Only the early Saturday kickoff between Manchester City and Crystal Palace is off the board for these two slates, with six matches on Saturday (all 10am) and three for Sunday/Monday. The latter of those two will be written up separately, but this has a breakdown of all options Saturday brings to the table.
With a majority of teams having this week to rest up, there may be a lack of rotation in starting lineups for rotations sake—but injuries and suspensions will see several lineups not at full strength. With full slates next Friday and Sunday/Monday, games will be coming quick and lots of shuffling on the team sheet is bound to happen.
West Ham United vs. Leicester City:
Shares in Hammers will be high on Saturday; Leicester are struggling mightily, having lost five of its last six matches and traveling to Upton Park to face a West Ham side that wants to keep its name in the running for a spot in Europe next season.
While you’re going to have to spend up for them, it’s definitely worth investing in West Ham this weekend. Adrian ($5,300) should have the best odds for a clean sheet/win bonus double on Saturday, facing an anemic Leicester attack. Stacking both Aaron Cresswell ($4,900) and Carl Jenkinson ($4,700) seems to be cost ineffective, especially when weighed against other options in the pool—but the same foundation that a clean bonus potentially starting you off with is hard to ignore. Jenkinson has the better point production over the past few weeks. If you want to go cheap at defense this weekend, it’s hard to ignore central defenders James Tomkins and Winston Reid ($2,000), both minimum plays that could hit double digits with opportunities on dead balls.
Perhaps the best midfield play of the weekend is Stewart Downing ($7,900); the West Ham playmaker looks to be playing behind the front two strikers and has multiple responsibilities on dead balls that can lead to point production. Otherwise, Kevin Nolan ($4,800) sees his upside lowered a bit in a role further back in the field but the vet puts himself into goalscoring chances on a regular basis. And in attack, it looks that Diafra Sakho ($8,600) and Andy Carroll ($8,300) remain in the lineup for Sam Allardyce—the latter’s salary has sharply risen over the past few weeks, with a $2k bump from last matchday. Carroll needs goals to hit that ceiling with that salary—he did get 15 points last weekend just from shots, crosses and fouls drawn. That works when you’re at the salary he was; now, you really need 20+ points.
Leicester options? It’s tough seeing any options, even in a GPP setting. Ben Hamer ($3,900) should see a lot of action, but I can’t see the best case scenario where Hamer gives up one or no goals, makes a handful of saves and Leicester pulls the upset on the road. Riyad Mahrez ($5,300) won’t be winning a GPP for anyone short of the Algerian scoring an unlikely goal; finding the back of the net is just as unlikely for forwards Leonardo Ulloa ($6,000) or Jamie Vardy ($5,800). That one shining moment against Manchester United is way, way back in the rearview mirror—unless there’s a sea change, they’re on the road to nowhere (aka, the Championship).
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley:
On paper, this should be a Spurs victory, albeit not a blowout. Burnley is a tough team to beat, much more difficult to blow out. Things are starting to progress for Tottenham, coming off a 4-0 cup win midweek in which Mauricio Pochettino made numerous changes to his lineup. Like Adrien, Hugo Lloris ($5,600) is a high end play in goal that offers the promise of a clean sheet win. Spurs’ outside backs are a better set of value plays than their London neighbors (West Ham). Ben Davies ($3,700) is one of the best options on Saturday, while Kyle Walker ($4,200) is the epitome of an attacking defender—however, Walker is still coming back into form after a long-term injury. Both are likely to be working with that five-point clean sheet foundation on Saturday.
Right now, there are few better options in midfield as a whole than Christian Eriksen ($8,500), but a little buyer beware in this: it would be the third start for the Dane in less than a week. The matchup is there for the taking, however, especially if Eriksen is used as the central attacking midfielder by Pochettino. In the Premier League, Pochettino as of late has used Eriksen outside with Erik Lamela ($6,400), leaving striker Harry Kane ($9,100) centrally in midfield behind lead dog Roberto Soldado ($7,400). For me, the best case DFS wise is Kane replacing Soldado up top, putting Eriksen centrally and starting Lamela and Nacer Chadli ($6,700). If Chadli does start, that salary is very useful and the winger can be employed in a lot of different lineups.
For Burnley, there remains the same small pocket of DFS friendly options to choose from, all in GPP circumstances. Danny Ings ($5,900) saw his salary shrink despite hitting double digits last matchday without a goal scored. Ings and Ashley Barnes ($5,500) have done well despite Burnley not putting a lot of offense together as a whole. Barnes is a goal or bust proposition, while Ings borders on a cash game play because of his production from secondary stats. Because of the long odds of Burnley keeping Spurs off the scoreboard, defender Kieran Trippier ($4,500) is a GPP option because of that salary and his lessened chances to get forward and rack up crosses.
