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ESPN FC Posted by Dale Johnson
Aug 29, 2014

Fantasy Focus: The price of success

ESPN FC's Craig Burley breaks down the key fantasy players to acquire ahead of this week's matches, with the primary focus being goal-scoring threats.

Saturday saw the first value fluctuations of the season, and as they are a vital aspect of success in the fantasy game, it's important to understand how and when such changes are applied -- and how to truly profit from them.

- It's not too late: Sign up for Premier League fantasy
- Culea: Fantasy Preview - Gameweek 3

Individual price drops are not, in isolation, a bad thing for your team. Few managers can expect to go the whole season without suffering the odd sending off or own goal, which would affect price. But they do have to be the exception rather than the rule. Put simply, if your team is going up in value, generally you are doing things right.

Price fluctuations take place at the lock point of each gameweek, which will usually be 12:45 UK time on a Saturday, when the first Premier League game kicks off. Changes are based purely on performance and not popularity in the transfer market, so if a player is being signed by lots of managers that won't affect his value.

Performances in the previous gameweek govern fluctuations -- so those who went up in value last Saturday did so because they performed well on the opening weekend of the season. And price changes for players this Saturday will factor in the matches played last weekend. So the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Emmanuel Adebayor, Nacer Chadli and Eric Dier are sure to see big rises at the weekend.

Players who are regularly used as a substitute by clubs will often lose value, but if it's a one-off don't necessarily rush to sell them. Let's take Olivier Giroud as a case study. Some managers have asked why he dropped 0.3 million since the first week, and it's simply down the fact he was a sub and as such scored only one point.

That placed him in the bottom percentile of scorers. His goal against Everton confused the situation for those who did not understand the fluctuation process, as it appeared he had dropped 0.3 for that. But, as explained, Giroud had already dropped by 0.3 before his goal against the Toffees.

To ultimately be successful you have to master the art of working the prices, and just like in the stock market if you can buy low and sell high at the right price you will pocket the profit to increase your overall budget, to then be reinvested in higher-priced players at the top of the market. But remember, you realise profit and loss from a player only if you actually sell him -- just like in the real world.

After a dour 2013-14, Nacer Chadli and Spurs have brought back the good times at White Hart Lane.
Nacer Chadli of Spurs was the top-scoring player of gameweek 2.

Giroud again works well here too, as an example of how being savvy in the market can work to your advantage. He is now going to be out for months through injury and thus thrown onto the fantasy scrap heap. He's already been sold by 0.9 percent of managers at the time of writing, and that is sure to rise as we move toward Saturday's gameweek deadline.

But you could actually make some money by holding on to Giroud for a few days.

The Arsenal striker is likely to rise in price this weekend on the back of his goal and while you probably won't recoup the whole of the 0.3 loss you should get some money back. So take the money from the price rise and then swap out Giroud ahead of gameweek 4.

Generally, if you are smart you can jump on the back of a player's success to capture his value rise. For instance, Jovetic -- and the other three players mentioned above -- will all rise 0.3 million this Saturday. Easy money, right? Not necessarily -- you have to take each case on its merits and be confident that player will score well in the future too.

Will Jovetic remain in the starting lineup, or end up as a sub as Man City move to full strength? If he does revert to coming off the bench then you'll soon see that profit disappear with few points to show for the gamble. Working the values needs a clear plan rather than transferring on a reactionary basis for short-term profit -- there's little point transferring to cream off that profit if you have no points to show for it.

But transferring out players who have been sent off -- especially those who will serve a three-match Premier League ban -- is logical. A red card will almost certainly result in a 0.3 million price drop and zero points for three gameweeks.

You can get a rough idea of who will rise and fall in value by viewing the weekly points by position via the following links. Note that a player must play in a gameweek to qualify for the price fluctuations.

GOALKEEPERS -- DEFENDERS -- MIDFIELDERS -- STRIKERS

ASSIST RULE

There have been a number questions about an assist for Branislav Ivanovic for Diego Costa's goal for Chelsea against Leicester City at the weekend. At ESPN we use Opta, the official stats provider for Premier League, to score our game. As such, all the points will match the stats shown on the player profiles of the official Premier League website.

The Opta definition of an assist, as set out in the How To Play of the game, is as follows:

"An assist is awarded to a player who plays the final successful pass which leads to a goal. Please note that Key Contributions are not awarded to players who are fouled for free-kicks or penalties which lead to goals, for own goals or for goals which result from rebounds off other players, including the goalkeeper, or the woodwork."

Ivanovic's pass to Costa flicked off the heel of Leicester defender Liam Moore. As such, this is considered a rebound off another player and no assist is awarded.

Dale Johnson

Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 15 years. You can follow him on Twitter: @dalejohnsonESPN.

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