Opening weekend of the Premier League season is here and Draftkings granted us with a $20 contests that awards $10,000 to the winner. With five games on Saturday, we have plenty of players to choose from and top teams like Chelsea and Everton will be in action. In today’s EPL Targets I will be analyzing some of the best plays for this slate of games and point out some of the best values based on price. Also follow me on Twitter (@jwl_15) for injury and lineup updates throughout the day.
Tim Howard – ($5,400) – Everton – Howard finished last season very strong and took the summer off as he declined to participate in the Gold Cup for the USMNT. He should be well rested and ready to go against newly promoted Watford. I expect Watford to be a bit cautious in their first Premier League match since 2007, meaning Howard could be in line to start the season with a clean sheet.
Thibaut Courtois – ($5,700) – Chelsea – Courtois has officially locked up the position as Chelsea’s starting goalie with the sale of Petr Cech to Arsenal. Courtois started a majority of the games last year, and the 23 year old looks to solidify himself as the top goalkeeper in the Premier League. Swansea City is always a tough matchup with their passing ability, but Chelsea should be able to pull out a win in this matchup.
Costel Pantilimon – ($4,700) – Sunderland – Pantilimon finished last season with a bang, scoring double digits in two of his last three games he started. Since leaving Manchester City, he has solidified himself as one of the up and coming goalkeepers in the Premier League. He has a decent matchup in week one with Leicester City uncertain of what to expect with some of their new acquisitions.
Branislav Ivanovic – ($6,000) – Chelsea – Ivanovic will once again be one of the best, if not the best fantasy defender in all of the Premier League. His ability to play crosses, win headers, and fire shots on goal make him a valuable defender. His price is a bit steep for a defender, but with the injuries to potential high priced attacking options on Saturday, he may be a guy to put in your lineup.
Seamus Coleman – ($5,800) – Everton – Coleman was one of the better defenders in the Premier League last season, but was often overshadowed by the play of Leighton Baines. Coleman’s speed and crossing ability makes him a great play each week, and if Romelu Lukaku is healthy then Coleman’s value only increases.
Micah Richards – ($2,900) – Aston Villa – Richards returns to the Premier League after a year on loan in Serie A, but no longer plays for Manchester City. He made the switch to Aston Villa this summer and quickly made his mark as he was named the teams captain going forward. He will no longer be playing fullback as we have seen in the past, but the converted center back will be a great value play at his price. With a great matchup this week against the newly promoted, AFC Bournemouth, his new role in the Premier League should start off on the right foot.
Gary Cahill – ($3,300) – Chelsea – Cahill at $3,300 seems like a steal to me on the opening weekend. Chelsea are one of the best defensive teams in the league and will have a chance to prove it against Swansea City. He also has shown from time to time that he can provide some threat on corners. Unfortunately his defensive counterparts John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic often take a majority of those opportunities.
Eden Hazard – ($9,800) – Chelsea – The most expensive player in the opening slate of the Premier League season, Hazard has plenty to live up too. He was brilliant once again last season and with the injury to Diego Costa, he will have to step up. Loic Remy and Falcao haven’t proven themselves as viable replacements just yet, meaning more of the goal scoring responsibility will have to be placed on the flashy, Belgium winger.
Ross Barkley – ($6,800) – Everton –It’s only a matter of time until Ross Barkley solidifies himself as one of the best midfielders in England. He shows flashes of his world class ability, but he has been very inconsistent so far in his young career. He scored an unbelievable goal against Arsenal in the preseason, and I think that will only be the start to what should be a breakout year for the young Englishman.
Sung-Yueng Ki – ($5,100) – Swansea City – Ki has been a staple in that Swansea City midfield since his year long loan at Sunderland. His strength and passing ability make him a key asset to the team moving forward and this year is no exception. With Bafetimbi Gomis leading the line in his second Premier League season, that gives Ki another threat to score in front of him. I expect Ki to be an assist machine this season and possibly increase his goal tally as well.
Nathan Redmond – ($5,400) – Norwich City – Redmond is back in the Premier League and ready to show that he is capable of playing at a very high level. Although some of the larger teams such as Liverpool are interested in his services, if he stays at Norwich City he will be a key component to their attack. He must increase his goal scoring and assist numbers to be considered a top fantasy play, but at his price and crossing ability, the 21 year old should be considered each week.
Romelu Lukaku – ($9,000) – Everton –Lukaku picked up an injury last week, but luckily it doesn’t look that serious. He has a great matchup this week against a newly promoted Watford team. If he is in the starting lineup, I would expect double digit point from him just like he did two of the last four weeks to end last season.
Loic Remy/ Radamel Falcao – ($6,800/ $7,200) – Chelsea – With Diego Costa looking more likely to miss out on the opening match against Swansea City, both Remy and Falcao will battle it out as the first choice backup. Remy played well in his limited time last season and even ended the season with two goals and 33 fantasy points in the final game. Falcao on the other hand, struggled to even find playing time at Manchester United last season, and when he was on the field, he was a ghost. I expect Remy to get the start up top, but if he doesn’t make an impact, Mourinho will not be afraid to make the early switch to Falcao.
Bafetimbi Gomis – ($5,600) – Swansea City-Gomis had a very strong end to the season last year after replacing the ever consistent Wilfred Bony as Swansea City’s first choice center forward. He scored double digit points in two of his last three matches, and will look to do the same against Chelsea on Saturday. The matchup may not be the best with John Terry most likely blanketing him most of the match, but he will see plenty of minutes on the field.
Jeremain Lens – ($5,300) – Sunderland –Lens joined Sunderland over the summer after his brief spell in Ukraine. He scored 19 goals over two seasons for Dynamo Kyiv and before that scored 34 goals in 94 games for PSV. The 27 year old is very established on the international level as well and should step right into a starting position for Sunderland. The winger will have plenty of help in attack with the return of Jermaine Defoe and the always steady Steven Fletcher still available.