In seven weeks’ time it will be 2021. Yes, you read that correctly. This pandemic has been the most pervasive, far-reaching event in living history, permeating all aspects of our lives to the point where we find ourselves – in the UK at least – in the middle of a second national lockdown. For many the end of 2020 can’t come soon enough – there’s no chance next year can be any worse than this, right? But for us Eliteserien managers, there’s still work to be done, lockdown or not.
The second international break (which feels like it began four weeks ago) has seen more players test positive for Covid-19 as well as some pulling up with the well-known temporary injury that will conveniently go away just in time for their club games a few days later. Luckily it’s not been particularly disruptive for Norwegian football – even the recent coronavirus scare at Brann (threatening a mandatory lengthy quarantine period for the entire team) returned a clean bill of health for the club although their away fixture against Rosenborg has been rescheduled for Tuesday 24th November at 18:00 and remains in Runde 25.
If Molde beat Stabaek in Saturday’s early kick-off, Bodo/Glimt know they will be crowned champions at the Marienlyst Stadion in Gulskogen if they avoid defeat at the hands of Stromsgodset. However, any other result for Molde will see the Superlaget become the champions of Norway for the first time in their 104-year history before they even kick a ball on Sunday evening. After 25 seasons and four second-place finishes in Norway’s top-flight, the wait is seemingly over.
As our champions-elect are apparently hogging all the points in the actual league table, I wondered – what about the Fantasy points? A few spreadsheets and a couple of evenings of data mining later, I have the answer. In short, it’s what you’d expect with them being just as dominant online as they are in real life. What’s more interesting and potentially more valuable is understanding where the majority of Fantasy points are being created position-wise and the cost of those points.
To help us make sense of what has been going on over the last 24 gameweeks I’ve looked into the following metrics:
• Fantasy Points by Team (totals and % spread)
• Fantasy Points by Position (totals and % spread)
• Points per Million (and PpM/Game)
• Points per 90 Minutes (varying minimum games played)
• Other Metrics
It may be a forgone conclusion that Bodo/Glimt have scored more total points than any other team, but how far behind are the chasing pack? We all know who the must-haves are but are they worth as much as we think, or can we get more for our money elsewhere? It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has ever played Fantasy Football that goalkeepers generate far fewer points than other positions but where exactly can we expect the majority of those points to come from?
FANTASY POINTS BY TEAM
Bodo/Glimt have scored 1405 points so far this season. Out of the total 16,006 points amassed by all teams, that’s a monopoly of 8.78%. Second-place Molde (1199 points) are the only other team (7.49%) to score more than 7% of total points. As there are 16 teams in the division, if each team returned an equal number of points, their total would be 6.25%. This illustrates how dominant the league leaders have been. Nine out of the sixteen teams currently have 1000 points or more but bottom of the league and soon-to-be relegated Aalesunds are on an embarrassing 638 – almost 200 points behind their nearest rivals and fellow relegation candidates Stromsgodset on 825.
Despite their lowly league position, Mjondalen have bettered four other teams (Brann, Start, Stromsgodset and Aalesunds) owing largely to imperious shot-stopper Sosha Makani (5.1m) and his impressive 101pts to date. (He’s the only goalkeeper to score over 100 points and only four others have scored 90 or more). It’s no surprise to see the top five in the league be responsible for generating the most Fantasy points and there are just 15 points separating third-place Odd (1107) and fifth-place Valerenga (1092). There is quite a strong correlation between the actual table and the rankings of our Fantasy point scorers, despite a few teams being more successful in the world of Fantasy than in real life.
FANTASY POINTS BY POSITION
As the highly sophisticated pie chart shows, it’s in the middle of the pitch where the points are to be found, with almost half of all points coming from midfielders. 48% of 16,006 is 7,681 or almost 4,000 more than what defenders have managed. If you were in any doubt what position you should be prioritising, hopefully you’re not anymore. One thing we should take into consideration when looking at the overall points spread is not only the relative value of those points but how many players have contributed to each position.
