It’s back! Did we all survive the international break without our new found love, DFS EPL on DraftKings? There were some crazy international games with some shock results for those who followed them, certainly entertaining to watch. But now the EPL is back with a 6-game Saturday slate to get us going.
Note: The early kickoff on Saturday, Man City vs Tottenham, is not included in the slate, and all 6 games that are included start at 10am ET.
Before I get into the picks, just a word of caution, many coaches play their cards quite close to their chests on the weekend following an international break. Some plays may return with minor knocks which are not picked up until they get back to their clubs, others may just fall victim to “squad rotation” if the manager thinks they look a little jaded or tired upon their return. I would just advise you be extra vigilant on checking lineups come Saturday morning, be sure all your guys are playing as if there was ever a weekend for potential curveballs from coaches, this would be it. I’ll be doing my best to predict lineups but as ever, always check players are in their respective lineups, nobody can be considered a safe “plug and play”, especially not this weekend.
Okay, thats enough of that, onto some picks!
Wojciech Szczesny ($4,900) – Up there this weekend as probably the safest cash game play. A home matchup against Hull gives the Polish keeper a great chance of clean sheet and win bonuses. My word of caution on him would be Arsenal, who are already without first choice right-back Mattieu Debuchy and this week Calum Chambers is also suspended, so they will be down to third choice cover at right-back in what has not been the safest defence on the season to begin with. That being said, I still like Szczesny a lot this week and cannot see him conceding more than 1 goal.
Thibaut Courtois ($4,600) – Officially cleared following the concussion he experienced prior to the break, Courtois gets a great matchup, albeit on the road, against Crystal Palace this week. I consider Courtois the 1B if Szczesny is 1A. Palace have shown they aren’t afraid of teams this season, especially not at home, this could lead to Courtois seeing more shots than the Arsenal goalie. For that reason I give Courtois the edge for GPPs, Chelsea have a great chance to go out there and win this game with a clean sheet, the only thing stopping me calling him clear 1A is the fact he is on the road. For what its worth, straight up, taking match ups out of it, I do trust the Chelsea defence much more than the Arsenal one.
Rob Elliot ($3,000) – This could turn into a great play this week but wow is it a scary one. Tim Krul is likely to miss the game with a shoulder injury, if that is the case, the minimum-salary veteran, Elliot, would be the stand in. The ever inconsistent Newcastle get (in theory) a plus matchup at home to Leicester. This type of game is crucial to both sides but being at home, I really think Newcastle will mark this down as a ‘must win’ on their calendars and I expect them to perform accordingly. Being Newcastle who are unbelievable unreliable, this is purely a GPP play but does offer superb upside.
Leighton Baines ($4,700) – Always love him, particularly at home in a matchup against a poor offensive team, which he gets in Aston Villa on Saturday. I’ll say it again, Baines with his free kicks and penalties offers as much upside as any defender on the board every week, this matchup is a good one, if you can afford him, I suggest playing him. I think we will see a lot of straight Arsenal or Chelsea goalie/defence stacks this week so he prevents a nice pivot.
Branislav Ivanovic ($4,400) – There is not much to love this week on defence outside of Chelsea and Arsenal, and even Arsenal are not THAT inspiring given their injuries. Ivanovic is a great play most weeks, he plays in a solid back four on a team with great clean sheet potential and also loves to get forward, offering good upside. Pricey, but worth it, Ivanovic will likely be in any cash lineup I play this week.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£3,500) – Another solid play on Chelsea, though does not seem to offer the same upside as Ivanovic, he seems much more likely to pass it off and let others do the work in the attacking third, rather than get crosses in etc himself, like Ivanovic would. That said, he does come at a discount and the potential is always there for him to grab an assist. As I said, not a ton to love defensively, Azpilicueta offers good value at his price.
Nacho Monreal ($3,300) – Arsenal have probably 2 ways to fill their right-back void this weekend. Monreal, usually a left back, playing there, would seem to be a likely choice, if so he offers nice value though its tough to predict how he involves himself in the attacking zones if asked to play out of position. The second alternative is young, unproven Hector Bellerin, who is priced almost the same at $3,200. It is hard to predict what you would get from either of these guys, but if they are starting you are probably going to be playing them in a stack and rooting for that Arsenal clean sheet and then hoping they can pad the stats with something offensively.
