top 5 Most Owned Forwards:
1) Torgeir Borven (11.1m) 35.4% 6,2 = 8pts
2) Leke James (12.0m) 34.1% 3,0 = 3pts
3) Lars Jorgen Salvesen (8.6m) 22.9% 10,1 = 11pts
4) Jorgen Strand Larsen (7.5m) 19.1% 2,2 = 4pts
5) Matthias Vilhjalmsson (8.0m) 18.4% 5,6 = 11pts
Average Cost: 9.4m
Average Points: 7.4pts
There’s a couple of talking points here which concern the top 2 most owned forwards in the game. Torgeir Borven is on his way out of under-performing, ship-sinking Odd, to join Rosenborg at the start of September. There have been rumours he may join earlier, but it seems unlikely. Even though he has experienced a price rise after Round 1, I wouldn’t be surprised if his ownership starts to dwindle, as he might start looking towards Trondheim. This is the 28 year old’s chance at the big time and no doubt the prospect of playing at Rosenborg could lead to him putting in less than stellar performances at the club he’s destined to leave.
Leke James was sent off against Aalesunds so did not feature in Round 2. Who knows what might have happened if that wasn’t the case, but it does show that even premium players are human and prone to the odd mistake or two.
Lars Jorgen Salvesen was in great form against Start, but it was a different story against Odd who frustrated the striker all game for him to end up on just 1 point after picking up a yellow card. Jorgen Strand Larsen was meant to take the league by storm this season. It’s been more of a gentle breeze so far – and that’s being kind – with no forecast indicating any change in weather. Sarpsborg have had 32 shots but only 7 have been on target. The twenty year-old has had just the one shot on target and another blocked. What’s more alarming is the fact he lost the ball 14 times against Mjondalen.
Matthias Vilhjalmsson has one goal and an assist already and could provide a steady flow of points for his owners if Valengra keep up their early momentum. With just 12 goals to his name since 2017 he’s not seen as a forward who will score on a regular basis, but he provides good link up play when called upon.
Top 5 Scoring Forwards:
1) Kasper Junker (8.2m) 18.1% 5,17 = 22pts
2) Mathias Bringaker (5.6m) 4.5% 6,6 = 12pts
3) Daouda Bamba (9.0m) 13.4% 2,9 = 11pts
4) Lars Jorgen Salvesen (8.6m) 22.9% 10,1 = 11pts
5) Matthias Vilhjalmsson (8.0m) 18.4% 5,6 = 11pts
Average Cost: 7.9m
Average Points: 13.4pts
Yet again it is another Bodo/Glimt player who catches the eye. Kasper Junker is untouchable, sitting a full 10 points clear of his nearest rival – IK Start’s budget option Mathias Bringaker – and is part of a team that loves to score goals. Nine forwards are more expensive than the twenty six year-old, and he’s currently only the sixth most owned. With very little competition up front he is surely a must-have.
Salvesen and Vilhjalmsson have both shown they’ve been worth the early investment and Bamba will surely start to attract new owners as the season progresses. One thing should be quite obvious to anyone reading this article and that is by judging a player solely on their ownership, you run the risk of following a crowd that doesn’t know where it’s going, as well as potentially missing out on hidden gems that reveal themselves when it’s too late.
Looking back at each category we can surmise that while the average cost of the most owned players is in line with that of the highest scoring players, the points totals are most certainly not. Yes it’s true we have only really looked at the top 5-10 players in each position, but the numbers are telling – there’s more points in the lesser-owned players than the more popular picks.
The problem with this analysis is that we have a very small sample size of just two gameweeks. Is it enough to make an informed decision? How long do we wait before we are happy to say our data is indicative of a certain trend or behaviour? If people are already panicking and asking whether or not an early wildcard makes sense, then we are left with no alternative but to look at what has happened over the last week of football and make the most informed judgement we can.
If you happen to be one of those managers who have a squad made up of highly owned, low scoring players then you’re not alone. Obviously. You will be surrounded by a big chunk of managers in the same boat. The problem is, it’s not necessarily the boat you’d choose to be in. Another way of looking at it is, surely these players will come good, no? After all, it’s what majority of us endorsed before the season began, so that has to count for something. Allowing yourself to be blinded with this kind of logic, while denying what is actually going on, is a dangerous way to play the game. You run the risk of believing a truth created by a hivemind of players who have convinced themselves any other way of thinking is incorrect.
