Sunday brings another slate of English Premier League gaming here on Draft Kings, and while there is not a large GPP that we had on Boxing Day, there are several options to join in to get things warmed up for the rest of your DFS day.
It’s a one-day slate on Sunday, with two early matches omitted (Spurs/Manchester United, Southampton/Chelsea) and one Monday game out of the pool between Liverpool and Swansea City. Six matches start at 10am, while Newcastle United/Everton kicks off at 11:15. That makes seven in total, so let’s go through each of them and see what options are in the mix. With this being the second match in three days for each team, and the second of what is four games in nine days (New Years Day and the FA Cup next weekend) rotation in each lineup will be needed. Keeping an eye on the starting lineups, as per usual, will be key. Keep your lineups flexible and ready for change.
Aston Villa vs. Sunderland:
Both teams are coming off losses, and while Villa are slight home favorites both teams have struggling offenses and player salaries mirror that. Both keepers are in play; Brad Guzan ($4,300) and Costel Pantilimon ($4,300) could pick up a clean sheet and a win from this one. Either team picking up more than one goal would be a surprise, so at the very least either one could get a one goal against bonus plus whatever is picked up through saves. Best case scenario is a win, clean sheet and three to five shots against. With Villa going with a 3-5-2 formation tha tallows both Aly Cissokho ($3,700) and Alan Hutton ($3,800) to be used as wingbacks. Hutton is the better play of the two, but both are in play on this slate. Sunderland do not, by tactical nature, send their outside backs forward all that much—but if he starts, Billy Jones ($2,000) is in play because of his salary if you pay up elsewhere.
While Villa’s midfield is bereft of any goodness both real life and DFS, Sunderland has the in-form Adam Johnson ($5,200), who has scored in his last two games, Sebastian Larsson ($5,700) who has free kick responsibilities and Jordi Gomez ($4,900) who failed to hit double digits on Friday for the first time in four games. But with rotation in mind, some may not start and guys like Jack Rodwell and William Buckley could come into play. Connor Wickham ($6,100) was suspended for the loss at home to Hull City on Friday, and should return to the starting lineup as Sunderland’s left wing. Wickham is a pretty strong play in all formats, while whomever starts between Steven Fletcher ($5,800) or Jozy Altidore ($4,700) could be a GPP play because of Villa’s breachable defense. With Gabriel Agbonlahor suspended, look for Andreas Weimann ($4,700) to start alongside Christian Benteke ($8,500) in Villa’s attack. Benteke, even in this matchup, is still a GPP option-his salary requires a goal to match value, and with Villa’s poor service to him the Belgian forward will require something out of the blue—akin to creating his own chance that he put away against Manchester United earlier this month.
Hull City vs, Leicester City:
Hull’s win at Sunderland could not have come at a better time for Steve Bruce and company; staying alive in the Premiership could have a lot riding on how Hull performs over its next two home games against Leicester and Everton. Hull is a bigger favorite at home than Villa, but it’s relatively the same kind of matchup that the first one brought to the table. Leicester are dead last, and another loss would likely see Nigel Pearson fired as manager.
Alan McGregor ($4,600) is likely at the highest salary he’ll be this season because of the incredibly positive matchup in this one, but the ceiling is pretty low because Leicester is likely not to put a lot of shots on McGregor’s net. Double digits are within reach for McGregor, and he should see a lot of ownership on Sunday. Hull’s Liam Rosenior ($2,700) is a low-cost option at defense because of the clean sheet bonus that Hull could take from this, and the matchup could allow Rosenior to get forward more—the defender was known an offensively talented prospect early in his career.
The remainder of Hull’s possible starting lineup has value; Ahmed Elmohamady ($5,800) gets forward a lot, but if he is used as a right back in this one the Egyptian’s possible value is definitely lessened. Robbie Brady ($3,000) could be an interesting minimum cost play even if used as a winger, because of his ability on set pieces and the ability to rack up points from crosses. Both Gaston Ramirez ($3,000) and Sone Aluko ($5,000) are possible plays, but keep an eye on Bruce’s starting lineup—Aluko has been used of late as the lead forward, but either Nikica Jelavic ($5,500) or Abel Hernandez ($5,400) may get the start. Jelavic scored as a late sub in the win against Sunderland, and that goal could be just the confidence boost the Croatian needed.