Hull City vs. Swansea City:
This one—probably not a match for the ages. Swansea has gone inconsistent as of late while Hull is punchless and down in the relegation zone. Your options are not legion.
Swansea are slight favorites; despite Hull’s form mimicking road kill, the bookies think this one is pretty even. Lukasz Fabianski ($4,000) is back from suspension, and might be a strong play despite the Swansea keeper burning some folks in the past. Hull has scored just twice in their last six league games, and even putting aside tough matches against Manchester United, Everton, Spurs and Chelsea their attack is terrible. With their outside backs unable to hit double digits and a pair of defensive midfielders in their formation, Southampton leaves only Fabianski and the front four attacks as ways to go. Jefferson Montero ($4,900) does not score, but scores 7-11 points every week he starts. Wayne Routledge ($5,200) offers the same floor with a bit more of a chance of scoring, while Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,600) has the most upside of the trio.
However, the Icelandic midfielder has only hit double digits three times in his last ten matches. There is a lot of pull to stack Sigurdsson and Wilfried Bony ($9,700) in lineups—and while Bony has kept his part of the bargain up, Sigurdsson has not. It might be a better option to use Montero or Routledge with Bony.
For Hull—hoo boy, there’s not much. Steven Harper ($3,000) will have his users based on the minimum salary in GPP lineups. Ahmed Elmohamady ($5,600) is a winger that can do some damage, but when you have Montero and Routledge in the same game at a lesser price, why go with the Egyptian? Sone Aluko ($5,000) plays behind lone striker Nikica Jelavic ($5,400), but both require a goal to hit any semblance of value and have been ineffective as of late.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United:
Manchester United’s on a run of winning, while Villa has scored just ten times in 16 Premiership matches, the lowest amount of goals scored in the league. This leaves United strong away favorites at Villa Park, especially with recent history showing Villa unable to get any kind of result home or away against the Red Devils.
Just a word of warning; United’s success rate on shots on goal as of late has been high and likely will regress in the coming weeks. While stacking United options is a strong play, especially against a poor Villa attack, a positive decision could be of the 1-0 or 2-1 variety, instead of United three or more times. For Villa, you have Christian Benteke ($8,000) who in a vacuum is the kind of big, mobile front man that gives United defenders difficulties. However, the lack of a playmaker in the Villa side combined with the few chances the Belgian should see on goal makes it a tough play, albeit a contrarian one. Otherwise, including the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N’Zogbia and Fabien Delph have little chance of recouping your outlay salary wise.
For United, to a degree it is wait and see who starts for Louis van Gaal in order to try and find some value amongst the high salary chalk plays. It’s not a home start for David de Gea ($5,600), unlike Lloris or Adrian, but the Spaniard’s form and Villa’s attack are the two main reasons to use the United keeper. However, the ceiling that de Gea can display against better opponents won’t be there just in that Villa won’t give him the chance to pile up saves.
I think both Ashley Young ($4,900) and Antonio Valencia ($5,400), if they start as the outside midfielders in a van Gaal 3-4-3, are pretty nice plays with high floors in this one. Yes, a goal for either is likely not in the cards, but one or both could rain crosses on Villa over 90 minutes. It looks like the trio of Wayne Rooney ($11,300), Juan Mata ($7,900) and Ander Herrera ($6,000) will start centrally with Maroune Felliani (“illness”) out this weekend. Without Felliani, there is a chance however that Michael Carrick ($4,000) gets moved back into the midfield. Whoever starts in the mix, their roles interchange a lot in the flow of play and chances will be there. Spending up on Rooney is a tough sell, in my opinion. More expensive than teammate Robin van Persie ($10,600) who will play a more forward (literally) role, Rooney is an option—but you need 20+ points to justify the top (active) salary on the slate. Teammate Angel Di Maria is still more expensive, but is not thought to be fit enough to start in this one. There is a chance James Wilson ($4,500) starts for United up top; if he does, there is value there to be had. One goal is that Wilson needs to exceed value, but in his last two starts the youngster has garnered two points per game. He’s a GPP option only, and if he does not score, you’re ship be sunk, as it were..
QPR vs. West Bromwich Albion:
There’s another little mini-relegation “six-pointer” in this one; points literally count the same now as they do at the end of the season, and both of these teams could feel the wrong end of being Championship teams come late May.
Albion comes off a win over Midlands rival Villa last weekend, while QPR continued their “good result, bad result” yo-yo with a defeat at Everton. QPR is a pretty solid team at home, and were without Charlie Austin ($8,400) in that loss. Austin by far is the most play in this match; in all formats, Austin can be paired with a higher-end play from United or Bony, or another upper-mid tier option in that $7-9K range. Austin was a pretty consistent point producer prior to the brief suspension, hitting double digits in all but two of his last 10 games. Austin should be partnered by Bobby Zamora up top for QPR; while Zamora is near unplayable because he lacks any DFS value, he helps Austin by being a complimentary facet to the lead striker.
