In my last couple of articles, I’ve focused on the top defensive and midfield Fantasy assets so it only follows that this week’s focus will be on the top-scoring forwards in the game. As Gameweek 12 is the first double-gameweek of the season, I’ll also include how I’m going to approach this Fantasy milestone.
88 games in and we’ve had 261 goals. That’s three away from exactly three goals a game. To compare, the Premier League season ended with 1,034 goals over 380 games, or 2.72 goals per game. That’s pretty high, but we’d need another 106 goals to match the lust for goals that has been quite prevalent in Norwegian’s highest footballing tier.
The top 10 goal-scoring forwards in ESF have scored 53 goals between them, or 20.31% of the entire goals scored in the league. Again, to compare with the Premier League that would be like the top 10 point-scoring forwards ending the season on almost 24 goals each. In case you’re wondering if that’s impressive or not, I’d say it probably is.
Of course, the top 3 forwards (Junker 10, Borven 8, Fridjonsson 8) do skew our numbers somewhat (they contribute for just under 50% of our 53 goals) but still, we do have other players who are performing well enough to be considered alternative Fantasy options.
After looking at our Top Ten forwards, I’ll address the elephant in the room that is the first double gameweek of the season and how I will be approaching it. I’m not against taking a hit but just because we are entering a DGW doesn’t mean I think spending points to make transfers is always necessary. As ever I encourage debate on the subject, so please comment below with your own strategy.
The top 10 forwards we’ll be looking at are as follows:
1. Kasper Junker (86pts)
2. Torgeir Borven (64pts)
3. Holmbert Fridjonsson (50pts)
4. Daouda Bamba (46pts)
5. Lars Jorgen Salvesen (46pts)
6. Leke James (44pts)
7. Ohikhuame Omoijunafo (40pts)
8. Veton Berisha (40pts)
9. Moses Mawa (38pts)
10. Matthias Vilhjalmsson (38pts)
We’ll be looking at the following 10 categories:
1. Goals Scored
3. Total Shots/Shots on Target/% Conversion Rate
4. Big Chances Missed
5. Penalty Goals
6. Bonus Points
1) Goals Scored
Unsurprisingly Kasper Junker leads the way with 10 goals scored after just 770 minutes. Or, 1.17 goals a game. What’s even more impressive is that he’s not even made 60 minutes on two separate occasions (one game he scored 10pts with a goal and an assist, the other he blanked) and he missed another altogether. He’s in a league of his own right now and given the way both he and Glimt are playing, I can’t see him being caught any time soon.
Last season’s top goal-scorer Torgeir Borven is joint second with 8 goals, but 6 of those came in the first four games of the season when he was still at Odd. He’s since scored just twice for new club Rosenborg (in 549 minutes, or 6.1 games) which suggests he’s going through something of a transitional period which would make sense as Rosenborg themselves are certainly far from the finished article they aspire to be.
Holmbert Fridjonsson also has 8 goals after bagging a hat-trick against IK Start on Wednesday evening. He has one of the best goals per game ratio in the league (1.09 goals/game) which is even better than it first sounds when taking the club he plays for into consideration. Only four teams have scored more than Aalesunds, but they are rock bottom of the league and already look to be the whipping boys of the division.
Molde duo Leke James and Ohikhuame Omoijuanfo have scored 6 and 4 goals respectively but seem to be sharing minutes, meaning we have two premium forwards who are not guaranteed game time. At the same time, their attacking potential (AP) is quite formidable. James is averaging 1.04 goals every game, while Ohi is a bit behind on 0.85 goals per game. However, a mere four points separate the two and Fridjonsson is just 10pts ahead of Ohi, despite having played 240 minutes more than him.
Ibrahim Shuaibu and Mathias Bringaker have both scored the same amount of goals as Ohi (4) pushing Salvesen and Berisha out of the top ten for goals scored. Tobias Lauritsen has scored three times (as much as Mawa and Vilhjalmsson) but will be out for at least three months due to his shocking injury at the hands of Aalesunds goalkeeper Gudmund Kongshavn.
Lars Jorgen Salvesen hasn’t missed a minute up to this point but has only scored twice. While he may be struggling to get goals, he’s one of the most nailed forwards in the league so if he picks up a bit of form it’s hard to see him not starting/being hooked early. Along with Veton Berisha (2 goals) he drops out of the top ten goal scorers despite his points tally.
