Should we dismantle the RAM?

Through the first 12 gameweeks of this season, the premium defence has dominated the narrative.

The advent of the “holy trinity” of Andrew Robertson (6.4), Benjamin Mendy (6.4) and perennial FPL favourite Marcos Alonso (7.0) has given rise to many engaged managers sporting the “RAM” backline. We can see from Fantasy Football Fix ownership data just how prevalent ownership of these three guys is – especially in the top 10K:

As we move out of the early stages of the season and into the Christmas slog, though, many (including yours truly) have been looking at their RAM backline and thinking they could be a great source of cash.

In particular, selling Mendy has been high in my thoughts to help me beef up other areas of my team such as the striker slots – especially with players like Raul Jiménez (5.8) coming into vogue with Huddersfield (H) and Cardiff (a) on the horizon.

Shortly, too, Harry Kane (12.4) may well enter the conversation: despite the Spurs striker playing the quarterback role at times this season, a run from Gameweek 15-21 which sees his side face no teams from last season’s top six could whet the appetite of many a manager. Where will that money come from? Well, the RAM of course.

With that in mind, inspired by a heady combination of this reddit post and jetlag creating a live mind, I thought I’d have a look at the RAM story so far and see if we’d ever want to replace any of them – in particular, Mendy.

A close up of the RAM

Caveats:

  • I’m going to stick to FPL point data alone here and do some basic analysis – others are free to do more, but this more a thought starter.
  • There are a myriad of contextual factors I’m sure you’ll think of as you read, and a lot of ‘what about?’s. In the interest of brevity, I’m going to tightly focus on the RAM here – again, feel free to look at this more if you want to.

As noted in the post, the RAM have scored 214 points combined so far.

Breaking down those points scored into the individual members of the RAM, we see the following:

Clearly, this demonstrates just how good Alonso – now the top scoring player in FPL with 6 clean sheets, 1 goal and 7 assists – really is as an asset. He’s the driving force behind the RAM thus far, contributing 4 in 10 of their points scored. Fun fact: he’s top for “FPL assists” amongst all players with 4.

Robertson, despite missing some games, is second with a third of the RAM points recorded, with Mendy bringing up the rear on 27% of the points total.

On the face of it, you might then think that Mendy is the one to sell – if he’s contributing the least, surely we can stick with the RA and get rid of the M?

Perhaps one could cover with Ederson (5.8) or Aymeric Laporte (5.9), and save 0.6 or 0.5 in the process?

Let’s have a look and see what happens if we replace Mendy with those guys, making an “RAE” or “RAL” trio:

If you paired the Liverpool and Chelsea men with these other City assets, you would have scored more than if you had them in with Mendy: “RAL” scores 1 more, and “RAE” scores 5.

Additionally, Laporte equals Mendy’s % contribution, and Ederson actually betters it on paper.

It’s been noted by some idiots that Mendy has also seemingly dropped off a bit recently in stats terms:

So, sell sell sell Mendy then?

Thinking further

Not quite. Having reflected on the points data a bit, I’m not sure this is what we should be concluding.

The reality is that Mendy missed 3 games of the season between Gameweeks 5-7, meaning that he misses out on a chunk of the opportunities to contribute. Robertson also missed 1 game (versus Cardiff in Gameweek 10).

Let’s have a look at how the RAM performed either side of those games missed by Mendy and see what the proportions look like:

Immediately, the incredible consistency of Alonso is underlined – buy this guy, seriously.

But equally what we also see is that Mendy closely tracks Robertson over both periods. Fun fact: Mendy scored 56% of his points in the first 4 Gameweeks!

What this shows to me is how good an FPL asset this guy actually is – the previous 5 games have taken in matches versus Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, whereas Alonso (Man United) and Robertson (City, Arsenal) have played fewer games against last season’s top 6 in that time frame.

Additionally, Laporte and Ederson have 3 more clean sheets than Mendy. If we take Mendy’s current points per game (6.3) and extrapolate that, we might say that he might have made 19 more points if he had played those – taking him up to 76, 2nd behind Alonso.

That would render this whole discussion moot.

Final thoughts

Here’s the RAM, RAE and RAL scores altogether;

Looking at this in the context of the above, the closeness of the spread despite Ederson/Laporte having played 3 more games than Mendy seems to highlight the power of our favourite Frenchman. Despite playing ~270 minutes less than his team mates and Alonso, and ~180 minutes less than Robertson, he’s still recorded a score tracking them.

This has caused me to strongly reconsider my initial view of Mendy being my cash cow, breaking up the RAM to afford a better front line.

There are, of course, external factors at play here too. Ederson is arguably totally nailed, with Mendy maybe rotatable with the likes of Fabian Delph and Danilo over Xmas, and the keeper costs less. Additionally, the rise of another option elsewhere may make this fade away.

However, for now it’s worth having looked at the data as it’s reassuring to RAM owners – and Mendy owners in particular – that it’s not time to dismantle the RAM just yet.

Update: of course, within hours of writing this news breaks of “knee strain” causing Mendy to withdraw from the France squad. Time will tell if it’s a real or mere “IB” injury.