With only seven gameweeks to go, time is running out to rise up the overall rankings as well as make any gains in your mini-leagues. The template hasn’t changed too much in recent weeks which has seen a lot of points from differentials go begging, as we looked at in the previous article. The question is, how prepared are we to stray from what we know and should we even be considering it? Were those points mere flukes, or are there opportunities outside of the template comfort zone?
It’s a big question which applies to us all in different ways. For example, if you happen to find yourself quite high up you would want to assume much less risk in order to consolidate your position. But there’s always the chance the people around you won’t do that and might employ a high-risk/high-reward strategy in order to usurp you. Someone with a much lower rank could infer their situation as untenable if they continue in the same way and therefore will convince themselves they need differential options in order to climb any higher.
As ever there are merits to all above mentalities as there are concerns. Regardless of how high you are, in this late stage of the season it becomes more about what the teams around you are going to do. How many chips do they have left? Are they envisaging a drop off in form of the best players and are readying themselves to cut ties with the obvious options? Maybe it’s the exact opposite and your rivals will continue to play conservatively, not changing too much and trusting in the methodology that’s got them this far.
For those looking to climb you need to aspire to a different team to the template. It is simply no good having the exact same team as all the teams above you. How do you expect to make up any ground if you’re walking at the same pace? You need to find the opportunity to run and take it. That is easier said than done and you will need to detach yourself from the previous 23 gameweeks and look ahead at the next 7.
Early season form and previous fixtures are not going to dictate anywhere near as much as recent form combined with upcoming games. It sounds obvious but it’s incredibly easy from a psychological level to look at the pricier players, how many goals and assists they’ve got, all their bonus points, how many teams they’re in and their overall points.
Three players in similar form can represent three entirely different prospects:
1. Magnus Wolf Eikrem (12.3m)
2. Joshua Kitolano (5.2m)
3. Kristoffer Velde (6.9m)
(All stats will be regarding the last three gameweeks)
• Eikrem: 2G, 3A, 4 BFP – 28 points (9.3/game)
• Kitolano: 1G, 3A, 2CS, 3 BFP – 25 points (8.3/game)
• Velde: 1G, 1A, 2CS, 3 BFP – 19 points (6.3/game)
Immediately what should be obvious is how while Eikrem has been in incredible form, he’s only scored 3 more points than Kitolano who is over 7m cheaper than him. Eikrem might be returning a handsome 9.3 points every game, but are those extra three points worth 7m? Velde trails him by 9 points and is also far cheaper than the Molde talisman.
This is of course an incredibly simplistic way of looking at both relative form and price. This is how people fall into traps and find themselves sitting on a bandwagon they wish they never believed was going anywhere.
Eikrem has 108 points in total and has scored 5 goals, produced 11 assists and amassed a total of 16 BFP. Considering he’s missed just under half the season, this is an incredible points return. Compare that to Kitolano’s 88 points, 3 goals, 4 assists and 12 BFP in 1943 minutes, there really is no comparison. It’s a similar story with Velde (113pts, 7G, 6A, 14BFP – 1905 minutes).
Finally, we’d need to consider the teams in which they play and upcoming fixtures. Molde should be seen as fixture-proof for the next three gameweeks at least, Odd are indeed beatable but have goals in them (only Molde and Glimt have scored more) and while Haugesund are struggling for consistency, they have some fixtures left which they should be more than capable of winning.
Considering all of the above information, who would you bring in? The point is, there’s not really a right or wrong answer here. All three players are owned by less than 19% of managers and all have a lot to offer our Fantasy teams. The main stumbling block will be Eikrem’s price and how guaranteed he is of starts/minutes especially if Molde continue in Europe. (His 5 returns came in 185 minutes of football over the last three weeks).
Kitolano might have flattered to deceive on Wednesday night against a lacklustre Viking side and Velde is without a return since R21. In conclusion, it’s almost impossible to be able to recommend one asset over another based on their form over the last three gameweeks alone. Eikrem is the standout candidate if you can afford him and are happy for him to try his luck from the bench, Kitolano makes more sense if you need to save some money and think Odd can build on their recent run of good form while Velde has looked a good choice for goals.
Diving a bit deeper into the stats shows how Kitolano is potentially under-priced and should be seen in the same light as Velde. He has 29 key passes (Velde – 26) and has created 6 big chances (Velde – 1). He may have fewer goals and fewer assists, but he has 231 accurate final third passes compared to Velde’s 155 highlighting his creative potential. Conversely, Velde has been the busier in front of goal, taking 42 shots (6th highest in the league) with 24 being on target. Compared to Kitolano (15 shots, 7 on target) it becomes evident for the disparity in price. Velde may be slightly less likely to grab assists on this information but he actually has 2 more than Kitolano and scored twice as many goals.