Moses Mawa and Matthias Vilhjalmsson (3 goals) have as many goals as Daouda Bamba who since scoring three goals in his first three games has really seemed to struggle up front of late. The Brann forward has cut a frustrated figure since being substituted early against Rosenborg – it seems as though something is not right there.
Right now it looks like Junker is the must-have forward based solely on goal involvement, with Fridjonsson just behind. As they’re both relatively cheap, they offer great value for money, allowing funds to be thrown around the rest of the team without too much issue.
(Goals Scored: Junker 10, Borven 8, Fridjonsson 8, Bamba 3, Salvesen 2, James 6, Ohi 4, Berisha 2, Mawa 3, Vilhjalmsson 3).
While more associated with midfielders, assists provide another route into scoring Fantasy points and while the leading forwards may be out-and-out goal-scorers, some of the chasing pack will usually have a couple more strings to their bows and not only be able to score a good amount of goals, they’ll also offer AP in assists.
This is most certainly the case for Junker. He’s got 4 real-world (RW) and 2 Fantasy assists to give him the most out of any forward in the league. In fact, only Magnus Wolff Eikrem 7, Jens Petter Hauge 7 and Philip Zinckernagel 9 have more than him. He started the season at 8mNOK so it should be no surprise that on the cusp of Runde 12, he’s now worth an astonishing 8.9m.
Salvesen may be something of a goal-shy forward right now, but he’s contributed 5 assists in total (3RW, 2F) putting him one behind Junker. He may not be the most dynamic player going but hasn’t let his lack of goals get in the way of being a team player. Berisha has 3 assists (2RW, 1F) to go with his two goals. Viking don’t seem to be a team full of goals which is a massive concern and Berisha will have to do a lot to convince most managers he’s worth a huge 8.8m especially when Junker is a mere 0.1m more expensive.
Ohi 2, Bamba 2, Vilhjalmsson 2 and Borven 2 (1RW, 1F) occupy the next few places in our list while Lauritsen 2, sneaks in ahead of James 1. Fridjonsson and Mawa are both yet to register a single assist, showing that they are perhaps only to be valued in terms of how many goals they will score, rather than being involved in providing any kind of noticeable service to their teammates.
Overall the correlation is quite high in this category, as only two of our players miss out on the top ten for total assists. It’s a shame Lauritsen has suffered such an awful injury (one that could potentially derail his fledgeling career) as he seemed to be asserting himself as the number striker at Odd since Borven’s departure,
(Assists: Junker 6, Borven 2, Fridjonsson 0, Bamba 2, Salvesen 5, James 1, Ohi 2, Berisha 3, Mawa 0, Vilhjalmsson 2)
3) Shots/Shots on Target/% Conversion Rate
Salvesen (29) leads the way and only Zinckernagel (30) has more shots than him. The issue is that only 9 of those shots have been on target and his conversion rate is 6.9%. That’s shocking if we’re being honest. 14 of Bamba’s 24 shots have been on target and he has a conversion rate of 12.5%. That’s almost double Salvesen’s but it’s still pretty poor. No wonder these two are trailing their peers – they’re being far too wasteful.
Junker, on the other hand, has had 10 fewer shots than Salvesen – 19 – but 12 of them have been on target and his conversion rate is 52.63%. Once again, a Bodo/Glimt player catches the eye and not just because of their bright yellow kit. Quality over quantity has been a concurrent theme in these articles – this is a perfect example.
Fridjonsson’s numbers are equally as impressive. He’s had 18 shots, with 11 being on target and a conversion rate of 44.44%. For someone who is playing for the team rooted to the bottom of the league – that’s good going. Borven has had a total of 17 shots with 9 being on target and a conversion rate of 47.06%. Since joining Rosenborg he’s had just two shots on target in seven games which should be cause for concern for his owners – he’s not playing like he was at Odd.
Vilhjalmsson has had the same amount of shots as Borven, actually being more accurate (11 on target) even though his conversion rate is almost 3 times worse (17.65%). Berisha is in a similar boat (15/7/13.33%) perhaps indicating these guys are not who we should be looking to for goals at this moment in time. Due to Vilhjalmsson’s age and his slightly deeper positioning and Berisha’s lack of instinct, I can’t say I expect to see much difference in this area over the next 5-10 games.
Ohi Omoijuanfo has had 16 shots (8 on target) and a conversion rate of 25%. Not too shabby at all, but his teammate Leke James, while having fewer shots (15), has 11 on target and a far superior conversion rate of 40%. If money is no object and you’re finding it hard to choose between these two, pretty much all the information we have to this point shows that James is the much better option.
