Saturday brings on the first of the EPL’s last four weekends of play this season, and we have so much to play for here at DraftKings in this merry month of May–it’s all leading up to the $100,000 World Championship on the 24th. Let’s focus on the main Saturday slate, which has six games to focus upon.
SATURDAY’S BIG EPL CONTESTS
West Ham United vs. Burnley
West Ham: Adrian ($5,200), Aaron Cresswell ($5,100), Carl Jenkinson ($4,800), Matthew Jarvis ($3,400), Kevin Nolan ($4,500), Stewart Downing ($6,800), Enner Valencia ($7,900)
Burnley: Tom Heaton ($4,400), Kieran Trippier ($5,600), Ben Mee ($3,000), Matthew Taylor ($4,000), Danny Ings ($6,100), Ashley Barnes ($5,600), Sam Vokes ($4,700)
Burnley have to much to play for, and if they are collectively dreaming of a great escape from relegation and next season in the Championship, it seems that three points much be taken from the Hammers in London. One point from five matches just has not been enough for Burnley, dead last in the Premiership, and even the dead in the water Hammers are not likely to be fodder for Burnley to try and get out of the bottom three.
Both keepers are in play, but are likely to be lightly owned–Adrian has a home start, but that salary combined with West Ham’s sputtering attack and Burnley’s need for the win puts his ceiling heavily into risk. If you’re going to spend that high on a keeper this weekend, you’ll want a better chance for a win/clean sheet combo. Heaton will be even lower owned, but he could turn a really nice profit in the best case scenario. Burnley are road dogs, and the overall odds are pointing to a draw in this one.
Options in attack are few and far between, with Burnley not having scored in their last five and West Ham missing its best options up top. I simply can’t trust Valencia at nearly $8k as West Ham’s lead striker, especially seeing that he has not found the net since Diafra Sakho was injured. Ings is just ice cold–I mean, he’s bound to score sometime–but are you willing to bet Saturday’s the day? Ings should have a decent ownership number at his mid-range salary.
The others at midfield and forward in this one are hail Mary inclusions if you roster them. Downing’s production has heavily dipped over the past few matches; I’d rather go with Jarvis if he starts because of his very low price tag. Nolan just doesn’t get enough chances in attack to be rostered, even with his more forward use in the past few games. Barnes returns from suspension for Burnley, but even if used as a winger he does not generate enough crosses to get points. Barnes would have more worth if Vokes is not fit enough to start and the latter is used as a forward; if that takes place, Taylor would get another start and you’d hope he would have a better chance to multiply his value after missing a penalty last weekend.
The defender options don’t need much selling to those who play EPL on a consistent basis, for good and bad. Trippier generates consistent points from crosses, and any defensive bonus would be icing on the cake. But that dependence on crosses are contingent on him getting credit for crosses–official scorers can be less than 100% consistent–so there’s a little risk there. Mee’s a decent play at $3k as well. On the other hand, I can’t suggest highly the use of Cresswell and Jenkinson because of their collective poor production over the last month going forward–any chance of getting to double digits, it seems, is dependent on getting a clean sheet. I’d look elsewhere.
Aston Villa vs. Everton
Villa: Brad Guzan ($4,200), Alan Hutton ($3,200), Fabian Delph ($5,500), Tom Cleverley ($5,000), Christian Benteke ($7,900)
Everton: Tim Howard ($4,900), Leighton Baines ($5,700), Seamus Coleman ($5,200), Ross Barkley ($6,600), Aaron Lennon ($5,500), Leon Osman ($3,800) Romelu Lukaku ($8,100), Kevin Mirallas ($7,000)
Everton are h-o-t HOT as of late, winning five of their last six going into their trip to the Midlands to face Villa, who after a loss to Manchester City have had their standing highlighted that much more–despite the bump Tim Sherwood has provided, despite a spot in the FA Cup final, they are just two points above the bottom three and safety is from from being guaranteed.
