Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 20 January 2009

Fantasy League's finest?

A year ago almost to the day, SPAOTP pondered on the FA Premier League's Fantasy League competition and wondered whether the players it rated as the best at the time really were as good as they suggested.

Back then, we raided the Fantasy Premier League's points tables and came up with the following as its best individuals as per mid-January 2008:

Goalkeepers
Green (West Ham)
James (Portsmouth)

Defenders
Laursen (Aston Villa)
Ferdinand (Manchester United)
Lescott (Everton)
Vidic (Manchester United)
Distin (Portsmouth)

Midfielders
Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Fabregas (Arsenal)
Gerrard (Liverpool)
Petrov (Manchester City)
Bentley (Blackburn)

Forwards
Tevez (Manchester United)
Adebayor (Arsenal)
Berbatov (Tottenham)

It was an article which generated a considerable number of comments from you all, some of which were from Sp3ktor who suggested we all go off and play Fantasy Football Agent instead. While we're now in a position to promote that more whole-heartedly (following Sp3ktor's introduction to the SPAOTP writing team), we remain committed to seeing just how good the FA's game is in rating the Premier League's players. Just as a bit of fun, you understand.

So to show how committed we are to recycling, SPAOTP gives you the 2009 version of last year's article to see who's cutting the mustard this season. Here's the current highest scoring players at fantasy.premierleague.com:

Goalkeepers
Van Der Sar (Manchester United)
Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders
Vidic (Manchester United)
Bosingwa (Chelsea)
Lescott (Everton)
Carragher (Liverpool)
Laursen (Aston Villa)

Midfielders
Lampard (Chelsea)
Gerrard (Liverpool)
Arteta (Everton)
Ronaldo (Manchester United)
A Young (Aston Villa)

Forwards
Anelka (Chelsea)
Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Van Persie (Arsenal)

So in goal, Man United's Edwin Van Der Sar leads the way just ahead of Liverpool's Jose Reina. Given United's recent form (more of which this Friday), you can't argue with him being at the top of the pile, and Liverpool's start to the season has also been built on a decent defence so we can't argue with that either.

Incidentally, last season's top two 'keepers, Green and James are currently 13th and 17th in the table respectively. Above Green you'll also find Sorensen of Stoke, Carson of West Brom and Gomes of Spurs - all of which goes to prove that league position counts for very little in a Fantasy League competiton.

In Defence, 2009 offers up Vidic of Man United (fourth best last year), newby Bosingwa of Chelsea, Everton's Lescott (also third last year), Carragher of Liverpool and Aston Villa's Laursen (top this time last year). Not much of a change all round, we think you'll agree although Rio Ferdinand is currently 28th on the 2009 list and as for Distin of Portsmouth - he's so far down the list that he's practically on the next page...

This year's Midfield top five only highlights the people that were missing from last year. Frank Lampard is in pole position this year and Mikel Arteta is third but both didn't even make the top five last time around. Ronaldo slips to fourth (largely due to injuries in 2008/09) and Ashley Young credibly makes fifth place while Gerrard moves up one place to second.

Were it not for injury, Fabregas would perhaps have retained his place among the FPL top scorers while Man City's Petrov is playing well short of his 2007/08 standards.

Finally up front, it's all change. Tevez, Adebayor and Berbatov all slip outside the top three (well outside in the case of Tevez) and they're replaced by Anelka, Agbonlahor and Van Persie. Robinho, Defoe and Zaki aren't too far away, but are well short of the Frenchman, the Englishman and the Dutchman.

And there you have it. As things currently stand in the FA's Fantasy Premier League, these are the best fifteen players you can buy at the moment. And aside from the "is he really that good?" debates which may now ensue, here's a final thing to consider.

As we said at the end of last year's article, the fifteen players listed near the top of this page were worth a total of £120.9 million - well over the £100 million budget the game allows you. But what about the fifteen players listed below them, i.e. the 2008/09 vintage? The answer: £131.8 million. So are this year's best players worth more than last year's? That's for you to decide...

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