Best captain candidates

The knack of picking a point-scoring captain each week is amongst the most important tasks for fantasy football managers because it can make a massive difference in terms of your points tally and ranking.

In the past two seasons, giving the captaincy to Robin van Persie every week was almost a gimme for managers who owned him. He amassed points totals of 262 and 269 (a remarkable average return of 7 per game). Last season the best alternative captains were Gareth Bale, Luis Suárez, Mata, Santi Cazorla, Walcott, Michu and Hazard.

So far this season, the task of identifying a point-scoring captain has been quite a challenge. Surprisingly, van Persie (4.4 points per game) isn’t the runaway leader despite scoring 3 times in 4 games. Much was expected of the Dutch master, as evidenced by his ownership reaching almost 50% a few weeks ago (it’s fallen to 35% since his injury).

Currently, the top ten best average points earners (players who’ve played at least 4 games) are Ramsey (7.7 points), Sturridge (7.5), Giroud (7.2), Yaya Toure (7.2), Terry (7.2), Baines (7), Lovren (6.8), Fonte (6.8), Remy (6.8) and Brady (6.7). With the exception of Sturridge, I’m guessing not too many of us would have considered giving the armband to many of the others.

I think this season has got off to an unusual start in terms of team selection, results, players form and injuries. For example, as I wrote last week, many managers suffered the Gameweek 5 frustration of losing both captain and vice captain through injuries to Benteke, Walcott and van Persie.

To date, last season’s other top points earners haven’t delivered. Bale has left for Spain, Michu (4.8) has done reasonably well but Walcott (3.8) and Hazard (2.8) have been disappointing. Santi Cazorla (2.7) has been injured and Juan Mata (2.3) has had few starts for Chelsea.

However, maybe things are about to change. In the coming weeks we are about to have a wider selection of potential big hitters to consider as captains as new players settle in and players return from injury or suspension.

Let’s consider some of the best captain candidates (injury permitting of course), in the coming weeks and over the course of the season.

Of those doing well so far, expect Liverpool’s hotshot Sturridge to benefit further from Suárez’s long-awaited return. Despite his great form in recent weeks, Ramsey may not continue scoring big points but Yaya Toure may well do. Giroud could be great captain material but there must be doubts about his ability to get good points regularly.

Everton’s Baines and Chelsea’s Terry, consistent points earners for several years, make a good case for selecting a defender as captain, although perhaps not in every game.

Big things are expected in the coming weeks from Liverpool’s Suárez who showed plenty of footballing bite last weekend. His ‘SAS’ partnership with Sturridge has yielded 14 goals from 9 games and could prove to be as lethal as Blackburn’s original SAS (Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton) in the mid-1990’s. Liverpool’s SAS could benefit further as, unusually, the club are not involved in European competition this season.

Expect Manchester United’s van Persie to resume ‘business as usual’ any time soon, despite Moyes’ managerial teething problems. Team-mate Rooney, with an average 6.4 points so far, looks hungry and could be another reliable captain option. Although concerns have been expressed about whether these two great players can really gel, they look good bets.

Manchester City’s Aguero, fitness permitting, could get big points and develop a great partnership with fellow striker Negredo. Expect Christian Benteke to continue to get goals in an ever-improving Aston Villa side on his return in a couple of weeks.

Of the Premiership newcomers, Arsenal’s Özil, with his track record of making and scoring goals, could be a great bet for captain, and he may benefit further from Santi Cazorla’s imminent return from injury. Many managers will no doubt be considering Spurs’ mercurial Danish midfielder Eriksen after his impressive start. Given Everton’s undefeated start to the campaign and the lethal finishing of on-loan striker Lukaku, he might be another captaincy candidate.

As the season progresses, let’s not rule out some other potential captains. Players like Hazard, Mata, Michu, Silva, Soldado, Negredo, Walcott, even Eto’o, could yet get big points this season even though they look long-shots right now.

And here’s a thought. Should we consider defenders like Baines and Terry as captains? Or even surprise packages like youngsters Robbie Brady and Ross Barkley?

In the meantime, in the coming weeks, the best bet captain options would seem to be van Persie, Rooney, Sturridge, Suárez, Aguero, Yaya Toure and Özil.

It would be interesting to hear your nominations for top candidates for captain this season, both short-term and long-term.