The Hospital Ball
The good, bad and ugly from a weekend soccer DFS perspective

Was it good for you? First times and all…with the clean slate Draft Kings brought us, the English Premier League was made DFS worthy and some of us took a shot and ventured into the great, wide open. What did we learn? First of all, even average lineups were profitable in the end. That will not stand going forward, I’m quite sure. If only for this weekend, I am going to lay out each of my lineups, what they were entered into, why I did what I did, and how they performed. I was far from perfect, showing that information and knowledge does not instantly equal big bucks. No whammies…stop.

Have I dated myself? Yes…I have. Ok, here we go—warts and all, this was my weekend in EPL gaming.

Lineup 1: Brad Guzan (-4 pts), Leighton Barnes (16.50 pts), Rafael da Silva (7.25 pts), Nathan Dyer (1.5 pts), Raheem Sterling (21 pts), Mario Balotelli (6.75 pts), Graziano Pelle (15 pts), Angel di Maria (25.5 pts)

So…this was my main H2H/50-50 lineup. It won each of them, but in GPP placed 217th (Equalizer) and 308th (Nutmeg) and landed in the money only likely due to overlay. Admittedly, I swung and missed greatly on Guzan and Dyer in several lineups, plus Balotelli underperformed to a great deal both in potential and getting value for his $8,400 price tag. The defenders did what I expected—Barnes got the goal and hit his ceiling without Everton getting anywhere near a clean sheet while Rafael got crosses in. You got what you paid for with Di Maria and Sterling, and Pelle delivered.

Dyer had a poor, poor day—I thought going into the weekend, Southampton/Swansea was going to be a track meet, as you’ll see later. He didn’t deliver any points in peripheral categories like crosses, shots/shots on goals, etc. Getting that little from a position, especially from a mid-price midfielder, is going to be a gut shot. Balotelli wasn’t any better in a forward slot—if your striker isn’t going to score, he’s going to need to get points like Pelle did in other categories and not have a high price tag.

Lastly, Guzan. My biggest swing and miss of the weekend by far. I weighed the pros and cons—yes, Arsenal was looking to bounce back and had the better team overall. But the pros for Guzan prior to the match outweighed everything else. Game at home, Villa’s level of play so far this season, their willingness to pack players behind the ball…I foresaw at worst a one or two goal loss with five or more saves because Arsenal would dominate. I didn’t see three goals in six minutes surrounded in an Oreo cookie of Arsenal not getting shots on goal. The Gunners had 71% of possession—you could foresee that—but only took six shots, three on goal. Before and after, it was pretty even. It wasn’t a USA homer choice; it was one with upside that I thought would be contrarian and had high upside. Not close.

Lineup 2: Allan McGregor (6.75 pts), Baines, Andrew Robertson (1 pt), Dyer, Dusan Tadic (13 pts), Diego Costa (6.25pts), Graziano Pelle (15pts), Di Maria.

My ultra-contrarian play that almost matched my main lineup points wise. It was used in the Nutmeg (418th) and Equalizer (273rd) only. It was my only use of the chalky Costa, to my credit—one of the few kudos I’ll give myself. Hull City had a two goal lead, at Newcastle, fans screaming bloody murder for Alan Pardew’s head—and then came along Papiss Cisse, saving the day. Curses, sir. McGregor still did well otherwise.

If Hull keeps their clean sheet, this lineup does a lot better with the stacking of Robertson. He was not my first choice of Hull defenders—I had originally had James Chester because of his abilities to score on dead ball opportunities. But Chester didn’t start, and I pivoted to Robertson as an outside back—hoping a clean sheet and some crosses would come my way. Insert sad trombone music here.

The inclusion of Dyer added to the dead weight portion of this program; Costa’s quiet day was the coup de grace. Should have faded him completely, I guess, but group think and a bit of cowardice ruled the day.

Lineup 3: Guzan, Baines, Rafael, Di Maria, Dyer, Balotelli, Abel Hernandez (.75 pts), Radamel Falcao (9.75 pts).

My biggest failure of the weekend lineup building wise, but having only used it in the Nutmeg (1370th) and in one head to head was offset by a 50/50 win.

What’s to say about this one? The failures of Guzan, Dyer, and Balotelli were added to by the thought that Hernandez would torch Newcastle’s defense after his showing against last week. Hoo boy, was I wrong. Originally, I had Wayne Rooney as my flex, but when United’s lineup came out I went with Falcao knowing he would not go the full 90. My hunch was that the Colombian would get fed, and he would eat plenty—his assist on van Persie’s opener was great, otherwise he had a pedestrian day both in real life and DFS play.

Lineup 4: Tim Howard (-6pts), Baines, Branislav Ivanovic (4 pts), Di Maria, Dyer, Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku (17.75 pts), Samuel Eto’o (6.5 pts).

As you can plainly see, my Everton stack gone horribly, horribly wrong. Used in the Nutmeg (897th) and Equalizer (542nd—out of the money), it was the only money losing lineup of the bunch. And if you played this weekend, you know how difficult that was. No saves for Howard AT ALL, nothing to make up for the three goals he gave up. Ivanovic stayed back a lot of the City/Chelsea slugfest, only garnering a pair of crosses and a goals against bonus—his ceiling was a goal off a corner or something, which didn’t come about.

In the end, perhaps the biggest failure of my lineup building this weekend aside from my use of Guzan (and the lack of any Gunners) was the failure to use Lukaku more instead of Balotelli. My thinking was that by the time the Everton lineup came out, if Martinez was going to rest Lukaku after Everton’s Thursday night European adventure, my choices to pivot him out of the lineup would be greatly limited. So every place I used Balotelli, I should have used Lukaku.

I had a lot of open salary room in this lineup; I was going to use Eto’o or Kevin Mirallas dependent on whether the former started. He did, but even at a $3,000 price tag his point tally was really disappointing. I am sure I wasn’t the only one to fail this weekend using this tact.

Lineup 5 (Sunday only): Howard, Baines, Ivanovic, Di Maria, Eden Hazard (10pts), Falcao, Lukaku, Eto’o.

Sunday morning came around, and I was a bit gunshy looking at my underperforming lineups. Despite the actual return I got in the Equalizer because of the overlay, I wasn’t going in big because of my desire to show a bit of bankroll management with the NFL slate looming.

So I only used it in four low level GPPs—the $5 Corner Kick (8th), the Daily Dollar (15th), the Hooligan (3rd) and the Nutmeg (35th) with modest returns. It won three H2Hs and four 50/50s. At 84 points, it placed right in the middle of all five listed here.

Hazard’s output did not make or break me in the end; any likely pivots around his price point did not outperform the Belgian. My use of Howard paired with the exclusion of the majority of Sunday’s goalscorers that were rosterable (van Persie, Ulloa and Herrera) made sure I didn’t win more, but it was a profitable lineup.

So, in the end, what did I learn? Make better choices in goal, perhaps stacking in GPPs in every lineup might not be the best option, and you got to hit the target, figuratively and literally, when you choose your strikers.