The Promoted

Bryan pricey at £5.0m but Rodak may rack up the save points in Fulham defence

Having provided the lowdown on Fulham manager Scott Parker, our series on the newly-promoted Premier League sides continues with this look at the Cottagers’ defence.

We will discuss the west London side’s midfielders and forwards in our final piece.

In this article, we will assess Fulham’s overall clean sheet chances and then present a player-by-player rundown of their backline.

With the likes of Charlie Taylor, Ruben Vinagre and Luke Ayling all available for £4.5m, the Cottagers’ defenders will have a tough task in convincing us of their worth.

Their shot-stopping goalkeeper may be a save point-magnet in 2020/21, however.

We’ve again roped in the help of Brandon Kelley, Fantasy Football Scout frequenter, co-host of the Always Cheating podcast and a New York-based Fulham supporter, for this feature.


WHAT IS FULHAM’S CLEAN SHEET POTENTIAL?

Fulham only had the fourth-best defensive record in the Championship last season, having conceded 48 goals in 46 matches.

The Cottagers kept 17 clean sheets in 2019/20, five fewer than champions Leeds United (22) but three more than runners-up West Bromwich Albion (14).

It’s always a promising sign for FPL if a newly promoted side looks defensively solid in home games but, rather concerningly, Parker’s troops conceded more goals on their own soil (26) than eight other Championship clubs last season.

Overall, they were ranked sixth for fewest expected goals conceded and fewest shots conceded per match.

Their two goalkeepers, more on which in the next section, were kept busier than Leeds and West Brom’s custodians, making 118 saves between them.

The Cottagers’ league record was as follows:


PWDLFAGDPTSCS
Total462312116448+168117
Home2315264026+144710
Away2381052422+2347

CS = Clean sheets


As was the case with West Brom, Fulham tightened up in the second half of 2019/20.

Just six of their shut-outs arrived in the first 23 ‘Gameweeks’ of the Championship campaign, with the other 11 arriving thereafter.

It was perhaps no coincidence, with centre-back Michael Hector (£4.5m) arriving in the January transfer window and having a transformative effect on the Fulham backline.

The Cottagers kept ten clean sheets in the 20 games that Hector started, conceding on just 17 occasions.

Brandon Kelley told us:

Fulham’s 2018–19 squad were whipping boys and they had one of the worst defences that the Premier League has seen in recent memory. It wasn’t helped by a constant goalkeeper rotation, an injury to new signing Alfie Mawson, and needing to bed in two full-back replacements for both Ryan Fredericks and Matt Targett – both of whom were immense in Fulham’s previous push to promotion.

Some of Fulham’s defensive issues have since been fixed, notably the emergence of Marek Rodak and Michael Hector’s signing from Sheffield Wednesday. Hector has an imperious stature and eye for a tackle that reminds me (sorry, but I’m going there) of Virgil van Dijk and his solid play has almost certainly brought some of the confidence back that Tim Ream had lost during his last Premier League campaign.

Our Fulham correspondent also hailed the influence of loanee Harrison Reed (£4.5m), who remains a Southampton player at the time of writing but who did a commendable job as a defensive midfielder in the English second tier last season:

It’s also worth noting that Harrison Reed, who was on loan from Southampton last season, shielded Fulham’s defence incredibly well. If Parker is able to work a permanent deal and keep Reed in his midfield, then I’d genuinely be eyeing a Fulham goalkeeper or defender at £4.5m.

PLAYER BY PLAYER

*Figures given below are for the regulation Championship season only and exclude the three play-off matches

MAREK RODAK

Goalkeeper

Starts: 33 | Clean sheets: 13

Marcus Bettinelli (£4.5m) had started the season between the posts for Fulham but was deposed after just 12 games, with Marek Rodak (£4.5m) remaining as Parker’s first-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season.

Rodak, who had spent the previous two years on loan at Rotherham United, impressed upon his promotion to the starting XI, going on to register 13 clean sheets in 33 starts (he was sent off early on in the 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough in October, so we won’t count that).

While clean sheets might be a significant concern for Fulham based on what we have discussed above, Rodak looks a good bet for save points in FPL next season.