For example, to date there have been just 28 point-scoring goalkeepers compared to a whopping 183 point-scoring midfielders. That means on average each goalkeeper has scored 47 points while midfielders lag behind on 42. This shouldn’t be the biggest revelation – after all clubs only have one goalkeeper playing at a time and usually have four if not five midfielders in action in any given game. This means we should expect the points to be more localised in regards to goalkeepers while being more widespread throughout midfield.
There is, of course, something else we should factor into this analysis and that is, the total Fantasy points data is exhaustive in the sense that it includes every single player to have contributed to that total, regardless of minutes played. When looking at statistics – regardless of context – any outliers (gargantuan or minuscule) should be seen either as anomalous or in this case, wholly worthless.
To better explain this, let’s take a look at goalkeepers. We have 28 goalkeepers who have all contributed at least one point since the start of the season. This amount comes to 1,320 points as previously stated, giving us the average points amount for a goalkeeper of 47.1. However, if we only look at goalkeepers who have played a minimum of 810 minutes (9 games – starts or not) the number of players is reduced from 28 to 22 and total points scored comes down to 1,242. This means we actually get higher average points per player meaning those points are more valuable than initially thought:
• No minimum minutes played: 28 players, 1,320 points = 47.1pts/player
• Minimum 810 minutes played: 22 players, 1,242 points = 56.5pts/player
The rest of the positions look like this:
1. Defence Total: 4816pts, 127 players = 38pts/player
• Min 9 Games: 4264, 82 players = 52pts/player
2. Midfield Total: 7681pts, 183 players = 42pts/player
• Min 9 Games: 6200pts, 83 players = 75pts/player
3. Forward Total: 2189pts, 55 players = 40pts/player
• Min 9 Games: 1486pts, 21 players = 71pts/player
It’s important for us to only look at the relevant data and not waste time considering any outliers that can skew our thinking. For example, Odd’s Kevin Egell-Johnsen (3.8m) has scored 19pts in 93 minutes but has taken part in only two games (3 minutes away to Rosenborg and the full outing against Aalesunds) all season. His points are indicative of nothing other than a single good performance. This is as much relevance as any other player blanking in 93 minutes. The range of that data is so small it means absolutely nothing.
This is why the emboldened values are more pertinent to realising the true value of potential assets as we are primarily looking at players who have played enough games to generate reliable, consistent data. When we have a pool of such data it not only becomes possible to compare players of different value it also allows us to draw conclusions from metrics such as games played even if one player has seen twice as many minutes as another.
I’ve created some charts/graphs to illustrate which teams are hogging which points and it’s quite obvious that the usual suspects can be relied upon for returning on any investment you might throw at them. Bodo/Glimt rank 5th for points in defence, 1st for midfield and 1st for attack. Even though they are 9th for goalkeeper points, that’s only 14 points off third place Valerenga. They are the real deal. Both Sarpsborg and Sandefjord can stake a claim for being the best teams for defensive players as Sarpsborg rank top for goalkeeper points and are second only to Sandefjord for points in defence. Sandefjord keeper Jacob Storevik’s (4.7m) 90pt haul is narrowly eclipsed by Sarpsborg 08 keeper David Mitov-Nilsson (5.6m) on 94pts. Value in both keepers, but much more so in Storevik as he’s just under 1m cheaper.
Odd look solid across the board as do Valerenga while Rosenborg’s lacklustre attack sees them rival Sandefjord for points (120-112) and even further behind title rivals Molde (143) and Glimt (205). The biggest shock here is seeing Stromsgodset in second with 186pts ahead of teams such as Odd (181) and Viking (175) who are probably seen as being much more attacking outfits than the team Lars Jorgen Salvesen (8.5m) has been carrying all season. The bottom halves of most of these graphs show the same teams, suggesting we limit our search parameters to exclude most these teams in our hunt for points, even if we are in need of differential providers.
POINTS PER MILLION/PPM PER GAME (MIDFIELDERS)
Sorting players by points per million can be an incredibly useful way to spot under-priced players capable of providing the kind of points more expensive assets would be expected to return. It can also be misleading enough to suggest numerous false dawns and is a great way to feed one’s own confirmation bias. It is not a metric I swear by but there’s no denying how informative it can be when looking at the regular performers as it definitively points us towards less-expensive form players.