Still, only being in 5.2% of teams and costing nearly 2m less than Velde does make him on the face of it a half-decent differential option. Would I pick him up? Probably not. I currently have Velde and while Haugesund blanked against Aalesund, that game was for all intents and purposes an anomaly which on another day would have ended up with a completely different scoreline.
Only Philip Zinckernagel (9.3m) and Mikkel Maigaard (8.1m) have played more key passes (43) than Eikrem this season and even though he’s missed ten games, he’s actually created more big chances (14) than anyone else. Per ninety minutes that gives him a return of 3.3 key passes and 1.1 big chances created. This is why he’s priced accordingly, why he’s in more teams and why he is the best player in the league. It really is a case of what you need and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Following on from that quick example, I want to look at a few players I think are going somewhat under the radar and look decent options for the next few gameweeks. Again, I think it’s more valuable to look at differentials but I will also mention those players I wouldn’t dare be without from here until the end of the season.
While we want to be picking up loose points, it’s no good getting rid of certain point-scorers at the same time. Ideally, we want to remain on the same level as everyone else but manufacture a way to move away from them at the same time. Think of in Peep Show when Mark rationed out his Dairy Milk to Jez when they were lost in the Quantocks, but kept his Twix to himself. “Always got the Twix, no need to mention the Twix.” We don’t want to stop eating the Dairy Milk, but we need to make sure we have our Twix too and that nobody else knows about it. So, who will be our Twix’s?
1. Martin Ellingsen (4.9m) 2.3%, 73pts
2. Henrik Rorvik Bjordal (7.6m) 2.1%, 49pts
3. Emil Konradsen Ceide (6.9m) 0.9%, 63pts
4. Jonathan Lindseth (5.7m) 2.2%, 87pts
5. Pa Konate (5.5m) 1.6%, 23pts
6. Nicolai Naess (5.2m) 9.3%, 75pts
7. Alfons Sampsted (5.0m) 1.1%, 67pts
Molde’s Martin Ellingsen has scored 3 goals in his last two games even though he played just 29 minutes in the 3-1 away win at Mjondalen. His first goal of the season came about recently in R16 against Viking, relying on the 3 assists he had produced earlier in the season for his points. Since then he’s started every other game for Molde but his recent form should give Erling Moe something to think about. He’s made 5 key passes and created 2 big chances (Jesper Daland (4.4m) has been more productive)) but he scored two goals from two shots against Mjondalen in less than half an hour and actually saw more of the ball than Eikrem in Molde’s 2-1 win over Stromsgodset (in which Ellingsen also scored).
In Molde’s impressive 1-0 victory over Rapid Wien in the Europa League, Ellingsen played the entire game, had 92 touches (only Wingo – 98 – had more), attempted 3 shots and successfully completed all 3 of his attempted dribbles. While he may not operate from Molde’s forward line, it looks as though he’s trying to add more goals to his game. The main concern is rotation due to European games and the plentiful midfield resources around him, but his audition for more starts couldn’t have been better. For less than 5m he’s a good fifth midfield option to have if you want to join the Molde resurgence but I’d be wary of him not always getting 90 minutes.
In the last three weeks Valerenga midfielder Bjordal might have only produced two attacking returns, but overall he has an impressive 4 goals, 2 assists and 8 BFP in only seven games. He’s averaging exactly 7 points a game and not only does he pass the eye test, but he also looks massively underpriced. 14 key passes (2/game), 3 big chances created and 94 accurate final third passes show he’s not fluking anything. He looks a real threat for his goal-scoring potential as well as creativity.
Teammate Aron Donnum (8.6m) is coming into some form himself (6 attacking returns since Bjordal joined) and over the course of the season has made 32 key passes, created 9 big chances and 236 accurate final third passes. Seeing as Donnum has three times the amount of play-time than Bjordal this season the numbers make the latter out to be the better option. Bjordal has 2 key passes per game (Donnum 1.6), 0.4 big chances created per game (0.5) and 13.4 accurate final third passes (12.1). This isn’t an exhaustive take on both players but it shows how similar they are to one another (Bjordal usually plays just behind Donnum on the right-wing) and how their points potential may not be as different as their relative prices might otherwise suggest.
