Saturday’s a big day for our soccer leaning friends here at DraftKings, as we have both an EPL and MLS slate ready to go! So double your pleasure, double your winnings football/futbol/soccer style. Five games highlighted by the Chelsea/Manchester United clash are ready to go in the EPL, which we’ll break down here. If you have any lineup questions for Saturday morning, or our new MLS offerings on Saturday night, please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @arisoha.
Saturday’s Big Contests
Everton vs. Burnley:
Everton: Tim Howard ($5,200), Leighton Baines ($5,100), Seamus Coleman ($4,800), Aaron Lennon ($6,100), Ross Barkley ($6,000), Steven Pienaar ($4,200), Romelu Lukaku ($8,300), Kevin Mirallas ($5,500), Steven Naismith ($5,400), Arouna Kone ($5,000)
Burnley: Tom Heaton ($3,700), Kieran Trippier ($5,500), Ben Mee ($2,700), Ashley Barnes ($6,100), Danny Ings ($5,800), George Boyd ($5,000), Sam Vokes ($4,400)
Burnley has fought the good fight as of late against relegation, but with teams winning around them (Villa, Leicester, etc) the chances for the team to stay up in the Premiership are getting worse by the week–one win in their last six, four points from 18, albeit against tough opposition. A few weeks ago Everton would have been a welcome respite in the gauntlet Burnley is currently running, but the Toffees are unbeaten in their last four and playing much better overall.
The reason for the amount of Everton names above is just due to several questions that Roberto Martinez is facing going into Saturday–Lukaku looks like he’ll be fit enough to start, with Kone or Naismith deputies if he does not go. Either Pienaar or Mirallas should start on the left with Barkley central and Lennon on the right of the attacking midfield trio Everton uses. Any use of Everton players for your lineups must be based on the hopes they will grab an assist or a goal–outside of the pair of Baines and Coleman, there’s not a lot of peripheral points being gained in this team. Lennon’s pair of double digit performances were based on the goal he scored in each, while Lukaku is like most strikers–goal dependent. The best chance might be from either Pienaar or Mirallas, but neither are your prototypical winger–more apt to cut inside and make a pass or work a 1-2 and take a shot.
Howard and the aforementioned defenders are strong plays if you only based your decision on the home start and Burnley’s flagging attack. I’m much more at ease with Baines and Coleman than Howard–Everton are favorites, but even one goal ruins your ceiling, and you’re going to pay a relatively high price for all three or them as individuals. Neither Coleman or Baines have consistently put together crosses to base value on, and I’d much rather be putting my money if spending up on a defender towards Burnley’s Trippier or Branislav Ivanovic, or pay down to fill my defender spots.
Trippier failed to hit double digits for the first time since early March, and if his point production has shown us anything this season, it’s just a relative blip. Trippier still is the most dependable defender you can choose, and his selection doesn’t require Burnley to take a clean sheet from this match. The rest of your Burnley options are much more plays in the dark–Ings is ice cold (no goals since mid-February), but the striker remains the most likely option to put away any chances Burnley creates from the run of play. Barnes, Boyd and Vokes are goal dependent plays at forward/flex, none of them are all that expensive–but if you’re spending low at forward, there’s the criminally underpriced Glenn Murray at Palace, which we’ll discuss later. If you want to spend low at defender, Mee is a pretty decent option–Everton gives as good as they get when it comes to outside backs getting forward.
Stoke City vs. Southampton:
Stoke: Asmir Begovic ($4,300), Erik Pieters ($2,900), Geoff Cameron ($2,700), Charlie Adam ($4,800), Stephen Ireland ($4,400), Jonathan Walters ($5,900), Peter Crouch ($5,300), Mame Diouf ($5,200)
Southampton: Kelvin Davis ($4,500), Ryan Bertrand ($4,400), Toby Alderweireld ($4,200), Nathaniel Clyne ($4,000), Dusan Tadic ($6,700), Elijero Elia ($5,700), James Ward-Prowse ($5,000), Graziano Pelle ($7,900), Sadio Mane ($6,000), Shane Long ($4,800)
The hosts don’t have a whole heck of a lot to play for, but Southampton do–an outside chance for a spot in Europe, be it small (Champions League) or realistic (Europa League). Add to the mix that Southampton have won outright two head to head games this season (one cup, one league), and they’re road favorites in his one.