Just four first-team regulars in the Championship made more saves per match than the 23-year-old Slovak (2.9), a figure that will no doubt rise with more potent attacks to come up against in 2020/21.

His save percentage of 76.9% was also the best in the English second tier, while he also significantly outperformed his expected goals conceded tally.

Our Fulham expert, Brandon Kelley, talked up the young shot-stopper’s prospects:

Perhaps the best bet for straightforward FPL returns will be goalkeeper Marek Rodak, who has proven to be a decent shot-stopper. With Nick Pope confirmed at £5.5m, many FPL managers will be looking for a new cheap goalkeeper and I wonder if Rodak’s first season in the Premier League might be reminiscent of the early days of Lukasz Fabianski (whose middle name just happens to be… Marek!).

JOE BRYAN

Left-back

Starts: 39 | Substitute Appearances: 4 | Goals: 1 | Assists: 7

Joe Bryan‘s (£5.0m) brace in the play-off final may have sealed his fate in Fantasy Premier League, with the powers-that-be subsequently opting to make him the most expensive Fulham defender in the game and hand him a £5.0m starting price.

The left-back had scored only one goal in the regular season, finding the back of the net against Wigan Athletic with an effort from just inside the Latics’ box.

While he did register more shots (38) than any other Fulham defender, his minutes-per-chance average (89.9) wasn’t even the best of the Cottagers’ backline and he had just one ‘big chance’ all season.

He had also taken only one direct free-kick before his heroics at Wembley.

It was Bryan’s assist potential that really stood out, with the 26-year-old full-back setting up seven goals in all – six of which were for Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.0m).

Firing over more crosses from open play than any other Fulham player, Bryan was also second in line behind Anthony Knockaert (£5.5m) at corner-kick situations.

A minutes-per-chance-created average of 69.7 was the best of the west London side’s defensive assets.

A word of caution, though.

Bryan’s previous full campaign in the Championship, with Bristol City in 2017/18, saw him score on five occasions and set up a further three goals.

Again priced up by FPL as a £5.0m defender in 2018/19 off the back of those exploits, he registered just one attacking return – an assist – in 2,344 minutes of Premier League football.

Always Cheating’s Brandon Kelley also urged caution, saying:

Joe Bryan took all of the headlines for his play-off final heroics, and he does look much improved since one year ago, but don’t be fooled: Bryan won’t be scoring many free kicks in the Premier League, especially if Neeskens Kebano is on the pitch. 

DENIS ODOI

Right-back

Starts: 30 | Substitute Appearances: 4 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 1

Denis Odoi made more appearances at right-back than any other Fulham player last season but few Fantasy managers will be going near the 32-year-old Belgian if he stays in west London.

Odoi was mostly a regular pick when he was available (seven of his no-shows were enforced through injury or suspension) but there was the occasional benching, most notably in the play-off double-header against Cardiff City.

The step up in class next season might be in Odoi’s favour if he signs a new deal (his contract expires this summer), with the Belgian a more defensive-minded option than Cyrus Christie (£4.5m) at right-back and a nice counterbalance to the offensive Joe Bryan on the other flank.

Odoi offers little for FPL managers to get excited about, however, with his minutes-per-chance-created average at a poor 185.8 and his last goal coming back in 2017/18.

CYRUS CHRISTIE

Right-back

Starts: 13 | Substitute Appearances: 11 | Goals: 1 | Assists: 1

Cyrus Christie (£4.5m) is a more attacking option than Odoi at right-back.

Christie’s rates of goal attempts (one every 79.5 minutes), shots in the box (one every 130.1 minutes) and efforts on target (one every 286.2 minutes) were the best of the Fulham backline but, given that he has failed to score more than one goal in each of his last seven seasons, this is no Matt Doherty we’re talking about and some context has to be provided.

Bryan bettered him for key passes, meanwhile.

Just 13 Championship starts (plus two in the play-offs) highlights the lack of security and even if Odoi leaves, Parker will surely look to reinforce his options at right-back.

TIM REAM

Centre-back

Starts: 44 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0

In our previous analysis of Parker, we mentioned his fondness for a conservative passing game.

That begins at the back, with the three leading Championship players for passes per match in 2019/20 all being Fulham centre-halves.