For Leicester, it really comes down to three options that make any DFS sense. Leonardo Ulloa ($6,000) scored against Spurs and should start against for the visitors—however, like most strikers, his value is dependent on him getting a goal. He’s GPP fodder, while Leicester’s pair of wingers have worth in any format, especially Riyad Mahrez ($5,000). At that price, Mahrez is an excellent play that should be highly owned. Jeff Schlupp ($5,200) is on the other wing, and could be the contrarian option if Hull focuses on taking Mahrez out of the game. With Jamie Vardy suspended, it’s likely that David Nugent could get the start in his place alongside Ulloa. Nugent has scored just once this season, albeit in a limited role.
Manchester City vs. Burnley:
City are understandably huge favorites in this one, and it will be interesting to see how much Manuel Pellegrini shuffles the deck against an outmatched Burnley side in this one. City have to try and keep pace with Chelsea for any chance in the title race. City has favorable matches against Burnley and Sunderland going into the New Year, and will likely look for six points fro the pair of matches.
So let’s go through Pellegrini’s options in full: it looks like Joe Hart ($5,600) will remain in goal and that salary is commiserate with the win/clean sheet he’ll likely bring from this game. However, there is the chance City give up a garbage time goal like they did against West Brom on Boxing Day and a similar thing could take place against Burnley Both Gael Clichy ($4,400) and Bacary Sagna ($3,700) started on Friday, leaving the chance that both sit against Burnley with Alex Kolarov ($5,400) and Pablo Zabaleta ($4,900) playing in their stead. Any of the four are strong plays, but the latter two have the highest ceiling. Above and beyond any clean sheet bonus they might get, both Kolarov and Zabaleta get forward and are decent shots at grabbing a goal when it comes to defenders. It’s costly to use anyone from City, but it’ll be well worth it.
With City’s injuries up front as of late, Pellegrini has used six midfielders in his lineup as of late and some squad rotation is bound to happen from the WBA win. The only striker that Pellegrini might use in this match is Stevan Jovetic ($7,000); if he starts, Jovetic should be highly owned because of the chances he’ll likely see in this one. Otherwise, keep an eye on the starting lineup from Pellegrini and choose with confidence. All of David Silva ($8,500), Yaya Toure ($8,100), James Milner ($7,000), Jesus Navas ($6,000), Samir Nasri ($6,500) and Frank Lampard ($4,100) are in play if starting. At least three of the six should start in this game, and if Jovetic does not start that will grow to four—and it could go to five if Pellegrini rests either of his defensive midfielders, Fernando or Fernandinho ($3,000). Since the latter was a second half sub against WBA while Fernando started, Fernandinho could be the minimum price play of the slate at midfield. Of course, Lampard’s salary is highly useable if he starts.
Burnley are a good side, but there’s not a lot to choose from in this game. Of course, you could use Tom Heaton ($3,500) in a GPP because the Burnley keeper will see a lot of action and could have a nice day production wise if he stands on his head. Otherwise, usual Burnley options like Kieran Trippier ($4,000) and Danny Ings ($6,000) are most likely out of the mix because of their limited upside. Trippier won’t get forward as much, so therefore not many crosses. Ings will be on an island up top, his chances on goal will not be plentiful.
QPR vs. Crystal Palace:
Another battle between teams in the bottom half of the table in this one, with QPR hosting a Palace side that fired Neil Warnock on Saturday and has an interim manager for this match. That unrest has QPR as growing favorites, with a home match that could see them taking three points on Sunday.
Despite their poor standings in the table, both team are relatively DFS friendly and give you options with value in most cases. However, Robert Green ($4,600) is the only likely option in goal because of his home start—Julian Speroni’s salary is higher and Palace have little chance to win on the road, much less shutting out QPR. Armand Traore ($2,800) is another value defender, but the upside likely is not as much as Rosenior. Palace’s pair of Martin Kelly ($3,500) and Joel Ward ($3,000) are decent, but with a clean sheet not likely I’d avoid both.