Let’s focus on the Saints–it’ll be interesting to see if Ronald Koeman starts Clyne at right back after a DNP last weekend (rested? impending transfer in the summer related benching?) in this one. He’s much better DFS wise then Alderweireld at right back opposite Bertrand, but Koeman may keep the same 11 that won against Hull last weekend. Davis had a really nice ROI if you used him last weekend, and he’s still in play even on the road on Saturday. Stoke’s attack has been floundering as of late, but they rarely get shut out, even in losses–but with Victor Moses out for the rest of the season, who knows what they bring to the table.
As for the front four for Southampton, it’s all down to who Koeman goes with and where they’re played in the formation. It looks like Pelle remains almost an automatic choice at lead striker (he scored last week!) with the trio of attacking midfielders behind the Italian a revolving cast. Mane remains my favorite play of the group, but he may not start after getting the hook after 61 minutes against Hull. The Senegal international has returned zero and 1 point in his last two games as well–attempting to put recency bias aside, his is the best DFS skill set. Long might be on the opposite side, but he’s more effort than ability. He’s goal dependent, and Long rarely scores. But he’s worth using if he starts, especially if you’re creating multiple lineups. The question seems to be who starts in the middle behind Pelle–is it Tadic or Ward-Prowse? Or neither, if Koeman uses more defensively themed options like Steven Davis in that spot? Either Tadic or Ward-Prowse is well worth using if they start, even if a full game is not likely from either. Neither are classical wingers, so getting a lot of peripherals is likely out of the question. But both can score, both can provide assists, and if you’re building a mini-Southampton stack, they’re prime ways to go.
Stoke seem to be playing out the string on this season, which is kind of hard to imagine with Mark Hughes at the helm, authoritarian that he is. Hughes seems to be sticking to a orthodox 4-4-2 instead of a 4-2-3-1, which is also odd–Stoke’s personnel seems to be more suited to the latter than the former. Adam and Ireland are being used as wingers who rarely try to take on defenders and cross the ball, much more likely to cut inside. But looking at Adam’s production as of late is very hard to avoid his use–21, 15 and 18 points respectively in his last three games. Look at his last home start–17 crosses. That’s some home cooking. He’s likely to see either Clyne or Alderweireld marking him, but Adam has faced Carl Jenkinson and Branislav Ivanovic the past two weeks. Add a really affordable salary to the mix, and if you’re using anyone from Stoke, it’s Adam, and it’s not close.
Diouf and Walters are likely to start up top–Crouch who? I’m fading both, neither are outright finishers, and aside from Walters’ hat trick in late January goals have been hard to come by. If Marc Wilson doesn’t play, but Pieters and Cameron are decent mid to lower priced option at defender–again, home cooking never hurts your cross count. As for Begovic, I can’t see using him on Saturday–the Bosnian is incredibly boom or bust. With the chances of a win/clean sheet daily double relatively low, I’m going elsewhere.
Leicester City vs. Swansea City:
Leicester: Lukasz Fabianski ($4,700), Riyad Mahrez ($5,000), Marc Albrighton ($4,000), David Nugent ($5,800), Jamie Vardy ($5,500), Leonardo Ulloa ($5,200)
Swansea: Kasper Schmeichel ($4,600), Jordi Amat ($2,000), Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,400), Jonjo Shelvey ($5,900), Wayne Routledge ($5,500), Nelson Oliveira ($5,400), Marvin Emnes ($4,400)
If anyone seemingly is ready to pull the Great Escape from relegation this season, it seemingly is Leicester. Yes, Leicester. Two straight wins could become three on Saturday as they host Swansea, who have absences in attack and defense, and again, the theme of nothing to play for comes up again when it comes to the Swans in this one.
I’m not touching either keeper in this one–clean sheets are unlikely for both sides, not because of the overwhelming attacks for each side but in that both defenses can and have been breached on a pretty regular basis. If I was forced to choose between the two, I’d go Fabianski–he’s likely to see more action, giving him the gather up saves to get to his floor. If you go Schmeichel, you’re betting on Swansea going through the motions and Leicester winning/keeping a clean sheet. As for defenders–look elsewhere. Even with Amat a likely starter at minimum price, look at the numbers Swansea defenders have put forth this season–they simply do not get forward and get points from crosses and the like. If you go with Amat, pray for the clean sheet to return value.
