In each edition of the Fantasy A-League Focus we take a look at some of the key issues emerging in the A-League and analyse their implications for fantasy coaches.
Transfer Window Wrap
With the January transfer window shutting on Tuesday, we take a look at the moves each team has made and where any fantasy gems could lie. Also, this may prove a handy guide for which players to trade out of your team if they have left the A-League altogether. These players appear below in Italics.
Note that clubs are still able to sign free agents despite the window being shut.
In: Stefan Mauk (Melbourne City)
Out: James Jeggo (Sturm Graz), Osama Malik (Melbourne City)
The exit of Malik strengthens the fantasy prospects of cheapie defenders Iacopo La Rocca and Jordan Elsey, who are currently battling each other to partner Dylan McGowan in the heart of defence for Adelaide. Initially it appeared Elsey would be the man to take the spot, however after last week that is now in question.
Elsey was shifted to right back in the absence of Michael Marrone (suspended) for the away game against Brisbane, with La Rocca taking the other central defensive position. Despite Marrone’s availability, Elsey stayed as Adelaide’s right back against Newcastle – and his performance was very shaky. Meanwhile, La Rocca has put together two solid games at centre back.
The battle is well worth paying attention to given Adelaide have performed solidly in defence of late, with 6 clean sheets in their last 11 games; they have conceded more than 1 goal on only 1 occasion in that stretch. Adelaide allow their opponents just 3.8 shots on target per game, level with the Victory while only Sydney (2.5) and Western Sydney (3.1) are superior.
Jeggo’s departure for Austria means that two more cheapies, midfielders Stefan Mauk and George Mells, have their own battle for the #8 spot. Mells started against the Jets, however he is more conservative than Jeggo and Mauk, meaning that if Adelaide wish to produce more attacking runs from midfield they may inject Mauk into the starting XI. Mauk – who averaged 5 points per game at City this season (4 goals, 3 assists) – would be the choice of most fantasy coaches to take the spot.
Fortunately for those sweating over any of the above four players, Adelaide have the Friday night game this round, meaning we will see well before lockout who will be starting for the Reds in central defence and central midfield.
In: Joe Caletti (FFA Centre of Excellence)
Brisbane’s only bit of business was to sign talented young midfielder Joe Caletti, who captained Australia at under-17 level. He’s probably far too young and raw to be of any interest to fantasy A-League coaches, and even if he does get any game time he’s a defensive midfielder anyway.
Though Brisbane haven’t released anyone, something certainly of note to fantasy coaches is the omission from the starting XI of Daniel Bowles against Sydney FC. It seems Bowles was a victim of Brisbane’s consecutive capitulations against Victory and Adelaide, losing his spot to James Donachie (who had played just 12 minutes this season until the weekend). If you have Bowles, consider a swap for teammate Jack Hingert. Also, expect Brisbane to return to being competitive now that Jamie Maclaren is back from Olyroos duty.
Central Coast Mariners
In: Francesco Stella (Avondale), Alastair Bray (Green Gully), Trent Buhagiar (Central Coast FC), Brad McDonald (Manly United), Luis Garcia (free agent), Matthew Fletcher (free agent)
Out: Anthony Caceres (Manchester City), Nick Fitzgerald (Melbourne City), Matt Sim (Western Sydney Wanderers), Anthony Kalik (Hajduk Split, loan)
The Mariners were certainly busy during the window, however most of their business is not of huge interest to fantasy coaches. The name that obviously stands out from that is Luis Garcia, who has already made a big mark on the A-League despite not being ready to play 90 minutes.
Garcia, priced temptingly at $200k, played a role in the Mariners’ equaliser against the Wanderers in Round 16 before scoring one goal and assisting the other two in their 3-1 win over an undermanned and demoralised Wellington. So those 47 coaches who threw caution to the wind and rushed him into their teams were instantly rewarded with 18 points. However, this weekend’s trip to Brisbane may prove to be a truer test of what output we can expect from Garcia this season. Don’t forget also that he was released by his Indian Premier League club because he was injury prone. Watch closely.
The rest of the Mariners signings don’t really offer much in fantasy terms; most will be regular fixtures on the bench anyway. Mitch Austin owners can also breathe a sigh of relief that the transfer of Youssouf Hersi fell through due to unforeseen visa issues.
In: Dean Bouzanis (Western Sydney Wanderers), Anthony Caceres (Manchester City, loan), Osama Malik (Adelaide United), Nick Fitzgerald (Central Coast Mariners)
Out: Tando Velaphi (Shonan Bellmare), David Williams (Haladas), Robert Koren (free agent), Stefan Mauk (Adelaide United), Erik Paartalu (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Like the Mariners, City were quite active in the window; also like the Mariners, there’s not much of interest to fantasy coaches here – especially in the Fox Sports game, where surely everyone already has their maximum allotment of 3 City players (Bruno Fornaroli, Aaron Mooy and Harry Novillo).
Luke Brattan was expected to join on loan from Manchester City, however the window is closed and that deal hasn’t happened. He could have been useful in the Official and Real Dream Team formats.
Given that City continue to give up shots on target to their opponents (6.2 per game, the worst performers in the league in this statistic), their defenders should be avoided at all costs, so don’t get Malik. Stick with their attackers; City still lead the league in shots on target per game (5.7), after all.
In: Jai Ingham (Hume City)
A quiet window for Victory, with the talented 22 year old Ingham unlikely to get much game time at this stage. That may change once Victory’s ACL campaign starts in 3 weeks, but he shouldn’t be on the radar yet.