Bodo/Glimt trio Patrick Berg (4.6m), Philip Zinckernagel (9.4m) and Ulrik Saltnes (8.2m) pick up the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals respectively for being the most efficient, under-priced players in the league relative to how many points they’ve each scored. Regarding Berg this is easy to understand. He’s 4.6m and one of 12 midfielders to reach triple figures for the season, owing largely in part to his proficiency in picking up bonus points (24) with long-since departed former colleague Jens Petter-Hauge now of AC Milan the only midfielder to have amassed more BFP (26) than him.
It’s perhaps surprising to see premium players such as Zinckernagel and Amahl Pellegrino (10.0m) anywhere near the top of a such a ranking as you might expect cheaper assets to eclipse them for value. While this is a relative-pricing structure it’s also determined by points scored and because of the respective astronomical totals of 194 and 180 for Zinckernagel and Pellegrino, they could be even higher and still rival pretty much every other midfielder in the game.
Johan Hove (5.9m), Zymer Bytyqi (7.3m) and Kristoffer Velde (6.9m) have been consistent performers all season, while Molde midfielder/wide player Martin Ellingsen (5.1m), Odd’s Joshua Kitolano (5.2m) and Sarpsborg 08’s Jonathan Lindseth (5.7m) are all cheap and in form of late. Even though Hauge has not played in the division since Runde 19, I’ve decided to leave him in to provide a benchmark for other players. His points tally is remarkable and he only blanked in two out of eighteen games he played. Even now he remains the third highest point-scorer in the game and could feasibly remain in the top ten come season’s end.
Points per million per game is probably the more accurate way of determining value as we are not only looking at the simple equation of dividing total points by value, we also take into consideration total number of games played. This allows us to focus on consistency as well as how much each point is worth in regards to our budget. The PpM/Game graph features a lot of the names from the previous chart but there are notable newcomers such as Bendik Bye (5.8m) (who is in not even in half a percent of teams), Rosenborg forward Carlo Holse (6.3m) and Bard Finne (8.6m). While these players aren’t by any means awful picks there is one awful trait common between them – they are not regular starters for their teams and this is where the accuracy of this metric can be called into question if we apply the same prerequisite of a minimum of 810 minutes played in the division.
It’s quite simply not a big enough sample size to be able to generate enough statistical analysis to determine value based on playing time. To do that we’d need to look at players who perform on an almost weekly basis for their teams… And just like that, those surprising names vanish and we’re given a more palatable array of household names to chew on, as no less than 10 of the players from the original PpM graph return. Even though he’s only scored more than three points on two occasions since Runde 12, Etzaz Hussain (7.1m) is only four points away from triple figures and is a regular for Molde. He shouldn’t be relied upon to score every single week but it would seem he’s playing within himself of late and that the extra games in Europe are becoming something of a burden when it comes to domestic performances.
The major drawback to these charts is that recent form is not taken into consideration as we are looking at total points scored, player value and how both those things combine over a certain period of time to ascertain that player’s inherent, season-long worth. Another way of thinking about it is viewing these players as options for an entire season, rather than to cherry-pick those in form. In this sense, this information is valuable as it can potentially provide us useful insight into what to expect from next season.
I’m not going to cover each and every single position as I’d not only bore most of you with the amount of required scrolling needed to get to the comments section, I’d probably lose my own will to carry on halfway through. Despite that, I have put together a graph to consider every single player in the game using the same metrics as above with a minimum of 14 games played. The majority of featured players are midfielders (hence the focus on them in this article) with the exceptions being Bodo/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Khaykin (4.6m) forward Kasper Junker (9.7m) and defender Marius Hoibraten (4.4m) and Sandefjord defensive pair Marc Vales (4.6m) and Vidar Ari Jonsson (4.6m).
