Week 2 EPL DFS Picks
Welcome back to week two of my DFS Soccer picks! I hope week one went well for everyone despite the Chelsea disaster that we all had to go through. With Thibaut Courtois getting sent off and Branislav Ivanovic playing a horrific game, the picks’ upside was limited but I hope you cashed in on the recommendations of Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Before I get started with the picks this week, I wanted to just show an example of why goals are so important in DFS soccer. Check out the winning lineup in the DraftKings $40K EPL Kick-Off Special:
The lineup featured one of the worst goalkeepers of the slate – Tim Howard – who conceded two goals and finished with just two points. It also featured Diego Costa, the third most expensive player on the slate that didn’t even meet half of his price tag. But the lineup featured goals, lots and lots of goals. The five attacking players in the lineup joined for five goals and an assist to help bring home first place. Not all GPPs look the same, and different slates will always produce different results, but goals have been the most important aspect of GPP lineups in the past year and you should focus on finding goal scorers in your lineup. I’ll have a piece in the future on the importance of goals, but I thought this was a good recent example to show from week one.
With that said, let’s take a look at the slate this week. We have:
2:45 PM EST Friday
Aston Villa vs Manchester United
7:45 AM EST Saturday
Southampton vs Everton
10 AM EST Saturday
Sunderland vs Norwich
Watford vs West Brom
Tottenham vs Stoke City
West Ham vs Leicester City
Swansea City vs Newcastle
You’ll find two slates on DraftKings, one with Aston Villa vs Manchester that includes all seven matches, and one that only includes the 10 AM EST games only. I’ll discuss picks for the full slate, but feel free to look at both.
The Top Choice – Sergio Romero ($3,000) – I generally don’t like picking goalkeepers that play away from home, but Romero is hands down the best option for the price on DraftKings this weekend. He is the cheapest starting goalkeeper AND has the highest chance of a Win to Nil (earning both a clean sheet and a win). It’s all about bonuses when it comes to DraftKings goalkeeper scoring so Romero gets my vote here. On top of a good matchup, Romero played very well last week and registered four saves against Tottenham. There is some uncertainty as to whether he’ll start again, but Louis van Gaal has hinted that he will.
The Other Top Choice – Hugo Lloris ($5,600) – If you want a goalkeeper in a similar situation that plays at home, your man is Hugo Lloris. Stoke played at home last weekend and had the fewest shots of any side, only seven! They had the third lowest pass success percentage and just couldn’t get anything going in front of their home crowd. Now, they’re going away from home to London and face a Tottenham squad that gave up only nine shots to Manchester United. I know the sample sizes are small here, but it doesn’t get much better if we look at last season’s data. Stoke was 15th in shots per game away from home and there is not much reason to think that will change this season. Lloris is a top choice this weekend; use him with confidence.
The GPP-Only Play – Costel Pantilimon ($4,700) – Just to be clear, I’ll say it again – Pantilimon is a GPP option only. I realistically think Pantilimon’s range this week is -6 to 25. Norwich wasn’t as bad as everyone made them out to be in week one, putting up 17 shots on Crystal Palace, and with how bad Sunderland’s defense looked last week, I expect Norwich to continue attacking relentlessly. The issue is, Norwich will likely get a number of chances again this week, but they don’t have the best finishers and I could easily envision a scenario where they have 8 shots on target with no goals and one where they slot home three in the first 30 minutes. Pantilimon is a very good goalkeeper and he certainly has games where he single-handedly saves Sunderland, so don’t hesitate to use him in GPPs.
The Top Choice – Carl Jenkinson ($5,000) – Jenkinson is a crossing machine that will play his first match of the season on Saturday. He missed week one due to being ineligible to play versus Arsenal and I expect him to make frequent runs down the right flank against Leicester. Last season, Jenkinson averaged over five crosses per match and that’s a great floor for someone who plays at home and has a solid chance at a clean sheet.
The Budget Option – Brandon Galloway ($2,000) – Galloway is far from a great option, but he allows you to go with an expensive attack as the cheapest defender in the slate. He finished with three crosses and two fouls drawn in week one and should start again in place of the injured Leighton Baines. With the number of top strikers available this weekend, using Galloway is a great way to be able to afford them.
The Best of the Rest – There are too many defensive options on this week’s slate. Some of the others I like are: Aaron Cresswell, Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, Cedric, Patrich Van Aanholt, Jordan Amavi, and Matt Targett.
