With the international break now over, Draft Kings welcomed back daily fantasy Soccer with a bang. This Saturday produced the highest scores we have seen to date in the DKFC and the slate did not even include the huge scores that would have been put up by some of the Man City guys whose early game was left out of the Saturday player pool.  Almost all of the games kicked off simultaneously, so it was a nice compact group of games to follow while sweating out your placings. At least it was a nice easy sweat for the first 45 minutes, which ended quickly unless you stacked up Southampton. Southampton had a 3 goal halftime lead and a few other teams also put a few in the back of the net during the first 45. Everyone was bunched together in the standings and things were close all around at every buy in level. Then all of a sudden it was as if the defenders for Sunderland gave up. Southhampton scored a goal about every five minutes from the 63 to 88 minute mark and finished the game 8-0. That finished the days of many DKFC line ups that choose not to include any of them. Let’s get into the breakdown of this weekend’s action and keep in mind we come back Tuesday/Wednesday for more DKFC Champion’s League slates.

GoalKeeper:

Whether you were in the Nutmeg, The Stoppage time, or the Corner Kick this weekend two Keepers stood out as being used on the majority of top 10 rosters. They were Everton’s Tim Howard and Southampton’s Fraser Foster. Both guys had match ups with weak offensive teams and that theme has echoed through the first few weeks of DKFC. Targeting against bad offenses works just as well for daily fantasy soccer as it does for pitchers in baseball or defenses in football. Foster was the most widely used keeper as he was seen on about 20%+ of rosters throughout all buy  in levels. He had a Clean Sheet win and was only called upon to make one save against a putrid Sunderland team. He finished the day with an easy 12 points as the chalk play and you really were behind the eight ball if you did not use him. The one other play that worked and got you a few more points from the GK position was Tim “Captain America” Howard. The US international had his first clean sheet in awhile on route to a 3-0 Everton win and his 2 saves on the day gave him 14 DK points and a slightly better day then Foster at about half the ownership percentage. These guys were seen on all of the top 10 rosters at the lower buy in levels and most of the top 10 rosters at the higher price points.

Defense:

I feel like every single time I write this article I mention Leighton Baines and yet he still goes off at lower ownership percentages then he should. This guy is on the optimal line up week in and week out, yet for some reason people still sleep on his talent. There are very few Defenders in the entire world that have the ability to score points the way he does and he really is a free square when filling out your rosters. As a defender, he takes the free kicks, he takes the penalties, and he is always looking to get forward and feed crosses into the box for his finishers. He scores goals, he draws fouls, he crosses passes, and he is averaging about an assist per game, so take the free points and do not overthink it. He is the most expensive defender most weeks, but has 14 DK points or more in 5 of his last 6 and at a price of only $4700 he basically gets you three points per $1000 of cost every time he steps on the field. He has matched or outscored all but the top scoring forwards and mids every week so far this season and does so with the lower cost associated with defenders. His fellow Everton back line mate Seamus Coleman came back into the starting 11 this weekend and rewarded his backers with a 22 point DK score boosted by his goal scored and the CS bonus. Rostering Baines and Coleman with Tim Howard meant you got 55.25 from your GK/D/D stack and were well on your way to cashing. Other guys like the Southampton pair of Clyne and Bertrand were again popular and got you just under 10 DK points apiece. Everton Phil Jagielka chipped in with 17 points while West Ham’s Karl Jenkinson again provided 5 times his minimum price value on Saturday and is becoming a sneaky play week in and week out for salary relief. His West Ham teammate Aaron Cresswell also reached the double digit mark with 12, making him a useful play as well. Due to the clean sheet bonus and scoring, the Everton Trio was the way to go this weekend in the back and you can not argue with 22.75, 22.5, or 17 from any of your backline players.

Midfield:

This conversation starts and ends with Dusan Tadic. The Southampton middie is so good and so consistent that he has become a staple in my line ups right behind Leighton Baines. His worst output this season was a 9 DK point game and his mean score is in the 13-14 range every time he steps on the pitch. That is every game except for Saturday, where he put up a top score of 46 DK points on the day. There is not one top 10 roster at the lower buy in levels (larger pools) without him on it this week. Southampton blew up for 8 goals against Sunderland and Tadic had a hand scoring or assisting on 5 of them. He is the creative playmaker for that team and his game logs show that at $8000 he is a steal. I would not be shocked to see DK bump him up to the $9-$10K range where the superstars like Hazard and Di Maria are, because he is that good and that much a part of his team. If they do not bump his salary up, keep plugging and playing him until they finally do. Other quality mid field options this week included Cesc Fabregas who netted a goal to finish with 16.5 DK points. Arsenal mid Santi Carzola also was servicable with 15.75 due to his high volume of shots and crosses. Gabriel Obertan from New Castle had a splendid debut with 19 points and the only goal in that game. High used Stuart Downing continued his strong play with 10 DK points and Everton mid Ross Barkley also added a 12 point game in his first real EPL action. Barkley is a guy I expect big things from in the future so keep an eye on him as his $6K price will definitely go up by season’s end if he sees the pitch and plays as well as he did Saturday. I would be neglecting my duties if I did not also mention young Chelsea Phenom Oscar who added another goal to his tally and finished with 22 DK points. He is the fulcrum of that Chelsea attack and much of the offense goes through his capable feet on the way to net. Many of these guys are names we mention every week, so keep them in mind for your future plays.

Forwards:

When a team nets 8 goals in one game they are going to be highly represented on the winning rosters. Much as you needed Tadic in Midfield to make the top this week, you also needed his teammate Graziano Pelle up front. Pelle had a 33 DK point performance on the back of his 2 goals off 9 shots. He was the top scoring forward available on the slate and was seen on over 80% of winning rosters. Pelle has been great so far this year and it’s no wonder his price has slowly crept up. Others worth mentioning include Diafra Sahko who is averaging 19 DK points in his last four and has not been under 14 in any of them. His price has climbed up to $6300, but his production is still far outpacing that cost. He has played all 90 minutes of those last four as well and should be looked at for salary relief any time he is in a decent match up. Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez also added 28+ Dk points to his season total this weekend and his ability to contribute in every scoring category used on DK makes him a match up proof play week in and week out. Same can be said of his Arsenal teammate Danny Welbeck who just seems to have a knack for scoring goals and keep his streak of doing so as a starter in tact by adding one this weekend and finishing with a very respectable 17.5 DK points. With some of the more well known stars of the EPL sitting out Saturday to rest up for mid week Champions League clashes, these were the guys you needed to make the top of the leaderboard. As always we had a plethora of options at forward who got you 8-14 points as well, so you could have paired any number of guys with those mentioned and made it to the top of the leaderboard as is evidenced by the large number of guys used with those mentioned. You needed some shares of the top scorers to boost you up, but the difference between 1st and 10th came down to which other fringe guys you paired him them.

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION TRENDS:

We saw forward’s flex usage at a staggeringly high 80% this weekend on top 10 rosters. The rest were mostly midfielders with one lineup having Leighton Baines in there as well. The Baines at flex with Coleman and Jagielka at Defense lineup included Tim Howard and was worth 76.25 points for the lucky brave soul who tripled up on Everton’s D. While not advised, I can see the merit of using Baines here since he is outscoring most midfield options and gives you salary relief in doing so. It’s something I have not considered myself, but can see why it has some sneaky upside potential. For the most part many of these rosters are pairing a reasonable priced forward or Mid ($6000-$7000 range) with one of the top priced guys $8500+ at both spots. Stacking players on expected high scoring teams also seems to be paying off still, although it is best to limit those stacks to two or three players as any more then that is rarely seen paying off. Taking the top Mid with one of the Forwards seems to be the strategy that is working best, but we have also seen a forward pairing (Sanchez and Welbeck) that is getting over value on the regular so despite the high price I can see the merit there as well. Stacking a D/GK is something we have always said is a smart way to go and 9 of 10 rosters in the Nutmeg, Corner Kick, and Stoppage time tournaments did just that with at least one. Many of them stacked two defenders with the keeper which has huge upside in a GPP, but really could hurt you if that team lets up a goal. The CS bonus is such a huge boost to both keeper and defensemen that it just makes good sense to do so here when upside is your goal.  Last point was mentioned already but deserves to be mentioned again and that is when choosing a keeper it is smart to target against bad teams. If an attack is struggling to create chances and opportunities then there is a much better chance your GK can get a CS and a win. Having the two bonuses there really help push you above the 10 point mark where we see the winning keepers week in and week out residing. It just makes good sense to try to get those bonuses as it requires a lot of saves to make up for those lost points and cover the minuses for goals allowed.

Don’t forget there’s Champions League soccer action filling up in the DK Lobby as we speak, so make sure you throw in a few lineups if you are looking for a nice little mid week workday sweat to help you pass the time at your 9-5.