Top of that list is Tim Ream (£4.5m), whose total of 3,148 passes was the highest in the English second tier last season.

His pass completion rate of 89.3% was also the best of Fulham’s defenders in 2019/20, which will aid Ream’s cause in picking up bonus points on the occasions that the Cottagers keep clean sheets.

That’s about all that Ream offers, however.

The USA international, who has scored on just three occasions in his professional career, presents next to no goal threat and had just two shots in the whole of 2019/20.

The 32-year-old centre-half only created a chance every 395.1 minutes, meanwhile.

A sizeable section of the Fulham support would like to see an upgrade on Ream as the left-sided centre-back next year but after 44 league starts under Parker last season and limited time to dip into the transfer market, the American could still be a starter heading into 2020/21.

MICHAEL HECTOR

Centre-back

Starts: 20 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 2

As we discussed earlier in the article, Michael Hector‘s (£4.5m) capture from Chelsea had an instant impact on Fulham’s defence.

The Cottagers kept clean sheets in the first three of Hector’s starts and looked much more solid from his debut onwards, with the Jamaica international dubbed ‘Virgil van Mike’ by the Fulham faithful for his dominant displays.

Brandon Kelley said of the centre-back:

Parker has talked a great deal about stabilising the club, which will surely entail a greater focus on defensive organisation. Michael Hector transformed the Fulham backline when he was signed last season and he’ll be heavily involved in tackles, blocks and clearances – all BPS-worthy actions.

It’s worth taking a closer look at those baseline bonus point-earning figures:


PlayerMinutes per clearance, block and interception (CBI)Minutes per recovery
Hector14.414.8
Mawson15.417.0
Odoi18.415.3
Christie19.124.3
Ream20.816.2
Bryan23.917.5

Add Hector’s impressive defensive contributions to those passing figures we mentioned when discussing Ream earlier – Hector was ranked third among all Championship players for passes per game – and he should be well-reflected on the Bonus Points System.

Whether Fulham are good enough to keep more than a handful of clean sheets and get him in the mix for bonus points on a regular basis is debatable, however.

For someone so good in the air, Hector doesn’t score too many goals and he managed only six attempts in his 20 Fulham appearances.

Keep an eye out for his ‘Hollywood’ passes, though: two of his raking long balls led to assists against Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

ALFIE MAWSON

Centre-back

Starts: 25 | Substitute Appearances: 2 |Goals: 0 | Assists: 0

FPL managers may remember Alfie Mawson’s (£4.5m) goalscoring exploits from his time at Swansea City, with the budget defender scoring four goals from centre-back in 2016/17.

He indeed had more shots (12) than Ream and Fulham-era Hector put together last season, although his minutes-per-chance average of 183 was still unremarkable.

Mawson was the fall guy when Hector arrived, losing his place and then failing to regain it after a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The Hector-Mawson partnership is one that Parker hasn’t tried outside of the FA Cup and it is a possibility next season if no other bodies arrive, with Mawson more at home in Ream’s role on the left-hand side of defence.

THE REST

Marcus Bettinelli (£4.5m) started out 2019/20 as Fulham’s first-choice goalkeeper but lost his place after 12 matches, returning only briefly when Rodak was dismissed and subsequently suspended in the autumn.

It remains to be seen if returning loanee Fabri (£4.0m) features in Parker’s plans in the Premier League and a place among the substitutes looks to be about the best that Bettinelli can hope for come Gameweek 1.

Maxime Le Marchand (£4.5m) started only three games all season, deputising for Bryan at left-back on two occasions.

The Frenchman was also thrown on as a substitute in nine fixtures, often as an additional centre-half as Fulham tried to close down a match.

Steven Sessegnon (£4.5m) saw a bit more game-time than Le Marchand but eight of his nine Championship starts came in the first two months of the campaign, with the youngster initially having been drafted in to cover for the injured Odoi at right-back.

He was mostly a substitute for the remainder of the season and, barring an injury crisis, he’ll likely be well down the pecking order when football resumes in September.


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1,136 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Arte Et Labore
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 4 days ago

    It's all about the points per million!

