Last season, Darren Fletcher was a regular starter for Tony Pulis’ team, and looking at their defensive stats, we can understand why the defensive midfielder came on as a sub only once out of his 38 appearances for West Brom last season.
Moving to Stoke City for the 2017/18 campaign will most likely nail Darren Fletcher’s role as a defending/sweeper type of central midfielder, but let’s look at how he could affect, if at all, your FPL plans.
Fantasy Football Potential
During the 2016/17 campaign, Darren Fletcher was able to get on the scoresheet twice, while assisting three times. Even when considering that he’s not a high scoring FPL player, those stats are not attractive for ambitious fantasy managers. That being said a return of 103 FPL points whilst costing a mere 4.5m is not considered so bad, especially when compared with his teammate, Nacer Chadli, who is valued at 6.0m and he only returned 7 more points than the Scottish veteran.
At Stoke, Mark Hughes will look to benefit from his new recruit’s experience in midfield giving the team more control and more defensive prowess. During his days at Old Trafford, Fletcher was known for his marking skills and his ability to track the opponent. While Alex Ferguson and Mark Hughes might see that feature as great, FPL managers would be reluctant to include Fletcher in their squad due to his low points return compared to his new teammates such as Arnautovic and Shaqiri. Moreover, Stoke are not known for scoring a massive amount of goals. Relying more on set-pieces to find the net, Fletcher rarely surges forward decreasing his ability to score.
From a footballing perspective, Fletcher seems a great fit for the Potters; rigid and robust at the back, intercepting balls and throwing them forward where possible. For fantasy football though, and even though being owned by 8.1% of the managers at the end of last season, Fletcher is not a very attractive proposition.
Conversely, when looking to pad your midfield with a 5th cheap option, only Capoue (4.5m, 131 points) and Stanislas (4.5m, 107 points) were better than Darren Fletcher last season. With the majority of FPL managers opting for a 3-4-3 formation, having Fletcher on the bench at 4.5m was not the worst thing in the world.
Bottom line is, Darren Fletcher and Stoke City do not exactly stimulate a tiki-taka parade in your imagination, but with goalscoring midfielders costing so much nowadays, and must-have strikers like Kane, Lukaku and Kun expected to bust your budget immediately. Fletcher could provide a consistent 2-points return and could surprise you sometimes with a goal or good cross that would make you thankful for having him as a 1st sub when your first choice squad is plagued with a last minute injury!
If you have enjoyed this early view of the fantasy potential of those moving teams this transfer window, be sure to check the others here.
Hassan Alaywan (@hassanation)