Manchester City vs. Swansea City: For me, I think Lukasz Fabianski ($3,400) is a pretty solid play overall even if Swansea is an underdog at the Etihad. Swansea has a pretty stout defense, and even if they do not win Fabianski should see a lot of action and save totals might be the great accumulator on the day. I can’t see Joe Hart ($5,100) being widely owned, but if you can swallow that price tag City is a huge home favorite, City’s defense gets Vincent Kompany back from injury and his ceiling is high. But it’s a thin line–for that price tag, you really need a clean sheet plus a victory.
City’s had the bulk of its players used in international duty, so don’t be surprised if a less than 100% lineup is used on Saturday, especially since a must-win game looms in the Champions League next week. Overall, your light blue options in this one lie in midfield and attack. Any upside from defenders is mostly dependent on a collective clean sheet; so far this season, guys like Gael Clichy ($3,800) and Pablo Zabaleta ($4,500) simply haven’t shown secondary scoring from crosses and the like to justify their price tags.
In midfield, don’t be surprised if Yaya Toure ($7,600) does not start after travel to and from the Ivory Coast for national team duty, especially when the focus is mostly in the future against Bayern Munich on Tuesday. James Milner ($6,800) doesn’t have the ceiling to justify his salary; it looks like your best bets are Jesus Navas ($5,800) or Samir Nasri ($5,000). The former is the most worthy of a cash lineup use. If he does start in place of Toure, Frank Lampard ($4,100) is a pretty sneaky play. Of course, you have Sergio Aguero ($13,200) as the slate’s most expensive option at forward. If you can fit Aguero in, do so-but in a GPP, you’ll have to hit every other mark in your lineup and hope Aguero returns investment.
Swansea gives you some options, which while not value plays, have more value DFS wise when the matchup is there. If you choose to go with them, however, you’re betting that a) City continues the poor level of play that was there previous to the international break, and b) being a huge underdog against City (with Kompany) back can be exploited. Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,000) has been one of the most useful midfielders in DFS terms this season. Outside midfielders Wayne Routledge ($5,300) and Jefferson Montero ($5,100) are also viable options who can cause damage going forward. Wilfried Bony ($7,700) is at a pretty good price tag, but I’d go elsewhere–he’s likely to see a lot of Kompany.
Stoke City vs. Burnley: Starting in goal, Asmir Begovic ($5,300) has a pretty viable matchup–but that price tag, wow. It has to be on matchup alone, and is the second most expensive option to use in goal on Saturday. Burnley is clearly the worst attack going on Saturday, and if you can fit Begovic into your team it’s a good way to go. Burnley’s Tom Heaton ($3,800) is not a bad play, per se–Stoke’s attack is not prolific in the least, but if you’re going cheap, I’d go elsewhere. A win/clean sheet bonus is more likely with a guy like Fabianski. There are some cheap defenders in this one with decent potential–all from Erik Pieters ($3,200), Geoff Cameron ($3,200) and Stephen Ward ($3,100) won’t get you double digits unless a clean sheet is kept, but they can offer salary relief. Kieran Trippier ($5,100) is hard to fit in, but the Burnley right back has a pretty high floor and ceiling.
Perhaps one of the weekend’s best plays is Stoke midfielder Victor Moses ($6,300). Stoke should see a lot of the ball, Moses is included in the majority of the team’s attack, and that price tag is really flexible. Right next to him on the attractive scale is Mame Diouf ($5,000) who is expected to be the lone striker in Mark Hughes’ lineup. The ceiling isn’t high, but you really only need one goal or an assist to return that salary investment. I’d rather roster Diouf over teammate Bojan Krkic ($5,600) or Burnley’s Danny Ings ($5,600), although Ings is another option for a second striker/flex spot if you go expensive with your first forward. Burnley has a couple of lower priced options in Ashley Barnes ($4,700) and George Boyd ($4,300), but I can only see using them in a GPP lineup.
Everton vs. West Ham United: Everton rivals Manchester United’s list when it comes to injury absences and/or doubts; the Toffees could have up to ten guys miss out against West Ham on Saturday. So there’s a lot of fluidity and lineup waiting coming up-especially when a few Hammers are in doubt as well, especially their two strikers.
There’s little doubt about the keepers in this one; Tim Howard ($4,800) for the hosts, Adrian ($4,000) for the visitors. Howard is the better option of the pair, but it’s hard to choose either player for a cash or GPP lineup. It should be a close game and both teams in theory can put the ball in the back of the net, so the only reason to use one of the two is if injuries really dilute the lineup on one side. If you want Howard, you are better off paying a few hundred more for guys like Hart or Begovic.
Leighton Baines ($6,300) was hurt during the international break, so even if he does play the defender won’t be at 100 percent. Seamus Coleman ($4,600) is a doubt as well. If one is out and he starts, Luke Garbutt at a minimum play is intriguing; same with Tyias Browning ($2,800). West Ham’s Carl Jenkinson remains at a minimum price and will be plugged into a lot of lineups. Aaron Cresswell ($3,700) has seen his price tag tick up again, but with double digits in three of his last four matches it’s hard to fade the West Ham left back from your list of potential defenders.