    This game is all about points per million, and to squeeze in the best 11 XI based on this. Based on statistics from last season and the price tag this season you basically have all the data you need to put together the best team on paper based on probability. This means that we believe players will get around the same amount of points as last season, but this is of course no guarantee. There is always new players which is new to the Premier League and new players will begin to adapt and deliver this season. In the end it's all about probability and therefore I think this theory is as good as others.

    In genereal there is no doubt best value in defenders and goalkeepers because of their low price tag. The attackers and midfielders have less value, but they are of course more explosive and captain material.

    The formula: Points last season/price tag this season=Value per million

    Only goalkeepers and defenders in the top 20 list:

    Player Value
    Pope 31
    Ryan 30
    Henderson 29
    Dubravka 29
    Schmeichel 28
    Alexander-Arnold 28
    Doherty 28
    Patrício 28
    Guaita 27
    van Dijk 27
    Egan 27
    Lundstram 26
    de Gea 26
    Tarkowski 26
    Robertson 26
    Stevens 26
    Baldock 26
    Dunk 26
    Basham 25
    Coady 24

    Followed by 4 attackers and 2 midfielders amongst the next 20 players:

    Pickford 23
    Ings 23
    Evans 23
    Lindelöf 23
    McCarthy 23
    Wan-Bissaka 23
    Jiménez 23
    Leno 23
    Aurier 23
    Maguire 22
    Jonny 22
    Martial 22
    O'Connell 22
    Ederson 22
    Ayew 22
    Mee 22
    De Bruyne 22
    Söyüncü 22
    Azpilicueta 22
    Westwood 21
    (PS. Fernandes did'nt play the whole season, but I think he would have been on this list if he had.)

    Sooooo, is this a strong argument for a 5-2-3 formation?

    1. Bocaginge
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 4 days ago

      Nice bit of info there. Strong argument

      1. Arte Et Labore
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 4 days ago

        Yes, I think so! At least you can easily sort out which big hitters you want in your team besides a 5-man defence.:
        Vardy 21
        Rashford 19 (change in position will affect his points)
        Salah 19
        Son 19
        Sterling 18
        Mané 18
        Aubameyang 17 (change in position will affect his points)

        1. jtreble
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          2 months, 3 days ago

          I think you've made a math error here:
          - Ings and Jimi are 23
          - Martial and KDB are 22
          - Willian and Mahrez are 21 ...

          1. jtreble
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            2 months, 3 days ago

            ... not sure why you're starting your "big hitters" with Vardy at 21.

            1. Arte Et Labore
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 3 days ago

              I just included some popular big hitters that wasn’t amongst the top 40 players I had written above. KDB is the most valuable midfielder. Ings and Jimi are the most valuable attackers.

              1. Arte Et Labore
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 3 days ago

                Another way to do all this is to count value per minutes. Then the list will be dominated by midfielders. But midfielders and attackers have limited minutes because of more rotation and substitutions. Mahrez is a good example. Fernandes and Greenwood are the opposite, they also have great value per minutes, but the overall value per points is low because of limited games last season.

                Anyway, I think value per points is a more correct way to deal with these sort of errors, at least for midfielders and attackers (not Fernandes, Greenwood and Pulisic and other players that will play more this season) For defenders I will count per minutes because they tend to play every game more often. McCarthy, for example, has the best value per minutes, but has a lower overall score because he missed some games/minutes last season. Trent and Doherty are even better with value per minutes, and therefore the most valuable players in the game.

    2. Make Arrows Green Again
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 3 days ago

      This has been written about quite a lot, and it's a sensible starting point, but the fact is if you pick a team purely on PPM you end up with lots of budget left over. It's that leftover budget that needs to be converted into get the meaningful points.

      So for example it's tempting to think that playing 5 at the back is the best approach, and it may be in fits and starts, but if that leaves you with lots of budget left over that could be translated into points then you're no better off. We all need to own five defenders. Simply owning five defenders means you already have a decent amount of value in your team, regardless of whether you play them. It could be argued that spending the average 1-1.5m required to turn all five defenders into permanent starting players turns out to be bad value, since that's already the difference between buying midfield fodder and a premium player who could be captained.

      Other players are certainly less good value but without them you can't succeed, especially when captaincy is considered.

      1. Make Arrows Green Again
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 3 days ago

        *converted into meaningful points.