The Top Choice – Christian Eriksen ($8,400) – Eriksen didn’t get to score in week one but played a very solid game against a tough Manchester United side. He had three shots, two of which were on target, and attempted five crosses. He is on free-kick duty and shoots freely from distance, virtually guaranteeing himself a high floor. Looking at his numbers from last season, he averaged a shot every 33 minutes and a cross every 23. Tottenham are favored to destroy Stoke City and Eriksen is by far their most creative option. There is just too high of an upside to fade Eriksen, especially in cash games.
The Other Top Choice – Gylfi Sigurdsson ($7,500) – Sigurdsson played in his preferred 10 role last weekend and despite not getting involved in a goal, he looked good against Chelsea. Swansea chose to attack down the flank more often than through the middle, mainly because Branislav Ivanovic was letting them walk it in to the box, but Sigurdsson will most likely be more involved this week. He’s still on free-kick duty and will likely get at least a few shots that way, leaving him with a decent floor. He isn’t cheap, but at $7,500 he still allows you to go with a top striker.
Another Option – Dusan Tadic ($8,600) – There have been certain knocks on Tadic this summer surrounding his fitness and ability to play 90 minutes, but he played the full match in week one and looked great. He will have the opportunity to make a difference against a poor Everton defense on Saturday, but his price makes him tough to own. I think Tadic would be best to use in GPPs only, as he’s a high upside pick who’s floor is not as high as Eriksen and Sigurdsson.
The Budget Choice – Dimitri Payet ($6,700) – Payet was the most involved West Ham player in attack with 70 touches, including 27 in the final third. He capped his day off with an assist but it was his energy and creativity that were most impressive. The attacking midfielder had 7 goals and 17 assists in Ligue 1 last season while racking up more than two shots and eight crosses per match. He will be a top five priced midfielder on DraftKings within a month but you should take advantage while he’s cheap.
Quick notes on a few other midfielders
Juan Mata – Decent option if he starts. Should be considered in GPPs.
Riyah Mahrez and Marc Albrighton – They play a much stronger defense this week away from home. They won’t be the superstars they were in week one, but they could certainly be involved in a goal again. If I had to choose, I’d prefer Albrighton due to high cross-count and indirect free-kick duty. I wouldn’t use either in cash games due to availability of better options.
Jefferson Montero – Looked good against Chelsea and should have many cross opportunities again this week. He is a decent option at a cheap price of $5,000.
The Top Choice – Harry Kane – ($9,800) – Kane has an over 50% chance to score and a 22% chance to score a brace (two goals). He has arguably the best matchup in the slate and looked great in week one. There is really no better option at any position this weekend.
The Second Best Choice – Sadio Mane ($8,500) – Mane’s price is catching up to him but he is still one of the best options in this slate. He was brilliant in Southampton’s first match and was unlucky not to have the match-winning goal. He had three shots, two of which he created himself in the final minutes:
Mane faces a very suspect Everton defense and I suspect he will have his way with them all over the pitch. Graziano Pelle is the other Southampton option I really like, and stacking the two in a GPP could provide great results.
A Cheaper Option – Diafra Sakho ($7,200) – Sakho might fly under the radar this weekend and that would be just perfect. He was arrested before last weekend’s match but ended up playing, and as long as you check the lineups this week, he can be a great choice at forward. He didn’t score against Arsenal, and all the West Ham love will likely go to Dimitri Payet, but Sakho will lead the line and be just as involved. He was a player that was much better at home than on the road last season, and I expect that to continue.
The Budget Option – Troy Deeney ($5,200) – Deeney had an assist in his Premier League debut last week and looked very capable of competing in this league. He faces a West Brom defense that gave up three goals to Manchester City and is Watford’s main attacking option. He is great if you want to spend your money in a strong midfield that will provide you with a good floor in 50/50s.
Notes on a few other Forwards
Bafetimbi Gomis – Looked great against Chelsea and is still cheap. Solid option.
Wayne Rooney – Great matchup and on PK duty. Can score a brace on any given week and shouldn’t be completely avoided in GPPs. Price makes him tough to own, but he can easily meet it.
Andre Ayew – Could easily score again and only costs $5,600. Not my favorite option but should be considered in GPPs. Same with his brother Jordan, who costs $100 less.