This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season– our directory for these (over 20!) is here. This series analyses a selection of significant newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) in FPL, then provide our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the new season.
It’s fair to say Huddersfield’s signing of German left back Chris Lowe from 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern (fun fact: I used to own their kit as a child, purchased from TK Maxx) last summer didn’t really register among FPL managers.
On announcing the signing (on a free agent), manager David Wagner said of him:
“Chris possesses good speed and is a good attacker from the left back position, whilst he also likes to defend. He is also a good age; a player in his prime.
He is also a great character; a leader in the dressing room who has captained the team. He also possesses the winning mentality that we have talked about recently”
Quite rightly, given the Terrier’s surprise promotion to the Premier League, a lot of the spotlight has fallen on their team in FPL terms – however, the majority of the focus has been on Lowe’s counterpart at right back, Tommy Smith.
We feel it might be worth redressing the balance.
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
Appearances: 44 appearances (42x played over 60 mins, 2x subbed on/off) = 86 points ((42×2)+2)
Goals: 2 goals (2×6) = 12 points
Assists: 3 assists (3×3) = 9 points
Not conceding: 6 clean sheets (4×6) = 24points
Bonus: Let’s analyse the games he contributed in. This (of course) covers goals, assists and clean sheets for defenders.
(Occasional random bonus points (bps) are sometimes awarded in FPL where a player has bossed it but not actually got on the score card. We’re not estimating these as we’re using pure data rather than contextual data (e.g. watching the games he played in) to make perform this analysis. Plus it’ll only be an extra one or two points either way, which won’t change the story.)
For goals: Lowe scored the opener (assisted by previously prospected Huddersfield team mate Elias Kachunga) after 27 mins in the 2-1 victory for Huddersfield over Barnsley on 20th August. WhoScored also deems him man of the match in that game, meaning he could well have achieved all 3bps. His other goal came as he opened the scoring with a penalty for Huddersfield after just 4 minutes v Fulham on 22nd April, but it seems to have fired Fulham to life as that game ended as a 4-1 defeat. We suspect he’d have gotten no bonus for that one.
For assists: Lowe assisted the opening goal in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn on 3rd December. He repeated the trick in the 2-0 victory over Ipswich on 21st January, with the assist setting up what the bonus system would deem the winning goal. This was also the case on 11th March, as Huddersfield eked out a 1-0 victory over Brentford. He’d be in the mix for bonus for all of these assists (particularly as part of the victories featuring clean sheets), so let’s say he got 1bps for the assist v. Blackburn, and hedge our bets at 2bps for each of the other games, giving him 5bps from assists in total.
For clean sheets: Lowe was on the field for more than 60 minutes for 6 out of the 7 clean sheets Huddersfield kept in the Championship last season (he only played 20 minutes in the 1-0 away win over Burton on 13th December). We’ve already allocated bonus for 2 of those games – the 2-0 win over Ipswich (21st January) and the 1-0 win over Brentford (11th March) in which he served up an assist. For the others, in the 1-0 win away over Leeds was their first clean sheet of the season on 10th September, but he picked up a yellow card in that match which would likely jeopardise any bonus. There were no such problems in the 1-0 away victory over Ipswich on 1st October, though. It was the same story on the 22nd October in the 1-0 win v Derby. Finally, he played the full 90 as Huddersfield beat Wolves 1-0 away on 25th April. For those 4 clean sheets, he definitely would have been in the mix for 3 of those given the slim margin of victory; let’s guesstimate he picked up an additional 2bps for the remaining games.
Total guesstimated bonus: 10 bps
Disciplinary: 8 yellow cards = –8 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
133 points. Let’s quickly find his points per game (ppg) in order to find out what that translates into over a 38-game Premier League season, which is 3.02ppg (133/44).
That gives us a score of 115. That nets him a place in the top 80 in FPL overall, with a score equal to the likes of Nacho Monreal, Matty Phillips and Paul Pogba. Amongst defender, that actually is quite impressive: he’s in the top 20, 4 points behind Hector Bellerin and just above Michael Keane. Reasonable.