The last time Rosenborg lost in the league this season was 1st August in a 2-1 away defeat to Odd. Can anyone remember back that far? With the way this year is going that feels like a lifetime ago. Ceide is in less than 1% of all teams. He’s played 1138 minutes (around 12 and a half games) and has 5 assists, 7 clean sheets and 7 BFP. His last four games have seen him play 233 minutes and pick up 3 assists and a clean sheet, as well as 5 of his 7 bonus points. Rosenborg have kind fixtures for the next two weeks (Viking away and Brann at home) but are up against Bodo/Glimt straight after before hosting Molde at the Lerkendal Stadion in Runde 27.
He’s averaging 1.3 key passes every game and has created as many big chances (4) as Espen Ruud (7.0m) and Elbasan Rashani (8.1m). 121 accurate final third passes is a mere 30 behind Velde who has played almost 800 minutes more. One big question mark will be whether he’s kept in the starting XI for the next couple of fixtures and there’s also a suggestion he might have been substituted with an injury in 1-0 victory over Start last week which warrants a bit of extra caution. He seems like a good cheap attacking option in one of the best teams in the league so it’s worth monitoring his situation up until the weekly deadline.
Lindseth is the last midfielder I’m going to recommend in this article. He’s Sarpsborg’s form player, amassing an impressive 29pts in the last four gameweeks. I looked at him last week but he seems such a good option it’s impossible not to recommend him again. Sarpsborg have some really winnable fixtures coming up, Start away and Viking at home in catch the eye in particular, but even against Kristiansund and Valerenga they will play attacking football and will want to get back to winning ways after their 1-1 draw with Odd made it three games without a win. (Lindseth scored Sarpsborg only goal in the 2-1 home defeat to Rosenborg).
He’s created the same amount of big chances (8) as Ulrik Saltnes (8.2m) and his 30 key passes are just 2 less than Donnum. He’s a creative player who seems to have clicked almost immediately with new signing Tobias Heintz (6.5m) resulting in a combined total of 86pts between them (from R16). Again, he’s incredibly affordable, in decent form, has low ownership (2.2%) and represents an opportunity to make points very few other people will be making.
Rosenborg have conceded five fewer goals (22) than anyone else (Bodo/Glimt – 27) this season so it only makes sense to recommend one of their defenders. The trouble is, Tore Reginiussen (6.6m) is not only the third most expensive active defender in the game, but he’s also in over 10% of teams as well. Vegar Eggen Hedenstad (6.5m) is also very expensive, in too many teams and doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed starter anymore.
New signing (there seems to be a trend here…) Pa Konate has settled in quite well. Along with his goal against Sarpsborg in Runde 22, he’s got two clean sheets and hasn’t conceded a goal for four games. With just 2 key passes and no big chances created he’s clearly not the most creative defender but he’s put in some decent performances after taking a few games to settle in. Rosenborg will keep more clean sheets from here until the end of the season and their new left-back seems the most affordable and differential-friendly route towards those points.
Nicolai Naess is not a defender. He plays in midfield for Sarpsborg and has cut a composed and resolute figure all season. He’s one of those players you wouldn’t be surprised to see move to a bigger club before next season. 233 of his 1014 accurate passes have taken place in the final third and almost fifty percent in the opposition’s half. 9 key passes may not set the world alight but let’s not forget that we’re looking at the upcoming games and a combination of team and individual form, rather than what happened three months ago.
His 9.3% ownership may seem high and for that reason his teammates might seem like the better buys, but I’m not convinced. There are still more than 90% of teams out there without him so he represents a good enough differential option for me. Unlike with FPL I am unable at this moment in time to find out how many of the top 250 teams have any of these players in so even though someone has a low ownership, it doesn’t mean they’re not owned by higher-placed and similarly ranked teams to yourself.
I am sure that people will be put off by the Valerenga away game, but don’t forget that Sarpsborg have conceded just 4 more goals than Glimt and not only that, but have let in the least amount of goals in any gameweek (9) more than anyone else. They’ve never faced more shots than any other team in any gameweek and have managed to prevent 88.5% of shots against them turning into goals. Only six teams can better this, Bodo/Glimt by 0.1%. He’s an out of position midfielder who seems good value for money and might well be the best defender to own over the next four gameweeks.
Lastly, I come to Bodo/Glimt’s Icelandic defender Alfons Sampsted. I’m a big fan of his and think he has the potential to be one of the league’s best right-backs for years to come. It’s easy to look at Bodo/Glimt and only focus on their attacking players. Jens Petter Hauge was the best player in the league up until he left for AC Milan which made it very difficult to accommodate anyone else alongside Zinckernagel and frontman Kasper Junker (9.5m). But if you have space in your team for a Glimt defender, look no further.
