Galin Dragiev highlights the best EPL Soccer week 18 DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel:
Greetings everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and that you’re ready for the biggest fantasy soccer day of the year! We have a big slate on Saturday that features a number of teams in good spots and I’m here to get everyone prepared for it. Both FanDuel and DraftKings have sizeable slates with good-sized tournaments on the block, so let’s get to started and take a quick look at the slate as a whole.
With a number of good teams in great spots (Manchester City at Hull, Manchester United vs Sunderland, and Chelsea vs Bournemouth, Arsenal at West Brom), ownership will be fairly low across the board as compared to a regular slate. It also helps that this is a seven game slate, so there’s plenty to go around. With this in mind, I think the strategy in tournaments this week is certainly to go somewhat chalky. Between those four great teams, there will be a number of players who exceed expectations, and I think the benefit of chasing a low owned guy on a weaker team might not be worth the reward. There are of course cheaper plays to target from the weaker teams, but there is no reason to try and get tricky with so much value right in front of you. The slate will come down to getting the right combo of popular plays.
In terms of stacking, I think this is the wrong slate to do it. With so many different expensive players, multiple players from multiple teams are likely to have huge days, so I don’t think it’s tournament viable to go on a full-stack of three or more players. Two players from a team is certainly a good idea, especially if they’re correlated and could assist each other, but more than two seems excessive on Monday. Let’s get to some plays now. I’ll be going over mainly DraftKings plays as they have some really size-able tournaments on Boxing Day.
There are a number of routes you can go here. With a few different teams expected to attack the whole match, the best value will likely end up being somewhere amongst the cheap guys. The options are, in order of preference:
- Ben Foster
- Artur Boruc
- David Marshall
- Jordan Pickford
All of these guys have a shaky floor with a high ceiling, but with the amount of expensive talent available in attack, you are forced to use one of these in cash games, as well as GPP. Goalkeeper will be an important decider in outcome, so I recommend cycling through all four in GPPs.
With defenders, we’ll need to incorporate a similar strategy as with goalkeepers – going with cheap options in an attempt to save money and pay up front. A few options:
Ben Chilwell ($3,000) – Chilwell should start at left-back for Leicester and can provide a number of defensive stats to give himself a strong floor. The matchup is mediocre, so there isn’t much to like there outside of opportunity at a really cheap price. Outside of Chilwell, we’ll need to monitor starting lineups and see if we get any surprises, as the defender position is fairly poor in values at the moment. If needed, we can punt with a center-back, but that’s far from ideal.
David Luiz ($4,200) – Luiz is a bit more expensive but carries a fair bit of upside due to his occasional free-kick duty and involvement in the attack. Luiz also has great chances at a clean sheet, which is a good extra boost in cash games. Teammate Marcos Alonso is the best defender on the slate, but priced at $6,300 he is hard to fit in cash games. However, Alonso is a good candidate for GPPs as he has an insane upside (he practically plays as a midfielder but gets the defender clean sheet bonus and is viable in the defender slot).
Aaron Cresswell (4,500) – Cresswell seems a bit underpriced in the system he plays in. He is one of the most active full-backs in attack and faces a Swansea team that has given up the most high quality chances in the league (according to 11egen11). This is a game where he can pick up an assist or a goal and he is a viable target at a fair price.
There are a lot of different ways to build here, especially in GPPs, where goals will be very important. With all the expensive options, we’ll have to focus on the ones with a really safe floor and upside to maximize our chances of safety combined with upside. Let’s get a bit more concrete.
Kevin De Bruyne (10,100) – De Bruyne faces one of the weakest teams in the Premier League, Hull City, in a game without teammate Sergio Aguero. Everything that Manchester City does goes through De Bruyne, and it’s hard to imagine him having a bad day. He is currently in a goal drought and is still manager to put up around 15 points as a floor, so a goal here against Hull City could mean a huge day from De Bruyne. I don’t see a way around him in cash games.
Gylfi Sigurdsson ($9,300) – Sigurdsson gets a soft matchup against West Ham and gets to bring out his talents out against a poor defense. He hasn’t scored in two games, but he’s historically better at home and his extensive crossing gives him a floor just slightly worse than De Bruyne’s. He is another fundamental building block in cash games. Opposite of Gylfi, Dimitri Payet is a great GPP option and can also be considered in cash. The trio of Payet/Sigurdsson/De Bruyne are also great GPP options (not just cash), as when they score, their upside is insanely high due to all the other stats they provide, versus someone like Ibrahimovic, who needs three goals to meet that same upside (more on him later).
Johann Berg Gudmundsson ($6,200) – A bit expensive, but Gudmundsson allows you to fit other expensive players in with a slight price discount over the studs. He should be on corners and that would give him a solid floor with the upside of a goal in a very good matchup. If he starts in his return from injury, don’t be afraid to use him. Some people may be on teammate Scott Arfield, but especially if Gudmundsson starts, I don’t see the safety or upside in paying for Arfield.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan ($7,400) – If he starts, Mkhitaryan is a must play in cash games. He is involved through the Manchester attack and can rack up points with crosses, shots, tackles, and frequent goals/assists. In a matchup against Sunderland, he would be an easy cash game pick to get exposure to Manchester United.
Cesc Fabregas ($6,000) – If Fabregas gets a start with N’Golo Kante suspended, he is certainly worth a look in GPPs. He may be on corners and certain set-pieces, and he has the goal and assist potential in a great matchup to be worth GPP consideration. There is probably too much risk at the price for him to be a cash game option.
Alexis Sanchez ($9,600) - With all the expensive midfielders, it’s hard to consider Sanchez in cash games on DraftKings. However, his upside is as big as anyone else on the slate and he can be a solid GPP pivot away from Gylfi and De Bruyne. Arsenal have a cake matchup at home and should dominate from start to finish.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($9,000) – Ibrahimovic has been scoring at an incredible rate and now gets Sunderalnd. This could be really fun! It’s a bit difficult to justify a goal-dependent Ibrahimovic in cash games, but I think he is one of the best GPP plays of the slate. Fire him up in GPPs and try to catch this hat-trick upside.
Fernando Llorente ($6,500) – Pure GPP punt in a good matchup. You’re looking for two goals here at a cheap price. Not much more to say.
Eden Hazard/Victor Moses – Both of Chelsea’s wingers get a boost with the absence of Diego Costa, where they’ll be asked to do more offensively. Michy Batshuayi should step in for Costa, but it will be hard to expect him to match the performance of Costa, and Hazard/Moses could each pick up a few extra shots/crosses. Use both in GPPs, although it’s difficult to trust either in cash at the moment.
Good luck everyone! I’ll be tweeting out any cheap punt plays that may emerge as lineups as announced, so check in Twitter!