August 8 EPL DFS Picks
Welcome to the first edition of the DailyRoto DFS Premier League picks! I’m really excited to be joining the DailyRoto team and even more excited to talk about soccer! This week, I’ll provide a list of picks for the August 8 DraftKings EPL slate. But before we get started with the picks, I want to take a minute and discuss an important distinction in soccer – the difference between a fullback and a wingback.
A fullback is defender in a four-man backline. Examples would be Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and Cezar Azpilicueta. Take a look at Chelsea’s formation:
Mourinho has two traditional wingers in Eden Hazard and Willian, while Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are defenders with the ability to go forward and contribute to the attack. With a team like Chelsea, the fullbacks have freedom to go forward because they have a fantastic defensive midfielder in Nemanja Matic who can cover for them whenever they go forward. The same can be said for Southampton, who saw Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne go up in attack regularly last season with Victor Wanyama dropping back to cover for them. But not all teams who play this formation have the defensive midfielders to provide that security and many choose to be careful with sending their fullbacks up to attack. That’s why we must be careful in choosing fullbacks and not only look at their ability, but also consider their team’s capability to cover.
A wingback, on the other hand, is a defender/midfielder that plays in the wide positions in front of a three-man backline. Take a look at Leicester’s projected lineup for tomorrow:
The Foxes only wide players are Albrighton and Schlupp, and since they have three men in the back, they generally have a lot more freedom to attack than your average fullback. It was in this role that Albrighton set the Premier League on fire last season in Leicester’s last eight matches. In those games, Albrighton averaged 7.4 crosses per match on DraftKings, which is an amount that is reached by very few, if any, fullbacks. Of course, not all wingbacks will be like Albrighton, and not all teams will give their wingbacks that much freedom, but a wingback should be expected to attack more than a fullback.
Also to consider is opposition. A wingback or fullback isn’t likely to attack as much against a very good team. When facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season in the midst of that eight-match streak, Albrighton only had three crosses, the lowest of any match. It’s important to keep all factors in consideration, but these are some of the more important aspects to consider.
Keep those factors in mind when selecting your defenders.
The Top Choice – Thibaut Courtois ($5,700) – Chelsea has an incredible 57% chance at a clean sheet and a 50% chance of a Win to Nil (to win and earn a clean sheet), which is just incredible value. They play at home, where they are rock-solid defensively, and Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. The 50% chance of a Win to Nil is hard to pass up.
The Bargains – Artur Boruc ($4,700) and Kasper Schmeichel ($4,900) – Both keepers have at least a 40% chance at a clean sheet and are favorites to win, although by not as big of a margin as Courtois. It’s hard to differentiate between the two, especially since both play horrific teams (Aston Villa and Sunderland, respectively) at home. One could make an argument for Tim Howard here, but I would avoid him as Watford was red hot to finish the season last year and Everton couldn’t keep a high-school team out of their net. I would go with Schmeichel if I had to make a pick, but I’ll own shares of both him and Boruc.
The Top Choice – Branislav Ivanovic ($6,000) – Ivanovic was one of the highest scoring defenders last season and has a favorable week one matchup. He crosses, scores, has the highest chance at a clean sheet, and is locked in to start. I generally don’t like spending a lot on defenders, but there just aren’t many top choices at striker today, which reduces opportunity cost, and Ivanovic is the best lock for value. He will be very highly owned (above 40%), but it’s hard to turn him down in cash games.
Bargain – Tyrone Mings ($2,800) – First of all, it’s worth noting Bournemouth has the second highest chance at a clean sheet this weekend behind only Chelsea. That’s fairly baffling to me, as newly promoted teams have a horrific record on opening weekend, but that just speaks to how bad Aston Villa is. Bournemouth plays at home, which is a huge plus, and Mings is their newly acquired left-back who is known for his attacking prowess. Even without a clean sheet, I expect him to earn enough points to meet his value. In the Championship last season, Mings averaged four crosses per match, frequently making runs down the left flank, and was one of Ipswich’s best players. He picked up a goal and four assists, but most importantly, he averaged 0.9 fouls won and 0.9 shots per match when playing at home. Some players have a tough time adjusting to the Premier League pace, so Mings is obviously a risk, but with that sort of upside at $2,800, Mings is worth every penny in GPPs.
