Welcome to another week of Premiership action here at Draft Kings, where we have two days to sweat out the results before that other kind of football we all know and love takes the stage over.
This weekend’s slate includes nine matches in total; the only exclusion is the “late” Sunday morning rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots clash between QPR and West Ham United. So put those dreams of Enner Valencia versus the Hoops aside, as we see what choices we have from the buffet called the Premiership….
Sunderland vs. Stoke City, 10am Saturday:
Akin to QPR/West Ham, this one will not be sexy football (™ Ruud Gullit). There is value and options, but it’s not a crowded picture between two offensively challenged clubs. Of course, that brings you straight to the keepers—you’re not getting Vito Mannone ($4,500) cheap, but there’s some positives factors in his favor. He’s at home, facing a less than thriving Stoke attack and he’s got a good record at home. But Asmir Begovic ($3,500) could be the best option overall at goalkeeper for this week. Stoke’s Bosnian keeper is on the lower end of the salary spectrum; City has only given up five goals in five games this season so far. Short of a 2-2 draw against QPR earlier in the season, Stoke has been defensively solid and are a hard team to break down. Begovic is a strong play in all formats.
There’s no standout options to partner Begovic at defender for Stoke, but there if you feel they will keep a clean sheet on the road left backs Erik Peters ($2,300) or Marc Muniesa ($2,200) are value choices (depending on whom starts). Phil Bardsley ($3,500) is more of a certainty, but value likely will only be achieved with a clean sheet for Stoke. Sunderland is pretty similar—Patrick van Aanholt ($3,200) is the best of a lackluster group. If he starts, a pure punt play is in the form of Billy Jones at the minimum at right back—but even at that price, you’re going to need to have a clean sheet. He’s not exactly an attacking dynamo.
I really cannot suggest anyone on either side in the midfield—while not expensive, who wants to hang their cash game hat on Victor Moses ($5,500), Sebastian Larsson ($5,900) or Adam Johnson ($5,800)? They’re purely contrarian options for those with an iron stomach. Maybe, maybe, Emanuele Giaccherini ($4,100) gives you value but he’s not even a certain starter for Sunderland. He’s had a terrible start to the season. Of those mentioned, Moses has the highest ceiling—but he can disappear from games.
Striker is not much better. You can go sub-$5k for guys like Connor Wickham ($4,700), Marko Arnautovic ($4,000) or Mame Diouf ($4,300) if you have a strong gut feeling they’ll grab you a goal as Flex perhaps, but I won’t be going that route. Peter Crouch ($5,800) is your best option of this one, he’s scored in his last two league games—but that would be GPP only in my book.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion:
There’s good and bad things you can take from Liverpool’s midweek loss in Switzerland versus Basel to put towards use of its players on Saturday. They’ll want to make up for the loss, especially at home. Anfield is pretty rough on its visitors, and WBA come calling to a face a wounded Liverpool. The main negative is the turn-around for the home team, having played in the Champions League on Wednesday, travel home, and get the Saturday mid-afternoon kickoff slot. Normally a team would get a Sunday game scheduled.
The main question is whether Daniel Sturridge ($10,000) is risked in this one. He’s had a thigh injury and was out the better part of September, and Liverpool’s attack has clearly suffered in his absence. Keep in mind after this weekend, the international break is scheduled and there’s two weeks between games—and Brendan Rogers has successfully avoided Sturridge getting the call to play for England. Use of Sturridge carries the risk of getting reinjured or getting pulled off early in a blowout on either side, but if you’re willing to center your roster around him it could pay off nicely. There’s no better matchup of a “big” club versus a mid-table opponent. Again, risk versus reward—there’s no surprise in this equation, only in the end result.