If anything, it’s hard to put full trust in either defense because both teams have talented lead strikers (Benteke, Lukaku) paired with both teams showing inconsistencies in defense. Yes, Everton is coming off a shutout at home against Manchester United, but their road form has not matched up. Howard’s price tag is a bit attractive at less than $5k, and there’s a chance that Everton wins at Villa Park while Villa tests him on a consistent basis–but you’re putting a lot of risk in this. Baines and Coleman are pretty strong candidates at a less than deep pool at defender on Saturday, with the former starting to match the production he brought in the first third of this season. Hutton might be a sleeper play if inserted back into the lineup.
I’m still not overly convinced of the midfield options for either side in this one, but a few options in this one have performed decently as of late. Barkley’s been the hub of Everton’s attack as of late, but for his salary you’d like more than 10-11 points. Delph and Cleverley are quasi wingers in Sherwood’s formation, but there’s just not enough production on a consistent basis to roster either. Lukaku, in his first start in over a month, had a quiet match against United but he could have a big day against Villa’s backline. At the very least, his battle with Ron Vlaar should be fun to watch. Benteke is cheaper, at home, and has had the production that Lukaku just has not provided at all that season. And while it seems odd, I’d be more apt to use Lukaku, especially if Mirallas starts in place of Osman or Lennon. Mirallas makes Lukaku that much better.
Liverpool vs. QPR
LiverpooL: Simon Mignolet ($5,600), Glen Johnson ($4,400), Alberto Moreno ($3,900), Raheem Sterling ($8,600), Phillipe Coutinho ($6,300), Adam Lallana ($5,200), Jordan Henderson ($5,100), Steven Gerrard ($5,000), Jordan Ibe ($5,000), Rickie Lambert ($4,200), Fabio Borini ($4,500)
QPR: Matt Phillips ($4,300), Leroy Fer ($5,000), Charlie Austin ($9,000)
This one could get really, really ugly quickly. Despite QPR’s despite need for points to avoid relegation, if Liverpool wants European football of any variety next season (and keep its best players, or at least try), they need three points from this one at Anfield.
For Liverpool, we need to wait for Brendan Rogers’ starting lineup to determine where the best plays and/or values are. With no clear functioning lead striker (Mario Balotelli has been poor starting in Liverpool’s past two games and is a doubt to play), the Reds are likely to start Sterling up top (only one goal in his last ten games), or Rogers reverts to Lambert or Borini up top, neither of which play consistently–and when they have seen playing time, it’s been less than superb production. I prefer Coutinho to Sterling, especially when price comes into play.
Guys like Lallana, Henderson, Gerrard and Ibe have worth if they would find the back of the net–if he starts, Gerrard would have penalty and free kick duties, and there’s that. Henderson is the guy of the four I have the most trust in, if a) it’s close, and b) there’s a low ceiling in play. As for the rest of Liverpool, Mignolet is a strong play even at the high price tag–home start against a poor attack. Moreno might get passed fit to start, where he’d replace Johnson at left back/wingback.
As for QPR, there’s a good reason for the limited options. Austin has production that a guy like Ings dreams of, but a $9K price tag away at Anfield does not have value, especially with cheaper options (like Lukaku, Benteke, Graziano Pelle, amongst others). Fer is a possible value play who should incredibly low owned–the total opposite of Phillips on Saturday. A total aberration when it comes to his price tag, Phillips has consistently his double digits. He should be a near necessity in most lineups in order to build your team with higher priced players elsewhere.