Stuart Downing ($7,300) is doubtful after getting injured for England, as are Diafra Sakho ($8,100) and Enner Valencia ($8,000). Keep an eye on the lineup Sam Allardyce puts out-if any sit, there’s value in their potential replacements: Morgan Amalfitano ($5,900) and Andy Carroll/Carlton Cole ($3,000) are waiting. I’m avoiding Ross Barkley ($8,100); the price tag is way too high when there are other, cheaper options to use. I’d rather go with Aiden McGeady ($4,800) or Leon Osman ($4,000).
There’s an outside chance with all the injuries that either Christian Atsu ($4,000) or Kevin Mirallas ($5,000) starts; Mirallas has a really high ceiling when he’s on his game, and the Belgian is coming off a hamstring injury. Then you have Steven Naismith ($6,000) and Samuel Eto’o ($6,700), who have value as a starter. Eto’o is the epitome of boom or bust lately, while just has not given any returns over the past month in DFS terms. Romelu Lukaku ($10,900) is in a really good spot, playing at home as a lone striker-but if you use the sizeable forward, you’re betting he will break out of a slump against a stingy Hammers defense. I’d look elsewhere.
Leicester City vs. Sunderland: This will not be for the faint of heart, but you might find a bit of value, especially in goal. Because of the anemic attacks for both sides, both Kasper Schmeichel ($4,100) and Costel Pantilimon ($3,700) have excellent chances at a clean sheet. Sunderland was the better of the two before the international break, winning at Crystal Palace and drawing at home versus Everton.
There really are no options at defender in this one; in midfield, there is not much more but there is potential value in Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson ($5,800) or Adam Johnson ($5,000). However, you need them to score a goal to get value. Long odds, really. If you’re taking any outfield player from this match, it would be either Steven Fletcher ($6,000) or Leonardo Ulloa ($6,600), but I’d rather go with one of the aforementioned Stoke options instead of either.
Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion: Chelsea are huge, huge favorites in this one. More chalk than chalk, high ownership rates will be rule on Saturday most likely. While West Brom has had a decent season with a couple positive showings, they’ve only won once in their last five league matches. Thibaut Courtois ($5,500) is the most costly option in goal for a reason. He won’t see a lot of action in goal at home, but Courtois the most certain way to go. You just have to find the right combination of players to build out from his foundation.
Otherwise, Chelsea should have a full strength side unless Jose Mourinho decides to rest some players ahead of the Champions League midweek. They’re costly, however-ownership numbers on guys like Cesar Azpilicueta ($4,000) or Branislav Ivanovic ($4,800) might be a bit lower than their teammates because of lower cost options in defense elsewhere.
Eden Hazard ($9,300) is the best bet overall in midfield on Saturday. He’ll see duty on penalties and free kicks, and the matchup is pretty advantageous overall for Chelsea. There is a slight injury risk around Cesc Fabregas ($9,000) and that price tag and low ceiling puts me personally off the Spanish midfielder. More affordable ways to go are Oscar ($7,100) and Willian ($5,800), but the floor on their pair of Brazilians has been low as of late. Lastly, we come to Diego Costa ($12,700)-I personally like him better than Aguero this weekend, but they’re options 1 and 1A. Costa has the better matchup and Mourinho in the press has said Costa is fully fit.
West Brom in this one? I can’t see using Ben Foster in goal, any defender (despite the low costs of Andrew Wisdom and Cristian Gamboa) or midfielder simply because of the matchup-Chelsea could easily boss this game if they play up to their talent level. I’d avoid Saido Berahino ($8,900) because of the matchup in this one.
Newcastle United vs. QPR: Let’s start with some real talk on this one. The Newcastle balloon is destined to pop sometime. It’s just a question of when-will it be Saturday, when the Magpies host QPR? It could be, but not because solely of the opposition. QPR have been terrible as of late and the only hope is that the break slowed Newcastle’s ascent and their freefall.
I can’t see using Tim Krul ($5,000) at that price tag. There’s just too little of a margin of error for a clean sheet/victory double up for Newcastle, with one goal ruining that high ceiling. The win is more likely of the two; I’d rather use Daryl Janmaat ($4,100) or Paul Dummett ($3,600) than Krul. I can’t see Janmaat, for example, repeat his 22 point performance but the Dutch right back should see a lot of time in the attacking third.
In midfield, Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko ($4,300) is a GPP option if he starts in the attacking midfield slot while QPR’s Leroy Fer ($3,900) could provide similar salary relief with low ownership numbers. Ownership, aside from Janmaat, should see the biggest numbers from this match from forwards. It looks like Ayoze Perez ($6,800) will get the start ahead of Papiss Cisse ($7,200); Perez has scored in each of his last three games. QPR’s Charlie Austin ($7,400) has scored four goals in his last three league games and has double digits DFS-wise over his last four. Eduardo Vargas ($5,500) is used as a wing by Harry Redknapp, and is an option for a Flex spot if you need to save some salary for other spots.
