Welcome to Week 9 of the English Premier League here at Draft Kings. The site has two separate slates this weekend, between Saturday and Sunday’s three game schedule that will be written up in another posting.
Saturday’s slate is just five games, excluding the early match between West Ham and Manchester City.
Sunderland vs. Arsenal
Trying to plan ahead for this match is both straightforward and tricky. You ask why? There are a few factors that come into play when you start creating your Arsenal stack for this weekend. They’re overwhelming favorites, but after playing away to Anderlecht midweek in a thrilling 2-1 win in the Champions League all signs point to some level of letdown for the Gunners. Am I calling a Sunderland win? No sir, but it might be the total blowout some may be seeking.
Arsene Wenger has to balance the need to rotate his squad to some degree, especially in midfield and attack, against the reality Arsenal should not drop points from this game by tempting fate and sending in the B team. The Gunners do not have a match midweek upcoming, so at most maybe one or two names will change. Wojciech Szczesny ($4,900) will be heavily owned, while Kieran Gibbs ($3,900) and Calum Chambers ($3,700) make a rather attractive stack. Those two defenders have their worth based almost solely in getting a clean sheet bonus; take a look at the previous weeks, and there are not a lot of points provided from crosses and/or fouls drawn.
Midfield gives you unspectacular options like Santi Cazorla ($6,400) and Aaron Ramsey ($6,700); their point totals on average should be a lot higher than what they have been based on the talent around them and how much offense Arsenal generates. As per usual, the sizzle and the steak lie at forward. Alexis Sanchez ($10,300) and Danny Welbeck ($10,600) have high floors and ceilings, but it’ll cost you. If they start, cheaper exposure lies in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($6,100) and Lukas Podolski ($6,000). The 800lb gorilla in the room? That’s Theo Walcott ($8,500), who at worst should be on the bench for this one. Wenger could even start him. But at that price tag, it’s a GPP option only, even if Walcott starts. It’s his first game back-there are too many variables in the mix.
I’m not going near any Sunderland players. I can’t see a recreation of last weekend’s utter capitulation, but I can see 3-1, 4-1, even with Arsenal playing away from home after fun times in Europe during the week. If I had to choose one at gunpoint, it’d be Connor Wickham ($4,900). But it’d be in a GPP lineup that someone else paid for.
Southampton vs. Stoke City:
So…the question is: how many shares do you buy in Southampton? They can’t recreate 8-0 like last weekend versus Sunderland, but they play a similarly talented side in Stoke, again at home. And the secret, if it wasn’t out, is sure is now and the ownership numbers will be high. But you can always take heart that you were in on guys like Dusan Tadic ($9,100) and Graziano Pelle ($9,200) from the start…
Who isn’t an option to start from Southampton? Get ready to see a lot of stacks to include Fraser Forster ($4,700), Nathaniel Clyne ($4,600) and Ryan Bertrand ($4,400). It won’t be cheap, however, and you will have to not make mistakes with the rest of your roster. And keep this in mind: Stoke have not been shut out since September 13th (home, versus Leicester).
Aside from Tadic, I’d pass on any Southampton midfielders (psst-Tadic really isn’t a midfielder). Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin do not get points except when they score goals, and therefore don’t have much cash lineup worth. Up top, Ronald Koeman may continue to start Shane Long ($5,000) instead of Sadio Mane ($7,300), which is kind of a shame-the latter is much more of a dynamic player, which would be worth the price difference in DFS terms. If Long does start, it’s a pretty affordable way to get another Southampton name in your lineup-but in that blowout, Long only got seven points and was subbed out in the second half. Mane scored 17 in his place.
Stoke is a pretty solid team, but I can’t see using any player in a cash format. Even a GPP inclusion is a stretch-you’re not taking Asmir Begovic in net, the defenders are not likely to get forward to rack up crosses/fouls drawn points, and midfield options like Charlie Adam ($5,600) and Victor Moses ($5,500) don’t have the big upside for their mid-level prices to show any justification. Peter Crouch? Mame Diouf? Pass.
Liverpool vs. Hull City
Like Arsenal, Liverpool is coming off Champions League action on Wednesday-but unlike the Gunners, Anfield saw the hosts took a spanking at the hands of Real Madrid. Yes, Hull City are not the Merengues, not near, but those in orange and black are a pretty good side when on. Ask Arsenal about last weekend.
You may think Liverpool remains in the doldrums or bounces back-I’m thinking a bit of both columns. This could be very similar to last weekend’s 3-2 back and forth thriller against QPR, and I do not think spending up to take Simon Mignolet ($5,200) in goal is a good idea. Hull is a tougher opponent, so if you want to spend up on a keeper, I’d go with Szczesny, Forster or another option to come. If you’re choosing not to stack, defenders Alberto Moreno ($4,300) and Andrew Robertson ($4,300) are not cheap. Myself, I’d rather spend a few hundred more for Clyne, Bertrand or both.
If you’re going to choose red in this one, you go with midfield and attackers. Hull is starting their third string keeper (Eldin Jakupvoic). So a lot of entries on Saturday will see Raheem Sterling ($9,500), who should see some of the strongest ownership numbers alongside Tadic in midfield. Steven Gerrard ($7,100) is purely GPP fodder, his floor is way too low unless he gets chances and delivers on free kicks or penalties. I’d rather use Adam Lallana ($6,500) or Philippe Coutinho ($5,300) at a lower price, but they also are just GPP options. Hull has midlevel choices in Mohamed Diame ($5,200) or Hatem Ben Arfa ($4,700), but both have really low floors if they do not score. Search elsewhere.
At forward? If given the choice, I’d be taking Abel Hernandez ($6,000) ten out of ten times over Mario Balotelli ($8,300). If, and it’s a big if, Balotelli starts, he’s in terrible form and his EPL salary actually went up $100 here on the site. If Ricky Lambert ($5,500) starts in place of Balotelli, but a $2,000 rise in cost from last week has subtracted some of the value he had last weekend. Hernandez, with Nikica Jelavic out, is the certain starter, the more established value, and probably a strong bet to go all 90 unless hurt. But like most strikers, if Hernandez doesn’t score, the floor is low, low, low.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace:
This, in my opinion, is the under the radar game that could see multiple goals for each side paired with values in player salaries. The strengths of both sides, while not dynamic as the best teams in the league, lie in attack.
Both keepers are really off the board in this one; if forced, I’d go with the home team’s in Ben Foster. Defenders are a pretty similar vein, but Andre Wisdom ($2,400) is a decent option if you’re really reaching to find a cheap defender. Otherwise, you’re better off finding options elsewhere. Midfield is where you start seeing real options. Even after a really quiet game last weekend, Jason Puncheon ($5,000) is really underpriced and while he isn’t a sexy choice, he has a pretty good floor and in this matchup could find the back of the net. If you really feel strongly about this matchup, a GPP lineup could see Yannick Bolasie ($5,400) partner Puncheon. West Brom’s options are purely GPP plays; Stephane Sessegnon ($5,000) has the most upside, but I like Chris Brunt ($3,300). The left-footer takes free kicks and corners, so the chances for a goal and/or assists are there.
Up top, you have the best play of this game in forward Saido Berahino ($8,700). Leading scorer, spear of the attack, penalty taker, Berahino’s salary has risen but he’s the best of the second tier strikers behind the Arsenal duo and Pelle. A GPP option is Palace’s Frazier Campbell ($5,100); he’s boom or bust. Three goals in his last four for Campbell, but the game he didn’t score? A single point.
Swansea City vs. Leicester City:
Saturday’s late encounter has the Swans, coming off a loss at Stoke, facing a Leicester side that has regressed a bit. A loss at Newcastle sees Leicester down to 15th, and I can’t see them attacking with abandon. There are options in midfield and attack for the visitors; Riyad Mahrez ($5,300) should start after missing last weekend, and he holds more value than Jeff Schlupp ($4,000), Jamie Vardy ($6,100) or Leonardo Ulloa ($6,800). Ulloa hasn’t scored or even but a shot on net in his last three, putting that jackpot against Manchester United well in the rearview mirror. Schlupp has a little more value at that price, but he’s a Flex at best. The matchup is not very favorable for Leicester in this one; Mahrez might be the best and only way to go.
Swansea players will be likely heavily in use on Saturday, from front to back. Lukasz Fabianski ($4,500), Neil Taylor ($3,600) and Angel Rangel ($3,700) should be an en vogue stack. The Swans have admittedly been poor in their last two, giving up a pair of goals to Newcastle and Stoke respectively. Prior to that, Swansea had done well with mid-level to poor opposition. In midfield, you have excellent options (in all formats) in Wayne Routledge ($5,700), Nathan Dyer ($6,000) and most importantly Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,900) who is a pretty good value despite his price rising steadily. Sigurdsson’s floor is in that seven to eight point range, which is pretty sturdy. If Swansea run amok, he and striker Wilfred Bony ($7,400) are likely to be the likely recipients.