Let’s look at the entire slate for this weekend; the early Stoke City/QPR match is not included, so for all of you wishing to roster Bojan Krkic…DraftKings owes you an apology. Again, remember, the late swap is your friend, and the ability to evolve your team close to kickoff after starting lineups are announced could be the key to finding value and the right mix. The information here was dated almost as soon as it was posted—doesn’t make it less worth your time, but information will make some of it a moot point. Knowledge is power, knowing is half the battle…you know what I mean. You watched the same cartoons I did.
Aston Villa (home) vs. Arsenal, 10am Saturday:
Let’s face it–there are a lot out there, be it in cash games or in GPPs, which are ready to stack a number of Gunners in their lineup. Personally, I’m not one of them, and I won’t be rostering any. Put aside the worries that Arsenal played midweek, getting blitzed (pun intended) in Dortmund. Villa’s had a really strong start to the season, winning three of four. Brad Guzan ($4,300) is a strong option in net for Villa, no matter how you see this going. If Villa defends and looks for the counter, Guzan might see a lot of shots; on the other side of the coin Villa could dominate a tired opponent that they’ve had success against as of late.
If you want to go Gunner, be ready to wait for Arsene Wenger’s lineup and seek value–may I suggest Santi Cazorla ($5,000) or Yaya Sanogo ($3,200) if they start?
Newcastle United vs. Hull City:
Want value? Lock and load the Tigers, especially in GPP play. Even though they’re on the road, the Tigers face a Newcastle team ready to jettison Alan Pardew after a winless start to the season. Ready to punt at keeper? Allan McGregor ($3,000) is an excellent option. Abel Hernandez ($4,600) is an excellent second striker or flex option. Surprisingly, Massadio Haidara ($2,900) has the second best average points per week for defenders so far–so if you’re going black and white, look Haidara’s way.
Swansea City vs. Southampton:
This one has the makings of the weekend’s equivalent of Suns/Thunder or Blazers/Clippers. Both teams like to attack, both teams have managers who want to have their teams pass and hold possession. They won’t come cheap, though. Dusan Tadic ($6,600) sees a lot of the ball, and should be the fulcrum of attack for the visitors. Our next defender spotlight falls on Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne ($2.900)–he isn’t dirt cheap, but he gets forward a lot and has the ability to get points from crosses. For the Swans, go with the value of Nathan Dyer ($5,600) over the bigger name (literally and figuratively) of Gylfi Sigurdsson ($8,900). And one of these games, Wilfred Bony ($4,200) is going to lock into step with the rest of the attack. Another value play.
Burnley vs. Sunderland:
Avoid attackers in this one; Sebastian Larsson ($7,300) and Adam Johnson ($7,100) aren’t worth the outlay, unlikely to return the investment. If you want to go bargain basement in net, both Vito Mannone ($3,200) and Tom Heaton ($3,300) could get a clean sheet out of this. This screams of 0-0 or 1-0. Only for those with an iron gut and the ultra-contrarian mindset.
West Ham United vs. Liverpool
Another en vogue stack in this one. I have more trust in Liverpool than Arsenal. Liverpool played at home, underachieved (yet won) in the Champions League. There is the potential in this for a blowout on the road, but watch who Brendan Rodgers starts in this one–there’s squad rotation in them there hills.
Will Rodgers start Raheem Sterling ($9,200) and Mario Balotelli ($8,400) from the start in this one? The latter’s more likely with Daniel Sturridge out. Steven Gerrard ($7,500) is always good for chances from free kicks and the penalty spot. Phillipe Coutinho ($3,500) could be a steal if he starts, regardless of a slow start to the season. Alberto Moreno ($5,100) is an attacking left back who’s best qualities are…well, not defending. For West Ham, it’s purely tournament play as a contrarian option. Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate are all options–Liverpool can be hit, especially on the counter.
Leicester City vs. Manchester United
I’ll put aside my Mancunian leanings aside for a moment to say this—while their likely backline is relatively cheap (all four likely starters from $2,000 to $2,500), do not expect a clean sheet. There’s a chance United repeats its dominance of last weekend against QPR, but there’s two differences on Sunday—they’re on the road, and to be honest, Leicester has a better team and won’t lay down like QPR. I’d fade David de Gea ($5,200) on this reason and go with other options (to follow).
But I’m all over United’s attack. Pay up for Angel di Maria ($9,200)—he’s one of the nearest to a sure thing at this point—think Andrew McCutchen or Jose Bautista. Ander Herrera ($5,600) is a pretty decent value as well. Is this the weekend Robin van Persie ($10,600) shows up? I’m not willing to lay over 20% of my cap on it. Wayne Rooney ($11,900) is the better bet.
