Stats Beyond the Surface: Attacking Midfielders

Let’s take a look at what makes a good choice in the attacking midfielder position when selecting players for your NWSL fantasy team.

By Tony Maza

Attacking midfielders, or AMs, are an interesting breed in football. They have evolved from more central and static—what in South America is called “enganche”—to more dynamic players with a wide array of functions and styles.

However, the main goal of an attacking midfielder, either wide (what usually are called wingers, but more on that later) or central is to create goals for the team. So, with that in mind, that will be the first criterion we look at as we continue building our fantasy team. 

How productive is the attacking midfielder?

The easiest way to measure a player’s success in creating chances is to understand how many assists they have and how that number correlates with the number of chances created. Unlike previous positions we’ve talked about, this one is more straightforward: you want to choose a player who can give many passes to other players to score.

Right now, at the end of August, the best player in the chances-created department in the NWSL is Jess Fishlock, with 33. However, she only has one assist to her name.

If we keep going down the pecking order we see more or less the same pattern: Hina Sugita has 27 chances and 2 assists, and Kristie Mewis has 26 chances created with the same number of assists. The pattern holds until we stumble upon Yazmeen Ryan. The Portland midfielder has 26 chances created (same as Savannah McCaskill or the previously mentioned Kristie Mewis) but has 5 assists, making her the current leader in that department among midfielders.

With that in mind, Ryan notched an assist more or less every five chances she creates, which is a good proportion.

Midfielders with the most assists and chances created in the NWSL

Other players highlighted in the graphic above that would be a help on your fantasy team are Lo’eau LaBonta (4 assists from 15 chances created), Shea Groom (4 assists from 18 chances created), and Olivia Moultrie, who despite her limited minutes (573), has 3 assists from 9 chances created, and could make a good option on your bench.

Chances created and assists from Yazmeen Ryan this season

What do all these players also have in common? They are on teams that have a good running streak of scoring goals. They’re not necessarily from the top teams in the league per se, but they are playing with strikers that can find the back of the net on a consistent basis.

That is very important when it comes to assists: you can provide the passes to your teammates, but if they make the wrong choice when it comes to when, where, and how to shoot, your assist tally will be low.

That brings xG into play, but that’s for the next piece when we will discuss forwards! I’m very excited to complete the “Stats Beyond the Surface” saga and help you out with your NWSL She Plays fantasy team needs. Until the next one!

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