      2. Arte Et Labore
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 3 days ago

        First rule: Spend all your money, they have no value on the bench.
        Second rule: Get your big hitters for captaincy and explosivity. KDB is the most valuable player and Fernandes would probably been up there if you take minutes played into consideration so it is not a problem anyway.
        Third rule: This is not an absolute approach. Take some of this and some of that. Vinagre is obviously a good option based on Jonny’s injury. Aurier is maybe a good pick because of his potential this season (only played 2705 minutes last season). Another example: Jimenez is one of the attacker with best value overall, but he played almost every minute. Ings and Martial have similar value but played less minutes.

    3. Rojo's Modern Life
      • 10 Years
      2 months, 2 days ago

      5-2-3 and you would barely spend your budget. As Pope higher ppm then KDB, but irrelevant if you're not spending your 100m.

      Points per million only matters at the fringes for value. Hitting monster hauls on captaincy is the heart of the game.

      1. Arte Et Labore
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 1 day ago

        Well, a starting XI of
        McCarthy
        Trent - Doherty - Robertson - Aurier - AWB
        KDB - Fernandes
        Ings - Martial - Wood
        Bench: 4,0 - 5,0 - 4,5- 4,5

        is all money spend. And this is some of the most valuable players last season if you look at points per price. There are players that was better last year, but I've also taken their potential into consideration because of limited playing minutes last season (ex. Aurier, AWB, Wood). I also want full backs rather than centre backs because of their potential. Jimenez was better than Wood last season, but he played almost every minute in contrast to Wood, so I think Wood could outscore him if he plays more minutes this season tbh (in value, not in points). Other great picks is Pulisic and Greenwood.

        So, you need the big hitters for captaincy, we all know that. But maybe you don't need that many. You need a descent, stabile squad that gives you the points that refelcts their price each week, not bandwagons, punts and hopes who will help you to bring in as many big hitters as possible.

  2. mcfcok31
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 4 days ago

    Thoughts on this team?

    GK: Ryan, McCarthy
    DEF: Vinagre, Tierney, Ayling, Taylor, Van Dijk
    MID: KDB, Soucek, Greenwood, Harrison, Salah
    FWD: Jimenez, Werner, Mitrovic

    Only one I'm not sure about is Harrison, but thought he might be worth a punt given Bielsa's attacking style.

    1. jesperdalagersuri
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 3 days ago

      You'd be able to change formation / players depending on fixtures. It speaks to my heart and the way I prefer to set up my squad. I haven't chosen the players you have, but I have the same flexibility to some extent.

  3. Siggy in the Middle
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 4 days ago

    I really like Aguero at 10.5 but the improvements I can make by swapping him for Wood are insane. Ziyech to Bruno and Taylor to Gomez. Could also do Ayling to Shaw with the remaining 0.5.This would be a 4 ATB with two Liverpool, one Wolves, and one United, all great defences

    1. Bocaginge
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 4 days ago

      I think Ayling to Shaw would weaken your team

  4. jtreble
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 3 days ago

    I haven't heard a peep about Alonso so far this summer: is he still going to play at CHE this coming season?

    1. ritzyd
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 26 days ago

      Doubtful as they are buying chilwell

  5. KAPTAIN KANE
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 3 days ago

    Just built a team based on players who represent good value points/£ and come up with this 4-4-2:

    Ryan
    TAA | Robbo | VVD | Doherty
    KdB | Bruno | Greenwood | Foden
    Ings | Antonio

    Button | Soucek | Mitchell | Davis

    Soucek coming in for Foden when he is benched.

    1. KAPTAIN KANE
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 3 days ago

      KdB perma Captain, unless Bruno has a nice home fixture

    2. Society
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 26 days ago

      That's a nice formation, can't believe it fits under the cap.

  6. Society
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 27 days ago

    This gameweek 1 blank for 4 clubs has me chopping & changing everyday. I hope the clubs don't transfer in someone I will want, tat'll throw me.
    Current plan ;
    Man Utd asset benched in GW 1
    Man City asset transferred in GW 2
    Man City asset transferred in GW 3
    Burnley asset transferred in GW 4

    Really middle of the road kinda plan I know....