Overall, Palace has the more DFS friendly midfield, with several options if rotation doesn’t take place under interim manager Keith Millen. All of Mile Jedinak ($6,400), Yannick Bolasie ($6,200), Jason Puncheon ($5,900) and Wilfried Zaha ($4,500) can be used if given the chance, especially if Bolasie and Zaha are used as advanced wingers in a 4-3-3 supporting a main striker instead of a 4-4-2 formation. One note on Bolasie; his wife is due to give birth and he may be a late absence. It looks like Dwight Gayle ($4,800) will start up top for Palace, and he’s a nice contrarian GPP option for your Flex spot.
QPR has perhaps the best forward in the slate in Charlie Austin ($9,400); despite being clearly the best option that the team has to offered and seeing the lions share of defensive attention, Austin has been consistent as a DFS point producer. The price tag has risen for Austin, but his output plus the matchup will make it hard to avoid him in your lineups. If Bobby Zamora starts alongside Austin, it’s that much better of a play because Zamora compliments Austin so well. Leroy Fer ($5,300) was rested against Arsenal in QPR’s loss on Friday, but the winger is a strong option.
Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion:
Stoke is on a bit of a roll against the lesser lights of the Premiership, and WBA offers them another chance at three points to help keep relegation away for another season. Relatively speaking, they’re one of Saturday’s biggest favorites and could be a comfortable winner against a WBA side that’s dropped four of its last six.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Boxing Day slate was Stoke’s win at Everton, from which Asmir Begovic ($4,200) took home 20 points—and Begovic’s salary and matchup makes things pretty tempting for using him on Sunday. Stoke is pretty solid at home and should have an unchanged backline going into this game. Look towards other options for Stoke like defender Erik Peters ($3,200), midfielder Charlie Adam ($5,300) and forwards Bojan Krkic ($5,800), Jonathan Walters ($4,800) and Peter Crouch ($5,900). If he was to start, Oussama Assaidi ($3,000) is an interesting GPP punt play. Krkic has been the hottest of the bunch, but had to leave the win over Everton early due to a back injury.
For the visitors, West Brom is tough to garner much interest in because its lack of DFS options. At best, Ben Foster ($4,000) is a contrarian GPP play but I’d avoid backing WBA’s defense like the plague on Sunday. Outside backs Sebastian Pocognoli and Andre Wisdom have a low ceiling without a clean sheet bonus looming, and its midfield lacks any dynamism to put your cap towards. Whomever starts up top—be it Saido Berahino ($7,100), Brown Ideye ($4,800) or even Silvestre Valera ($4,800)—all are goal dependent, and its tough to see where WBA will be able to find the back of the net from in this game.
West Ham United vs. Arsenal:
To the naked eye, this is the most interesting of the 10am starts—fifth against sixth in the standings, Arsenal holding off QPR on Friday despite playing most of the second half with ten men while West Ham found itself another victim of the steamroller that is Chelsea Football Club. The Hammers go from road underdog to home underdog, but it’ll be interesting to see how much was taken out of Arsenal in the second half and how much Arsene Wenger will change up his lineup.
Anyone from Arsenal’s front four is an option for all formats; with Olivier Giroud suspended, it looks like Danny Welbeck ($8,600) will play in his preferred central forward role. Despite Welbeck’s poor form and West Ham’s solid defense, it is tough to overlook the lone forward in any Arsenal side. Alexis Sanchez ($10,200) is a certain option if he is started, and as much as Arsenal revolve around the talented Chilean, it’s tough to see Wenger sitting Sanchez. Santi Cazorla ($8,500) has a better chance of sitting it out from the start, but the Spanish midfielder has been the center of the Arsenal attack as of late. Of course, if either Lukas Podolski ($5,000) or Joel Campbell ($4,000) get a spot start both have excellent value potential for their salaries. It’s the same with Tomas Rosicky ($4,600).
