Saturday’s five game slate does not include the early intriguer between Chelsea and Liverpool, while Sunday’s four game mild sweat will be done by the time the NFL kicks off in anger at 1pm.

Saturday

Southampton vs. Leicester City:

Here we have Southampton, second in the Premiership standings and coming off a quiet one-goal win last weekend could have been bigger but the Saints missed several chances. Will players in any great numbers be scared off from relatively quiet days from Southampton’s big guns?
Doubtful.
In this one, it’s all Southampton for your lineups. At home, it’s really tough to suggest any Leicester option with any great sincerity. At best, you could try using Riyad Mahrez ($5,900) if salary relief is needed in midfield. He has a decent floor around six to nine points, but to get those secondary points Mahrez is going to require Leicester to have the ball now and again in this one. Otherwise, use of any of Leicester’s forwards (Ulloa, Vardy, etc.) is tough to endorse because of the matchup, and you’d need Kasper Schmeichel ($3,400) to stand on his head in order to return value. A win and/or clean sheet bonus isn’t going to happen.
Now it’s time for the hosts; Southampton’s collective pricing has caught up to their play this season. Fraser Forster ($5,500) has hit that top tier of goalkeepers in both pricing and performance. Forster is the best bet for a win/clean sheet bonus combo, and you’ll have to pay for it. Outside backs Ryan Bertrand ($5,500) and Nathaniel Clyne ($4,800) follow suit. Pricing has finally hit the point where hard choices have to be made; if you want to spend for the top tier at midfield or forward, it’s tough to justify a straight Southampton stack. Bertrand’s numbers declined in October, not getting over 10 in the month. It is the same with Clyne as well.
If you want a high percentage of Southampton in your lineup, you’re going to need to roster some of their complimentary players and hope for the best. Best case scenario, you get a goal like Victor Wanyama got last weekend. Morgan Schneiderlin ($5,000) remains the best bet of the Southampton midfield three, but if you want to save for other positions Steven Davis at the minimum is not the worst play.
Then you have the big names. I’ll continue to have faith in Dusan Tadic ($10,900) despite only six points last weekend against Hull. I’m banking on Tadic at $2,600 less than a certain Manchester United player we’ll speak of later. Sadio Mane ($9,200) should start in the place of Shane Long and I’m leaning to him instead of Graziano Pelle ($11,600) in the spirit of a balanced squad this weekend. Both are strong plays, and I can’t fault anyone going with Pelle. But short of his two goals in the 8-0 slaughter over Sunderland, Pelle hit double digits just once in the month of October. At that price tag, you need at least one goal, if not more.

Burnley vs. Hull City:

In this one, an explosive run and gun encounter is not going to happen. Burnley is a slight favorite but the visitors are the better team. There is value to be had in this one, especially at goalkeeper and defense. If you choose correctly, it will help your team a great deal. Both keepers are interesting plays; however, some injuries in the back for Hull dull my endorsement in using Eldin Jakupovic ($3,600) a bit. Hull’s third string has a good defense in front of him regardless of injuries, and Burnley’s attack just is not that strong in the end. Burnley’s Tom Heaton ($4,200) is a decent option, but at that price I’d rather take Jakupovic or other options if you’re not paying up for the top tier.
I can’t suggest paying up for either Kieran Trippier ($4,700) or Andrew Robertson ($5,100) – I think an overarching theme this weekend is to be smart and not pay up for your defender spots. Both are relatively steady options, but to get a return on those salaries, you’d need double digit points. I don’t think the flow of the game will allow either to build up enough secondary points through crosses or fouls drawn to get to that level, so then you’re hanging your hat on a clean sheet bonus or an assist. If you feel strong about Hull’s defense keeping Burnley off the scoresheet, you could look to any of their central defenders (Curtis Davies, Paul McShane and James Chester) are near minimum cost. All three are decent to good in the air, so there the chance of a lottery ticket goal off a set piece.
Midfield options are a landmine in this one; low floors abound. Guys like Mohamed Diame ($6,600) or Hatem Ben Arfa ($5,600) are GPP fodder, while Ahmed Elmohamady ($5,700) has the best floor but hasn’t gotten above 12 points this season. The best three outfield options in this match come at forward, where mid-level values come into play. Burnley’s front two of Lucas Jutkiewicz ($5,900) and Danny Ings ($5,200) should see decent levels of ownership because of their price tags, while Hull’s Abel Hernandez ($6.800) is more of a GPP play because of his low, low floor if the Uruguayan does not score.