In goal for QPR, Robert Green ($4,100) might be a play because of his mid-level salary and home start; this should be a low scoring game, so if you don’t want to spend up on De Gea/Lloris/Adrien, Green could be the way to go. Suk-Young Yun ($2,900) is a value play at defender, especially at home where QPR should allow its defenders to go forward a bit more than normal. Leroy Fer ($5,600) once again is a GPP only play; not a traditional winger, Fer is given that role by Harry Redknapp and needs a goal to hit double digits. Otherwise, expect five or less in the point column.
Looking to West Brom, Brown Ideye ($4,800) may have missed out on his chance to carve out a spot in the starting lineup last weekend. Ideye might make way for Saido Berahino ($7,500), who is on one hell of a cold streak lately. Berahino hasn’t scored since late October. Whomever starts is a GPP play at best, and it’s tough to put that much towards a second F or Flex spot in your lineup to roster Berahino when he’s in this kind of form. Craig Gardner ($5,900) is an interesting GPP option now that he’s playing right behind the main striker for West Brom, plus free kick responsibilities. Gardner’s winner against Villa put him into double digits, a rather rare occurrence. Outside back Sebastian Pocognoli ($3,300) isn’t a bad play, per se—there is limited upside, but with two less than thriving attacks a clean sheet isn’t out of the running for either side.
Southampton vs. Everton:
Southampton has several confirmed absences to its lineup, either via injury or suspension. Dusan Tadic is hurt and out per Ronald Koeman, both Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama are suspended, while Graziano Pelle ($9,800) and Sean Davis ($3,000) are in question and may not play. This leaves Koeman with a severely under strength team to host Everton, who are coming to St. Mary’s off a 3-1 win against QPR while Southampton have lost four straight, albeit against Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and last weekend’s loss at…Burnley. Yes, one of those things is not like the other one.
In goal, both sides are priced in that middle tier, and both are difficult to include unless you’re being contrarian. I want no part of Fraser Forster ($4,700) at home in front of what might be a patchwork team, especially in the back and midfield. If Davis cannot go, defender Toby Alderweireld will be pulled into central midfield and Maya Yoshida gets pulled into starting duty—and Yoshida has been poor so far this season. Along with the rest of the side, the value of outside backs Ryan Bertrand ($4,300) and Nathaniel Clyne ($4,200) has dropped precipitously. Even as a slight favorite, backing Southampton to win is one thing—but thinking they’ll hold Everton off the scoresheet is another. Without a clean sheet, and with Everton an attacking club at their best, it’s hard to roster Bertrand and/or Clyne in this matchup.
Otherwise, it’s tough to go anywhere else in Southampton’s lineup for DFS purposes. Pelle’s hurt, and at 100% he hasn’t returned value. At his price tag, it’s tough to roster him thinking he will hit 20+ points. Otherwise, you’re looking at Sadio Mane ($6,900) and Shane Long ($5,500), and without Tadic to pull the strings it’s a tough way to go. On a skill set alone, Mane is the better way to go especially if Southampton can use the counterattack to their advantage. If they start because of injuries, Jake Hesketh ($5,000), Lloyd Isgrove ($3,500) or Emmanuel Mayuka ($3,500) has value because of their low price tags. James Ward-Prowse ($5,400) might pick up value if he is used in a more attacking role.
For Everton, you have Tim Howard ($4,400) in a nice spot that can get even better if Pelle does not start and Southampton’s lineup is littered with youth players. At defender, Leighton Baines ($5,300) has thrown four straight games in single digits and has been not even near garnering value. It’s a tough way to go with either Baines or Seamus Coleman ($4,200) in your lineup, but Baines does hold that lure of taking free kicks and penalties.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Roberto Martinez uses Ross Barkley ($8,000) again in a deep-lying position on Tuesday. Barkley finally scored this past weekend, but at that price tag you need multiple goals and/or assists from the young Englishman, because he isn’t going to garner points from crosses. I remain wary of his price tag, especially if he’s not a part of Everton’s front four. If that is the case, Romelu Lukaku ($8,800) will lead the attack for the Toffees with three behind the sizeable Belgian—Steven Naismith ($5,900), Aiden McGeady ($4,500) and either Leon Osman ($4,000) or Steven Pienaar ($4,800). Osman is a doubt, and in his place Pienaar is not DFS-friendly, However, Naismith and McGeady are excellent options for their price tags. There’s also a chance Samuel Eto’o ($6,100) could get the start from Martinez, and he’s a GPP option as well.