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Kane, Son and the Value of Attacking Double-ups

This article is aimed towards making a case to own both Harry Kane (11.0m) and Son Heung-Min (9.8m), not just one, now that we know they play in Gameweek 18. To provide a brief overview, I look into the general value in attacking double-ups (with some hot takes), and delineate the difference between attacking and defensive double-ups via their defensive ownership. Then I use these concepts to explore the unique value within owning both Kane and Son, both into and beyond Gameweek 19.

The value of attacking double-ups

Attacking double-ups (or even triple-ups) are often seen as a high-risk, high-reward play. You bank on one attacking team producing an above-average goals tally, and to gain more rewards, you place more eggs in that basket; since one player rarely hogs the scoresheet when the team scores 3, or more, goals. It goes great when Man City score 5 and spread the goals around. However, it can collapse quickly if Man City have an off-day.

Given premium assets tend to be the highest scoring players, and score the most against weaker sides, attacking double-ups are most popular when a top 5 side has a favourable run of fixtures. Attackers win out over defenders when it comes to double-ups since they score a lot more points, Pedro Neto (6.0m), the 9th highest scoring midfielder in Gameweek 17, has scored as many points as Andy Robertson (7.2m), the top scoring defender; despite playing fewer minutes.

However, given the rarity of circumstance where a double-up is favourable, most FPL managers tend to spread the risk, getting a good attacker per team and using the captaincy to target fixtures with higher potential for goal involvement. This assumption is backed up by data.

Going into Gameweek 17, using the player ownership tool in (the magical) LiveFPL, 82% of the top 10k owned both Bruno Fernandes (11.3m) and Mohamed Salah (12.5m). However, less than 5% owned both Fernandes and Marcus Rashford (9.6m), or Salah and Sadio Mané (11.9m); despite these two being cheaper and in good form. Even Kane and Son as a duo was only held by just 36% of FPL managers in the top 10k.

Attacking double-ups seem high risk because an FPL manager forgoes an (in-form) premium attacker. The gamble is that two premium assets from one side will each outperform a premium asset from the team you’re skipping on. Otherwise, they can be hard to justify. 

If you are confident that all three of Kevin De Bruyne (11.7m), Salah and Fernandes will outscore atleast one of Kane and Son (not both), then the highest reward comes from not doubling up. As an example, if the total points over 5 weeks is “Kane 40, De Bruyne 35, Son 30”, then the play was picking De Bruyne first and then picking Kane over Son. Picking both Spurs attackers is only the optimal strategy if you feel confident both outscore De Bruyne.

In some cases, double-ups actually represent an aversion to risk. For one, you don’t have to pick between two good assets as to who will score more points. Just pick both, and drop one later if you have to.

But more than that, there is more confidence that at least one will score. As we have seen in recent weeks, Liverpool can score but Salah may not have an attacking return. However, it is a lot less likely that Liverpool score a goal, and both Salah and Mané fail to be on the scoresheet.

On the other hand, the trade-off is the reduced prospects of both returning double-digit hauls unless Liverpool go on a rout, which as we’ve seen over the festive fixtures can be hard to predict for any game. And as mentioned before, if they both do not equally share the goals on offer, one of the assets will underperform and would be better off never picked.

That’s a good start, let’s look into defensive double-ups quickly to show what that’s all about, and then tie both concepts together into Kane and Son this season.

Defensive ownership

Going into Gameweek 17, Ruben Dias (5.8m) had an ownership of 15% in the top 10k. This is similar to the ownership of De Bruyne (17%). But actually, a clean sheet for Dias will provide a lesser rank boost than an assist (3+1 for CS) for De Bruyne. Why? Defensive ownership.

Whenever Man City keep a clean sheet, it’s 4 extra points for the 15% owners of Ruben Dias. It is also, however, 4 extra points for the 16% who own Joao Cancelo (5.8m), the 10% of John Stones (5.0m) owners, and the 1% who own Ederson (6.0m). In total, over 40% of FPL managers who owned atleast one Man City defender going into gameweek received clean sheet points. That is a big jump from the 10% to 16% per defender.

Such shared points are a rarity in attack. Man Utd tore Leeds to shreds by scoring 6 goals, but both Fred (5.3m) and more notably Rashford, received no extra points beyond the two for appearances.

As such, if you truly believe in a defence, doubling up on them is a safer risk to an attacking double-up. Most top defences will have a defensive ownership of at least 30-40%, which can be as high as 80%, so the real ground is made through owning two of them. There is a much lower risk of one asset underperforming. When Robertson hit 213 points in 2018/19, Virgil Van Dijk (6.3m) also scored 208 points; matching Roberton’s 12 assists with his 4 goals and 4 assists.