West Ham United vs. Aston Villa:

West Ham should be really popular on Saturday’s slate because of a strong home presence paired with Villa’s really poor road performances as of late. Villa has lost their last six league games. Add into the mix the relative decent pricing for options from the Hammers, and it’s a very attractive proposition. In goal, Adrian’s ($4,400) price tag is almost a thousand more than last week and despite that the West Ham keeper is a really strong play. Villa’s attack has been anemic. For Villa, Brad Guzan ($3,500) is cheap but I can’t see using him even as a contrarian GPP play.
West Ham’s outside backs are pretty cheap; the upside isn’t there without a clean sheet, but if you feel at home they can hold the fort Aaron Cresswell ($3,200) and Carl Jenkinson ($2,000) are pretty attractive. The pricing on Cresswell is a bit odd; he went up $600 despite not getting a single point last weekend. Villa’s Matthew Lowton ($2,400) isn’t a bad cheap option either but I’d rather go with Jenkinson.
Stewart Downing ($7,200) is the only viable option in midfield in the match, and at that price tag should be useable in all options. Unless you’re going with a clear stars and scrubs format, Downing is hard to avoid. With Christian Benteke out on suspension, all forward options are totally on the home side’s starting 11. If he starts, Diafra Sakho ($7,300) is one of the weekend’s best plays at that salary. Before sitting out last weekend, he was on fire and his partnership with Enner Valencia ($9.000) should bear fruit this weekend. Valencia had a good game last weekend, but the sharp price increase makes it hard to use him when Sakho is a lot cheaper.

Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace:

Let’s start with this – United’s defense is patchwork, to put it lightly. With Rafael now out on top of Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and the suspended Chris Smalling, there isn’t much impetus in my mind to start David de Gea ($5,600). He’s the highest priced keeper on the slate, but a clean sheet doesn’t seem to be a likely occurrence. United is a strong favorite, but if you’re spending up I’d go with Forster or elsewhere. Luke Shaw ($3,500) is decently priced, but his point output has been poor as of late. There really aren’t any other options from this game to include in your lineup, even in the wildest of GPP plays.
Angel Di Maria ($13,500) is one of the 800 pound gorillas in the room this weekend. Pay up for him, and you get that high floor, high ceiling combo against an inferior opponent. But if you spend up for him, all hopes of a balanced squad go out the window. Elsewhere, you have to see who starts in the United midfield and gather what role they will play. If Maroune Fellaini ($6,900) gets a more forward role, he’s a very intriguing option. If Juan Mata ($8,900) or Adnan Januzaj ($5,900) starts, Fellaini will play a more defensive role. If Ander Herrera ($5,800) starts alongside Danny Blind in front of United’s back four, Fellaini will play behind the striker up top. Other United options at midfield are likely starting in the back (Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia) – and that’s why you want to avoid using De Gea. For Palace, it’s wingers Yannick Bolasie ($6,000) or Jason Puncheon ($5,700) or bust. Bolasie as of late has been pretty solid because of the amount of crosses he’s collected, while Puncheon has been poor.
At forward, Radamel Falcao remains out so Robin van Persie ($10,500) is expected to remain as United’s lone striker with Wayne Rooney ($12,100) behind him as an attacking midfielder (in United’s formation, but Rooney remains a forward at Draft Kings). RVP is going to make or break a lot of people’s teams this weekend; the matchup is there to be exploited, but the Dutchman has been poor as of late. Even a single goal might not match the needed value that his salary will require. Because of van Persie does not score, three to seven points is not enough. For Palace, Frazier Campbell ($5,400) is an intriguing way to go in this – Palace will look to counter United’s pieced together backline, and Campbell has the speed to exploit any deficiencies. Add into the mix Campbell was a former United youth player…

QPR vs. Manchester City:

Saturday’s late game has a City side, on the road, wounded heavily from a loss in the Champions League midweek, playing QPR who have shown some spunk as of late. Against the big boys as of late, QPR gave Liverpool and Chelsea all they could handle. City’s a definite road favorite, but they’re really not in sync. Even before David Silva was lost to injury, the team struggled and with Vincent Kompany out with a calf injury muddies the water even more.
Joe Hart ($5,400) is just a hundred less than Forster; if you’re paying up for keeper, you’re going with the latter. It’s an easy decision to make, especially with an untested central defense partnership. City is stocked with talent, but it’s between guys that have not played together. Keep an eye on who starts for City in the back; the outside options could be relatively affordable if Gael Clichy ($3,800) is paired with Bacary Sagna ($3,700) instead of Pablo Zabaleta ($4,700). Zabaleta entered the season as one of the league’s most steady performers, but his point output has been substandard-and his price tag has risen.
In midfield, Yaya Toure ($7,700), James Milner ($7,500) and Samir Nasri ($4,200) are all valid options to use on the slate. Toure got himself sent off in the loss midweek, but in that game and City’s win over United last weekend he started to show the level of play that made him one of the game’s best. It’ll be interesting to see how Toure performs in this match; but if Toure does not score, it is unlikely to match the salary’s need for value. Nasri should start on the left, and his low salary makes him very intriguing. But Nasri isn’t an orthodox winger and that floor is awfully low without a goal. The best cash option between the three is Milner; there is not a high ceiling, but Milner could pick up an assist or two and rack up some crosses. QPR’s Leroy Fer ($3,900) is a contrarian option; he has an assist in his last two games.
At forward, the timing of this match makes it a difficult play in this way: Sergio Aguero ($13,400) is the big dog of the weekend, both in salary and the likelihood of a goal on the weekend from a striker. Stevan Jovetic ($8,200) has started the last two games for City alongside Aguero in attack, but has done little and his salary cost has skyrocketed. It’s a nice matchup, but the late start means if Jovetic is sat in place of Edin Dzeko ($9,600) you’re lacking a natural pivot – you’d have to move in a midfielder or one of QPR’s forwards.
And please, don’t sleep on Charlie Austin ($6,500) or Eduardo Vargas ($5,400). Austin’s the better option of the two – he has 15, four, 17 and 16 points in his last four games. Vargas is more of a GPP punt and pray option.