The options at midfield and forward are happier hunting grounds, with all likely to be lower owned but able to provide production from this match. With Bafetimbi Gomis out, the attacking weight on guys like Sigurdsson, Shelvey, Routledge and Ki–all of which have shown in the past to be able to get into the attack and score goals. Weighing the price tags of all four, I like Shelvey the most while Sigurdsson has best floor of them all, Ki is the X factor–when he scores, he will get you 3x value, and Ki’s got four goals in his last ten league matches. With all of the relative success Leicester has had, Mahrez has fallen off the face of the DFS earth. If Albrighton starts again over Mahrez, the latter has been pretty productive from crosses alone and could return value just from that.
All of Leicester’s value has come from the trio of Ulloa, Nugent and Vardy as of late. Since Nigel Pearson benched winter signing window acquisition Andrej Kramaric, Vardy (as a winger) has 20, 16 and 15 points from his last three matches while Nugent has two goals from his last three matches. Ulloa’s been quiet, but the team’s leading scorer has a pretty decent opportunity to break that duck on Saturday. As for Swansea, with Gomis out, the title of lead striker falls to either Emnes or Oliveira, neither of which have a really good resume at this level. If I’m putting my faith in anyone scoring for Swansea, it’s from midfield.
Crystal Palace vs. West Bromwich Albion:
Palace: Julian Speroni ($5,000), Yannick Bolasie ($7,200), Jason Puncheon ($5,200), Mile Jedinak ($5,000), Wilfried Zaha ($4,400), James McArthur ($3,800), Glenn Murray ($4,000)
WBA: Boaz Myhill ($4,000), Craig Gardner ($5,800), Saido Berahino ($7,900), Brown Ideye ($6,000)
This one is rich with subplots, despite only West Brom in theory having anything to play for. Palace are flying as high as their eagle mascot might convey, while West Brom having Tony Pulis returning to Selhurst Park after walking away from Palace last offseason because he thought the team couldn’t get any higher than he got them last season. Oops…
It’ll be interesting to see how Palace react to being clear favorites on the field in real life, and how DFS players will react to using its players as being chalk options on Saturday.
It’s a shame that Palace lacks a pair of really effective attacking outside backs in this formation, but for overall team balance it’s probably for the best–I can’t suggest using Martin Kelly or Joel Ward, even in this spot. But the rest of Palace, especially Speroni in goal and options in midfield and attack, are all likely to see pretty healthy ownership rates on Saturday. While a lot had Puncheon, Zaha and Murray in their lineups last week, Bolasie grabbed a hat trick and easily was the play of the weekend. Will Bolasie repeat that success? The odds are greater if Pulis uses converted midfielder Chris Brunt at left back again instead of an actual defender, but there is the chance that history repeats itself and Puncheon or Zaha has the big showing against the Brommies. Murray is still criminally underpriced for a starting striker who has five goals in his last five starts, and should have the best ownership rates of any player on Saturday. With his recent run of play and that salary cost, not using Murray is a clear contrarian stance.
Is there a chance Murray doesn’t score? Of course, but if you as a player want to roster any of the higher priced options in the late game and still have some balance in your roster, you’re definitely using at least one Palace player, likely Murray, if not more. Cheaper ways into the Palace lineup includes Puncheon at $2k less than Bolasie, while Zaha could as easily score in this one. Jedinak and McArthur’s odds of scoring are much more unlikely, but don’t completely right out both from your planning, especially Jedinak.