However, if we isolate Bodo/Glimt’s players it’s a different story. If you do not own a single one of their players – you’re in trouble. Falling even further behind is a real possibility if you remain defiant in looking elsewhere. Their next three fixtures – Rosenborg, Sarpsborg & Odd – should provide very little resistance for the free-scoring Superlaget. The general consensus is they win all three and with goals aplenty. With how bad Rosenborg are playing I expect there to be goals in Trondheim.
Brann also have kind fixtures (Aalesunds, Rosenborg & Sarpsborg) and provide defensive and attacking options at reasonable prices. Molde and Kristiansund are abundant in high-quality players in every position, with Eikrem and Pellegrino being two of the most exciting midfielders in the league.
Looking at form players it’s easy to feel as though Bodo/Glimt have all the answers. Or Brann. Or Molde. But what is the question you are asking? Are you wildcarding to jump on a bandwagon you think is inevitable but which may run out of steam fast, or are you wildcarding with a more distant finish line in mind? I can’t see how using such a powerful, useful chip would make sense if it is for the first reason alone.
Due to fixture congestion, Covid-19 and potential transfers we don’t yet know about, using a wildcard after just two weeks seems incredibly premature. I would prioritise taking hits to get those players in you deem essential for the coming weeks and run with it, after all sometimes doing nothing is ultimately more harmful for your team. If you have a few players in your team you expect to blank, then shipping them out for a hit for players you’re more confident in to get a return is sometimes a risk you have to take. Obviously it’s a lottery, and form is temporary, but missing out on certain players’ purple streaks can not only be harmful to your rank, but it can also be utterly demoralising.
There is a stigma around taking hits (especially in FPL) that creates an illusion of poor planning or being too reactive when sometimes it’s the exact opposite. Being able to adapt when things go wrong because of injuries, suspensions or unexplainable good/bad form is key to getting through a season without giving up half-way through.
While often it’s the shrewd, calculating managers who sit atop the leaderboards, there are many of us who have poured hours into our teams only for it to go wrong within the first couple of weeks. Then we are faced with decisions that could define our seasons: Take a hit? Wildcard? Do nothing? Sometimes fortune favours the brave, sometimes it doesn’t. In my opinion the worst thing you can do, as a Fantasy manager, is regret not making a move you think might work rather than regretting a move you made. That’s not to say inaction is the wrong tactic to deploy – it is certainly the right call to earn another free transfer – but there is usually something you can do to strengthen your team every week.
If you are treating a wildcard as a band-aid designed to get you through the next few weeks you run the risk of point chasing. There is a certain irony in that so many managers having backed the wrong players from the off will then proceed to chase points that have already eluded them. Fear of missing out is not a good reason to jump into a wildcard.
FOMO = OHNO. (Sorry, that was bad).
I’ve set myself up for the start of Round 3 by jumping in with a -4 point hit to bring in both Pellegrino and Junker for Bohinen and Strand Larsen. I have my eyes firmly set on Alexander Stolas, but I think that might have to wait till next week. Having looked at ownership of players and how that relates to the highest scoring players in the game, I am happy to make minor alterations to my team and leave it at that.
Bringing in Junker for a hit has provided me with a shield – and a cheap one at that – while Pellegrino offers far more in attack than Bohinen. The main issues I have are in defence but seeing as only a handful of defenders have an assist and only two have scored, I feel taking a hit mainly on the basis of trying to earn a clean sheet is a fool’s errand.
If you are unable to bring in any Bodo/Glimt players without messing up your team or costing yourself points you’d rather not spend – it could be worse. They are not as highly owned as other players in the game but their ownership will surely rise. It’s a foregone conclusion. To be honest I’m surprised their ownership is as low as it is. Reasonable thinking would be to jump on the back of that trail as soon as possible in order to minimise any damage done by not owning those assets. Another way of approaching the situation would be stagger transfers out over the coming weeks, having faith in the rest of your squad.
Players will not score or assist every single gameweek. It is a logical fallacy to assume because a player scored one week he will the next, or that because a player performed poorly one week he is bound to repeat that performance the next time he plays. There is certainly something to be said about good players playing well, and bad players playing poorly, but sometimes when all you can see is profit you end up in a lot of debt.