Sunderland vs. Southampton:
Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon ($4,500), Patrick van Aanholt ($3,600), Billy Jones ($2,500), Seb Larsson ($5,400), Jordi Gomez ($5,000), Adam Johnson ($3,500), Graziano Pelle ($8,500), Sadio Mane ($6,000), Shane Long ($4,500)
Southampton: Kelvin Davis ($4,500), Ryan Betrand ($4,600), Nathaniel Clyne ($4,400), James Ward-Prowse ($5,300), Connor Wickham ($6,900), Jermain Defoe ($6,500)
Like Liverpool/QPR, we have another game that matters for both sides–Southampton is looking for a spot in the Europa League next season, which might help to keep some of its best players while helping to get replacements for others, while Sunderland is in the bottom three, and survival in the Premiership is in the balance. It’s not going to be a repeat of earlier in the season, when Southampton won at home over Sunderland in a close one–8-0.
I’ll be avoiding both keepers in this one; it’s not because Davis lacks a really good matchup, or Pantilimon could get double digits like last weekend without a win on Sunderland’s part. There is little certainty in this match, so choosing either is a gamble at best. Gun to my head, I’d go with Davis. The pool of defenders are much more promising, with Southampton’s duo of Bertrand and Clyne worth spending for, while van Aanholt is pretty consistent and should be low owned and Jones needs 5-6 points to hit value.
In midfield, with Dusan Tadic out, the top option in this one is Ward-Prowse, who should see a lot of free kick/corner duties–a better play than his counterpart in this one, Larsson. Gomez’s floor is way too low to trust, while Johnson is a play only if he starts and you can stomach what he was charged with. At forward, we have two in-form options from Pelle and Wickham paired with the underproducing (but attractive, to varying degrees) trio of Defoe, Mane and Long. I continue to be a huge fan of the Mane, but the Senegal international is ice cold and Pelle’s revival limits his chances. Between Pelle and Wickham, you have three goals in his last four matches (Pelle) and four straight double digit performances (Wickham). Sunderland’s move to a 4-4-2 limits Wickham’s chances to get points from crosses, so he becomes a more goal dependent striker. Pelle’s facing a much more pliable, soft defense–so even a road start can be overlooked because of the matchup. Mane’s your boom or bust option in this one–he could win you a GPP, especially with his speed against a somewhat non-mobile central defense.
Swansea City vs. Stoke City:
Swansea: Lukasz Fabianski ($4,700), Gylfi Sigurdsson ($8,000), Jonjo Shelvey ($5,900), Nathan Dyer ($4,400), Sung-Yueng Ki ($4,000), Jefferson Montero ($4,000), Nelson Oliveira ($6,500)
Stoke: Asmir Begovic ($4,000), Erik Pieters ($3,400), Phil Bardsley ($2,800), Charlie Adam ($6,200), Stephen Ireland ($4,500), Jonathan Walters ($6,000), Mame Diouf ($5,900), Marko Arnautovic ($4,900)
This one could be incredibly ugly or an open match between two sides that have nothing to play for but personal pride/a chance to impress individually. Neither side has a really thriving attack, but there’s enough skill–especially in each midfield–to tilt the odds against a clean sheet for either side. Both Fabianski and Begovic are decently priced, especially the visiting Begovic at $4k even–but this might be a good weekend to spend up at keeper for a big favorite. If you’re playing multiple lineups, using one of these two isn’t out of the question. Picking at defender are slim, but Stoke’s Bardsley and Pieters–if one or both start–might return decent value, especially if Stoke keeps a clean sheet away.
In midfield, you have the big two of Adam and Sigurdsson respectively–Adam fitting the big label a bit better physically–with Montero, Ireland, Shelvey and Dyer as lesser ways to go. SIgurdsson had a huge day last weekend against Newcastle, and he can avoid the marking of Stoke’s Steven Nzonzi could have another one against Stoke. Adam’s likely to play with a broken nose, so keep in mind he’s not the most mobile of players to start with, and going 90 with diminished breathing is probably out of the question. However, looking at his past few weeks and a relatively mid-range salary, Adam is easily usable in most lineups.