Mawa has a respectable 15 shots with 8 on target and a conversion rate of 20%. I feel as though if he was able to produce 29 shots like his partner Salvesen, he’d be scoring a few more goals. He’s capable of getting in good positions and links up well with those around him so potentially if he’s given the chances to get in front of goal a bit more, he may well become a bit more productive.
I’m happy to suggest we should consider how many chances our forwards are getting but judge their accuracy rather than a lust for shots. Sometimes it’s better not to shot, looking to draw a teammate into the next phase of play rather than simply hitting the ball vapidly towards goal. It seems as though Salvesen is trying too hard to impress those around him and needs to focus a bit more on his shooting in training.
(Shots/On Target/% Rate: Junker 19/12/52.63%, Borven 17/9/47.06%, Fridjonsson 18/11/44.44%, Bamba 24/14/12.5%, Salvesen 29/9/6.9%, James 15/11/40%, Ohi 16/8/25%, Berisha 15/7/13.33%, Mawa 15/8/20%, Vilhjalmsson 17/11/17.65%)
4) Big Chances Missed
It’s only natural to be concerned with the form of our players and simply rage-transferring those who are failing to return on our investment can actually do more harm than good. Whether or not our players are taking their big chances is hugely important. We’ve already seen how wasteful the top-scoring forwards in the game have been, but how does that translate into missing big chances?
If a high points-scoring forward with not so many goals is missing a lot of big chances it can be seen as both a positive and a negative thing. They may be missing opportunities to score but, on the other hand, they are being given those chances other forwards may not have the luxury to squander. At this stage of the season, we should be mindful of some players taking their time to find their form. If the chances continue to present themselves, it wouldn’t be the most far-fetched logic to assume our premium forwards will eventually start converting those chances.
Ohi, Bamba, Salvesen and Mawa have all missed 6 big chances – more than anyone else. James has been less wasteful, only missing 2 big chances, while Berisha (4) and Vilhjalmsson (3) once again show they are a yard or two off the pace.
Junker (0), Borven (1) and Fridjonsson (1) are sending a very clear message to Fantasy managers all around the world: We. Do. Not. Miss. Borven is a special case right now as he was far more prolific at Odd, but Junker and Fridjonsson are clearly elite, efficient and effective. Triple E forwards whose value should be quite glaringly obvious.
In terms of correlation this hasn’t been too helpful, other than to show how efficient Junker, Fridjonsson and James are. The rest of our group are slightly more wasteful but it shows they are at least being given the chances to indeed score.
(Big Chances Missed: Junker 0, Borven 1, Fridjonsson 1, Bamba 6, Salvesen 6, James 2, Ohi 6, Berisha 4, Mawa 6, Vilhjalmsson 3)
5) Penalty Goals
What type of forwards do we have on our hands? A really quick look into how many goals our forwards are scoring from penalties is helpful on two levels: 1) Are they the designated penalty taker for their team? (Thus boosting their appeal) and 2) what percentage of their goals are coming from penalties rather than open play.
James, Ohi, Berisha and Fridjonsson have all scored one, Vilhjalmsson two and Borven out in front on 3. All three of Borven’s penalty goals were scored while he was at Odd. If he is not on penalty duty for Rosenborg it wouldn’t be too dramatic to suggest his appeal has severely diminished as over a third of his goals this season have come from the penalty spot.
As they do not take penalties for their clubs, Junker, Bamba, Mawa and Salvesen are all on zero. If you’ve not got Junker in your team yet, I implore you to bring him in. The guy doesn’t need special favours to score goals, he just scores. Simple as that.
Over half our top ten have scored penalties which gives us another reason to have them in our team. It shouldn’t blind us too much though, as Castro is AAFK’s usual penalty-taker and Borven scored his penalties at Odd and if both James and Ohi are playing who takes the penalties?
(Penalty Goals: Junker 0, Borven 3, Fridjonsson 1, Bamba 0, Salvesen 0, James 1, Ohi 1, Berisha 1, Mawa 0, Vilhjalmsson 2)
6) Bonus Points
This is the category in which we find the most correlation. Nine out of our ten players make the actual top ten (Vilhjalmsson unsurprisingly missing out with 0 BFP). All things considered, this shouldn’t be too surprising – if you do well across the board, you’re going to be rewarded for that. Our forwards have been awarded bonus points on 21 separate occasions, 18 of those occasions when at least one goal was scored. From this, it’s quite clear our forwards are being rewarded for scoring with a healthy supply of bonus points.