For West Brom, the options are much lesser in number. Ideye is carrying an injury, so keep an eye on his inclusion alongside Berahino in attack. Gardner did hit double digits last weekend and is the closest thing to a creative midfielder West Brom has, but his hitting value, much less multiple values, is clearly based on getting a goal. Myhill might be a nice contrarian option in goal when all is said and done, but even if he gets multiple saves he could lose and give up two, three or more goals in this one.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United:
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois ($5,000), Branislav Ivanovic ($5,500), Cesar Azpilicueta ($4,100), John Terry ($3,800), Gary Cahill ($3,500), Eden Hazard ($9,400), Cesc Fabregas ($7,600), Oscar ($7,200), Loic Remy ($7,000), Didier Drogba ($6,500)
Manchester United: David De Gea ($4,300), Luke Shaw ($3,600), Angel Di Maria ($8,7000), Juan Mata ($6,900), Ander Herrera ($6,800), Maroune Fellaini ($5,900), Ashley Young ($5,300), Wayne Rooney ($9,800), Radamel Falcao ($7,700)
In the recent past of this rivalry, there has not been this much uncertainty going to a match between Manchester United and Chelsea, with as much on the line as there is in this for both sides. Chelsea have won as of late with less than stellar performances, while United has kicked into fifth gear despite running a gauntlet of top half teams on their schedule over the past few weeks. In third, in the mix for a Champions League spot for next season and overcoming all of their issues in the first half of this season, United could have looked going into this match not only to keep momentum moving this season but also marking their claim going into next season.
And then, Friday came and Louis van Gaal ruled out four potential starters in defense and attack, putting the balance United has shown in their ascent into clear question. With Danny Blind, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo (Jonny Evans a long term suspension absence), it looks like United will field a less than full strength defense in front of De Gea. Gone is the great interplay between Blind and Young on the left, as Shaw, coming off an injury of his own, will likely start on the left. Paddy McNair will likely partner Smalling in central defense, and in the absence of Carrick, van Gaal–if he’s to be believed, will use Rooney in a central midfield spot instead of up top, with Falcao starting at striker. Van Gaal doesn’t have a lot of other options at his disposal–he could use Mata centrally and start Di Maria out right, or Di Maria centrally in the place of Carrick outright. But it looks like van Gaal will try to keep as much of his preferred starting 11 in the right places as possible.
Using Rooney in your lineups on Saturday is riskier, especially at that salary. He’s the most expensive individual on the slate, and if he’s not lined up at striker his chances of scoring, especially multiple goals to return value, is heavily in question. I’ll be fading Rooney personally because of the uncertainty, but if you’re making an United stack or a lineup that heavily focuses on the late game, Rooney is a viable option. Falcao is very much an X factor that’s set up to fail in this matchup–an out of form striker facing the league’s best defense. The opportunity is there, but I’ll be fading Falcao in what might be a pretty tight game at Stamford Bridge. I’ll have more interest in Fellaini (his matchup against Nemanja Matic could be great), Mata, Young and Herrera. These four have been the real tip of the spear for United as of late. If you love narratives, Mata was sold by Jose Mourinho from Chelsea, so there’s that. Young faces Ivanovic on the left of United’s attack, a pretty hard task to say the least.
For Chelsea, the only question for their lineup seems to be whether Remy or Drogba starts up top; Mourinho on Friday said Remy had a better than “50-50” chance to play against United. If you want to use either, make sure to use them in your Flex spot (or roster Remy at forward) in order to keep a pivot to Drogba valid. Obviously, even with the United questions in the back, neither option is a certain must-play–Drogba had a great match last weekend and was rather invisible, while if Remy starts he’s likely to be less than 100%.
Otherwise, it’s no surprises for the boys in blue. Courtois faces a questionable United attack with the absences in play giving things a real unknown quantity, and Mourinho is likely to play a very cautious overall outlook in the match. The best options to use from Chelsea, albeit from a side that isn’t attacking with any real proficiency as of late, are in midfield and defense. Ivanovic is chalk at defender and for good reason, and the Serbian has a real history of playing well in the big games. If you want to go cheaper at defense and still have some shares in Chelsea, the central defenders do have a low floor but could get a clean sheet from the one combined with chances to score from a dead ball.
Both Fabregas and Hazard have had long seasons, but if anyone from Chelsea in the run of play is going to unlock United’s defense, it’s one or both of these talented players. Hazard has the speed to get the central defenders of United, and while Antonio Valencia has done well overall at right back Hazard has the ability to get by the Ecuadorian. Cesc will pull the strings in attack, but he has a much lower floor than Hazard.