The question becomes “Can I commit two defenders to Man City keeping more clean sheets than Tottenham or Man Utd over the next 10 weeks?”, rather than wondering “What if Cancelo does well but Dias doesn’t?”.

In the end, while it does suck to see “Dias 2 Stones 2” when others have “Dias 2 Dier 7”, it does not matter in the long run if Stones can get atleast as many cleansheets as Dier.

Note: I recognize the framework for thinking I use here is very general, and does not take into account attacking returns, price or (Pep-)rotation. The nuance is deliberately left out since this is just a general overview.

The case for Kane and Son

So why is this a case for Kane and Son? After all, the article so far seems closer to some weird way to advocate for Eric Dier with another defender (not the first time I have done so).

Mainly, because based on the data, I think they are a unique combination of an attacking double-up that also embodies the best qualities of a defensive double-up.

We all know they love to assist each other, but it is important to note just how unprecedented it is.

Kane and Son have scored 21 goals combined so far, and have assisted the other for 13 (65%) of them. That number of goal combinations is already an all-time PL record for a season, and we are not even half-way through.

80% of Son’s assists have been for Kane (4 of 5), while 82% of Kane’s assists have been for Son (9 of 11). In the goalscoring department, 40% of Kane’s goals have been assisted by Son (4 of 10), while 82% of Son’s goals have been assisted by Kane (9 of 11).

But it does not end here, Spurs’s reliance on the duo far exceeds any other side in the league. Over 75% of Spurs’s goals come from them, with no high-scoring side coming close.

kane-son-and-the-value-of-attacking-double-ups

Given Spurs have scored 29 goals, which is the 6th highest, they’re likely to score in any game. And until now, 45% of their goals have involved Kane and Son assisting each other.

These are unreal numbers and, over 17 gameweeks, cannot be dismissed as a fluke. A combined ownership of 36% indicates that managers have wisened up to this, but as we see from Greyhead’s (amazing) articles, only 5 out of 12 managers there owned Kane going into the Leeds match.

This is the first attacking double-up in FPL history where even one goal for Tottenham seems enough for both players to get a respectable haul. The likelihood that one outscores another is low. From GW1-9, Kane and Son both had 84 points. From GW10-17, Son scored 48 while Kane scored 41.

kane-son-and-the-value-of-attacking-double-ups 1

You may choose to not go for both, or only one (as an insurance), but in my opinion: This appears a once-in-a-generation double-up, and is still very effective when it is owned by around 40% managers.

This is because it is hard to fit both of them while having all three of Salah, Fernandes and De Bruyne (the latter two have better fixtures, the former is Salah).

But in previous cases, there was an argument “I am confident that one of Kane or Son will score lesser than my Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool attacker of choice; so I will just pick one”.

Now, it is a bit closer to “if Son can (massively) outscore one, or more, of Fernandes, De Bruyne and Salah, I can get Kane in addition to that as a differential, banking on the fact that if Son does well, so will Kane”. (This is why I went on about defensive double-ups, it is a similar question asked there, except attackers tend to provide a much higher ceiling)

This could go wrong, perhaps Kane plays further forward and Son’s through balls come from a midfielder. Perhaps their long shots stop going in. Perhaps Kane finds alternate routes to score, such as penalties or headers from crosses. But this is FPL, and a lot of things with any of the other assets I mentioned could also go wrong. And for now, Tottenham seem to be playing into the fact these both are their main scorers and creators.

19 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rotation's Alter Ego
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 9 Years
    5 months, 20 hours ago

    Always superb articles from you Kroos Kontrol, and very timely! Thank you 🙂

  2. Eddie - Back to Square Owen
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    5 months, 20 hours ago

    Thanks for this Kroos. My big decision is whether to revert to Salah for Son from 19 forward. Almost hoping for an injury to force my hand.

  3. The Real Big Vern
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    5 months, 19 hours ago

    How do we know Kane plays gw 18?

    1. Stout scout
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 19 hours ago

      He's not injured

  4. Make Arrows Green Again
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 19 hours ago

    Excellent article. Lots of food for thought!

    I would offer one counter which is that I see the attacking double-up as being *slightly* less productive as a random team 1 + team 2 player for one reason which is the fact that a team often needs a single goal to turn one point into three.

    That seems pretty obvious but thinking about it in more detail, if an attacking team needs a goal to win and it's 0-0 at, say, 70 minutes, scoring that one goal will earn the victory if they don't concede. This means that there might only be one goal 'available' in that game, and only one player can score it, before the team reverts to defensive mode. This can be compared to having two players in, let's assume, simultaneous games who are each playing for different outcomes.