Sunday

Sunderland vs. Everton:

Three of Sunday’s four matches start at 8:30am Eastern, and this match should see the highest ownership of that subset, especially in blue. The main question of the Evertonian starting lineup is this: who starts in the attacking midfield role: Ross Barkley ($8,600) or Samuel Eto’o ($7.000). The latter has a huge ceiling, but if Eto’o does not score his floor is in the single digits. Barkley is even worse, especially when the salary comes into play. In my opinion, he’s heavily overpriced.
Tim Howard’s ($4,100) price tag has finally calmed down right in time for an excellent matchup against Sunderland, whose offense scores three goals every few games and then goes into hibernation. Howard’s the best option of the slate with everything included. Leighton Baines ($6,000) is your best bet in defense, and his price tag mirrors that importance. If you don’t want to swallow that pill, Seamus Coleman ($4,900) is a bit more palatable. Even central defender Phil Jagielka ($3,600) is useable on a short slate.
Sunderland doesn’t have much value in goal or defense, but midfield has a couple interesting ways to go. William Buckley ($3,500) has performed pretty well as of late and if you’re going stars and scrubs is an excellent choice. So is Jordi Gomez ($3,300), but his upside is tied to a goal to his name. If Roberto Martinez starts Aiden McGeady ($4,800), he’s hard to leave out at that price tag. Leon Osman ($4,000) is another way to go, but McGeady is expected to get the start over Osman and Steven Pienaar.
At forward, Romelu Lukaku ($11,300) is the lead attacker for Everton; however, keep an eye on the starting lineup as Lukaku went 90 on Thursday while Eto’o did not play. The latter might start on Sunday. Steven Naismith ($6,300) is another strong play if given the start. For Sunderland, you have the boom or bust option of Steven Fletcher ($6,000). At that salary, and on a short slate, Fletcher should be heavily owned but it’s tough to include him as a second forward or Flex in a cash lineup. Connor Wickham ($4,800) is a contrarian GPP play, as you hope he grabs a goal or two against the run of play.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Newcastle United:

Newcastle has given Alan Pardew’s career a very efficient course of CPR, winning three in a row and saving their manager’s job in the short term. Newcastle visits West Brom in what could be rather attacking, even matchup. Both Ben Foster ($3,900) and Tim Krul ($3,500) are inexpensive ways to go in goal, but a clean sheet probably is not in the offing for either team. The outside backs are relatively inexpensive; Sebastien Pocognoli ($3,500) and Daryl Janmaat ($3,000) are the best bets, while Andre Wisdom ($2,400) and Paul Dummett ($2,900) are even cheaper.
We will have to wait until lineups are announced to see where the best options in midfield and forward are in this match, especially from a Newcastle perspective. Rolando Aarons ($5,400) and Papiss Cisse ($8,000) are both hurt and might miss out. Both are positive options if they do play, and if Cisse does not play Ayoze Perez ($5,700) gives you value as a second forward or as a Flex. It is the same with Sammy Ameobi ($5,200. Moussa Sissoko ($4,300) has a nice central role behind Newcastle’s main striker, but has not provided much in the way of DFS goodness.
For West Brom, recent favorite Chris Brunt ($5,300) has seen his price rise to the point a goal or an assist is really needed to hit value. Stephane Sessegnon ($6,000) has the same kind of role as Sissoko, but hasn’t been a regular contributor for WBA and has a higher price tag than his Newcastle opposite.
The best bet of the group is WBA’s Saido Berahino ($10,100), who is just behind the Arsenal duo and Lukaku when it comes to the highest priced forwards. Out of that four, Berahino only falls behind Alexis Sanchez on Sunday – Lukaku may sit and is uneven, while Welbeck is ice cold. Berahino is a better cash option and has upside of Newcastle’s level of play recedes a bit from the past few matches.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City:

Spurs have just not been pretty as of late, to say the least. Only a late, almost miraculous comeback against Villa last week saw Tottenham miss out on losing a third league match in a row. Stoke will make Spurs earn any points they get from Sunday, and it should be a relatively close match especially if Stoke defends well and frustrate Spurs and their home crowd.
Hugo Lloris ($5,200) is the most expensive of the keepers on Sunday; it’s a tough decision but Lloris has a pretty strong chance for a clean sheet and/or win. You just have to make peace with Spurs’ uneven play as of late, and the difference in price between the cheaper Howard (and others) and Lloris. Asmir Begovic ($3,500) is a pretty appealing GPP play; Spurs have a cadre of struggling strikers (except for the guy they won’t apparently start, but we will get to that) and Stoke is pretty stout defensively.
In defense, I’d rather have Kyle Naughton ($2,500) rather than Danny Rose ($4,300) because of the difference in price. Rose’s ceiling is not all that high if you take a look at previous results. Even Stoke’s Geoff Cameron ($3,200) carries almost a similar attractiveness, but if Cameron is given a midfield role instead of at right back chances for crosses points will disappear. Erik Pieters ($2,300) is a basement choice if you’re desperate.
Midfield gives you four ways to go; you can choose from one or several Spurs attacking threats – Christian Eriksen ($8,200), Erik Lamela ($7,600) or Nacer Chadli ($7,200) or go with Stoke’s Victor Moses ($6,700). Let’s start with Moses; if he is on his game and with Spurs defense a bit uneven, he is an interesting option to go and ownership numbers won’t be as high with the Nigerian as his Spurs counterparts. Eriksen’s central role won’t see him get too many crosses, but he will get some chances on goal. Lamela is an enigma for GPP use only, and even then he’ll disappear on you. Chadli is the more prototypical “wing” player with the highest ceiling.
At forward, it looks that Mauricio Pochettino refuses to start supersub and currently in-form forward Harry Kane ($7,400). Kane’s price tag has risen, and if he starts is an excellent play. It’s just hard to pay that much for a guy that is coming off the bench. If Kane doesn’t start, it’ll be Emmanuel Adebayor ($9,100) and good luck with that price tag. I’d rather spend up, or spend down, than bet on Adebayor doing well. Stoke should start Peter Crouch ($5,800) as their lone striker, but Mame Diouf ($4,300) might be even a better choice in GPP formats. It’s hard to use either in a cash game.

Swansea City vs. Arsenal:

Arsenal are a road favorite even after a midweek disaster in the Champions League, letting a three-goal lead dissolve to a 3-3 draw against Anderlecht. Swansea has cooled down immensely after a strong start, only winning one of their last six league games. They did well in a scoreless draw at Everton last weekend, and it won’t be a surprise if they add to the miseries heaped on the Gunners as of late.
I can’t see a clean sheet for either team; in GPP gaming, I’d rather have Lukasz Fabianski ($3,700) at home where he’ll see a lot of action and could have a high output if the Swans can frustrate Arsenal going forward. In cash games, you’ll have to spend up for Wojciech Szczesny ($4,800) – but I won’t be. Defenders in this one should be avoided for other options; either go cheap with guys from West Brom/Newcastle or spend up for the Everton boys. Kieran Gibbs ($4,400) and Calum Chambers ($4,300) can put up big numbers, but I don’t see double digits from either unless a goal is scored.
Midfield gives you Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,000) has seen his output point wise slow down to a trickle, but at that price tag is a pretty nice option and will be hard to leave on the shelf. Swansea’s wings Nathan Dyer (or Wayne Routledge) and Jefferson Montero are all good players, but have not seen a lot of points to their names. Dyer specifically started off red hot but hasn’t hit double digits since late August. For Arsenal, Santi Cazorla ($6,800) is by far the best option while Aaron Ramsey just does not have a real life game that equates to DFS goodness.
In attack, Swansea’s Wilfried Bony ($8,400) is my best “value” choice of the Sunday slate at forward if Eto’o does not start. A majority of his team’s chances will go through Bony. For Arsenal, you have three ways to go – not counting Theo Walcott, who will likely remain on the bench and see a bit of time in the second half. I spoke earlier about Danny Welbeck ($12,200) and his lack of form. I just cannot see rostering Welbeck unless as a contrarian GPP play – why not spend a few hundred more for Alexis Sanchez ($12,800) or lower for other options? Welbeck hasn’t scored since October 18th, and his price rose from $10,400. You can place a bit of that on the difference in slate because of the smaller pool Sunday has to draw from, but still – unless you’re stacking Arsenal, Welbeck is a tough choice to go with. Lastly, you have the “value play” of the bunch in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($5,900). He’s starting to really heat up, growing into the role that will likely be taken from him and given to Walcott soon enough. It’s a big game for him to prove to Arsene Wenger to have him remain in the starting lineup.