Tony Hibbert ($2,500) – Hibbert is my value play of the weekend. It appears likely that Everton’s usual right-back Seamus Coleman will miss the home game with Aston Villa and Hibbert is a very capable, and VERY well priced, deputy. As I said with Baines, Everton have a nice home matchup so clean sheet potential is there, and though not on the level of a Baines or Ivanovic, Hibbert is not scared to get forward and put crosses in.
Dusan Tadic ($8,000) – You are a better man than me if you can make yourself stop playing this guy. Still fairly priced and in a solid matchup this week at home to Sunderland, Tadic just doesn’t seem to disappoint. He is at the heart of everything good about Southampton offensively (which is a lot), and his communication with striker Graziano Pelle is borderline telepathic. I love him in all game formats and a Tadic-Pelle mini stack is rapidly becoming one of my go-to plays.
Steward Downing ($6,600) – averaging 12 fantasy points per game on the season so far, Downing is a solid play at a very fair price. Burnley away this week is not intimidating and I see a steady stream of crosses and shots coming from Downing with some good upside feeding the West Ham front line which really seems to be finding some form prior to the break.
Oscar ($6,200) and Andre Schurrle ($5,500) – Either or both, if starting, offer fantastic value and exposure to the potent Chelsea attack in a great matchup, without paying up for a Fabregas, Hazard or Costa. Schurrle missed Germany’s second qualifier with a what they were calling a flu bug which was going through the Germany camp, so monitor his status particularly carefully. Great multi-goal upside in either player given the matchup.
Sebastian Larsson ($5,800) – Sunderland on the road at Southampton may well be forced to come out and play a more open game as a result of the Sothampton style of play. If that is the case, Larsson, already a solid fantasy contributor may well see more of the offence flowing through him and much more crossing opportunities. Another player who would see benefit in this way would be Adam Johnson priced at $5,500.
I see this weekend as a great one to find your midfielders in the mid-low range, hence my picks. There is no Di-Maria or Sterling who I feel is a must have. Fabregas and Hazard are obviously great plays but I feel there is equal potential from others at reduced salaries as I mentioned.
Diego Costa ($12,200) – Matchup proof any week, this week Costa gets Crystal Palace. Enough said. If you want him, can afford him, and Mourinho does start him, great. Slot him in, don’t think twice. I expect a high ownership % given that there is no super high priced rival either in midfield or forward, so the GPP fade makes a very risky, but interesting approach. Costa finally got his first Spain goal in midweek and has been white hot in the league, i’ll never talk anyone out of riding this train.
Danny Welbeck ($9,600) and Alexis Sanchez ($9,500) – With Ozil and Ramsay out and Theo Walcott not quite ready to return, these two will be relied upon to do even more than ever for the Arsenal offence and could have a field day at home to Hull on Saturday. If they are on, Hull are absolutely no match for two of the most in form players in the league. I love the play of both together, or picking one to pair with someone else. Either way, this is possibly one of the best match ups you will see all season.
Graziano Pelle ($8,100) – As I mentioned before, he is rapidly becoming one of my favourite players in the league outside of my beloved Liverpool. Southampton are a fantastic team to watch and Pelle is their focal point. He is a beast, strong in the air but comes with deceptive pace and fantastic feet, he also LOVES to shoot on site, which is great for fantasy points even if he misses the target. He got his first Italy call up and marked it with a goal in the week so his confidence will be as high as ever, fantastic player in a solid matchup at home.
Papiss Cisse ($7,200) – Newcastle’s saviour prior to the break he had 4 goals in his last 3 games, I would imagine he draws the start given his current form in the home matchup with Leicester’s leaky defence he should be in prime position to get on the score sheet at a very reasonable price.
Diafra Sakho ($6,300) – Goals in each of his last three games speaks for itself. He’s a great value play this week and could easily be paired with a player who provides the service, probably Stewart Downing, at a very reasonable, I would say discounted, price for the two. Burnley away is not a matchup to be afraid of thats for sure.
Okay, well that’ll wrap it up for this week, I’m off to Disneyworld! No seriously, I didn’t win the Super Bowl, but have family over from Scotland this weekend so i’ve flown out to meet them for a long weekend at the Magical Kingdom! Heres hoping that our DFS EPL results turn out just as magical.
Good luck in all your games, feel free to hit me up on twitter @cjhopkins07 if you have any comments/question and i’ll do my best to get back to you.
Bye for now!