If Sturridge does not start, you have the usual suspects that have floundered to a great extent in his absence. Mario Balotelli ($8,600) would be the likely starter in his absence, but on current form the Italian forward won’t be in my lineup, matchup be damned. IF he was to start, Ricky Lambert ($3,500) is an excellent option and a value to boot—but he hasn’t played much this season. Keep in mind West Brom will likely be using backups at both left and right back due to injury and another player being ineligible because he’s a Liverpool player on loan.
Liverpool’s defense has been poor at times this season, so the use of Saido Berahino ($7,300) has its justifications. West Brom is not a pretty team, but its chances to score will center on giving Berahino some chances.
If Sturridge is back, that makes Raheem Sterling ($8,800) an even better option—and he’s been a top five performer so far this season. After Sterling, you have captain Steven Gerrard ($7,100)—his upside clearly stands on chances from free kicks and penalties. If starting, Phillipe Coutinho ($2,800) could turn out to be an excellent choice as a salary saver. West Brom really has little to offer in the midfield and defense; its best midfielders are the defensive pair of Craig Gardner and James Morrison—and rostering defensive midfielder rarely turn out well.
An argument can be made for a defensive/keeper trio of Simon Mignolet ($4,900), Alberto Moreno ($4,300) and Javi Manquillo ($4,100). The latter two will get forward—it’s what they do best, really, and Liverpool being favorites heightens the chances of a win and/or clean sheet bonus for all three. It’s not exactly a cheap combination, but on paper it makes a lot of sense. You just wish Liverpool showed a little more defensive stability this season—they just seem to have lapses which get punished in every game. I can’t see going with Ben Foster ($3,200) at your goalkeeper spot—his weekend has negative points written all over it.
Swansea City vs. Newcastle United:
It’s possibly the last stand for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew in Wales on Saturday. Even a draw might not keep his job, and a loss will likely see him hit the unemployment numbers in the UK. Swansea’s been a bit of a tease so far this season, especially in a winless September league slate. But it’s hard to put aside putting together a Swansea stack, with all positions in play with options from the home team. Lukasz Fabianski ($4,000) has put together an excellent point per game number this season, and left back Neil Taylor ($3,400) slots easily in a defender spot if you chose Fabianski. Whoever starts at right back for the suspended Angel Rangel would be an excellent (likely minimum salary) option, but it may be Ashley Richards-who is listed as a midfielder. Cue sad trombone music. Check the lineups on Saturday morning if there’s a different starter there.
Swansea’s front three attacking midfielders and lone forward are all choices worth your time. Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,400), Nathan Dyer ($5,500) and Wayne Routledge ($4,500) all have value, while whomever starts up top between Wilfred Bony ($5,900) and Bafetimbi Gomis ($5,800) will have their chances on Newcastle’s net. Neither, unfortunately, has shown any goalscoring form this season. You’ll benefit if they take their chances, but depending on them to get goals could sink your lineup in either a GPP or cash matchup.
Newcastle’s options are uneven at best—it’s pick and pray in its purest form. Papiss Cisse ($3,600) has been their best offensive threat this season, but hasn’t played more than a half this season. If he starts, he might be worth using—but that’s a pretty big hope to pin your chances on. Otherwise, Newcastle options aren’t that expensive—because they don’t give a lot of positive point output in the end. Lead striker Emmanuel Riviere ($4,200) hasn’t scored all season. Remy Cabella ($6,100) is the best of a really poor group.
Hull City vs. Crystal Palace:
This game perhaps is the toughest to decipher of the entire weekend. There’s not a lot of options that stand out, but there are a handful you can use in all formats. I can’t see using any keepers, just in the fact I doubt either side keeps a clean sheet. Defenders? The best options are mid-level priced in Hull’s Andrew Robertson ($3,200) or Palace’s Martin Kelly ($2,900)—they have had pretty decent seasons so far and will get you some points going forward—but without a likely clean sheet, you may want to shop elsewhere.
Palace has a trio of midfield options that you can choose from. Jason Puncheon ($5,200) is very undervalued, especially based on prior point returns and his use as a winger in Palace’s front three. The same goes for Yannick Bolasie ($5,500), but I’d rather go with Puncheon. Lastly, Mile Jedinak ($5,600) has two goals in his last two games, and takes penalties for Palace. For Hull, Mohamed Diame ($3,400) is a pretty nice value play if used as an attacking midfielder behind Hull’s front two.
Hull has pretty nice value plays at forward. Hull’s pair of Abel Hernandez ($4,900) and Nikica Jelavic ($5,500) are both capable goalscorers. Hernandez has two in his last three league games, Jelavic three in six. Going with either will be contrarian options that could pay off. I’d avoid, however, using Frazier Campbell ($4,500) for Palace, despite scoring goals in his last two games in the Premiership. Hull’s strength are in its central defenders.
Leicester City vs. Burnley:
The last of the 10am kickoffs has Leicester hosting Burnley; two promoted sides with different starts to the season. Leicester’s had their days (5-3 over Manchester United), while Burnley is dead last with just one goal scored and no wins. Kasper Schmeichel ($3,700) will be an incredibly popular option in lineups at goal—game at home, terrible opposing offense, decent probabilities of bonuses at the end of the weekend. I can’t see choosing, for example, Burnley’s Tom Heaton for $100 less. Even if Leicester gives up a goal, it’s only three points lower as long as it’s one goal and Leicester gets two—both are pretty good odds going on.
Using defenders for Leicester have a much smaller margin of error—it’s really a clean sheet bonus or bust, unless Ritchie de Laet ($3,400) or Paul Konchsky ($3,000) get forward a lot more than they have on average so far for Leicester. Those three will be a popular foundation in lineups this weekend.
I wouldn’t touch any of Leicester’s midfielders; despite their low pricing, they have an awfully low ceiling and floor unless an act of (fate or choose your own deity here) sees someone get two goals out of nowhere. However, I’m very in favor of using Leonardo Ulloy ($7,500), Jamie Vardy ($6,500) or even David Nugent ($4,500). Burnley’s going to defend with numbers and make it hard for Leicester to score, so don’t expect three or more goals for the hosts.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester City, 12:30pm:
Two weeks ago, I suggested a team visiting Villa Park after playing midweek in the Champions League was a team to fade. Arsenal 3, Villa 0.
History repeats itself in the Saturday late game. City is coming off a disappointing draw against Roma on Tuesday; it will be interesting to see what lineup Manuel Pellegrino puts out for City and what changes, if any, are made. I can’t see using Brad Guzan in goal against City—watch him pull off a win/shutout/ten save performance. I’m just not willing to put my money down on that. Joe Hart ($4,700) is a viable option, but I’d rather go elsewhere in goal.
City’s usual suspects to use in defense (Aleksandar Kolarov, Pablo Zabaleta) can be used, but perhaps Pellegrino gives Bagary Sagna and/or Gael Clichy a start—both are value plays that you can use. I just can’t see using any Villa options, especially in defense, in this matchup. I can see Villa defending in numbers and playing on the counterattack, especially to see if they can let City tire themselves out a bit.
I don’t need to tell you Sergio Aguero ($10,200) and Edin Dzeko ($8,900) should be at the top of your list of forwards to use. If City get one, they’re likely to get two, three…and so on. But Stevan Jovetic ($6,600) could start and would be an excellent choice—if given the chance, Jovetic will look to make an impact. Also, if he starts, Frank Lampard ($4,100) could be the value of the weekend in midfield. Jesus Navas ($4,900) has upside if he starts on the right, but he might be on the bench and likely replacement James Milner does not have said ceiling. Higher priced options like David Silva and Yaya Toure have had poor starts to their respective seasons, and would be difficult to choose in cash games. If you did go with them, you’re hoping they play up to their talent against a Villa team that’s been beat 3-0 in back-to-back games.
Manchester United vs. Everton, 7am Sunday:
A word of warning; if you choose anyone from either side in this one, you’re going to need to check on lineups prior to kickoff. If you’re an early riser (a three-year old makes sure I’m one), there’s no issue.
This is a very interesting matchup, for a variance of reasons. Everton played on Thursday in Russia and has to travel back to the UK and play at Old Trafford. Both teams have played horribly in defense. Horrible. The pricing on Tim Howard and David de Gea (both plus $4k) clinches crossing them off my list. Defenders are another point; you will not be expecting bonuses for clean sheets, but all four outside backs will get forward against each other many, many times. Leighton Baines ($4,200), Rafael ($4,200), Seamus Coleman ($3,600) and Luke Shaw ($3,200) are all trustworthy options. Baines has the highest ceiling of the quartet because he takes free kicks and penalties for Everton. That latter usage might come in handy against United.
Both teams have strong options in midfield, but a word of warning on one player. Angel Di Maria ($11,500) has produced time after time for United so far this season but he is by far the most expensive midfield option. An off day will likely ruin you; he isn’t going to take penalties but with Wayne Rooney out could see more responsibilities on free kicks and corners. Whomever starts in place of the suspended Rooney—Juan Mata ($7,900) or Adnan Januzaj ($3,900)—is an option in all formats. My thought is that Mata starts and Januzaj comes off the bench, but if the latter starts, you know Louis van Gaal has little trust in Mata. If you go with anyone in blue at midfield, Aiden McGeady ($4,200) is your man.
Up top, it’ll be interesting to see how Robin van Persie ($9,600) and Radamel Falcao ($9,400) perform Rooney—in my opinion, it could be better without Rooney looking for his own chances. I’d go with van Persie of the two; so far, Falcao looks a step slow and still needs more playing time to be at his best. Everton’s Romelu Lukaku ($9,100) is also an excellent choice, especially with United’s sieve like defense showing especially poorly against a combination of speed and strength, of which Lukaku is a prototype of. Value’s available in whomever starts of Steven Naismith ($6,000), Kevin Mirallas ($5,000) or Samuel Eto’o ($4,100). Mirallas is the most attractive in my opinion of the trio.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton, 9:05am:
This one, in theory, has the ability to be a track meet. Both teams have proven point providers (alliteration is your friend, people) while the respective defenses have shown the ability to be exploited. Add into the mix that Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino left Southampton in the offseason, and it’s downright interesting. Ronald Koeman’s reign at Southampton has proven to be downright positive, with the team second only behind Chelsea.
Another positive in Southampton’s corner is Spurs playing on Thursday in the Europa League, albeit at home and with a lineup mostly comprised of backups. Hugh Lloris ($4,400) had an incredibly strong night in goal for Spurs in that one, but for my money you have better options if you want to pay up for a keeper this weekend—and that’s even if you do spend for one. Lloris’ opposite in this one, Fraser Forster ($4,200) has had just as good of a season so far, and the Southampton stopper is cheaper.
The quartet of outside back defenders in this one rivals Everton/United; you can choose with confidence from Ryan Bertrand ($4,500), Danny Rose ($4,400), Nathaniel Clyne ($3,900) and Eric Dier ($3,600)—clean sheet bonuses would be icing on the cake for any of the four. But they all get forward and have the ability to get points from crosses, fouls drawn and assists. Rose does have an injury, so keep an eye on that—and Dier went 90 on Thursday.
The midfield crop is strong and all in that mid to medium-high range when it comes to pricing. Dusan Tadic ($8,000) has averaged 15 points per game this season, and is used as an attacker in Koeman’s tactical setup. Spurs bring Nacer Chadli ($7,300) and Erik Lamela ($7,200) to the table, both of which have proven point output so far this season. Of the two, Chadli has the more promise of a goal at the end of the day. Lamela and Christian Eriksen ($6,300) are the providers for Spurs. Morgan Schneiderlin ($5,900) has three goals this season, and while he has the lowest floor of the group he could provide value at his price.
At forward, the better options for you are clearly on Southampton. Graziano Pelle ($8,300) has four goals in his last four games, and will also get you points in other categories as well—his floor is pretty high at this point. Sadio Mane ($6,400) made a lot of people money last weekend, and even with a salary more than double last week has value. He and Tadic play on either side of Pelle. There is a chance Koeman goes with Shane Long in Mane’s place, but it’s doubtful. For Spurs, it’s hard to put any confidence in using Emmanuel Adebayor ($7,700) in your lineup unless you have a really strong feeling he will score—which he hasn’t since late August against QPR. Pochettino really doesn’t have any strong alternative to Adebayor; if you feel bold and are willing to hold out a spot until late Sunday, Harry Kane ($5,200) is a really sneaky play. But I’d only do that in a Flex spot, and to make sure you have an ability to pivot from Kane to another player in this or the next game if he does not start.
Chelsea vs. Arsenal:
Ok, time to be honest with you. I’ve faded Arsenal to my personal detriment the last two weeks, both in the EPL and the Champions League. Boo to me, my bankroll now shows the folly of my ways. That’s a personal reason on top of others that this match provides that makes lineup choices really difficult. Both played in Europe midweek, both got wins. Jose Mourinho pretty consistently gets the better of Arsene Wenger, which makes staying on the Arsenal train for some of you a dicey proposition.
Chelsea’s at home, a favorite and has a strong defense—which makes taking Thibaut Courtois ($4,800) out of the equation impossible. But because of Arsenal’s ability to attack, and on their current form, there are better options at goalkeeper. Chelsea may shut down Arsenal and shut them out, and I wouldn’t fault you for using Courtois—but there’s just too much risk involved in my mind. As for Wojciech Szczesny ($3,800), put aside his midweek brainfart against Galatasaray and fade him for other reasons like Chelsea’s ability in attack.
The same mindset carries over to defenders for Arsenal. I can’t see going with any individual with the chances of a clean sheet relatively low. As for Branislav Ivanovic ($4,100) and whomever Mourinho starts opposite him at left back (Cesar Azpilicueta or Filipe Luis), the latter two haven’t proven the consistency or the upside that Ivanovic has. But using Ivanovic has only seen one double-digit output five matches in both the EPL and the Champions League. He’s a solid play, but if you’re straining to get him into your lineup there may better values with the same output. But Ivanovic is there with Baines as the defenders with the highest ceiling, because unlike Baines free kick and penalty opportunities, Ivanovic has the ability to score with his head on dead ball chances.
Those have played before know the names in midfield; you will have to pay up for guys like Cesc Fabregas ($9,200), Mesut Ozil ($8,400) and Eden Hazard ($8,200), but most of the time they’ve been worth the outlay. I’d avoid Jack Wilshire he does start, but Santi Cazorla ($5,700) has some value at his price. It’s the same with Chelsea’s Oscar ($6,000), Willian ($5,200) and Andre Schurrle ($5,000), of course all dependent on a starting role. Nemanja Matic is a superb player, but he plays his role for Mourinho of skilled midfield enforcer to a T. Your potential use of him is really expecting a goal from him, and that’s asking a lot to pay off with.
Strikers? Jose Mourinho seemingly wants to run Diego Costa ($11,600) and his tender hamstrings into the ground—maybe Mourinho is overstating the entire thing to get Costa out of international duty with Spain, but that failed. If Costa starts, he’s a valid play but the Brazilian-born forward is showing signs of slowing down a bit production wise. At that inflated price point, you need more than just one goal really. If he was to start, Loic Remy ($5,700) is a really good play at that mid-range price tag.
As for Arsenal, Danny Welbeck ($8,700) is on fire and Alexis Sanchez ($8,500) right there with him production wise. Both can be used in all formats—question is whether it’s the right week to fade them against Chelsea’s backline. At this point, it’s fade that pair at your risk despite Chelsea’s defensive abilities. But all good things come to an end at some time….