The day we’ve all been waiting for is FINALLY fast approaching. After 75 long days of waiting patiently; during which we shamefully attempted to satisfy our EPL cravings by reading 1,000 fake reports on Di Maria’s transfer saga, I’m thrilled to say the 2015-16 EPL season is finally here.
That ride begins Saturday with a slate of five games to pick from, highlighted by the beginning of Chelsea’s title defense at home vs. Swansea. Although fans will surely miss seeing United and Tottenham as playable options on opening weekend; this will give players a chance to be more creative with their lineups. Those who take their time and find value in unfamiliar names, will likely find themselves with extra spending cash to party with on Saturday evening.
Chelsea is Worth Your Buck
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Midfielder – Salary: $9,800 – 13.2 FPPG (2014-15)
I know this pick isn’t the most exciting choice to kick off the year, but let’s face it, he’s the reigning POY for a reason. Although I have a tremendous amount of respect for Swansea, they got unlucky drawing Chelsea on the road to open the year. Mourinho and company lost just once at home last season, to Bradford City (believe it or not), and I expect them to continue their winning ways Saturday. This likely means good things for the Belgian winger who contributed directly to 29 of Chelsea’s 73 goals in 14-15. On top of these numbers it’s always good to spend the extra cash on a team’s PK taker, as any resulting foul in the box will lead to easy points for your squad. Finally, because of the strength of the sides on Saturday you’ll have plenty of affordable options to round out your squad with, leaving plenty of room for Hazard on your budget.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) Defender – Salary: $6,000 – 9.6 FPPG (2014-15)
The man I’d call the most complete fullback in the league, Ivanovic has the ability to rack up fantasy points in a variety of ways, extremely quickly. In 14-15, Chelsea led the league in GA, making him a likely candidate for a shutout bonus. Add to this, the fact that Chelsea also scored the second most goals in the league last season (and the most goals from defenders) and it begins to become very clear why Ivanovic is worth every penny. Although I normally don’t love to spend heavy on defenders, like I said above, you should have plenty of cheap options to balance the books. His ability to score goals off set pieces, provide excellent service down the flanks and fearlessly defend for his team time and again are the three attributes to a successful Draftkings defender. I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly choose a guy who checks each of those boxes.
Oscar (Chelsea) Midfield – Salary: $7,100 – 8.2 FPPG (2014-15)
With not a lot of expensive players to choose from, banking on the Brazilian to help the Blues triumph on opening day is a good bet to make. The Chelsea playmaker has a nose for goal and with the striker situation a bit unclear, it’s likely he’ll be involved if Chelsea get the win. I’d advise utilizing him in the Flex role to give you more flexibility once you hear how the striker situation shakes out. If you have a real itch to get Remy ($6,800) or Falcao ($7,200) in the lineup, picking Oscar in the flex might minimize risk just in case Costa does suit up. You won’t be disappointed with the Brazilian if you do go with him, he gets on the occasional free kick, shoots often and sits in the center of the park between Fabregas, Matic, Willian, Hazard and a star striker to be named later, need I say more?
Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) Midfielder – Salary: $3,900 – 2.7 FPPG (2014-15)
Does anyone remember Scott? It was only a short while ago, back in 2011-12 that Sinclair was one of England’s rising stars. A fairly consistent regular in the England youth setup as a young Chelsea prospect, he was transferred to Swansea City of the Championship in 2010 where he scored 28 goals off the wing in three seasons (including eight in his lone season in the Prem). After a terrific campaign in 11-12, Swansea cashed in on the budding youngster, where he has rotted away on Manchester City’s bench ever since. Although he’s appeared just 30 times for City, West Brom and Villa over the past 3 seasons, he remains only 26 years old entering into the prime of his career. He is a hardened veteran at this point and has a skill set you just can’t teach. In a friendly opening day matchup vs. unproven Bournemouth I believe we might see a return to form from Sinclair.
Alex Mccarthy (Crystal Palace) Goalie – Salary: $3,000 – 3.9 FPPG (2014-15)
Alan Pardew has a very formidable squad at his disposal this season and with Speroni injured to start the year, the value play has to be in goal for Crystal Palace against newcomer Norwich City. If Hennessey starts, it will only cost you $3600, but either way you’re getting a cheap starter in goal for Palace in a very winnable game. While calling a shutout is not something I’m going to do, for the price it seems like a risk worth taking if you’d like some extra spending cash for a shinier looking attacking option. Palace has an unbelievably reliable two way midfield and veterans along the backline you can count on to help Mccarthy or Hennessey keep balls out of the back of the net.
Micah Richards (Aston Villa) Defender – Salary: $2,900 – 0.0 FPPG (2014-15)
Maybe I’m being too harsh on Bournemouth at home in their first EPL game in years, or maybe I just like the summer transfers, but Richards seems like a steal at that value in this one. Recently named team captain by Tim Sherwood (a man I believe in), Richards is returning to the Prem after a disastrous end to his Man City career. Although Villa are on the road, recently lost their star striker and barely survived relegation last year; I’m betting we see a rejuvenated squad this season. There would be no better way to display that then getting three points on the road, even if it is against Bournemouth. Truth be told, this has a 0-0 draw written all over it, as I see Bournemouth playing with high energy but not having enough to break through, while Villa battle for a road point to open there season off. If you don’t trust Villa, or just want some other cheap plays on defense look to grab a back from Leicester vs. Sunderland (I could see that being low scoring as well).
Traps to Avoid
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) Forward – Salary: $9,000 – 9.0 FPPG (2014-15)
Here is the deal, if you’re patient and he gets the start he’s as good an option up front as any. However, I get the impression Lukaku isn’t always mentally tough enough to battle adversity. If he plays, which right now seems like a big if, I just don’t see him contributing in the way you would hope. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to come off early even if he were fit enough to start. Watford have assembled a really good looking team, especially at the back and it would not shock me at all if they make things extremely difficult for an Everton side who sometimes struggles to score. With a bunch of players sidelined through injury, choosing a starting playmaker on Everton will probably be a safer play than the Belgian Poacher on this day.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) Midfielder – Salary: $7,400 – 10.4 (2014-15)
He is arguably the most talented guy on the pitch for Swansea, but on this day it might be smart to avoid him. If you really believe in Swansea, there are better places to take a chance for cheaper. As much as I’d love to see this new look Swansea come out and storm the castle day one, we have to be realistic and not spend our money on the third most expensive healthy option available in an unfavorable matchup. I really don’t see Swansea scoring more than once and for me that is enough to avoid him. He will likely be playing near Matic and if that’s not enough for you to avoid him than hopefully he has a career day to rub in my face next week. Save the Iceland National Teamer for another weekend when he’s got more likelihood of success.
Tim Howard (Everton) Goalie – Salary: $5,400 – 5.0 FPPG (2014-15)
The USA net minder will always get some selections each week from the American faithful, but listen to me when I say wait. Everton were absolutely atrocious last season at keeping balls out of the back of the net and Howard wasn’t always as spectacular as we’ve come to expect. John Stones is a year older now, Howard had no international duties this summer and the back four finally appear healthy; but it would suck if this turns into a 3-3 contest and you’re left with Howard on your squad. Let’s wait and see how good Watford is and if Everton have fixed there defensive woes before gambling in this spot with him as a high priced goalie in week one.