Bargain – Jordan Amavi ($2,300) – I needed to have two players in this category as I couldn’t leave either one off the list. Amavi will be playing as Aston Villa’s left-back and he’s just as exciting as Mings. The knock on him is that Villa only has a 25% chance at a clean sheet, but Amavi is dangerous enough in attack to meet value at his low, low price of $2,300. He averaged 1.9 dribbles and 1.3 fouls won per match last season in Ligue 1 and I can’t imagine Bournemouth being better than the average Ligue 1 side. He’ll also put in a few crosses and despite being a bit more risky than Mings, I think Amavi is just as good of an option considering their prices. If you don’t believe me, check out his highlights from last season.
The Top Choice – Eden Hazard ($9, 800) – 99 chances created, 14 goals, 9 assists on the season. 2.1 shots, 2.7 key passes, and 3 fouls won per match. Those numbers are even better when he’s at home. He’s so far ahead of everyone else in tomorrow’s slate, he costs 9% more than the second highest priced player while somehow still remaining undervalued. He cannot be ignored in cash games and should be in most of your GPP lineups, although consider the fact that he’ll likely be owned in more than 60-70% of lineups.
The Bargain – Marc Albrighton ($5,200) – This choice was tough as I debated between Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez, but I’ve gone with Albrighton. Albrighton is expected to start in the wingback role he occupied at the end of last season, which will provide him the freedom to attack down the right side as we discussed earlier. Albrighton averaged 13.6 fantasy points during his last eight matches last season and I expect him to continue that as one of Leicester’s main players operating down the right-flank. Mahrez also makes a good play, as he’ll likely feature “in-the-hole”, which is the position behind the two strikers. He will get a chance to put shots on target and also drift to the wings to send in crosses, but I prefer Albrighton due to his lower price.
The Top Choice – None – There really is no top choice at striker on this slate. The two best strikers are by far Romelu Lukaku and Diego Costa, and neither is certain to start due to injury. Both will face late fitness tests and let’s just say the percentage of late fitness tests who go for 90 minutes isn’t high. With Costa, it’s even more risky as he’s tweaked his hamstring twice in the past 10 days, leaving him with a high chance of re-injury should he start. In GPPs, it will be wise to have some Lukaku and Costa cover across some lineups if they end up starting, but it’s hard to play either in cash games. This makes it a very difficult slate, because if they do start, they are certainly the best forwards playing and could slot home two goals in a heartbeat. It basically comes down to this: I’ll have a lineup or two with each one if they end up starting, but I would highly recommend not putting all your eggs in their basket.
The Bargain – Callum Wilson – ($5,300) – The four teams most favored to win are Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth, and Leicester. We already discussed the Lukaku and Costa situation, and Leicester is just as big of a mystery up front. They have four possible names (Jamie Vardy, Andrej Kramaric, Leonardo Ulloa, Shinji Okazaki) fighting for two starting spots, and it’s hard to say who gets the start. That leaves us with one clear forward situation – Bournemouth. The newly promoted team will most likely start Callum Wilson as their lone striker and the youngster has the potential to be a star. He had 20 goals and 7 assists in the Championship last season while putting up almost three shots per game. The sportsbooks only have him at a 36% chance to score, which is slightly concerning, but he only costs $5,300.
If They Start – Jamie Vardy and Loic Remy – If they get the start, both Jamie Vardy and Loic Remy are solid options. Vardy comes in at $6,700 and I like him better than Remy ($6,800) because he isn’t as big of a risk to be substituted in the 60th minute. Remy will have his chances in front of goal but has usually been taken out around the hour mark in favor of Falcao, and it’s not ideal to have a player for 60 minutes instead of 90. Both should be used in moderation.
Just as a reminder, please check lineups tomorrow morning starting around 9 AM. I’ll be on Twitter @GalinDragiev and will retweet most lineups, especially if they involve my picks. The Premier League is known for unexpected rotations and late fitness checks, so please confirm all your players are starting before kickoff.