POINTS PER 90 MINUTES
It should be clear that there are some perfectly reasonable, low-mid priced options out there as well as the undeniably worth-every-penny players that could arguably demand a much higher price. While PpM and PpM/G are good metrics to look at relative and long-term value, sorting by points per 90 minutes with a high number of minimum games played should highlight those players who can be relied upon to score consistently well on a regular basis.
Rather than focus solely on midfielders, I’ve once again looked at the entire set of players, using the search criteria of having played a minimum of 1800 minutes, or 20 sets of 90 minutes. Since price has absolutely nothing to do with this accumulation of data, this should be seen as one of the most objective ways to determine a player’s inherent worth in the game. Seeing as we are only allowing for four games of the season to have been missed, we can assume our results will consist only of players who are regularly in form and to be among the highest scorers in the game.
Zinckernagel has played just over 21 games and yet his PpP90 is 9.1. That equates to 273 points for an entire season and as there are just six games left, if he maintains current pace he will be on for a 250 point finish. That’s truly remarkable. There’s genuinely no reason not to have him in your team. Pellegrino has an equally impressive score of 8.8 with Saltnes a full 2.1 points lower with 6.7. Viking front man Veton Berisha (9.3m) also scores well with 6.6 while marauding Odd full/wing-back Espen Ruud (7.1m) gets 5th place with 5.4. That’s a phenomenal scoring rate for a defender – Valerenga full-back Christian Borchgrevink (5.9m) would be projected to score a full 30 points less than Ruud over the entire course of the season if both players’ Pp90 remained constant. Velde’s score of 5.3 is also impressive and should give his owners some belief that he’s still a viable option going forward into the last leg of the campaign while goalkeeper Mitov Nilsson proves that he’s probably worth the outlay as he’s averaging just under 4.5 points a game or ~134 points over the course of a season.
Looking at the most expensive defenders in the game shows there is little correlation between price and points per 90 minutes with the exception of Ruud, Gustav Valsvik (5.9m) and John Kitolano (5.8m), with Haugesund’s Alexander Stolas (7.3m) disappointing in particular. While Rosenborg are known for being a defensive powerhouse and they certainly boast the best defence in the league, their defenders are currently not bringing in enough points on a regular basis to boast such hefty price tags.
The 25 highest scoring players in the game are spread out across every team in the division except for Aalesunds (surprise, surprise) and perhaps surprisingly Sandefjord. The main reason for this is most of Sandefjord’s points have come from their defenders and goalkeeper and as they would rather draw a game 0-0 than try to score a goal, they just don’t give themselves the opportunities to score many points in the first place. Bodo/Glimt, Valerenga, Viking and Molde own 12/25 of the most coveted assets further illustrating how scoring goals translates to points more so than league position does.
The next graph is pretty straightforward – you’re looking at the top 10 forwards for points per 90 minutes. The horizontal bars equate to total points scored while the blue value bars are set against each player’s points per 90 minutes value. I’m hoping this presents relative pricing in an easy to understand format along with being able to appreciate each player’s individual successes this season.
Finally, I’ve put together three simple treemaps to show how teams so fundamentally different as Aalesunds, Glimt and Sandefjord all differ regarding their own spread of points as well as drawing attention to the similarities. For both Aalesunds and Glimt, the majority of their points have come from midfield but it’s in attack you can see that Aalesund have relied more on their forwards this season than Glimt have. These charts are relative and in actual fact Glimt forwards have scored almost 80 points more than those playing for Aalesunds, but relatively speaking that’s not the case.
Sandefjord have relied more on their defence than any other team in the league – they’re actually the only team that has scored most of their Fantasy points out of defence (44.2%) with no other team boasting any higher than 37.4% (FK Haugesund). Glimt may not be a reliable source of points for goalkeepers but that’s mainly due to the lack of saves required along with pretty much zero chance of any BFP whatsoever.
Next week I’ll look at some more team and individual stats and hopefully be able to pick out some players that could be vital to own in the upcoming weeks. With the end of the season drawing to a close, it’s going to come down to form vs fixture and the last thing any of us want to be relying on is our intuition, right?