Evaluation and conclusion
I guess a good question is why am I looking at Chris Lowe rather than Tommy Smith? Well, I was having a chat on Twitter with Terriers fan Denny Ledger about their key men. In it, he mentioned that Tommy Smith might well end up at 5.0, given his output, creating perhaps a question for those looking at Huddersfield’s defensive assets:
Smith@5 or Lowe@4.5 is a tough call.
— Denny Ledger (@denny_ledger) June 20, 2017
It might be that the answer to this question really does come down to price alone. If he’s given the 5.0m, I think Smith will probably be out of consideration as that may be too much to shell out for a newly promoted full back untested in the Premier League, despite their kind opening fixture list (see below). Additionally, I’ve already written about how price allocations next year might place an emphasis on pinching the pennies in the future trends series, and I think a 5.0 valuation for Smith might prove too expensive for us to consider him.
Fantasy Football Scout’s (FFS) brief comparison of the two full backs points out that, though Smith (with a very impressive 4 goals and 10 assists) might be the one catching the spotlight with his output, Lowe’s offensive stats were comparable and his defensive stats were superior, suggesting he could be more in line for bonus if Huddersfield keep a cleanie.
Another really interesting point is this:
Insane stat, this 😱 pic.twitter.com/uRUSSr04ij
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) June 20, 2017
A further point is, as I said in the bonus roundup, Lowe converted the penalty in Huddersfield’s 4-1 defeat to Fulham on 22nd April. Let’s look at that for a moment. Huddersfield were awarded 4 penalties last year, according to Transfermarkt. Right winger Rajiv van la Parra took and missed the first one they were awarded in their 1-0 win over Reading on 21st February. It then seems to have passed to Manchester City loanee (and possible new signing) Aaron Mooy, who converted in the 3-1 defeat by Newcastle on March 4th, but subsequently missed his second against Preston in the 3-2 win on April 14th. The very next game week, Lowe stepped up and converted – it’s worth noting that both van la Parra and Mooy were also on the pitch for that, which could well mean Lowe has assumed the mantle of penalty taker. That could be tasty indeed.
All of this puts me in mind of who to compare Lowe with, given his attacking potential and possible penalty duty: Bournemouth left back Charlie Daniels. His stats (according to WhoScored) in comparison to Lowe actually pretty similar, with 1 goal and 4 assists in Bournemouth’s promotion winning Championship season in 2014/15. I have very fond memories of him being in my team in 15/16 when he’d assumed penalty duties from the stricken Callum Wilson. Plus, he was just a strong attacking threat all season: his 3 goals and 5 assists saw him score 130 points overall. He recorded a similar output in 16/17 with 4 goals, 3 assists and 134 points.
Now, it’s worth noting that Bournemouth were Championship champions and fancied to ascend to the top tier, over Huddersfield who were relatively unfancied. Looking at Daniels’ scores, I doubt Lowe will reach 130, but that would be an excellent season for him if he managed it: I’d say around in the region of 105 (equal to Eric Bailly) to just outside of the top 20 defenders at something of the level of Steve Cook (113) might be the range in which, especially if he’s given penalties, he’d end up in.
Hudderfield’s opening fixtures also add to the allure here: cpl / NEW / SOT / whu / LEI / bur as their first six gives them a platform to hit the ground running – and Lowe could be integral to that.
If priced 4.5 I can see him cropping up in a good portion of GW1 squads, probably as the 4th defender to be played for the game against Newcastle. The signs for this are good: in the Hull squad for example, only one man (Curtis Davies, now at Derby) received a 5.0 rating.
There’s always the caveat about the difficulty of Huddersfield having to step up, and worries that they may emerge as the whipping boys (sorry Denny!) which ultimately curtails any 4/5 rating. However, with the attacking threat, a probable 4.5m price point, penalties in his locker, and kind opening fixtures, it could be the perfect storm for Lowe to be worthy of consideration for a budget defender slot from the outset.
Overall rating: 3.5 / 5 – A fairly good prospect for FPL
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent
Caveat: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do.