Arsenal vs. Manchester United: What used to be THE GAME in the Premier League has lost some luster, and United literally limps into this one with a host of defenders absent due to injury. All the narrative in this one is at forward, on both sides. Freshly baked is Danny Welbeck ($11,600) against the club that he grew up at, while you have Robin van Persie ($9,900) facing his former club. Welbeck hasn’t scored in the league for over a month, but scored for England over the weekend. But if I’m spending for anyone in this one, it’d be for United’s Wayne Rooney ($11,000) or Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ($12,500). Sanchez is just on fire as of late, and he kept busy for Chile scoring in each of their two friendlies over the break. The only slight worry is the travel back from South America, but Sanchez is hard to fade–he’s a safer play than Aguero or Costa. Pair with that the patchwork United backline…
There’s not a lot of value to be had, but there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($5,500) for Arsenal while Olivier Giroud ($6,500) is fit enough for a spot on the bench behind Welbeck. If either of Ander Herrera ($4,900) or Adnan Januzaj ($5,000) starts, they’re affordable ways into United’s starting 11. If Arsenal gets a penalty, Mikel Arteta ($5,000) will reap the reward. Mid-level players like Santi Cazorla ($6,500) or Maroune Fellaini ($6,500) could find themselves in no-man’s land rostering wise on Saturday. Juan Mata ($8,000) won’t be highly owned, but if Louis van Gaal starts the attacking midfielder he could see chances; Mata is a GPP way to go.
Lastly, we have Angel Di Maria ($12,900)–$3,600 more than Hazard. Di Maria is easily the highest floor of any midfielder in the Premier League, but if you want to pair him with a top shelf attack you will have to go basement shopping elsewhere.
Defenders? Keepers? Because of the relative weakness of both clubs in the back, it’s hard to suggest David de Gea ($4,300) or Wojciech Szczesny ($4,000), even with the latter’s relatively low salary and a home start as a favorite. Neither team is likely to give you a clean sheet. Luke Shaw ($3,800) is an injury question, and even if he starts I can’t use him in a cash game or even a GPP with all the other alternatives out there. Kieran Gibbs ($3,900) is the best of the (relatively disappointing) bunch of options because he is likely to be opposite Antonio Valencia, who’s a midfielder by trade and a defensively lacking right back in reality.
Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool: Liverpool have only won once at Selhurst Park, and coming off the international break the visitors have lost Daniel Sturridge to another long term injury, out through the rest of the calendar year. Are you willing to put your trust in Mario Balotelli ($7,700)? I’m not. I’d rather use Rickie Lambert ($5,200); I’m guessing the latter has had a couple of good weeks of practice while Balotelli sulks after being sent home from Italy’s training camp due to “injury”.
If you’re going anywhere on the Liverpool team sheet, you’re paying up for Raheem Sterling ($9,100). He has perhaps the highest ceiling of any midfielder in this three-game slate, especially from a goalscoring vantage. Adam Lallana ($6,000) and Steven Gerrard ($6,800) have limited upside; I’d rather spend less and go with Palace’s Mile Jedinak ($5,900), Jason Puncheon ($5,500) or Wilfried Zaha ($4,500).
Hull City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs visit Hull; the visitors are favorites and despite Spurs incredibly uneven play there are some choices in their lineup in any format and a couple GPP flyers, as do Hull.
Hull’s best argument for a cash play is defender Andrew Robertson ($4,500), who is a consistent performer as a left-sided wingback for Hull. Otherwise, the home side has mostly GPP options in keeper Steve Harper ($3,600) or midfielder Mohamed Diame ($6,000). Nikica Jelavic ($5,500) could return to replace Abel Hernandez ($6,400) at forward.
Spurs are the better bet; however, there’s no reason to start Hugo Lloris ($5,200) when you can have a better option from the last match this weekend. He’s GPP only. Danny Rose ($4,000) and Eric Dier ($4,200) are valid ways to fill your defender spots, but I’d rather use Robertson, Moreno, or a Southampton option than Dier. Up top, I’d only use Harry Kane ($7,400)–both Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado have been really poor this season.
If you’re going for tried and tested, look to Spurs’ trio in midfield. You have the distributor (Christian Eriksen, $7,900), the winger/scorer (Nacer Chadli, $7,300) and the enigma (Eric Lamela, $6,800). I’d rather use defensive midfielder Ryan Mason or Diame instead of Lamela and pocket the salary difference. Chadli is the pick of the litter, just behind Sterling and Dusan Tadic in the midfield on this short slate.
Aston Villa vs. Southampton: All the Southampton you can fit, my friends. Pay up for Fraser Forster ($5,000) in goal. Saddle up Tadic ($11,300) in midfield. Decide between going top shelf for Graziano Pelle ($11,000) or a step lower for Sadio Mane ($7,700).
Going from there, you can easily stack defenders Nathaniel Clyne ($4,400) and Ryan Bertrand ($5,500),but going that far and you’re likely going with two sub-$4k options in your remaining three spots. Shane Long ($6,100) scored twice in a sub role in the last Southampton game prior to the break, and he could start instead of Mane or if Tadic cannot shake a minor injury.
Beyond that, this match is hands-off save for contrarian GPP plays. I think I’d rather play Long as a sub instead of Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor ($6,200) or Andreas Weimann ($5,000).