It’s unlikely either side takes a clean sheet from this match, so the upside for using either Wojciech Szczesny ($5,000) or Adrian (4,600) is lessened a great deal. Both teams have had solid attacks, and that has come partly from both teams’ outside backs. West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell ($4,700) is more costly than whomever Arsenal puts out—be it Kieran Gibbs ($4,400), Calum Chambers ($4,300) or Mathieu Debuchy ($4,000). If Chambers plays centrally and Debuchy is on the right, the latter is an excellent play who is more naturally suited to right back than the central role he’s filled in as of late. With Carl Jenkinson unable to play against his parent club (he’s on loan at West Ham from Arsenal), Guy Demel ($3,300) or Joey O’Brien ($2,000) should start and have potential as a value play at defense.
Stuart Downing ($7,600) remains relatively cheap for his production, hitting double digits consistently throughout this season. Downing remains tactically an excellent fit behind West Ham’s pair of strikers. Diafra Sakho ($8,500) was a substitute in the loss against Chelsea and should start alongside either Andy Carroll ($8,100) or Enner Valencia ($8,300). Carroll played the full match against Chelsea and while the larger Carroll is the best fit alongside either Sakho or Valencia he may not start against Arsenal Sunday. The rest of West Ham’s options are GPP at best, with low cost midfielders like Kevin Nolan ($4,800) and Mark Noble ($4,300) needing a goal or assist to hit value.
Newcastle United vs. Everton:
The late start on Sunday sees Everton, despite a laundry list of potential absences and poor form, slight favorites on their trip to St. James Park to face Newcastle. Let’s go through the likely players out for Everton: Leon Osman is out, Steven Naismith is suspended, while all from John Stones, Kevin Mirallas, Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka are doubtful to play due to injuries from the loss at home to Stoke on Friday. Because of the quick turnaround, Roberto Martinez is facing a backline without Everton’s long time starting keeper and both central defenders.
Howard’s likely replacement is Joel Robles ($3,000); that minimum price tag for a keeper is pretty tempting but Everton’s inconsistency is tough to trust using Robles in your lineup unless it’s your third or fourth GPP lineup. Newcastle’s Jak Alnwick ($4,400) is a better option to use than Robles, but because Everton does have talent in attack I’d rather use options like Begovic, McGregor, Guzan or Pantilimon in the same price range.
Both sides have excellent options, potentially, in defense at outside back. Leighton Baines ($5,300) remains the most likely defender in the EPL to hit your ceiling because of his skill set and set piece responsibilities, but the England international failed again to hit double digits on Friday—and the lack of a clean sheet bonus may keep him in the singles again. Both he and Seamus Coleman ($4,600) have failed to hit value over the past month consistently. On the other hand, Daryl Janmaat ($3,700) is pretty consistent points wise and in getting into the attack during the flow of games for Newcastle. In midfield, Ross Barkley ($7,500) remains too highly priced for my liking and, if he starts, Aiden McGeady ($4,500) is more to my liking.
Otherwise, all other options for Everton are at forward. Romelu Lukaku ($8,000) remains an underperforming option despite his ability and the tactical sweet spot as Everton’s usual lone striker. If Mirallas does start, Lukaku’s fellow Belgian is a better consistent option. Samuel Eto’o ($5,800) could start for Martinez and provides goalscoring GPP potential.
For Newcastle, their front six is tough to predict because Alan Pardew could go several different ways coming off their loss at Manchester United. Newcastle, after their strong run of play in the Premiership, has lost its last three matches and Everton has the ability to make it four. Newcastle has been strong at home, and Pardew could shuffle the deck and use Papiss Cisse ($7,800) from the opening whistle at forward. Pardew’s Newcastle uses one forward up top, and it’s likely to be either Cisse or Ayoze Perez ($7,100). Perez as of late has been used in an attacking midfield role, so he could be up top, play the #10 or given a rest by Pardew. Adam Armstrong ($3,000) started up top for Newcastle in their last match, but it’s unlikely to see a second straight start for the 17 year old. Sammy Ameobi ($5,600), Moussa Sissoko ($5,000) and Remy Cabella ($5,000) are all possible GPP plays.