Yaya Toure Ate My Fantasy Football

How has Yaya Toure come to dominate fantasy football this season?

Yaya Toure has defined many a minileauge this year. Sitting 3rd in the Premier League goal scoring charts behind only Suarez and Sturridge he’s made a mockery of his traditional ‘defensive midfield’ role. He’s also divided opinion amongst FPL veterans and mocked those who doubted he was a genuine fantasy force.

Several months ago we wrote an article dubbed 'Yaya Toure ate my Bonus Points'. In this we saw how YYT's overall passing and defensive game was helping him to one of the largest slices of Bonus Point pie in the game, the inference being he would always be good for 2-3 bonus points from any goal or assist and thus need not score quite as many as his peers to keep the points ticking over. He's gone well beyond just the bonus points though and is now the second highest scorer in Fantasy Premier League,.

In the table below we've looked at his goals and assists over the last few seasons:

Season MINS Shots Shots/90 SOT Goals (open play) Assists DFK Penalties
2011/12 2643 63 2.1 16 6 9 0 0
2012/13 2828 67 2.1 22 6 6 0 0
2013/14 2414 39 1.5 13 8 5 4 5

Yaya has been a consistent scorer in FPL for the past few seasons with 6 goals from open play both 2011/12 and 2012/13 complemented very nicely with 9 assists in 2011/12 and 6 last season. His goals from open play are fairly consistent with this season. Okay, he's scored 8 compared to 6 in previous seasons but this is hardly a game-changer. It's clear that his penalties and goals from free kicks (DFK) have marked him out as special player in fantasy football this season.

Fantasy managers got to know about his role on free kicks for City as early as the first gameweek with a curled effort against Newcastle.. He added another delightful effort in GW3 against Hull in a 2-0 win. From free kicks alone for a top team like City we should expect perhaps 2-4 goals a season, and this coupled with his history of steady goals and assists from previous seasons really should have been enough to convince fantasy managers he was probably worth the £8.5m FPL we were asking for him. Many people of course took up that option. The chart below shows his ownership curve over the season so far. As you can see the bandwagon was quick to get in gear, and further fuelled by a goal apiece in GW5 and 6.

Question marks remained however over Yaya's potential with a £8.5m price starting price with the "defensive midfield" stereotype and low scoring past seasons hanging over him. Aguero's injury and Yaya's deputy role on penalties really turned the screw on this. He's now become a steady goal and assist threat, a bonus point magnet, and on free kicks and penalties in one of the most free-scoring teams the Premier League has seen in a long while.

There were still reasons not to own him though. People expected Aguero to return and resume penalty duties. Yaya's free kicks seemed too good to be true. His price had quickly risen close to the £10m mark. There were other suitors for his place in your squad. Mesut Ozil's early form, Walcott's brief burst of goals,and Eden Hazard's prominence as a bona fide elite attacking midfielder. And surely David Silva would start turning in some of these chances?

Yaya's high ownership and price coupled with only a so-so track record in FPL also made him an obvious target for anyone seeking to differentiate this season. The drop in his ownership around GW21 (Wildcard time) is evidence of this. Many managers would have refused to "jump on board" the bandwagon, either out of stubbornness, or from seeing such a well-owned player in their team as essentially a zero point gain. This is a dangerous game to play. Every season a small handful of players will emerge as must-haves in FPL, not because owning them is the magic path to glory, but that not owning them leaves you so much ground to make up.

We have to confess we were late the Yaya party with the insideFPL team. For us it was a mixture of stubbornness as well as faith in David Silva and then Eriksen as differentials. It was Aguero's second spell injured that finally convinced us that with penalty duties confirmed Yaya Toure has become an essential FPL player this season. I guess we can just be thankful we arrived in time for his GW31 party piece.

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