Only three times have bonus points been awarded to our top ten when they didn’t score. Bamba was awarded 1 BFP for an assist against Sandefjord and Berisha was given 2 BFP for a single assist away to FK Haugesund (ironically only being given a single bonus point when he scored and assisted at home to Sandefjord) while Mawa banked 2 BFP despite failing to either score or get an assist at home to Odd.
The list of BFP awarded to our top players is as follows:
• Junker 10 (3,2,3,2)
• Borven 5 (3,2 – Odd)
• Fridjonsson 5 (2,3)
• Bamba 7 (3,3 – when scored,1 assist)
• Salvesen 3 (1,2)
• James 5 (1,1,3)
• Ohi 4 (1,3)
• Berisha 4 (1,3 assist)
• Mawa 5 (2 no return,3)
• Vilhjalmsson 0
If we use Junker as the benchmark, we can see we’re doing pretty well in this department. BFP is a largely subjective aspect of the game – quite often we’ll see players who didn’t directly contribute as much as other players given more BFP due to their efforts in other areas. I think this system is a good one as we see players who excel in other areas rewarded for their efforts, rather than simply throwing bonus points at reactive goal scorers. Although the man in the stand could do with hanging around a bit longer after the last game of the week – we usually have to wait until the morning after for the game to update…
Conclusion and DGW Approach
At this moment in time, it really does seem like we’re clutching at straws when it comes to forwards. Junker is by far and away the must-have pick up top. Nobody comes close to his numbers and he’s playing for the best team in the league. Statistically speaking and going by any Fantasy metric of your choosing, the guy is basically essential.
Borven was great at Odd. Unrivalled perhaps. At Rosenborg it’s another story. He’s not as good. He’s in a worse team. And he’s often being played out of position. It’s hard to argue he’s worth the money, but he is a player of great quality. It has to be a case of ‘wait and see’, rather than insisting that next week will be his week. He’s scored a couple for Rosenborg but he doesn’t seem the same since moving. It seems like a poor fit to say the very least.
Fridjonsson could be a very cheap second striker. Before his price begins to rocket. I’ve avoided going for him this week as Niklas Castro will miss out due to suspension. Though Simen Nordlii is another competent provider and all-round good Fantasy asset, I feel Fridjonsson’s appeal diminishes somewhat without Castro. When he’s back for Aalesund’s home fixture against Viking, there’s a good chance Fridjonsson will come straight into my team.
Bamba and Salvesen are two heavyweight players with premium price-tags to match; poetically reflecting their own wastefulness up front with their owners’ investment in them. They’re a hard sell but do play for teams that are creating chances on a constant basis. Bamba has the potential to be an explosive player with a much higher points ceiling than he’s displaying this season, and Salvesen is in the path of some of the most creative players in the league – you’d expect in another ten games time for a huge improvement.
James and Ohi will more than likely continue to share game time, playing together on occasion. There will always be a risk attached to choosing one over the other but seeing as both have quite high ceilings, they can definitely reward any investor willing to put up with the odd cameo here and there.
Berisha, Mawa and Vilhjalmsson seem to offer the least out of all our players. If Stromsgodset decided to revert to playing with a single striker up front then Salevesen would without question get the nod ahead of Mawa, either pushing him out on the flank or back towards the bench. Vilhjalmsson is not playing up front for Valerenga and looks for less effective in a deeper role. The fact he is on penalty duty gives him limited appeal – it’s not enough to make up for the lack of goal-threat he offers.
Berisha is perhaps looked at harshly due to his value and the fact he’s not scoring as many goals as most of us thought he would, but he’s also playing for a team near the bottom of the table who often make it look harder than it should be to mount a serious attack. He’s scored as many goals as Viking defender Adrian Pereira, and set up just one more. If I was looking to bring in a Viking asset for their attacking qualities, I’d probably jump at Pereira for almost 3m less.
I currently have Junker and Ohi up front with the terribly ‘gambled upon’ Flamur Kastrati. After the double Gameweek I will be bringing in Fridjonsson for Kastrati, deciding what to do with Ohi the following week. If the rest of my team isn’t too badly affected, I may end up deciding to keep Ohi as the other options really aren’t that appealing.
Speaking of the double gameweek, I have decided to triple up on Molde assets despite taking a hit of -8pts. Whilst not being averse to taking hits, I’ve not made this move without quite a lot of consideration. Before bringing in Linde I had Viljar Myhra (in my opinion one of the best-performing keepers in the league) and Kristoffer Klaesson. Myrha is up against Bodo/Glimt and Klaesson against Brann. Both away from home. I fully expect both teams to lose, therefore I’m quite confident neither keeper will amass more than 2 or 3pts. I am confident that Molde will keep at least one clean sheet against either Sandefjord and IK Start in the double. Even if he doesn’t, he should at least halve my deficit in the very worst outcome.
Etzaz Hussain was in my team beforehand, but to be able to bring in Ohi, I had to make an extra transfer. This is where my conflict lay. I knew I wanted one of James or Ohi but would have to take an extra hit to be able to bring either of them in. James is too expensive for me as I don’t want to tear apart my midfield or defence for him. Ohi, however, allowed me to remove my most-recently bought midfielder – the brilliant Mikkel Maigaard – and bring in the ‘alright’ Niklas Sandberg as a replacement. I was happy to make that sacrifice.
Ohi comes in to replace Borven up front and provides me with not only a shield for the DGW but a chance to get some big points. He’s a huge differential compared to James (6.3% ownership – 27.5%) and goes into DGW 12 on the back of two assists and a goal as well as 3 BFP. It’s a high-risk strategy as he’s more than capable of blanking or being outperformed by James, but he’s shown on several occasions he can be just as good. Ohi was also started more last season and in general preferred to James, even if the latter was more efficient at taking his chances and scoring points.
Eikrem is obviously another choice for the DGW that most people will look to. I did say at the start of the season I thought he’d see fewer minutes and while that has been the case, he’s always a lethal player if given the chance to work the ball around. Hussain is on 3 yellow cards, putting him one more booking away from a suspension – an issue that a lot of people are aware of, making him a less attractive choice. Molde are like Manchester City in the sense they have such depth in midfield. It really does feel like a lottery at times. Add to that the fixtures they have this week – Sandefjord away and IK Start at home – they don’t need to put out full-strength sides in both games. Their only concern will be to make sure they do not drop any points at all, as they’d ideally want to be level on points with Glimt come Wednesday evening. I’m not even going to give any advice on this – this is the very definition of ‘Dealer’s Choice.’ The phrase ‘Pep Roulette’ springs to mind.
Jesper Daland is my only IK Start asset and I’m happy with that. Bringaker has become a doubt for their next game and other than Eirik Schulze nobody really stands out for any kind of potential returns. They’ll be lucky to keep a clean sheet in either of their games against Mjondalen and Molde and attacking returns seem quite slim, too.
If I avoided the moves I have made I’d be left with Klaesson in goal against Koomson at home and left to choose between Maigaard being passed out of the game at away to Bodo/Glimt or playing Kastrati (who probably won’t even start the next game) for a Kristiansund team who seem to score more when he’s not playing, away to Viking. With Linde and Ohi both potentially playing two games (at least 3 between them) and Sandberg at home to a Stabaek side who will be without Andreas Hanche-Olsen, I’m confident I’ll make up the eight points I’ve spent to bring them in and then some.
Long-term I’m happy to be stuck with these players as if I need to get rid of them, they’re easily replaced due to how much value I have tied up in each of them. Being ‘stuck with’ three Molde players is a situation I’m happy to be in, and while Sandberg may not be the answer to all my problems for the weeks ahead, he’s probably one of the best choices for this week. As he’s easily replaced by players such as Nordlii, and Stabaek trio Hugo Vetlesen, Kornelius Normann Hansen and Oliver Edvardsen, I’m happy to have him for a couple of weeks knowing I have decent replacements (all cheaper) waiting in the wings.
I wouldn’t let the DGW blind you when making your decisions on who to bring in and how to approach the week, rather let it be a part of the decision-making process you adopt. It is very an issue to be dealt with and needs to be respected as such, as well as the gameweeks that follow. I don’t think a triple up is necessary, I’ve only found myself in this position because I’ve had Hussain since gameweek 9. IK Start assets haven’t been attractive options up until now and just because they’re part of a double gameweek doesn’t suddenly transform them into such.
I’m ultimately left with a team that, if by some cruel twist of fate I’d be unable to change for the rest of the season, I’d not be too concerned about. In my experience that’s usually a good thing. My style of play may differ from yours and you may rationalise hits entirely differently to me – that’s fine – but in my head I’ve considered what I need to and I’m willing to die by the same sword I thrust into each gameweek. I’m not always right and I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong, but sometimes you need to take a little bit of a risk in order to win. Unless we’re talking about roulette, in which case just go home. Seriously, it’s not worth it.