Since Sigurdsson’s return, Shelvey returned to a more defensive midfield role–but he’s a talented player who loves to shoot when given the chance. Dyer is playing a more advanced role in the formation for Swansea, but Montero had a much better week DFS against Newcastle, grabbing an assist. He is carrying a hamstring injury, but that $4k salary is pretty enticing if you want to go away from more chalky options. In theory, Ki could be preferred to either Montero or Dyer. Ireland had only three points in 90 minutes last weekend, but he continues to play a more advanced role than Adam behind the lead striker.
Diouf and Ireland interchange so much in the run of play that it’s hard to prefer one over the other because of formation, but Walters is more of a classical finisher of the two. Like Wickham, Arnautovic has thrown up multiple double-digit performances in the shadows. At less than $5k, he rivals Adam as a value play in this one and a mini-stack of the pair is not expensive at all. Even after scoring his first goal of the season last weekend, Oliveira won’t be in any of my teams. Even as his team’s lead striker, Oliveira has a grand total of three shots in three starts since Bafetimbi Gomis got hurt. That just isn’t enough–if you want someone in attack for Swansea, look first at Sigurdsson and secondly at the rest of the team’s midfield.
Manchester United vs. West Bromwich ALbion:
United: David de Gea ($5,700), Antonio Valencia ($5,300), Chris Smalling ($4,500), Juan Mata ($7,200), Ander Herrera ($7,100), Maroune Fellaini ($6,300), Ashley Young ($5,600), Daley Blind ($3,000), Wayne Rooney ($10,000), Robin van Persie ($9,400), Radamel Falcao ($8,100)
WBA: Boaz Myhill ($3,000), Craig Gardner ($5,900), James Morrison ($4,900), Darren Fletcher ($4,200), Saido Berahino ($7,300), Brown Ideye ($5,500), Victor Anichebe ($5,000)
Coming off back-to-back losses on the road to Chelsea and Everton, United come home to face WBA–a team they’ve scored at least two goals against in 13 of their last 14 matches between the two. They’ve only lost once in their last 16 games against WBA.
Rooney has been passed fit enough to play after suffering a knee injury in the loss to Everton; there’s a small chance he doesn’t start/play after all, and there’s the chance he slides into a midfield role because Luke Shaw is out at left back–meaning Blind would slide back to left back, Herrera would be used in a central midfield spot and Rooney in front of Herrera with Fellaini behind a striker (RVP or Falcao). This is another case of keeping your Flex available to be used as a pivot depending on who Louis van Gaal starts and in what place in the United formation.
De Gea is the most expensive of all goalkeepers on the day, but United is the biggest favorite (or co-favorite with Liverpool/Mignolet) and is worth your inclusion in a lineup. With Shaw out, Valencia (now re-classified as a defender) is a decent choice but is way too expensive at this point, even if United take a clean sheet from this match. Smalling’s a tournament play because of his ability on deadball opportunities. There’s a small chance Young plays left back, which would definitely lower his ceiling–but at left wing, he’s definitely an option at a very affordable price. Fellaini, Herrera and Mata are heavily goal dependant–all should get chances in attack, especially if as expected United dominate possession. If Herrera is used in front of the back four with Blind at left back, his value is greatly diminished.
For West Brom, Myhill is definitely the punt play of the week–it’s very unlikely West Brom win at Old Trafford, but he could get a handful of saves and give up no goals or allow one, and hit double digits through that route. It’s unlikely, but a decent amount of lineups will use Myhill in order to spend at every other spot. Gardner has hit double digits in each of his last three games, and he and Morrison will look to attack United down the wings to exploit the converted midfielders at outside back. You also have Fletcher in this week’s best narrative, returning to Old Trafford after more than a decade with United.
At forward for West Brom, Berahino will started alongside one of Anichebe or Ideye. Anichebe got a rare start last weekend against Liverpool and did little, and may make way to Ideye as he did during the loss. Ideye has a little more mobility to try and exploit United’s backline, while Anichebe at this point is pretty much an immobile, yet physical, tank in attack. It’s hard to gauge when WBA would get a goal from in this one, and therefore I’d avoid the whole group unless you have a definite feel from one of the trio.