In: Steven Ugarkovic (free agent), Morten Nordstrand (free agent)
Out: David Carney (FC)
Just when you thought the Jets couldn’t become any more irrelevant in Fantasy A-League, they release David Carney. Carney really was the only Jet worth picking (besides cheapie defenders), so with him gone there’s not much to consider here. Steven Ugarkovic is a talented young player, but not a fantasy footballer in any sense.
It’s too soon to tell whether Morten Nordstrand will have much impact, but given how terrible the Jets attack is (2.1 shots on target per game, easily the worst in the league) it’d be rather too ambitious to pick up a striker from this team when there are enough strong options to play a front 3 as it is.
In: Kosta Petratos (FFA Centre of Excellence), Adam Taggart (Fulham), Shane Lowry (free agent), Krisztian Vadocz (free agent)
Out: Guyon Fernandez (free agent), Sidnei Sciola (FC Juarez), Antony Golec (FC Sheriff), Michael Thwaite (Liaoning Whowin)
We’ll get to the transfers in a moment, but first we have to talk about Diego.
Perth have very quickly gone from duds to studs in the world of fantasy, thanks in no small part to the rise of Diego Castro. Castro started sluggishly despite arriving with big expectations, averaging 4 points per game across his first 8 appearances. Then, he exploded. From Round 10’s catch up game against Victory, Castro has averaged 12.75ppg, scoring 8 goals in that time. He is essential at this point. The goal scoring will likely continue to some degree, given he has hit the target 18 times this season – equal second among midfielders behind Craig Goodwin (21).
Castro has a superb striker to feed off in Andy Keogh, who seems to finally be finding his sharpness with a goal and two assists on the weekend against Victory. He could be considered as one of the premium forwards should this form (both his and Perth’s) continue. It should be noted that only City and Adelaide now hit the target more often than Perth (5 shots on target per match).
Perth would have an insane attack if Adam Taggart were allowed to play, but unfortunately due to FIFA rules about only being able to kit up for 2 clubs in a year, we’ll have to wait until next season to see him in the purple of Glory.
Shane Lowry gives us another cheapie defender option at Perth, to go along with Marc Warren, Aryn Williams and Alex Grant, though he is more expensive than the other three.
The arrival of journeyman defensive midfielder Krisztian Vadocz probably won’t be of much help to fantasy coaches, nor will the signing of Kosta Petratos – the talented youngster (and brother of Dimi) likely won’t get enough game time to come into fantasy calculations this season.
In: David Carney (Newcastle Jets)
Out: Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg)
It feels like Sydney really needed to add some firepower to their squad during the window, and they’ve failed to do that. Carney’s arrival will help, but he alone will not solve their struggles in the final 3rd.
Sydney have fallen to 8th in shots on target per game (4.1), meaning you really shouldn’t have any Sky Blues on your forward or midfield lines. Carney may be the exception, however.
Defensively, they are very good in terms of constricting their opponents to a limited number of chances (2.5 shots on target allowed per game, the best in the league) however they continue to leak goals in spite of this (1 clean sheet in the last 8 games). Perhaps the lack of pressure they create in their opponent’s half is the reason for this. Or maybe they are just prone to regular defensive lapses.
Regardless, we suspect unless Sydney’s attack improves they will be irrelevant in fantasy football at both ends of the park. Their participation in the ACL probably won’t help much either. If you have to move on Alex Gersbach, consider bringing in a defender from another team instead.
In: Alex Jones (Birmingham City, loan)
Out: Jeffrey Sarpong (free agent)
In Round 9, Wellington dispatched the Victory 2-0 for their 4th win of the season, losing just once in a run of five games. Since then, they have sunk into the mire, picking up only 2 points from 8 games.
With gun forward Roy Krishna out for likely the remainder of the season, Wellington lack real bite up forward. Indeed, only Newcastle manage fewer shots on target per game than the Phoenix (4.0).
Meanwhile Wellington allow 5.3 shots on target per game, better only than the Mariners, the Jets and City. This is reflected in the fact that they have conceded 15 goals in their last 6 games, holding just one team – a Maclaren-less Roar – scoreless since their Round 9 win.
Fantasy dud Jeffrey Sarpong has been released, with young striker Alex Jones coming in as injury cover for Krishna. Will Jones be the man to spark Wellington’s season back to life? It seems a lot to ask of a 21-year old playing overseas, we believe, for the first time in his career, and seemingly he has never played first team football before either. We suggest avoiding Wellington players for the time being.
Western Sydney Wanderers
In: Matt Sim (Central Coast Mariners), Jackson Bandiera (FFA Centre of Excellence)
Out: Dean Bouzanis (Melbourne City)
The Wanderers are travelling nicely at the moment, so it’s unsurprising that they haven’t done much business in the January window.
Matt Sim is a decent squad player but doesn’t really offer too much in terms of fantasy point-scoring, so we would not recommend adding him to your team. Likewise, young Jackson Bandiera probably won’t see enough game time to be fantasy relevant this season.
Though the window is shut marquee forward Federico Piovaccari could be on his way out – which surely won’t cause too much consternation among fantasy coaches. The arrival of a new marquee forward could though if such a move eventuates, as Mark Bridge’s game time could come under threat if someone more potent than Pio is picked up. But we wouldn’t be concerned just yet.
So, overall the January transfer window likely won’t have a huge impact on fantasy A-League, however there are several smaller issues that coaches do need to consider – such as how much will Mauk play at Adelaide? Will Carney produce anything at Sydney FC? And is it worth following the Mariners’ lead and rolling the dice on Luis Garcia?
Team shots on target and shots on target allowed statistics via Opta / A-League match centre, then compiled by the author. Player shots on target via Fox Sports Fantasy A-League.