13 key passes, 2 big chances created, 210 accurate final third passes demonstrate his creative capabilities while his defensive strengths are highlighted by his 51 tackles (6th highest), 44 clearances and 25 interceptions. He’s 16th in the league for accurate opposition half passes (435) which is actually more than Saltnes, and Christian Dahle Borchgrevink (5.8m). The 22-year-old covers a lot of bases and ticks a lot of boxes so while he might not be the fastest most electric full-back in the league, he’s also nowhere near the slowest. His creativity is a work in progress but I fully expect him to be higher up in the points next season and with Glimt looking to break Molde’s record 71 points this season, you’d like to think they won’t let off the gas too much.
In reality, if you find yourself with an overall rank of 250, it’s going to require a lot of thought, planning, foresight and critical thinking (along with luck) to move up any further. The same goes for those with better ranks and certainly those further down the table. Hits probably become more of a viable strategy with just seven rounds left but they can also have the opposite effect and end up pushing you the other way.
Like everything in life, we need balance. A healthy consideration for all options and opportunities around us, but we also need to go out of our comfort zone once in a while to see what else can be used to our benefit. We need the big hitters but also those differential options to give us an edge. Too much of either will be bad for us and if we don’t eat anything then we’re definitely going to starve.
One thing I’ll look at over the coming weeks is the evolution of points spread throughout the season. That is, seeing where the points were early on in the season and following where they end up. It’s obvious there’s a lot of points tied up in the best teams, but if we’re able to isolate a few trends and spot obvious patterns, it might help us predict them in the future.
In addition to those players I’ve mentioned, I’d also recommend considering Stian Gregersen (4.9m) as the Molde defender is back in the team following a lengthy layoff and is owned by not even 5% of managers. Staying with Molde I’m looking at 5.6% owned forward Ohi Omoijuanfo (10.5m). He’s started the last six games and even though he’s struggling in front of goal, Molde have three very winnable games from now until the end of November. Let’s not forget that he’s scored 40 goals over the last three seasons. There’s every chance he scores another ten goals in the next seven games. With Molde and the quality they have, it would be foolish to completely write them off.
Sandefjord midfielder Harmeet Singh (5.0m) has made a blistering start to life at his new club. In the last two gameweeks he’s scored twice, got one assist and took home maximum bonus points in both games. 24 points in 180 minutes of football is absolutely phenomenal. My main concern is how attacking Sandefjord are, or aren’t. They’ve taken fewer shots (245) than anyone else and their shot to goal conversion rate (11.2%) is also rock bottom. Even Aalesunds (11.5%) have done better. On no less than seven gameweek occasions they’ve scored fewer goals than anyone else and have never had the most shots in a game.
Half of Singh’s accurate passes (82) have come in the final third (39) and he’s also provided 2 key passes for teammates. In the 3-3 draw with Brann (only the sixth time this season they’ve scored more than once) he took three shots, made one key pass had 65 touches and scored. In the 1-0 win against Start it was a similar story with three shots, one key pass, 46 touches and a goal. While he is in form – and there’s absolutely no question about that – Sandefjord are not a team with goals in them. They face Stabaek, Haugesund and Odd in the next three weeks and realistically could struggle to score more than one or two goals in those games. Singh looks a good player and perhaps his arrival will result in more goals for Sandefjord but it seems a bit too early to take something of an unnecessary plunge when there’s other equally viable options out there.
There’s perhaps half a case to be had for recommending Rosenborg Hazard-impersonator and 2.8% owned Pal Andre Helland (10,7m) as he managed to get another 45 minutes under his belt against Start last week. He had three shots, 29 touches and made an astonishing 7 key passes but was only able to complete the first half. His leg injury and overall fitness has been an issue this season and you have to go all the way back to R11 for when he last completed an entire game. If he can get himself fit and be available for Rosenborg’s last two games of the season against Mjondalen (H) and Sandefjord (A) he could be a very tidy end of season investment.
Going back to the original example of Eikrem, Kitolano and Velde, it would seem silly to not back any of those three players. They’re all capable of generating Fantasy points and the value for money Joshua Kitolano currently represents is outstanding. Three out of their four upcoming games are winnable fixtures for a team of Odd’s calibre and I’m expecting Kitolano to be heavily involved.
Do you think I’ve missed a trick and overlooked someone you think can improve your overall rank? Leave your suggestions below or keep them to yourselves if you want to keep an edge over everyone else!