There is value and production in Leicester’s attack. Leonardo Ulloa ($3,600) sticks out as a high-end flex option to save cash, almost averaging a dozen points per game so far. Want a real long shot? If he starts, Tom Lawrence ($3,000) is a former United youth player who just signed a month ago for City. Those of you that believe in “revenge games” might want to step up. In goal, Ben Hamer ($3,000) could see a lot of leather, rubber and plastic come his way—while he might not get the win or clean sheet bonus (although it’s not out of the question), he’ll get saves.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion:
In my mind, Spurs aren’t the complete slam dunk stack that some may think. It’s likely they’ll win, don’t get me wrong—West Brom haven’t won a single game this season, and they’re outgunned in this one. But with Spurs having played on Thursday in the Europa League—in Serbia—there’s going to be some squad rotation even after Mauricio Pochettino gave a lot of starters rest in that one.
Hugo Lloris ($5,300) isn’t cheap, but on paper he is probable one of two keepers most likely to get a win and a clean sheet combined from this weekend. If he starts, defender Jan Vertonghen ($2,200) has both value and the ability to score off a dead ball. Those of you from this summer’s World Cup gaming know the value of a defender scoring (Mats Hummels, hero). Attacking options are a bit dicey—either you’re going to pay up for Nacer Chadli ($9,900) or Erik Lamela ($9,000) or likely you’re looking elsewhere. May I suggest a more reasonable Christian Eriksen ($6,100) model? I’m definitely not going to gamble on Emmanuel Adebayor ($9,800) waking up this weekend, if he even starts.
Everton vs. Crystal Palace
I don’t have to tell you that Tim Howard ($4,900) is a starting option in goal. At that salary, he’s begging to be rostered in all formats. Leighton Baines ($3,500) for several years has stuck out as perhaps the best option in Premiership fantasy. He gets forward, gets in crosses, and takes free kicks and penalties. What’s not to like, especially at that relatively affordable price? At the same price, his fellow Evertonian Seamus Coleman is another viable option—Baines without the deadball opportunities. If he starts, Aiden McGeady ($3,300) is an excellent value play in midfield or at flex because of his ability to cross and score goals if given the opportunity. Otherwise, keep an eye on who Roberto Martinez starts for Everton. If, and this is a big if, he starts, Samuel Eto’o ($3,000) could pay off immensely if Romelu Lukaku if given a breather. Kevin Mirallas ($5,200) and Steven Naismith ($5,800) are also reasonable options as a second striker or flex option if you don’t go top shelf elsewhere in your lineup. Am I suggesting an Everton stack? Home game versus a team that hasn’t won all season, while Everton has score 11 goals over their first five? If they hadn’t played on Thursday in the Europa League, I’d be diving in head first.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea:
The big boy game of the weekend. But for our purposes, it’s littered with landmines. It’s the last game of the weekend, both teams are coming off European adventures on Wednesday (City with the travel while Chelsea did not) and there’s going to be guys getting shuttled in and out of the lineup. This screams Jose Mourinho parking the bus to me, he’s done it before, he’ll do it again, and he’ll do it well.
If that’s the case, this will likely not be a fantasy friendly matchup. Rostering Diego Costa ($12,400) is a risk. The salary is Kershawesque, and while Mourinho says he’ll start despite being hurt—at the very least, you’ll get a guy that isn’t 100%. Yes, he’s been on fire—five in his last two starts, but they haven’t been against a team with City’s caliber of defenders. There are better matchups on the board than this one, and at that salary you almost need two goals to justify it in an overall team structure that you will build.
There are better options when it comes to output for what you’re paying. But again, this is all dependent on who Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrino start on Sunday. And it’s the last game of the weekend, so any swap option will be limited. City’s Sergio Aguero ($11,200) and Edin Dzeko are both options you can put trust in—again, if they start. Aguero is the more likely of the two.
If you want to roster guys from this game, look to defense and midfield. While both Joe Hart and Thibaut Courtois are both excellent keepers, amongst the league’s best, I’d rather go for either the more “sure thing” options like Lloris or Howard, or go for the punt and the high ceiling. Branislav Ivanovic ($3,900) is among the league’s most trustworthy and consistent defenders, and he will get you points from the backline, over and above any clean sheet you could benefit from.
To me, the most interesting thing about this match—both in fantasy and in general—is the midfield battle. Who wins will likely show both on the scoreboard in the stadium and in your games. Value is available in Ramires ($4,000), Andre Schurrle ($5,000) and Oscar ($5,900) if Mourinho includes them for the beginning. City’s options are more expensive; will Yaya Toure ($6,700) step up after a lot of criticism that’s been thrown his way so far this season? He has been perhaps been the league’s best player over the past two to three seasons overall. Cash game play might be a bit too risky, but in a GPP perhaps?
If you have any questions, I can be reached at @arisoha on Twitter. Good luck to everyone.