The Premier League returns this week, with two games apiece on Wednesday and Friday, and a four-game slate on Saturday. Given the indefinite hiatus from baseball that we find ourselves in, this long-time soccer player and coach is deciding to dip his toes into the EPL DFS waters. These picks are an invitation, not a command. My goal was to familiarize myself with each game as much as I could, and then pen something that might be helpful in some small way (whether you use these picks or not).
One wrinkle to note, at least for me…there’s no distinction between forwards and midfielders on FanDuel. That should allow for some nice flexibility.
Also, five substitutes can be used in these matches (instead of the traditional three). That’s a side effect of the long layoff and wanting to keep players healthy. That’s a wrinkle to keep in mind, but sans knowing up front if a guy is injured it will be difficult for this neophyte to pinpoint who might take an early seat or be an impact sub. Pay attention to startling lineups, which we should get an hour or so before each match.
Lastly, I will attempt to go against the grain where I can, while also being logical. I’m not here to tell you to play three attackers from Manchester City. I am aiming a little deeper than that.
GK Dean Henderson, Sheffield United ($11)
Sheffield United have only conceded 25 goals thus far, the second fewest in the Premier League after only the top side, Liverpool (21). Henderson’s 10 clean sheets ranks second in the league, after only Burnley’s Nick Pope (11). Henderson and the SHU defence are conceding 0.89 goals per game, again ranking second only to Liverpool. Their opponent, Aston Villa, is allowing 2.0 goals per match, which is far and away the worst mark on this slate. No wonder Sheffield are road favorites in this one. You have some options–you could roll with the GK/defender stack, or you could utilize the more unconventional GK/striker stack…which I like a bit better.
My current build gives me $16 to work with, so I’m looking at John Lundstram and Billy Sharp as options for Sheffield. If I can find another buck, paying for the $17 McBurnie is an option. But I’m feeling Lundstram, as there’s some debate over whether he’ll start over Sander Berge or not. Berge is more of a defensive centre midfielder, but Lundstram is the clear option when it comes to getting forward into the attack. This choice may depend on how concerned the Blades are with Jack Grealish, as Berge would represent more cover and playing more defensively. If Lundstram gets the nod, I really like him today.
FWD/MID Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City ($18)
I said I wasn’t here to tell you to play THREE Man. City attackers, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you to play one of them. Getting 100% off of City seems like a dumb idea. For my part, I’m taking the middle man, in more than one sense of the word. Mahrez isn’t the highest-priced player for City, but he’s not a punt option like the defensive-minded Gundogan. Mahrez has 7 goals and 8 assists to his credit so far, and he’s one of the best all around City assets not named Kevin De Bruyne. In fact, his 8 assists rank third in the PL, trailing only teammate Kevin De Bruyne (16) and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (12). If you’re looking for a guy who can assist or score, Mahrez is your reasonably-priced option who can do so.
FWD/MID Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal ($18)
Aubameyang leads Arsenal in goals scored by a mile, with 17 so far. Alexandre Lacazette (7) and Nicolas Pépé (4) are a distant second and third, for reference. Aubameyang is also second in the PL in goals scored, with only Jamie Vardy (19) ahead of him. I know this seems like a long-shot given how heavily favored Manchester City are, but Arsenal aren’t a team of scrubs. They are one of the “big six” and currently rank ninth on the Premier League table, within spitting distance of a Champions League berth. They’ve also played better under new coach Mikel Arteta, especially defensively. I’m not suggesting you should stack three Arsenal attackers against City. But I do think taking a shot on Aubameyang having a day isn’t crazy. It helps that City’s centre back, Laporte, has battled a hamstring injury recently. Laporte hasn’t eclipsed 78 minutes in any of his last five starts, so I don’t know if I’d bet on him beating that mark in this one, not with five subs available? Anyway, taking a shot on the second-leading scorer in the whole of the PL seems like a good idea, and he’s reasonably-priced at only $18.
In general, I like considering a piece (or two) of Arsenal. Manchester City is the obvious choice, but as the second team on the PL table they aren’t playing for much today (they can’t catch the Reds for the top spot). Arsenal should be highly motivated in this one, and as much as it shouldn’t be I know that psychology can play a role. I’ll have at least one build where I stack Aubameyang with Nicolas Pépé, where I hope to get a nice cross (read: assist) and goal scored on a single play.
What say you all? Any tidbits to share for EPL DFS, as I dip my toes into these shark-infested waters?