Fantasyland: Steals, duds and ideas for Week One league domination

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Oh, hi. We’re four days away from the start of the Premier League on NBC Sports, and anticipation is getting to be nearly unbearable. For those of us using the free Pro Soccer Talk fantasy leagues on Yahoo Sports — there’s still plenty of time to join — here’s some preseason knowledge to help you build your squadron.

[ MORE: Compete against PST’s staff in Yahoo’s free Fantasy Premier League ]

But before we get to that, some Internet high-fives to those of you rivaling my favored team name of ‘Coloccini in a Bottle’ for most creative, plus a few other gems:

50 Shades O’Shea
Teenage Mutant Ninja Skrtels
You’ve Lost That Lovren Feeling
Krul Kids Only
AC Slater
Magath and Friends

Now onto the knowledge. First, there’s the handy tool that is knowing what everyone else is doing by using the “popularity” search under the players tab. Here are the most selected players going right now, and their prices:

Player, position, club, percentage selected by, price

1. Martin Kelly, DEF, Liverpool — 38%, 1 mil
2. Ross Barkley, MID, Everton — 35%, 6.41 mil
3. Raheem Steling, MID, Liverpool — 30%, 9.15 mil
4. Diego Costa, FWD, Chelsea — 29%, 12 mil
5. Alexis Sanchez, FWD, Arsenal — 27%, 12 mil
6. Vincent Kompany, DEF, Manchester City — 25%, 8.82 mil
7. Steven Caulker, DEF, QPR — 24%, 7 mil
8. Ander Herrera, MID, Manchester United — 24%, 7 mil
9. Mesut Ozil, MID, Arsenal — 21%, 9.37 mil
10. Wayne Rooney, FWD, Manchester United — 21%, 16.8 mil

Analysis: Caulker brought in the 11th most points — 301 –of any returning player in Yahoo’s game despite playing on a putrid Cardiff City club. Besides Rooney (370), no other name on the Top 10 brought in more than 220 (Sterling had 219).

As an aside, Kelly’s popularity is sheerly for his price and long-held potential. How much do you see him playing this year at Anfield? What if the whispers of his move to Crystal Palace grow? At a lone million, there’s a bit of you that wants to slot him in, right?

It’s fair to deduce that the majority of fantasy owners are looking for those value slots rather than the big names. But you need to carefully pluck a few of those big salaries for your team. They make that dough for a reason, which brings us to…

source:
Cazorla

Priciest buys

1. Rooney, 16.8 mil
2. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool, 16.62 mil
3. Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool, 16.28 mil
4. Leighton Baines, Everton, 15.3 mil
5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City, 15.29 mil
6. Eden Hazard, Chelsea, 14.39 mil
7. Santi Cazorla, Arsenal, 13.66 mil
8. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, 13.26 mil
9. Adam Lallana, Liverpool, 12.92 mil
10. Robin van Persie, Manchester United, 12.9 mil

Analysis: Lot of risks on this list. I’d avoid Gerrard altogether at that lofty price, as the odds of him replicating past fantasy success seem dicey. Aguero’s injuries make him a risk, while it’s hard to imagine Lallana will be as important to Liverpool as his price would make him to your team. If I’m betting on one of these guys on my squad — I’m not — it’s Hazard.

Avoid list

Some risks are too big, in my opinion. Here’s a list of guys I’d wait on… you’d rather pay a couple million more in a few months than watch your budget drop by 3-4.

1. Gerrard, 16.62 mil
2. Frank Lampard, MID, Man City, 10.5 mil
3. Lallana, 12.92 mil
4. Jay Rodriguez, FWD, Southampton, 11.86 mil
5. Seamus Coleman, DEF, Everton, 9.35 mil
6. Petr Cech, GK, Chelsea, 12.09 mil

In some cases — Gerrard, Lallana — it’s the price, but Rodriguez is coming off an injury and still pretty expensive, while Lampard’s effectiveness and playing time for a new club and culture are questionable for 10.5. Cech may not even be at Chelsea very long, or performing in league play, and you’re set to drop 12-plus? Nah. Coleman is a good player and not a huge risk, but banking on a back picking up another six-goal season after not scoring a single goal over the previous two seasons? Not my idea of a 9-plus guy, even if it turns out that Martinez’s system makes him a star again. I’ll take him for 10.5 with a smile on my face in October.

The bargain bin (no particular order)

This list is subjective, so here are the best steals I’m seeing. All of these have a bit of risk to them, and the lower the price, the more of a risk you’ll have to take in-season to replace them:

source: AP
Lamela

1. Erik Lamela, MID, Tottenham — 2.77 mil
2. Barkley, 6.41 mil
3. Jack Rodwell, MID, Sunderland — 1 mil
4. Bojan, FWD, Stoke City — 6 mil
5. Ryan Bertrand, DEF, Southampton — 3.99 mil
6. Brede Hangeland, DEF, Crystal Palace — 6 mil
7. Bafetimbi Gomis, FWD, Swansea City — 7 mil
8. Yaya Sanogo, FWD, Arsenal — 2 mil
9. Tim Krul, GK, Newcastle — 5.25 mil
10. Enner Valencia, FWD, West Ham — 6 mil
11. Stevan Jovetic, FWD, Man City — 5.87 mil
12. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, MID, Arsenal — 5.31 mil
13. Ashley Young, MID, Manchester United — 4.94 mil
14. James Ward-Prowse, MID, Southampton — 4.93 mil
15. Jozy Altidore, FWD, Sunderland — 3.34 mil

Analysis: I’m using a number of these guys. There are a few, including Bertrand and Ward-Prowse, who are under five million but almost certain to factor in their teams fortunes. Young could be a breakout player in Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2, while Gomis could pair with Wilfried Bony to give Swansea a big boost. Bojan and Enner Valencia have everything you could want, but will be adapting to a new league.

That’s it for this week. Join the league and let us know what bargains you see.

Click on this link and enter the following information
League ID: 19012
Password: fvc2jtb

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia