Burnley vs. Everton
If there was ever a game Everton could get its defense right, it would be this one. But as is, I can’t see spending up on Tim Howard ($5,000) at that price tag. However, I’m all in on his outside backs. Leighton Baines ($5,500) and Seamus Coleman ($4,500) are your best bets even without a great possibility of a clean sheet bonus.
In midfield, you have the just returned Ross Barkley ($7,800) who Everton will run their offense through potentially, but just coming off injury he may be sat by Roberto Martinez who will try to avoid a third match in eight days. Leon Osman ($4,000) is a value option if started, while Steven Naismith ($6,500) is in that limbo of too high a salary to be a real value while not having a high ceiling to justify it. You’ll have Romelu Lukaku ($10,000) at forward; he’s at the same price tier as a couple of Manchester United forwards I’ll discuss later, but against a much lesser defense. If you have the salary to use, Lukaku should be worth the cost.
As for Burnley, Tim Heaton ($3,400) is one of two options Sunday if you want to go cheap and hope for the best. Burnley has given up nine goals in its last three games. I’d look elsewhere. Kieran Trippier ($3.900) is a viable option at a defender spot, while in midfield pickings are sparse. Use Michael Kightly ($4,300) in a pinch, but he may not start. But Burnley does have two value options at forward; lead striker Lucas Jutkiewicz ($5,200) could be the beneficiary of Everton’s leaky defense, while Danny Ings ($4,200) could be my favorite play of the day. That price tag can help you put some big names together.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United
Spurs come off a thrashing of Asteras in the Europa League on Thursday, hosting a Newcastle team that seemingly wants to keep Alan Pardew employed these days. But let’s face facts; even with the quick turnaround, Tottenham is the much better team in this. At home, it’s just a question of who you can get value from.
And, for me, it starts in the back. There isn’t a certain win/clean sheet bonus over these three games, but the best bet is Huge Lloris ($4,700). If Spurs play up to their abilities, they should win and keep Newcastle at bay. He is a better value than Howard at $300 less and does not have to face the type of attack the keepers in the following match preview do. If you’re going to pay up for your backline and feel Spurs can close up shop, pair Lloris with Danny Rose ($4,100) and a defender from one of the other two games. Eric Dier ($3,600) simply has not shown the ability to get forward enough to get you those points from crosses.
If you want to go purely contrarian in a GPP, chose Newcastle’s Tim Krul ($3,500) or Heaton and hope they stand on their figurative head. Otherwise, there are not that many options to go with if you choose Newcastle players. You have Papiss Cisse ($8,100) up top, but at that price tag it is tough to justify including him in a cash or 50/50 game because of his volatility. Midfielders Gabriel Obertan ($5,400) and Remy Cabella ($5,200) have GPP potential if starters.
Otherwise, it’s all Spurs in this one. The trio of Christian Eriksen ($7,400), Erik Lamela ($7,200) and Nacer Chadli ($7,100) are all affordable and good options in a midfield or flex role. Lamela might have that rabona goal to his credit, but the Argentinean has been invisible in league play as of late. You’re better off with Chadli; his wing play does not make you as needful of a goal to return value that Eriksen requires. At forward, whomever starts is an viable choice on paper, but collective form should make you wary. Emmanuel Adebayor ($7,400) has been terrible, Roberto Solado ($7,100) has not been much better, while Harry Kane ($5,400) would be the best value but he seems to be held only for Thursday nights.
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
So…let’s get this out of the way. I’ll be incredibly surprised if Diego Costa ($12,500) doesn’t play Sunday. On Friday, Jose Mourinho upgraded the striker from the equivalent of on death’s doorstep to a “little chance”. Costa hurt his hamstring and is also suffering from some kind of viral infection-can he, like Hulk Hogan in the late 80’s, rise from the mat to conquer all?
Who knows? It’s a tough decision to make in the end to roster Costa and wait until the end of the slate; if he doesn’t play, you’ll be out at least a couple of thousand dollars on your cap and will have to pivot to one of several other options in this game. Best, if you do roster Costa, leave him in your flex and if he does not play, you can choose a midfielder or forward. Didier Drogba ($5,300) or Andre Schurrle ($5,800) would be the lone striker with both Costa and Loic Remy out. Drogba would likely not be fit to go 90 minutes, and with the consistent ability of United’s defense to be beaten by speed and mobility Schurrle might be the more viable option.
United and Luis van Gaal have their own choice to make up top. Robin van Persie ($9,700) has been really poor as of late, and even as temporary captain (this is the last game in Wayne Rooney’s suspension) he could sit. Radamel Falcao ($10,200) would be his replacement if it’s a either/or decision; van Gaal might even start both, although it makes more sense to match Chelsea man for man in the midfield.
Angel di Maria ($12,800) has been the DFS EPL equivalent to Clayton Kershaw or Kevin Durant so far. The floor is high, and the ceiling-it’s up there. In all formats, he’s a must use unless you are trying to be completely contrarian in a GPP. The likelihood that Juan Mata ($7,900) starts against his club has gone down a bit, especially after Maroune Fellani’s ($5,300) performance against West Brom this past Monday. If Fellani starts, look for Di Maria to be given an even more advanced role while Fellani could play off one or two forwards or a more defensive midfield role. If both van Persie and Falcao start, it’ll be Di Maria behind them and Felliani back with Ander Herrera ($5,100) and Daley Blind. Any double digit upside for Herrera is based purely on a goal, and his responsibilities on Sunday should be more combatting Chelsea’s talented core in midfield.
Speaking of which, it’s the same names you’ll see every week for Chelsea. You can pay up for the high floor/ceiling (not the same ones as Di Maria, but pretty close) of Cesc Fabregas ($9,500) or Eden Hazard ($9,300). Fabregas is the surer thing; the Spaniard has double digit points in all but one match since August. The volatility of Hazard is that he isn’t a classical winger, but is much more of a goal scoring threat than Fabregas. Then you have the mid-level price tag Oscar ($7,100) brings you, which can pay off nicely if he scores. If he doesn’t, the floor is akin to Herrera more than Cesc . If he starts, Willian ($5,800) is the cheapest “useful “exposure to Chelsea’s midfield.
Defensively and in goal, you’re not betting on a clean sheet bonus in this one. You have relative sure things in Rafael ($4,400) and Branislav Ivanovic ($4,100), a slightly more affordable outside back option in Filipe Luis ($3,800), while whomever United starts at left back (Luke Shaw ($3,200) or Marcos Rojo ($3,100)) might be a relative value play if United plays four or even three in the back. If it’s the latter, Shaw could play a wing back role on the left while Rafael would do the same on the right with Rojo, Phil Jones and another defender set to deal with Chelsea’s lone striker. The only issue with that was United’s poor ability early in the season to move the ball from a back three into midfield, and it was a big issue.
Both David de Gea ($4,300) and Thibaut Courtois ($4,000) belong in the conversation about the best young goalkeepers in the world. But on my part, there is a real hesitation to start either because of the attacking abilities in play. If it’s one, and there may be one because of the lack of a real leading candidate in this last, it has to be Courtois. If either team is going to shut its opponent down, it will be Chelsea.