The lifeblood of any Premier League or Champions League team is the number of chances and opportunities created during a game. Scoring highly in either of these categories is the single biggest determining factor where goals and assist are concerned, the two most rewarding stats on daily fantasy soccer.
Soccer differs from most North American sports in that once a substitution has been made, the player that leaves the action is no longer eligible to return and score any more points. That’s unless they’re a defender and the clean sheet bonus is accrued. In Premier League, Champions League and Major League Soccer fixtures, players can be used off the substitutes bench but the opportunity for big points totals here is diminished due to the lower amount of time spent on the pitch.
As we alluded to on plenty of occasions previously, the way a team sets itself up is instrumental to the success of individual players. A defensive 5-3-2 or 4-3-2-1 will always be less attacking than a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 and players in each one of those will be affected accordingly. Wide midfielders playing in the more attacking formations will have far more scope to create chances for team mates and score points. The same players, when playing as part of a defensive game plan, will be asked to contribute more at the other end of the pitch and as such suffer drops in the point columns.
The one position that tends to go on unaffected is the lone forward. Even in a defensive formation, the lone man up front will still be the focal point and will even be asked to carve out opportunities on his own. As such they are often in a good position to rely upon regardless of the formation being played or the opposition. It’s very rare that teams create zero chances in a game and the lone chance is often presented on a plate for that forward.
Players that create chances usually do so from crosses and since the introduction of DraftKings’ new Opta based stats system there has been a considerable uplift in the value of wingers and wing backs. Crosses now include free kicks and corners thus meaning there are even more opportunities for players to score you points. It’s telling that the players at the top of the fantasy points per game charts have crossing as one of the main tools on their belt.
Look past the scoring categories offered up by DraftKings and there are plenty of other ways to measure the performance of players. One of the best statistics when it comes to creating chances is key passes. Invariably, the top players in the key passes category are those that are in the points in terms of assists. Looking at the Premier League assist rankings as of the weekend ending November 29 2015, Mesut Özil was out in front with 11 and is averaging 4.5 key passes per game. That latter number is also good enough for the top spot.
Key passes are defined by Opta as “the final pass or pass-cum-shot that leads to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring”. In Major League Soccer, if there is a goal this would be defined as a secondary assist, and the same goes for the National Hockey League. European soccer leagues don’t recognise this and as such it should only be used by daily fantasy player as an indicator of players that will be there or thereabouts.