    There are always assists to add and, of course, Kane and Son are telepathic when it comes to providing for each other, so it really is a minor concern.

    1. Kroos Kontrol
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 5 hours ago

      I do agree with you here, I don't actually support attacking double-ups unless I am confident the side can score atleast 2 goals for a run of games & share the goals around. Or if I am self-preserving (rather than get two picks wrong "e.g. owning De Bruyne + Rashford during Project Restart when the play was Sterling + Martial", I'll just make sure to get one right)

      Ultimately, it's a tradeoff. If Liverpool are 0-0, I feel more certain getting some return (IF they score) owning both Salah and Mane; since it's unlikely neither are involved in a goal if they're on the pitch. However, if Liverpool and Man City are 0-0 in separate games, and they both go 1-0 up, I see it more likely that neither Salah nor De Bruyne are involved in the goal.

      The flipside is of course, as mentioned, if there is just one goal, then one of Mane or Salah won't score (and unless Mane wins a penalty, a goal-assist combo is really unlikely). Whereas with KdB and Salah, the odds of both scoring are a lot higher.

      But as highlighted in this piece, Kane and Son shatter the existing notions of an attacking double-up since they are so different. If Spurs are struggling and there is one goal, there is an unusually high chance it'll be a 7-8 point (+bonus) gain for me. Given how Kane & Son have scored 75% of Spurs goals, and over 13 of the 22 goals they've scored (near 60%) have been assists to each other. And that's the idea behind this piece, they are really different to any other double-up right now.

      1. Make Arrows Green Again
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 28 days ago

        Yeah this all makes perfect sense to me too.

        In short, I tend to look at players and their potential (and stats) before I consider whether it's worth talking myself out of a player because that means a double up. This is partly due to the reason I mentioned and partly because having two picks from the same team reduces the number of potential fixtures when it comes to captaincy.

  5. CasaBanter
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    5 months, 11 hours ago

    Great article, thank you! Also shows why Chelsea and Man City attackers are such a gamble with the goals shared around so much.

  6. Feed tha Sheep
    • 8 Years
    5 months, 11 hours ago

    Robertson & Son > Stones & KDB worth -4 for DGW?

  7. Kroos Kontrol
    • 8 Years
    5 months, 5 hours ago

    Thanks everyone. Just wanting to clarify there's a bit of a typo in some text here, they have actually scored 22 goals combined so far (Son has 12). This is correct in the graphic but not in the text!

    Beyond that, this is just one take worth sharing ahead of the GW19 stick-or-twist conundrum I have. Even I might not stick to keeping both if I get too scared of Salah+Vardy getting 20-pointers each (goal in the tough game, 2 attacking returns in the other).

    But I think there's a genuine case to wonder whether the fixtures are that good. Salah has Man Utd, and Vardy has Chelsea, and both could be low-scoring affairs. And if you take the gamble that they won't score in the tougher game, it is not unreasonable to think that Kane+Son+4 (avoid the hit) can match Vardy+Salah over DGW since they have a good fixture; and then pull clear afterwards.

  8. The Overthinker
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 5 hours ago

    Brilliant article. Love the detailed analysis

  9. Flair
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    5 months, 5 hours ago

    Very nice article. Liked the defense analysis especially and the importance of maximizing the best defense. However, I do prefer to judge each option on their own merits and don't really pay attention to the idea of double/triple ups - for me the most important point is the value of the individual player.

  10. Chidi LaLa
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    4 months, 29 days ago

    Excellent article.

  11. FingerNFudge
      4 months, 29 days ago

      I’ve seen better bales, on a farmers field.

    • IN SANE IN DE BRUYNE
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      4 months, 28 days ago

      Son -> Rashford to give me 11 DGW players?
      Considering KDB in for Mane also.

      Martinez
      Zouma Cresswell Stones Justin
      Salah Mane Bruno Son Maddison
      Watkins

      (McCarthy Bamford Ayling Brewster)

      1. IN SANE IN DE BRUYNE
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        4 months, 28 days ago

        Post fail!

    • And nothing else Mata'…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      4 months, 27 days ago

      Kane OUT Vardy IN for -4 to make 12 DGW players? No Son.

      Yay or Nay?

    • Madjules
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      4 months, 24 days ago

      Just read this
      "In the end, while it does suck to see “Dias 2 Stones 2” when others have “Dias 2 Dier 7”, it does not matter in the long run if Stones can get at least as many cleansheets as Dier."
      But it doesnt suck to see "Dias 11 Stones 21" if you own them, would you ever have believed that

    • Hitman MHK
      • 9 Years
      4 months, 21 days ago

      Great article OP.